Climate change is happening right now and it is only going to get worse unless we take drastic steps immediately. Yesterday was the bad news portion of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. Today is the small ray of hope.
It is entirely possible to make the switch to 100% renewable energy for the entire world by as early as 2030. We have the technology to do this, what is lacking is the will and the money. The free market as it currently functions will not get us there nor will our politicians. What needs to happen, Klein says is a mass social movement. She believes it is the only thing that will save us now. There are precedents, remember the Arab Spring? The US Civil Rights Movement? The Women’s Movement? Granted, none of these brought about a complete revolution, but they made an impact and perhaps a world-wide social movement could take hold and save us all.
There are places where it is already beginning. Klein calls the movement “Blockadia.” Currently much of it exists in areas where people are trying to protect land from being fracked. In the United States and Canada there are arising coalitions between indigenous peoples and their traditional opposition: ranchers, hunters, large farming operations. There is also a growing movement begun in Totnes, UK called Transition Town. It is a community led project to build resilient, sustainable communities.
Then there is the divestment movement that seems to be growing rapidly especially among universities. Divestment is about large institutions getting rid of their investments in fossil fuels. Yes, someone else buys the shares when they are sold, however, the more places that divest, the more public awareness it gets, the more unacceptable it becomes to make money from fossil fuels.
The bad news is there is nothing we can do alone that will make a difference. The good news is that together we can make change happen. Klein understands the difficulty in this:
For most of us living in postindustrial societies, when we see the crackling black-and-white footage of general strikes in the 1930s, victory gardens in the 1940s, and Freedom Rides in the 1960s, we simply cannot imagine being part of any mobilization of that depth and scale. That kind of thing was fine for them but surely not us — with our eyes glued to smart phones, attention spans scattered by click bait, loyalties split by the burdens of debt and insecurities of contract work. Where would we organize? Who would we trust enough to lead us? Who, moreover, is ‘we’?
The key to it all is a change of mindset. We much let go of our extractivist thinking that allows us to believe we can take and take and take, that we can control and dominate nature. There must, as Klein says, be a “fundamental shift in power relations between humanity and the natural world.” We must give up taking and dominating and become caretakers focused on renewal and regeneration.
It won’t be easy, if it were, we would have changed our ways already. But it isn’t impossible and we shouldn’t give up. One of the great things about a mass movement is when you start to feel overwhelmed and like your work isn’t making a difference, you are surrounded by people who can help bolster and renew your spirit. So find a local group already active in your area, or if there isn’t one, start one. Talk to your neighbors, your friends, they probably feel the same way you do and are just waiting for someone to light the fire. You could be the spark that gets it going.