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Thank These Climate Activists for Resisting Our Extinction

Thank These Climate Activists for Resisting Our Extinction

Sonali Kolhatkar

At just 16 years old, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has made waves all over the world for her plain-spoken, no-holds-barred chastising of world leaders over their inaction on climate change. Thunberg’s signature calm and the profound magnitude of her quietly delivered warnings were on full display this week as she addressed members of the U.K.

A cautionary word of warning from some anarchists

Very much an Over The Top criticism, but getting into bed with the capitalist class can be the slippery slope to cooption and compromise.

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I don’t get the word “extinction” in this context. With humans approaching 8 billion and growing at a rate of another billion in about 12 years, the problem is the opposite of extinction for humanity, but it does mean extinction of so many, many other species as we crowd into all habitats and demand all the resources. Renewable energy won’t save the mass extinction of Earth’s life forms, it will only make it even easier for humans to spread everywhere and wipe them out. Without addressing population growth its hard to take this that seriously which is maybe one reason this “extinction” movement isn’t getting more attention.

This is a criticism that came up all the time back in the 1980s at the beginning of the Social Investment movement (now called various things like values-based investing, screened investments, etc.) - basically taking your personal values and creating an investment portfolio based on them in addition to the money they make. (There’s always that profit thing with investing - that’s the whole purpose of it and the sole reason for a public corporation’s existance). Some investors were/are willing to make a lesser yield in exchange for cleaner stocks, others not so much. But regardless, you’re still relying on and supporting the capitalist, for-profit first system. I knew and worked with many of the people involved with that movement at the time. But for me, it didn’t go far enough or deep enough and the earth barely counted in most people’s portfolios. That said, screened values-based investments can make a difference (such as the divestment from South Africa campaign).

Today, the earth is in such dire straits that capitalizing on the necessary radical transformation to an economy that puts life (all life not just human life) at the center is inappropriate and selfish. The whole point is to move away from money/profit/power as primary. Certainly changes to our infrastructure, agricultural systems, energy systems/grid, restoration of degraded lands and so on will provide worthwhile jobs and absolutely necessary services and improvements. But this must happen regardless - if people make money on it or not it must happen.

We are at a transition period - moving from an economy for the rich to an economy for the living earth - at least that’s what’s needed if we aren’t to become extinct along with all other life forms that have evolved to this point on earth - which is, to me, what the “extinction” in the ER stands for, so I didn’t see it as a strange thing despite the reality that we have massively overpopulated the earth. We do have the ability to make the transition. We have the technology, the resources, and the skills. What we don’t seem to have is the will at the political level to make the needed policy/systemic/financial changes. What will be required is a massive transformation of values, that must happen literally overnight because we have already waited decades longer than we should have. Allowing our so-called “leaders” to control the situation, acting like sheep without minds/hearts of our own, seeming to believe that our current economic system is somehow god-given and emminently unchangeable - all of which are absolutely not true. Men created our current economic/political systems and we (women and men) can and must change them.

In the many years since the 1980s, years in which we could have (and should have) been moving towards a sustainable, ecological, human-scale economy that is localized/regionalized, we have done exactly the opposite. And so today we are faced with a situation so dire thanks to speeding up climate change, increasing devasation of the gifts (resouces they are called) of the planet, loss of beauty and biodiversity . . . I could go on . . . that drastic measures are called for. The problem with these transitional models/plans/investments like what you posted, is that they become their own reason for being rather than the bridge to a different future that their founders may have intended. Like many of the “do good” businesses that started in the 1980s (Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farms, Celestial Seasonings, etc.) they sell out, are bought out, or morph into just another big corporation out to make a buck. Very few manage to avoid that fate so it’s realistic to assume that the businesses aligned with the ER will fall into that same trap.

I’m not sure what the solution is. It seems to be inherent in human nature to want to grow, grow, grow even when initially that was not the plan. It’s like an addiction. Somehow we need to find ways of holding these people accountable and, at the same time, create (and fund because money is always necessary, at least at this point in time) real alternatives at the community and regional levels. The more conventional businesses are like the training wheels. And when we can ride without them, they are disbanded - put out of business while their skills etc. are integrated/absorbed back into the local regions. How that would work? That’s what we need to discover. And we’d better do it fast because time is really running out.

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Greta Thunberg has revealed that “The Empires Have No Clothes.”


Have you read Cory Morningstar’s expose of the manipulation of non-for-profit NGOs by the oligarchs and venture capitalists, beginning ten years ago? Here is the link: