Against the fossil fool empire

On April 1st, people around the world will take direct action against the fossil fuel empire, declaring this traditional day of trickery Fossil Fools Day. Rising Tide, Rainforest Action Network, Global Exchange, Earth First!, and friends and allies are calling for y’all to pull a prank that packs a punch against the industries that are most responsible for climate change — the time to ramp up the level of resistance is now.

Our message is simple: to have any hope of averting cataclysmic climate change, we must stop burning fossil fuels. All the “carbon-neutral” number crunching and talk of reducing X percent of emissions by 2010, 2020, or 2050 will mean nothing if fossil fuels are still in the picture. Yet this is exactly what “progressive” politicians, corporations, and even some of the big greens are promoting. While they fool the public with slick talk of “clean coal,” hybrid cars, and carbon offsets that will make greenhouse gas emissions magically disappear, energy companies are busy building new oil and gas pipelines, tapping new wells, and constructing a new fleet of old fashioned coal power plants.

Even if there were ways to capture and permanently store the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels (which there aren’t, despite much hype about carbon sequestration), we would still reject their continued use. From the ancient mountains of Appalachia being blown to pieces for cheap coal to the tributaries of the Amazon being poisoned by oil extraction, the fossil fuel industry has brought nothing but terror, death, and destruction to the land and communities it occupies.

It is clear that the governments and corporations of the world will not solve the climate crisis, and time is running out. We must take immediate and direct action to put an end to the fossil fuel nightmare we live in, meeting the size and scale of the problem with an appropriate response. Since the only thing governing corporations is their own bottom line, we need to obstruct the fossil fuel empire to the point where the extraction and burning of oil, coal, and gas are no longer profitable ventures.

Fossil Fools Day is an invitation to take such action. We are calling on communities around the world to throw a wrench in the works of a local fossil fool. Ideas include, but are by no means limited to shutting down gas stations, blockading power plants, occupying coal mines and oil wells, home demos, Critical Mass bike rides, office occupations, targeting banks such as Bank of America and Citi that invest in coal, and disrupting new road construction.

Unfortunately we cannot simply resist fossil fuels and think we are safe. In addition to using old technologies, energy companies are already pursuing a number of new ones to feed industrial society’s insatiable hunger for energy. Nuclear power is seeing a renaissance as companies claim it to be zero emissions (it’s not). Oil companies are setting their sights on agrofuels, which promise to fill the world with more pesticides, more pollution, and best of all, less food! And of course there are the dubious scams called carbon offsets where you can pay a company to plant some trees or install windmills and they promise to “neutralize” your carbon.

The carbon offsets that you can buy do very little to actually reduce emissions. Many are based on a colonial model of “green” development in third world countries that undermine community autonomy, steal indigenous land, and destroy existing self sufficient communities. For example, tree plantations in Brazil — which are a major benefactor of carbon offset schemes — are referred to as “green deserts” by local indigenous people. That is because once biodiverse land is transformed into massive monocrops of exotic trees — paid for by rich northerners supposedly to offset their emissions — these places are off limits to hunting and food gathering. Even if they weren’t, there isn’t much to gather because most of the native plant and animal communities have been killed off. Thus we have carbon offsets not only destroying biodiversity but also actively impeding the ability of communities to live self sufficiently. Perhaps worst of all, carbon offsets perpetuate the notion that we can fight global warming without stopping our use of fossil fuels.

At best, these schemes slightly slow the impending climate collapse, and at worst actually accelerate emissions, continue our dependence on fossil fuels, amplify existing inequalities, and create new social and environmental problems. If we are to successfully fight climate change we must also resist these quick techno-fixes that seek to only fatten the wallets of the world’s elite.

The future is up to us. Thus far, the global movement for climate justice has yet to meet the urgency of the climate crisis with an equal urgency in action. That is not to say that there have not been instances of inspiring resistance. Activists in Australia have shut down the world’s largest coal export facility repeatedly. Farmers in Ireland are using civil disobedience to fight a natural gas pipeline that Shell is building on their land. Indigenous tribes throughout the Amazon physically block oil company access to their lands. In the US there has been strong resistance to new coal plants. In 2006 Earth First! and Rising Tide blockaded a coal power plant in Virginia. In northwest New Mexico people from the Dine’ tribe have occupied the site of a proposed coal plant for over a year.

It is this kind of action we hope to see erupt around the globe on April 1st and beyond. The world has seen enough activists dressed like polar bears holding signs and celebrities posing in front of melting glaciers. It is high time for us to go beyond symbolic action and disrupt business as usual for the fossil fools. A number of actions are already planned in the US and UK. We have a number of online resources, including zines and posters that can be found at and . If you are planning an open action, please let us know and we’ll help get the word out. If you’re planning a pleasant surprise for the fossil fools let us know how it went! Contact us at: