Call for a new system of government
Nothing has worked. It’s time for political revolution.
Dear fellow citizens of Earth.
We invite you to do something which governments and supporters of the status quo traditionally fear and hate. We invite you to join a political revolution. With other paths closed and all other options exhausted, we see this as the only way to catapult humankind onto effecting change on the grand scale our planet requires.
We all know what led us to where we are. For the last four decades, governments have failed to halt the almost constant rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a result, the last six years have been the hottest on record.
In 2019 the UN Environment Programme came to the discouraging conclusion that the last ten years have been “a lost decade”. We have done far, far too little – and as a consequence, the world is heading for 3.5°C of global warming by the end of the century. This is far beyond the limits of the Paris Agreement. If the signatory nations were to meet the stated goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C, they would need on average to quintuple the climate pledges they made in Paris.
Meanwhile the global biodiversity crisis continues almost unabated. The scope of mass extinction of wildlife is unprecedented not only in the history of Homo sapiens, but in the last 65 million years.
Current rates of species extinctions are 100 to 1,000 times higher than the average during the last million years. According to The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, and the rate of extinction is accelerating.
According to the WWF Living Planet Report (2020) a biological holocaust has already taken place. It shows a 68% average reduction in populations of wild birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians from 1970 to 2016. In freshwater environments the die-out is 84%. In the tropical areas in Latin America and the Caribbean it is a staggering 94%.
Some of the world’s most iconic species such as lions, tigers, rhinoceroses, koalas, cheetahs, elephants, and giraffes have been dramatically decimated – in some cases, by more than 90 percent. According to a report by World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company (2016), the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish in 2050 in a business-as-usual scenario.
And the list goes on.
How can we stop the ongoing ecocide, and the destruction of the very foundation of all young lives?
Over the last forty years, national leaders have had innumerable opportunities to initiate the system change needed to bring us back from the brink. For decades, they have received warnings from Nobel Prize winners and tens of thousands of scientists, and hosted myriads of international climate conferences. Green parties all over the world have spent years trying to reform systems from within, and environmentalists of all stripes have made superhuman efforts to avert catastrophe. Thanks to flourishing green student movements and young campaigners like Greta Thunberg, a new generation has joined the struggle on an unprecedented scale, and millions of people around the world have taken to the streets. Meanwhile Extinction Rebellion has revived and re-invented peaceful civil disobedience.
Economic growth remains the Holy Grail.
But sadly, none of this has worked. In some respects, the train has slowed a little, but in too many others it has accelerated massively, and is still heading in the same direction: the abyss.
Concentrations of greenhouse gasses and global temperatures continue to rise. Economic growth remains the Holy Grail. The consumption of energy, materials and meat has expanded in wealthy countries for decades, spreading to wherever middle-class populations grow around the world. And although the growth rate of the world population has declined it is projected to reach nearly 11 billion people in 2100.
This is a recipe for an ecological Armageddon: one that risks killing our children as well as the last wild nature on Earth. Climate breakdown is already taking a great toll in developing countries, although they are least responsible for it.
According to the former secretary-general of the UN Ban Ki-moon (2011), continued economic growth is “a global suicide pact.” According to the present secretary-general of UN António Guterres (2018), the climate crisis presents “a direct existential threat”. According to more than 11,000 scientists (2020), global warming could potentially make “large areas of Earth uninhabitable”. And a leading team of scientists in the journal Nature (2019) say that we are in “a state of planetary emergency” which demands urgent action all over the world.
This cannot and must not go on. Therefore, we urge you to join us in speeding up environmental action through non-violent political revolution. We must force leaders to listen to science, or step down in favor of those who value life on Earth higher than financial profit and re-election.
Political revolution is a grave proposal. But we make it in the face of the gravest predicament ever met by humankind.
Many scientists believe the Doomsday Clock stands at 100 seconds to twelve. Some think midnight is already behind us. In any case, we don’t have time to continue strategies that do not work.
Therefore, we encourage Earth-protectors across the planet – environmentalists, green parties, NGOs, indigenous peoples, grassroots movements, associations, young people and adults, and every human being who cherishes life – to unite and make revolutionary coalitions or umbrella organizations. Because far more unites us than divides us.
Specifically, we must inundate the public sphere with information about the necessity of political revolution. We must lobby unions, NGOs and political parties. We must organize waves of non-violent mass protests, demonstrations and strikes. We must boycott, block and shut down sectors that abuse Earth’s atmosphere and ecosystems. We must initiate general strikes. The point is, as Gandhi said: “Even the most powerful cannot rule without the co-operation of the ruled.”
Sometimes revolutions cause anarchy. Ours must not.
In short, people must understand their true power and use it to effect a green paradigm shift on our planet, at the speed required, and informed by science. This includes fully decarbonizing society in favor of renewable energy; setting aside half of the Earth’s surface for nature; moving from a growth to a steady-state, circular and socially fair economy; reducing the level of consumption in wealthy countries; making a transition to healthy, sustainable and largely plant-based diets; abolishing industrial animal farming; incorporating the rights of nature in constitutions and laws; stabilizing and gradually reducing the world population through family-planning services, education for all, a strengthening of gender equality and human rights; and the advancement of an ecological worldview and values.
Sometimes revolutions cause anarchy. Ours must not. To this end, all the actions we carry out and all the and changes we initiate must be planned, organized and managed with care.
We have learned over past decades that those in power simply ignore environmentalists who follow the rules or who cannot raise the numbers to paralyze society.
Hence the necessity of a political revolution that unifies environmentalists and mobilizes citizens around the world en masse. This may seem a radical undertaking, but history has shown that mobilizing just 3.5 percent of a population is enough to make a real and lasting impact.
Of course, governments will condemn any talk of revolution. But they have only themselves to blame for the situation we now face. It is they who have broken the social contract.
We believe political revolution is a last resort when all else has failed. Which it has done so, repeatedly, despite the best efforts of so many. Ultimately, revolution is a rescue operation in which the survival of our children and the wildlife of our planet are at stake. And there is no doubt that those who will be imprisoned for protecting their children will be acquitted by history, and their sacrifice celebrated.
Ultimately, revolution is a rescue operation in which the survival of our children and the wildlife of our planet are at stake.
In the end, as Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnat point out in The Future We Choose (2020), there is only one thing good enough for those inheriting this Earth. And it is not that “we did the best we could”, but that we did all that was necessary. Even if this meant making tough choices.
Crucially, political revolution should not dismantle democracy. On the contrary, it must restore, reinvigorate and expand it. Today most countries are run by, or are in thrall to, some version of plutocracy. The selfish interests of big business and the doctrine of economic growth govern the world to a far larger extent than do the most fundamental needs of its citizens, and of the natural world that sustains us all.
But the power of a post-revolutionary world should not only reside with people. In the future, it must also represent Earth’s non-human species, protect their habitats and recognize the rights of nature. The destruction of ecosystems and the inhumane treatment of livestock cannot continue. Alongside greater equality among humans, we must ensure greater equality between humans and the other species. Our goal is not only social but also ecological justice.
A new system of government – an ecological democracy or, in short, an ecocracy – will ensure the survival and thriving of the huge diversity of life forms on Earth. Not only of humans.
Finally, we have a question for all those who reject the notion of a peaceful political revolution. Given the heroic failures of the past, what’s the alternative? What would you do instead that has not already been tried for many years without making the crucial difference?
Time is running out.
Charlie J. Gardner, Ph.D., School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, England
Patrick Curry, Ph.D., Editor, The Eco logical Citizen, England
Lisa Kemmerer, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Religion, USA
Derrick Jensen, Author & Environmentalist, USA
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, USA
Aylam Orian, Founder & Director, Our Planet. Theirs Too, USA
G.A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., Ph.D., Founder and Director, The Kerulos Center for Nonviolence, USA
Daniela Gioseffi, Author, Editor of www.eco-poetry.org, USA
Richard S. Levine, Professor of Architecture, Emeritus, Principal Architect, Center for Sustainable Cities Design Studio, USA
Ernest J. Yanarella, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Kentucky, USA
Bron Taylor, Professor of Religion, Nature and Enviromental Ethics, USA
Philip Cafaro, Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Mathias Nordvig, Ph.D., Head of Nordic Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA
Randi Ward, Poet & Lyricist, USA
Jorie Graham, Poet, USA
Ann Fisher-Wirth, Professor of English, Director of the Environmental Studies Minor,
University of Mississippi, USA
David Suzuki, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Panagiotis Panagiotakopoulos, Ph.D., Seneca College, Canada
Rose Mary Craig, Program Coordinator, University of Toronto, Canada
Shashi Kant, Ph.D., Professor, University of Toronto, Canada
Amrita Daniere, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto, Canada
Terri Chu, M.Eng, Toronto, Canada
Maria Páez Victor, Ph.D., Canada
Tim Grant, Publisher of Green Teacher: Education for Planet Earth, Canada
Kaitlyn Law, Msc, Partnerships & Outreach Lead (North America), Climate Investment Challenge, Canada
Howard Chang, CEO, The Turn Lab, Canada
Angela Simo Brown, Youth Futures Leader and Advocate, Canada
Brad Zarnett, Sustainability and Climate Writer & Speaker. Founder at Toronto Sustainability Speaker Series (TSSS), Canada
David McRobert, Lawyer, Retired Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies, York University, Author, Canada
Josh Domingues, Founder & CEO, Flashfood, Canada
Lindsey Goodchild, CEO, Nudge, Canada
Spencer William, Graduate Student MSc. Sustainability Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Tess DiFrancesco, Graduate Student MSc. Sustainability Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Youssef Bouchi, Graduate Student MSc. Sustainability Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Sabrina Santos, Graduate Student MSc. Sustainability Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Abhay Sharma, Graduate Student MSc. Sustainability Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Brittany Lacasse, Graduate Student MSc. Sustainability Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Diana Wei Dai, Graduate Student, University of Toronto, Canada
Jeanny Do, Graduate Student, University of Toronto, Canada
Michelle Maloney, Ph.D., Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA), Australia
Ian Dunlop, Member of the Club of Rome, Chair, Advisory Board for Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, Australia
Mik Aidt, Journalist and Director of Centre for Climate Safety, Australia
Haydn Washington, Ph.D., PANGEA Research Centre, UNSW, Australia
Stuart B. Hill, Emeritus Professor, Foundation Chair of Social Ecology, School of Education, Western Sydney University, Australia
Cormac Cullinan, Director of the Wild Law Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
Yeray López Portillo, Filmmaker, Founder and Writer at moonleaks.org., Spain
Helen Kopnina, Ph.D., The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
Lubomila Jordanova, CEO, Plan A, Bulgaria
Stephen Fern, Chairman, Ark2030, Switzerland
Jyrki Kiiskinen, Author, Finland
Freddy Fjellheim, Editor-in-Chief, Norwegian Writers´ Climate Campaign, Norway
Wera Sæther, Author, Norway
Maria Kvilhaug, Historian of Religions, Author, Norway
Erland Kiøsterud, Author, Norway
Aina Villanger, Author, Norway
Cathrine Knudsen, Author, Norway
Kjartan Fløgstad, Author, Norway
Jan Erik Vold, Poet and Author, Norway
Kathleen Rani Hagen, Author and Environmentalist, Norway
Lea Wiggen Kramhøft, Student of Psychology and Climate Activist, The Green Student Movement, Norway
Anne-Christine Hornborg, Dr, Professor Emerita in History of Religions, Sweden
David Zimmerman, Author, Sweden
Alf Hornborg, Ph.D., Professor of Human Ecology, Sweden
Mats Söderlund, Author, Sweden
Bengt Berg, Poet and Editor, Sweden
J. T. Ross Jackson, Ph.D., Author, Chair, Gaia Trust, Denmark
Gritt Uldall-Jessen, Dramatist, Denmark
Morten Steiniche, Journalist, Denmark
Liz Jensen, Author, Denmark & England
Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen, Ph.D., Historian of Religion, Denmark
Uffe Elbæk, Independent Greens, Member of the Danish Parliament, Founder and Former Leader of Alternativet, Denmark
Sikandar Siddique, Party Leader of Independent Greens, Member of the Danish Parliament, Denmark
Susanne Zimmer, Independent Greens, Member of the Danish Parliament, Denmark
Niko Grünfeld, Independent Greens, Member of The Copenhagen City Council, Former Mayor, Denmark
Alexandra Moltke Johansen, Dramatist, Denmark
Carsten Jensen, Author, Denmark
Josefine Klougart, Author, Denmark
Stefani Wisting, Composer, Denmark
Jens Raunkjær Christensen, MA, Film Director, Denmark
Shëkufe Heiberg, Translator, Author & Publisher, Denmark
Maja Elverkilde, Author, Denmark
Mette Uldal, Author, Denmark
Lars Olesen, Ph.D., Founder & CEO of Circ.eco, Denmark
Trevor Davies, Artistic Director of Copenhagen International Theatre and Metropolis Festival, Denmark
Ursula Andkjær Olsen, Principal, The Danish Academy of Creative Writing, Author, Denmark
Maja Lucas, Ph.D., Author, Denmark
Rune Langhoff, Journalist, Denmark
Anne Lise Marstrand-Jørgensen, Author, Denmark
Charlotte Louise Jensen, Ph.D., Author, Denmark
Nikoline Werdelin, Cartoonist and Author, Denmark
Kristina Stoltz, Author, Denmark
Stefan Gaarsmand Jacobsen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Denmark
Gregers Andersen, Ph.D., Author, Denmark
Magnus H. Haslebo, Journalist, Denmark
Liv Sejrbo Lidegaard, Author, Denmark
Lars Tønder, Professor MSO, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Joanna Marie Nielsen, MA, Author, Denmark
Benjamin Weber Pedersen, MA, Historian of Religion, Denmark
Fernando Racimo, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Denmark
Quentin Gausset, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Denmark
Marie Bjørn, Dramatist, Denmark
Jacob Teglgaard, Actor, Co-founder of Sustainable Performing Arts NOW, Denmark
Christian Teglgaard, Actor, Co-founder of Sustainable Performing Arts NOW, Denmark
Caspar Eric, Poet, Denmark
Claus Flygare, Actor and Dramatist, Denmark
Mille Maria Dalsgaard, Artistic Director, Denmark
Jens Frimann Hansen, Artistic Director PASSAGE Festival (DK), SO-Festival (UK), Denmark
Stine Krøijer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Denmark
The Vegan Party, Denmark
Mikael Rothstein, Ph.D., Research Professor, Denmark
Susanne Burlund, Denmark
Lars Skinnebach, Poet, Denmark
Mikkel Burlund, Doctor, Denmark
Stig E. Nielsen, Project Manager, Denmark
Ditlev Nissen, Teacher and Facilitator, Denmark
Bjørn Tving Stauning, Journalist, Denmark
Karen Møller, Actress, Denmark
Jørgen Jørgensen, Architect MAA, Denmark
Dalin Waldo, Sonologist, Denmark
Paul Tempels, Musician, Denmark
Niels-Simon Larsen, Environmentalist, Denmark
Mira Lange Hansen, Illustrator, Denmark
Søren Sofus Wichmann, Ph.D., Civil Servant, Denmark
Kirsten Thorup, Author, Denmark
Louise Juhl Dalsgaard, Author, Denmark
Nynne Roberta Pedersen, Director, Denmark
Jens Peter Kaj Jensen, Author, Denmark
Elisabeth Friis, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Denmark
Jonas Eika, Author, Denmark
Janne Winther Jørgensen, Climate and Environmental Activist and Organizer, Denmark
Ib Michael, Author, Denmark
Jacob Skyggebjerg, Author, Denmark
Lea Porsager, Artist, Denmark
Glenn Christian, Poet, Denmark
Thomas Boberg, Author, Denmark
Kim Simonsen, Author, Denmark
Peter-Clement Woetmann, Poet, Denmark
Christina Hesselholdt, Author, Denmark
Marie Østerskov, Director, Denmark
Amalie Olesen, Dramatist, Denmark
Ingeborg Fangel Mo, Opera Singer, Denmark
Rose Marie Greve, Lawyer, Denmark
Ulla Sandbæk, Vicar, Denmark
Lene Vestergård, Actress, Denmark
Mads Philipsen, Teacher at a Folk High School, Denmark
Esther Michelsen Kjeldahl, MSc Philosophy & Public Policy, Co-Creater of The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Johanne Olesen, Student, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Matilde Bresciani, Student, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Sofia Amalie Mau, Student, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Ida Skovrup Gormsen, Student, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Cornelius Gry-Liljensøe, Student, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Julie Marie Buch Bak, Student. The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Gustav Stolberg-Larsen, Student of Physics & Climate Activist, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Victor Kjellerup Juhl, Student of Psychotherapy, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Mette Susgaard, Student, The Green Student Movement, Denmark
Esben Kjær Sørensen, Denmark
Kirsten Kjær Sørensen, MSc, Denmark
Jens-André P. Herbener, MA, Mag.Art., Historian of Religions, Author, Denmark