Media and Eco-Activism

Today we consider the intersection of media and direct action in the field of environmentalism.

Artist Groups plus Direct Action as News Event

  • The Yes Men = example of a group that leverage the news media in order to to influence public opinion.
  • Strategy = create a newsworthy event through hoax, stunts, theater, performance
  • Typically event = symbolic public action/direct action
  • Audience 1 (local), Audience 2 (news audience)
  • Note: quick media-savvy response to Yes Men
  • Another example, Critical Art EnsembleTactical Media and Eco Projects

Direct Action Groups who use Media

  • Activist Groups whose activities may include civil disobediance, law-breaking, “climate disobediance,” sabotage and arson: e.g. Earth First!, PETA, Greenpeace, also ELF and ALF (Earth and Animal Liberation Front)
  • Connections to strategies of peaceful protest – moral persuasion not power
    • Early roots  – e.g.  Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955) as part of US civil rights movements, Gandhi etc.
    • Sits ins, street theater
  • Connections to strategies of violent protest: e.g. Stonewall, Black Panther Party
  • Known as Radical Environmentalism, Deep Ecology, Eco-terrorism
    • latter term is controversial, jumps on bandwagon of fear of terrorism
    • Some people/groups accused of eco-terrorism
  • Canny use of Media, news events, creation of own media, maintaining of image

Fossil Fuels

  • Shut It Down Today October 11, 2016, 5 activists shut down Tar Sands pipeline
    • Ken Ward arrested, tried but not found guilty by jury
  • Earth First! and Earth First! Journal, story on NY pipeline
    • Note: Journal not organization, structured anonymously to avoid prosecution
    • “When the law won’t fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!’s direct-action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives.”
    • Eco-prisoner list

Factory Farming

Rain Forest Protection

Direct Action/Front Lines reported as News Event

What news outlets are focusing on environmental issues? What is the total Media coverage of climate change? ICE CaPs Figures. (International Collective on Environment, Culture and Politics , University of Colorado Boulder)

Environmentalists v. workers 

  • Naomi Klein makes the point that livelihoods are often pitted against environmental goals
    • loggers v. environmentalists
    • fishermen v. environmentalists (e.g. Mexico in March)
    • miners v. environmentalists
  • Hopeful Story of environmentalists/potential loggers working together