The Case For Climate Rage
August 26, 2019 10:06 AM   Subscribe

"In climate change, many of these elite white men might be experiencing their very first brush with imposed change, with a force beyond their control upending their lives; that might make them particularly ill-equipped to envision what’s next, let alone lead us there. The story of climate change, both its history and its future, needs to be told by people who have already experienced injustice and disempowerment, people who are justifiably angry at the way the system works. And some of those stories are beginning to be told." [Amy Westervelt, Popula]

43:55 "I often ask my classes . . . 'How many of you can imagine the end of the world?' Almost every hand goes up because they're reading about it, playing it in video games . . . 'Okay, how many of you can imagine the end of global capitalism?' Very few hands go up. Why not? You can imagine the end of the earth but not a different economic system. So where are our imaginations watered, and where are they desert-ified?" [Stephen Scharper interview, Green Majority podcast, episode "Learning To Love II" June 7, 2019]
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (31 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 


In climate change, many of these elite white men might be experiencing their very first brush with imposed change, with a force beyond their control upending their lives; that might make them particularly ill-equipped to envision what’s next, let alone lead us there.

This quote really got me.
posted by captain afab at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2019 [12 favorites]




What's the point and the argument here? Why complain about the size of the advance for a book - based on an article that went completely viral - which has sold in huge numbers and has probably already earned out that advance? In her list of renowned climate/science journalists, why doesn't she even deign to mention the absolute fucking bosses, who just happen to be women, Elizabeth Kolbert and Naomi Oreskes? Whatever you think of her, why no mention of Naomi Klein, whose books sell in huge numbers? Why no link to the work of white men like Jem Bendell who are explicitly talking about grief and other emotions around climate change and building an entire community of activists around those ideas?
posted by PhineasGage at 1:12 PM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


The Fact Is Nothing Is Going To Be Done About Climate Change Until It Kills A Bunch Of White People

Or rather, a bunch of rich-ass white people, and then all that'll be done is saving the rich asses of other rich-ass white people.
posted by Beardman at 1:19 PM on August 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


Alas! commenting is not yet available on your mobile device. Each comment costs a little ETH cryptocurrency to post, and for now that requires a regular computer.

Was not expected after an article about climate change.
posted by Acid Communist at 1:59 PM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


Philosophy Tube: Climate Grief
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on August 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


What's the point and the argument here? Why complain about the size of the advance for a book - based on an article that went completely viral - which has sold in huge numbers and has probably already earned out that advance? In her list of renowned climate/science journalists, why doesn't she even deign to mention the absolute fucking bosses, who just happen to be women, Elizabeth Kolbert and Naomi Oreskes? Whatever you think of her, why no mention of Naomi Klein, whose books sell in huge numbers? Why no link to the work of white men like Jem Bendell who are explicitly talking about grief and other emotions around climate change and building an entire community of activists around those ideas?
Yeah, as a person of color from one of the countries most devastated by climate change, I'm pretty much exhausted by that certain segment of relatively well-off white women complaining that they're not being taken as seriously as relatively well-off white men when a) that's not true and b) the billions of people who are going to be most screwed by climate change aren't white people of any gender.

David Wallace-Wells's book is really, really good too and it definitely isn't about solving climate change with geo-engineering.
posted by Ouverture at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


Here's the just-released specific plan for addressing climate change from Presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2019


Good article.

From it:

I expressed concern recently, on a listserv for climate nerds, over Senator Elizabeth Warren’s military-focused climate plan. It seemed weird to me that one of the first climate policies she’d announce would focus on greening the military; it seemed like a ploy to win over “never Trump” Republicans, centrists and “progressives” who are somehow still pro-military action. I couldn’t understand why someone so famous for holding corporate execs to account wouldn’t burst out the gate with guns blazing at the fossil fuel companies.

At last I checked: oil was the center of military strategy for countries all over the world starting before or during WWI (Britain and Winston Churchill among the leaders). Everyone wanted some, and everyone had a strategy for it. Thus spun up the whole military-industrial complex complete with the corporations that feed and thrive off of the life of the military.

Sure, go after the fossil fuel companies. It sure would be helpful to starve them, though, by changing the formula for their long-time original customer.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:18 PM on August 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


China has spent 10 years building out a huuuge new smart grid, electrifying bus transit. India is in the process of upgrading its renewables supply from ~40GW to 175GW (target date 2022).

Asia has taken the bull by the horns. And here we wait. I guess we can't type our way out of this one.
posted by Twang at 5:21 PM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


It seemed weird to me that one of the first climate policies she’d announce would focus on greening the military;

Considering the DOD is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, it seems like there might be some low-hanging fruit there.
posted by hambone at 7:30 PM on August 26, 2019 [14 favorites]


At the risk of self linking, here s a historic black community that is already fighting climate change, and nearly winning, against billion dollar investment funds, and the entire state of Louisiana, but for the lack of sustained support from the national environmental movement.

Why the national environmental movement refuses to fund black environmental organizations, or organizations in the gulf south, the home of the petrochemical industry, is a huge and scandalous question.

Reinstating the ban on oil exports is an immediate, urgent concern. C'mon, help give these ladies a win.
posted by eustatic at 7:59 PM on August 26, 2019 [11 favorites]


There's an open thread on Bernie Sander's $16 trillion dollar climate plan.
posted by xammerboy at 9:49 PM on August 26, 2019


Anger can be valid, but angry people do tend to dismiss other responses as invalid.
posted by dmh at 11:10 PM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


PhineasGage: What's the point and the argument here?

Ouverture: as a person of color from one of the countries most devastated by climate change, I'm pretty much exhausted by that certain segment of relatively well-off white women complaining that they're not being taken as seriously as relatively well-off white men

I'm a WoC (albeit not from a country among those most devastated by climate change). I posted it because I appreciated Westervelt's point that "The story of climate change needs to be told by people who have already experienced injustice and disempowerment." I appreciated that 5 of the 9 thinkers and doers she highlights are WoC (Heglar, Johnson, Venkataraman, O'Laughlin, Gunn-Wright), whose ideas and names she thinks deserve to be more discussed and better known. Deserve to be known as much, perhaps, as people discuss and know the names of Wallace-Wells, Nathaniel Rich, Jonathan Safran-Foer, Kolbert, or Oreskes.

I'm always going on about how I'd appreciate it if more white people would de-centre themselves and, if they're going to take the stage, to use it to help boost PoC actions and impact. I thought Westervelt did a decent job of boosting WoC. I thought she did a good job of re-framing climate narratives away from already well-known white men, who have been getting headlines for visions of climate futures that I personally found to be not-innovative and also boringly familiar for how they leave status quo power structures intact. (Not merely intact, but apparently also not worthy of being mentioned.)

Anyhow, y'all's mileage obviously differs from mine on this. So it goes. Thanks for your links and perspectives.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:42 PM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


Carson wrote of her moment as an “era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged.” That sounds familiar. And it doesn’t sound like fear to me at all, but maybe that’s because I’m reading it with my vagina.

I am a sucker for righteous snark. Also, mega important topic. Thanks, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:55 AM on August 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


What's the point and the argument here? Why complain about the size of the advance for a book - based on an article that went completely viral - which has sold in huge numbers and has probably already earned out that advance? In her list of renowned climate/science journalists, why doesn't she even deign to mention the absolute fucking bosses, who just happen to be women ...

The point is that the status quo is the status quo is the status quo. This is not an article about all renowned climate/science journalists and their book advances. This is an article about learning, too late, of the many missed opportunities to save our planet and about noticing the many ways in which capitalism, the patriarchy, and white supremacy continue to just bop along. It is about being female and being dismissed for ever having feelings or acknowledging them as either a scientist or a journalist.

It is a drive-by of an essay, not an overview, and that is fine by me. I think this article is awesome. Haven’t had time to listen to the podcast yet. Also, many thanks to eustatic for that link.

One of the things I most appreciated about this article was the reminder that “we” fucking did not create this mess (not all of us, that’s for damn sure) and the reminder of the underlying and continuing inequities at the heart of this climate disaster.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:30 AM on August 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


When I talk with global warming with some people I get sense they are thinking that rich people are going to create a sectioned off part of the world for the "right" people, and that they will somehow be one of those people.

It's the same sense I get in some discussions about taxing the rich, where you get the sense that some people believe they are on the cusp of winning the lottery, and don't want to be taxed in their imaginary future.

There's also the whole "we could spend money on this and solve it, but that would mean giving some money to some people for nothing." They would rather everyone, including themselves, be poisoned.
posted by xammerboy at 7:49 AM on August 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


One of the things I most appreciated about this article was the reminder that “we” fucking did not create this mess (not all of us, that’s for damn sure) and the reminder of the underlying and continuing inequities at the heart of this climate disaster.

Bernie's plan explicitly compares energy companies to tobacco companies, and I think the comparison is right on. These companies were well aware that oil would kill us. They sold a product that would lead the world into a death spiral over investing in sane, clean, green energy. Global warming is a crime. Maybe the greatest crime in all of history.
posted by xammerboy at 7:52 AM on August 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm always going on about how I'd appreciate it if more white people would de-centre themselves and, if they're going to take the stage, to use it to help boost PoC actions and impact. I thought Westervelt did a decent job of boosting WoC. I thought she did a good job of re-framing climate narratives away from already well-known white men, who have been getting headlines for visions of climate futures that I personally found to be not-innovative and also boringly familiar for how they leave status quo power structures intact. (Not merely intact, but apparently also not worthy of being mentioned.)
Yeah, I'm all for this, but I get annoyed by her significant misrepresentations of Wallace-Wells's book. At no point does he advocate for leaving status quo power structures intact (or simply relying on geoengineering to solve everything).

It makes me think she didn't actually read it.

As for the voices I would love to hear, I would love to hear more from people of color (of any gender) in the actual countries being affected (Bangladesh, India, the Marshall Islands, large swathes of Africa, Puerto Rico, etc). Western voices of all genders and races in general need to decenter themselves.
posted by Ouverture at 8:05 AM on August 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


I skimmed Wallace-Wells's book and came away with the impression that it was great on describing the problem and what would happen if the Powers That Be kept re-trenching the status quo, but short on transformative, non-apocalyptic visions of the future. I may be misremembering.

Western voices of all genders and races in general need to decenter themselves.

Agreed. Point taken. Thank you! Your critique and the recent PoC threads have been helping me re-calibrate.

At the same time, I remain a fan of deploying voices from woke-er white people to talk to less-woke white people... given how many white people take "Hey here are some marginalized people I suggest you try giving the time of day to" soooo much better when it comes from fellow white people.

When I come across voices from Bangladesh, etc, that I think will go over well here, I'll post them.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:33 AM on August 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Uninhabitable Earth was first an article. It's required reading.

My take on the article is that things are going to get really, really bad. If you're not from a first world country or rich, then things are even going to be a whole lot worse. The article is full of stuff you never even thought about:

"Our lungs need oxygen, but that is only a fraction of what we breathe. The fraction of carbon dioxide is growing: It just crossed 400 parts per million, and high-end estimates extrapolating from current trends suggest it will hit 1,000 ppm by 2100. At that concentration, compared to the air we breathe now, human cognitive ability declines by 21 percent."

And almost everywhere you look the timeline is moving faster than predicted. The fires in the Amazon? The Amazon provides 20% of the oxygen we breathe. The decline in our cognitive ability may come a lot faster than predicted. There are other things too: the end of our ability to grow food, massive outbreaks of disease, etc.

Is the book racist? I don't think so. But acceptance of global warming is kind of racist, in that it sure feels racist to accept the terrifying outcomes caused by mostly first world, industrialized nations, which will so grossly impact the third world.
posted by xammerboy at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


“I often ask my classes . . . 'How many of you can imagine the end of the world?' Almost every hand goes up because they're reading about it, playing it in video games . . . 'Okay, how many of you can imagine the end of global capitalism?' Very few hands go up. Why not? You can imagine the end of the earth but not a different economic system. So where are our imaginations watered, and where are they desert-ified?"
Frederic Jameson is the one who initially said “it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”. Mark Fisher’s book “Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?” is almost entirely about this subject.
posted by gucci mane at 3:04 PM on August 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Amazon provides 20% of the oxygen we breathe.

The Amazon fires are a crime/tragedy, but that often-quoted figure is not accurate.
posted by progosk at 12:37 AM on August 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


I came into this thread assuming it was going to be about the Tuvalu Declaration, and the Australian Prime Minister refusing to endorse it without removing the bits about reducing coal emissions.

"We expressed very strongly during our exchange, between me and Scott [Morrison], I said: 'You are concerned about saving your economy in Australia … I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu,'" Mr Sopoaga said.

Just, sigh.
posted by kjs4 at 5:48 AM on August 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


When I come across voices from Bangladesh, etc, that I think will go over well here, I'll post them.


One recommendation I have is Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement.
posted by Ouverture at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


From: The Uninhabitable Earth : When Will Climate Change Make The Earth Too Hot For Humans? (David-Wallace Wells, NY Mag)
Our lungs need oxygen, but that is only a fraction of what we breathe. The fraction of carbon dioxide is growing: It just crossed 400 parts per million, and high-end estimates extrapolating from current trends suggest it will hit 1,000 ppm by 2100. At that concentration, compared to the air we breathe now, human cognitive ability declines by 21 percent.
Well, this explains the movie Idiocracy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:00 AM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


One thing I read recently, on Reddit, that really fired off a lot of synapses for me, was how important and valuable it is for us to adjust the language we use when we talk about climate change.

Don't call it climate change. Call it the "global pollution epidemic".

This recasts the problem as something that we can see and do things about - like picking up trash, or taking public transport if it exists - rather than as a big unknowable thing that is happening to us.

Climate change is still correct of course, but "global pollution epidemic" turns it into something every person can impact.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:29 PM on August 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


Don't call it climate change.

If only to spite Frank Luntz.
In one of Greta’s tangible achievements, there’s already been a gradual step-up to climate crisis (which is quite common in European media now, and spreading among politicians), and (thanks also to a catching of the slow-fire Australian initiative cedamia) climate emergency.

The idea of shifting framing from climate to pollution... is interesting. (Once special characteristic of this moment is how many issues are being tied to one another, and root-causes taken under the lens.) It may have to wait until we’re collectively more clear of denial, though.
posted by progosk at 7:21 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


It was pretty shocking for me when Australia voted for the party that promised to basically ignore global warming. The argument was that there was nothing Australia, as a lone nation, could do to impact climate change. It was depressing, because they are ideally situated to take a leadership role as a "western" power that will be severely impacted.
posted by xammerboy at 7:09 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


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