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Advice for Joining the Climate Justice Movement:

Introduction by Bill McKibben:

This book is wonderful for its straightforwardness and simplicity. Cynthia Kaufman doesn’t claim to break new ground, but the truth is that new ground doesn’t need to be broken. We know most of what we need to know about climate change—its causes, dangers, and solutions. What we need is a commitment to fight, and a plan for making that fight effective. What we need is a way past the barriers—structural, political, psychological—that keep us locked on what is frankly a suicidal path. And these are precisely what this book supplies.

 I wrote what is often called the first book on global warming, way back in 1989. Even then we knew pretty much what would happen if we kept burning gas, oil, and coal. But we also believed, I think, that if the facts were known, then the powers-that-be would begin to act with the speed and courage the science required. That turned out to be wrong. Though we quickly won the scientific argument, we continued to lose the fight, because the fight wasn’t about data and evidence. Instead, like most fights, it was about money and power, and the fossil fuel industry possessed those in quantities sufficient to carry the day.

 Their power cost us thirty crucial years. But by now we see the scope of the crisis so clearly (see it in the flames, the floods, the rising oceans) that huge numbers of people want to act. And increasingly we see the villains in this drama for what they are: we understand that the oil companies, and the giant banks that lend them their money, are willing to break the planet in order to extend their business models a few more decades.

That clarity doesn’t make the task at hand easy, but it does make it simple. And Kaufman’s genius lies in explaining how to go about that task. How to join together in the multi-racial, intergenerational coalitions that can hold power accountable; how to bring the message of a positive future that can motivate more people to act; how to break through our own psychological obstacles and free ourselves to act as we must.

I don’t know if we will succeed—the scariest element here is the short time that physics is giving us to act. But I do know, from years of organizing around the world, that we will fight. And I know that books like this—based on real word experience of many battles—will help us understand what that fight must look like. It is a gift to all of us at work in this battle (and a great gift to give to anyone you want to bring on board!)”

Bill McKibben, Author of Falter


The Sea Is Rising and So Are We is a rare kind of book, at once a primer for activists and an astute commentary on a set of critical topics that even a seasoned climate stalwart could benefit from. It takes on some really tough questions—transformational change, how to talk about the emergency, the need for a specifically global politics of climate justice—and it does in a manner that is both simple and sophisticated. It’s not an easy balance, but Kaufman pulls it off.” —Tom Athanasiou, author of Dead Heat: Global Justice and Global Warming

“In The Sea Is Rising and So Are We Cynthia Kaufman has provided us with a vital manual for confronting the climate crisis and its root causes. Kaufman offers compelling analysis, a comprehensive mapping of the political landscape, and practical guidance for action—all in a straightforward and accessible manner. Most importantly, she offers hope.” —Tony Roshan Samara, program director of land use and housing at Urban Habitat

“Cynthia Kaufman’s The Sea Is Rising and So Are We challenges us to focus our attention on the powerful actors and structures that are at the root of our current climate crisis. In this moment of rapid transformation, Kaufman pushes us to see the reality of the situation we are in while providing concrete examples of actions that are already being taken and ways that people with diverse talents and interests can all contribute to creating a sustainable world. As a teacher of undergraduate courses on public policy, environmental politics, and community organizing. I welcome this work that seamlessly weaves together all of those elements in a profound yet accessible way.” —Lena Jones, board member of Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy and political science instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

“Racial justice and anti-capitalism need to be core to the movement to stop climate destruction. By focusing on challenging the entrenched interests that are driving human society toward destruction, this book points us toward the kinds of solutions that we need to throw our hearts and souls into with as much energy as we can mobilize.” —Eddie Yuen, coauthor of Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth and Confronting Capitalism: Dispatches from a Global Movement.

“Cynthia Kaufman’s The Sea Is Rising and So Are We is a valuable overview of where we as a species are in the existential fight to prevent catastrophic climate disruption. It covers a lot, from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment of our situation to the need for a personally supportive movement culture to sustain our climate activism. It is an accessible, up-to date resource both for those who have been in the climate fight for decades and those who know they need to do so but haven’t yet figured out how.” —Ted Glick, author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War.


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