To me, Extinction Rebellion are doing a great job, they are putting forward a very positive yet protesting message that many of us were trying to tell people in the 1980s; that the political and economic elite have failed us and because of this our planet and life on it is suffering.
It is so obvious that climate change is happening, that the animal and plant life is suffering, that nature is being changed by us and how we live. We need change and Extinction Rebellion (XR) are putting themselves forward with direct and peaceful protests, positive protests within which they are using an anarchic love that goes beyond politics.
I attended a talk at Triton Square in London in July 2019 where one of XR’s founding members Sam Knights and filmmaker Jack Cooper Stimpson talked about the future of our planet reminding us that; “We can chose between where we are currently going which is a world that is embroiled in fascism, mass death, in genocide in deaths that we are seeing across the world or we can rebel and we can chose to resist and we can chose to take a stand against the unjust systems that are condemning us all to die.”
They discussed activism in a ‘rebellious way’ using different forms such as art as a direct way to protest, using this as a means to get the message out about the current science, but not in an alarmist fashion but by non-violence disobedience, this began in April 2018 and the movement grew.
XR was lucky enough to become a vehicle to determine and effect change starting with disruptive action. As many are aware, this spread across many countries in the world, the non-violence demonstrations of shutting down bridges and roads in major cities made an impact and people began to listen.
XR has three types of action to get their message across-
- Art as a form of direct action
- Movement building action-which is all about building the movement.
- Disruptive action, actions that are trying to shut down and cause as much political and economical disruption.
One of the productions to help promote the crisis is a new film, a satire with Emma Thompson in one of the leading roles. ‘Extinction’ is a film made by Jack Cooper Stimpson that is regarded as positive propaganda, a satire on a group of activists who meet up with a group of Tory MPs to discuss the environmental crisis. Asked how Jack got the academy award winner to take part the director replied; “Emma Thompson is in the film, she is very involved with pro-activism and she was already getting involved with XR and that is one of the best things with working with XR is that it utilizes what one can do in the real world and Emma Thompson does that, she can get across the message.”
The film focuses on how we can move forward about these ecological issues, made with a comical edge but a serious message it will be released in late 2019.
Jack reminded us about the difficulties that they have had with the government and the response to their protests. “The political and economical elite have totally failed us so it is up to normal people to step up to the plate, one of the bizarre things about this film is that we were sort of imaging what would happen between a meeting with XR and the government, then in April that actually happened…there is this element in what do you do when the political system is unprepared and something else is trying to rush in and fill that space.”
That something else is the XR movement.
Jack and Sam both remind us that we need to get off the fence about the global ecological crisis and do something. But that begs the question what is the difference between personal change versus system change? They both need to be dealt with, if the individual can change their ways, be observant of what they eat, how they travel, check their ecological footprint, then the system too will follow that change. It needs a global effort but that begins with the individual.
Finally, governments across the world are becoming aware of the climate global emergency and some are even coming onboard with this. Sam said to us; “The government have finally declared that parliament has prepared a statement that recognises that there is a climate emergency and we can now hold them to that, so as their promises are announced they must, rhetorically at least, they have to make them compatible to the climate emergency.”
XR have three demands of the government;
- Tell the truth. The government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Act Now. The government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025
- A Citizens Assembly. The government to create a citizen’s assembly and be led by this assembly on climate and ecological justice.
XR stress that their movement is a do-it-together movement, with a citizen’s assembly, preferably a global one, on ecological issues then the people can also have a say on these important issues that regard us humans living on this planet together, creating a community that lives with nature rather than against it. We may be a diverse set of human beings living all over the world but what brings us together is our planet and if that ecological system falls then so do we.