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What's the most powerful form of energy in the history of human civilization?

"We humans," says Gopal Dayaneni, "figured out that there's this incredibly powerful, highly flexible, extremely plentiful form of energy. And we concentrated, controlled and exploited it, and unleashed it on the rest of the world. And it made possible everything about the world we live in today."

Dayaneni is a member of Movement Generation, a Bay Area organization that works on "strategic planning for action" and works "for economic and racial justice in communities of color."

Hint: it's not oil, coal or nuclear energy.

It's human labour. That's the pool of carbon that matters; it's life itself. It's the exploitation, the extraction of our own work from the web of life and subordinating it to the chains of the market that have created the conditions that we now are up against. It's that pool of carbon that's been wielded like a chainsaw against the rest of the natural world, and has made the unleashing of oil, of fossil fuels, of industrial development, of all of these things on the world. And so we started there. The first rule of ecological restoration is the restoration of our labour. It's not just about making right in ecosystems, it's being right in ecosystems."

Dayanenni's talk, part of a public exchange with Rob Hopkins of the Transition Towns movement, is a call to put social relations -- and social justice -- at the heart of organizing to prevent climate change. "Social inequity," he says, "will inevitably lead to ecological erosion, and ecological erosion will kick us off the planet."

The whole thing is online. Dayanenni starts at the 36 minute mark.

For more about Climate Justice, check out the Dominion's Special Issue on Climate Justice, which includes infographics and frontline reporting that link struggles for equality with struggles for a livable planet.

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dru (Dru Oja Jay)
Member since January 2008


Writer, organizer, Media Co-op co-founder. Co-author of Paved with Good Intentions and Offsetting Resistance.

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