In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

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In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




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Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

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Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

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Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou Attributes High Birth Rate to “Misinterpretation of Islam” | How Africa News

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Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, blamed the country’s explosive birth rate on “a misinterpretation of Islam,” the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

In an interview with the newspaper, he said the population increase was hampering the country’s plan to weather the climate crisis and preserve its resources.

Niger, which is 98% Muslim, has 22.4 million inhabitants, a dramatic increase over the 8 million people it had in 1990.

“We have an annual increase of 4% of the population … the population will double in the next 17 years. By 2050, we will have perhaps the second largest population in Africa, with the exception of Nigeria, “said Issoufou.

The use of contraceptive and family planning methods for men has reduced the birth rate to six children per woman.

The latest official figures from the World Bank in 2016 set the rate at 7.2 children per woman, reports The Guardian.

He said that the Qur’an speaks of responsible parenthood and having children to care for.

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Quote: Before the arrival of Islam, women were married at the age of 18, but due to a misreading of Islam, young women had children at the age of 12 or 13 years old. But what does the Koran say? If an educated person reads the Quran, he speaks of responsible parenthood. Islam says that you should have children only if you can take care of them and educate them properly. “
Before the advent of Islam, women were married by age 18, but due to a misreading of Islam, the young women had a baby at the age of 12 or 13 years . But what does the Koran say? If an educated person reads the Quran, he speaks of responsible parenthood. Islam says that you should have children only if you can take care of them and educate them properly. “

His views, he says, do not conflict with religious leaders who opposed his advocacy for family planning.

“The religious leaders are with us to sensitize the population and that is why we are seeing … a decrease [in the birth rate],” he said.

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Greta Thunberg Responds Perfectly To The Internet Trolls

In August 2018, then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg staged her first strike outside the Swedish parliament. By November, the movement had caught on. Kids across Europe went on strike walking out of schools, sparking what would become the largest climate protest ever held around the world. Earlier this year, less than a year after she started campaigning, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for starting what is now truly a global movement.

Over the last month, she’s captured even more media attention to her cause – the current climate crisis – by sailing (rather than flying) across the Atlantic to attend the United Nations climate action summit in New York, where she gave a powerful speech that got seen by the world.

Despite her message being relatively non-controversial – Earth’s climate is demonstrably changing and we need to do more to prevent catastrophe – and backed up entirely by science, she has drawn the attention and abuse of prominent Internet trolls and actively controversial media figures. 

You’d hope that people would temper their language when talking about someone who is still only a 16-year-old child, but that has not been the case.

It’s not just the accurate scientific information she is sharing that has been questioned by detractors. She has been attacked on the grounds that she, a young person with Asperger’s syndrome talking on national television fluently in a second language, delivered this information in too much of a monotone, with critics calling her “chilling” and “creepy”. When she chose a boat not a plane to travel to the US to give a talk on how we should be limiting our carbon emissions, grown adults made jokes about her drowning

She’s even been likened to Nazi propaganda because she braids her hair.

When she’s not being attacked by prominent members of the media, she is regularly asked by the general public things like “if you’re so scared of climate change, how come you eat food?” because she was pictured eating lunch. (Yeah, they’ve totally got her there.)

Throughout all this, she has kept relatively quiet about on her thoughts on trolls. Even when the President of the United States mocked her on Twitter, she merely updated her bio to show how little it bothered her.

Now she has responded to the abuse and conspiracy theories, in a thread that’s gone viral.

She got succinctly to the point.

“It seems they will cross every possible line to avert the focus, since they are so desperate not to talk about the climate and ecological crisis. Being different is not an illness and the current, best available science is not opinions – it’s facts,” she wrote on Twitter, from the boat she is currently sailing on back home.

“I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead. I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us.”

“But don’t waste your time giving them any more attention. The world is waking up. Change is coming wether they like it or not. See you in the streets this Friday!”

Perfect.

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Naomi Klein: ‘We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism’

The No Logo author talks about solutions to the climate crisis, Greta Thunberg, birth strikes and how she finds hope

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Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything?
When I look back, I dont think I placed enough emphasis on the challenge climate change poses to the left. Its more obvious the way the climate crisis challenges a rightwing dominant worldview, and the cult of serious centrism that never wants to do anything big, thats always looking to split the difference. But this is also a challenge to a left worldview that is essentially only interested in redistributing the spoils of extractivism [the process of extracting natural resources from the earth] and not reckoning with the limits of endless consumption.

Whats stopping the left doing this?
In a North American context, its the greatest taboo of all to actually admit that there are going to be limits. You see that in the way Fox News has gone after the Green New Deal they are coming after your hamburgers! It cuts to the heart of the American dream every generation gets more than the last, there is always a new frontier to expand to, the whole idea of settler colonial nations like ours. When somebody comes along and says, actually, there are limits, weve got some tough decisions, we need to figure out how to manage whats left, weve got to share equitably it is a psychic attack. And so the response [on the left] has been to avoid, and say no, no, were not coming to take away your stuff, there are going to be all kinds of benefits. And there are going to be benefits: well have more livable cities, well have less polluted air, well spend less time stuck in traffic, we can design happier, richer lives in so many ways. But we are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption side.

Quick guide

Covering Climate Now: how more than 250 newsrooms are joining forces this week to spotlight the climate crisis

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Hundreds of newsrooms around the world are banding together this week to commit their pages and air time to what may be the most consequential story of our time: the climate emergency.

As world leaders descend on New York for the UNClimate Action Summit on 23 September and millions of activists prepare for a global climate strike on 20 September the media partnership Covering Climate Now is launching its first large-scale collaboration to increase climate coverage in the global media and focus public attention on this emergency.

The Guardian is the lead partner in Covering Climate Now, which was founded earlier this year by the Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation. The partnership currently includes 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people.

The network represents every corner of the media including TV networks (CBS News, Al Jazeera), newspapers (El Pas, the Toronto Star), digital players (BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Vox), wire services (Getty Images, Bloomberg), magazines (Nature, Science), and dozens of podcasts, local publishers, radio and TV stations. You can learn more about the initiativehere.

Do you feel encouraged by talk of the Green New Deal?
I feel a tremendous excitement and a sense of relief, that we are finally talking about solutions on the scale of the crisis we face. That were not talking about a little carbon tax or a cap and trade scheme as a silver bullet. Were talking about transforming our economy. This system is failing the majority of people anyway, which is why were in this period of such profound political destabilisation that is giving us the Trumps and the Brexits, and all of these strongman leaders so why dont we figure out how to change everything from bottom to top, and do it in a way that addresses all of these other crises at the same time? There is every chance we will miss the mark, but every fraction of a degree warming that we are able to hold off is a victory and every policy that we are able to win that makes our societies more humane, the more we will weather the inevitable shocks and storms to come without slipping into barbarism. Because what really terrifies me is what we are seeing at our borders in Europe and North America and Australia I dont think its coincidental that the settler colonial states and the countries that are the engines of that colonialism are at the forefront of this. We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism. We saw it in Christchurch, we saw it in El Paso, where you have this marrying of white supremacist violence with vicious anti-immigrant racism.

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A fire near Porto Velho, Brazil, September 2019. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

That is one of the most chilling sections of your book: I think thats a link a lot of people havent made.
This pattern has been clear for a while. White supremacy emerged not just because people felt like thinking up ideas that were going to get a lot of people killed but because it was useful to protect barbaric but highly profitable actions. The age of scientific racism begins alongside the transatlantic slave trade, it is a rationale for that brutality. If we are going to respond to climate change by fortressing our borders, then of course the theories that would justify that, that create these hierarchies of humanity, will come surging back. There have been signs of that for years, but it is getting harder to deny because you have killers who are screaming it from the rooftops.

One criticism you hear about the environment movement is that it is dominated by white people. How do you address that?
When you have a movement that is overwhelmingly representative of the most privileged sector of society then the approach is going to be much more fearful of change, because people who have a lot to lose tend to be more fearful of change, whereas people who have a lot to gain will tend to fight harder for it. Thats the big benefit of having an approach to climate change that links it to those so called bread and butter issues: how are we going to get better paid jobs, affordable housing, a way for people to take care of their families? I have had many conversations with environmentalists over the years where they seem really to believe that by linking fighting climate change with fighting poverty, or fighting for racial justice, its going to make the fight harder. We have to get out of this my crisis is bigger than your crisis: first we save the planet and then we fight poverty and racism, and violence against women. That doesnt work. That alienates the people who would fight hardest for change. This debate has shifted a huge amount in the US because of the leadership of the climate justice movement and because it is congresswomen of colour who are championing the Green New Deal.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib come from communities that have gotten such a raw deal under the years of neoliberalism and longer, and are determined to represent, truly represent, the interests of those communities. Theyre not afraid of deep change because their communities desperately need it.

In the book, you write: The hard truth is that the answer to the question What can I, as an individual, do to stop climate change? is: nothing. Do you still believe that?
In terms of the carbon, the individual decisions that we make are not going to add up to anything like the kind of scale of change that we need. And I do believe that the fact that for so many people its so much more comfortable to talk about our own personal consumption, than to talk about systemic change, is a product of neoliberalism, that we have been trained to see ourselves as consumers first. To me thats the benefit of bringing up these historical analogies, like the New Deal or the Marshall Plan it brings our minds back to a time when we were able to think of change on that scale. Because weve been trained to think very small. It is incredibly significant that Greta Thunberg has turned her life into a living emergency.

Yes, she set sail for the UN climate summit in New York on a zero carbon yacht …
Exactly. But this isnt about what Greta is doing as an individual. Its about what Greta is broadcasting in the choices that she makes as an activist, and I absolutely respect that. I think its magnificent. She is using the power that she has to broadcast that this is an emergency, and trying to inspire politicians to treat it as an emergency. I dont think anybody is exempt from scrutinising their own decisions and behaviours but I think it is possible to overemphasise the individual choices. I have made a choice and this has been true since I wrote No Logo, and I started getting these what should I buy, where should I shop, what are the ethical clothes? questions. My answer continues to be that I am not a lifestyle adviser, I am not anyones shopping guru, and I make these decisions in my own life but Im under no illusion that these decisions are going to make the difference.

Some people are choosing to go on birth strikes. What do you think about that?
Im happy these discussions are coming into the public domain as opposed to being furtive issues were afraid to talk about. Its been very isolating for people. It certainly was for me. One of the reasons I waited as long as I did to try and get pregnant, and I would say this to my partner all the time what, you want to have a Mad Max water warrior fighting with their friends for food and water? It wasnt until I was part of the climate justice movement and I could see a path forward that I could even imagine having a kid. But I would never tell anybody how to answer this most intimate of questions. As a feminist who knows the brutal history of forced sterilisation and the ways in which womens bodies become battle zones when policymakers decide that they are going to try and control population, I think that the idea that there are regulatory solutions when it comes to whether or not to have kids is catastrophically ahistorical. We need to be struggling with our climate grief together and our climate fears together, through whatever decision we decide to make, but the discussion we need to have is how do we build a world so that those kids can have thriving, zero-carbon lives?

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The Malizia II, with Greta Thunberg on board, arrives in Hudson Harbor, New York. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Over the summer, you encouraged people to read Richard Powerss novel, The Overstory. Why?
Its been incredibly important to me and Im happy that so many people have written to me since. What
Powers is writing about trees: that trees live in communities and are in communication, and plan and react together, and weve been completely wrong in the way we conceptualise them. Its the same conversation were having about whether we are going to solve this as individuals or whether we are going to save the collective organism. Its also rare, in good fiction, to valorise activism, to treat it with real respect, failures and all, to acknowledge the heroism of the people who put their bodies on the line. I thought Powers did that in a really extraordinary way.

What are you views on what Extinction Rebellion has achieved?
One thing they have done so well is break us out of this classic campaign model we have been in for a long time, where you tell someone something scary, you ask them to click on something to do something about it, you skip out the whole phase where we need to grieve together and feel together and process what it is that we just saw. Because what I hear a lot from people is, ok, maybe those people back in the 1930s or 40s could organise neighbourhood by neighbourhood or workplace by workplace but we cant. We believe weve been so downgraded as a species that we are incapable of that. The only thing that is going to change that belief is getting face to face, in community, having experiences, off our screens, with one another on the streets and in nature, and winning some things and feeling that power.

You talk about stamina in the book. How do you keep going? Do you feel hopeful?
I have complicated feelings about the hope question. Not a day goes by that I dont have a moment of sheer panic, raw terror, complete conviction that we are doomed, and then I do pull myself out of it. Im renewed by this new generation that is so determined, so forceful. Im inspired by the willingness to engage in electoral politics, because my generation, when we were in our 20s and 30s, there was so much suspicion around getting our hands dirty with electoral politics that we lost a lot of opportunities. What gives me the most hope right now is that weve finally got the vision for what we want instead, or at least the first rough draft of it. This is the first time this has happened in my lifetime. And also, I did decide to have kids. I have a seven year old who is so completely obsessed and in love with the natural world. When I think about him, after weve spent an entire summer talking about the role of salmon in feeding the forests where he was born in British Columbia, and how they are linked to the health of the trees and the soil and the bears and the orcas and this entire magnificent ecosystem, and I think about what it would be like to have to tell him that there are no more salmon, it kills me. So that motivates me. And slays me.

Naomi Klein will be in conversation with Katharine Viner at a Guardian Live event on 15 October.

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Anarchists Unlikely Tool for Fighting Climate Change: Farming

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

In the waning months of 2011, Tim Holland was deeply involved in Occupy Denver, the local arm of the international Occupy movement. The 41-year-old anarchist and hip-hop artist, who goes by the stage name Sole, had been living in the Mile High City since 2009. When Occupiers first set up an encampment at Lincoln Park, Holland organized street protests, public assemblies, fundraisers, reading groups, and more. Protesters interrupted city council meetings and repeatedly attempted to take over government buildings before the movement was quashed when their second encampment in Civic Center Park went up in a haze of flames. Following Occupy Denvers suppression by law enforcement, gentrification in the city seemed to shift into hyperdrive, forcing Holland to rethink living there.

I wanted to pull myself out of the rat race and reimagine what a new form of my political interventions and practices could be, he said.

Holland had visited intentional communities in France, where radicals were successfully supporting themselves through farming. The idea of anarchists in North America doing the same captured his imagination. He left Denver in 2018, relocating with his wife and young child to an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Brunswick, Maine.

Earlier in the year that I moved, I learned about the Ogallala Aquifer, which feeds all of the farmland of the breadbasketand Colorado as well, Holland said. Its going to be depleted in 20 years from now. Wanting to reorient his life and politics around food autonomyor self-sustaining food productionHolland saw the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer as not only a strike against staying in Denver but grim proof of what awaited much of American society, which depends on conventional food production to survive.

The dire threat that climate change poses to conventional food production in the United States has been anticipated for years. In a 2012 report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that post-2050 most crop and livestock production would suffer from a combination of rising temperatures, variable precipitation, and more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts or floods. The USDA anticipates that, even in the short-term, these effects will exacerbate hunger among the poorest and most vulnerable.

For anarchists like Holland, the anonymously written text Desert was a wake-up call. The 80-page zine, published both online and in print in 2011, argues that the inevitability of climate change will lead to widespread desertification, which governments are incapable of preventing. As extreme as that may sound, Holland felt that he could see the writing on the wall, even from the relative privilege of Denver.

If Deserts diagnosis rang true, so too did its prognosis. The texts author suggests that while the consequences of climate change are unavoidable, anarchists may yet prevail against both capitalism and the state. Positing that desertification will cause both markets and governments to retract, Desert argues that in their absence, anarchists could thriveif only they could first survive.

In this metaphor of the desert, where does life emerge? Holland wondered. If we end up unable to create some mass movement to overthrow the government, what does it look like to build a material force capable of sustaining itself, capable of struggle, capable of being the grounds that make government obsolete?

In Brunswick, Holland is beginning the search for answers. These days, Holland commits much of his time to gardening, but doesnt see it as a step away from his anarchist politics. Rather, he sees it as a step forward.

On an acre and a half of land, his budding interest in gardening blossomed into greater study and practice of permaculture, a form of agriculture that emphasizes the creation of sustainable ecosystems with minimal need for external resources, such as fertilizer. With only the occasional help from family and friends, he has cleared half the land of brush, planted 100 fruit, nut, and berry trees and shrubs in addition to a variety of greens and root vegetables. Holland has managed to eek out some staples like lettuce and tomatoes, but has had greater success with perennials like hablitzia, Turkish rocket, and asparagus chives. Hes also learned to forage for berries and wild greens, such as raspberries and sorrell. Many of the plants will take years to mature, especially the fruit trees, but his efforts are already providing daily salads and he expects to harvest hundreds of pounds of carrots, potatoes, and pumpkins.

Although Holland has been unable to provide all of his familys food, he says thats not necessarily the goal. (If I had been living off the land, 100 percent I would have died this year, he joked.) Belief in the anarchist ideal of mutual aid, which encourages sharing and cooperation to build collective strength, led Holland to think beyond his family. To that end, he has been forming a network across his new home state.

If we end up unable to create some mass movement to overthrow the government, what does it look like to build a material force capable of sustaining itself?"

Ive been coming into contact with lots of radical farmers in Maine, he said, and its exciting to think what kind of good could come from farming networks based on mutual aid and solidarity.

Reaching out to neighbors and other local agricultural enthusiasts, Holland has been able to learn how to deal with Maines unfamiliar soil, which plants can thrive in the short growing seasons, and even how to tap trees for maple syrup. The ad hoc network has not only quickly gotten him up to speed with his new surroundings, but given him a way to share the results of his own experiments in permaculture, like which perennials can survive a cold snap or the best ways to cook with unfamiliar vegetables. The exchanges between farmers include seeds and plants, but also ideas, like extending the growing season with greenhouses or the basics of herbal medicine.

Its an idea that Im actively working on and talking about with other people I've met, Holland said of creating a mutual aid farming network in Maine. But if anything, I have more questions about where to go with it, than I have a fixed idea in my head. So for me, its about getting a lay of the land here, getting to know people not spinning my wheels trying to impose solutions on a place I still don't fully understand.

While Hollands efforts are still in their early stages, others like Inhabit are further along. The project, which appeared both online and in book form in 2018, was collectively produced by 50 participants over the course of three years. It declines to describe itself as anarchist37-year-old participant Sean Heizner, said Inhabit is from the left, but not of the leftyet has a somewhat similar approach. The project advocates that radicals find each other and create hubs of self-sustenance, such as collective farms, in order to provide for themselves in the wake of climate change.

To help create and connect those hubs, Inhabit is building networking tools for hundreds of radicals across North America. Its newsletter, for example, shares resources, lessons, and experiences related to everything from permaculture to computer programming.

Each is devoted to building communal bonds and autonomous infrastructure that meaningfully changes people's experience of their territories, said Heizner of the hubs.

Tucker Lang is a participant in one of Inhabits hubs. A 26-year-old engineer in South-Central Indiana, Langlike Hollandwas also deeply inspired by the Occupy movement. He discovered Inhabit while travelling through the United States in search of a different way of life, as he put it.

I found a diffuse constellation of projectsmaker spaces, urban farms, bike repair collectives, sustainable builders, ecovillages, art venues, DIY spaces, intentional communities, and so many other forms of life, all with the similar trajectory of taking control of their lives, said Lang of Inhabit. The network is what gives me strength, knowing that there are many people in many places fighting and building.

Like Holland, Lang also purchased a farm two years ago. Its 10 and a half acres, although mostly wooded, with only an acre of usable farmland. With the aid of friends and family, he is mostly growing garden staples, such as tomatoes, cucumber, squash, lettuce and other greens. But rather than focusing on producing food for consumption, Lang is interested in using his farm to conduct research and experiments into improving growth rates and yields, the results of which he can share through Inhabit. He is currently working on a project collecting and diverting rainwater through a system of ponds.

Connecting people working on complementary projects in the hopes that they will materially support each other, as Holland and Inhabit are doing, may seem like a small thing compared to the scale of challenging the state or surviving climate change. But their aims are not to abandon the city for the country, to build a farm-turned-fortress for a single family to weather out global warming. If the goal is collective self-sustenance, then it is imperative to build relationships with like-minded people.

As Holland points out, going back to the land for anarchists means more than simply farming; it entails understanding the places where they live, from the nature to the neighbors.

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Bill Nye Wants a Rematch With Tucker Carlson

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This week, Bill Nye joined The Last Laugh podcast to offer some advice to the 10 Democratic presidential primary candidates who will be participating in CNNs upcoming Climate Crisis Town Hall. After all, the Science Guy has a lot of experience making the case for climate action on TV.

Oh god, Nye says when I bring up the appearance he made on Tucker Carlsons show a couple of years ago. As one headline put it at the time, Bill Nye appears on Fox News and it doesnt go well.

The experience was just a lot of adrenaline, Nye tells me. He was in Washington, D.C., where Carlson tapes his show. It was a beautiful night, gorgeous, and Tucker Carlson was on the roof of the building doing his schtick from there. Fox invited him on to talk about climate change and he agreed, making his first appearance on that network in nearly a decade despite being a semi-frequent presence on CNN and MSNBC.

So we were going to go on the roof, beautiful night, this will be fun, Nye thought to himself. But then the producers told him he wasnt going to be on the roof with the host but rather in a small room on a lower floor of the same studio. They moved me, changed my chair three times to throw me off, he says.

During his introduction, Carlson mocked his guest as Bill Nye the Psychoanalyst Guy for claiming that climate change deniers suffer from cognitive dissonance. The host was clearly itching for a fight.

As the segment began, Nye quickly realized that every time he started to talk, Carlson would interrupt him. Working as fast as I could, I took my phone out and tried to show him with a stopwatch that he interrupted me every six seconds, Nye says. So its hard to make a point with him.

By the end of their nine minutes on screen together, Carlson was shouting at Nye, Im open-minded, you are not!

Carry on, Mr. Carlson, Im sure we will cross paths again, Nye told him, a bit ominously. They havent crossed paths since.

Hes really drifted off, with respect, Nye says of Carlson, who has become the most prominent white nationalist voice on Fox News under President Trump. I mean hes gotten odder and odder. Besides the racism, Nye was enraged by a recent show in which he attacked the metric system.

The other thing I wonder about Tucker Carlson is, hes got four kids, Nye says, turning more serious. I just wonder how his children feel about climate change. They keep a pretty low profile. I wonder about it, because it much more difficult to meet a climate change denier who is young.

Nye had a much better time making a cameo on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver earlier this year. God, that was a blast, he says of the sketch in which he lit a globe on fire to demonstrate the impact of climate change. As the longtime host of a childrens program, he has spent most of his career communicating his message in a kid-friendly way. But on HBO, he got to scream, The planets on fucking fire! at the top of his lungs. It was heartfelt! he says.

And yet Nye does not regret his attempt to get through to Fox News viewers on the climate crisis. Ill go back on there almost anytime, he says, explaining that he was asked back shortly after his original appearance but said no at the time and hasnt been invited since.

Ive offered to be on The Five and they wouldnt have me on, Nye adds of Foxs afternoon roundtable show. It wouldnt be fun, he admits, but youve got to meet people where they are.

Lets all go fishing at the other guys fishin hole, Nye says, explaining that he means that literally as well as figuratively. Because were more alike than we are different.

When I ask if that applies to him and Tucker Carlson, Nye sighs and replies, Yeah, I guess. Like Nye, Carlson used to be famous for wearing bow ties on television. He used to, Nye says of Carlson, but he lost his nerve.

Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Stand-up comedian and host of Comedy Centrals Good Talk, Anthony Jeselnik.

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Climate change and the US south for a year

I crisscrossed a region my own that is mired in a culture of denial and delay. The conversation on the climate crisis has not changed fast enough

atmosphere

Its 96 degrees in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The sidewalk is too hot for dogs to walk on. The iconic wild horses, visible on Shackleford Banks, wade in the marsh, munching cordgrass. Ive been watching the horses since I was in elementary school, and now Im sharing them with my elementary school-aged daughters on summer vacation.

My girls love them, as I did. The legend is that the horses swam to safety from an old Spanish shipwreck. Its moving to watch the small, strong horses grazing on the dunes. For now, theyve survived the latest big hurricane, and theyre free.

The 100 or so wild horses have one square kilometer of high ground on which to weather hurricanes and sea level rise, and a shortage of fresh water endangered by encroaching salt water and storm surge. Some scientists recommend that the Shackleford horses be relocated, although they have been there for centuries.

The story is a familiar one that will be told in a thousand different ways as the atmosphere warms in the years to come: we must think creatively and quickly to save the things we love.

I wrote my Climate Changed column between hurricane seasons, in the wake of Hurricane Florence and before the start of Hurricane Barry. I close the column from Beaufort, a place where Florence brought a record storm surge; it caused $17bn in damage to the state. As my daughters and I drive over the bridge into Morehead City, I see bulldozers still clearing the last of the Channel Marker restaurant, a fixture of Atlantic Beach flooded during Florence.

I thought that Hurricane Florence might serve as a turning point in the conversation about the realities of climate change in a region still mired in a culture of denial and delay. After a year of research and reporting, I am not convinced that the conversation has changed fast enough, if much at all. Here in Beaufort, like Miami and Charleston, I encounter deniers, continued waterfront development, hurricane damage and blistering temperatures.

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A great blue heron is silhouetted by the reflection of the rising sun at Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh. Photograph: Alamy

 

If there is any part of the south where technology, tax dollars and public opinion are aligning to make changes, its Miami, even though new waterfront real estate is still being built. But for the most part, climate change discussions continue to fall along party lines in a divided nation. To many rural southerners, the bigger, well-funded environmental movements seem to be rooted in California and New England. The conversations appear to be taking place in the echo chamber of privileged believers.

I saw more of the south while reporting for this column than I ever saw in my 30 years of living there. My travel reinforced what I already knew: there is no one south. In 2019 it is multitudinous, diverse and still reckoning with its plantation economy and cruel social history. It has PhDs, evangelicals, Trump enthusiasts, environmentalists, artists and activists. Its this very tension that has often made the south the genesis of social movements; one hopes it might happen again, and soon.

Social and environmental racism, income inequality and poverty are as present as they have ever been, and are only weaponized by climate change, as I reported from Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi.

I found that in places like eastern North Carolina, the river parishes of Louisiana, Miami, and Mississippis Gulf coast, chronic exposure to natural disasters has resulted in psychological resilience, and created a desire in some to go down with the ship. In places like New Orleans, trauma strengthens the sense of community. As Tropical Storm Barry moved in to New Orleans, I emailed with former interviewees who shared forecasts and concerns. Im gritting my teeth, one wrote. But Im not evacuating. Home is sometimes more an emotional than a rational commitment.

In eastern North Carolina, where I grew up and write from, climate change was never a polite topic of conversation. I was told the same in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and by a minister in Georgia. Too many southerners are still dancing around the reality of climate change, and the cost of avoiding the conversation is going to be steep.

What does a better and more inclusive conversation look like? Non-traditional environmentalists can be critical allies in addressing the culture of climate change denial below the Mason-Dixon Line, like hunters in Arkansas and evangelical Christians in places like St Simons, Georgia. But too often, the perspectives and interests of frontline communities are ignored, further exacerbating the environmental racism so pervasive in the south.

When it comes to climate change preparedness in this region, part of the continued challenge is that the power structures of the old south remain in place. A Pew survey indicated that white evangelical protestants are the least likely to profess a belief in climate change. Power companies, developers and conservative politicians have a vested interest in deregulation and maintaining the environmental status quo, and many paint environmental concerns as nothing but liberal pagan ideas.

When I began this column, I felt more of a duty to listen to all sides, but frankly I do not believe that climate change is an issue of which one can pretend, or afford, to hear both sides. I believe that to deny climate change and delay productive action in 2019 is malicious and akin to governmental malpractice. A government that is not actively protecting its citizens from the future challenges of climate change (property loss, food system collapse, increased intensity of storms, flooded infrastructure, extreme heat, economic disruption) is not acting in the interests of its citizens. A politician who delays climate action is not acting in his or her constituents best interests, and may be going so far as to actually cause harm.

We do not need to hear another word from deniers, or cater to their anti-science position. Something the progressive south has always struggled to do: take the megaphone away from the people who want to live in the past.

Now that Ive seen more of the south, I cant help but feel losses and concerns in a specific way. As I began to write this final column, a fire raged through the Everglades, which I had driven through just months before. Storms threatened to challenge the already saturated Mississippi and its river control structures. I thought about the gators in the marsh, the last wild panthers darting to safety in the Everglades, the bartender who was kind to me in an ancient pub on Natchez-under-the-hill. The loss of life and landscape in climate change scenarios has always troubled me, but now it is real and urgent in a way it has never been before.

When the wild horses of Shackleford Banks weather storms, the dominant male gathers his harem on high ground or in the deep parts of the maritime forest, and they turn their backs to the wind and rain. A researcher observed that while wild herds are typically divided into harems, the divisions break down in extreme weather. The horses gave up their internal political dynamics, he said, staying together on the relatively highest ground of that site. That is how they survive.

To navigate the decades ahead, and save the places we love and call home, southerners will need to dismantle old political dynamics and build new, inclusive alliances.

 

 

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