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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

What Climate Activists Can Learn from Honeybees

What Climate Activists Can Learn from Honeybees

Author: Reilly Capps/Friday, September 18, 2015/Categories: climate change

Photo from Utah for Bernie Sanders]

Watching Tim DeChristopher on Democracy Now got me thinking: Democracy is an odd beast. It flies, it stings, it's sweet.

At least it is when you're talking about honeybees.

Yeah boy: humans aren't the only democrats. Bees, buffaloes and monkeys, and other animals, when making a decision about where to live or build their nests, "vote" as a hive, tribe or herd. It's a jungle out there, for sure; but it's also a parliament.

Take honeybees. When searching out a new hive location, the queen picks a branch to perch on. With her as the center of a spoke, hundreds of bees fan out, searching. When one of her boys finds a sweet spot, he returns to the hive and "waggles" ...



... a dance as complicated as Snoop Dogg's "Wiggle" (NSFW, or maybe even really worth your time) ...



Why did Tim DeChristopher remind me of honeybee democracy and the "bee waggle" (and, embarrassingly, Snoop's "Wiggle")?

Because I wonder whether Democracy, even at the sophisticated level, is little more than a matter of who can waggle most zealously. In 2015, who waggles hardest? Are the most vigorous wagglers the people, or the mega-donors who shape politicians' agendas? Especially since we live in a world where money is speech? The money gets on TV more. The money pays for ads. And they entice politicians to waggle their way.

Tim DeChristopher has always waggled a different way; in 2008, he posed as a bidder at an oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City. He waggled a bidding paddle and monkey wrenched the auction. And, with the incoming Obama Administration acting as Deus ex machina, he ended up saving more 100,000 gorgeous acres from oil derrick acupuncture.

He didn't stop waggling. During 21 months in federal custody, he rattled jail cell bars. Now back in the light of day, he's waggling again. His demand is simple: leave all the oil in American public lands in the ground. Leave it in the Ground is the website. Preserving the oil the people own "would keep about 450 gigatons of carbon in the ground," DeChristopher said on Democracy Now. "We should stop issuing new leases. To put those numbers in context, Obama's clean power plan, if it worked perfectly, would reduce emissions by five gigatons by 2030. It's a major demand." To counter the demands of oil companies, he wants a face-off between the oil machine and the people. So DeChristopher just helped launch the Climate Disobedience Center, a boot camp and safe haven for modern-day Thoreaus and MLKs. He's pushing for more real, in person confrontations, more boats blocking more shipments of coal, more activists storming coal mines. More waggling. Waggling may be the only way for scientists to let the country know which way they want to go: where and how they want to build the next nest.

Here's DeChristopher on Democracy Now.



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