My progressive friends can attest that I am getting increasingly depressed and anxious at our human and political response to Climate Change. I can seem unreasonable. The obvious need and yet seeming total inability to somehow convey the urgent reality of Climate Change is just dumbfounding. Making it worse, even these same progressive friends seem to accept it as just another political hurdle, to be dealt with patiently as most political changes are. This is where I want to scream at them, to clear the apparent blockage between their ears and I sometimes do. I am, however, not alone in this quandary.
None other than 350.org founder Bill McKibben wrestles with this problem, though apparently much more rationally than I. In the article below from The Nation Magazine below, McKibben examines evolving models of political disobedience and and the unique needs that Climate Change bring to the such efforts. He emphasizes that “The real point of civil disobedience and the subsequent movements is less to pass specific legislation than it is to change the zeitgeist.”
McKibben expresses the exact point I have often tried to convey, but here he does it much better:
“By forever straddling the middle, centrist politicians delay changes in public sentiment. The viewpoint of the establishment—an appellation that in this case includes everyone from oil companies to presidents—is always the same: We need to be “realistic”; change will come slowly if it comes at all; and so forth. In normal political debates, this is reasonable. Compromise on issues is the way we progress: You want less money in the budget for X, and I want more, and so we meet in the middle and live to fight another day. That’s politics, as distinct from movement politics, which is about changing basic feelings over the great issues of the day. And it’s particularly true in the case of climate change, where political reality, important as it is, comes in a distinct second to reality reality. Chemistry and physics, I repeat, do what they do regardless of our wishes. That’s the difference between political science and science science.”
There is an urgency to Climate Change that, for some reason, just doesn’t capture our attention. McKibben’s article makes me feel that I need to be more reasonable, get a grip, when sometimes all I want to do is scream, find a way to get people to wake up. I wonder if he is as cool as this article makes him seem, or if maybe, he let’s out quite a bit of audible frustration between paragraphs, just like me.
I walked and talked with Bill very briefly in a protest in a 2016 protest in Los Angeles. Wish I knew how he keeps it together.