Gambling a planetary climate capable of sustaining human life for short-term profits exhibits a recklessness, greed, and nihilism of a scale unparalleled in the whole of written human history. Even the environmental and economic disasters of previous eras were minuscule in scope compared with the planetary-scale degradation we now are burdened with reversing or perishing by.
Quite frankly, I don’t give a shit about the whales, the polar bears, the penguins. But when we have a climate system that’s incapable of supporting those creatures, it becomes one incapable of supporting us. Human agriculture exists and functions because we have a climate system which is capable of supporting it. Disrupting that system is—to put it in dry, neoliberal terms—“very unprofitable” in the long run.
In some ways, we are all deniers. We go on about our lives, making long-term plans, as if a Venusian climate isn’t a possibility in a few decades. In many ways, this is a form of climate denial. Perhaps we’re not as guilty as those who present absurd, distracting, or fraudulent arguments that everything is fine, or we’re not as guilty as the executives at fossil fuel companies who knew better but chose to obstruct. But so long we do nothing, we acquiesce the decimation or destruction of life on Earth.
On September 23rd, I will be participating in a general strike, as part of an international call and effort for strikes in cities around the world. The goal of our strike in DC is to pressure policy makers to stop climate change from killing all of us.
For me, the justification is clear. I’ve imagined a future both where I participated in the strike and a future where I skipped it, and the future where I skipped it and went on with business as usual is unbearable. As we choke to death in our own industrial excrement, knowing that I didn’t even take a modicum of action is too cowardly for me to bear.
The hope is, these strikes will be a step in the right direction. Strike, as an action, is both powerful in forcing change and transformative for its participants. This strike will not solve climate change, but it seeds the coalescence of a movement that will.
When I look back on my life, I want to look back and know I fought for the right things.
I want to be able both to live with myself and to die with myself.