Sunday, April 13, 2014

Call Climate Change What It Is: Violence

Will our age of climate change also be an era of civil and international conflict? (Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Click to enlarge.
Social unrest and famine, superstorms and droughts. Places, species and human beings – none will be spared.  Welcome to Occupy Earth.

In every arena, we need to look at industrial-scale and systemic violence, not just the hands-on violence of the less powerful. When it comes to climate change, this is particularly true.  Exxon has decided to bet that we can't make the corporation keep its reserves in the ground, and the company is reassuring its investors that it will continue to profit off the rapid, violent and intentional destruction of the Earth.

That's a tired phrase, the destruction of the Earth, but translate it into the face of a starving child and a barren field – and then multiply that a few million times.  Or just picture the tiny bivalves: scallops, oysters, Arctic sea snails that can't form shells in acidifying oceans right now.  Or another superstorm tearing apart another city.  Climate change is global-scale violence, against places and species as well as against human beings. 

Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values.  Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides that brutality.

Call Climate Change What It Is: Violence

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