by Ashley Dawson
A global account of the grassroots environmental movements on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Environmentalism from Below takes readers inside the popular struggles for environmental liberation in the Global South. These communities--among the most vulnerable to but also least responsible for the climate crisis--have long been at the forefront of the fight to protect imperiled worlds. Today, as the world's forests burn and our oceans acidify, grassroots movements are tenaciously defending the environmental commons and forging just and sustainable ways of living on Earth.
Scholar and activist Ashley Dawson constructs a gripping narrative of these movements of climate insurgents, from international solidarity organizations like La Via Campesina and Shack Dwellers International to local struggles in South Africa, Colombia, India, Nigeria, and beyond. Taking up the four critical challenges we face in a warming world--food, urban sustainability, energy transition, and conservation--Dawson shows how the unruly power of environmentalism from below is charting an alternative path forward, from challenging industrial agriculture through fights for food sovereignty and agroecology to resisting extractivism using mass nonviolent protest and sabotage.
An urgent, essential intervention, Environmentalism from Below offers a hopeful alternative to the gridlock of UN-based climate negotiations and the narrow nationalism of some Green New Deal efforts. As Dawson reminds us, the fight against ecocide is already being waged worldwide. Building on longstanding traditions of anticolonial struggle, environmentalism from below is a model for a people's movement for climate justice--one that demands solidarity.
"Though debates rage on the climate left about what language or strategy ought to be taken in order to confront the climate crisis, those involved in such conversations frequently seem to have their minds in the clouds and no grounded connection to existing class struggles. Dawson stands these critics on their head by foregrounding the wildly diverse, actually-existing, and ineluctably global people's movements for climate justice. In these scattered movements of urban squatters, migrants, industrial workers, peasant farmers, feminists, and Indigenous nations, one finds more comprehensive strategies for confronting imperialism and capitalism; which are the roots of environmental crises. Environmentalism From Below is a readable, practical and inspiring guide to building ecological counterpower." -- Kai Bosworth, author of Pipeline Populism: Grassroots Environmentalism in the 21st Century
"A global account of the grassroots environmental movements on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Scholar and activist Ashley Dawson constructs a gripping narrative of these movements of climate insurgents, from international solidarity organisations like La Via Campesina and Shack Dwellers International to local struggles in South Africa, Colombia, India, Nigeria and beyond. Building on longstanding traditions of anticolonial struggle, Environmentalism from Below is a model for a people's movement for climate justice - one that demands solidarity." -- Green Left
About the Author:
Ashley Dawson is a professor of English at the Graduate Center / City University of New York and the College of Staten Island. He is the author of People's Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons, Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change, and Extinction: A Radical History. A member of the Public Power NY campaign and the founder of the CUNY Climate Action Lab, he is a long-time climate justice activist.