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Does activism work?

Being a pessimist is fun.

You personally never lose a pessimist. If things go bad, you feel smug for being right. If things go well, then that’s literally the best possible outcome your mind could have thought of under these circumstances.

Win-win right?

When it comes to climate change, most people fall under two categories.

Either they’re deniers, and the definition of climate change denial is broader than it seems. (Refer to my last post to understand what I mean)

…Or they’re pessimists. They believe that climate catastrophe is inevitable and this is the end of the world as we know it. Fun.

They use this kind of nihilism to justify their actions or inactions when it comes to this crisis. “Oh they word is doomed so I’m gonna eat this steak anyway”, “Politicians never listen to what activists say, protests are pointless”.

This is one of those stories where the pessimist is proven wrong.

The story: Canadian pipeline company TC Energy announced that it was formally shutting down it’s plan to build the Keystone XL pipeline project.

What is Keystone XL?

Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Keystone XL is was a massive oil pipeline project meant to transport massive amounts of crude tar sand oil across the US and Canada.

Since the proposal of this plan in 2011, Keystone XL has faced intense protests, particularly from american indigenous groups, famers, and environmentalists.

The reason Keystone is a big deal is that tar sand oil is thicker, more acidic and more corrosive than regular crude oil, which increases the risk it leaking and contaminating the soil. These leaks could irreversibly poison the land and destroy the ecosystem, affecting the water, farms, and the animals around it.

After a decade of protests, President Joe Biden revoked the pipeline’s permits on his first day in office. This month, TC energy finally gave up any hope. But that isn’t why I wanted to make a post today.

This piece by Emily Atkin’s Heated newsletter is.

In her newsletter, she compiled a list of nearly 30 quotes from major politicians and newspapers who criticised the protests, and said that the pipeline will be built no matter what.

Stuff like

“The Canadian oil sands will be developed no matter what happens.”
-Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean

“All the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of approval.”
Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, May 2013.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is a no-brainer.”
Republican Congressman Sam Graves, May 2013.

Screengrab from Heated newsletter.

This goes on for a while. But the point is that they were all wrong. Every single one of them lost because groups of people stood their ground for nearly a decade. Even people who would normally “support” environmentally friendly causes didn’t think this fight was worth it. But they were wrong in the end too.

There is a lot of debate about what ordinary people can do that would really helps save the planet. The pessimist would say nothing. Nothing you do matters because countries and corporations will roll over you. But this story proves them wrong.

It’s true that eating less meat, switching to paper straws, etc may not have a significant impact, activism can create real change. These indigenous protests, amongst many others created real change by protesting.

To the people asking “does activism work?” Why yes, yes it does. Some would argue that it might be the only thing that works.

Ashkenaz View All

Former journalism student at London College of Communication, Former Child.

I am a journalist who’s passionate about climate change and climate justice. For me that’s the most important story I can write about and contribute to fixing. As a journalist, my way of going about it is to educate people about this existential threat that’s bogged down by skepticism, denialism, lack of comprehension of scope, and general apathy.

I also write about a lot of other things, like social justice, protests, pop culture, lifestyle, and esports. Albeit these stories won’t be as frequent as they depend on what I find fascinating and meaningful to write about at the moment.

This website is both my portfolio and my space to share interesting information- about myself or climate change. Any time I’m commission by a publication (fingers crossed) I’ll crosspost it here for all my audience to see.

This site may even turn into an actual blog from time to time. If I have any personal revelations that my audience can learn from, I may share it here

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