This weekend I joined about 20 folks in my community to gather together and watch 350.org’s documentary/motivational video about preparing for this month’s UN Climate Summit in New York. If you aren’t already aware, this summit is a pretty big deal. UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon has organized the summit as a prelude to the Paris 2015 talks, and given that the year or so leading up to the actual climate talks is where the bulk of the negotiating and work really gets done, the summit is kicking off a pretty important phase in negotiations to what all of us working on climate issues desperately hope is a sea change in the ability of the international community to come together and make progress on an agreement about emissions and climate change policy.
There were lots of showings on the premier evening of Disruption, Sunday night, but you can now watch the film in its entirety right here. Disruption is an hour-long video that focuses on the extraordinarily pressing need of a grassroots movement and action to push our national and international leaders on climate change. If you have been following climate issues at all, you probably aren’t going to see much in the way of climate science or factoids that you did not already know. The narrative of the climate change facts goes like this: the planet’s climate is changing and being disrupted, we are the primary cause, and the window of our opportunity to make a difference in the current pretty horrific trajectory we are on is vanishing before our eyes each day that we remain inactive. What’s important and inspiring about this film is that it really drives home the point that we make our governments get off their burears (that’s a bureaucratic hindquarter, and yes, I just made that up) and take notice when we come together as a nation or nations and demand that change, loudly. We have made large strides in many critical social and environmental issues in the same way: on civil rights, on gay rights, on women’s reproductive rights, on nuclear disarmament- mass demonstrations, people taking to the streets, a visually compelling display that we are upset, we want change, we are not going to sit in silence, have always played an important role in pushing an issue forward and forcing national attention and response- here in the US and in many other countries.
Is it enough to march in a demonstration? Oh heck no. There are all kinds of other important personal and political actions we must take (See Actions 1-124, and pretty muchevery climate change organization out there from local to global working on this issue, for more ideas). And in this day and age of media machines and attention deficit disorder, mass demonstrations are probably less forceful and effective than such actions have historically been. You can bet within 5 minutes of the start of The People’s Climate March in New York on September 21, there will be more media spin and alternative narratives of the number of people actually present and how many of the groups coming together actually can’t stand each other, and well, you get the cynical media picture.
BUT. But. We have to do it. Because not doing it is, as Disruption makes clear, saying we give up. Saying we don’t care if fossil fuel companies squeeze every drop of oil out of the earth as fast as they possibly can, sending up way, way beyond the levels our atmosphere can handle and still provide us with an earth inhabitable for humans. So let’s do this. Whether its in New York, or in partner demonstrations out here in Seattle or somewhere else in the US or in the world, it really does matter if you – every single one of us- shows up.