If All Else Fails, Climate Chaos Must Still Lead to a ‘Just Dystopia’
In a remarkable call to action on the Common Dreams site, Oakland-based author Alycee Lane challenges the climate and energy community to think about what a “just dystopia” might look like, if the fight to rein in runaway climate change ultimately falls short of what’s needed.
“No matter how hard we organize, no matter how many ‘fossil fuel-free’ resolutions we pass, no matter how often we march, we might still end up rushing inexorably toward climate change catastrophe,” Lane writes. Which means “we need climate activism that holds onto, and plans for, both the possibility that we can turn things around and the possibility that we will fail.”
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Without planning for that (in her view increasingly likely) outcome, “you leave our most vulnerable sisters and brothers to fend for themselves. You create the conditions that will expose you to the whims of those who intend to survive our collective crisis at everyone’s expense.”
That line of thought opens up some essential questions for climate activists, Lane says.
“How might we envision, and then organize to create, a just dystopia? How will we distribute and share food and water when both are extremely scarce? How will we ensure that national boundaries will be irrelevant when hungry children, women, and men seek refuge from rising seas, drought, excessive heat, and other calamities? How will we attend to one another’s spiritual needs in the midst of existential despair? What will we do to protect our non-human sisters and brothers? How will we attend to one another when we get sick from hunger and disease? What will we do to keep the greedy and the hateful from doing further harm to the planet? To us? Will we do what we must to leave Earth as unsullied as possible to beings that will survive us? Are we willing to fight for justice to the human end?”
The only way to have that conversation, she adds, is to “turn toward, not away, from despair, and transform it into a source of power.” While positive news of climate triumph and resilience is important, focusing exclusively on that storyline will leave people paralyzed by despair if science eventually declares defeat.
And if that happens, Lane writes, “we “hand it over to those who will use despair to divide, to oppress, and to conquer,” at a time when “justice requires from us something more.”