The Great Texas Freeze: Lessons One Year Later

After the ruthless 2021 energy blackout in Texas, Movement Generation offers up a path towards avoiding repeated collapses of the energy grid.

By Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, Gopal Dayaneni, and Mateo Nube
Artwork: Jackie Fawn ig@jackiefawn

The visibility of ecological crisis is increasing every day.  Last year’s cold snap in Texas, and the corollary collapse of its energy infrastructure, was but one example of this fact.  Humanity is up against the limits of nature’s ability to tolerate globalized industrial production.

What actions would better position Texans to navigate the next super storm in a favorable manner? Furthermore, how should we reimagine and reconstruct energy systems around the country, so that these dance in a regenerative rhythm with our planet’s life support systems?

The clock is ticking, and we need to make new meaning out of this pivotal moment in planetary history.  We can no longer tinker around the edges of an ever-expanding crisis: Tackling this reality with clarity may be the biggest and boldest challenge our species has ever faced.

Here are some important strategic frameworks, formulated by Movement Generation, that we think will help us meet the challenge:

Harnessing Shocks & Directing Slides:

Instability has become a defining feature of our times.  In many ways, this instability is the new landscape of social struggle.  It is useful to classify the economic and ecological disruptions that make up this “new normal” of instability into two groups: shocks and slides.

Shocks present themselves as acute moments of disruption. These are, for example, market crashes, huge disasters and uprisings.  Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Katrina were shocks.  The Fukushima nuclear disaster was a shock.  9/11 was a shock.  Covid-19 was a shock.

Slides, on the other hand, are incremental by nature. They can be catastrophic, but they are not experienced as acute. Sea level rise is a slide.  Rising unemployment is a slide.  The disappearing snow pack and ground water supply in California, which props up industrial agriculture in the state, is a slide.

While they share a set of root causes, the scale, pace and implications of shocks and slides differ and, therefore require different responses by social movements. One of our key roles, as organizers and social actors, must be to harness the shocks and direct the slides – all towards achieving the systemic, cultural and psychic shifts we need to navigate the changes with the greatest equity, resilience and ecological restoration possible.

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