What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Climate Justice

Beacon Press, 2015

. . .

“An impassioned call to action, offering a deep well of wisdom for any person coming to terms with the climate crisis.” —Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

“In this powerful treatise …. [Stephenson] convincingly presents climate change as the definitive global environmental justice issue of our day.” —Robert D. Bullard, author of Dumping in Dixie and co-author of The Wrong Complexion for Protection

“This is a young, fascinating, in-motion movement, and Wen Stephenson captures it with grace and power. I learned a good deal about things I thought I already understood.” —Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org; author of The End of Nature, Eaarth, and Falter

.   .   .

Excerpts:

Preface

Chapter 3. Organizing for Survival

from Chapter 6. Too Late for What?

.   .   .

What We're Fighting for Now Is Each OtherAn urgent, on the-ground look at some of the “new American radicals” who have laid everything on the line to build a stronger climate justice movement.

The science is clear: catastrophic climate change, by any humane definition, is upon us. At the same time, the fossil-fuel industry has doubled down, economically and politically, on business as usual. We face an unprecedented situation—a radical situation. As an individual of conscience, how will you respond?

In 2010, journalist Wen Stephenson woke up to the true scale and urgency of the catastrophe bearing down on humanity, starting with the poorest and most vulnerable everywhere, and confronted what he calls “the spiritual crisis at the heart of the climate crisis.” Inspired by others who refused to retreat into various forms of denial and fatalism, he walked away from his career in mainstream media and became an activist, joining those working to build a transformative movement for climate justice in America.

In What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other, Stephenson tells his own story and offers an up-close, on-the-ground look at some of the remarkable and courageous people—those he calls “new American radicals”—who have laid everything on the line to build and inspire this fast-growing movement: old-school environmentalists and young climate-justice organizers, frontline community leaders and Texas tar-sands blockaders, Quakers and college students, evangelicals and Occupiers. Most important, Stephenson pushes beyond easy labels to understand who these people really are, what drives them, and what they’re ultimately fighting for. He argues that the movement is less like environmentalism as we know it and more like the great human-rights and social-justice struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from abolitionism to civil rights. It’s a movement for human solidarity.

This is a fiercely urgent and profoundly spiritual journey into the climate-justice movement at a critical moment—in search of what climate justice, at this late hour, might yet mean.

Praise

“Impassioned, provocative, beautifully written.”
—Mark Hertsgaard, Daily Beast

“In this harrowing, compelling call to action, Stephenson argues for radicalism, for a moral and even spiritual awakening similar to what fueled 19th century abolitionism.”
—Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“Thoughtful and self-aware…Stephenson grapples with the existential threat of environmental catastrophe by turning his gaze outward, onto the foot soldiers of the young and growing climate justice movement.”
—Chris Bentley, Chicago Tribune

“At its heart, this book is about a transformative social movement that is desperately needed and might just already be here.”
—Caroline Selle, Orion

“Readers will feel that they’ve traveled along with Stephenson and will likely be as transformed as he was as they think about what they might contribute to the environmental movement.”
Booklist

“Wen Stephenson has written nothing less than a love letter to the student organizers, preachers, and frontline fighters struggling for climate justice across the United States. Together, these portraits coalesce into an impassioned call to action, offering a deep well of wisdom for any person coming to terms with the climate crisis.”
—Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

“This is a young, fascinating, in-motion movement, and Wen Stephenson captures it with grace and power. I learned a good deal about things I thought I already understood.”
—Bill McKibben, co-founder 350.org

“In this powerful treatise, Wen Stephenson chronicles the convergence of climate activism and human rights struggles in frontline communities viewed through a climate justice lens. He convincingly presents climate change as the definitive global environmental justice issue of our day.”
—Robert D. Bullard, author of Dumping in Dixie and co-author of The Wrong Complexion for Protection

“To take the climate crisis seriously is to take it personally, to let it shake your soul. Wen Stephenson has done that, in a book that beautifully intertwines his own story with the stories of other Americans who encounter the endangered world with the better angels of their nature. This is a profound, soul-stirring exploration by a twenty-first century abolitionist who, when he warns that it’s too late, means that it’s not too late.”
—Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties and Occupy Nation

“It has been often said that the fight against climate disruption needs stories and heroes to bring the struggle to life. Well, look no further than Wen Stephenson’s What We’re Fighting for Now is Each Other. This glorious, moving telling creates a narrative that can inspire a movement for deep change before it is too late.”
—James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy

“In this lucid, compelling and deeply moving book, Wen Stephenson invites the reader to confront the same stark question that he himself had to confront: given the climate crisis now unfolding around me, what are my sources of hope and what shall I do with the time I’ve been given?  This marvelous book charts a path to social and political transformation that springs from a spiritual awakening to the power of love.”
—Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Ph.D., Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts