Glad we got ourselves to Peace & Justice Center, Santa Rosa, to hear Daniel Solnit posit on how on earth to save the earth, its people and critters last week. The talk was about perfect in presentation, historic reference, insight. Now a union organizer, Solnit once led the GMO Free Sonoma County effort as well as a strong community choice aggregation campaign, still underway. He called this a teach-in.
He offered a fine reference sheet listing books well known to us and some we’ll be grateful to read. Donella Meadows, Joanna Macy, Thom Hartmann. We should trade lists! Our everything dining room table is heavily laden with books we deem necessary to grok what is going on as well as a mountain of magazines that never seems to dimish no matter how many trips to the library’s Dorothy’s Place second hand book store within. Just too much thinking going on? Glad we have flowers to pick, chickens to listen to and feed.
Without analysis, it’s true, all these reference materials can just cause a headache and no action…and we need more action with less headaches. So, again, glad to take a look inside Daniel’s mind. You can watch his Occupy Sonoma County presentation @ Peace & Justice Center @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Yx1-alWpjk
He talked of barriers to climate action, political and economic, and psychological, the need to build courage to move ahead. Thom Hartman and his observation we’re currently burning “recent sunlight” and that coal changed everything, now using 200x the energy we used before fossil fuels became our energy, doubling carbon emissions, the remaining oil hard to extract.
He explained ERoEI, energy returned for energy invested as a net loss – it takes more energy to GET fuel than the fuel is worth (?) Hope I got that…
Meanwhile, most oil is in war zones, most wars being where the fuel is! And meanwhile, there is a loss of stored carbon, wetlands in particular.
Climate change is not linear, Solnit said, there is a tipping point where damage happens:
polar ice sheets melting, a reinforcing feedback loop with its cascading effect and melting permafrost, methane on the ocean floor, all pointing to various disasters. 500-5,000 gigatons of methane are caught under the sea, but he thinks/hopes we won’t have to deal with that soon.
The UN/Paris Agreement goal to keep temperature to 1/5degree C is nearly impossible, it seems. We may be near 1 degree rise already and could easily get to a runaway climate catastrophy – we must reverse course!
Deep adaptation (how we survive) requires a map of navigation to avoid climate tragedy, according to Jern Bendell, Ph.D. And we must learn to deal with climate refugees, perhaps a BILLION.
Tools to address this include international treaties, government laws and regulations, corporate “market” solutions and new tech, though he warns against hidden dangers. Luckily, trees can play an important role and consumer actions can be focused.
350.org points to 10 things you can do – but these are too limited and all our actions may just account for 22% reduction in emissions. Obviously, we need powerful allies!
We have solutions, but what stands in our way? Capitalism, endless expansion, is not possible (Edward Albee). Our current system is unsustainable due to speculation, explotation, greed and inequality. Wages are flat though there is a doubling of productivity, the profits going to the top with more people bankrupt as the 1% consolidates its wealth, political and social control through media, religion, cultural institutions and through societal norms.
Solnit calls this Late Stage Vulture Capitalism, the privitization of what was the commons, a rise in authoritarianism seen in many countries with attacks on unions, austerity and shortages, corruption and a loss of government’s legitimacy.
There is, however, popular resistance in Chile, in Hong Kong, in 30-40 countries rising up against authoritarianism and inequality. Capitalism isn’t working! Another world is possible.
Solnit places mass movements atop his list of forces for change. Sunrise, Youth vs. Apocalypse, Extinction Rebellion are mentioned, youth-led, bringing young people out to protest with their adult supporters and a call for a better world. “Dear Democrats, what is your plan?” asks Sunrise and makes a commitment to hold politicians’ feet to the fire – “Moral disruption until we get the Green New Deal,” backed up by Alexandria Occasio Cortez, Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein as they speak out in D.C. and elsewhere.
The U.S. Military is the biggest polluter in the world, according to Solnit. “We’re not going to fund war,” say the young activists.
Ecosia, he says, is great. “The Ecosia community has planted 30 million trees! “Thanks to our users, we’ve restored 30,000 hectares of forest and planted over 400 different species of native tree. This doesn’t just mean that 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 have been removed from the atmosphere.Jun 12, 2018″ Somehow, you use the net, they plant the trees.” Look Ecosia up!
Internal conditioning that keeps us ineffective:
We suffer from cognitive dissonance:
We become aware of danger, hit the flight or fight button, take action, releasing tension (trembling) and feel powerless with stored trauma, a global PTSD, built by sexism, racism, social class, all forms of oppression creates collective trauma. “American exceptionalism is not who we really are.”
We are confronted with the Hungry Ghost (Buddhist concept of entity entirely greedy, never satisfied, the push to grow without limits!) We’re not powerless, but separation keeps us from rising up. And we have a collective trauma to overcome.
DON’T PANIC say many; Greta Thunberg says “I want you to panic!” So we stay in emergency mode, needing to let go of fear over and over. We must now build self-care in to all we do.
Like Sunrise, Solnit believes we need a WWII style mobilization. Rob Hopkins, Transition Movement, reminds us it took 10 years to get to the moon and a lot of imagination, imagination key to our success.
Solnit calls himself a Radically feminist socialist ….lost a word here…but the direction is solid! Did he use the word anarchist?
We must give people a sense of collective power, connection with others, Medicare for All, redirect medical industry money – enough “fat” to cover college tuitions across the country. We are mis-using our youth, says Solnit, making it impossible for young people to give their best due to college tuition debt!
We’re ripe to take on PG&E, Solnit feels. It should be public! Some cities are working on purchase of PG&E grid!
6-8 counties in California have adopted CCA – community choice aggregation – and this is hopeful!
Climate Mobilization helps us use the courts to make progress.
Kevin Danaher (Green Festival, Global Exchange) “We’re all on the Titanic and people come around on a Tikki raft!” (He’s still having fun! Last saw Danaher at a Permaculture Convergence where he told us he’s starting a large eco-village near Feather River College, Quincy, where he teaches).
DISSENT DEVELOPS DEMOCRACY and we need to build a CULTURE OF RESISTANCE, a vision and values-based movement where all life matters.
A picture of a Nazi rally with clowns confounding them: White Flour, the clowns called the action. Protesters in Hong Kong use umbrellas to communicate without phones.
Does our process match our values? Keep asking. And we must support people of color – those most affected by climate crisis. Build intersectionality with Black Lives Matter; build with climate justice, leaving current silo mode behind (cannot afford to behave like the Lone Ranger).
Standing Rock protests brought a new sense of connectedness to land and we need to build connections with frontline communities without cultural appropriation.
We must lift up working people. Photo (from Sun Magazine?) of an African(?) woman facing off helmeted police – Moral Presence visible.
Framing and narrative: what is the story we wish to convey? Who are the heros?.
Our imagination is our most powerful tool. Any action with human outrage breaks through stuckness. A story about a better world encourages all.
You can find the entire talk @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Yx1-alWpjk