By Sandra Lindberg System Change Not Climate Change 7/11/19
In an effort to mobilize populations within the US (and other countries), some environmental organizations demand that climate change be renamed a climate emergency. Organizing and training citizen volunteers in communities across the US, groups such as Climate Mobilization pressure government officials to sign public declarations acknowledging that climate change has become an emergency. Often, the activists use mobilization strategies of WWII as examples of what today’s emergency requires. Groups like these assert the emergency mobilizations are the only choice we have in the face of climate change’s dangers….
Exactly who and what will be targeted if such a climate emergency is declared? Those who are calling for the current corrupt system to lead in designing and implementing the ways the US will rein in its contributions to climate change need to consider again the history and the extent of the powers that a declaration of emergency can involve.
Some might argue that the existing government truly wants to protect its citizens and has strong resources with which to do so. However, emergency declarations are designed to protect more than people. Within a capitalist system, emergency declarations are also intended: to protect public health and safety, to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States, and protect private property. (Author’s italics.) These are broadly defined categories that, as with Roosevelt’s or Trump’s administrations, can be used to bring great harm to citizen groups within the US. Especially troubling are situations in which a president’s definition of an emergency includes aspects of “national security,” which are usually interpreted to involve large corporate interests–not people….
During a pervasive state of emergency, representative governmental bodies and democratic principles are set aside. In an emergency without an end, such as climate change, democratic principles sidelined during especially critical times may take a long time to be reinstated–or may not be reinstated at all….
With the inordinate powers currently held by political and corporate entities, and given their drive to survive, asking them to make climate emergency declarations is like handing them blank checks that they can fill out to suit their own values and their own needs. Why in the world, given what we already see capitalist bodies doing in the face of climate change, should we hope they will actually do anything effective or immediate about the dangers our planet faces?