This year is on track to become the hottest ever recorded, and a growing number of environmentalists are using a particular type of language in response. Some are calling for a huge “mobilization” to “combat” climate change. In an article in the New Republic in August, Bill McKibben, the unofficial spokesperson of the climate movement in the United States, insisted in very literal terms that, we are at war with climate change.
In the United States, we are familiar with war metaphors; and they are often politically useful. We have been through wars on poverty, drugs, cancer and even Christmas. In these cases, metaphors are understood as metaphors, but when McKibben points to territory ceded, space invaded, cultural loss and human suffering, he intends to be taken at face value: “It’s not that global warming is like a world war,” he writes. “It is a world war.”
(blah blah blah, social justice, climate justice, raising taxes, yammer yammer yammer)
For this reason, Naomi Klein has called for solutions that go beyond the technological. She emphasizes, not just green energy, but also “people power.” Her most recent book and film, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” feature a number of grass-roots movements resisting the forces that threaten people’s relationships with their environment — sometimes even in the name of “green” solutions, such as hydroelectric dam projects. We want to follow Klein’s lead in shifting the conceptual focus from technologies of power to relations of power. Despite his recent rhetoric, McKibben follows a similar course.
We urgently need to motivate action, but given the ambiguities and dangers surrounding war rhetoric, we need better orienting language. Perhaps, as some have suggested, “revolution” is the better path.
In other words, it’s just like so many of us Skeptics have been saying: this is all a left wing Progressive (nice fascism) movement to essentially change everything away from capitalism in the economic mode, forming a government dominated economic system. Call it Marxism, socialism, whatever you want. It’s all about government control. Espoused by people who, shockingly, get paid for their work.