All In   |  May 15, 2013

Building a more forceful climate movement

Chris Hayes discusses the future of the climate movement with climate activist Tim DeChristopher. 

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i'm here with climate activist tim dechristopher, the subject of the new documentary film "bidder 70." he served more than two years for his protest of a rigged bureau of land management auction. i read you a quote before the break of a prosecutor talking about civil disobedience , that law is the bedrock of our civilized society and not the act committed for the cause of the day.

>> i think if it's true the law is the bedrock of our society, then the bedrock of the law is shared moral values . it's always civil disobedience , thomas jefferson said if i have to choose between citizens involved in the enforcing of the laws or breaking them, i'd choose enforcing them. the system created was if our legislature was creating laws out of line with the values of our community, people who felt passionately about that could choose to not follow those laws, take their case before a jury of their peers, who had the power to decide whether or not that person was acting justly and whether or not that law was in line with our values. it's something that's played a big role in our history with the fugitive slave act and prohibition and part of what was missing from that process. and that's not something that should be done lightly. that still involves a big risk, as it should. this certainly wasn't a decision i made lightly. it's a decision i made in the face of a global crisis that is an existential sense of our civilization, one our government was doing nothing in response to.

>> we just passed a benchmark for the carbon in the atmosphere, there's now more carbon in the atmosphere than in 800,000 years, best estimate as far back as 3 to 5 million years. do you think civil disobedience is still necessary?

>> absolutely. i think it's more necessary than ever, and we're seeing more of the climate movement embrace civil disobedience as part of a diverse movement. i think what it means when we're passing things like 400 parts per million and already seeing the impacts we are with weather impacts and melting icecaps, you know, what it means is that it's too late for any amount of emissions reductions to prevent catastrophic climate change , and that means we're committed to a path of extremely rapid change, unprecedented rapid change, and for me, looking at that period of potentially catastrophic change, it really matters who's in charge. it matters who's calling the shots if we're going down that road, and, you know, going down that road with an educated, empowered citizenry that can hold our government accountable, that's certainly a lot of hardships, but one that we can deal with.

>> you're making me feel hopeless and for the people who are watching this at home saying to themselves, look, i care about this, but i can't go to prison, i'm not going to go to prison for two years. what is the message for people watching this who are not going to go to prison for two years?

>> i don't think everybody in a movement needs to. i think people need to take a lot of different kinds of actions, and nobody can tell somebody what that kind of action is, whether it's me or bill mcgiven or any leader of any climate group out there.

>> prominent climate activist who runs a group called 350 network.

>> nobody has solved a crisis before or overthrown corporate power to the need we need to in this country. nobody has the answers of exactly what kind of actions are going to work. we can learn from the principles that are clear throughout social movement history of how people outside of the power structure have forced changes, and we need to learn from those principles, but we're also going to need a lot of creativity and a lot of people taking actions. making mistakes, if necessary, but acting knowing they have a movement behind them, a movement that's going to make their actions more powerful and a movement that's going to support them and carry them through that. that's something that i've learned from my experience. i took this action alone, but from the next day on, i wasn't alone anymore. i had that movement that supported me, that amplified my actions, and that carried me through it and that's really why it's been such a positive experience for me.

>> what's next for you?

>> well, i'm continuing as an activist. i'm on three years of probation at this point, and i'm going to spend that three years at harvard divinity school , and i see that really as an extension of my activism, not a new direction. i think a lot of the obstacles that we're facing at this point are in large part spiritual obstacles. i think we've got the resources that we need to tackle these challenges and we just need that internal power to rise up and meet that challenge.

>> "bidder 70" is opening in more theaters around the country this friday. tim dechristopher, thank you, it's really a pleasure.

>> thanks for having me.

>>> that's "all in" this evening, "the rachel maddow show" starts now.

>> thank you for having me on your show, that was