One of the speakers at Dunedin’s March for Science was a young woman by the name of Charlie. She was introduced as a part of 350.org, and I admit my heart sank a tad as I prepared to be accosted by the ‘same old’ pollyannaish spiel about how we’re moving in the right direction and how everything will be just fine.
How wrong I was.
Charlie (I spoke briefly with her and a friend afterwards) knows that any talk of transitioning to a low or zero carbon future is ‘off the table’. She knows that all the renewable resources being developed are far too little and far too late, and anyway, are being deployed on top of existing fossil sources of energy – not replacing them.
She gets that investing hope in impossible or improbable technologies (BECCS) in impossible timeframes (less than 20 years) that sets a world of logistics off to one side, is just plain stupid and disempowering.
She’s cognisant of the fact that this isn’t ‘the Anthropocene’ as many like to claim – that it’s a small percentage of humanity that is responsible for global warming and not the entire human race fulfilling some kind of dark manifest destiny.
In a nutshell, Charlie, and I dare to hope a good number of other young people, fully understand that incrementalism – that which essentially amounts to running down the train tracks to avoid the locomotive of global warming, isn’t the direction to go in and is no kind of strategy at all.
Charlie’s aware we need a clean break – a radical and immediate departure. She looks to her possible futures and sees that only revolutionary ones contain prospects.
I owe Charlie and her peers that possibility.
And all of us who are currently closing our eyes, or grasping for a rationale that will justify us hanging on to what we’ve got; that will excuse us approaching the future in a linear fashion whereby tomorrow might be perceived as flowing in a seamless or recognisable progression from yesterday – we owe them that possibility too.
Charlie pointed me to the following observation made by Tim DeChristopher – “If we want to change the status quo, we might have to work outside of some of those rules because the legal pathways available to us have been structured precisely so we don’t make change.”
Indeed. So I’ll be searching out Charlie and her friends again and lending the knowledge and experience this old bugger has accrued from past years of organising, and from times living a less than orthodox life, and putting it all at their disposal to use or discard as they see fit.
It’s the least I can do.
And thank you again Charlie for those few minutes of fresh air, for expressing that rare thing – a flourish of hope that’s firmly rooted in reality.
Last word to Charlie.
“I believe there is nothing more radical than burning more coal, oil and gas despite the urgent call for drastic climate action by frontline communities. There’s nothing scarier than the future of our planet, which our lives depend upon, being decided by a few powerful people.
The power to change the world right now is not democratic, but belongs to a few people. We can change that now.”