Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate change blog action day:
Survival is up to us

On this site I chronicle politics in many different arenas. Lots of what I write about is dysfunction because only by pointing out the problems can we hope to find solutions. There is no aspect of our situation that more clearly shows up what's not working than the unarguable fact that the way humans have organized industrial technology has us well on the way to frying the planet. Go on this way -- extending the lives of some lucky rich people in some places, immiserating other less lucky people in other places, and allowing the greedy and the needy to use up and destroy whatever humans can get our hands on -- pretty soon life is going to revert to "nasty, brutish and short" for whoever is still around.

My friend Brendan Smith warns that human-induced global warming is revealing that our existing political arrangements simply won't cut it. I'm taking the liberty here of reproducing his list of principles from the linked article:

We have learned a great deal more about the science of climate change and what must be done to halt it. But we have barely begun to discuss what kind of political change is necessary to do what must be done. Here are some principles to discuss for an alternative climate protection strategy:

1. Existing institutions, specifically states and markets, have decisively proven themselves unable to halt the plunge toward destruction of the biosphere.

2. National and world political systems are as dysfunctional for survival today as feudal principalities were for protecting their people in the face of capitalism and the modern nation state.

3. States are not legitimate if they allow their terrain or their institutions to be used to destroy the global environment. They have no right to govern. They are climate outlaws whose authority it is not only our right but our obligation to challenge.

4. Property rights are not legitimate if property is used to destroy the global environment. Corporations that emit greenhouse gases have no right to their property. They too are climate outlaws whose possessions it is not only our right but our obligation to challenge.

5. A climate protection movement must be conceived, not as governments agreeing to climate protection measures, but as people imposing rules on states, markets, and other institutions. We can begin to apply these rules locally by direct action wherever we are; we can support each others' action around the globe; and we can support the right of all the world's people to monitor and halt climate destroying emissions.

6. The legitimation for policy and action must be global necessity, not just national or other limited interest.

7. The blockades of coal facilities by direct action that have recently emerged in countries around the world form a brilliant beginning to this process. A new climate movement must expand that effort to impose climate protection rules by direct action.

8. Governments, corporations, and other institutions that threaten the survival of the planet should be subject to global popular boycotts and sanctions.

9. National and international economic policies must be redesigned to maximize global resources going to climate protection, rather than competing over the location of "green" production.

We really have no alternative but to force our rulers to get with a survival program. That's going to have to go on at many levels: this movement needs scientists, and wonks, and political theorists, but also it simply needs stubborn, angry people.

For starters, I urge everyone to visit and search their interactive map for a climate change action near you. On October 24, millions of people all over the world will be taking to the streets. We all need to be among them.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

Even small changes, if done by enough people,can make a difference.