If we’re doomed, why do anything?
I hope that by this point, you acknowledge that there is a good chance that the current state of the planet is sufficiently degraded that life is not likely to survive much longer. Certainly, our only hope is for our species to cut consumption by a factor of at least 4, eliminate pollution including all greenhouse gas emissions (It’s serious: Historical analysis finds no precedent for the rate of coal and gas power decline needed to limit climate change to 1.5C), and stop destroying the ecosphere. And it’s pretty clear that our governments are playing a delaying game because they are controlled by the forces that are destroying the ecosystem. Their latest trick is to make promises with deadlines far past the time they would do any good: India pledges new climate crisis goal: Net-zero by 2070.
Individual action is not enough
Can individuals muster the commitment to turn the crisis around without the help of government? Well, ask yourself these two things: Would the millions of people who refuse to take personal responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the name of freedom, or religion, or other BS, be willing to make the deep sacrifices needed to stop greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and mass slaughter of species? Would the one percent who control the world’s wealth be willing to curb their all-devouring avarice, give up their huge country estates, their private jets and yachts, and their lavish lifestyles? No? Then why should we believe that personal action by the fraction of humanity capable of it would make enough difference?
A Moral Imperative
The Golden Rule
One principle, based on self-interest, has emerged, the Golden Rule, the principal moral precept common to all decent faiths (although not very common among the ostentatiously pious): Do unto others as you would have others do unto you – as opposed to the Trump rule, Do unto others before they can do unto you. We have exalted the Golden Rule to a sacred principle, a hyper-ecumenical basis for behavior that spans all faiths as well as agnosticism, atheism, and humanism. Good for us: a rational and moral counter to animal instinct, exactly what we need.
As our planet dies, and we go extinct, we will separate broadly along a spectrum of behaviors from Trumpian vandals through Gandhian, Theresian altruists. I hope you will choose the latter. Since you’re going to die anyway, you might as well die in a principled way.
Setting an example. Most people will be rudderless, turning to unspeakable acts of inhumanity to save their sorry asses as long as they can, unless we stand up to them and demand that they show some decency in a situation where many of us are going to die unpleasant deaths.
Educating yourself. This book is a start, but there are great resources at your fingertips. Follow the links in this book for issues of greatest concern to you. Find authoritative sources, generally scientists at reputable universities who have substantial peer-reviewed publications in quality journals. Usually they, or their institutions, have material suitable for the layperson.
Serving the community. The most honorable way to go down is not fighting, but serving. People will need sanctuary, and those of us who can provide it are duty-bound to provide it – even if our government forbids it.
Fighting the oligarchs and corporations (NIMBYs and a Trump Advisor Try and Kill the Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Project; More Than 1 in 4 Members of the Senate Have Fossil Fuel Investments). The wealthy and powerful are the enemy. Boycott them. Buy local instead, from trusted sources. Participate in demonstrations, blockades, and any other means at hand. Interfere with their supply chains, means of production, distribution and sale.
Push for the highest possible taxes on incomes and property of the wealthy. Fight for wealth taxes and inheritance taxes to hack away at their power. They will fight dirty – expose them when they do. Shame them in public, hound them, give them no peace.
The primary reason for military might has been to maintain a grip on fossil fuel supplies. That must be abandoned anyway, and that wealth, organization, and labor force can better serve our planetary defenses.
Fighting the media. The corporate media are controlled by – well, by the corporations, dummy! Boycott the ones that spread misinformation, support the ones that speak truth to power. Use your social platforms, letters to the editor, letters to the broadcast media. Support “alternate” media like the many independent news services I have brought to your attention through my links in this book. Make the alternate news media the principal media, and make the corporate media the alternate.
Leading. If people of integrity like you don’t lead, why should others? Form discussion groups, action groups. Press relatives and associates to act – inaction is no longer tolerable. It is what has gotten us where we are. Participate in government. Press for the remedies described in Chapter 4, because they are our only chance of survival.