Earlier today I read an article in the June-July 2006 issue of indybay.org’s Fault Lines that spoke with San Francisco Bay Area salmon fishers. Like the fish, and the rivers it lives in, the fishermen are dying off as well. In this article, “Damn the Dams,” Andre Attack quotes one of the fishermen, who stated “I’m all for that [blowing up the damns that are killing the Klamath River and the fish that live in it]. Blow the fuckers up!” Attack then quotes another fisherman that says “I honestly wish someone would recruit me for a job like that.”
This evening, I just got to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, where the former US Vice President states that “we are witnessing a collision between our civilization and the Earth.” Using hard science, and flashy graphs and photos, Gore goes on to show that, according to his documentary’s Web site, “humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.”
That’s right: ten years to fix the problem.
Probably the most astonishing evidence of the coming global warning catastrophe are when Gore shows before and after photos of rapidly melting glaciers from around the world. Even though he ends the film on a positive note, that we have the technology NOW to slow down the trend, I walked away with a deeper message. As the credits rolled, throwing in in-system suggestions for making your life more green, a comparative history lesson slide show began in my mind.
Most people are aware of the concept of the tipping point. A concept, when picked up by “early adopters,” and spread through civilization by “mavens,” creates an L-curve that reaches a “tipping point” of acceptance within that civilization. About four years ago, I took the concept of the tipping point and suggested that it could also be used for the concept of revolutionary thought. Take, for example, the 18th century’s American Revolution.
Before the Declaration of Independence, a clandestine, democratic group of colonialists had been violently protesting the unfair Stamp Act. While the bold thinkers of the day wrote essays and treatments lashing about against the English-ruled government, early adopters of these ideas were in the streets. The most notable group, the Sons of Liberty, performed acts of civil disobedience that our current civilization calls “terrorism.” This organization destroyed British property in the colonies, burned the houses of sympathizers to the Crown, and openly acted upon those radical ideas that were created by the thinkers of the day. As we all know, this L-curve reached a tipping point that led to the revolutionary ideal of a democratic nation state.
Like a line on his own graph, early adopters have been quietly acting upon the bold vision that Al Gore has given to the world. His video makes for amazing propaganda of truth, and a new, clandestine group of US citizens have violently protested the coming clash between civilization and Earth. A main-stream manifesto, Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” stands as a testament to the underground groups that take the name Earth Liberation Front (ELF). As Gore himself tells the mostly left-of-center viewers who will go see his documentary, humans need to radically shift their way of thinking fast, or billions will die in a destruction of biblical proportions.
Could this mean that the people of Earth are reaching a tipping point in our way of thinking? Though there is a slow shift in the middle, a fast shift on the left has taken matters into it’s own hands. Is this speeding up the L-curve to the point of change? With the media making the environmental cause a muddled mess, as Gore himself states with facts to back it, a Green Scare has gripped the current government. Democrats and Republicans do no take kindly to property destruction, and a recent sweep of alleged ELF members shows that we may be far from an environmental revolution.
But the momentum in our way of thinking indicates that it is moving towards some point of no return. As the fisherman stated, the dam is going to get blown up one way or another. For now, the idea of destroying that dam is what is important to that precarious person. And, as I predicted in 2002, the idea of revolution will always be infectious. Thinking that we only have 10 years to hit this looming change chills my bones, yet I remain optimistic that this change can happen.
On July 3, Democracy Now ran an hour-long interview with radical elder Pete Seeger. During the interview, Seeger kept turning the gloom of the world into a potential sunflower. Now in his late 80s, Seeger felt that the children and women of the world were the downtrodden that were going to make the great change happen. He felt sorry that he wouldn’t be alive in 20 years to see all the new ideas and energy that would go into saving the planet. At least he got to see the beginning of the revolution.
As ELF, and other organizations like it, continue to pressure our culture’s concepts of private property and public dissent, main-stream icons like Al Gore will continue to make cracks in the folks that drove their cars to the theater to see a film about not driving cars. And maybe hypocritical thoughts like these will end up being discussed at suburban dinner tables. An then maybe religious organizations will take up the moral debate. As cities across the US ratify the Kyoto Protocol themselves, and states like California defy the slow-moving politicians in DC, grassroots dissidence will continue to swell.
Soon, the average American won’t be able to turn away from the irrefutable facts surrounding Earth’s peril. The manifestos have been set, and the lines get drawn in the drought crusted lake beds. We need to see our own place in this coming shift, and be ready to choose the correct side. I can tell you now that this coming change will not only test our modern way of thinking, but it will also reshape who we are as a living being in the vast universe.
That, I believe, may be the most important L-curve in our species’ history, and the reason why Al Gore needs ELF as much as ELF needs Al Gore. As the train heads towards the stalled SUV on the tracks, every ounce of effort must be made to pull the breaks. That’s the only way to save this out of control contraption that we’re stuck in.
So, will you help pull the brake, or will you hit the SUV?