I’m Preparing for Climate Collapse

I’m Preparing for Climate Collapse – We’re in the Anthropocene Now #DeepAdaptation

By Gecko Tango

I have been aware that planetary ecosystems have been unravelling for some time now. For a long time, I was afraid, alone in the dark, but after taking action with a number of groups which included Campaign against Climate Change and Reclaim the Power, I finally found a group of people who really understood the end-to-end problem. They call themselves Rising Up! and they became my friends. We support each other. That support gives me hope.

Other members of the group are fearless. They tell the truth and act as if that truth is real. Their actions gave me courage to act too. So, I locked-on and was arrested. We shut down a frack site; four of us, in a chicane in the road. After a trial and re-trial the charges were dismissed. I’d broken the law and walked away. Vindicated! The sweet taste of victory. But it wasn’t enough. We blockaded that frack site for a month and it wasn’t enough to stop them.

I’m ready to act again. That’s the path were on now. We all have to take direct action. That doesn’t mean we all need to be arrested. But we all have to believe in it. Anything else is just denial; walking away from the problem; I can’t accept that.

Some of my friends were arrested more than 10 times last year. Yet it seems to have made them stronger, more determined. It’s empowering, but I’m under no illusions. It’s going to take a lot more of us to stop this Sixth Extinction event and the climate crisis that we’ve entered.

We have begun to build support structures. We have developed a holistic, Regenerative Culture. We soon realised that we’re fighting for our survival; that there was a looming war of sorts. For me, it had started with the onshore expansion of extreme energy or fracking; for others it was the wanton destruction of ancient woodland or erosion of social justice. So, we built affinity groups and designed actions. It’s kinda fun but it’s also breaking our hearts. There is a shared grief and trauma but the healers, mystics and storytellers have found us at the right time. We all help each other.

We survived last Winter and decided we needed to be more assertive this year. So, we plotted a Rebellion. We collectively came up with the name. I didn’t like it at first, but it’s caught on now. We called it Extinction Rebellion. It’s starting to pop-up in unusual places. Even on the TV and I see stickers of the Extinction Symbol in pubs that don’t look like the usual activist hangouts.

We declared the Rebellion in Parliament Square. We blocked the road outside the Houses of Parliament with a thousand people. It was the right place to start. Some of my friends were arrested; taken away in police vans and then released. I don’t think anyone was charged. It was the best Halloween I’ve ever had. I woke up on the Day of the Dead and felt alive. I started to believe again.

A few weeks later the Extinction Rebellion shut down 5 bridges with 6,000 people. I was at a small gathering in West Wales, but I could feel the energy 250 miles away. I felt connected to it; connected to them.

Lots more people were arrested. I think it the final count on that day was 84, but does it really matter? We were all over the news.

Almost. Every. Single. News Outlet.

Well, apart from The Telegraph of course! I mean you can’t expect the Torygraph to cover it. How can the Barclay Brothers possibly know what’s happening on the mainland? They live on one of the those small Channel Island Secrecy Jurisdictions, in a bubble; disconnected.

I’m not expecting everybody to understand it.

We did a funeral march from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace. There was Guerrilla Gardening and two of my friends glued themselves to the Queen’s railings. You should have seen the police. They’ve never looked dafter. Standing there like pawns on a chessboard. I’ve never seen Bronze and Silver Commanders look so dumbfounded. Normally they stand there bossing all the lower ranks around. But they were powerless, almost. We completely outnumbered them. It was surreal; enriching.

I’m not expecting it to remain this way. There’ll be a backlash at some point. We need to prepare for that. I hope we’ll be ready. We have the courage but are we prepared? Only time will tell.

Just this last week, new groups have formed in India, Brasil, Uganda and the Pacific Islands; and that’s in addition to what’s going on in the Global North. I can’t believe it really. I have to pinch myself. It feels unreal. Then I launch my Twitter feed and watch the news. I read the stories. I see Rebellion breaking out over a tapestry of climate chaos and the horrors of ecocide.

It makes me cry. I fall asleep. Then it’s 6am and I’m waking before the alarm and it’s another day.

It’s Monday morning.

We need to prepare; Deep Adaptation is where it’s at now.

We’re preparing for collapse. But we’re survivors. Will we be alive at 1.5? I don’t know.

I think of the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met, and I hope that they’re still alive: Nepal and Bolivia; the Philippines and Cambodia; South Africa and Lesotho; Morocco and Cuba.

What does their Deep Adaptation strategy look like? And then I remember, the tales they told me. Years ago, when airplane travel was just something I almost took for granted. That bright white day on the Salar de Uyuni; talking to those children in a small village in Lesotho; my Nepalese guide telling me that Maoist insurgents were gathering in the hills and how the rice terraces were collapsing from erosion and ecological degradation.

They were already enacting it. Ecological breakdown had already reached them.

The last time I left Europe was 3 years ago. I flew to Costa Rica.

I promised myself that was the last one. The last long haul flight.

I said I’d review it in 4 years. But I know now, it has to be the last one. I can still travel overland and a little by sea. I’m not gonna confine myself to England, Wales and Scotland. I can travel slowly to Portugal, Finland and Poland. But that’s for next year maybe, or 2020. In the meantime we’ve lots to do. We have to ban fracking and end coal; stop the expansion of Heathrow Airport; show that nuclear is not an option; restructure our broken farming system.

We can do this. We have the numbers. We have to believe. We have to empower others to act.

I want A Better Apocalypse too. I’m not the only one.

 

Tampa Bay Rebellion

Why we need a non-violent direct action movement against climate change, right here, right now

If the constant hurricanes and wildfires didn’t get your attention, the scientific bombshell should have.  In October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, Global Warming of 1.5 °C.  The panel is a UN body of thousands of scientists that analyses all the latest scientific papers to draw conclusions.  They found that in order to have a decent chance of avoiding the runaway climate change found above 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, we must aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 (based on 2010 levels), and then reach zero emissions by the middle of this century.

These numbers, and the scale of challenge they represent, horrified many people.  But I haven’t seen much reporting on what it means for specific countries. The United States emits higher levels of greenhouse gases per person than most nations, so the cuts must necessarily be even deeper.  I invite more statistical minds to improve on them, but according to my rough calculations based on population size and global emissions share (neither of which has changed drastically since 2010), in order to do its fair part the United States must cut emissions by around 85% in the next eleven years.

The IPCC’s recommendations are buttressed by calls for a global 20% cut in material consumption levels, dropping coal use by around two thirds, oil in half, and natural gas by a third, all by 2030.  Again, all of these targets will need to be higher in wealthy, high consumption countries.  Look at the figures and ask yourself if the IPCC, scientists with an inclination to say nothing they can’t prove, are appealing for anything other than the bare minimum of what they think might be necessary.  We need to aim higher than these goals to have a chance of at least meeting them.

Almost immediately following the release of the report came news of Extinction Rebellion, and their inspiring campaign of mass economic disruption.  On December 2nd a launch event for Extinction Rebellion US took place in Washington DC. The movement has since spread to over 35 countries and 200 local chapters.  We can all now have the pleasure of joining in as the US day of action approaches on January 26th, followed by the international day of action on April 19th.

There are numerous reasons why people in the United States may not have heard about any of these protests, the most obvious being the drama of the midterm elections.  We should care about who is put in office. The Trump administration’s assault on the environment is representative of an increasingly desperate fossil fuel industry. But when it comes to climate change, we haven’t the luxury of obsessing over it, as the click-dependent media that helped to put him in power would have us do.  If our movements are strong, worthy politicians will seek to follow them. Largely independent of Trump, plans are in the dirty pipeline to expand two major sources of greenhouse gases in Tampa Bay, and they have so far been met with almost no opposition. Nothing makes the people destroying our environment happier than silence.

Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach is the only coal burning plant located around Tampa Bay, and is one of the largest in the state.  Operator Tampa Electric (TECO) sent out a customer letter in May of this year detailing their hopes for modernisation.  The plan is to retire one antiquated coal-and-gas-fired unit and convert another to a modern natural gas unit (two primarily coal-fired units would remain in use).  It sounds like progress. This conversion however is gambling on the long-term continuation of the American fracking boom and all of its associated problems (fracked wells now provide two thirds of U.S. natural gas production).  The Trump government has spent the last two years trying to remove rules that oblige oil and gas companies to at least try to plug methane leaks, rather than letting it vent into the atmosphere, and those attempts can be expected to continue.  Because methane is some 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, fracked gas is arguably just as bad for the climate as coal, if not worse. This proposal is not progress at all.

If we believe fracking is unsuitable for Florida, it’s hard to see why we should financially support it happening in other places.  Tampa Electric says the project, if implemented, will cost $1 billion, take ten years to finish, and should be expected to last thirty-five or forty.  These numbers should set alarm bells off in the heads of all climate activists considering the small window of time we have left.  Are we going to let them expend all this money and effort to make a one-time conversion that will make no discernable difference to electricity emissions?

The company has made much of its investments in solar, including one project at Big Bend itself, which they brag is the biggest in Tampa Bay.  The array produces 23 megawatts (MW) of electricity, or approximately 1.35% of the amount currently produced at the fossil power station.  Other projects are expected to bring their total solar to 600 MW, or 7% of their total generation, by 2023.  But sunny Florida ranks a sad 8th in total solar generation nationwide, with California producing over ten times our capacity and powering 17% of their grid.  TECO has the means to expand these solar plans rapidly rather than give a money stream to the fracking industry, and that’s where the majority of the $1 billion budget should be going (aside from the decommissioning costs of the coal units).

This investment is even worse when you consider that natural gas, whether fracked or not, is now in direct competition with renewables to replace coal, and TECO’s current funding of solar amounts to a mere $50 million.  In the decade leading up to 2016 their profits almost doubled to $250 million.  CEO Nancy Tower earned $1.5 million last year, while CEO of parent company Emera, Robert Bennett, earned almost $2.2 million.  All that matters in judging a proposal in terms of climate change is whether it lines up with the goals of the IPCC report, not whatever positive framing a company might use to present it to the public.  Construction is expected to begin in June 2019.

When it comes to the various failures of the big green NGOs in this country, nothing stands out like their disregarding of the climate change impacts of aviation.  Going on a flight is the most damaging climate choice that an individual can make. A fully-booked return trip from London to New York produces around 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per person (with the average American carbon footprint being about 19 tonnes a year).  Planes use vast amounts of kerosene over vast distances, with a global warming effect that is, according to the IPCC, around 2.7 times higher than the carbon emissions they produce (due partially to the height at which planes operate).  While aviation currently accounts for about 5% of global warming, it is also the fastest growing sector, at a time when other industries are at the very least under pressure to shrink their emissions.  The 20,000 planes in the air today are projected, under a business as usual scenario, to number 50,000 by as soon as 2040.  The EU predicts that if this exception continues to be made for aviation its share of global CO2 output could be 22% by 2050.

The ballooning of the sector hugely outstrips all slight improvements in fuel efficiency, as most of the significant gains on this front have already been made.  Alternative fuels (like hydrogen) and tech designs (like solar planes) remain little more than public relations stunts.  Even if such routes were feasible, planes are expensive, so airlines keep them in service for decades, and are not likely to retire them early and build new ones without massive political pressure.  Until a pathetic voluntary offset deal was struck in 2016, aviation was routinely ignored by national and international climate treaties because governments didn’t want to admit a simple fact: the only way to get a large cut in airline emissions is a large cut in the number of flights.  Despite American driving habits, flying already makes up 12% of all transport emissions nationally (it’s not clear how or if this number includes international flights).

With this information in mind, it’s possible that what is slated to happen at Tampa International Airport is even worse than what is happening at Big Bend.  The publicly owned airport has already spent a billion dollars on part one of a three phase plan, and intends to spend another billion.  It involves turning the airport into what some have called a “mini-city,” complete with offices, retailers, hotels, restaurants, and a giant car rental centre, with phase two expected to begin in late 2019.  More alarmingly, the final phase of the project is designed to expand capacity from the 19.6 million passengers of 2017, to accommodate 34 million in the coming years as demand grows.  This is classic expansionist spin: by building the extra gates and capacity, the airport is helping to stoke the increase in demand.

“It’s critical that we keep this airport up to date and support this kind of growth for the next twenty to thirty years,” Hillsborough County Aviation Authority chair Robert Watkins said in February.  I’m sure it will seem like a wonderful investment when Tampa is hit by a seventeen foot storm surge that puts the runways underwater.  In a world where oil consumption must be cut in half within twelve years, is it logical or fair to allow an airport to almost double its emissions?  Or should all that effort perhaps go into alternative modes of travel? If you’re currently objecting that our economy is highly dependent on flights from tourists, seasonal visitors and retirees, you are correct, and should be very angry at businesspeople and politicians who for decades have argued that this is a sustainable model.  Luckily, CEO Joe Lopano (projected compensation for this year: $625,000, one of the highest paid airport CEOs in the country) has another plan, which is to have Tampa International achieve carbon neutral status.  There’s just one problem: it only includes emissions from planes when they’re within the perimeter of the friggin’ airport.

Given the almost complete lack of dissenting voices against these projects from either the press or local environmentalists (with the quiet exception of Sierra Club), direct action that causes disruption and draws attention is the only tactic that is going to drag them into public consciousness in anything like the speed that is necessary.  These actions would be demanding and potentially dangerous. Last summer five workers were burned to death at Big Bend whilst trying to clean underneath an active boiler.  Airports are terrifying places to contemplate breaking the law.  But climate activists managed interventions against runway expansions at Heathrow Airport and other UK airports in the years immediately following the attacks on the London Underground, and the introduction of the “liquids as bombs” terrorism approach that annoys fliers to this day.  The U.S., with its paranoid and highly armed security apparatus, offers more challenges. But like all the others, we must overcome or subvert them.

The Extinction Rebellion protests are aimed primarily at political targets in capital cities.  Aside from the issue of geographic barriers that we face from way down here, actions against actual emission points are still important, and can supplement and build momentum for the general idea of the non-violent uprising (and we can of course find worthy structural targets closer to home should we so choose).  If we don’t oppose these plans that go full throttle in the wrong direction, and oppose them hard, they will make a mockery of any commitments our region makes — in the present or future — to 100% renewable energy. Climate change work that focuses on what we build at the expense of what we close down is missing the fundamental point.

Individuals can only choose honestly for themselves, but we must be brutally honest about what is a reason for holding back and what is an excuse.  As a childless, partially youthful white male, I have certain advantages when it comes to confrontational protest. But I’m also a green card holder in an age where even green card holders and American citizens are not safe from deportation, and it seems as if almost anything can happen.  I’m still more afraid of climate change than I am of the government. The chances are good that you also have room to maneuver in assisting with such actions.  As ever, we need supporters, such as legal experts, child care givers, drivers, writers, medics and mental health experts, cooks, artists and funders.  That means we need you.

This is a call to all the good people who support local businesses, care about plastic and straw pollution, voted to ban offshore oil drilling and expand transit spending in Hillsborough, decry the red tide and go on climate change demonstrations.  Now or never is the time for commitment and sacrifice. In my article on the Rise Up Climate march in St. Petersburg in September, I raised questions about whether it was worth our finite efforts to force a transition in a part of the world that is incredibly vulnerable to already locked-in climate change.  I still think that is an important discussion. But whether we remain here or not, there is now no doubt that we have a responsibility to suffocate major sources of greenhouse gas emissions on our doorsteps. If we fail to see any developments on this front, if the community appears to have insufficient will to survive, it will only become worthy of abandonment in another sense.  Tampa Bay is heading for extinction. The architects of that extinction are banking on our indifference. Are you ready to rebel?

The Extinction Rebellion Tampa Bay planning page can be found here.  Planning meetings are taking place weekly.  James Lamont can be contacted at jamesalexanderlamont[at]gmail.com. His website is Radical Beat.

So It Has Come To This

Extinction Rebellion Diary #1:

Written by Roger Hallam

Content editor: Matthew Tehanu: epictomorrows.com

Copy-editor: Julian Langer: ecorevoltblog.wordpress.com feralculture.blog

[Originally this was sent to The Ecologist. Without permission, The Ecologist changed key elements ending up with a diluted message. Visit here to see the toxic media version.]

The forests are burning, the temperatures are soaring and people are dying. And this is just the beginning. The silence on the climate crisis has become deafening this summer as temperature records are again broken all around the globe. In complexity theory as a system comes under increasing pressure there is often a period of calm before a “phase transition” – when the system breaks down into new state. This calm is about to break.

In the UK the conventional campaigning revealed yet again this June its abject failure to influence the political establishment. Thirty years since scientists told us that we are heading for ecological collapse, if we do not act, a majority of Labour and Tory MPs voted through the UK’s biggest carbon intensive infrastructure project – the Third Runway at Heathrow Airport. Once completed it will produce more carbon emissions than entire countries – Portugal or Chile. No act confirms more clearly the pathological criminality of our political class.

So it has come to this: rebellion!

This November we will rebel against the genocide our rulers have planned for us. We will go to London and block transport and government infrastructure. We will be arrested. Once released we will do it again. To stop us they will have to imprison us. We will appeal to people to rise up and join us. But whether they do so is not important. What is important now is for us to make a stand – to engage in a direct political struggle, which is appropriate to the crisis we face. We must speak the blunt truth – we are heading for extinction. We must act as if that truth is real – to rebel.

This to many of us this is already a liberation. Finally after decades of emailing, donating, marching: after years of growing depression, desperation, and despair we have reached this point. We will no longer tolerate the destruction of this beautiful planet – the humiliation of seeing this crime of all crimes take place year in and year out throughout our whole lives. We have decided crying alone in the dark is no way to deal with our piercing grief at this horror. We are going act and action is the antidote to despair. When the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto finally accepted reality – that they would all die in the concentration camps – only then did they rebel. Almost all of them were killed, but they died as they put it – “with honour” rather than as sheep to the slaughter.

This is our choice today. For those with eyes to see and the brains to do basic maths we know the game is up. Not so long ago we were told by scientists in no uncertain terms that we should not go over 350 part per million of CO2 in the atmosphere otherwise we would face catastrophe. We are now at 410. The increase used to be 1ppm a year, then it rose to 2ppm, we are now approaching 3ppm. In a decade or so we will be crossing 450ppm – the equivalent of the Paris limit of 2C. At 500ppm “all bets our off” in the words of Professor Peter Ward. He means we will have triggered the geo physical feedbacks which will lead to our extinction. After years of denial we finally have to accept the terrible truth – those in authority are going to kill us – the infliction of unimaginable suffering on billions of innocent people. This is what is planned – openly and wilfully. There is no greater crime.

So the time for facts and figures is over – the speculations, the distractions – the talks that lead to more talks. All we face is “blood sweet and tears”. We are adults and no longer children. Citizens, as John Locke, our most important political philosopher, declared have both a right and a duty to rebel against tyranny – governments which plan the deaths of their peoples. The British people have a history of not taking bullshit from their rulers. We did not do so in the past and we will do it no longer in the present. Live free or die. We have made our choice.

Already, around the country, hundreds are answering our call. We started our presence in London, Bristol, and Stroud. We now have groups in Frome and Exeter. The rebellion is spreading.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) needs you! We are calling for a national mobilisation on the scale of WWII. We demand that carbon emissions be reduced to zero by 2025, a task only as ‘impossible’ as war-time mobilisation in 1939. This aim is in line with The Climate Mobilisation (TCM) in the USA. We can do this, but we need your help. Please ‘like’ our Facebook page @ExtinctionRebellion and message the page to offer support. Connect with us on Twitter @ExtinctionR. As well as the civilly disobedient on the frontline, we seek media specialists, writers, editors, public speakers, software designers, performers and artists of all kinds to help spread the XR campaign.

Email the author of this article, organic farmer, public speaker and successful carbon divestment campaigner Roger Hallam, on organics2go@googlemail.com

So It Has Come To This?: Rebelling Against Toxic Climate Media

TOXIC CLIMATE MEDIA #1
Here is the original article as published by The Ecologist.
Below is the same article copied and pasted, with The Ecologist’s mistakes noted as comments in bold.
Here is the original article that was sent to The Ecologist.
We do not wish this to be an attack on the editor of The Ecologist personally, but have no qualms in holding this incident up as an example of how the liberal climate in the environmentalist media refuses to allow the honest and mobilising environmental writing that is called for in these increasingly desperate times. In short, neo-liberal economic values, negating the need for deep systemic change in our society, have infected the environmentalist media, even on the supposed political left.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………

‘So It Has Come To This?

[Question mark was added by The Ecologist. Takes away urgency and arguably changes whole tone of article. When asked to change it back, The Ecologist said they couldn’t ‘because of backlinks’]

[Photograph of a protest march is inserted here in The Ecologist article, with no consent. the protest march is misleading as Extinction Rebellion believes marches will get us nowhere.]

Extinction Rebellion is a new group [Extinction Rebellion is a campaign, not a group. Rising Up! is the parent organisation] advocating for direct action to confront climate change.
ROGER HALLAM reports: [Matthew Tehanu and Julian Langer as content and copy-editors were ommitted, with no explanation, along with links to their blogs which are possibly seen as too radical i.e. truthful, to the liberal Ecologist.]

In complexity theory, when a system comes under increasing pressure there is often a period of calm before a “phase transition” – when the system breaks down into new state. This calm is about to break.

The conventional campaigning has, yet again, revealed its failure to influence the political establishment. Thirty years since scientists told us that we are heading for ecological collapse, a majority of Labour and Tory MPs voted through the UK’s biggest carbon intensive infrastructure project – the third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Rebellious struggle [this subheading, added by The Ecologist, arguably fossilises Extinction Rebellion as an object of intellectual enquiry, breaking the momentum of the original piece which has an urgent, motivating tone.]

Once completed, the expanded Heathrow will produce more carbon emissions than the entire country of Portugal. No act confirms more clearly the pathological criminality of our political class.

So it has come to this: rebellion! 

This November we will rebel. We will go to London and block transport and government infrastructure. We will be arrested. Once released we will do it again.

To stop us they will have to imprison us. We will appeal to people to rise up and join us. But whether they do so is not important. What is important now is for us to make a stand – to engage in a direct political struggle that is appropriate to the crisis we face.

Climate catastrophe [same criticism as for subheading above]

We must speak the blunt truth – we are heading for extinction.

Finally after decades of emailing, donating, marching; after years of growing depression, desperation, and despair, we have reached this point.

We will no longer tolerate the destruction of this beautiful planet. The humiliation of seeing this crime of all crimes take place year in and year out throughout our whole lives. We have decided that crying alone in the dark is no way to deal with our piercing grief at this horror.

We are going act and action is the antidote to despair. This is our choice today.

Not so long ago we were told by scientists in no uncertain terms that if we exceed 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere we would face catastrophe. We are now at 410.

Rights and duties [same criticism as for subheading above]

The increase used to be 1ppm a year, then it rose to 2ppm, we are now approaching 3ppm. In a decade or so we will be crossing 450ppm – the equivalent of the Paris limit of 2C.

In the words of Professor Peter Ward, at 500ppm “all bets our off”. He means that we will have triggered the geophysical feedbacks that will lead to our extinction.

After years of denial we finally have to accept the terrible truth – those in authority are going to kill us – the infliction of unimaginable suffering on billions of innocent people. This is what is planned – openly and wilfully. There is no greater crime.

So the time for facts and figures is over – the speculations, the distractions – the talks that lead to more talks. We are adults and no longer children.

[a very significant section here about our duty to rebel against the government was cut out]

Already, around the country, hundreds are answering our call. We started our presence in London, Bristol, and Stroud. We now have groups in Frome and Exeter. The rebellion is spreading.

Get involved

Extinction Rebellion (XR) needs you! We are calling for a national mobilisation on the biggest scale ever.  We demand that carbon emissions be reduced to zero by 2025.

This aim is in line with The Climate Mobilisation (TCM) in the USA. We can do this, but we need your help.

Please ‘like’ our Facebook page, follow @ExtinctionR on Twitter, and message us to offer support.

As well as the civil disobedience on the frontline, we seek media specialists, writers, editors, public speakers, software designers, performers and artists of all kinds to help spread the XR campaign.

[final thoughts: the main crimes are the header image of the march, and the question mark in the title. A lot of content has been cut out, which is standard editorial practice for many publications. However, we feel that the cut content included some of the more radical phrasing, which was integral to the overall tone of the original piece.]