Mourn and organise: On the power of truth in a world awash with lies
This article first appeared on ABC Religion and Ethics. Upon learning that he was about to die, the Swedish-American labour activist and songwriter Joe Hill wrote a telegram to Bill Haywood, the founder of the Industrial Workers of the World. It read: “Goodbye, Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” The (para)phrase “don’t mourn, organise” received a boost in popularity when a collection of Hill’s songs were released under the title “Don’t Mourn — Organize!: Songs of the Labour Songwriter Joe Hill”. The phrase was subsequently used by the Boston Globe as the title of an article honouring the American playwright, philosopher, and socialist thinker Howard Zinn when he…
The King’s Speech
This article first appeared on Brave New Europe. An alternative to the Queen’s traditional Christmas message has been broadcast since 1993 which, more often than not, gives insight into a serious issue. What if in 2022 it wasn’t needed? Eco-philosopher Dr. Rupert Read, urges King Charles to use his massive platform to highlight a critical issue close to his heart. What follows. Drawing frequently on words that he has already publicly spoken, is the speech that Charles III ought to give, in his address to the nation on December 25th. Good afternoon, on this, Christmas Day. Sadly, as many of us have experienced especially in the last few years, there…
EARTH VS. FUTURISM
From the way stock markets and for-profit firms operate to the way the media news-cycle works, chronic short-termism is landing humanity in desperate straits. We’re hurtling off a cliff, and hardly even preparing to make our landing softer. We’re crossing what scientists call planetary boundaries, which we ought to have stayed on the safe side of. The most well-known boundary is: maintaining a safe climate.
Is “longtermism” the cure or the sickness?
This article was first published by ABC Religion and Ethics here. Central to my work in recent years has been an anguished concern that our species and our political and economic systems are dangerously short-termist. I contend that we need to become long-termist. We need to practice precaution, looking before we leap. We need to plan for the seventh — and, indeed, the seven-hundred-and-seventy-seventh — generation. And so we need to overcome the tendencies of politicians to look no further than the next election (or even the next news cycle), of companies to look no further than the next quarterly report, and increasingly of Stock Market investors to look no…
Three new year’s resolutions to help the planet
Fourteen days. That’s how long it will take many people to give up on their new year’s resolutions (although some won’t even make it to the second Friday of 2022 or “Quitters Day”, as it’s become known). Maybe that’s understandable – after all, times are tough. But if you do want to set some goals, how can you make it more likely that you will succeed? Quite often, our resolutions involve making improvements to ourselves, and maybe that’s a bit easier to give up on. But what if we also make plans to help the planet? Would that make us more likely to stick with our resolutions? If 2021 has…
Parents for a Future: How loving our children can prevent climate collapse
Parents for a Future is a book authored by Rupert Read and published by UEA Publishing Project. That our ecological future appears grave can no longer come as any surprise. And yet we have so far failed, collectively and individually, to begin the kind of action necessary to shift our path away from catastrophic climate collapse. In this stark and startling little book, Rupert Read helps us to understand the direness of our predicament while showing us a metaphor and a method — a way of thinking — by which we might transform it. From the relatively uncontroversial starting point that we love our own children, we are introduced to…
Friends In Need
Extinction Rebellion and Davos sound like odd bedfellows. Why would a direct-action campaign, increasingly visible in the United Kingdom for warning starkly about the climate emergency, want to rub shoulders with the global financial elite at its main annual forum in Switzerland? The answer is that robust green activism turns out, when you think it through, to be high finance’s best friend. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a mass movement which, in the face of the climate crisis, is prepared to take any non-violent means necessary to force a truthful national and global conversation. It’s no coincidence it started in Britain. The Industrial Revolution triggered what has grown into dangerous climate…
How a movement of movements can win: Taking XR to the next level.
Our October Rebellion needs to be bigger than April’s was. Way bigger. Because this time, it has to be about not just getting verbal concessions from power, pious declarations of climate and ecological emergency without actual consequence. No; that’s just not good enough. Because this is the age of consequences. There’s no more time to play with… No less than Antonio Gutierrez, UN Secretary General, has said that if we don’t start making serious – transformative – change within about the next 12 months, then there is no way the world can head off the kind of catastrophe outlined in last year’s IPCC 1.5degrees report. The Budget this autumn is…
School climate strikes: why adults no longer have the right to object to their children taking radical action
A worldwide wave of school climate strikes, begun by the remarkable Greta Thunberg, has reached the UK. Some critics claim these activist-pupils are simply playing truant, but I disagree. Speaking as both a climate campaigner and an academic philosopher, I believe school walkouts are morally and politically justifiable. Philosophy can help us tackle the question of whether direct action is warranted via the theory of civil disobedience. This states that, in a democratic society, one is justified in disobeying the law only when other alternatives have been exhausted, and the injustice being protested against is grave. In the case of the climate school strikes, it is without question that the…
Climate change and deep adaptation
I want to start out by addressing younger readers in particular. And what I have to say to you is stark. It is this: your leaders have failed you; your governments have failed you; your parents and their generation have failed you; your teachers have failed you; and I have failed you. We have all failed to raise the alarm adequately; and so of course we have failed to prevent the dangerous climate change that is now here, and the worse climate change that is coming and that is definitely going to get a lot worse still: definitely, because of time-lags built into the system. This crisis already shows our…