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COMING IN 2021
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.
— Frederick Douglass
Time is running out to stop runaway climate change.
In the next decade, the world economy’s current path of emitting climate pollution will lock in average global temperature increases of more than two degrees Celsius. At that point, scientists say that high temperatures could push ice caps and glaciers, oceans and other natural systems past tipping points that would pull the world inexorably into climate chaos.
Hopefully, we can act quickly enough to avoid these dangerous climate tipping points. Even so, the world is already locked into a certain amount of climate change.
The question at this point is: How bad will it be?
Fortunately, humans still have the ability to avoid the worst. But the longer we wait, the harder it will be to preserve a livable climate. While other species and future generations will pay a heavy price for our inaction, people alive today will also face a more dangerous world.
Weird weather including storms, floods and droughts will become more common, bringing destruction, disease and death in countries across the world. Water shortages and failed crops will intensify competition for dwindling resources, starting with the most vulnerable places.
That in turn will bring armed conflict sending millions of refugees across borders and stressing governments across the globe. Those governments will try to maintain and regain control in any way necessary. A full blown climate emergency could lead to the rise of angry ethnic nationalism, extended periods of martial law, authoritarian leaders and worse — even climate fascism.
In fact, climate-driven droughts and crop failures have already led to rising food prices and hunger, creating political instability most recently in such places as Syria and Central America.
This all should be no surprise to anyone.
Our governments have known about the threat from climate change for three decades. They’ve known that the main source of climate pollution has been burning oil and other dirty fuels. And they’ve known that global instability from climate chaos will be one of the most dangerous threats of the twenty-first century, according to experts in global security from the U.S. military on down.
Solutions from solar panels to energy conservation have also been available for decades. And in the last few years, clean energy has now become competitive on price with dirty energy. Public policy solutions such as putting a steep fee on dirty energy through a carbon fee or tax can make clean energy even more affordable and even help the economy by creating jobs and opportunities for innovative businesses.
Yet, the governments of the world, especially the United States, have so far failed to take serious action to embrace these solutions and to cut climate pollution. Why?
Who’s to Blame
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.
— William Lloyd Garrison
While psychological and cultural barriers have played a part, majorities of citizens in all major countries have supported climate action for years. But when their governments have tried to act, one force has blocked action again and again: the world’s largest, richest and most powerful special interest, the fossil fuel industry.
Led by oil companies, dirty energy producers have not only stopped governments from acting against climate chaos but they’re also covered up their own role in the problem and spread lies about climate science. Caught telling lies and bribing politicians again and again, these companies have shown that they can’t be trusted to be good corporate citizens.
The same companies have had plenty of time as well to switch over to clean energy, from oil rigs to solar panels. And yet, they haven’t done so. Based on their past bad behavior, there’s no grounds to have faith that oil companies will reform in the future.
So, the rest of us must fix the mess that oil companies have created. And then we must force those companies to pay for the clean up on the “polluter pays” principle.
In short, we must abolish oil, whether to stop the burning or stop the bribing.
Since we have all the tools we need to get off of oil, the problem is not technological. We don’t need to wait for more research into clean energy or geo-engineering. What we need are innovations in politics.
To outweigh opposition from oil companies, the climate movement needs to build broad support among the public for serious climate solutions. That may be harder and take longer than anybody had thought. To achieve success, we need to build a movement with the staying power to persist for decades and the fortitude to stand up to the biggest, wealthiest and most politically connected special interest of our era.
The Original Abolition Offers A Path to Victory Today
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
— Harriet Tubman
Abolish Oil Now brings history to bear on the present crisis. The book offers the most successful movement in the modern era to dislodge a moneyed special interest and achieve a long-sought goal shared by millions of people across the world: the campaign to abolish slavery.
Key lessons from nearly a century of activism spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on three continents show how abolitionists recruited enough ordinary citizens to their cause to defeat the massive political power of the slave-owning class.
Then as now, moneyed special interests will fight to the death to preserve their wealth, whatever the cost to the nations of the world or to future generations.
Fortunately, there’s a way for ordinary people to win.
That formula was written more than a century and a half ago by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison and other abolitionists who fought to cleanse America and the world of one of the most persistent evils of human civilization.
Today, climate activists are applying those lessons. Especially activists in the environmental justice movement, protecting frontline communities from pipelines, coal plants and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Many of these activists are people of color trying to keep their water, air and land free from toxic pollution or get companies to clean up the mess they’ve already made.
Abolish Oil Now will profile these inspiring activists and invite the reader to join the fight.