Ever wonder why we aren’t doing more to solve the climate crisis? Naomi Klein, the author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” has an idea: Ever since we started thinking of The Climate as one big thing to save, we put our mental avoidance programs to work, the way most of us do when we see stranded polar bears surrounded by melting ice caps or a public service ad about hungry children overseas. We change the channel, or maybe write a check — anything to pretend we don’t have to change our lives.
As a remedy, Klein encourages us to think about earlier kinds of environmentalism, ones that grew out of specific places, like Aldo Leopold’s "Sand County Almanac" environmentalism that had more in common with indigenous experiences of being connected to the land and water.
The title of R.E.M.’s song “Stand in the Place Where You Live” captures the spirit of what Klein is arguing for. It isn’t that we shouldn’t care about the big picture — it's that we should join the fight for the big picture by standing and opposing the risk of environmental destruction right where we live. Klein calls the connected power of these local movements Blockadia.
In Wisconsin, we have the opportunity to do just that. Enbridge Energy is currently planning to turn our state into a tar sands superhighway. (For more information: 350madison.org/tar-sands-2/) After destroying boreal forests in Canada, Enbridge will take advantage of an existing pipeline to run a much larger system through the length of Wisconsin — up to 2 million barrels of tar sands each day, putting at risk prized river systems and private and public land while carrying the dirtiest type of oil to worldwide markets.
Make no mistake: Blockadia has the extractive industry scared. People are catching on that there is an alternative to a mindless fossil fuel economy based on exploitation of people and land. Around the world, they are fighting to keep their land from becoming a sacrifice zone.
Interested in being a part of Blockadia? Join 350 Madison and its partners for a screening of "This Changes Everything," a film based on Naomi Klein’s bestseller, at the Barrymore Theatre, 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, May 25. Stay after the screening for a brief presentation by Jefferson County landowner Ronni Monroe, whose property is near the Enbridge Energy pipeline, and Phyllis Hasbrouck of the Wisconsin Safe Energy Alliance (WiSE Alliance) and a discussion on how we can work together to protect the land, water, and communities of Wisconsin from the risks posed by Enbridge’s next pipeline project. Tickets are $8 at the door, $5 for students. Doors open early to enjoy conversations with event sponsors at their display tables, beer and snacks.
Mark Haag is a retired educator and member of 350.madison, a local action affiliate of 350.org. The organization plans and participates in local, national and international actions to raise awareness of the pressing need to address climate change.
Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to email@example.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.