The Workers Left Behind by the DNC’s Fossil Fuel Resolution

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“By passing a resolution grounded in the just transition framework, the DNC can cynically present itself as speaking for all workers even as it embraces the companies responsible for the conditions that have harmed a broad swath of working people unattached to the fossil fuel industry. At the same time, it can ignore the urgency of transition for a whole range of workers who are in need of a just and accelerated response to climate change.”

Read my newest article now at Common Dreams.

What tipping point are we waiting for? On heat waves and climate resistance

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Every “extreme weather event” that occurs without a powerful, on-the-ground climate activist response is a lost opportunity. In particular, it is a failure to seize the event as a moment to drive home the insanity of our representatives’ inadequate response (or lack thereof) to climate change.

In “Hurricane Mobilizations and ‘the Fierce Urgency’ of Climate Change,” I argued that we should “answer – with orchestrated national mobilizations unsurpassed in growth, force and intensity – the call of every record-breaking hurricane that forms in the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean.”

We should do no less for other extreme weather events, like the recent scorching heat wave that brought record-setting temperatures across the globe, from Siberia to Los Angeles, and that killed 70 people in Quebec alone.

These extreme weather events are telling us, in no uncertain terms, that we are in a state of crisis. We are gradually approaching, and will likely exceed, a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures. In fact, we will likely exceed the 2°C warming limit championed in the Paris Accord. And given the Trump Administration’s commitment to the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels, we will likely pass crucial tipping points that will result in runaway climate change.

Truly, these extreme weather events are calls to radical action.

Why, then, aren’t we overwhelming “our cities, our state capitols, our federal agencies, our Congress, our White House, our corporations, our highways, our railroad tracks, our refineries with increasing waves of marches, canvassing, teach-ins, sit-ins, blockades, strikes, die-ins, occupations” – every single time a record-setting event occurs?

Why just the single march, the grand event, disconnected from the now-regular occasion of a one-hundred year flood, a triple-hurricane, a ravaging wildfire, a 117° day in Los Angeles – all of which, by the way, the press deliriously covers (unlike the grand event)?

Why aren’t we treating the radical nihilism of our climate denying representatives and economic elites with the resistance it deserves?

What tipping point are we waiting for?

 

(This article originally appeared in Counterpunch).

My new book is out! The Wretched of Mother Earth: The Handbook for Living, Dying, and Nonviolent Revolution in the Midst of Climate Change Catastrophe (2018)

 

 

Oakland’s climate change lawsuit and the “legacies of slavery”

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Though a federal judge has just thrown out the climate change lawsuits filed by Oakland and San Francisco against the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, the fight is not yet over. As John Coté of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office stated after the court’s ruling, “our belief remains that these companies are liable for the harm they’ve caused.” Though the decision was “not the ruling we wanted,” Coté said, “this doesn’t mean the case is over.”

This pause in the legal proceedings presents a great opportunity to examine an important yet widely overlooked climate justice claim that the City of Oakland included in its lawsuit and that deserves more attention. It reads:

“Many of the Oakland residents who are likely to be most affected by climate change are low-income and/or people of color. As the U.S. government has pointed out, people of color, low-income groups, and certain immigrant groups are (e.g., because of poverty, chronic health conditions, and social isolation) potentially more ‘vulnerable’ to climate change impacts, including heat waves, flooding, and degraded air quality. This is true in Oakland, where ‘socially vulnerable’ individuals such as African Americans, Hispanics and other people of color tend to live at lower elevations most affected by sea level rise and higher storm surges. These populations also face challenges due to the legacies of slavery, such as redlining, predatory mortgage and other lending, systemic racism and discrimination in securing insurance and other assets that would protect them from the consequences of global warming and the ensuing climate change. More affluent residents live farther from the Bay and at higher elevations. For example, of the City of Oakland population that lives on land within three vertical feet of the current local high tide line, more than 70% have been categorized as having high ‘social vulnerability.’ This makes it all the more imperative for the People to act now to prevent harm, as those most vulnerable have the fewest resources to protect themselves.”

This claim, a version of which appears in San Francisco’s lawsuit, is crucial for a number of reasons. First, it indicates the City of Oakland recognizes that climate change impacts will reflect and even reinforce fundamental inequalities in Oakland. Second, it shows that the City is at least willing to say, as it has done in other contexts, that it is committed to addressing the needs of its most vulnerable residents in the face of catastrophic sea level rise. Finally, it suggests that the City considers fossil fuel companies’ distortions, cover-ups, and outright lies about the risks of fossil fuel use, acts that will further harm “socially vulnerable” communities, at least inasmuch as the deceptions will exacerbate existing inequalities. With this claim, then, the City of Oakland has litigated climate change as inextricable from social justice concerns.

As laudable as it is, however, the claim is nevertheless deeply unsettling. While the City of Oakland rightly underscores the social and climate vulnerability of its low income “and/or” residents of color, as well as the “legacies of slavery,” it subtly sets itself apart from the vulnerabilities and legacies of which it speaks. This then frees the City to claim – in spite of developments in Oakland that suggest otherwise, and in which the City is implicated – that the benefits of sea walls and other “protective infrastructure” will actually accrue to low income and/or communities of color. At the same time, it also enables the City to use its shared status as climate victim to frame implicitly the construction of protective infrastructure as climate justice.

To be sure, given the trajectory of climate change, Oakland will suffer “serious climate change injuries that will require billions in expenditures to abate the global warming nuisance,” as the City rightly claims in its lawsuit. It is especially on track for “catastrophic” flooding, storm surges, and coastal erosion, for “global warming has caused and continues to cause accelerated sea level rise in San Francisco Bay and the adjacent ocean.” Thus, by the year 2050, Oakland can expect to experience a 100-year flood “on average once every 2.3 years.” By the year 2100, “Oakland is projected to experience up to 66 inches of sea level rise.” If these predictions prove correct, Oakland will surely need those sea walls, and to the degree that the fossil fuel companies are responsible for climate change and the ensuing nuisance of rising seas (they are), they should certainly have to cough up the “abatement fund remedy” Oakland (and other cities) hopes to collect.

Yet, we need to ask ourselves whether and to what degree Oakland’s “socially vulnerable communities” will actually benefit from sea walls and other protective infrastructure. After all, right now, these communities are experiencing relentless gentrification and displacement, processes due in part to many of the urban development policies and practices forged by city officials, the business community, and wealthy residents, as well as by the state of California. In other words, the City is increasingly becoming a playground for the affluent who can afford to purchase (and who are driving up the price of) homes in Oakland or to pay the City’s astronomical rents (between 2012 and 2017, Oakland rents have increased by as much as 51.1 percent and are, consequently, among the highest in the nation).

In its Urban Displacement Project study, the University of California (Berkeley) reported that in the year 2015, “more than half” of the Bay area’s low-income households lived in “neighborhoods at risk of,” or were “already experiencing displacement and gentrification pressures.” Moreover, between 2013 and 2015, the rate of gentrification and displacement “accelerated most quickly in Oakland’s neighborhoods.” While gentrification and displacement in Oakland have been in process for decades, they have accelerated since the turn of the century and especially during the recent Great Recession. Since 2000, for example, the City “lost 30 percent of its black population,” and between the years 2010 and 2014, “28 percent of those leaving Oakland made less” than $30,000 a year. These processes have not let up. Many of the people displaced moved further inland to less affluent areas, where in the future they will face not rising seas, but instead punishing waves of heat.

It is entirely conceivable, then, that by the time the seas rise to a catastrophic level, a significant number of Oakland’s socially vulnerable residents will be long gone. (While “Oakland has already begun to feel injury from sea level rise,” the City claims, “its most severe injuries by far are the injuries that will occur in the future if prompt action is not taken to protect Oakland and its residents”). Consequently, the more affluent (primarily white) who will have taken their place will likely be the main beneficiaries of the City’s sea walls and other protective infrastructure. This is not to argue, of course, that the City should not protect the affluent; instead, it is simply to point out that the realities of gentrification and displacement trouble the City’s climate justice claim.

The relentless transformation of Oakland into a playground for the affluent reminds us that the City has always played a role in creating the social, economic and political conditions that have rendered its low income and/or communities of color vulnerable, and because the City has played a role, it has had a hand in creating these communities’ climate vulnerabilities.

For example, the “low-lying” West Oakland community is “historically black” not only because African Americans migrated there in search of jobs during the World War II era; but also because, in the past, white city officials, businesses, and residents adopted and implemented racist policies and practices designed to exclude African Americans from the rest of the city. What this means, of course, is that black people do not “tend to live” in this flood zone area (by using the phrase “tend to live” in its lawsuit, the City suggests that segregation, of all things, is a matter of happenstance). Instead, for decades white city officials and residents actively prevented black people from living in other parts of the city – especially the flood-safe, higher-elevation Oakland hills. The fact that “more affluent residents” live in the hills is itself a consequence of, and testament to, decades of racist and anti-poor urban planning. The City’s obfuscation of this history should give us pause and compel us to look more critically at the climate justice it purports to pursue.

Ironically, the City’s past unjust policies and practices, coupled with those of the federal government, arguably made low income and/or communities of color less culpable regarding greenhouse gas emissions. After all, for decades they limited vulnerable communities’ mobility and labor opportunities. For example, federal, state, and local real estate and lending practices, such as redlining, high interest lending, and the outright refusal by banks to offer loans, operated to exclude people of color in great measure from the Bay area suburbs while they simultaneously facilitated white relocation. Consequently, for many years socially vulnerable communities were not a significant a part of the commuting public that burned large quantities of fossil fuels to get to work, to air condition their homes, to recreate, and to shop.

As whites took advantage of Federal Housing Administration and other loans to move to the suburbs, the City sought to recoup the consequent loss of revenue by, among other things, encouraging and facilitating the further expansion of industrial development in West Oakland. This development not only increased the burning and transportation of fossil fuels in the Bay area; it also increased the exposure of the primarily black and poor residents who resided in West Oakland to environmental harms.

Even now, the City continues to adopt and advance development plans in West Oakland that will burden residents even more with fossil fuel exposure, as the environmental law firm Earthjustice claims in a recent lawsuit it filed against the City and the Port of Oakland. According to Earthjustice, both entities have been “forcing through freight expansion projects that disproportionately subject the communities of color that surround both the Port” and Oakland Army Base properties “to air pollution and other serious health threats on the basis of their race.” Not only have the City and the Port failed “to ensure adequate health and safety protections,” Earthjustice claims; they have also expanded “maritime, shipping, and transport activities” in ways that expose residents “to severe air pollution emissions without adequate mitigation.” (Of all communities in Oakland, Earthjustice notes, “West Oakland has one of the lowest life expectancies” – a fact partially attributable to its toxic environment).

None of these facts should keep us from appreciating the City’s inclusion of a climate justice claim in its lawsuit, and we should assume that it likely did so both in good faith and with the intention to address honorably our evolving climate crisis. Indeed, many of Oakland’s city officials are deeply concerned about climate change as well as equity and social justice, as the City’s Energy and Climate Action Plan shows. Adopted by the City Council in 2012, this ten year plan maps out actions the City will take to “achieve a 36% reduction” in greenhouse gas emissions. In recognition of the fact that the risks of severe climate impacts “are magnified for economically disadvantaged communities,” the plan also details actions the City will take to “increase community resilience” and “minimize vulnerabilities.”

Additionally, in 2015 the City Council unanimously approved its “Housing Action Plan and Policy Framework,” which addresses the affordable housing crisis and displacement of long-time residents. The Framework “establishes more than a dozen strategies to prevent tenant displacement.” It commits Oakland to “weigh in with the U.S. Congress and the Administration to supplement dwindling federal investments in affordable housing.” Finally, it charges Oakland to address “bad faith evictions” as well as evictions “of long-term residents”; to develop “a standard city tenant relocation policy”; and, to “fund city program operations.”

Yet, it matters that the City obfuscates in its lawsuit (and even, I would add, in its climate and housing plans) the role it has played in creating its residents’ vulnerabilities. It matters because it tells us that the climate justice to which Oakland is committed might itself be an obfuscation. That is, it indicates that the City’s notions of climate justice might not be justice at all since the City does not reckon with its own historic role in producing the “legacies of slavery” and, consequently, climate vulnerabilities. “Framing structural inequalities only in terms of susceptibility to harms,” writes feminist scholar Chris Cuomo, “focuses attention on the supposed weaknesses or limitations of those who are in harm’s way, but says little about whether injustices or other harms have put them in such precarious positions.”

Hence, the future that the City ultimately imagines in its lawsuit, and even in its climate plans, is one marked by the persistence of social vulnerability. That is, the City looks at the year 2100 and sees its sea walls protecting communities still suffering fundamental social and economic inequalities, rather than protecting communities no longer burdened by the legacies of slavery. While one could argue that this merely reflects Oakland’s realistic recognition of just how entrenched are social and economic injustices, one could also say that it constitutes a surrender of sorts, a surrender that casts our ability to survive catastrophic climate change as more realistic than our ability to create a just Oakland. At any rate, the effect of Oakland’s limited imagination is that it effectively reduces climate justice to building walls, rather than (for example) to building walls as a means to upend what created climate vulnerabilities and the climate crisis in the first instance.

Which brings us to one other thing that makes the City’s climate justice claim so unsettling.

Oakland sits squarely within the United States, a country that owes to other nations – island nations, nations of the Global South, and Native nations of the northern hemisphere, to name a few – a long overdue, unpaid climate debt. These nations did not cause the climate crisis. We did. Consequently, Oakland, too, is a debtor.

Nevertheless, Oakland – and San Francisco, and other U.S. cities, and other western nation cities – appropriates the climate debt framework by which these other nations have been holding the U.S. and other western states accountable. By so doing, it cloaks itself in a shroud of innocence – innocence regarding the political and economic plunder, powered by fossil fuels, from which Oakland has surely benefitted. Hence, the City has proceeded in court, and in the public sphere, as if it is not complicit in the production of climate changes that are beginning now to devastate other nations. Just as problematically, the City has proceeded as if it has nothing to do with how western nations have protected and empowered fossil fuel companies to secure western plunder and hegemony.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

None of this means that Oakland – or other U.S. cities, for that matter – should drop its suit against fossil fuel companies. Nor does it mean that Oakland should drop its social justice claim. The seas are coming, and these fossil fuel companies – which have deceived us all, regardless of the costs – must pay. Moreover, so long as they remain in Oakland and segregated within the City’s low elevation areas, Oakland’s vulnerable communities will need the protection that the sea walls will afford.

However, Oakland must contend with its lack of innocence. All of the California cities as well as others that are suing fossil fuel companies must contend with their lack of innocence. They must rethink the climate reparations they seek as a means to both protect and make whole the communities they have harmed and endangered, both here and abroad. When they build up their walls and other infrastructure to guard against rising waters, they can – and must – tear down the walls that are their own legacies of slavery.

That is the climate justice their vulnerable communities need.

 

My new book is out! The Wretched of Mother Earth: The Handbook for Living, Dying, and Nonviolent Revolution in the Midst of Climate Change Catastrophe (2018)

A Just Dystopia: Climate Activism Must Include Planning for the Worst-Case Scenario

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Let’s face an uncomfortable truth: even as we amp up our climate resistance, we might nevertheless reach, and then exceed, crucial climate change tipping points. No matter how hard we organize, no matter how many “fossil fuel-free” resolutions we pass, no matter how often we march, we might still end up rushing inexorably toward climate change catastrophe.

Indeed, it is increasingly likely that we will.

Turn away from this possibility and you turn away from climate justice…

(Read more at: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/06/12/just-dystopia-climate-activism-must-include-planning-worst-case-scenario).

THE “BARBECUE BECKY” ACT OF 2018

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Barbecuing while black. Attending a college tour while Mohawk. White people so frequently call the police on people of color who are merely exercising or enjoying their rights that perhaps we need to think of these calls as hate crimes. Clearly, the women and men who are so quick to dial 911 are not only motivated by bigotry; they are also, I would argue, driven by a hateful desire to use police as their proxy both to oppress and to injure – physically, legally, and spiritually – the men, women and children whom they report.

With this in mind, then, I offer below suggested changes (in bold) to California’s “Hate Crime” laws (thank you, Becky). May it inspire the passage of state legislation throughout the country to end this abuse once and for all.

 

PENAL CODE – PEN

PART 1. OF CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS

TITLE: BARBECUE BECKY ACT OF 2018

CHAPTER 1. Definitions

422.55. For purposes of this title, the following shall apply:

(a) “Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:

(1) Disability.

(2) Gender.

(3) Nationality.

(4) Race or ethnicity.

(5) Religion.

(6) Sexual orientation.

(7) Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

(b) “Hate crime” includes, but is not limited to, a violation of Section 422.6.

CHAPTER 2. Crimes and Penalties

422.6.

(a) No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.

(b) No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall knowingly deface, damage, or destroy the real or personal property of any other person for the purpose of intimidating or interfering with the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to the other person by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States, in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.

(c) No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall report to the police any other person for the purpose of oppressing, intimidating or interfering with the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to the other person by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States, in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.*

(d) Any person convicted of violating subdivision (a), (b) or (c) shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the above imprisonment and fine, and the court shall order the defendant to perform a minimum of community service, not to exceed 400 hours, to be performed over a period not to exceed 350 days, during a time other than his or her hours of employment or school attendance. However, no person may be convicted of violating subdivision (a) based upon speech alone, except upon a showing that the speech itself threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons and that the defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat. No person may be convicted of violating subdivision (c) based alone upon a threat to call the police, except upon a showing that the defendant who issued the threat also 1) threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons and that the defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat; 2) knowingly defaced, damaged, or destroyed the real or personal property of a specific person or group of persons; and/or 3) previously called the police, is known to have called the police, or has a record of calling police for the reasons described in subdivision (c).

(e) Any person who commits a felony that is a hate crime, or attempts to commit a felony that is a hate crime, and who voluntarily acted in concert with another person, either personally or by aiding and abetting another person, shall receive an additional two, three, or four years in the state prison, at the court’s discretion.

422.86.

(a) It is the public policy of this state that the principal goals of sentencing for hate crimes, are the following:

(1) Punishment for the hate crimes committed.

(2) Crime and violence prevention, including prevention of recidivism and prevention of crimes and violence in prisons and jails.

(3) Prevention of the routine use of police to oppress, intimidate, injure and terrorize the classes of persons listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.

(4) Restorative justice for the immediate victims of the hate crimes and for the classes of persons terrorized by the hate crimes.

(b) The Judicial Council shall develop a rule of court guiding hate crime sentencing to implement the policy in subdivision (a). In developing the rule of court, the council shall consult experts including organizations representing hate crime victims.

*Examples of the violation of this law include, but are not limited to, calling police on a specific person or group of persons (listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55) who are merely peaceably engaged in such mundane activities as 1) barbecuing at public parks, 2) attending a college tour, 3) waiting peaceably for friends at a café, 4) napping in a dorm common room, 5) golfing, 6) shopping, and 8) inspecting repairs to a home.

 

Check out my new book: The Wretched of Mother Earth: The Handbook for Living, Dying, and Nonviolent Revolution in the Midst of Climate Change Catastrophe (2018).

On David S. Buckel and setting ourselves on fire

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“The self-burning of Vietnamese Buddhist monks in 1963,” explained the Venerable monk Thich Nhat Hanh in his June 1, 1965 letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., “is somehow difficult for the Western Christian conscience to understand.”

To King’s “Western Christian conscience,” the practice of self-immolation was indeed incomprehensible. Therefore, King “turned to” Thich Nhat Hanh (whom he considered a friend) for help in understanding this practice, which to King appeared to be suicide driven by despair about our nation’s war on Vietnam. “The Press spoke then of suicide,” Hanh continued in his letter, “but in the essence, it is not. It is not even a protest. What the monks said in the letters they left before burning themselves aimed only at alarming, at moving the hearts of the oppressors and at calling the attention of the world to the suffering endured then by the Vietnamese. To burn oneself by fire is to prove that what one is saying is of the utmost importance.” Steeped in their Buddhist practices, the nuns and monks who burned themselves thus performed an “act of construction” rather than “an act of destruction,” Hanh wrote, because to die in this way is “to suffer and to die for the sake of one’s people.”

This letter came to my mind when I heard that David S. Buckel had doused himself in gasoline and then set himself on fire in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park last Saturday. Like the Buddhist monks and nuns about whom Hanh wrote, Buckel, too, wrote letters in which he explained why he self-immolated, letters he sent to the press and to the police. “I am David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide,” he wrote. “Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels and many die early deaths as a result – my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

Though he fought so ardently in the courts for what seemed, just two decades ago, impossible to achieve–the right of LGBTQ people, like me, to marry–David Buckel looked upon our climate politics and determined that, unlike the case of LGBTQ rights, litigating climate change would not be enough. It would not be enough, that is, to save us from climate catastrophe. Given his choice of protest, Buckel clearly believed as well that nothing we are doing now will save us from catastrophe.

So like the Buddhist nuns and monks of the Vietnam War era (Buckel actually likened his protest to that of Tibetans who self-immolated to protest the Chinese occupation of their country), Buckel set himself on fire. He set himself on fire to alarm us, to awaken us, to move our hearts, and to call our attention to the suffering we are causing because we continue to burn fossil fuels. He set himself on fire so that we would see ourselves, and our planet, on fire.

Yet, Buckel also set himself on fire because he held us in hope–hope that, as witnesses to his death, we would take action that actually reflects the scale of the environmental crisis we are facing. “This is not new,” Buckel said of his protest, “as many have chosen to give a life based on the view that no other action can most meaningfully address the harm they see. Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard. I hope it is an honorable death that might serve others.”

_______________________________

After he explained to King the meaning of the nuns and monks’ self-immolation, Thich Nhat Hanh turned his full attention on King himself. “I am sure that since you have been engaged in one of the hardest struggles for equality and human rights, you are among those who understand fully, and who share with all their hearts, the indescribable suffering of the Vietnamese people. The world’s greatest humanists would not remain silent. You yourself cannot remain silent…You cannot be silent since you have already been in action and you are in action because, in you, God is in action.”

Speaking to his friend, Hanh made clear to King that ultimately what he needed to grapple with was not the fact that the monks and nuns burned themselves. Instead, King needed to come to terms with the fact that he and other well-meaning people looked upon the suffering our government inflicted upon the Vietnamese people and nevertheless remained silent. Though King had been “engaged in one of the hardest struggles for equality and human rights,” he was relatively quiet concerning the war on Vietnam, and so Hanh’s words were a gentle rebuke. Two years would pass before King would finally stand up and, in his own words, “break the betrayal” of his “own silences and…speak from the burnings” of his “own heart” regarding our nation’s war on Vietnam.

And speak he did.

“These are the times for real choices and not false ones,” King declared in his 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam.” “We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”

David Buckel decided on the protest that best suited his convictions. While we might declare, in spite of Buckel’s explanation, that his act is incomprehensible; and while we might get caught up in debates about whether or not his self-immolation was wrong-headed or dangerous or crazy or ineffective or brilliant, all of that is of no matter. In the end, we have to look at ourselves. We have to attend to our own silences or, rather, our relative quiescence in the face of what we are doing to one another, to other beings, and to our planet–silences that equal death, as Buckel’s burning body proclaimed. Moreover, if we are to survive our own folly–if we are to avoid setting ourselves on fire–then we will need to break, finally and decisively, the betrayal of our own silences. We will need to protest with as much conviction as our climate crisis demands.

This post originally appeared in Counterpunch.

The Wretched of Mother Earth: The Handbook for Living, Dying, and Nonviolent Revolution in the Midst of Climate Change Catastrophe

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“Let’s just assume our grandchildren are fucked.”


My new book is out.

Inspired by Sogyal Rinchope’s The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and Leela Fernandes’ Transforming Feminist Practice, The Wretched of Mother Earth is a mixed-genre Buddhist, feminist, post-colonial, anarchist manifesto about climate change that is also a meditation on dying and death. It is a work in which I argue that if we hope to save ourselves from climate change catastrophe, we must face not only the prospect of human extinction; but also we must radically confront what produced the climate crisis in the first place: the “colonial power matrix” and our deadly attachments to it.

“This [book] is an invitation to experience the transformative power of heartbreak that weaves a healed earth community out of the raw material of grief and fear.” ~Stephanie Van Hook, Metta Center for Nonviolence

Good, bad, or ugly: I invite your reviews of my recent work.

The Wretched of Mother Earth is an ebook that you can order for $4.99 at Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Barnes & Noble (NOOK), 24 Symbols, Playster, and Kobo.

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