On Sunday (October 10), over 5,000 events are planned in 180 countries for the largest day of carbon-cutting action in the planet’s history. The 10/10/10 Global Work Party is a day for people across the planet to get to work on climate solutions and pressure their politicians to do the same. The global day of action was initiated by 350.org and is being organized in cooperation with hundreds of organizations around the world.
The main action in Metro Vancouver will be a mass direct action. Like many people who have seen global warming rapidly evolve into climate crisis, the Council of Canadians and GatewaySucks.org have decided that now is the time for mass direct action. And the chorus of calls for direct action is growing. About a month after we started organizing for 10/10/10, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, Phil Radford of Greenpeace, and Rebecca Tarbotton of the Rainforest Action Network issued a global call for mass direct action. They wrote: “Time is not on our side, so we’ve concluded that going forward mass direct action must play a bigger role in this movement, as it eventually did in the suffrage movement, the civil-rights movement, and the fight against corporate globalization.”
The move to mass direct action against climate crime is already gaining momentum. In September, thousands took action against coal mining at Appalachia Rising, and supported the more than a hundred people from many walks of life who were arrested, including famed NASA scientist James Hansen.
On 10/10/10, we will get to work stopping a serious climate crime—the South Fraser Perimeter “Road” freeway, which is part of the Gateway Program. The estimated $2-billion proposed freeway would pave over some of B.C.’s best farmland, scar the delicate banks of the Fraser River, and pollute elementary school playgrounds. But these local impacts pale in comparison to the looming disaster of runaway global warming, largely caused by soaring oil consumption driven by government “investments” in new and wider freeways and larger airports. Emissions from the tar sands are growing quickly, but the driver is oil consumption by cars, trucks, and airplanes.
Last year, we marched and danced in the streets. We will do the same this year, but instead of ending the march at a park it will end where the South Fraser freeway route is marked by piles of “preload” sand. We will dig up this sand and use it to start raising the flood control dikes around a Surrey neighbourhood and protect it from flooding caused by global warming. If the police decide to stop us, some of us will be willing to be arrested.
Now is the time for direct action. And now is also the time to admit that global warming will cause very severe disruptions, including rising sea levels. It is not too late to stop the worst effects of runaway global warming, but it is obvious that the world of the near future will hold many nasty surprises including rising seas and higher storm surges accompanying more powerful storms. Adaptation measures such are raising dikes are going to be absolutely necessary, and it won’t be cheap.
Taking direct action to prevent the far greater harm of runaway global warming is the proper thing for people to do. Direct action against climate crime is lawful and proper in the same way as breaking into a house to put out a fire or save a life is. Recently a U.K. jury ruled that climate activists had a “lawful excuse” for painting the smokestack of a coal fired power plant even though it cost over $50,000 to remove.
This mass direct action will emphasize the need to shift resources away from climate crimes to creating green jobs and climate justice. At a basic level, climate justice is about overcoming our fossil fuel dependency quickly while aiding the people and communities most threatened by climate change. Every cent of the billions now being spent on climate crimes such as urban freeways is needed for solutions like public transit and electric passenger trains, and to protect communities from flooding and other effects of global warming.
Please join us on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Scott Road SkyTrain station (east/taxi-stand side) for the 10/10/10 Dig in for Climate Justice.
Cathy Wilander is the chair of the Delta-Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians and lives on the flood plain in Delta.
Eric Doherty is a member of GatewaySucks.org and lives in East Vancouver.