To protest or not to protest? That is the question on the lips of many children, millenials and workers these days as we are confronted with weather events daily: witness Cyclone Idai in Africa.
I recently had a related comment in the Montreal Gazette about the environmental protests in general:
“It makes me proud that our sometimes dysfunctional city [Montreal] has its priorities straight on this one. We were indeed the BIGGEST student climate strike in the world according to what I read. To think this all started with a fifteen year old Swede named Greta Thunberg. We are indeed at the precipice and it’ll take many more strikes like this one, like those planned by Extinction Rebellion in April and Earth Strike in September, to really overturn the nefarious power players preventing commensurate climate action with the scope of the crisis. Bring in on for a tumultuous but necessary battle in 2019!”
My sort of conversion to much more committed environmentalism came at the end of my volunteer time with Extinction Rebellion, an environmental political group who plan to shut down the world’s capitals on April 15th but who were and are getting too radical in their tactics for me. Towards the end of my stint there I had the chance to read an advanced copy of David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth, which I reviewed in Precipice. Wells changed my views from thinking the environmental crisis (as if this weren’t bad enough) would be my child and grandchildren’s problem to one that would be affecting me, and that my choices, indeed our choices we make now, will probably determine much of human fate in the next decades and centuries to come: if we make it there.
In the last few months I have been all over the map trying to imbibe as much information about the environmental crisis, all the while seeing the environmental movements, as mentioned in my Gazette comment prominent among them Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion and Earth Strike, gather steam.
I also read some books about the g-ds that failed, protesting and non-violence itself, which are both creeds of this new generation of environmentalism. So what is one to do besides becoming a doom and gloom environmental nihilist on one had, or a radical activist landing up in jail or worse on the other?
In my research I came across a school of thought which made sense to me called Environmental Modernism. This idea of technology being “…our planet’s last best hope”, really appeals to me as perhaps the only answer to what we are all facing. Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and others are demanding massive cuts in carbon emissions to the point where the world’s economy would become stagnant if not for technological improvement.
Another interesting school of thought I have come across doing general, not specifically environmental research, is called Accelerationism. Accelerationism preaches a kind of hyper-capitalism and speeding up of technological change which would eventually bear fruit for the average person who might not be partaking fully in the modern economy. Accelerationism used to be associated with the right but now is more associated to the left.
An aside, I have flirted with more socialist ideas in the past, but now I think that all hands are needed on deck, including a heavy dose of entrepreneurial heft, to move us back to a trajectory of survival.
So what would an accelerationist environmentally modern solution look like? I think it means a reorientation of our priorities from one of consumption for consumption sake, and the narcissism replete on our social networks, to a worldwide drive towards just environmental sustainability where the likes of the US and China could put down their cyber-arms to foment a new union for the fate of humanity, including all lesser powers of course while they are at it. All else seems to me meaningless at this point.