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Strange change in the weather

By: | September 11, 2014

Are we ready to resign ourselves to environmental catastrophe?

Jon Parsons
Power and Dissent offers a critical take on culture, society and politics in Newfoundland and Labrador

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Sept. 21 will mark the largest global day of action on climate change in history. Photo by Bureau of IIP via Flickr Commons.

Noam Chomsky’s recent article “The End of History?” is terrifying. It says, without much window-dressing, the human species is basically doomed.

Chomsky suggests runaway climate change and environmental degradation are a greater threat than nuclear war, and in short order the curtain may fall on the brief drama that was human civilization. What is needed to avoid the worst (but certainly not all) effects of an eco-apocalypse is a major shift not only in the policies of governments and industry, but a reconfiguration of everyday life – nothing less than political, social, economic, and cultural revolution.

With the push now on to develop Arctic oil reserves, even while the scientific community has come to a consensus that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change up to 80 per cent of known reserves must stay in the ground, it looks extremely unlikely that governments and industry will be the ones to bring in a new paradigm. Certainly there are many possibilities and avenues for a radical shift to emerge from communities and the grassroots; however, climate change and other environmental issues are often distant (or are perceived to be distant) from our everyday lives, and may therefore be easier to ignore than, say, a banking crisis, corruption, or political scandal.

You say you want a revolution?

So then what’s to be done? If you are someone who has a stake in the survival of humanity or the survival of the many other species doomed along with us, it is time to get militant about things. As Mario Savio famously said in his call to action (video below), being militant doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break anything, but you will have to come out of your house and put your body in the way of things you want stopped.

Some examples of people across Canada doing just that include David Clow, who is pushing his wheelchair along the proposed route of the Enbridge pipeline (follow David on Facebook here), as well as the Unist’ot’en clan, who have set up a resistance camp on their unceded territory in BC, also in the path of a pipeline. In Newfoundland, the push-back against fracking on the west coast has been inspiring; while in Labrador the continued resistance to the environmental destruction of mega hydro projects has been impressive (no, hydro is not green).

Along with joining local environmental groups, or starting your own group, consider attending an event as part of the global day of climate action on Sept. 21. This day of action, dubbed the People’s Climate March and Mobilization, will be the largest demonstrations on climate change in history. Planned in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Summit, events and gatherings will be held in a number of communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, including Happy Valley-Goose Bay (TBA), St. John’s, and Stephenville. There is also an open invitation for anyone interested to organize an event in other communities around the province.

The task of fighting back against environmental catastrophe is nothing if not daunting. There are many obstacles, including our own governments, but to not at least attempt to make a stand would be the saddest comment on a species whose demise no one will be around to lament.

For more on the Sept. 21 day of action and why you should take part, see the documentary Disruption created to promote the event.


Editor’s note: If you would like to respond to this or any article on TheIndependent.ca, or if you would like to address an issue we haven’t yet covered, we welcome letters to the editor and consider each of them for publication in our Letters section. You can email yours to: justin at theindependent dot ca. Not all letters will be printed, but all will be read.

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