Yale Study: 1/6 Americans Prepared to Engage in Civil Disobedience to Stop Climate Change

Civil Disobedience is Sometimes the Only Way to Move Society Forward - Think Gandhi
Civil Disobedience is Sometimes the Only Way to Move Society Forward          – Remember Gandhi


By Kurtis Bright

A Yale study shows that one in six Americans are prepared to engage in civil disobedience against activities that make climate change worse

And you thought the age of mass protest had been lain to rest with the massive actions of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War protesters. Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter activists would probably dispute it, but in terms of sheer scale nothing like this has been seen in decades. A recent Yale Program on Climate Change and Communication study has shown that upwards of one in six Americans are prepared to take action when it comes to protesting bad actors in terms of global climate change.

The grand tradition of non violent action in the US brought us Civil Rights laws and protections, ended the Viet Nam war, women’s voting rights and a host of other forward movements.

Extrapolating the Yale study numbers,  something on the order of 40 million Americans would be willing to protect the global climate with civil disobedience. The Yale study did not ask questions about whether people thought climate change is real but  if people would be prepared to take to the streets and protest non-violently against actions that were perceived as being bad for the environment.

Americans are famous around the world for being apathetic Americans are on the subject so a global extrapolation suggests huge numbers might be willing to join such actions.

It’s a good year for such sentiment too since public awareness of the Trans Pacific Partnership and all its potentially horrible environmental and legal ramifications on stark display after years of secrecy is growing rapidly.

Tellingly, in early May of this year, Greenpeace, 350.org, and grassroots movements from every continent will hold a massive week-long action called “Break Free From Fossil Fuels”. Organizers are hoping that by bringing together people from places as far-flung as Australia, The Philippines, Germany, Nigeria and elsewhere they can begin to advance an ambitious agenda including “shutting down the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.”

A tall order to be sure, but one whose time has come perhaps. As leaders dither, hem and haw, it seems more and more likely that any kind of effective change in any arena is going to require “boots on the ground”.  Peaceful boots.  Non violent boots.  MANY boots.

Looking closely at Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, it is clear that ordinary people changed the conversation.

Who was talking about “the one percent” prior to Occupy? Where were the news stories about police shootings and the sheer scale of the killings that take place in the black community prior to Black Lives Matter rising up in Baltimore?

Apparently 1 American in 6 thinks it is time for the same thing to happen in terms of climate change. At the very least, we can all take a page from the protesters ambitious agenda: if you don’t aim high, you will never get off the ground.

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