[ The global climate strike on Sept. 20. will almost certainly be
the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history, writes
Bill McKibben. “It can’t just be young people. It needs to be all
of us.”] [https://portside.org/] 



 Bill McKibben 
 September 3, 2019
Yes! Magazine

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 _ The global climate strike on Sept. 20. will almost certainly be the
biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history, writes Bill
McKibben. “It can’t just be young people. It needs to be all of
us.” _ 

 Students march on the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, as part of
the March 2019 global climate strike led by youth activists., credit:
Sydney Widell // The Daily Cardinal 


Business as usual is what’s doing us in.

We live on a planet that finds itself rather suddenly in the midst of
an enormous physical crisis. Because we burn so much coal and gas and
oil, the atmosphere of our world is changing rapidly, and that
atmospheric change is producing record heat. July was the hottest
month we’ve ever recorded. Scientists predict with confidence that
we stand on the edge of the sixth great extinction event of the last
billion years. People are dying in large numbers and being left
homeless; millions are already on the move because they have no

And yet we continue on with our usual patterns. We get up each morning
and do pretty much what we did the day before. It’s not like the
last time we were in an existential crisis, when Americans signed up
for the Army and crossed the Atlantic to face down fascism and when
the people back home signed up for new jobs and changed their daily

That’s why it’s such good news that the climate movement has a new
tactic. Pioneered last August by Greta Thunberg of Sweden, it
involves disrupting business as usual. It began, of course, in
schools: Within months, millions of young people around the world were
striking for days at a time from their classes. Their logic was
impeccable: If the institutions of our planet can’t be bothered to
prepare for a world we can live in, why must we spend years preparing
ourselves? If you break the social contract, why are we bound by it?

And now those young people have asked the rest of us to join in. After
the last great school strike in May, they asked adults
[https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/23/greta-thunberg-young-people-climate-strikes-20-september] to
take part next time. The date is Sept. 20, and the location is
absolutely everywhere. Big trade unions in South Africa and Germany
are telling workers to take the day off. Ben and Jerry’s is closing
down its headquarters (stock up in advance), and if you want to buy
Lush cosmetics, you’re going to be out of luck. The largest rally
will likely be in New York City, where the U.N. General Assembly
begins debating climate change that week—but there will be
gatherings in every state and every country. It will almost certainly
be the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history. (If
you want to be a part—and you do want to be a part—go to
globalclimatestrike.net [https://globalclimatestrike.net/].)

It’s not a “strike” in the traditional sense, of course—no one
is demanding better wages. But we are demanding better _conditions_.
In the most literal sense, the world isn’t working as it should
(studies say that increased heat and humidity have already reduced
human work capacity as much as 10%
[https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2013/02/26/223825.htm], a
figure that will double by midcentury). And what we’re saying is,
disrupting business as usual is the way to get there.

This strike will not be the last such action. And activists are
flooding into the electoral battles now underway and taking on the
financial community, too. It’s starting to add up: The polling
shows that for young Americans
climate change is far and away the most important issue.

But it can’t be just young people. It needs to be all of
us—especially, perhaps, those of us who have been placidly operating
on a business-as-usual basis for most of our lives, who have rarely
faced truly serious disruptions in our careers and our plans. Our job
is precisely to disrupt business as usual. When the planet leaves its
comfort zone, we need to do the same. See you on the streets on Sept.

_[Bill McKibben wrote this article for YES! Magazine
[https://www.yesmagazine.org/]. Bill is the founder of the climate
movement 350.org and the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in
Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.]_

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