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Only Rebellion Will Prevent an Ecological Apocalypse


Only Rebellion Will Prevent an Ecological Apocalypse

George Monbiot

Had we put as much effort into preventing environmental catastrophe as we’ve spent on making excuses for inaction, we would have solved it by now. Everywhere I look, I see people engaged in furious attempts to fend off the moral challenge it presents.



Do more than divest fossil fuels – divest growth. Remove our funds from banks and stock markets.



Reviving zero population growth (ZPG) also wouldn’t hurt !



There was a time some 7,8,9,10 years ago I thought George was thinking straight. Now I just wish he’d kept current with science and hid from his ego.



There have to be precise demands. If we fail (as does Monbiot, in this instance) to articulate substantial demands, we could wind up after the revolution burning just as much fossil fuel as we are today.

Clearly, fossil fuel extraction has to stop. Exhuming fossil carbon to the surface is the very act of violation, from which Earth cannot fully recover for millions of years. Clearly exploration for even more fossil fuel to extract has to stop. And clearly we need transparency regarding the number one emitter of greenhouse gases: the US military.

What is the carbon footprint of warfare? We’re not allowed to know, because then we might realize we’ve been dropping bombs on ourselves. A totally known figure in the Pentagon, where they take this kind of thing seriously – but they won’t tell us. And I’ve never heard pundit nor politician ask this little question.

That’s your tip-off that revolutionary change is impending, one way or the other.



“I see despair as another variety of disavowal”

It is not despair, it is the acknowledgement that most humans would die rather than take action against what they perceive as the “authority”. Until… they are about to die, then they will bitterly blame someone else for their inaction.



Your on a roll today! Good post. And any campaign needs a strategy, a goal that includes demands, and a sustained effort for as long as it takes to meet the goal.

Marching in the street again will get a lot of attention, but then it drops off the front page and peoples minds with nothing of note accomplished…

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There may not BE an answer to this problem, but IF there is, I offer this: https://www.academia.edu/38775466/A_Road_to_Survival



I wonder how we will treat the rich underground dwellers when they peer out from their holes in the ground and want to rejoin society to start ripping us off anew?

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Hi Gandoolf: : ) I think by then that the People will discover that they can actually play Whack a Mole, with the people living underground----those “under grounders,” will no doubt be eaten as they will no doubt be the last of the plump and fleshy humans. : )

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@raydelcamino I was very influenced by ZPG and Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” when I was in highschool in the 1970’s. It’s a large part of why I didn’t have kids. The whole concept disappeared in more recent decades… and now I wonder whether there will be any voluntary slowing of the birth rate. Not holding my breath for that; but undoubtedly Mother Nature will slow it down precipitously if we don’t.



Perhaps a more critical voice to listen to

“…At a time when the government has cracked down on protest, to not see that this could go the other way, and be used simply as a way of increasing already draconian anti-protest legislation and prosecutions, is shortsighted and irresponsible. But beyond that, the cost to individual activists, and the movement as a whole, would be huge…we must be wary of glorifying arrests and incarceration as the only valid way of engaging with a movement. A movement, particularly one seeking to change society as we know it, should not be a coterie of privileged activists who can afford the expense and time getting arrested. It should be about as many people as possible being brought on board. About making noise from all parts of society that’s so deafening, there is no option for those in power but to listen to our demands…”

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As a midwife for 33 years, I had the good fortune to speak directly mother to mother about thoughtful reproduction in an overpopulated world, run by an irresponsible and greedy species. I also had the good fortune to be able to offer them good birth control methods and I imagine I did help hold down the population in my community as well as opening some people’s eyes. And in fact the birthrate has been dropping in this country is over the last 30 years. I can not imagine, why years ago we did not legislate the use of only hybrid engines, which in other countries get much better gas mileage than ours do. We are run by a corporatist oligarchy in this country that doesn’t care about the future. Instead of encouraging the buying of a new, gas guzzling SUV, we should be installing solar panels on our roofs. We have to start somewhere. These are 3 good places to start in ernest.



“Those who govern the nation and shape discourse cannot be trusted with the preservation of life on Earth“

Politicians govern the nation; the people don’t. That seems to be the problem.

Want to fight the power?
Then fight for Direct Liquid Democracy



I am glad this on the table here.

There is another sort of action possible, though it might wind up involving civil disobedience as well. And the actions are not much mutually exclusive.

It is possible to largely withdraw oneself from the global economic juggernaut that causes all this. It is not necessary nor usually advisable to attempt it overnight, and it is usually most effective to engage in various sorts of compromises, but a lot can actually be done.

Malls are full of stores selling things none of us need. Normally we need food, water, a modest bit of clothing, less transport than we generally use, and information. For these and lots of status items, we tend to trade most of our autonomy. It’s not a particularly good bargain, really.

For many people, though not everyone, it is not too difficult to have backyard chickens, fruit and nut trees, and a garden instead of a lawn. A lot of people in cities have swimming pools that could convert quickly to rain-catch storage and fish ponds with floating gardens.

These and lots of other things have been done. It’s a lot easier and more fun to do them gradually and to take some time in learning than it is to be forced to do them almost overnight, as Cuba was with the fall of the Soviet and the heightened American blockade in '89.

There’s a bit of an individual learning curve, but these things have been worked out quite well, and quite a lot of information and classes and help is available under titles of permaculture, restorative agriculture, syntropic agriculture, and the like.

It sequesters loads of carbon, reduces use of hydrocarbon fuels as well as cooling and heating fees, provides healthy non-toxic eats and reliable clean water, something corporations and government are both failing to do more and more often. And hanging out in the garden is enjoyable, and way less work than some seem to think.



Peaceful protests leading to arrest is a proven way of challenging and defeating oppressive governments. In South Africa, India, South Africa again, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the US, and many other places, arrests have been central to attracting coverage and converts, straining the resources of the oppressors, all by making it clear the arrestees are so far from being in it for personal gain they’re willing to suffer anything–abuse, imprisonment, death–in contrast to the oppressors, who are in it only for personal gain, and psychopathological ideology. The draconian anti-protest reaction is exactly how the contrast is made and the argument is moved forward. If there is no punishing reaction the oppressors lose because the action succeeds in its ostensible goals–shutting down operations of government or business, for example. And if there is a reaction, the oppressors lose because it gains sympathy for the protestors and lets their message finally break through the information blockade to the public.

Indeed, while people who avoid arrest, like Julian Assange, open themselves to condemnation, moral judgement, and only reluctant support if that, even from “their side”, people like Tim DeChristopher and Chelsea Manning have garnered huge support–even though Manning is outside the previous bounds of sexual acceptability and thus was a likely target of projective condemnation. Her action and willingness to suffer has moved both movements forward.

Without any intent to insult or judge, I wonder how old you are or where you’ve been and what you’ve been reading for the last 60 years that you don’t know that. It might be good to do some reading about the struggle for independence of India, or the workings of the US civil rights movement.


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Unfortunately, though such actions are good, they aren’t remotely enough to make a difference in whether civilization and the biosphere survive. Only political action can make a difference.

However, we can do both together in a way that moves both causes forward, as the Swaraj movement did in India. “Protestors” (with funding?) can move into an area, give out seeds, seedlings, chicks, ducklings, goats, rabbits, quail, teach homesteading skills, simple energy conservation, efficiency, politics and organizing skills, etc. while they lead, or lead up to effective protests.



I’m 65 and I have done considerable reading of world politics and history.

I expressed no personal opinion on which article is the more correct but posted for something that is sadly lacking in our partisan polarized world - both left and right - debate and discussion. There are differing opinions on strategy and tactics. Commondreams offered one perspective. I thought another should be presented.

I was there when a million protested the Iraq Invasion, but alas, a one-day token march is not suffice to stop a government determined to go to war. I commend ER for realizing that there is required a series of sustained protests. I think you and I both agree that the laws of the state are made workable only by the active consent of its “subjects” and can therefore be made unworkable by the withdrawal of that consent. This is an absolutely basic lesson to be drawn from the history of those countries you listed.

However sympathic I am to ER, does not mean I or anybody else cannot be critical or that we should be denied that right. Too many of those involved in the ER protests show little understanding of the economics of capitalism. Instead, they offer environmental reforms, demanding regulation and legislation, which they trustingly believe capitalists can incorporate into their production processes in the interests of the whole of society without endangering rates of profit. It is this poverty of thought which is the most lamentable aspect of otherwise laudable concern about our planet’s well-being and welfare.

Not only have I read about Indian independence movement but I have spent a few years living there and have visited Gandhi’s museum in Madurai. I’ve witnessed the exercise of the Indian bandh a few times, which has now become quite ritualized to be of any effect these days.



Yes. All very well said, thank you.

I was there, too, on that one day, (with 30 million, actually) and realized the same thing, as many of us did. But there wasn’t enough organization at that point to make more happen. It was one of the main things that led to Indivisible and other groups that have led to the uprising we’re part of now.

I’m aware that most people on the left don’t appreciate the radical lengths to which we’ll have to go to survive; I’ve been trying to tell people for more than a decade, increasingly frustrated, and unfortunately increasingly strident, as time has run out.

All practices become ritualized in the absence of a continued practice of awareness, and unfortunately with our lack of connection to the sacred, all rituals become profane. The ritualized protests here, that scrupulously avoid arrests, or offense of any kind, are useless. We need to be clear on our needs, assertive, and provocative.

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Two things fellow farmer - First nobody is going to put up a banner saying “Everybody do LESS” or “Stop Consuming” or “Stop Driving” Stop Flying" because all of those things get in the way of those same people going out and earning a living. Secondly the reason that nothing much comes of protest and nobody does much the next day is because everyone needs to go to work.

As long as everyone is in debt and/or living paycheck to paycheck TPTB know they just need to wait a couple days and it will all blow over.