Editorial policy and the importance of this movement

by Milan on February 24, 2010

in Activism, Civil disobedience, Climate change

One substantial obstacle that has arisen in establishing this site has been the concern potential contributors feel about providing content for a site with these aims – encouraging people and governments to leave coal and unconventional oil and gas in the ground.

My personal feeling is that history will redeem this effort. People decades from now will not be questioning why a few people were arguing to keep carbon underground. Rather, they will be questioning why those in power did not take the possibility seriously.

My personal feeling is that averting catastrophic or runaway climate change is necessary for achieving all other human ambitions. We cannot achieve our aspirations in the arts or sciences unless we have a planet that remains habitable for human beings.

I can understand why people are hesitant to step forward and contribute here. Given that, I pledge the following:

  1. In situations where contributors are unwilling to be publicly associated with their statements, I will publish them under my own name, provided they are defensible statements with a solid basis in evidence or logic.
  2. I will undertake to make the true authors of these contributions untraceable to those who might punish the contributors. This pledge is subject to the limitations of my technical capability and ingenuity.

In the end, I cannot promise to anyone that they will suffer no repercussions as a result of contributing. What I can offer with complete sincerity is my extreme concern about what greenhouse gas emissions might do to life on Earth. If expressing that concern causes problems for me, I am willing to accept those problems. Even if concerns about greenhouse gases prove to be overblown, in the course of time, we have more than enough reason to respond to those concerns with alarm and advocacy now.

We have the opportunity now to kick off a social movement on par with the civil rights movement in the United States after the second world war. That said, this movement is not primarily about the welfare of those alive now. It is about the potentially endless generations that will follow, and the kind of world they will inhabit.

For their sake, I ask for your support.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan February 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

A couple of footnotes to that:

Firstly, I don’t mean to suggest that this site itself is likely to generate a movement. I just hope it contributes to the development of one in society more broadly.

Secondly, I haven’t worked out all the details of how this policy will work in practice. Quite probably, it will vary according to the specific concerns of different contributors.

Thirdly, if this approach doesn’t successfully address the concerns of hesitant people, I will carry on and try something else. Obviously, switching to something new would not involve identifying anyone who contributed under this system.

Anon February 25, 2010 at 8:14 am

Why not just let people write posts with no bylines? Plenty of newspapers refrain from identifying the authors of individual articles.

Milan February 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

I have no objection to that, and it is less potentially confusing than putting up other peoples’ contributions using my own byline.

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