What can we say about the recent IPCC report and its 12-year timeframe?
Climate scientists have long been balancing on a thin wire, trying to communicate the peril we are in without sounding alarmist or as if they have a political agenda. From an environmental activist point of view, they’ve been criticised for being too patient and cautious. Yet one thing we can be sure of now is that their language has gotten more urgent as time has passed and more evidence has accrued that we are passing the tipping points of a planet safe for human habitation. The IPCC (the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have gone over review after review of their predictions, based on the best modelling we have at our disposal, and everything points to things being worse than they ever predicted. Oops – party stopper!
The Guardian article on the recent IPCC report is here
So let me try something, by putting this in everyday language … can we finally say, without sounding alarmist, and with the knowledge that we are starting to look really foolish and cowardly if we don’t, that we are now officially at the precipice of ecological collapse, as the environmental devastation of global capitalism runs amok and governments fall like dominoes to far right aggression? Can we talk about it yet? I’ve written before about how and why the “big man” caricature wins in dangerous times and it’s sad to see that I was right, in early 2016, and that it just keeps getting worse; now see Brazil’s new far right champion.
To get to the bottom of this phenomenon, I went back to the origins of large-scale civilizations to see what we can learn from them. When people get scared, they look for protection – even if the gang leader is the most threatening character in their world! In fact, that’s how classic standover tactics work: pay the thugs to make sure no-one harms you, with the strong insinuation that if you don’t, those very thugs will burn your house down overnight, whether you are in it or not. Now the house is the planet and the thugs are transnational corporations and the politicians that protect their interests. I don’t think we can hide from that anymore. What might have sounded like conspiracy theory 20 years ago is mainstream political analysis nowadays.
We’ve got to keep working on resilient communities; securing our own local food sources, finding ways to become less dependent on fossil fuels, getting together and sharing and taking care of each other. But we may need to start extending things like refusing single-use plastic and demanding food without poison in it, to actions based on the civil disobedience model. Here are a couple of examples:
Extinction Rebellion are standing against the unprecedented global emergency of the ecological crisis and the sixth mass extinction we are in the midst of, by asking for massive truth bombs about the real dangers we currently inhabit, shorn of media white washing and political inaction. They also feature a cool wallpaper-like set of visuals that neatly convey their core messages:
And Deep Green Resistance state that “Our best and only hope is a resistance movement that is willing to face the scale of the horrors, gather our forces, and fight like hell for all we hold dear.”
I loved reading Henry David Thoreau when I was first in university. He loved nature and fought for the truth; and it was he who coined the term civil disobedience. It is supposed to mean turning away from the law as it is encoded by vested interests, when you can tell there is a greater truth arising from reality. As I reiterated recently: Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 we have known that industrial civilisation threatens the health of our planet. It is time we started to really act like this shit is getting real and getting out of our comfort zone. We deserve better, so do the next generations, and so do the animals and plants that have so far survived the onslaught of modern technological civilisation. And hey, we might even enjoy getting down to it! Maybe it’s not the end of the party after all …