On Sept. 21, 2014 hundreds of thousands of people from multiple issue areas took part in over 2640 Peoples’ Climate Convergence events in 156 countries. There are now more activists at work, on more issues, in more places, and on more levels – from the local to the planetary – than ever before in human history. The world-wide Peoples’ Climate Convergence events on Sept. 21, 2014 were a sign that single-issue activists are coming out of their issue ‘siloes’ and making common cause for the planet – truly a ‘Movement of Movements.’ The immune system of the global body politic is awakened. It is alive and well and responding to the challenge. We are deeply grateful for the contributions from our subscribers that allowed us to be there.
The experience of being on Wall Street at noon and Bolinas at midnight is both psychically intense and carbon intensive. We hope these reports of our intense NY experience, recollected in Bolinas tranquility, will inform, encourage and empower you and justify our carbon footprint. Here is the beginning of our report-backs. Please stay tuned…and please keep the support coming – it’s what makes our work possible.
[Visit our EON3 YouTube Channel for the first series of our video reports from this event.
Clips from the NIRS pre-climate march rally are here.
Clips from the Western State Legal Foundation pre-climate march rally are here. ]
Introducton by EON Co-Director Mary Beth Brangan
The joyful experience of joining with at least 400,000 others passionately
marching for the planet left me with hope.
Endless exuberance, amazing creativity and the huge diversity of race, class, gender and age all frolicking with humor and determination was a boost not only to me but to the planetary system for sure.
There were very young children, youth, teens, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. There were representatives from every race and nationality and part of the US.
The whole city of NY seemed different, lighter to me while we were there with so many others of the same mind.
So many had made the trip and the march though it was expensive and arduous…. We gave each other hope and a sense of our cooperative power.
The atmosphere was brighter, more humane. More synchronicities were happening. People, even in the crush of the march were considerate and glowing with jaunty and poignant signs and music.
On Monday, truly an impressive flood of people flowed into Wall Street to protest in the streets – again with humor, determination, creativity and pizza.
And to top it off, the announcement was made Monday that the Rockefeller Bro. Fund was divesting from all fossil fuel investments. The Wallace Global Fund, who had divested already four years ago, emphasized on Democracy Now! that their portfolio value had actually increased more by the move out of fossils and into renewables.
So, despite the fact that our situation does look dire, my expectation of pleasant surprises is strengthened. You never know…Remember how quickly the Berlin Wall fell?
We were definitely blessed to be there with our diverse kindred spirits at such a historic moment!
A Planetarian Event – Success in the Streets, Failure in the Suites
Climate Change Consciousness Goes Viral
By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan
We must enlarge our approach to encompass the formation taking place before our eyes … of a particular biological entity such as has never existed on earth – the growth, outside and above the biosphere, of an added planetary layer, an envelope of thinking substance, to which, for the sake of convenience and symmetry, I have given the name of the Noosphere.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Birthing the Noosphere
The passing young woman’s glittering, handmade sign read, “Extinction Would Suck.”
In the creative chaos of last weekend’s Peoples’ Climate Convergence in New York, there was no chance to comment that extinction does suck – and, in fact, is sucking.
As Elizabeth Kolbert’s recent book The Sixth Extinction makes soberingly clear, the planetary fact hovering over all the various issues represented in the events comprising the worldwide Peoples’ Climate Convergences in 128 countries last weekend – social, environmental & economic justice, racism, sexism, the permanent war economy, the threats of nuclear energy, weapons and waste, corporate capitalism’s war on the planet – is that we are already in the midst of an escalating global mass extinction of species.
The good news is that the planet has suffered and recovered from five previous extinctions. In the most recent, the Pleistocene Extinction, – some 66 million years ago – earth lost 95% of its life-forms…and bounced back.
The bad news is that this current bout of planet-wide species loss is the first great extinction to be caused by human activity. Most tragically, DNA damage caused by human-made radiation is arguably more fundamentally damaging than prior extinctions and this time more planetary systems are deliberately being disrupted by human activities; the ionosphere, the troposphere, stratosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, magnetosphere, lithosphere and geosphere.
Consciousness of that planetary context gave a special sense of significance, poignancy and urgency to our experience of the Convergence as we worked to document the mini-conferences, workshops and rallies on nuclear issues organized by our friends at the Western States Legal Foundation and the Nuclear Resource and Information Service (NIRS).
Through our video reporting we want to amplify the voices of our friends and colleagues emphasizing that nuclear power is NOT the answer to climate change and that we must stop the push to make more nuclear weapons and radioactive waste.
The Best We Can Do is Avert the Worst and Build the Better
Inextricably connected, mass species extinction and climate change will now form the inescapable context of everything humans do from now on. As Naomi Klein – a strong presence at the Convergence – frankly states in her timely new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,
“…it’s too late to stop climate change from coming; it is already here, and increasingly brutal disasters are headed our way no matter what we do. But it’s not too late to avert the worst…”
And it’s not too late to co-create a planetarian alternative to deregulated corporate capitalism stuck on ‘self-destruct.’ Climate change will lead to system change, but whether it will be break-through or break-down will depend on whether the values and the vision represented by the Convergence can be implemented on a planetary scale in the next few years (we don’t have even a decade).
It’s the Stupid System, Stupid – We Have Solutions
The crazy-making insanity of the climate imbroglio is that we KNOW what kind of values need to be institutionalized and enforced; we KNOW what kind of institutions and regulatory regimes need to be created ( 10-point plan ) (by fiat, just like all existing ones currently imposed on us without our consent by global elites); we HAVE the technologies we need for a sustainable climate/energy transition; we KNOW that clean, renewable, decentralized, horizontally organized, small-scale, publicly-owned, locally governed ‘distributed’ energy generation and distribution systems must replace polluting, hierarchical investor-owned utilities (aptly termed ‘IOUs’).
Though perhaps the most eloquent, beloved Naomi Klein is not the first to point out that corporate capitalism is killing the planet. Fellow Canadian John McMurtry pointed that out in his powerfully argued 1999 book The Cancer Stage of Capitalism. John Michael Greer made the same point in his 2011 book The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered. Anti-globalization advocate Jerry Mander explored the ideology’s inevitable failures in his 2012 The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System
But, to our knowledge, Klein is the first to clearly detail one of the key fundamental stupidities of the system: trade and climate agreements are separate and contradictory. And trade rules always trump climate ‘agreements.’ Emission-reduction targets are ‘voluntary’ and unenforced. Trade rules set out by the World Trade Organization (WTO) are legally binding and ruthlessly enforced. Corporations can successfully sue countries or states for having environmental laws that reduce corporate profits. But suits against corporations for fouling the global environment are unlikely to succeed. Actions to heal the planet are WTO-illegal. Actions that damage the planet are legally enforceable under WTO rules.
The result, as McKenzie Funk documents in his new book Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, is ‘melt, drought and deluge,’ from which the new and growing breed of climate change profiteers can make a lot of money.
It is the paradigmatic paralysis imposed by the reigning sociopathic ideology that guides all decision making to the Bottom Line – Greed is Good; short-term profit for the few at the expense of long-term well-being for the many; infinite, perpetual economic growth on a finite, polluted and depleted planet in the midst of a Great Extinction.
As Klein puts it, “…the three pillars of the neo-liberal age – privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector, and the lowering of income and corporate taxes, paid for with cuts to public spending – are each incompatible with many of the actions we must take to bring our emissions to safe levels. And together these pillars form an ideological wall that has blocked a serious response to climate change for decades.”
Separation of Street and Summit
Beyond a few token civil society groups, no representative of social movement NGO’s were invited to participate in Ban Ki-Moon’s UN Summit in which, as the New York Times itself pointed out, “companies are playing a larger role than at any such gathering in the past.”
The one-day green-washing event – which was not part of the official process of UN climate negotiations – seemed mainly to have the goal of promoting corporate-friendly ‘carbon market mechanisms’ rather than movement toward any clear and binding date-certain emission-control targets.
It was not without symbolic significance that the NY climate march followed a crooked path through the city dictated by the NYPD and ended up on the opposite side of the island from its putative target audience at the UN, the environs of which were a cordoned-off no-go zone for those without security passes.
The following day’s Flood Wall Street event again showed public passion effectively managed and contained by Mayor de Blazio’s Police Department. Mayor de Blasio actually joined the People’s Climate March the day before and under his administration, police were more measured in their interaction with protestors than in prior Occupy Wall Street actions before his tenure.
So, did the Convergence events have any impact on the so-called ‘world leaders’ meeting the following week at the UN? Not much, says Pablo Solon writing for Focus on the Global South.
After this week in New York, it is once again obvious that real solutions are not going to come from the UN, heads of state, corporations or the World Bank. Our main goal in strengthening marches like the one on September 21st is not to target the UN climate negotiations, but to build a movement that is strong enough to challenge and change the capitalist system. The main lesson from this week is that we need to make even stronger and more permanent mobilizations with much more clear messages targeting the main polluters, which are the big corporations. A march that calls for “climate action” without clearly saying what that action should be can be manipulated or used to promote wrong actions. In that sense, more than 370 organizations around the world have put forward a 10-point plan to really address the structural causes of climate change. At the next UN negotiations Lima, Peru, the challenge for social and grassroots movements is to come out with a plan of action to support clear demands to stop climate chaos.
[ For a comprehensive blow-by-blow of the day’s Summit events, including videos and tweets, see this Guardian timeline.
For a summary of who made what(non-binding, voluntary) pledges to do which, see this.
For what more than 370 NGO’s agree should and shouldn’t be done, see this.]
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres termed the Summit ‘clearly not enough’and, according to BusinessGreen.com, backed a scathing critique by Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel who told the UN general Assembly at the end of the summit. “I acknowledge that there is the beginning of understanding of the gravity of the challenge we face, but at the same time, I have the impression that there is a huge mismatch between the magnitude of the challenge and the response which we heard here today.”
Peter Rugh of Waging Nonviolence had a more sanguine assessment, pointing out that:
The day following the march, the heirs to John D. Rockefeller, the famed 20th century oil baron, announced they were divesting their $860 million charitable fund from fossil fuels. Addressing the United Nations last Tuesday, President Obama referenced the demonstration, stating, “Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them.”
While it might seem like another toothless remark from the president, it at the very least shows that the commotion two days earlier penetrated the inner sanctums of power.
For us the most upbeat, yet realistic commentary is How We Win on Climate Change by author and activist Harvey Wasserman. He points to five:
…inter-related issues we can’t avoid:
NET NEUTRALITY defines the core nervous system of what’s left of global democracy. The corporations want it killed. This demands everyone’s immediate attention.
CORPORATE PERSONHOOD must die by Constitutional Amendment.
ELECTION PROTECTION demands universal hand-counted paper ballots, an end to Jim Crow vote theft and a ban on the corporate billions that poison what’s left of our democracy.
SOCIAL JUSTICE, including workplace democracy and a universal living wage, means we can all live and work with integrity, no matter our diverse religions, race, gender, sexual preference, etc. Poverty is an unsustainable form of planet-killing pollution.
PEACE means ending the suicidal idiocy of permanent imperial war.
All these difficult issues are essential to the health of our species. We don’t get to a green-powered Earth without bringing them with us.
Much Ado About Something – Let the ‘Little People’ Vent – On With the Show
But the NY Times front page on the following Monday seemed to graphically show a permanent war system stuck on ‘self-destruct’ and how nonchalantly the ruling establishment takes the survival challenges facing our civilization as well as its attempts to minimize the powerful public will for change.
Four small, not-very-informative pictures of the Convergence were flanked above the fold by the headline “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms.”
While noting the participation of Al Gore, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and NY Mayor Bill de Blasio (Where’s the parade? We’ll get in front and lead it.) , the brief Times story on the march called it “…mostly an event for concerned ordinary people, many of them veterans of climate change efforts, others relative newcomers.” Translation: No real Power Holders were involved. Most of the space in the article was taken up by a large aerial picture of a few straggling marchers that had nothing to do with the closely packed, miles long sea of marchers we experienced and documented.
The Times nuclear ramp-up piece used the recent dedication of the National Security Campus in Kansas City to launch a largely uncritical report on
‘…a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.’
But even the story’s two authors did not fail to notice the irony that ‘this expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. ‘
Nuclear Winter is Not an Antidote to Climate Change
That irony was precisely the concern being raised in the well-attended mini-conference focusing on the nuclear energy-weapons-waste component of the overall climate change challenge.
Years ago, the late science luminary Carl Sagan was famously the spokesperson for a report (TTAPS) demonstrating that the result of even a limited a war using atomic weapons would produce massive global atmospheric clouding and cause a ‘nuclear winter’ by obscuring solar input.
Now, as nuclear weapons upgrading and saber-rattling kicks in, and as expansion of nuclear power generation is being falsely touted as a ‘clean energy solution’ even in the wake of the on-going Fukushima disaster, the dangers of nuclear technologies and their deadly waste are re-emerging from decades of public inattention into increasingly wide-spread public consciousness and concern, particularly in the thousands of communities most directly affected.
Whatever effect the Convergence had on ‘world leaders’ at the UN, the events demonstrated a growing global solidarity across previously siloed issue areas as well as across class, gender and racial lines. The workshops and events we documented explored the many connections between nuclear technologies and democratic choice; social, economic and environmental justice; racism; sexism and gender bias; energy policy; war, peace and climate change. They help set the context for what looks like a growing multi-issue ‘movement of movements.’
Visit our EON3 YouTube Channel for the first series of our video reports from this event.
Clips from the NIRS pre-climate march rally are here.
Here’s an outline of workshops we covered. Workshop excerpts will follow in up-coming posts:
Deadly Connections: Challenging Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power and Climate Change Pt. 1
Jacqueline Cabasso, Sofia Wolman, M.V. Ramana, Joseph Gerson, Andrew Lichterman Co-Sponsored by Jane Addams Peace Association
Nuclear Power Makes Climate Change Worse and is Stealing our Energy Future
Diane D’Arrigo, Jessica Azulay,
Sponsored by Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Deadly Connections: Challenging Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power and Climate Change Pt. 2
Jacqueline Cabasso, Tony DeBrum, John Burroughs, Franklin Cownie, Judith LeBlanc Co-Sponsored by Jane Addams Peace Association
Uniting Our Strategies to Stop War and Save the Planet
Jackie Cabasso, Lisa Fithian, Michael Klare, Michael Eisenscher, Michael McPhearson Co-Sponsored by United For Peace and Justice
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