Time For Climate Activists to Get Tough

By Jeff Goodell

, by Common Dreams

Have we failed to slow global warming pollution in part because climate and environmental activists have been too polite and well behaved? Is it time to take to the streets, express some outrage, maybe engage in a little guerilla warfare against Big Oil and Big Coal?

That’s the message you get in a new documentary film called Just Do It: A Tale of Modern Day Outlaws, which will be released in the U.K. this summer. The film follows the adventures of several British climate activists as they cut through fences and get smacked around by cops in riot gear. The film is selling a kind of moral outrage: Big Oil and Big Coal are wrecking the planet just to turn a profit, and nobody – certainly not mild-mannered treehuggers – is doing anything to stop it. As one activist in the film says: "I want to feel like doing something, rather than nothing, and not just watching the world go to shit."

This question of how far to take the fight to stop global warming has haunted activists for years. But now that more conventional solutions, such as a global treaty to cut greenhouse-gas pollution, are dead, the issue is more pressing than ever. As the crisis grows, the temptation to turn up the volume with more dramatic and attention-grabbing protests will only increase. Climate activists often speculate about who will emerge as the Martin Luther King of the climate movement. But it may be equally relevant to ask who will emerge as the Malcolm X.

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