Why Abolition? Why Now?
Not another book about climate science, Abolish Oil Now! is about people, justice, and what it takes to win against big dirty money. Lessons from the most successful citizens movement of the past can help us dethrone fossil fuels and win the clean energy revolution in time to save humanity.
With wildfires, heatwaves, droughts, and storms out of the apocalypse ravaging the nations of the earth, it’s never been more urgent to slow and stop climate change. But three decades of halfhearted efforts haven’t cut climate pollution. Instead, pollution has doubled in that period. Solutions like solar and wind power are ready. The only force blocking action is the political power of the dirty energy industry. If governments finally stop fossil fuel pollution, oil, gas, and coal companies stand to lose about the same amount of money that American slaveowners lost when the Civil War ended slavery in 1865. Just as slaveowners fought to keep their property in humans, so fossil fuel companies have fought to save their profits, even if it spelled doom for world civilization. And they’re still fighting.
That’s why MSNBC broadcaster Chris Hayes says that only one movement in the past was big enough to serve as a model to beat the Axis of Oil today: the movement to abolish slavery. Climate leaders from Al Gore to Naomi Klein agree that people who want to save the climate today should become abolitionists. And naturalist David Attenborough has said that “climate change and ecological breakdown may one day be viewed with the same universal repugnance as slavery.”
A century and a half earlier, Frederick Douglass urged his fellow abolitionists to keep fighting slavery even in the face of determined opposition. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its mighty waters. The struggle may be a moral one or it may be a physical one, or it may both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.”
Today, the same determination can also help us stop the catastrophe of runaway climate disruption. With inspiring stories of abolition heroes like Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Lloyd Garrison, Abolish Oil Now! offers a proven model of political success with a special focus on race, pollution, and climate justice for Black Americans and other people of color.