[Warning: This is not advocating violence.] [I can just say that, right?]
“I call it a ‘bloop gun’,” said Phil, handing the awkward-looking thing to me. I looked at it, taking in the huge pair of barrels, gunstock, trigger, CO2 pressure tank, and gunsight that resembled that of an M-79 grenade launcher. A closer look revealed that it was a gunsight from an M-79. But this thing looked like a double-barreled blunderbuss, not a grenade launcher. “… here’s the ammo.” He held out a handful of stuff. It looked like a pair of golf balls, because it was a pair of golf balls. But there were eyebolts screwed into them, a cord, some hose, what the heck? I enjoy building stuff, and have dabbled in weapons, but I couldn’t immediately figure the bloop gun out – the ammo looked like, or rather was, a sort of giant bola connected with a long piece of carbon fiber cord sleeved in what looked like aquarium hose.
“Ok, let’s hear the pitch,” I said, turning the bloop gun over and looking underneath at the divided pressure regulator and single trigger. The damn thing was nonsense, it appeared to be a single shot double-barreled something. What the fuck? I followed Phil over to the porch of the hunting lodge, where there was pizza and beer laid out, and the others were already tearing into the food and drink.
“The first rule of fight club is, you don’t write anything down,” Phil explained. The others nodded, as Phil took the bloop gun from me and stowed it in a shoulder-sock that looked a lot like a carrier for a camping tent that had been repurposed. “The second rule is, we don’t really know eachother, and we don’t coordinate or plan.” I nodded slowly and, now that my hands were free, grabbed a slice of pizza and a hard cider. I casually waved to the others, who were a collection of nerdy-looking outdoorsy types. “The third rule is, any time you’re doing anything, you leave your smart phone with someone else, so it’s on the grid, but not here. Uh, you did do that, right?” Again, I nodded. My phone was in a ziploc bag in the back of a friend’s pickup truck, going to and from the house I’d been working on renovating. This was getting mysteriouser and mysteriouser and I’m not fond of sekrit skwirrel stuff because usually it just means someone is going to get in trouble.
“Is this a criminal conspiracy?” I asked in a mild tone.
“It could be,” Phil said. There was some laughter, and one of the women – a lanky outdoorsy type wearing hiking boots, sunglasses, an Australian hat, and some other stuff – grinned hugely and held up an affirmative thumb. “I suppose I’ve invited you all here to convince you to become terrorists.” Phil started pouring on the charm; I’ve experienced Phil trying to be convincing before and he’d actually make a pretty good charismatic terror cell leader, come to think of it.
“Since we’re not writing anything down, I’ll just run through the big picture, then we can drill into questions. OK?” Nods around the group, and a few more slices of pizza were picked up and sent to their doom. “Right, so, I know you are all ‘doomers’ like myself, who believe that climate change is inevitable, and humanity is going to screw itself. And, that our political and economic system is structured so that the likelihood of being able to rein in carbon emissions is effectively zero, because the US – which sets the tone for carbon emissions worldwide – realizes that stepping away from fossil fuels is going to have an economic effect that the people who actually run the country will never take seriously. So, the idea here is simple: we use extralegal methods to adjust the cost/benefit equation for fossil fuels. We do it openly, and try to trigger a popular movement with copycats, and we try to make it personally and financially less desirable to exploit fossil fuels than to use renewables. Some of this will be a media campaign, other parts will be personal interventions, and industrial monkeywrenching.”
“Personal interventions?” I asked.
“PETA lost a lot of public support when they started throwing blood/paint at people in furs, because their targets were non-specific. Anyone wearing a fur, including loud, vapid, Hollywood types, felt targeted. The idea here is somewhat similar, except actions would be accompanied with press releases explaining who was targeted and why: oil company executives, executives who supply security for pipelines, oil company pseudo-scientists who promote global warming skepticism, security officers who beat down protesters – that kind of thing. We start off with some press releases explaining our targeting plan and the reasoning behind it, then – we start adjusting the value proposition of holding those jobs. Make it so they feel unsafe to go outside and enjoy their lives, put them in a state of siege, deny them the comfort of their wealth, and make them dangerous to hang out with. We’ll be doing a lot of drone reconnaissance and strikes – if we catch some oil company exec going out in public, we hit them with a bag full of diesel fuel. The implications of where that could escalate will be clear enough without our having to say anything at all. But we might say ‘hey, you may get splash damage if you hang out with these people.’ We also have some people researching ways to remotely disable some of the computers in gas-guzzling sports cars and private jets. A plague of non-functioning failures that don’t hurt anyone directly will focus attention on the fact that a lot of our targets produce the emissions equivalents of a third world city, personally. Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, etc. – a lot of these people own multiple jets and consider commercial aviation to be like taking the bus. Nobody gets killed or injured but let them explain how they’re inconvenienced by having to show some climate responsibility. But, mostly, the whole program is about changing the cost/benefit equation – if some star can’t predict that they’ll be able to fly in comfort and luxury, they’ll either have to go back to living like a normal American (which is bad enough) or be constantly looking over their shoulder. That’s the ‘personal interventions’ part.”
“Right, so we’d be hunted by some very angry and powerful people,” I added as drily as I could, “I see the appeal. Where does the bloop gun fit in? Are we going to bloop some people who have secret service assassins guarding them?”
“No, the bloop gun is going to be our opening move, as it were,” Phil paused and took a bit of pizza, then resumed, “I figure you were able to suss out the components pretty quickly. It’s a bola gun that shoots a carbon-fiber strung bola. The vinyl hose is the timer system. Someone just goes for a hike with a tent bag over their shoulder, to where there are elevated high voltage lines coming from a coal-fired power plant. Then, they shoot a bloop so it makes contact across the cables, and leave. We’re still calibrating the hose but it looks like it’ll take two or three months of UV from the sun, then start to crumble. Once the carbon fiber completes a circuit across the cables, it’ll short them out, heat up mighty quick and – since carbon won’t melt – it’ll saw through the wires. The press releases will basically be, ‘look we aren’t attacking your power grid, we’re just making coal-fired power a lot more expensive, as a kind of uninvited ‘externality’ – if you shut the coal down and replace it with renewables we won’t be disabling those.’ A drone carrying a drag-line of carbon fiber over a transformer field is a more dramatic option. We’ll build a few drones from scratch using Chinese components and local RF-only headsets for control, so we don’t have to worry about a smart phone or drone GPS log. We may also drop a few cans of diesel on some oil billionaires’ mansions, as a sort of premeditational warning to boost the cost of security for those people.”
“The last part is that we need to operate independently. We’re going to get hunted as terrorists and the establishment will stop at nothing to crucify us. That means that communications are, basically, out of the question. So, we get on the same page, now, and then each of us goes forth and recruits a ‘cell’, does their own planning, and executes on it, possibly creating new cells if it makes sense. Once we go operational, nobody recruits anyone, because the FBI is going to have a million plants out trying to get embedded with us. The only way to keep from being penetrated is to only recruit now, for the next year, and then that’s it: we go to battle with what we’ve got. Since there’s no central committee or plan, and if any of us get caught we have to be ideologically consistent and unapologetic. If we get caught, we go for maximum media circus and the message is ‘for every one of us you catch, a dozen more will rise up.’ The big pitch is that we’re doing all this in self-defense: the government is not doing its job, someone has to, we’re the good guys, the bad guys are the oil companies, etc. Unapologetic as hell, ‘we’re only doing this because none of you are taking effective action and the police are on the side of the fossil fuel companies.’ We’ve got a couple members who are plugged in with the media, and they’ll handle all the messaging and press releases independently.”
“How do we coordinate that? Won’t our command/control be detectable?” I couldn’t help it, this sort of problem always gets my brain churning.
“Oh, it’s easy,” Phil was a bit chuffed, “since the messaging team know the ideological angle we take on everything, they do the releases after something has gone down, in the form of a release ‘from the central planning committee’ or a public statement. They’re really plugged in with the media and watch the news-feeds, as soon as they hear that so-and-so’s jet stopped working and they had a shitfit on the runway, they’ll issue a statement that basically ‘yeah, we did that…’ Maybe they’ll get a few things wrong, but that’ll just feed some conspiracies. It appears as though the national security establishment has gotten pretty good at finding inter-communications and command/control, so we have to just not have any to find. Let them look. The fact is that eventually one or more of us will get caught, and then they switch over to media circus mode and our plants in the mainstream press can try to get them interviews and promote them as environmental visionaries or whistle-blowers or whatever. This is a war to the death.”
I jerked a thumb at the bloop gun, “I can already think of improvements on that. I’m in. I didn’t want to die in my own bed, anyway.”