The Meltdown Essays are devoted to exploring a regrettable yet realistic prediction: that violence is likely to emerge as a tool of climate advocates within the next 25 years.
The first essay set the scene for the exploration. The second, (Meltdown 2: Violence Already Happening) showed that the actions of carbon barons and commercial interests amounts to an insidious violence perpetrated (for profit) on the masses in the form of climate change. And in Meltdown 3: Responsibility for Climate Change I apportioned responsibility with those who obstruct meaningful progress to mitigate climate change despite being in full knowledge of the consequences of such actions. I contended that the vast majority of the worlds population are merely hostages to this spiraling tragedy. And finally, in this essay we look at the possible emergence of violence as a Last Resort before widespread environmental collapse.
Environmental catastrophe is looming ever closer with little signs of hope:
- Inter governmental and political will to find solutions has been in limbo since the US pulled out of the non binding Paris Agreement.
- Meanwhile business continues apace in the profit focused fossil fuel production and exploration sector.
- Global weather records are being surpassed almost daily. At present the flood tides are still ebbing in Houston Texas and across South Asia – more examples of record beating weather events likely to have been exacerbated by climate change.
- Despite all this there persists a large element of the media and “independent experts” who are still questioning the science (of Anthropogenic Global Warming or AGW) and lending credibility to the lunacy that humankind are bystanders to any changes in weather.
- And finally in a gruesome pattern of events across the developing world, leading climate and environmental campaigners are being intimidated and even assassinated.
From the summary above and from my preceding articles it’s fair to say that a war is being waged on science and truth, democracy, the environment and on defenders of the natural world. And so it’s inevitable that the most radical climate advocates will decide at some point that violence is required as a last resort to effect change and perhaps as a necessary form of self defense or defense of their loved ones. So who and where are these “eco-warriors” who are prepared to use violence to save the planet? It’s a good question.
The laws designed to prevent incitement to violence mean that few would openly advocate physical violence as a solution to the planets environmental woes. That said some organisations such as Deep Green Resistance (who see civilization as being inherently destructive) and the Earth Liberation Army go very close in their manifestos and writings. Organisations such as Earth First pledge non violence direct action to protect the environment but it’s feasible to imagine that some members could be further radicalized.
Anarchists and socialists generally see environmental destruction as a symptom of the prevailing economic order (i.e. capitalism) which in itself needs to be dismantled. And in this regard socialists seem resigned to the fact that fighting injustice and oppression of the weakest in society has never been painless. And while the regular protesters at G8 and G20 Summits say that they never incite violence, there is little doubt that their numbers include those who are happy to reciprocate violence with violence. Finally millions of citizens across the planet are positively engaged and active in reducing AGW on a daily basis be it in organisations or in their own lifestyle choices. And given that many of these concerned citizens resent the relentless “rape” of the earth, a violent backlash is possible from within a large constituency.
Indeed history proves that people will ultimately resist oppression / injustice by all means available, regardless of the logic or consequences. It is irrefutable that physical force insurrection has shaped the fate of many western democracies (Ireland, France and the US come to mind). The recent commemorations of the 1916 Rising in Ireland remind us that when democracy is denied, violence often overtakes events. In this case a lesser measure of Irish independence ( in the form of Home Rule) had been repeatedly agreed by parliament but vetoed by the un-elected UK House of Lords (largely made up of hereditary aristocrats and establishment figures) who feared the return of control to the Irish people. And through the Irish uprising was dismissed at the time by the mainstream media and establishment as unjustified, undemocratic and counter-productive to the aims of the movement employing, it does enjoy widespread retrospective recognition from the Irish state.
Non aligned groups will often differ in their views of how best to effect change and from this perspective it’s common that they will act independently of each other. For instance Martin Luther King and his supporters bravely sought improvements in US equality. However the existence of the Black Panthers (labelled by the FBI as a group “advocating the use of violence”) was surely a stark reminder to authorities that denial of basic rights risked outright race conflict.
But on a human level is it realistic that a person might inflict violence to stem AGW, a threat which many have labelled as existential (to those enjoying a western lifestyle)? Perhaps, however it seems highly illogical to believe that suicide bombings or indiscriminate attacks against ordinary citizens by a tiny minority of radicalized Muslims (such as ISIS) could change Western Lifestyles (if that is the true target of their attacks). While religious ideologies play a huge aspect in the motivation of such actions, the point is that outwardly ordinary people (with western educations) can become disenfranchised from society and carry out extreme acts.
From this point of view it seems more realistic to believe that people unfortunate enough to have had their their lives ruined through extreme weather events may feel that “enough is enough” or seek to inflict retribution of a kind. The indigenous dwellers of the tiny pacific islands threatened by rising sea level must surely feel aggrieved at the inaction of humanity as their communities are erased from earth.
Those who have a passionate belief in the sanctity of nature and who feel betrayed by the folly of human kind may make symbolic gestures (of a violent nature) which they feel might ultimately play a role in the protection of the eco-system. The logic of some actors could be similar to the argument often employed by certain western governments; that the loss of life caused through armed “intervention” outweighs the far greater loss of life that might occur through inaction. As Tom Wait’s said, “killing has intensified along the road to peace…”
Violence could take the form of attacks on members of the fossil fuel industry, the media or politicians who are acting without compunction in ways which increase AGW. Similarly attempts to destroy the infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry may result in the knock on loss of life, which is often referred to by the US media as unfortunate collateral damage.
Finally the morality of such actions aren’t on debate here. The primary point is that without substantial moves to alleviate AGW, vast loss of life is likely in one form or another. And for that reason it seems a moral imperative that non-violent direct action is escalated to levels which cannot be ignored by the establishment.
That concludes the “Meltdown Essays” however I intend to write about the possible intensification of direct action soon. Until then keep smiling and let’s all hope we avoid what the so called doomers are calling Meltdown, i.e., the collapse of industrial civilisation.