Bloody Sunday and Infinite Potential of Grace

I recently wrote a review of Andreas Malm’s new book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, which makes a compelling case that in light of the very limited success of nonviolence for the climate movement, we ought to branch out into more violent tactics. While I do believe in the sympathetic sentiments for his argument that I expressed in that review, I also hold those sentiments in paradox with these views expressed below. I invite others to read this reflection in the spirit of knowing that things are never just one way or the other, particularly in the complex work of social change. Today is the anniversary of the first march from Selma to Montgomery, otherwise known as “Bloody Sunday.” Reflecting on this landmark moment in the civil rights struggle invites a mix of grief, solidarity, disgust at our violent legacy of white supremacy, and deep respect for the courage… Read More

Refugees and Climate Change

I recently had the opportunity to craft a public statement for Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light about the connection between  climate change and the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. After receiving negative feedback from one of our members, Ray, I further clarified my thoughts on the subject. It ended up connecting the dots between climate change, immigration, and mass incarceration in a way that seems worth sharing, so I'm posting the whole chain here:   RIIPL Public Statement, 6/26/18: Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light joins many other local, national, and international faith organizations in condemning the incarceration of children and families on our southern border. The new policy of indefinite detention of families, as well as the practice of separation of children from their parents, is both deeply immoral and a terrifying harbinger of our social response to a future of climate disruption. All of our faith traditions… Read More

Nuclear Is Not the Answer

Eric Holthaus has become one the best climate journalists in the country over the past few years, but his most recent article promoting nuclear power demonstrates why the effort to address climate change can no longer afford to focus exclusively on emissions. There are a lot of problems with Holthaus’ article, some of which likely stem from his use of Jesse Jenkins and Michael Shellenberger as sources. Jenkins and Shellenberger have spent their careers promoting techno-salvation and denigrating environmentalism. Their influence is particularly evident in the fact that Holthaus literally starts his article with a conclusion that nuclear power is necessary.  We can’t have a serious discussion about nuclear power without talking about democracy. Nuclear proponents argue that nuclear power can be done safely and with minimal waste. Even if that is true, it is also certainly true that nuclear power can be done less safely by cutting corners in ways that… Read More

Communication and Conversation

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the expert advice around communicating climate change. I’ve been even more frustrated than usual over the past six months as there has been a woefully simplistic public discourse about whether “fear or hope” are better ways of changing people, as if there is some easy dichotomy between the two (and as if our job is to manipulate others.) That’s why Peter Bowden and I used the first episode of our new Climate Workshop Podcast to muddy the waters of of this debate about how to talk about climate change. And now a recent study by UMass Amherst has also injected some complexity into this discourse with their shocking finding: Emotions aren’t simple. But something I read from Wendell Berry today articulated why I have always been so skeptical of the field of climate change communications. Wendell writes, “This is why I said earlier that I… Read More

Finally! The Climate Workshop Podcast is Here!

For nearly two years, Peter Bowden and I have been talking about creating a podcast. Whenever we would have great conversations about dealing with climate chaos or the state of social movements, Peter would say, "We've got to be sharing these conversations." Or when I would come back from a trip visiting with insightful thought leaders and activists, Peter would say, "You've got to be sharing those conversations you're having. People need to hear this." After a couple false starts over the past couple years, we finally got serious about it this fall. We're calling this the Climate Workshop Podcast because we're "workshopping" the emerging ideas at the boundaries of the climate change discourse, and because we are very conscious of the fact that all our talking needs to be connected to actually doing the work of defending a livable and humane future. Our tag line is, "Working through the… Read More

The Most Important Book I’ve Read

This morning I finished a book by Sarah Schulman called Conflict Is Not Abuse. I’ve been reading this book slowly over the past couple months, and taking the time to think deeply about what it says. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the single most important book for the climate movement at this moment in our development. Schulman’s book offers a compassionate and honest perspective on addressing the real tensions and traumas in our communities without turning against one another with cruelty. She focuses on getting better and not just feeling better at someone else’s expense. Schulman actively pushes back against the culture of shunning, shaming, and self-righteousness that is killing the climate movement right now. I think all progressive movements probably need this book right now, but I know the climate movement needs it. Without exaggeration, when I look at the social tensions that seem to be at… Read More

Fossil Fuel Congress Asks Jeff Sessions To Label Climate Action “Terrorism”

(This is a press release we issued from the Climate Disobedience Center in response to what I think is a serious push to criminalize our movement. -Tim) Cross-posted from Climate Disobedience Center website.  On October 23rd, 2017, 84 members of congress submitted a letter to Attorney General Sessions regarding nonviolent direct action on crude oil pipelines. The letter, backed by American Petroleum Institute, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, is a dishonest effort to smear the climate movement, and fabricate a threat in order to legitimate further criminalization of dissent against one of Congress’s largest clients: the fossil fuel industry. Rather than doing their job and protecting current and future generations from civilizational collapse caused by run-away climate change, members of Congress are working to protect their funders at the risk their constituents. The letter begins the official process of expanding the Patriot Act… Read More

The Paradox Within Us

(Heather Heyer and James Alex Fields represent two very real lineages of American history and society) The spectacle of white supremacist violence and hatred on display in Charlottesville last week was disgusting and unacceptable. It seems to have been a wake up call for a lot of Americans about how serious the threat of racism and outright Nazism is to our communities. The sacrifices of those who gave their lives and safety in resistance to white supremacy may yet serve to be a catalyst that moves many individuals to action and our country closer to overcoming our toxic history of slavery and bigotry. In the days since the atrocities of Charlottesville, there have been many commentators on social media who have rightly insisted that white Americans cannot declare that the racism we witnessed is not who we are. They point out that the ideology of James Alex Fields, the white… Read More

New Record from Bryan!

Bryan Cahall has been writing and singing his powerful songs all over the country for years. His music has graced most of the events I've done over the past year. His songs cultivate the deep resilience that we need to not only rise to the challenge of our times, but to continue to find beauty and meaning in these struggles. But as many people as have been moved and inspired by Bryan's music, he has never actually recorded a professional album with any of his wonderful songs. Until now.  Bryan is finally getting into the recording studio this summer so that his songs can touch countless more people. But he needs support to be able to make it happen. Please watch the video on his Kickstarter page and donate whatever you can. Then send this on to the folks you know that understand how important art and music are to the struggle for a just and… Read More