My fellow lobsters, we are being cooked.
I know some of you don’t believe it and others have come to the conclusion there is nothing we can do, but the simple truth is the gas has been turned on, the fire lit and the temperature is slowly rising. There is no significant disagreement amongst our lobster pot scientists about these basic facts. In fact the latest study argues the water is much hotter than previously thought. Our only way of avoiding the rolling boil is to come up with a plan to turn the gas off and then take the steps necessary to implement that strategy. But, as individuals we cannot claw our way to a solution. Lobsters of the world we must join together.
Here are 10 things we can do to start:
10. Read Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything -- Capitalism vs. the Climate. This is a great way to become informed about the problem and what to do about it. Klein offers a comprehensive, thoughtful, witty and sometimes personal analysis of how we can still save the planet, if enough people put their minds and bodies into the project. The book is an absolute must-read for every environmentalist and everyone who has ever challenged the status quo.
9. Help create and strengthen local food systems. Build and participate in self-sustaining regional economies. Demand governments get rid of “free trade” agreement language that prevents this or limits measures that would reduce global warming.
8. Escape the clutches of the private automobile. Walk, take public transit, ride a bike, join a car share and demand cities that thrive on human energy in a sustainable relationship with nature. Understand there is a better, healthier life waiting if we evolve beyond homo automotovis. Read Stop Signs — Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay by Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi, an entertaining and enlightening road trip through a car-crazy world.
7. Spread the word that human beings are part of nature and do not have dominion over it. Learn from Aboriginal peoples around the world about our place in the environment.
6. Support alternative energy sources. We must quickly replace all carbon-based energy with alternatives, a project that is doable. The barrier is not technological but rather economic and political. The only reason burning fossil fuels is currently cheaper than wind, solar or geothermal is because the carbon-based fuel sector does not pay for the real cost of its emissions.
5. Assert the principle that polluters must pay for all the negative consequences of what they put into the environment. We must calculate the price of repairing the damage caused and add this to their cost of production. Not paying the true cost of production is, in effect, a subsidy. Ending that subsidy will leave most of the fossil fuel industry uneconomic.
4. Get off the consumption treadmill. Every time you think about acquiring more stuff or buying more services ask yourself these questions: Do we really need this? Is this good or bad for the environment? To answer these questions objectively we must understand and combat the marketing/advertising system that twists our emotions and desires to mould us into the sort of consumers that make the most profit for multinational corporations.
3. Elect and support governments that take global warming seriously. Without that we have little hope of success. To ensure that the governments we elect really do what is best for people and our planet rather than what is good for the rich and powerful, we must end the power of money to control politicians.
2. Work to change our current economic system, which is the ultimate source of the problem. We must construct an economy based on human need rather than capitalist greed. The foundation of this new economy must be an understanding that our most basic human need is a safe and healthy environment. To ensure that our economy works for the benefit of all it must be democratic and inclusive, rather than run by and for a wealthy minority.
1. Become part of a mass movement to make all of the above happen. We must come together to say no to any further expansion of carbon extraction. We must blockade the carbon industry into extinction. To succeed we must build a grand coalition of all those who are fighting for a better world. This means environmentalists finding common cause with the union movement, First Nations, poor people, poor nations, liberation movements, anti-capitalists, and with all those who do battle against the many forms of inequality.
Lobsters of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but the chains (that keep you on the stove).
Gary Engler is a Canadian journalist, novelist (The Year We Became Us) and co-author of the recently released New Commune-ist Manifesto -- Workers of the World It Really is Time to Unite. He is currently working on the first great hockey novel.
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