Definitely. The current crisis, the ecological crisis, the climate crisis—every single thing is connected. I think the reason why there’s such a revolution right now is because we’re seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic that the systems we have in place are failing. They are not only failing the people, but they were already failing the planet. People are waking up.
We’ve had these systems in place that were not working for BIPOC communities, marginalized communities, and low-income communities, but now, they’re starting to not work for all these other big groups, including the fossil fuel industry. We saw that during the beginning of the pandemic, when the stock market went down. And that just showed that our communities no longer rely on fossil fuels. So, BP announced that they’re going to be cutting 40 percent of their oil production.
I think this is an intergenerational issue. Young people are fighting for their future, but older generations have been fighting for longer. And so bringing that perspective and that experience is very much needed, especially since I’m still learning and growing. I don’t know everything in the world. But seeing in my lifetime—seeing this awakening but also seeing the disasters that have happened, it’s quite something.
Kevin, I’ve been doing this work for five decades as an activist and as a researcher. I’m still learning. Because I think the illusion of learning by getting a degree is you think once you’ve gone through a training to serve Empire that you are somehow superior to everyone else and can bully everyone else and can freeze your brain. I always said the mechanistic mind, the rise of coal and then oil, it fossilized the brain. What we have are these fossilized brains with PhDs walking around and trashing the evolution of ecological thought, trashing the fact that this body is an intelligent body. We have a gut that teaches us whether food is good or bad, and it’s called the second brain. Racism did to human beings what it did to the Earth: took away the life, the autonomy, the sovereign entity, the intelligence, and defined the Earth as empty of life and our bodies as empty of life.
Why is this revolution happening now? Locally, it’s been happening since the ecological destruction started, really since the ’70s. Once the World Bank started to give loans to force governments to do the wrong thing, put them in debt. And then, of course, the WTO and the global market. So, if you remember, actually, even before the youth climate movement was the youth finance movement—it was the young people who occupied Wall Street. The Occupy Wall Street movement was started by young people. They defined the terms the 1 percent and the 99 percent, and the FBI undermined that movement. My new book Oneness vs the 1% is very much inspired by their naming of this elite, the new Columbuses, as the 1 percent.
So, here were young people with student loans and no jobs. And there was the economic closure that the young people were experiencing, along with the dismantling of the welfare system and everything public. And everything common is privatized. Then, you have the idea that we’ll only need 1 percent of you—99 percent of you, you will be useless. And now, you’ve got the climate crisis, you’ve got the extinction crisis, you’ve got the disposability crisis, you’ve got the Corona epidemic. I’ve done a lot of work in India, which didn’t have diabetes on the scale it does now or cancer on the scale it does now. I started to research and found out it’s very linked to toxics and food. But it was the Corona epidemic that forced me to think of how this development model and agribusiness model was invading forests. And from the forest, we are getting new diseases, 300 new infectious diseases.
What the pandemic has done is make people understand for the first time that we are connected to the forest. We are connected to our food, to our health, and it is really one interconnected whole. You might think that every rupture is done to one space in isolation from another, but because you’re part of an interconnected whole, it comes back and hits you. And the pandemic is a big lesson for anyone who’s thinking. When the crisis was one-dimensional, like the GMO issue—there were a few of us questioning GMOs, and Monsanto unleashed paid scientists and paid journalists. It’s all in the Monsanto papers, the cases around Roundup causing cancer. And Monsanto had to pay up, it’s all evidence in court. Every one of those people attacked me because I was among the very early people to start doing impact assessment of GMOs.
At the time, it was very easy for them to spin, spin, spin, but now, they’ve caused so many multidimensional crises that it’s no longer easy. I think that’s one reason people are rising up and awakening now. They try every trick to divide and rule, they try everything. And I think the two things that we can hold onto are that we are part of the Earth and that we are one humanity. We are diverse, our diversities are precious to us, but they’re not reasons for cleavages and divisions. They’re reasons for seeking justice and seeking equality, not separation.