Why Rainforest Action Network Stands With The Occupy Movement

Written by Becky Tarbotton

Topics: Direct Action, Finance

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“We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite — fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful — the financial resources to build the kind of society we need. The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society — while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.” – Naomi Klein, Author/Activist, REVEL Awardee

Tomorrow, many of the RAN staff will be out of the office. We will be shutting off our computers, leaving our desks, and joining hands in the streets of Oakland. We will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds who identify with the Occupy movement and Occupy Oakland’s call for a ‘General Strike.’

We’ve been getting questions about why an environmental organization concerned with protecting forests, their inhabitants, and our climate would be supportive of a movement calling out the systems and institutions that maintain our country’s wealth and power inequality?

Here’s why.

Rainforest Action Network believes the social, economic, and environmental crises sweeping the planet are inter-related symptoms born of the same root causes.

Put simply, unchecked corporate power is dangerous and destructive to both people and the planet. Mother Earth is as much a member of the 99% as any one of us.

Central to RAN’s mission is the analysis that in order to protect the environment we must strike a balance between economy and ecology. Since our start in 1985, we’ve found that the same institutions and the same logic that is destroying our economy is also destroying our environment, and that the most effective way to protect the world’s natural resources is by challenging those corporations whose business models rely on this environmental destruction.

So long as corporations are granted free reign to pursue short-term profits at the expense of the long-term health of our environment, our economy and our communities, there will continue to be a race to the bottom where environmental and social costs are externalized and benefits are concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer.

But what if that business model did not exist? What if corporations valued our environment, our health, and our well-being? What if our government worked not for the highest bidder but for the highest interests of its people and the planet? What if people from all walks of life joined together to say we’re ready for a new system because the one we have is not working? That is the promise and potential that Rainforest Action Network sees in the Occupy movement.

At RAN, we are fighting for a world where corporate accountability matters. Where our food system does not include ingredients derived from the destruction of rainforests and Indigenous communities. Where our financial system is just and does not unjustly bankroll industries, like the coal industry, that are poisoning communities and our climate. If we are going to win, if we are going to achieve these goals, we cannot do it one commodity at a time, one bad act at a time, or even one company at time. We need a broad movement willing to ask for what the world needs, and unwilling to settle for anything less.

A few weeks ago, author and activist Naomi Klein told RAN staff and supporters that what she sees with the Occupy movement is a moment that proves we are “more popular than we could have ever imagined.” It is a moment to dream big and feel what is possible. It is a moment to realize that our demands for ecological and economic sanity are not unreasonable, they are essential, they are popular, and they are one and the same.

Photo credit CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-201_162-10009714-14.html

And it is not only that the problems of economic inequality and environmental destruction are inextricably connected; the solutions to these problems are intertwined as well. The key to protecting our environment and protecting each other is the same. The key is us.

We are the people who can redefine the underlying values that govern our society and rebuild our economy based on long-term needs, not short-term greed. We are the innovative people willing to take risks and to do what’s needed. We are all part of the same movement.

So whether your primary concern is rainforest destruction, climate change, home foreclosures, the concentration of wealth, or corporate power, this is your fight. You are invited. You are needed.

3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Lesa says:

    Thank you for loving my unborn grandchildren, and their children. You fight the most important battle the world will ever know. I am excited that you will be standing with Occupy Oakland tomorrow. Enjoy your day, you will be in the finest of company.

    Blessings to all of you.

  2. Hello dear world :-)

    Sorry to be neglecting my friends and community, but, I am very involved with the social issues of the day worldwide, plus, I have been working on other things, like cataloging years of photos. If you are paying any attention to my posts on facebook, you will know that I am an active cyber participant in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Not only that, but this coming weekend I am flying to Washington DC to another activist event, which is being billed as Occupy Obama, and Circle the White House, in an effort to demonstrate against the possibility that President Obama might approve the Tar Sands of Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline through the heartland of the USA all the way to the Gulf of Mexico so that Canada can export this nasty dirty oil to other nations. It isn’t just a question of exporting dirty oil (bitumen) from the Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada, but, the Tar Sands it self, which is one of the main culprits in global warming and the destruction of the Boreal forests in the Arctic Circle, a forest that our dear Earth relies on to clean the environment of the awful effects of dirty carbon emissions, like a giant sponge to soak up the filth of the mining for these fossil non-renewable polluting short lived supply Earth destroying toxicants. The same people who are the world wide top !% of the population mainly born and bred in the USA, are the same people who are invested in this dirty/lethal Earth destroying production in their endless greedy hunger for more money and power. So, if you will, speak out and support the efforts of the Occupy Worldwide Movement. It is time for the people of the planet to have control of our destiny, not just the mega rich greedy monsters who would cut every welfare and health program, every free/or grant supported education of ordinary people worldwide, and so many other things, most importantly jobs that support a strong middle class and a strong and balanced economy for all the people. So, pray for a good outcome of this movement, and if you can, show you support with lobbying your governments to not allow themselves to be bribed by the ubber mega billionaires of the world. The biggest myth of all is that we all have an equal opportunity to be in the worldwide top 1% of the richest people in the world. We are the 99% in a world where the 99% are not getting a fair shake nor fair opportunities to provide sufficiently for their families and their communities. Economy is a local issue, supporting what we have at our localities. Help make this happen for all of us. Hugs and love, Carole Jordan

  3. Haroun Kola says:

    Great article and I wholly agree, I call upon every person in the world to make a stand and occupy, yourself and preferably an ecovillage. Check out of the rat race and the perpetuation of an economy of fear, greed and overconsumption. 1% of our collective consciousness is overwhelmed with ego power and self preservation.

    As soon as we acknowledge, forgive, bless the gift and ultimately love and embrace, we can safely move into the new age of equality. Easier said than done though, and I’ve decided to personally concern myself with off-grid living and independence from consumer culture, I need your help though!

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  1. REDD in the news: 31 October - 6 November 2011 | redd-monitor.org

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