Mon 15 Apr 2019 01.00 EDT Last modified on Thu 18 Apr 2019 04.31 EDT
No one is coming to save us. Mass civil disobedience is essential to force a political response
‘Catastrophe afflicts people now and, unlike those in the rich world who can still afford to wallow in despair, they are forced to respond in practical ways.’ Photograph: Guillem Sartorio/AFP/Getty Images
Had we put as much effort into preventing environmental catastrophe as we’ve spent on making excuses for inaction, we would have solved it by now. Everywhere I look, I see people engaged in furious attempts to fend off the moral challenge it presents.
The commonest current excuse is this: “I bet those protesters have phones/go on holiday/wear leather shoes.” In other words, we won’t listen to anyone who is not living naked in a barrel, subsisting only on murky water. Of course, if you are living naked in a barrel we will dismiss you too, because you’re a hippie weirdo. Every messenger, and every message they bear, is disqualified on the grounds of either impurity or purity.
As the environmental crisis accelerates, and as protest movements like YouthStrike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion make it harder not to see what we face, people discover more inventive means of shutting their eyes and shedding responsibility. Underlying these excuses is a deep-rooted belief that if we really are in trouble, someone somewhere will come to our rescue: “they” won’t let it happen. But there is no they, just us.