Somehow, Jonathan Chait’s New York Magazine article entitled “The Sunniest Climate Change Story You’ve Ever Read” left me feeling pretty dark. I knew why I was angry at Chait’s blatantly ahistorical article that attempted to erase the climate movement from the struggle against climate change. He was devaluing the people who have actually been fighting to stop climate change in order to make his point that we should all relax because capitalists and Democratic Party politicians have it all under control.
Chait’s timeline is that in 2010 Obama “tried to pass a cap-and-trade law that would bring the U.S. into compliance with the reductions it had pledged in Copenhagen.” When that failed, “environmentalists sank into despair — where many of them have stayed slumped ever since, having decided the battle is lost.”
Never mind that the cap and trade bill had no connection to the Copenhagen goal of no more than 2 degrees Celsius, but rather was a corporate welfare bill that would have had little or no impact on climate. The whole notion that the cap and trade bill was in response to Copenhagen commitments, when the bill actually passed the House of Representative six months before Copenhagen, reveals that Chait was not paying attention.
Most importantly, Chait’s assertion that “environmentalists” gave up after 2010 is insane. The very fact that he still thinks the activists fighting climate change are “environmentalists” indicates that he is completely oblivious of the actual climate justice movement, which has been consistently growing in scale, diversity and aggression since 2010. That growth was on display a year ago when 400,000 people marched through New York City. The 200 coal plant closures which Chait celebrates as progress did not magically shut down because of the invisible hand of the market or because of Obama’s yet-to-be-implemented Clean Power Plan. Every single one of them was shut down under pressure from local, frontline activists supported by a national movement. That same movement of interconnected, grassroots communities of resistance have fought off countless new power plants, pipelines, coal and gas export facilities, fracking and other new fossil fuel projects over the past five years.
(This is what 400,000 activists slumped in despair looks like.)Read more
I watched a prosecutor lose his mind at the notion of jurors using their conscience. Obama just made him US Attorney http://t.co/vI7TWK5DJV— Tim DeChristopher (@dechristopher) September 1, 2015
Obama just made the lead prosecutor in my trial, the one who freaked out at the possibility of empowered citizens interfering with his marching orders from fossil fuel corporations, the new US Attorney for Utah. I commented on this yesterday on Facebook and people wanted to hear the full story. Here it is.
The most important, and for me, most enlightening, point in my entire legal case happened during the jury selection process. About halfway through the process, a juror mentioned that he had received a pamphlet from the Fully Informed Jurors Association before entering the courthouse. The judge asked the rest of the jury pool how many of them had received a similar pamphlet. About three quarters of the 70 potential jurors raised their hands.
These pamphlets said nothing about my case, but they did talk about jurors’ rights to use their consciences when making their decisions. It discussed why we have juries, which is to protect our fellow citizens from the government. It quoted the nation’s founders about juries being arbiters of fact and of the law. The evolution of our legal system has led to the minimization of the role of citizens and the concentration of power into the hands of judges and prosecutors, but the inherent, though unknown, power of juries is still intact.
The lead prosecutor immediately requested a meeting in the judge’s chambers. As soon as we entered the room, the prosecutor erupted into panicked and desperate outrage. He demanded that the judge declare a mistrial and get a whole new jury pool. He said that I should either be prosecuted or held in contempt for jury tampering. With his hands shaking and his face red, he was nearly spitting when he read from the pamphlet and said, “This…this notion of voting your conscience is out in space!”Read more
In climate movement circles, folks often ask, “When are people going to wake and do what is necessary to really address the climate crisis?” There was a time when the nearly constant answer to that question was that people would only respond when there was a disaster that puts a human face on climate change. The logic went that climate change was too abstract, and people needed a clear picture of what the human impacts of climate change would look like in order to be sufficiently motivated. Once people had a tangible picture of how climate change hurts human lives, surely they would connect emotionally to the crisis and demand the drastic action necessary to avert such suffering in the future.
Then, ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina gave us that picture in stark human terms. The picture turned out to be black people on a rooftop. Given that poor people and people of color disproportionately suffer the impacts of the climate crisis, it was a picture that is likely to continue to accurately reflect the human face of climate change.Read more
Photo courtesy Utah for Bernie Sanders
Watch the live stream recording of the August 14, 2015 Utah for Bernie Sanders event at the Impact Hub Salt Lake City, UT.
Event Description: Utah for Bernie Sanders, a grassroots organization, is excited to present a night of music and educational discourse of current environmental and climate change issues facing our nation and the world. Tim DeChristopher, prominent environmental activist and founder of Peaceful Uprising, will speak at the Salt Lake Impact Hub, 150 South State Street, #1, Salt Lake City, Friday, August 14, 2015. The free event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time and can also be viewed via livestream. Read full event press release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Utah for Bernie Sanders, a grassroots organization, is excited to present a night of music and educational discourse of current environmental and climate change issues facing our nation and the world. Tim DeChristopher, prominent environmental activist and founder of Peaceful Uprising, will speak at the Salt Lake Impact Hub, 150 South State Street, #1, Salt Lake City, Friday, August 14, 2015. The free event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time and can also be viewed via livestream at https://www.facebook.com/events/1450299071945846/
In addition to Mr. DeChristopher, musician Pablo Blaqk will perform. Pablo Blaqk is also an environmental activist and founder of the GreenCity Music Festival, an Eco friendly fest which features huge acts to support green ideas in energy, food, clothing, and re-purposed designs.
DeChristopher will discuss his experiences with climate justice that began in 2008 when he single-handedly prevented the controversial sale of Utah public lands for oil and gas leases through a spontaneous act of civil disobedience. For his civil protest, he was sent to prison for 21 months. His creative and effective approach received wide media coverage, and was the subject of the independent film, Bidder 70. DeChristopher went on to co-found Peaceful Uprising, a nonprofit collective committed to action to combat the climate crisis and build a just, healthy world. It works toward achieving climate justice and illuminating the relationship between the destruction of the planet and social oppression and inequality.Read more
As a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, my first reaction to hearing about yesterday’s Black Lives Matter protest at Netroots Nation was disappointment. This looks bad, I thought. Bad for Bernie, who is the only presidential candidate with any chance of challenging structural injustice. And bad for Black Lives Matter, who could easily be interpreted as shutting down progressive discussions about immigration and economic inequality to make people focus on their priorities. I’ve had my share of mistakes during protests, as have all the activists I respect most, so I certainly had some sympathy. But I thought their protest was just that: a mistake.
Then I watched the video of Sanders responding to the protest, or should I say, failing to respond and instead just speaking over and past them. He tried to just continue with his stump speech and seemed annoyed with the disruption. Several times he looked at moderator Jose Antonio Vargas as if he expected Vargas to control these women, once asking, “Are you in charge here?” The closest he came to discussing policing issues directly was mentioning his success with community policing in Burlington, VT, a city that was pretty much all white and pretty much irrelevant to the discussion of racist policing.Read more
Watch Tim DeChristopher's talk at the June 2015 Waterkeeper Conference in Boulder, Colorado.
Since its inception, the Annual Waterkeeper Conference has been the cornerstone of our movement. The conference educates, inspires, and energizes individual Waterkeeper organizations and strengthens their fight for clean water. As the Waterkeeper movement increases its global presence, the annual conference becomes increasingly important as a way to keep Waterkeeper organizations connected, to maintain the unique Waterkeeper identity, and to increase the effectiveness of the individual organizations.Read more
I recently attended a conference in Claremont, CA called Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization. The gathering had over 1500 very smart people who spend a lot of time thinking about the fundamental shifts necessary in our society. Over the course of the weekend, I ended up having a very similar conversation with several different people, so I figured it is worth sharing that conversation here.
The context of these conversations is the common and vital question of what will be necessary to awaken more people to the fundamental flaws of our industrial civilization and motivate them to make drastic shifts. The frequent assertion is that people will only wake up when they are hit by a serious disaster that rattles them out of their apathy. As long as people are at least minimally comfortable, they will hold on to their current paradigm until some kind of hardship makes it untenable.Read more
Friends, I’m excited to share some new developments for my activism. This year I’m taking steps to get more serious about communicating my ideas, integrating my public speaking with my organizing, and staying connected with the amazing people I meet doing this work – including you.
New Official Website
I’ve launched this new website to serve as the hub for my work and activism. I’m working with my colleague, Peter Bowden, on communications. I’ll tell you more about Peter in a later post. For now, just know that he’s helping me take my communication to a new level – this site, lead admin on my Facebook page, and covering events.
Most important, through this site we are building a new community and network to support my justice work long term. I hope you’ll join us.
Here’s the story…
Grounded In Community
Recently my work has included supporting others who engage in civil disobedience; helping strategize, mobilize and fundraise for various efforts; and constantly trying to deepen our understanding of what it means to stand up for climate justice.
I think I bring a unique holistic perspective and independent truth-telling to this work because my accountability is to a movement and a set of principles rather than to a specific campaign or an NGO. But this turns out to be a rather lonely kind of activism.
I appreciate my role in the climate movement, but also recognize that I can’t continue as an independent voice and leader on my own. I need my to be anchored in community. And that’s where I need your help.
Independence & Dissent
Will you help me build a community and network to support my work as an independent voice and leader?
The standard practice for our movement has been to appeal to a few foundations of concentrated wealth, set up nonprofit groups, and hire staff. But that model has left big gaps of truths that remain unspoken and risks that remain untaken. It has created accountability to a tiny group of funders rather than accountability to a movement. I operate within and among many of those organizations, but I try to maintain the independence to say the things that others won’t. If we are going to have a movement that speaks truth to power, we need to rethink how we fund that movement.
If you can donate $5 or $10 a month, I can do the climate justice work that I am called to do regardless of whether there is a paycheck attached.
What does this work look like?
Excerpt from the press release:
Planet Defender Award - Grassroots Activist - Tim DeChristopher
The 2015 Planet Defender Award (Grassroots Activist) recognizes Tim DeChristopher for his profound acts of civil disobedience to garner awareness and drive action on behalf of environmental protection and climate justice.
DeChristopher believes deeply in the critical role of civil disobedience in social movements throughout history and in the importance of employing those tactics in today's environmental movement. His acts of civil disobedience have garnered national attention for government auctions of public land leases in the final days of the Bush administration as retold in the award-winning documentary, Bidder 70. In addition to his work on advocating for climate justice, DeChristopher has expressed the need for employing civil disobedience to end mountaintop removal mining in his home state of West Virginia.
Grassroots activist, Tim DeChristopher, said, "I'm honored to receive this award alongside such awesome visionaries as Xavier Rudd and Hunter Lovins. Every day there are more of us standing up for climate justice, and we will continue to rise up in the face of the these challenges."