When I first came across this piece last week, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. At first I took it to be one of many militant radical callouts for action on climate change, but then I read the names at the bottom – Bill McKibbon (350.org), Phil Radford (Greenpeace USA) and
Becky Tarbotton, (Rainforest Action Network). As far as the big green NGOs go, these are big names. And while I’m usually sceptical of these large groups, I can’t deny that the direction they’re taking is inspiring, to say the least.

We worry that we may have waited too long to get this battle going in earnest; the science is dark, and the politics are tough. But we know, from watching our inspiring colleagues around the world who are facing great dangers head-on, that the best time to act is now. Over the coming weeks, each of our organizations, working together and individually, will be pursuing a variety of strategies to try and spark more mass, direct action.

These calls have been echoed in recent days by the President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. Facing rising tides, the Maldives is striving to become the first carbon-neutral country, and Nasheed is now calling on the people of the world to repeat the 1960s radicalism of the Civil Rights era to combat climate change.

Climate change has become a virtual industry of consultants, reports, and summits. Though millions have been spent on “carbon markets” and other schemes, we’ve seen little change in the world’s reliance on fossil fuels, or the dedication of governments to it. Ten more years of studies isn’t going to accomplish any more than the last ten, or the ten before that. We need to break this cycle.

There are many ways to fight climate change directly – we can take the old-fashioned route of blocking roads and entrances to coal plants and oil refineries. We can spread alternative technologies (like organic gardening, Earthbuilding etc). We can sequester carbon organically in soils. And we can directly target the institutions responsible for climate change – governments and corporations. Direct Action has one simple rule: do it. Don’t wait, don’t ask, don’t beg, and don’t simply “make a statement”.

The world is changing, fast. And people, in general, are taking a far less passive role. Is this a return to the 1960s and 1970s radicalism? I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there. What I do know is that as long as I can remember, there’s been little popular acknowledgement that “protests” can change anything. Now there is, and that changes everything.

In the next few months, we may well see a different kind of climate change grip our world. Spring is coming, and most of the (now very cold) industrialized world has been waiting and watching the Mediterranean revolt for two months now. And as the warm weather comes, we’re going to see a few hundred million people suddenly become far more comfortable taking the streets.