Climate change | Environment

Podcast: What's The Role Of Civil Disobedience In Confronting Climate Change?


Some climate activists are willing to be arrested to make their voices heard.

Some climate activists are willing to be arrested to make their voices heard.

Courtesy of steppingup.org

This is a guest post by Sarah Craig, associate producer for the podcast, Stepping Up.

If you are trying to figure out how to respond to the mounting climate crisis, the newly released Stepping Up podcast has you covered. Each story tells a tale of people taking a stand in unique and surprising ways: A bunch of kids organizing a global movement; an evangelical doing the Lord’s work by saving the planet; climate clowns donning red noses and taking to the streets.

 The second episode in the Stepping Up series has just released. It’s called Sitting Down. In this episode, series producer Claire Schoen has decided that it is time to step up her own game – and tell her own story. Schoen has been protesting climate change policies lately, along with millions of other Americans; raising her voice against cuts to the EPA or President Trump’s climate-science-denying cabinet. But she is beginning to wonder if it’s enough.

 Perhaps it is time to get arrested.

But how effective is civil disobedience in today’s era? And at the tender age of 65, Schoen wonders what her role should be.

Listen to the full podcast:

Schoen is hearing some pretty powerful arguments against breaking the law. Maybe writing your congressional representative or starting a petition will get more traction? Besides, getting arrested can hurt.

“It’s scary to put yourself on the line and risk arrest,” says Sara Shore, an activist with 350.org. “Am I ready to get sprayed by tear gas or water or be left in the rain or have my handcuffs too tight. But that is the reason why civil disobedience is powerful. Because it’s not easy.”

But Shore is only 29. Perhaps we should leave the task of getting arrested to her generation?

Climate activist Bill McKibben, 56, says no. Older folks like him have less to lose, McKibben says. “One of the few unmixed blessings of growing older is, past a certain point, what are they going to do to you?” So McKibben encourages “people with hairlines like mine” to turn to civil disobedience in order to call attention to the looming climate catastrophe.

Shore isn’t sitting down alone. Her first arrest was with her mom, Nancy Feinstein, who is part of a group called the 1,000 Grandmothers – an organization that is based on the premise that elder women can offer their “loving arms” to the climate struggle. And part of that, she’s decided, translates into civil disobedience.

You can listen to Episode 2 of Stepping Up to get the whole story. And subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss the next one. It’s at steppinguppodcast.org.

 

Sarah Craig is a writer and radio journalist living in Oakland, California. She is the Associate Producer for the Stepping Up podcast. Her work has been published by Marketplace, KQED, Grist, and others.

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