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The Desperate Search for a Strategy to Defeat Climate Change

The most significant and irreversible threat that our generation poses to the future is marked by an almost complete political incapacity to act.

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Let us also not forget in the midst of our U.S. climate battles that it is across the developing world where vulnerability to climate change runs most deep. New York will now debate plans for a multi-billion dollar barrier aimed at holding back the rising sea. But here in Bolivia no infrastructure exists than can hold back the melting of the Andean glaciers, attacking not just the water supply but a part of the nation's soul as well.

"A Tough Mind"

A half century ago the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed from the pulpit, "The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of soft mindedness." He said that what was needed for the struggle against segregation was the combination of "a tough mind and a tender heart."  In activism, 'tough mindedness' is about being strategic – looking with a clear eye at the powers we need to move and at what will actually move them.  In the climate crisis soft-mindedness on strategy is not an option.

Decades from now our children will look back on this time they will ask how we responded to the climate crisis that was so clearly headed their way. They will not care what summits we attended or how eloquently we voiced our demands.  They won't care whether our politics were sufficiently radical or moderate. They will judge us by the only thing that will matter then – whether the actions we took in this time made an actual difference in theirs.


Jim Shultz is the founder and executive director of The Democracy Center based in San Francisco and Bolivia. For two decades he has supported and trained thousands of citizen activists across five continents. He tweets at @jimshultz.

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