Having just participated in the No Coal Export Action which took place at our state capitol last week, I want to tell my friends and neighbors just why I chose to be arrested and what I learned from the experience. To be clear, I was not appealing to the regulators or politicians, hoping they might change their minds about mining the Otter Creek coal tract or building a rail line up the Tongue River valley. Those folks offer little more than lip service when it comes to fighting climate change because they all worship at the same altar. Our economic system’s need for ever-expanding production, consumption and profit puts it at odds with any vision for a just, sustainable world and yet all such “leaders” must bow before it.
Speaking of lip service, you might have noticed how everyone from Exxon/Mobil to Goldman Sachs is suddenly going “green”. These corporations wish to sound concerned but offer false solutions such as “clean coal” or nuclear energy. It is necessary to confront the root causes of climate change or we will simply end up with solar powered sweat shops. We are now at 394.29 parts per million CO2 and climbing. Every second. Every minute. Every day.
So why would I engage in non-violent civil disobedience knowing policy makers were unlikely to be moved? Because I hoped to demonstrate that direct action is a real alternative to waiting passively for those in power to effect change. If we do not find ways to interrupt the cycles of resource extraction and overconsumption that drive the market system, we will soon destroy the ecosystems upon which we, and millions of other species, depend. Do I think sit-ins will be enough? Not at all. In fact they are only the beginning and it will take many, many more individuals who understand the true nature of the threat we face to organize and act. Which side are you on?
Of course it’s likely you never heard of the coal action or see climate change reported on in any meaningful way in the mainstream media. No big surprise there.
In closing, I would like to commend the Capitol staff, Helena police, jail and judicial staff for their professionalism. Cities around the country could learn a lot from them.