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The Very Different "Occupations" That Led to 2011's Global Uprising

The protests around the world this year were preceded, in the last twenty years, by some very different kinds of occupations.

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Potentially, this is the monster blowback story of all time.

And here’s just a taste of what we know about business as usual on this planet: if we rely on the previous occupiers and their ilk to save us, then it’s going to be a long, dismal wait.  Don’t count on energy giants like Exxon or BP or their lobbyists and the politicians they influence to stop climate change.  After all, none of them are going to be alive to see a far less habitable planet, so what do they care?  Torrid zones are so then, profit sheets and bonuses are so now, which means: don’t count on the 1% to give a damn.

If it were up to them -- a few outliers among them excepted -- we could probably simply write the Earth off as a future friendly place for us.  And the planet wouldn’t care.  Give it 100,000, 10 million, 100 million years and it’ll get itself back in shape with plenty of life forms to go around.

We’re such ephemeral creatures with such brief life spans.  It’s hard for us to think even in the sort of modestly long-range way that climate change demands.  So thank your lucky stars that the first and second wave occupiers created a third payback occupation they never imagined possible.  And thank your lucky stars that movements to occupy our planet in a new way and turn back the global warmers are slowly rising as well.

Like the attempted occupations of the global economy and the Greater Middle East, each spurred by a sense of greed that went beyond all bounds, the occupation of our planet is guaranteed to create its own oppositional forces, and not just in the natural world either.  They are perhaps already emerging along with the Arab spring, the European summer, and the American fall, not to speak of the Russian winter.  And when they’re here -- as the fifth occupation of planet Earth -- when they stand their ground and chant “We exist!” in anger, strength, and wonder, maybe then we can really tackle climate change and hope it isn’t too late.

Maybe the fifth occupation is the one we’re waiting for -- and don't for a second doubt that it will come.  It’s already on its way.

 Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture , runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), has just been published in November.

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