Individuals are the problem. Individuals are easy to compartmentalize and disenfranchise, to the point where eating organic food looks like a radical political choice. Action on climate change needs to be radical, collective, and inclusive. Unfortunately at present, all organized resistance groups I’ve encountered value what is immediately experienceable over the highly abstract – i.e. poverty, victims of war, marginalized groups. Since the mainstream individual is neither empowered nor oppressed in contemporary society, there is little room for a mainstream opposition to climate change – it always degrades to arguing about statistics and numbers.
But, the statistics and numbers refer to something real, something far more frightening and dangerous than any of the political violence the left focuses on. Zizek captures this paradox when he claims that the green movement’s focus on our experience of nature, the lived-world, is precisely the problem – and that rather we need a new scientific, mathematical concept of nature which doesn’t resort to easy simplifications like nature/culture or natural/human, but rather grasps the totality in terms of math and probabilities and thinks within formuli as to how to best secure a future for the human race.
What the left have right, however, is that the current political system does not allow for the kind of input which could be taken seriously by power elites. On the other hand, simple populism is no answer because if you poll citizens on climate change issues perhaps the majority of them get as much or more of their information from the corrupt (this is explicit – it’s called advertising) mainstream media as through reputable scientific journals. Blogs like burycoal and youtube channels like “Climate change crock of the week” do some good to counteract this mainstream disinformation, but not enough to force real climate action to the centre of public-relations based party platforms.
So, we really do need political change – how radical, we don’t get to know in advance. Climate change will change the world – either it will become a much more violent and more fascist place where the existing false front of democracy is eroded away through an enabling act (i.e. “suspension”), or, real democratic struggles will succeed in producing a real citizenry which is not continually co-opted by power forces. We have a choice about which one happens – not as individuals, but as potential members of a citizenry which could become adequate to the multi-faceted challenges that face the human race today.