The world is burning, quite literally, and while the climate crisis rages on, much of society continues to hit the snooze button on this global alarm. Wildfires, flooding, heat waves – it’s not a script for a doomsday movie; it’s our current reality.
Back in 2019, when I penned “Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth,” I sought to rally readers, encouraging them to act in any way they could. But let’s get real: the hour is later than we think, and ‘doing something’ isn’t enough anymore. We need to question our impact and ensure our efforts aren’t merely drops in the ocean but are instead causing waves of change.
Drawing from my role as the executive director of the Climate Emergency Fund, I’ve been deep diving into strategic plans to maximize our impact. And what I’ve unearthed? Disruptive climate activism isn’t just an option; it’s the essential catalyst needed right now. Our society’s current state can be likened to a state of mass delusion, where we’re tragically blinded by a veil of ‘business as usual’ while the planet crumbles.
Historically, social movements have always been the propelling forces of change, and disruption has been at their core. Take the Climate Emergency Fund’s backing of groups like Ultima Generation, Climate Defiance, and Scientist Rebellion. Their actions, from dying fountains to halting major events, are not mere theatrics. They’re cries for attention, awakening the masses to the looming climate emergency.
Recent data from the Social Change Lab highlights the power of disruption. Disruptive groups, they report, are 6-12 times more cost-effective than non-disruptive climate organizations when it comes to curbing carbon emissions. Just think about Extinction Rebellion, which has reportedly averted 12.5 tons of carbon emissions for every dollar spent.
Let’s not forget the victories either. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport? They’re now banning private jets, thanks to relentless protests. The UK’s Great Britain Insulation Scheme, committing a staggering 1 billion pounds to thermal insulation? Cheers, to Insulate Britain’s disruptive campaigns. And a massive win in New York? A state-wide gas infrastructure ban.
Drawing parallels with historical revolutions, from the commoners of Rome to Occupy Wall Street, disruptive actions aren’t new. They’re time-tested and have ushered significant societal shifts. The fabric of these movements is nonviolence – not just a moral compass but a strategic powerhouse. Studies have shown nonviolent movements have a higher chance of success. They rally the masses, making the cost of maintaining the status quo unsustainable for opponents.
Think of it as a blend of warfare and psychotherapy. While both aim for transformative healing, movements like ours, at their core, are instruments of tough love. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke of nonviolent movements as healing mechanisms for a sick nation. Today, we stand on the precipice of change, endeavoring to shake society out of its slumber.
To those who label our protests as disruptive, controversial, or inconvenient: yes, they are. But they are also a desperate plea, a wake-up call born from love, hope, and a sense of responsibility. And as we continue our march forward, my hope remains that more individuals will transition from despair to decisive, impactful action.