Stephen D'Arcy, Tony Weis & Toban Black
Stephen D’Arcy is an associate professor and chair in the Department of Philosophy at Huron University College. He is the author of Languages of the Unheard: The Ethics of Militant Protest (Between the Lines). He is also a climate justice and economic democracy activist.
Tony Weis is an associate professor in Geography at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming and The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock (both with Zed Books).
Toban Black is a community organizer and a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Western Ontario, with research focused on environmental justice, the political economy of energy systems, and theories of social change.
A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice
Editors: Joshua Kahn Russell, Stephen D'Arcy, Tony Weis, Toban Black • Foreword by Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 384
The fight over the tar sands in North America is among the epic environmental and social justice battles of our time, and one of the first that has managed to quite explicitly marry concern for frontline communities and immediate local hazards with fear for the future of the entire planet.
Tar sands “development” comes with an enormous environmental and human cost. But tar sands opponents—fighting a powerful international industry—are likened to terrorists, government environmental scientists are muzzled, and public hearings are concealed and rushed.
Yet, despite the formidable political and economic power behind the tar sands, many opponents are actively building international networks of resistance, challenging pipeline plans while resisting threats to Indigenous sovereignty and democratic participation. Including leading voices involved in the struggle against the tar sands, A Line in the Tar Sands offers a critical analysis of the impact of the tar sands and the challenges opponents face in their efforts to organize effective resistance.
Contributors include: Angela Carter, Bill McKibben, Brian Tokar, Christine Leclerc, Clayton Thomas-Muller, Crystal Lameman, Dave Vasey, Emily Coats, Eriel Deranger, Greg Albo, Jeremy Brecher, Jess Worth, Jesse Cardinal, Joshua Kahn Russell, Lilian Yap, Linda Capato, Macdonald Stainsby, Martin Lukacs, Matt Leonard, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Naomi Klein, Rae Breaux, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, Rex Weyler, Ryan Katz-Rosene, Sâkihitowin Awâsis, Sonia Grant, Stephen D’Arcy, Toban Black, Tony Weiss, Tyler McCreary, Winona LaDuke, and Yves Engler.
“The tar sands has become a key front in the fight against climate change, and the fight for a better future, and it’s hard to overstate the importance of the struggles it has inspired.”
—Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben
On Stephen D’Arcy’s Languages of the Unheard:
“This is a brilliant book. It brings much needed clarity to the most pressing question of our time: the nature and use of militancy in the pursuit of justice and political change. Stephen D’Arcy cuts through the rhetorical fog of the right and the left and forces us to face issues of strategy and tactics and goals head on, with both reason and passion.”
—Mark Leier, author of Bakunin: The Creative Passion
On Stephen D’Arcy’s Languages of the Unheard:
“Languages of the Unheard illuminates a fundamental truth far too many of those who flatter themselves to believe they inhabit democratic societies wish at all costs to avoid: Those who refuse by all necessary means to be silenced are the essential ingredient of democracy while those who seek to repress them comprise its very antithesis.”
—Ward Churchill, author, Pacifism as Pathology
On Joshua Kahn Russell's Organizing Cools the Planet:
“Organizing Cools the Planet offers some of the most engaged and original thinking about the dynamics of social movement organizing that we have seen in a long time. It urges all of us to reach beyond the limitations of often-insular activist networks and create genuinely collaborative relationships across barriers of age, race and class.”
—Brian Tokar, ZNet
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- A Line in the Tar Sands: Publishers Weekly
- A Line in the Tar Sands: Rabble.ca
- A Line in the Tar Sands excerpt: Socialist Project
- Organizing Cools the Planet: Znet
A Line in the Tar Sands: A Review
Academics, environmental scientists, and climate-change activists from across North America rail against the extraction of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and controversial developments such as the Keystone XL pipeline, in this collection of pointed essays. It’s a fight that Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben here call one of “the epic environmental and social justice battles of our time,” and the variety of perspectives gives the collection comprehensive insight and broad appeal. The book’s tone is intense and emphatic. Extracting tar sands from the Athabasca River Basin in western Canada, the authors say, destroys the environment, affecting huge portions of boreal forest and numerous animal habitats. The essays also make clear how extraction practices have the potential to create an ecological wasteland reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mordor, threatening “the homelands of Cree, Dene, and Metis peoples.” Similarly, transporting crude oil to faraway refineries through a network of pipelines also poses significant health risks: local communities see elevated rates of cancers and respiratory illnesses due to air-quality issues and water contamination. Though these sorts of projections seem stark, apocalyptic, and stomach-turning, the worries are legitimate and give this volume substance and urgency.
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Why we need to win the battle over the tar sands
By Brad Hornick
October 2nd, 2014
As if responding to this desperate need to hurry the inauguration of a new historical era, Stephen D'Arcy, Toban Black, Tony Weis and Joshua Kahn Russell, editors of A Line in the Tar Sands, bring together the voices of activists and academics to argue "peoples' movements will either succeed in transforming our economic and political systems to build a new world, or we will burn with the old one."
This argument, cemented by Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben stating "the fight over the tar sands is among the epic environmental and social justice battles of our time" in the opening pages, suggests the very active tar sands struggle is no less than a life-and-death battle for the future of the planet.
It is a battle that pits these peoples' movement against the largest and most destructive industrial project -- a project driven by the big the most profitable and powerful transnational energy corporations: ExxonMobile, British Petroleum, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Sinopec.
A Line in the Tar Sands: Excerpt
November 10th, 2014
Of all possible futures, the least likely is one in which business as usual continues unabated. Peoples’ movements will either succeed in transforming our economic and political systems to build a new world, or we will burn with the old one.
Our title invokes a metaphor of uncompromising resistance because the tar sands are an environmental injustice of the highest order. A ‘Line in the Sand’ means: it has gone this far, but no further. We are confronting an industry that is worth trillions of dollars, and is driven by some of the largest corporations on Earth, which have no goals that are any nobler than maximizing short-term profits and growth. The fight to stop this industry is clearly one of the epic challenges of our age, and only serious and sustained mobilization can turn the tide.
Organizing Cools the Planet: Tools and Reflections to Navigate the Climate Crisis
by Brian Tokar
October 15, 2011
Hilary Moore and Joshua Kahn-Russell’s new booklet, Organizing Cools the Planet, recounts those experiences, and offers some of the most engaged and original thinking about the dynamics of social movement organizing that we have seen in a long time. It urges all of us to reach beyond the limitations of often-insular activist networks and create genuinely collaborative relationships across barriers of age, race and class.
In an insightful, but also very accessible and conversational manner, the authors challenge our understanding of alliance-building, collaboration, and our accountability to the communities most affected by environmental problems. They urge us to act, not out of guilt or ideological fervor, but out of genuine solidarity and engaged relationships of trust, and offer numerous helpful tools to encourage our thinking and activist praxis toward that goal.