For a cool graphic (but fewer words) see the version of this essay at www.inequality.org
Something has changed. I’ve been asking people in the climate movement what they think it is, and most everyone agrees. When did it happen? After the Paris Agreement, definitely. But also after Brexit, and after Trump’s election, which put “the emergency” on the map for all to see. There are lots of data points. In late 2017, David Wallace-Well’s piece in New York Magazine, The Uninhabitable Earth, landed like a bomb. In mid-2018 came the Deep Adaptation paper, which likewise was downloaded by the hundreds of thousands. In October of 2018, there came the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5°C, and afterwards the air was crisper, the view clearer. It was obvious that climate denialism, or at least classic climate denialism, had lost its legitimacy. Denialism was just a right-wing scam, and everyone knew it. And, of course, there were the storms, and the firestorms, and then the Green New Deal resolution, which was a watershed by any reckoning. To top it all off, there came the Extinction Rebellion, and its unforgettable new exhortations, protest signs that simply said “Tell the Truth!”
So something has changed. But what’s at stake, exactly, and what comes next? Wen Stephenson beat me to this (in a fine piece in The Nation) but I’ve reached exactly the same conclusion. If we had to choose one voice, one single slogan, to represent the pivot that we’re now passing though, it would be hard to beat Czech playwright and ex-president Vaclav Havel and his notion of “living in truth.”  It’s an option more people are exercising, people who are sick of the lies. Even the comforting lies.
So where are we? Three points are key.Continue reading “Global Inequality in the Time of Climate Emergency”