Extreme Temperature Diary-November 5, 2018/ Topic: Beyond Voting… Civil Disobedience?

Monday November 5th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊.

Beyond Voting…Civil Disobedience?

I love music and used to collect hundreds of CD albums. How many of you remember the heyday of a certain Australian music band called Midnight Oil from the mid 1980s through the early 1990s? I can’t recall one music group that was more singularly focused on the environment than this one band led by activist Peter Garret. I had the privilege of seeing Midnight Oil at a concert in Atlanta with some of my meteorology coworkers in the early 1990s. Peter Garret, the environmentally active lead singer and front man, eventually left the band in 2002 to become an Australian politician only to reform Midnight Oil in 2009. The band is touring to this day after Garret did what he could to change Australian politics. Obviously, Midnight Oil became one of my favorite late 20th century bands. One singular event stuck with me, inspiring and spurring me on to do climate work during my career…the 1990 Midnight Oil “sneak” outdoor protest concert in front of Exxon corporate headquarters. The event was recorded. Take a look: 


During this live concert Midnight Oil was protesting Exxon’s malfeasance in association with the recent Alaska Valdez oil spill. Later the band would become outspoken on the issue of global warming, as well. My that was 28 years ago…ancient history for all you generation  X, Y, and Z people.😉 I have not seen this video for years, but upon viewing the thing for this post today it struck me how poignant the protest was. It also sadness me to know that not too much behavior changed with Exxon and other oil companies after nearly three decades, nearly half a lifetime.

So, did this “small scale” act of civil disobedience by Midnight Oil work? Obviously no to the extent that corporate behavior did not change, but it did aid to raise awareness of Exxon trying to sweep the Valdez spill underneath the proverbial carpet without paying for the clean up. The question of today is would large scale, non-violent civil disobedience for the climate issue work? Martin Luther King and many others successfully used wide scale civil disobedience to work for civil rights, but not many people equate the two social issues. Since literally millions if not billions of lives are at stake, though, perhaps the climate issue should be relegated to one in which massive protests, sit-downs in front of brown energy corporate headquarters, and other inventive protests are warranted.

One of the “fathers” of the climate issue, Dr. James Hansen, has been arrested during protests numerous times. One of my climate friends, Scott Cook, informed us through a tweet that yet another climate scientist was considering acts of civil disobedience to help slow climate change:

Here are a few important points of that thread:

.      To refine the question of today’s topic, when presenting facts that fall on a lot of deaf ears can forcing the issue with physical action bring about change fast enough to prevent catastrophe? Would I recommend a massive protest not only involving a day or week of marching in all major large cities of the Earth, but going one step further like Greenpeace blocking oil tankers from leaving ports or delivery of gas to gas stations? Such actions would, in my opinion, turn off the public, but holding up protests signs in front of gas stations might do the trick. Anybody or organization wanting to commit to widescale physical protests would have to plan carefully, though, just like the Oils did in 1990, to make sure that any action would be psychologically effect for the public. The planet can’t afford a  “climate knockdown drag out fight,” polarizing the issue further because of violence induced by those adhering to climate science.
.        Too, brown energy companies via pressure are slowly morphing into green energy companies, but by most accounts not fast enough. Have any, like Shell, announced that they will no longer sell petroleum products by say the year 2050? Nope. Big oil needs to shut down by 2030 from most of the articles I have been reading when all electric vehicle infrastructure could be in place if fast tracked…and I do mean fast. So, perhaps a tough decade needs to occur to change society for the better. For civil rights that was the 1960s. For the climate that decade needed to be the 1990s. Given what is at stake the 2020s need to be just as contentious for climate change, which might be the last realistic decade for any hope to right the proverbial ship.
.         Many people throughout history have undergone harsh personal sacrifice for social justice. Doing so is a very human act, immersed in both emotion and logic. Can many climate scientists become leaders coming out of their lofty ivory towers to not only march in the streets but risk being arrested for “climate justice?” That’s a tall order for just about anyone, particularly analytical, well educated people who haven’t experienced the pain of life brought about by say manual labor endured by more common folk. I don’t see a “Jesus figure” among the ranks of climatologists yet, and it’s getting late in the game in which some experts can still state that keeping global averages below +2C above preindustrial conditions remains possible.
          More food for thought: Perhaps many who insist on an energy switch are in denial about what is actively needed to do socially for real revolutionary change. At this juncture I’m not insisting on sacrifices akin to what went on during the bloody French or American Revolutions, but a real constructive war needs to be waged in the world of energy and infrastructure.    
So, tomorrow go out and vote. Then, it’s time to really plan for sacrificial activism. Can anyone with a good conscience afford to stand on the sidelines of silence knowing what an unaltered future has in store for humanity?
P.S. I’ll be following the progress of this movement:


Here is some weather and climate news from Monday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)

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The Climate Guy

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