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Clashes In Copenhagen Make Sense

December 16th, 2009 by Alison · 3 Comments · climate change (global warming)

I’m penning just a short post today before I take the bus into downtown Portland for meetings on transportation options. (Happily, it appears that the statewide/interstate rideshare project we’ve been working on for a long time will officially be granted its funding today.)

As the world’s climate talks in Copenhagen approach their conclusion on Friday, police are beating back hundreds of demonstrators who believe that whatever commitments are being made to protect our shared climate are inadequate.

To be honest, I’m glad the demonstrators are pushing hard. The world, both leaders and general citizens, are far too passive in the face of what author James Howard Kuntzler has dubbed ‘the long emergency’. Our climate needs to be a matter of hot personal concern to us. Taking risks is appropriate. Nonviolent civil disobedience is an honorable and surprisingly practical path to justice, as Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi showed us in the mid-1900′s. I don’t know how many of the Copenhagen demonstrators are trained in the discipline of nonviolent civil disobedience, but I hope it’s a high percentage.

The  relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed was clear in Dr. King’s and Gandhi’s campaigns against injustice in the American South and India, and the changes needed were similarly clear. With climate change, everything is more diffuse and complex, a topic worth its own post. My point today is that demonstrations are among the many appropriate actions to take concerning climate change.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • richard pauli

    Oh please let us know about the statewide ride share… that kind of thinking is so important.

    And you are spot-on target about civil disobedience and other strong reactions. Many people are suffering and dying, and many more know that this should not happen. The climate cowardice and carbon greed will not be ignored.

    Part of the denial is that we like to ignore that real people have done seriously bad things to perpetuate and make matters worse. We do not accept business as usual. And we do not accept human innocence. Strange, that science points to a harsh judgment.

  • Lou Grinzo

    And consider that the countries at COP15 weren’t even attempting to do what was needed:


  • Alison

    Richard; yes, business as usual is what got us here, and is not acceptable. I’ll write more about the rideshare project in a future post; thanks for your interest.

    Lou, thanks for your link. I’m always impressed by the depth and breadth of your knowledge at The Cost of Energy.

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