10.01.151:00 AM ET
It’s a far cry from eco-terrorism, but the loose collective that calls itself Climate Justice is all too willing to inject civil disobedience into the climate change wars.
“This is a book about waking up,” Wen Stephenson writes on the opening page of his exceptionally well-timed What We’re Fighting For Now Is Each Other. Stephenson’s subject is the self-christened “climate justice” movement that’s trying to halt civilization’s march over the cliff of non-survivable global warming. Judging by events of recent days—especially Shell Oil’s halt to oil drilling in the Arctic, a retreat estimated to cost shareholders some $7 billion—this grassroots movement is only growing in size, sophistication, and economic and political clout. And more protests against the fossil fuel industry, along with demands for a rapid shift to 100 percent clean energy, are planned prior to the United Nations climate summit that begins in Paris on November 30.
Much news coverage simplistically attributed Shell’s Arctic retreat to the current low price of oil, roughly $50 a barrel. No doubt that was a factor, but Shell’s own announcement also referenced “the challenging, unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.” And this “regulatory environment” is a function of politics, politics that have been rapidly changing and in no small part due to pressure from climate activists.
On August 18, the Democratic party’s presidential frontrunner reversed course and endorsed one of the movement’s key demands as Hillary Clinton announced that she opposed Arctic drilling. Clinton’s move in turn obliged president Obama to defend green lighting Shell’s plans, complicating the White House’s efforts to portray Obama as a climate champion during his visit to Alaska. A few days later, still lagging behind Senator Bernie Sanders both in the polls and in grassroots enthusiasm and recognizing that climate change is a major campaign issue for younger voters and the activists crucial to turning out the vote on election day, Clinton made a second attempt to burnish her green credibility by coming out against the Keystone XL pipeline—the same pipeline she said as secretary of State in 2009 she was “inclined” to approve.