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The Climate Emergency and the Election: A Pathway to WWII-Scale Mobilization


The Climate Emergency and the Election: A Pathway to WWII-Scale Mobilization

Ezra Silk

This week I will turn 28, and thoughts of the future are weighing heavily on my mind. Clinging to the idea of a relatively stable future, people encourage me to get real, grow up, and focus on myself — to make a lot of money, have a family, and live out a gratifying and stable upper-middle class life. While I understand the appeal of this vision, its narrowness, amorality, and blind confidence in the crumbling status quo does not inspire confidence.


It appears there will be an economic conflict regarding the priorities of the supposed victor in the election. It will be difficult to manage a “WWII-Scale Mobilization” for climate when the immediate agenda appears to be the mobilization of a WWIII-scale mobilization for war. In other words a continuation of the status quo, just reflect on the trillions already thrown down that rabbit hole these past fifteen years.


The duopoly running the election does not acknowledge that their is a “climate emergency” and would not address it even if they acknowledged it because their goal is to bury issues of consequence and silence candidates who do address them.


Mr. Silk may be almost 28, but he seems to have the vigor and idealism of someone 8 years younger–and the political pragmatism of someone at least 12 years younger.

“Our next goal is to have the leaders of business, labor, the military, world religions, the academy, the media, and civil society join the grassroots in demanding a WWII-scale mobilization to restore a safe climate by the end of this year.”

And that goal did not strike them as being at all unrealistic.

“it is abundantly clear to us that a critical step on the way to initiating a WWII-scale climate mobilization within the next year is the election of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. A vote for Hillary Clinton is the best way to ensure that we can continue our work building a movement for a WWII-scale mobilization”

Illusions can be abundantly clear. Doesn’t make them real. The good news, Mr. Silk, is you’ve got a pretty decent shot at winding up with the election outcome you want. The bad news is that doesn’t mean she will be anything like the president you want.

“I published a draft 110-page Victory Plan that explores how exactly such a WWII-scale mobilization could restore a safe climate and reverse ecological overshoot through a variety of drastic, emergency measures (including a fossil fuel phase-out by 2025”

I’m guessing that’s this one:

That is a very long list of things which Hillary will never do, many of which she would aggressively oppose. I especially enjoyed, under transportation: “We recommend a model year of 2018 to reach an average industry fleet-wide level of 0 grams/mile of all greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons. That means, starting in the summer of 2017, all new light-duty vehicles produced will be zero emissions.” If there were a legislative drive to do such a thing, she’d be leading the opposition and promising to veto it.

“If parallel, extraordinarily potent movements of the 99% and the 1% (we are working every day to create both) arise demanding an immediate WWII-scale mobilization to save civilization, we believe that Hillary Clinton will have little choice but to answer the call. It will become her only option.”

What the masses want will be irrelevant. Hillary will weigh all the options on the basis of which will personally enrich her the most. and eliminating all options but one would be a task with a difficulty level somewhere around impossible-squared. The good news is that you don’t need to constrain her to only one option, you only need to offer her the most lucrative option. The bad news is you will have to rustle up enough cash to outbid all the fossil fuel industries and their financial backers combined. And their financial backers can literally conjure cash out of thin air.

“The movement for an emergency, WWII-scale climate mobilization has reached a tipping point. This is all happening. The only thing that can effectively stop it in its tracks before the end of the year is a Donald Trump presidency”

Or running smack into reality.

“If you vote and/or organize for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, please understand that you are making it less likely that we will be able to effectively deliver a mobilization, since you will be making a Donald Trump presidency more likely.”

Please understand, Mr. Silk, that many of us are not nearly naive enough to accept that over-simplification of odds on your say-so. The first assumption of lesser-evil voting is that we have to consider how others will vote before deciding how we will vote. But if we do that, it becomes obvious that in many states, the contest will not be close enough for one vote to make any meaningful difference in the odds. There will likely be close states, but even then, the national race could still be lopsided enough that even losing a few close states won’t make a difference. But even if one happened to live in a closely contested state, and even if the national Electoral College race was close on election day, the underlying principle of lesser-evil voting is that one must cast one’s vote for a candidate one doesn’t actually want in order to nullify a vote for a leading candidate which one detests even more. But vote nullification doesn’t have to take place in the voting booth. There are a lot of people who don’t want to vote for Trump, but think Clinton would be worse. I’ve set up a tentative agreement with a Libertarian neighbor (to be finalized later) wherein I won’t vote for Hillary and he won’t vote for Trump. That accomplishes the only good that lesser-evil voting is supposed to deliver, while still freeing us up to vote or not vote any other way we see fit.

“It is our moral obligation to be strategic in the fight to save civilization.”

You clearly don’t actually believe that, or you would have included a call for improved and expanded nuclear power in your plan.

“Please consider not just voting for Clinton but organizing to ensure that she wins.”

My prediction is that your appeal here will fall flat and won’t even budge the needle–or at least not in the direction you are hoping. But at least your odds of success on this count are a thousand times better than your chances of rallying a movement for a mass mobilization–so that would only be zero out to seven decimal places.

In sum, your appeals to support and work for Clinton won’t have any effect, but with the help of her rich donors and a cooperative media, she stands a good chance of winning anyway. And then your movement will die from atrophy, or she will send troops to disperse it. She will also expand fracking and exploration licensing, and hold steadfastly to an incremental gradualism approach. So the bad news is that your plan will go nowhere. The good news is that Hillary’s plan includes some far-sighted elements–like support for developing the advanced nuclear technologies you overlooked or dismissed without due consideration–which gives her plan better odds of displacing fossil fuels than your plan ever had.

And that was the only reason that I bothered to ensure that when I don’t vote for her, I won’t be helping Trump.


We are having trouble enough just getting a run of the mill mobilization going to fight climate change. Other than rhetoric I see no signs of anything resembling a WWII-scale mobilization. And what would a WWII-scale mobilization look like? And how would Clinton ever get Congress to go along, particularly the Republican-controlled House where many of the Republicans claim climate change is not even real or is not mainly caused by humans? I believe we will move forward without a WWII-scale mobilization. Clinton has set ambitious goals for green energy. If she is elected I am very confident she will provide global leadership on this issue. That is the single most important function of a US president when it comes to fighting climate change. Given all the obstacles encountered so far in just taking weak steps I don’t understand why activists are making a big deal about a WWII-scale mobilization. I think it will only get them marginalized as people completely in denial of domestic and international political realities.


I’m seeing an attempt to reconcile a vote for HC as being a responsible springboard for climate action. An advertisement for HC. Remember the Obama song and dance? The Democratic Party is pure horse manure these days. You can hope for better until the cows come home, it won’t help.


If you vote for Jill Stein, you will send a clear message to the oligarchs that you have had enough. We do need a WWII level of climate action, and who said this? Jill Stein. You will need to get in the streets and protest. Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be a very corrupt individual who has had pay for play with her foundation, openly rigged a primary, and will more than likely be a Nixon. She will be under assault her entire administration until she is impeached. In fact I would say that her administration would accomplish nothing since it would be embroiled in legal battles. Trump also is a waste, but if enough Berners were elected around him, he would also be a do nothing president with congress over-riding him at every point.


No matter who gets in the W.H. this fall, we will just have to make a mass movement. Remember all the utopian laws passed under Nixon? The Clean Water Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, the Community-Right-to-Know Act, the Mine Safety Act? These were all passed under a corrupt, proto-fascist government. But because movements scared the s%&t out of Nixon, some have called him our last liberal president.

So, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether Hillary or Trump gets in, we have to make him or her so scared of us, that they will be forced to do the right thing. Hillary has the added danger of lulling us into the delusion that incrementalism will suffice, when it won’t.

There’s no other way–if we want the possibility of a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s not ultimately possible, runaway climate change may already be upon us, but if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, do.


The only thing Obama wants to do on a WWII scale is to jail spies. E.g. whistle blowers.


So ironically, we’re at a stage where voting Green works against the environment, voting against candidacy-at-any-cost-Clinton is being unreasonable, yet the claim that Hillary is an anti-humanitarian pretending to be a humanitarian doesn’t unseat her nomination.

This all leads me to conclude that if I don’t want to rock the boat, then I should stick to Green!


Jill Stein


Let me see if I understand the argument of this article. Jill Stein is the only candidate saying what we want, but she isn’t getting enough support, so you should support a war criminal who has shown no inclination to do what you want. That is exactly the kind of logic that got us into this mess!


Like the author says, let’s not be “destroyed by our own cynicism;” and in turn, if Trump is elected, almost certainly commit billions for generations in the developing world to endless suffering from climate catastrophe. eg., https://insideclimatenews.org/news/30092016/stake-climate-change-2016-election-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-paris-clean-power-plan

Chomsky, McKibben, Greenwald, etc., get that. That’s why they advocate voting Clinton in a swing state.


A major issue is that one has to convince the middle class consumers of Asia, around perhaps 800 million people and growing, is that the USAian lifestyle will wreck us all.The USA could switch off the aircons and all walk to work, but there would still be at least two USAs out there, and that ignores Europe, South America, Russia and, increasingly, Africa.

I am glad that there are still optimists such as Mr Silk.


“But Trump though!” As those with that kind of logic would retort.


Silk’s arguments are reasonable; but they rely heavily on speculation about the candidates and their effect on any mass movement (which I agree is needed in any case).

So, based on 45+ years of activism, org. development and leadership, let me offer an alternative vision / scenario.

In this one, once Clinton is elected, Democrats will continue to be splintered and so will any potential mass movement for climate protection (or to defeat the ISDS-laden TPP / TTIP / et al which will surely be pushed with insignificant “tweaks” which will allow Clinton to reverse course once again).

“True Blue” Democrats will warn and be warned that mass demonstrations or any seeming unrest during the already-shaky Clinton tenancy will enable the possibility of a GOP re-taking or solidification of control of Congress in 2019; and of an even more dangerous GOP President in 2020. (Though in my view that outcome is likely in any case, should HRC be elected.)

Thus the threat of an even worse bogey-man will be repeated, as it is in each election. Or, the newly-expanded war in the Middle East, and threats of nuclear face-off with Russia will have the same effect, with the new emergency shoving aside any concern about climate chaos, even as the water in the frog’s pot is already scalding.

Now is the time for Americans to stand together…Not the time for protest”…Editorials and paid propaganda from all the “liberal” mainstream media will proclaim.

Those who’ve been organizing for mass demonstrations, for mass actions like boycotts, labor actions, etc. will find themselves extremely marginalized and unable to recruit, especially from among their usual constituencies…especially the liberal Democrats who once supplied the energy for the civil rights and environmental movements.

Having long ago learned that saving seats for those wearing the “D” badge is far more important than what those D’s do in those seats, very many of the D’s will sit on their hands, shaking their heads at the successfully marginalized activists and joining in the chorus of boos decrying them as unpatriotic.

The sheepdogs having collectively shepherded just enough of the idealistic youth & wannabe progressives into the Democratic fold by convincing them that the Green Party candidate didn’t have any chance, there will exist no progressive political party to challenge the permanent war / corporate duopoly in 2018, 2020 or beyond.

I can’t see what lies much beyond this decade, because, as the complexities inherent in chaos (climate chaos) will already have begun changing the game for human civilization, with mass refugee flows, starvation and disease already destabilizing socio-economic and geo-political systems, the inherent disorder in chaos makes long-range prediction of any kind impossibly useless.


I have not read all the posts below, but at the risk of being redundant, I would like to remind Mr Silk that Jill Stein would not–and indeed cannot–drop out of the race, She is not in the race alone. She represents the values and aspirations of the Green Party of the United States. Does he think that after fighting like hell to even get on the ballot in most states she would simply abandon us and tell all the Greens who voted for her nomination,“Oh, I think I’ll just stop now”? The mere proposal that she do so stinks of political bigotry, Who would ever ask a Democrat or Republican to drop out of the race in a tight election? Unthinkable! And “tight elections” like this are absolutely the creation of the Corporate Duopoly itself, which could easily eliminate the “spoiler” question by getting corporate money out of politics, instituting proportional representation (or at least ranked-choice voting) and allowing any party that is on enough state ballots to have a statistical chance of winning to be included in free and equal debates. But they won’t–because their goal is to game the system and eliminate the competition, not to engage in democracy. Dr Stein won’t quit because we Greens and our progressive allies won’t quit. Period.


I guess this is the cynicism he mentions? There are always so many reasons to slap down the idealists–they’re such unrealistic idealists after all, they’ll never succeed. I have been pretty disgusted with the put-downs this article has received by the supposedly sophisticated CD audience. I work with young people, many of whom are activists. We need to continue encouraging them, not shrug and turn away. As an aside, are you serious when you propose nuclear energy as a viable option? I suppose you are no living next to a nuclear waste dumping site.


Jill keeps trying, but she’s got the charisma of a wet dish towel, and that’s why she will continue to fall flat on her face. At least this is what I am hearing from my friends and acquaintances. Some good ideas, zero charisma, and her position on vaccinations has lost a number of medical professionals who think she’s a loony and ask what other loony ideas will she come up with?


That’s what makes it more frustrating that Sanders capitulated to the democrats and Clinton. He could have endorsed Jill and helped unite independent voters under a single banner. However he managed to fracture them more then ever… We don’t have time for these political games BS!