The green revolution is on its way
The scale of opposition to ecological devastation and the damage caused by fossil fuels is mounting globally to a point where some are now forecasting a “green revolution” coming to a neighbourhood near you soon.
The “super typhoon” that devastated large parts of the Philippines is one among many extreme weather phenomena that are now occurring more frequently as a consequence of the impact on ecosystems of climate change.
Scientists are warning that we should expect many more such weather-related disasters. These in turn are sure to drive on the resistance to reckless policies like the accelerating logging of the Amazon rain forest revealed in the last few days.
Michael Klare, US professor of peace and world security studies, has mapped the global movement against what he calls a “human created, fossil-fuelled apocalypse” in a new book, The Race for What’s Left.
Last May, protesters blocked bulldozers preparing the “re-development” of a small inner-city park into a shopping mall in central Istanbul. This protest had, Klare notes, “the most modest of beginnings”. The anger over a few trees grew into a movement against a state “ruling over people like sultans”, as one protester said. Protests were held in 70 cities across the country.
While the Turkish upheavals hit the headlines, the massive effects of “airpocalyses” and environmental damage in China have been largely hidden. In October 2012, 200 poor farmers blocked a road in the city of Ningbo near Shanghai to halt the construction of a huge petro-chemical facility. Students joined the protest. Eventually the government backed down.
The issue of nuclear power has ignited protests across continents. After Fukushima, a quarter of a million people demonstrated against nuclear power in Germany’s main cities. In Japan itself, 170,000 marched against the re-starting of the nuclear reactors in July 2012.
There is a growing anti-carbon movement across north America. In the 2013 elections, three cities in Colorado voted to ban or place moratoriums on fracking within their borders.
In Britain, anti-fracking groups such as the Extreme Energy Action Network have created on-line resources which track the widespread nature of the movement and helps people link up easily.
Klare concludes that a green energy revolution may well erupt in your neighbourhood “as part of humanity’s response to the greatest danger we have ever faced”. He notes that a “green revolution” is likely to erupt spontaneously and spread like wildfire to different countries.
Klare mourns the fact that the US-global energy crisis of 1979 did not lead to big investment in alternative energy sources by Jimmy Carter and subsequent presidents. Instead the last three decades saw military intervention by the US, UK and France, backed by their allies, in the Middle East.
Finding this strategy deficient, they are now hoping to turn the US (and on a lesser scale) the UK into a “new Saudi Arabia” by way of a disastrous and ecologically-damaging energy policy.
Klare hopes that the green revolution he is forecasting will “ratchet up the pressure for governments to seek broad-ranging systemic transformations of their energy and climate policies”. In this respect, he is basing himself more on hope than expectation as the major economies are moving in the opposite direction.
At the ongoing UN climate change summit in Warsaw, Yeb Sano, the Philippines' lead negotiator who is on hunger strike in solidarity with those affected by the typhoon, attacked the major economies, saying:
We are very concerned. Public announcements from some countries about lowering targets are not conducive to building trust. We must acknowledge the new climate reality and put forward a new system to help us manage the risks and deal with the losses to which we cannot adjust.
Munjurul Hannan Khan, representing the world's 47 least affluent countries, said:
They are behaving irrationally and unacceptably. The way they are talking to the most vulnerable countries is not acceptable. Today the poor are suffering from climate change. But tomorrow the rich countries will be. It starts with us but it goes to them.
That makes Klare’s concept of a “green revolution” not so much a good idea as a practical necessity.
A World to Win secretary
18 November 2013