We should of course be angry at the right people at the right time and in the right ways (1). There has been an achingly successful campaign first to deny the existence of climate change, then to say that doing anything about it can either wait or would be massively expensive. We should be angry at the people who did that, or were complicit in it, through their silence.
No rational person would argue with that.
Here is where I lose you.
We should be angry at the environmentalists – not just “Big Green” but ALSO what Naomi Klein fetishizes as “blockadia.” Not because they were outplayed, outgunned, that they were complicit and/or self-regarding.
Not just for that, but because of this.
Nobody is talking about what comes after Glasgow. Nobody is talking about how the three year “issue attention cycle” might very well close.
That’s not to say there won’t still be talk of climate change. There is now too much government policy, too much corporate pledging, too many riled up folks for the issue to disappear as sharply as it did in 1992 and 2010. History doesn’t repeat, but she does rhyme.
If we had a responsible, strategic set of “leaders” of the green organisations (I hesitate to call them, together, a ‘movement’) they”d be saying
“Look, after Glasgow a lot of exhausted people, who have been doing stuff for years, at personal/financial/emotional cost, are going to down tools. They’ve been pretending to themselves that Glasgow might deliver, and after the future has become the past, they’re not gonna be able to keep pretending.
When they leave – and not all of them will, but a significant number will – that will have a demoralising effect on those who haven’t been doing it for long enough to burn out. They will take their experience, their skills, their connections, their money with them.
There is a good chance that many new-ish organisations will collapse, or fail to achieve escape velocity. There are “positive feedback loops” here, as surely as the ice-melt/albedo thing.
It is unclear what amount of state and corporate promising and debating will remain in the mass media after Glasgow. Media outlets are loathe to keep covering the same story, especially if it doesn’t have a happy ending, if it doesn’t put people in a buying mood (2)
Even if – and we will know in a year – the climate issue does stay on the agenda, in the media spotlight, this will NOT necessarily induce new people to get involved. It may very well allow people to think that matters are in hand, that by switching to less meat, or buying an electric vehicle, by donating to a Big Green outfit they are somehow discharging their obligations as citizens.”
I am not saying this collapse in public interest and numbers WILL happen. I am saying that a reasonable person, undertaking a reasonable risk assessment, would see it as something to broach, something to be prepared for.
Those of us who have been doing this for a while, we know that there is a non-trivial chance that after the COP, regardless of whether it is successfully spun as a “success” or if the truth overwhelms the PR, that there will be a demobilisation of what calls itself the resistance to ecocide, to the Anthropo-Obsccene.
Rather than grasping the spotlight, smoking on the Hopium pipe, “leaders” could make themselves and those they purport to guide uncomfortable, ask them to think logistically and strategically, beyond the questions of what clever placard they will take to the next moronic climate “rally”.
History does not repeat. But by being silent about the dangers of a demoralisation, a demobilisation, and by failing therefore to help people prepare for it – individually and at the level of groups – the “leaders” of the climate “movement” are culpable.
(1) That’d be some dead white male I’m quoting.
(2) though maybe we should ask Big Pharma to sponsor these talks – they could sell a lot of anti-depressants.
Other posts in this vein (Gaia, there are so many)
“2019: how we blew it again” (written in 2017)