Thursday, December 13, 2012

If the Climate Movement isn't Going to Act with a Sense of Urgency, How can We Expect Anyone Else to?

It’s New Year’s Day, 2011 in Cairo.  President Hosni Mubarak awakens to a gorgeous dawn and another year of power, with no end in sight.  

Forty-one days later his 30 year reign is over and the Egyptian Revolution is complete.

Nonviolent movements can happen fast.

Memo to the climate movement: If you’re operating on a five-year plan: you’re doing it wrong. 

First of all, who says we have five years to spare?  The climate is unravelling fast, way ahead of even the worst projections (anyone remember when they said the polar ice cap would be gone by 2100?  Now they’re saying as early as 2020).  I know two leaders of the climate movement who have given up hope, despairing that it’s already too late to stop the natural feedback loops from kicking in.  The truth is no one knows, but it’s foolish to assume we can take our time here.

Second, if the climate movement isn’t going to act with any sense of urgency, how can we expect anyone else to?  I’m SO DISAPPOINTED that they didn’t show up en masse after the scorching summer to make the crisis a major issue in the elections.  It was ripe for the picking.  This is a failure of leadership.  Many people are desperate to do something about climate, but the leaders of the movement didn’t react to the situation staring them in the face to create action on the issue NOW.  They were too busy, no doubt, with their five-year plans.  The movement didn’t act with a sense of urgency, and – shocker! – no one else has.

Finally, nonviolent movements can happen fast.  First, though I know he wasn’t nonviolent, consider the words of The Art of War’s Sun Tzu, who wrote “Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been associated with long delays”.  Now update that with these words of a co-leader from a nonviolent movement, Ivan Marovic of Serbia’s Otpor: “If it is carefully planned, by the time they start it is over in a matter of weeks.”

Americans are basically contented, and don't give a lot of thought to the climate tsunami racing toward us.  But if we don't act fast, the whole world is in for a world of hurt.


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