In other words, protest has weakened the very industry that has made political progress on climate change all but impossible. It’s the long campaign of deceit and misinformation by the oil industry, above all else, that is responsible for our governments’ inaction.
And like peaceful protest during the civil rights movement, civil disobedience has helped shift the zeitgeist away from the idea that coal, oil and gas are the natural and obvious sources of power for our societies. Protest helps overcome the inertia that is slowing our transition to cheaper solar and wind power. If normal politics ever does work on the issue of climate change, it will be in part because it’s been prodded by the unconventional kind.
These points are logical, I think. Necessity of the most desperate kind motivated the three activists who were on trial in Bagley, and they were right to turn the pipeline valve. In another sense, though, it’s clearly crazy that people have to risk going to jail to make these points. Science has been offering us an unambiguous warning for three decades. As a society, and as a planet, we decided to ignore it. And we prosecute the people who remind us of our failings.