Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.
Here’s the good news: The debate is over. 75% of US citizens believe climate change is human-caused; more than half say we have to do something and fast.
Here’s even better news: A new report shows that more than 200 cities and counties, and 12 states have committed to or already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. This means that one out of every three Americans (about 111 million Americans and 34 percent of the population) lives in a community or state that has committed to or has already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. Seventy cities are already powered by 100 percent wind and solar power. The not-so-great news is that many of the transition commitments are too little, too late.
The best news? The story doesn’t end there.
We can all pitch in to help save humanity and the planet. And I don’t mean just by planting trees or changing light bulbs. Climate action movements are exploding in numbers, actions, and impact. Groups like Youth Climate Strikes, Extinction Rebellion, #ShutDownDC, the Sunrise Movement, and more are changing the game. Join in if you haven’t already. As Extinction Rebellion reminds us: there’s room for everybody in an effort this enormous. We all make change in different ways, and we’re all needed to make all the changes we need.
Resistance is not futile. As the editor of Nonviolence News, I collect stories of climate action and climate wins. In the past month alone, the millions of people worldwide rising up in nonviolent action have propelled a number of major victories. The University of British Columbia divested $300 million in funds from fossil fuels. The world’s largest public bank ditched fossil fuels and said it would no longer invest in oil and coal. California cracked down on oil and gas fracking permits halting new drilling wells as the state prepares for a renewable energy transition. New Zealand passed a law to put the climate crisis at the front and center of all its policy considerations (the first such legislation in the world). The second-largest ferry operator on the planet is switching from diesel to batteries in preparation for a renewable transition. Re-affirming their anti-pipeline stance, Portland, Oregon city officials told Zenith Energy that they would not reverse their decision, and instead would continue to block new pipelines. Meanwhile, in Portland, Maine, the city council joined the ever-growing list endorsing the youths’ climate emergency resolution. Italy made climate change science mandatory in school. And that’s just for starters.
Is it any wonder Collins Dictionary made “climate strike” the Word of the Year?
Beyond planting trees and changing lightbulbs, here’s a list of things you can do about the climate crisis:
1. Join Greta Thunberg, Fridays for the Future, and the global Student Climate Strikes on Fridays.
2. Not a student? Join Jane Fonda’s #FireDrillFridays (civil disobedience is the latest workout fad; everybody looks good saving the planet).
3. Take to the field, like the students who disrupted the Harvard-Yale football game to demand fossil fuel divestment. You can’t play football on a dead planet, after all.
4. Stage an “oil spill” like these 40 members of Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard (FFDH) and Extinction Rebellion. They staged an oil spill in Harvard’s Science Center Plaza to call attention to the university’s complicity in the climate crisis.
5. Get in the way with city-wide street blockades like #ShutDownDC. People from an alliance of groups blockaded the banks and investment firms in the nation’s capital to protest the financing of fossil fuels, and the ways the banking industry drives the climate migration crisis while profiting from the devastation.
6. Rally the artists and paint giant murals to remind people to take action, like this skyscraper-sized Greta Thunberg mural in San Francisco.
7. No walls handy? Print out a scowling Greta and put it in the office to remind people not to use single-use plastic.
8. Crash Congress (or your city/county officials’ meetings) demanding climate legislation, climate emergency resolutions, and more. That’s what these climate justice activists did last week, protesting legislative inaction and demanding justice for people living on the front lines of the crisis.
9. Occupy the offices: Sit-ins and occupations of public officials offices are one way to take the protest to the politicians. Campaigners occupied US Senator Pelosi’s office and launched their global hunger strike just before US Thanksgiving weekend. In Oregon, 21 people were arrested while occupying the governor’s office to get her to oppose a fracked gas export terminal at Jordan Cove.
10. Organize a coal train blockade like climate activists in Ayers, Massachusetts. They made a series of multi-wave coal train blockades, one group of protesters taking up the blockade as the first group was arrested. Or rally thousands like the Germans did when they gathered between 1,000-4,000 green activists, made their way past police lines, and blocked trains at three important coal mines in eastern Germany.
11. Shut down your local fossil fuel power plant. (We’ve all got one.) New Yorkers did this dramatically a few weeks ago, scaling a smokestack and blockading the gates. In New Hampshire, 67 climate activists were arrested outside their coal power plant, calling for it to be shut down.
12. Of course, another option is to literally take back your power like this small German town that took ownership of their grid and went 100 percent renewable.
13. Like Spiderman? You could add some drama to a protest like these two kids (ages 8 and 11) who rappelled down from a bridge with climbing gear and a protest banner during COP25 in Madrid.
14. Ground the private jets. Extinction Rebellion members went for the gold: they blockaded a private jet terminal used by wealthy elites in Geneva.
15. Sail a Sinking House down the river like Extinction Rebellion did along the Thames to show solidarity with all those who have lost their homes to rising seas.
16. Clean it up. Use mops, brooms, and scrub brushes for a “clean up your act” protest like the one Extinction Rebellion used at Barclay’s Bank branches.
17. Blockade pipeline supply shipments like Washington activists did to stall the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
18. Catch the eye with a Red Brigade Funeral Procession like this one during the Black Friday climate action protests in Vancouver.
19. Tiny House Blockades: Build a tiny house in the path of the pipelines, like these Indigenous women are doing to thwart the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada.
20. Make a racket with a pots-and-pans protest. Cacerolazos – pots and pans banging protests – erupted in 12 Latin American countries last week. The media focused on government corruption and economic justice as the cause, but in many nations, including Chile and Bolivia, climate and environmental justice are included in the protesters demands.
21. Share this article. Action inspires more action. Hearing these examples – and the successes – gives us the strength to rise to the challenges we face. You can help stop the climate crisis by sharing these stories with others. (You can also connect to 30-50+ stories of nonviolence in action by signing up for Nonviolence News’ free weekly enewsletter.)
Plus! Here’s a bonus idea from friends at World Beyond War: Connect peace and climate, militarism and environmental destruction, by pressuring your local government to divest from both weapons and fossil fuels, like Charlottesville, VA, did last year, and Arlington,VA, is working on right now.
Remember: all these stories came from the Nonviolence News articles I’ve collected in just the past 30 days! These stories should give you hope, courage, and ideas for taking action. There’s so much to be done, and so much we can do! Joan Baez said that “action is the antidote to despair”. Don’t despair. Organize.