People are very critical of protesters these days. Which is strange, because a protester is simply somebody who wants to make the world a better place, and who is, therefore, a Better Person than you. If you cared about the world, you would be out there in the streets too, walking and shouting and waving a sign.
It’s the willingness to protest that separates the activist – a person who doesn’t want the human race to be completely destroyed – from the fascist – a person who wants us all to die. This is easily demonstrated whenever there is a mass public protest rally. See who isn’t out there? That’s right: the fascists.
The most pressing issue on which we protest nowadays is climate change. As we know, this is an urgent global emergency that requires swift and decisive action. It is a scientific fact that something must be done about climate change. It is also a scientific fact that a protest march is, technically, something. So it’s pretty clear that with every protest, we save the planet that little bit more. In fact, climatologists estimate that if we can just picket a mining conference every four to six months, global temperatures will be lowered by up to three and a half degrees.
But I know that it’s not easy to be a climate activist. If you decide to become one, you have to be prepared to be criticised and insulted, and smeared. People will call you names, like “feral”, “anarchist”, or “dreadlock-wearing white guy”. They will besmirch your methods as “disruptive” or “counter-productive” or “kind of stupid-looking”. There are no depths to which coal-sucking Nazis will not go to try to bring down your righteous crusade to bring about a better future for the children you shouldn’t really be having because overpopulation is part of the problem you know.
As we know, this is an urgent global emergency that requires swift and decisive action. It is a scientific fact that something must be done about climate change. It is also a scientific fact that a protest march is, technically, something.
People will call you names, like “feral”, “anarchist”, or “dreadlock-wearing white guy”. They will besmirch your methods as “disruptive” or “counter-productive” or “kind of stupid-looking”.
But stay strong, comrades. In this article, I would like to offer some advice to budding activists on how to make your protests as effective as possible. These are the important principles to bear in mind when planning your activism, to ensure nobody can possibly criticise you unless they’re a real jerk who just doesn’t GET IT.
The first thing to remember is to keep the focus on your primary goal. When it comes to climate activism, that goal is, of course, AWARENESS. Awareness is the most important part of any campaign because it is the source from which all else flows. Statistics show that less than four per cent of government legislation in the past 40 years has dealt with matters of which the government was not aware, so being aware of problems is clearly quite closely correlated with solving them.
Raising awareness of climate change is especially vital because it’s such a crucial issue, and hardly anyone is aware of it. I mean, if they were, they’d do something about it, wouldn’t they? So as climate activists, our first priority is to make sure all those millions of people who’ve never heard of climate change do so immediately.
And how do we achieve this? Obviously, mainly by painting slogans on signs and carrying them around the place. It’s important that these slogans should be extremely witty and trenchant, so that members of the public will see them and think, “Hmm, that’s a very pithy turn of phrase – they must surely be onto something. Maybe I should decarbonise the economy after all.” Nobody will think this if they just see a boring old “CLIMATE ACTION NOW” placard. To really get folks thinking you’re going to need stronger stuff, like “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your coal”; or “Keep the Earth clean, it’s not Uranus”. That’s the kind of zinger that really makes people take immediate drastic action to transform their entire way of life. If you can write a really clever slogan, you might even make it onto a list of “Funniest Signs Seen At The Climate Rally” in The Guardian, which is worth about a billion tonnes of carbon emissions taken out of the atmosphere on its own.
But what to do when you’ve finished raising awareness? Well, that’s the beautiful part: you are NEVER finished raising awareness. If raising awareness is Step One for a climate activist, Step Two is: raise some more awareness. Because what you’ll find is that there are some people who, even after having their awareness raised, still don’t do anything. This isn’t because they find it difficult to take action, because they are sceptical of the proposed solutions, or because self-interest motivates them to keep climate change low on their list of priorities: it’s just because they’re not aware enough. So get those signs out again!
Now, when you’re out there protesting, you’re going to want to show the world that you’re committed. After all, if you don’t truly believe in your cause, why should anyone else? Of course, you’ve already demonstrated your commitment by giving up as many as two or three days a year to the cause, but you can do more. Show how much you care by getting in people’s way. It doesn’t matter who these people are: they could be government ministers, or mining executives, or shift workers, or train passengers; what matters is that you ruin their day. They should be under no illusions that climate change is urgent enough to prevent them going about their business. Sometimes these people might object to you getting in their way. Don’t let that faze you: simply scream in their faces so they appreciate the urgency of the cause. Once they see that the climate is important enough to you to make life unpleasant for them, it will become important to them as well.
But make sure you don’t overdo things! Protests should be angry, militant and insistent, but they should only ever last a few hours and only take place every few months. The persuasive power of the ruined day should not be diluted by making the protests so frequent that anyone feels forced to take action.
It doesn’t matter who these people are: they could be government ministers, or mining executives, or shift workers, or train passengers; what matters is that you ruin their day.
Of course, tactics are crucial in any protest. You can’t just hit the streets and start walking: you need a plan. And by “a plan”, I mean children. Let’s be honest, the climate change movement is all about children: we want children to grow up in a world where islands aren’t constantly disappearing, and global wars aren’t fought over dwindling supplies of sunscreen. They are the ones who stand to lose most from climate change, so it’s only fair that we allow them to be forced to accompany us on our protest marches. Remember the activists’ motto: “You’re Never Too Young To Have A Sign Thrust Into Your Hand”. It may be that your toddler doesn’t fully understand the climate change issue. If this is so, don’t worry too much about your parenting failure: just get them marching and the knowledge will come later.
The great thing about marching with children is that it’s irresistible. Everyone loves kids, and when people see kids in a protest, they know instantly that it must be a good cause. Otherwise, why would there be kids there? It’s a foolproof plan.
Of course, it’s possible that some might have a whinge about you bringing your kids, but remember what Greta Thunberg, the inventor of climate activism, always says probably: First they criticise you, then you ignore them, then they get bored, then you win. When you’re engaged in a protest, you have to avoid listening to criticism, because it could distract you from the main game: being right. It’s no wonder that the Chinese word for “critic” is the same as the word for “violent white supremacist policeman”.
So there it is in a nutshell. Keep in mind the Five Elements Of Good Protests – awareness, clever signs, infrequent scheduling, getting in the way, and using children – and you can be sure that within two to three months, climate change will be over. Just make sure you don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – it won’t work if you don’t believe it.