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Don’t Jump Off the Cliff Notes: People’s Climate Movement and Beyond Printer friendly page Print This
By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) , Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic
Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

Seeping through cracks in deep canyon walls, are the colorful dances of spirits.” [1]

      - MariJo Moore (Cherokee), from Desert Quotes


Since numerous reports and articles tell us we are on the precipice of survival (what with the current and projected state of the climate), and since there is a huge People’s Climate March planned in NYC around the time when summer turns to autumn, this essay is meant to give some notes as to what may get overlooked amid the protesting enthusiasm of the moment. The March is a response to the United Nations Climate Summit 2014 [2] which is a precursor to the 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris.


First of all a disclaimer: I’m not a scientist, rather a wordsmith who takes the time to look things up and tries to learn something. So with all the news about the upcoming People’s Climate March the word “climate” has been raising my eyebrow. Are People marching for the weather? It almost sounds as abstract as “war on terror,” but in this case well-meaning.


I keep seeing in online articles the call for “fighting” climate change and global warming. Something about this sounds off-track. How do you fight a rainstorm? You don’t. You either stay inside, take an umbrella, or like a kid you play in it. Ok, climate change is more extreme and serious but the tact with which we deal with it may make all the difference. It seems to make more sense to ‘work with’ the climate and ‘fight’ those who are destroying it, the transnational mega-corporations as well as all the People who use their products. As for the latter, how you choose to fight yourself is a personal matter.


One of the dictionary definitions of “climate” is: “mood, atmosphere, spirit, tone, temper.” So the first note is: acknowledge and honor that there are invisible or spiritual entities involved. The wind, for example, is not just “the flow of gases on a large scale” as Wikipedia first defines it, rather the wind also encompasses “the colorful dances of spirits.” This may be a big leap for many People to even consider but it helps provide a simple and personal way to relate with what would otherwise be considered a huge mindless energy force that only man has the power to control.


Only Thing We Have to Sphere Is Sphere Itself

Wondering what “climate” means scientifically, I looked it up again and according to Wikipedia:

Climate is a measure of the average pattern of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. Climate is different from weather, in that weather only describes the short-term conditions of these variables in a given region.

“A region's climate is generated by the climate system, which has five components: atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.

atmosphere: layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity

hydrosphere (from Greek δωρ hydōr, “water” and σφαρα sphaira, “sphere”)

cryosphere (from the Greek κρύος cryos "cold", “frost” or “ice” and σφαρα sphaira, “globe, ball”

lithosphere (Ancient Greek: λίθος lithos for “rocky”, and σφαρα sphaira for “sphere”

biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be termed the zone of life on Earth, a closed system (apart from solar and cosmic radiation and heat from the interior of the Earth), and largely self-regulating.”

Notice how even Wikipedia alludes to a sense of independent spirituality when it states of the biosphere: “largely self-regulating.” There’s more info in that overall definition than I know what to do with but the point is: it’s not just the global temperature or greenhouse gases that we are trying to heal but the whole system of how everything connects and affects each other.


Another key point about climates is that they are regional! So along with addressing global issues, each region must look at it's unique situation. An excellent book highlighting this aspect is Red Alert: Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge by Daniel R. Wildcat (Fulcrum Publishing, 2009). Wildcat shows how culture emerges from one's landscape or seascape, what he calls a “nature-culture nexus.” He also reveals how different Tribes/Nations have special knowledge depending on their locale, for example, “Wind Power on the Plains” and “The Forest Keepers.” With regard to the earth lodges built by various Plains Nations, Wildcat notes “There are no accounts of tornadoes ever destroying an earth lodge....” And he provides an excellent example of working WITH nature rather than fighting it: “I was struck by the fact that the Sioux [Lakota] and other Native peoples on the upper Missouri River, primarily teepee dwellers, took full advantage of the river's rhythms. They appreciated the flood cycles of the rivers, and they knew better than to set up their full camps on the river's floodplain. It was easy to sleep out near their garden plots and move back to the safety of the village camps when the rain threatened.”


Yet, times are hard, as shown in a recent report about the masters of migration. One headline states: Half of North America Bird Species Facing Extinction: 314 species, including the bald eagle and 10 state birds of US at risk from climate change” [3]


MIC Check and Other Notes

* Also important to highlight is that the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) affects the climate big time. Not only are they a huge consumer of oil to power those high-priced military jets, tanks, etc., but much of the fighting worldwide has to do with oil resources. Add to that the toxic residue left in the Earth, Air, and Water from bombing and destroying countries, along with the millions of people affected, and it’s clear that the war machine is not a superpower but a super-polluter.

  • As above, so below... so while we gaze upward with concern for birds and greenhouse gases, etc., an important reminder is given by Harvey Wasserman [4], perhaps the only journalist to mention Fukushima in the same breath as the People's Climate March. With reports that radioactive water has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean for years now, that is another key connect-a-dot with the hydrosphere.
  • Though obvious, another note worth emphasizing is that the climate is a worldwide/MotherEarth, not just national, issue. That said, the People of individual nations may find it useful to confront their national policy makers. Then again, People must be prepared to find other ways to resolve the climate crisis if that becomes a waste of time.
  • What many are now awakening to is what Indigenous Peoples have endured for 500-plus years (though the global ante has been upped), so it behooves those who take action to somehow reach out to and become allies with those who have an innate sense of how to live in harmony with Nature.


One example is the Climate Justice Alliance whose website states: “We are rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities throughout the U.S. We are applying the power of deep grassroots organizing to win local, regional, statewide, and national shifts. These communities comprise more than 100 million people, often living near toxic, climate polluting energy infrastructure or other facilities. As racially oppressed and/or economically marginalized groups, these communities have suffered disproportionately from the impacts of pollution and the ecological crisis, and share deep histories of struggle in every arena, including organizing, mass direct action, electoral work, cultural revival, and policy advocacy.” [5]


Also worth noting is “Indigenous ready for New York, despite UN's hand picked participants.” [6]


And, “Religions for the Earth: A Multifaith Service on Sunday, September 21 at 6:00pm at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025 - After the March, join people from across a range of faiths and traditions in a ritual of covenant and commission for the future of our Earth”. [7]

  • Another concern is the all-the-eggs-in-one-basket of energy systems. In other words, even if we successfully shift from fossil fuels and other high-polluting energy resources – a useful acronym provided by Wasserman is C.O.N.G. (Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) [8] – we must still consider the overall harmony and balance of Mother Earth. So as to make the point: what good would all those solar panels be if they go down in an earthquake or get ripped asunder by a hurricane.
  • With regard to “Stop Capitalism. End the Climate Crisis” from and their mention of “build an economy based on justice and sustainability,” it's a huge discussion to explore what sort of socio-economic system will actually work. I’m certainly no fan of predatory capitalism but those greedy narrow-minders are (when not making huge oil spills) damned efficient at getting stuff from place to place, so to some degree the People may have to find ways to work with the behemoth corporate entities that have, up until now, been controlling resource extractions.


The floodwallstreet site also states the goal, “to confront the corporate and economic systems that are causing the climate crisis.” Some of the speakers at their event are Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and Chris Hedges, each of whom have important things to say. Klein's new book is titled This Changes Everything. I haven't read it and while I agree the whole system needs to change and a paradigm shift is needed, I am also wary of such slogans overlooking ancient wisdoms. In other words, as “fighting” climate change may be like trying to punch the wind, it may not just be about changing everything but also remembering how to better work with what hasn't changed for millennia... water runs downhill, fire burns and heats, and the earth supports us.


Whichever way you lean with regard to the crisis (the word “climate” comes from the Greek klima: inclination, region; related to Greek klinein: to lean) may you be inclined to work WITH the Natural Forces.


Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. His newest haiku chapbook is “so many people go hungry.” He also hosts an audio show "Between the Lines: listening to literature online." You can contact him via his literary website.






1.© 2014 MariJo Moore (

2.Climate Summit 2014” 

3."Half of North America Bird Species Facing Extinction 

4.Let’s Bury King C.O.N.G. at People’s Climate March

5."Our Power Campaign” 

6.Indigenous at Climate March and World Conference

7.Religions for the Earth” 

8.Ibid #3.


© Copyright 2014 by

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