Ashley Anderson, a political science undergraduate at the University of Utah and activist with Peaceful Uprising (PeacefulUprising.org), a Utah-based group committed to fighting climate change, attended the climate conference lin Copenhagen, Denmark in December. The United Nations conference ended with no binding agreement to reduce global carbon emissions. Anderson says nonviolent protest is an American tradition. However, he did not attend a Dec. 30 Salt Lake City “scream-in” organized to protest the failure in Copenhagen.
Why didn’t you attend the “scream-in”?
The greatest chance for saving our planet’s future was a complete disaster, and a lot of people are going through a healing process. I already bawled my eyes out in Copenhagen. The reason I’m not [going to the scream-in] is I’m already on the next step. I don’t mourn; I organize. I’ll be ready for everyone to jump in when they’re done.
What’s with the ball outfit?
This is a Survivaball. I was working with [activist filmmakers] The Yes Men in Copenhagen. It’s a prop from their movie that represents an option that very rich people have in the face of catastrophic climate change to protect themselves.
What did you learn in Copenhagen?
In the U.S., it feels like climate-change deniers are half of the world, but they’re not.
The rest of the world is trying to get their shit together. If Copenhagen taught us anything, it’s that our leaders aren’t in charge. We’re hyper-aware of the corporate stranglehold on our democracy and the democracies of the world.
What is your post-Copenhagen strategy?
Our strategy will be fiercer and more highly networked. We did everything we could within the conventional system, and we can be proud of that. But there’s a general agreement among youth leaders in this country that we’ve moved to a place where we’ll now create our own rules.
By “fiercer,” are you referring to actions like those of Peaceful Uprising member Tim DeChristopher?
We’ll do what it takes to make a statement to make the change necessary. But we’ll always be peaceful.
You believe this fierceness will be deployed through a wider network?
Leaders from the across the country met in close quarters [in Copenhagen] and got to know each other. Different groups with different aims are now seamlessly forming a response to our leaders. We’re seizing a common aim and nurturing that as we speak.