Watch this interview with GJEP Exec Director Anne Petermann on Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp on RT She addresses the deforestation crisis, false solutions to climate change being pushed that use forests and displace forest dependent peoples, and more. Not to be missed!
This one-hour special aired Wednesday 25 September on the nationally syndicated Sojourner Truth show on Pacifica’s flagship KPFK station in Los Angeles. The show featured GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann, Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters Director Karen Pickett and Family Farm Defenders Executive Director John Peck discussing the climate crisis, the uprising of youth and the upcoming North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence.
GJEP partners with the Sojourner Truth show every week on and Earth Minute each Wednesday and an Earth Watch interview segment every Thursday.
A march for climate justice in Durban, South Africa in 2011 during the UN Climate Conference there. PhotoLangelle.org
Note: I am republishing this piece from 2 years ago on the 2014 climate march ad we now commemorate 5 years past and the renewed upsurge in climate action. – Anne
I wrote the following piece in July 2014 while in Venezuela for a gathering of climate justice activists meeting in preparation for the upcoming UN Climate Conference that December. While at the gathering, called the SocialPreCOP, some of the participants described an upcoming march being organized in New York City, prior to a summit on climate change at the UN headquarters in Manhattan. The march, being heavily promoted by author Bill McKibben, had no demands, and was so devoid of political analysis (and understanding of the root causes of climate change) that it invited bankers to march arm and arm with activists. I found this so shocking and disgusting that I wrote the following essay. The essay was later turned into a keynote speech I gave at the Global Climate Convergence prior to the march in NYC.
I am republishing the essay now as we head toward the next UN Climate Conference in November. And the essay’s references to the Vietnam War are timely given the Ken Burns series on the topic. Note also in this essay the role of the Bank of America and the Koch Brothers (sponsors of Burns’ series) in paving the way for accelerated climate change–the impacts of which have left large swaths of the Caribbean in a state of utter crisis.
Bill takes the stage at the Albright Knox art gallery tonight as part of the Buffalo Humanities Festival. Sure hope his rap has improved. –Anne Petermann
By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, from the Venezuela Social Pre-COP
Today’s blog post is not addressing directly what is happening here in Venezuela at the SocialPreCOP, but something on the minds of many people here–the next step in the series of climate meetings/actions this year. That is the upcoming climate march planned for New York City on September 21st, two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru. Part of the objective of the Venezuelan government at this SocialPreCOP meeting is to come away with a set of demands from people gathered here that they can take to this exclusive summit.
The September climate march was called for by Big Green NGOs 350.org and Avaaz, who have thrown copious quantities of cash at it. But many environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US have demanded a seat at the organizing table to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard, despite their small budgets.
The demands of the march: there will be none. That’s right. The march will simply bring together an estimated 200,000 people to march through the streets of New York and then… There will be no rally, no speakers, no strong political demands. Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change.
What kind of climate action should be taken is a question that has long been debated by climate justice activists, organizations, social movements and Indigenous Peoples all over the world. “Climate action” can include things like geoengineering schemes–manmade manipulations of nature on such a massive scale that the impacts can’t possibly be known, but could definitely be catastrophic. They can also include actions already taking place, such as the building of monstrous hydroelectric dams that flood vast expanses of land and displace entire communities of Indigenous or land-based Peoples–including in places like the Amazon rainforest. Climate action can also include ongoing grabbing of forests and land for the development of plantations of oil palm, GMO soy or non-native trees for so-called bioenergy.
So no, not all “climate action” is good. A lack of clear justice-based and ecologically sound demands in this “historic” march will leave a vacuum. And no vacuum remains empty for long. It’s simple physics. The media will not cover a march with no demands. They will find a message. And likely, as so often happens, those with the connections and the money will win the messaging game.
The movement’s oddly charismatic de facto leader, Bill McKibben, is one of those I predict will get the microphones shoved in his face. Why is this a problem? While the man is a brilliant conservation biologist with a very full grasp of the dire nature and science of climate change, he is not an activist, and has little understanding of movement strategy and history. Take, for example, his June piece in Rolling Stone magazine, “A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change.” In the article, he explains the importance of the September 21st march in making real strides for climate action. He states,
So in this case taking to the streets is very much necessary. It’s not all that’s necessary – a sprawling fossil-fuel resistance works on a hundred fronts around the world, from putting up solar panels to forcing colleges to divest their oil stocks to electioneering for truly green candidates. And it’s true that marching doesn’t always work: At the onset of the war in Iraq, millions marched, to no immediate avail. But there are moments when it’s been essential. This is how the Vietnam War was ended, and segregation too – or consider the nuclear-freeze campaign of the early 1980s, when half a million people gathered in New York’s Central Park…
Right. Okay. Where to start. First of all, as has been pointed out to Mr. McKibben on countless occasions, stopping fossil fuels will not stop climate change. If business as usual continues based on bioenergy (the US military for example is transitioning some of their fleet to biofuels and is investigating the manufacture of “green bombs” using synthetic biology), then we still lose. As a scientist friend calculated, to replace the amount of fossil fuels we are currently using with bioenergy will require six planet’s worth of land. SIX PLANETS worth of land. We truly do have to change the system. Not what is fueling it. Business as usual has to go. Unfortunately power concedes nothing without a demand. In fact, power concedes nothing without being given no other options.
Which brings me back to the Rolling Stone article. Marching. McKibben writes about the power of marching to make great change. Two of the examples he gives are ending the Vietnam War and stopping segregation.
Let’s just focus on the Vietnam War for a moment. Yes, there were marches and they were huge and they were great. But there were also mass direct actions, like MayDay 1971 when affinity groups took over the bridges and traffic circles of Washington, DC with the aim of shutting down the city. My husband, Orin Langelle, was part of an affinity group there, and watched the marines land at the Washington Monument. The Weather Underground conducted over 6,000 bombings of military targets in the US. There were the Yippies, White Panthers, the SDS, VVAW. The GIs in Vietnam, sick of the pointless and bloody war, who started turning their weapons on their officers. The army was facing a mounting internal rebellion. And of course the Vietnamese People staged an effective and tireless resistance to the US invasion–even in the face of casualty numbers of more than fifty to one–and even in the face of their luscious homeland being turned into a toxic wasteland by Monsanto’s Agent Orange–a legacy still being felt there.
The sum total of these parts is what ended the Vietnam War. Not a march, not promoting green alternatives to the war, and not electoral politics (unless you count the Yippies running Pegasus the Pig for President in 1968). People on many fronts made both the war and business as usual impossible.
Likewise with segregation. The civil rights movement did not make the gains it made with a march that was organized with the permission of the police. There were marches, yes, but the marches themselves were unpermitted acts of civil disobedience, and they were met with extreme repression fuelled by hate. We all remember the black and white videos of the firehoses and the police dogs; the many civil rights activists who were beaten, jailed, murdered. There were bus boycotts and lunch counter sit ins. And these nonviolent actions collectively represented a fundamental challenge to power. And not to forget the crucial role of the Black Panther party, which took up arms in 1966 in order to further advance civil rights and to defend their communities against attacks by the police. But they also ran breakfast programs for children and promoted a comprehensive set of demands.
But back to this march in New York City, planned in cooperation with the police, and void of demands. Will the mere presence of 200,000 people marching in the city be meaningful enough to make a difference–to shake up the world’s leaders to take climate change more seriously?
In his Rolling Stone piece, McKibben quotes a Princeton scientist who stated, “we are all sitting ducks.” That is true. However, the missing analysis in this assertion is identifying just exactly who is holding the shotgun. The inference is that it is climate change pointing its double barrels at us, but I disagree.
We are sitting ducks alright, but the ones threatening our existence are the ones on Wall Street and its equivalents, buying policies that maintain business as usual. Like Chad Holliday, the Chair of Bank of America (who co-Chairs the UN’s absurdly named Sustainable Energy for All initiative), the Koch Brothers, Chase Manhattan Bank, and on and on. A smorgasbord of power elite.
My hope is that some folks coming for the march will be inspired by the powerful accomplishments of the movements that came before and will form affinity groups to take their outrage and their demands directly to the source. Directly to the ones holding the shotguns. Making their business as usual impossible.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out, “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
Judi Bari, Center, Walks with Support of Two Friends (1994)
(read full caption at bottom of post)
For Immediate Release September 17, 2019
Contact: Steve Taylor +1.314.210.1322 firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer Orin Langelle announced that his work will be shown at the upcoming 2019 North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence, October 11-14 in the Shawnee National Forest, Southern Illinois (U.S.). The event is a strategy session for activists and others concerned with the imminent threat of catastrophic global climate disruption to devise meaningful action and to join forces against the drivers of environmental exploitation and degradation.
“Let’s face it climate change is here. Extreme weather is happening daily. Its going to get worse as the next decade or so progresses,” said Langelle in a statement on his website about the upcoming showing of Portraits of Struggle and the Drivers of Climate Chaos.
“Doom is not inevitable. Change is possible. The photographs in this exhibit document impacts of and resistance to climate change and false solutions, spanning five continents and more than twenty-five years,” said Langelle.
Langelle recently released a video discussing his nearly 50 years of activism and work as a “concerned photographer” documenting and resisting “environmental destruction and social injustice.” The video ends with an appeal for others to join him in the Shawnee.
Langelle Photography is a component of Global Justice Ecology Project’s Global Justice Media Program.
From the Portraits of Struggle Exhibit:
Belém, Brazil: Indigenous men from Amazonia in Belém, the capital of the state of Pará and the northeastern gateway to the Amazon. Under Brazil’s right-wing fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, the Amazon jungle is suffering from land grabs, resource exploitation never before seen, destroying biodiversity and endangering the lives and livelihoods of the Indigenous peoples that depend on the forest. More than 74,000 fires have burned this year alone in the rainforest. And this is devastaing the lungs of the Earth when we are faced with catastrophic climate disruption. photo: Orin Langelle / photolangelle.org
Caption for Judi Bari photo:
Northern CA: Judi Bari was a North American environmentalist and labor leader, a feminist, and the principal organizer of Earth First! campaigns to stop the logging of the ancient redwood forests of Northern California in the 1980s and ’90s. She also organized efforts through the Industrial Workers of the World to bring timber workers and environmentalists together to stop the unsustainable rates of logging in the region.
On 24 May 1990, in Oakland, California, Bari’s car was blown up by a pipe bomb placed under her seat. While still in critical condition with a shattered pelvis and other major injuries, Bari was arrested by the FBI for allegedly transporting explosives. Many believe the bombing of Bari and her subsequent arrest was due to her successful work to unite environmentalists and workers.
The false arrests and illegal search warrants became the basis of a civil rights suit filed in 1991 but not decided until 2002, five years after her death, when her estate was awarded $4 million in damages. photo: Orin Langelle / photolangelle.org
Global Justice Ecology Project is co-convening The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence from October 11 to 14 in Southern Illinois near Carbondale – that will culminate on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It is less than one month away! If you have been thinking about it, now is the time to register!
This is an opportunity for different movements and networks to get together and talk seriously about urgent transformational strategies. This is not a conference, it is a convergence. It is a call to action to radically transform the economic and political systems that drive climate change, forest destruction, exploitation, oppression & the commodification of life.”
Communities and the Earth are under attack. Governments, corporations and elites in North America are collaborating with others to consolidate power, profit and control on a global scale. Their actions are driving climate change, causing mass-extinction of species, devastating communities, and threatening whole peoples and the entire biosphere.
It has never been more critical to build a broad, united movement that can resist this wholesale war against the Earth and humanity. We need participation by people and organizations that bring key pieces to this effort.
If you and/or your organization have a piece of this puzzle, if you believe this radical tranformation of economic, political and social systems is absolutely essential, then join us!
We need your help to ensure the convergence succeeds in its objective of diving deeply into outside-the-box strategies aimed at addressing the root causes of the global crises facing humanity and the Earth–and with the goal of emerging with concrete outcomes toward this fundamental systemic transformation.
Co-convenors of the Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence include Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network and Shawnee Forest Defense!.
You can find more about the convergence, its call to action and its anti-capitalist guiding principles here:
Call to action: https://forestclimateconvergence.org/action
Guiding Principles: https://forestclimateconvergence.org/guiding-principles
The structure of the event: https://forestclimateconvergence.org/strategic-action-sessions
Register here: https://forestclimateconvergence.org/registration
Thank you for considering this invitation to join us in the making of a radical new history, for it has never been more critical.
To paraphrase Che Guevara – Be Realistic. Do the Impossible.
Check out the agenda here
For questions contact forestsclimate2019 (at) gmail (dot) com