Are disruptive climate protests successful? Activists explain the motivation behind the vocal opposition

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“Stop fossil fuels, Manchin! Stop fossil fuels!”

There is a rhythm to the chant that keeps it stuck in a person’s mind, even after they stop hearing it. section. On Friday, climate change activists from the Climate Challenge confronted Sen. Joe Manchin at a restaurant in New Hampshire. The West Virginia Democrat — who announced in November that he was “traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the center and bring Americans together” — can be seen in the footage calmly pointing to protesters, “Let’s We go ahead and talk.”

His voice was drowned out by the chants, which appeared to start after Manchin said securing the border was one of his policy priorities. Although the protesters were eventually removed from the building by law enforcement officers, that did not end the protest. The activists continued chanting and holding signs outside the restaurant, and ended up chasing Manchin’s car as he and his group drove away.

As Climate Defiance later told Salon, the event at the restaurant was one of three recent occasions when protesters confronted the senator, who Support the historic progress of the inflation reduction law In the fight against climate change, but he is unpopular among activist groups for his important role in killing a larger legislative package – the Build Back Better plan. When asked whether their protests against Manchin ran counter to democratic ideals — particularly those that involve having civil dialogue about important issues — Climate Challenge founder Michael Greenberg told Salon: “I think it’s important to be subversive and confrontational, while of course remaining nonviolent.” .

As Greenberg later explained, “Our goal is not to move Manchin, but to wake up the community and change the terms of debate.”

Each person must decide individually whether the activity of the protesters leaves a positive or negative impression in their minds; The pros and cons of protest, in terms of its function and ability to persuade, are a matter of opinion. By contrast, there is nothing subjective about climate change per se. Scientific community He overwhelmingly agrees Burning fossil fuels is warming the planet, and the negative effects of climate change are being felt on every continent at the present time.

If humans do not significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Earth will face the future As temperatures rise, sea levels rise, and the frequency of extreme weather events such as storms, floods, and forest fires increases. However, just knowing these things does not solve the problem. Rather than leaving people with feelings of helplessness, activism offers ordinary citizens ways to take a stand on the issues that matter most to them.

Some climate scientists have insisted that they need to be able to prescribe policies needed to reduce climate disasters. But until then, it seems important to bring the issue to public attention. However, some forms of protest – e.g Block traffic or Just Stop Oil stunts in 2022 as they ‘destroyed’ famous works of art By throwing soup at them – you don’t always get the sympathy intended, according to him Some opinion polls about this subject.

The deeper question to ask about climate change activism is threefold: First, what methods of protest are ethical and effective in achieving the outcomes desired by concerned citizens? Once this is known, how can ordinary citizens participate? Finally, what specific policies should activists support?

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The Sunrise Movement, a non-profit political action organization, made headlines last week when protesters… Boycott the campaign stop For Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in his failed attempt to win the Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa. despite of Leadership of a country Which are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and DeSantis has infamously referred to all kinds of climate change legislation as “leftist stuff” He rejected growing concerns about climate change “Ideology driven.”

The three protesters were quickly escorted out of the event, but not before one of them took to the stage next to DeSantis and raised a flag that read “DeSantis is a climate criminal.” The dramatic moment was enough to prompt DeSantis to denounce the on-stage rusher as a “dope lunatic.” But are such theatrical and subversive strategies effective? Stevie O’Hanlon, communications director for the Sunrise Movement, told Salon that two “both” approaches to activism are needed.

“We need people on the outside raising their voices, protesting, and pressuring elected officials — and we also need people on the inside, politicians willing to fight for action on climate change and for communities facing the impacts of climate change,” O’Hanlon explained. day. “There’s often not enough of any of these things.”

As a result, the Shorouk Movement “is focused on building a movement of young people that can protest and change political conditions from the outside, and on electing politicians who stand with us and our generation into office, up and down.” “Ballot,” O’Hanlon said.

“This is less about climate protests and more about climate activism, which takes many forms,” Dr. Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA, wrote to Salon. (Kalmus explained that he was talking about himself, not NASA or the federal government.) “It’s not easy to tell someone exactly how to do it, because it takes creativity and it’s critical to the context.”

Meanwhile, Kalmus said there are three guiding principles any aspiring activist should follow. First, Kalmus encouraged concerned citizens to start at the local level. “Find out who your local activists are and join them,” Kalmus advised. “It’s a network and there’s no shortcut.” Additionally, he said one should not be “afraid of climate grief. It is actually a powerful form of communication.” From there he included a third piece of advice: “Take risks.”

When it comes to how ordinary people can get involved, Greenberg also recommends “finding something local, a local group that is disrupting and confronting politicians.” Like O’Hanlon, he also said that “getting involved in politics is very important. It’s time to just recycle or whatever. Find a group near you that is doing direct action and holding people’s feet to the fire.”

In short, climate change activists agree on the importance of working with local groups and promoting the issue in ways that attract attention, while at the same time working within the existing political system. Rabbi Jenny Rosenfounder and CEO of an American Jewish climate change activist group DynoHe explained that activists can feel satisfied about achieving significant results when they “make sure that they are running candidates who have very clear and bold positions on climate change policies.” For example, she noted how President Biden initially had a less aggressive climate change platform and moved to more progressive positions in response to pressure from activist groups.

“This is the thing where we’ve seen activists really play a role,” Rosen explained. “When Biden was a candidate early on, he didn’t have such a bold position on climate. And we’ve seen climate activists really move over time, to the point that by the time he became president, he had already moved to much bolder positions,” she said. Its Build program. Return to the better plan and the inflation reduction law. “Activists can play a real role in pushing candidates to bolder actions when they are candidates, and then holding them accountable once they are elected,” she concluded.

O’Hanlon also suggested that climate change activists recognize specific ways in which smart climate change policies can help people improve their lives.

“Tackling climate change is an opportunity to create millions of good jobs for people of all ages, especially young people who are struggling in this economy,” O’Hanlon said. He added that activists can think of ways “to make life better for all of us: by making our utility system more reliable and affordable so that energy prices go down, by making sure we have a better transportation system, by making sure we’re safer.” Cleaner, more effective schools.”

When people better understand the specific human activities that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, they can craft policies that intelligently solve those problems – and create a more just and equitable society in the process.

Rosen raised a similar point, saying climate change protesters should remember the importance of standing up for things like the need to “stop fossil fuel drilling and production, full stop, full stop” as well as “building a new green energy economy” and “ensuring that.” All communities, especially the most affected communities, have the resources to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Many climate activists share this vision. Coming together to protest does more than just draw attention to this looming existential crisis. It provides ordinary people with an opportunity to connect people with their environment and community, be it Protesting the construction of the pipeline at Standing Rock Or a local protest at city hall. In doing so, climate change activists will not only be able to achieve greater social reforms, but they will be able to learn how to change ideas at the individual level.

“Some people don’t really understand this issue and haven’t taken the time to dig into the facts,” O’Hanlon explained. “Other people are really entrenched in what they believe and think, but that’s really important for us to do — both for people who deny climate change, but also people who are maybe a little bit in denial about how bad it is — is to just talk about the impacts and talk about examples of how The climate is warming before our eyes.

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