Anti-mining protesters in Greece are part of a global resistance movement.
In the documentary This Changes Everything, filmmaker Naomi Klein highlights the extraordinary coalition-building and resistance to environmental destruction that is happening all over the world. According to Klein, this activist movement is one of two factors that could save our planet from the horrors of a boiling world. The other is the human ability to drop one narrative and adopt a new one.
The old narrative, says Klein, gained traction in the 17th century when a group of British scientists concluded that science grants god-like powers to humans; the earth is a machine and we are engineers who can do to it whatever we like. That worldview merged with the capitalist notions that all is fair when it comes to amassing riches, and that so-called sacrifice zones and populations are inevitable side effects of “progress.” The logical endgame is pollution, violent weather, rising seas, species extinction and horrific living conditions for millions.
Klein’s film tells a new story. Directed by her husband, Avi Lewis, and based on her bestselling book by the same title, This Changes Everything puts forth the notion that everyday people can affect the course of climate change. Governments, beholden to wealthy corporations and individuals, won’t alter policy course without pressure from below. Pressure is on, and it’s coming primarily from people who have the most to lose. Klein documents resistance to fossil fuel extraction and distribution from Native Americans, fishermen in India, ranchers in Montana, Chinese environmentalists, citizens in Greece and Germany and even workers in Canada’s tar sands.
Stopping the most catastrophic effects of climate change, Klein says, is about people everywhere organizing, blockading, disrupting business-as-usual and taking care of each other. Klein’s global view is supported by events closer to home: Despite extraordinary support from Gov. Scott Walker’s administration for an iron ore mine in the Penokee Mountains range, a coalition of grassroots environmentalists and members of the nearby Bad River Reservation made business inconvenient enough that Gogebic Taconite corporation pulled out of northern Wisconsin — a huge win for the nearby Native communities and the environment.
But many of these struggles are ongoing. Vanessa Braided Hair, an activist from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, which owns rights to the land on which the tar sands mega-industrial complex was constructed, sums it up: “If you drink water and breathe air, this is about you.”
This Changes Everything will show at the Barrymore Theatre at 7 p.m. on May 25. The screening is hosted by the 350 Madison Climate Action Team, which is raising funds to organize local resistance to the Enbridge pipeline.