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Extinction Rebellion: Four Criticisms (and why they’re unconvincing)

Extinction Rebellion: Four Criticisms (and why they’re unconvincing)

The issue of climate change activism and the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has caused me a good deal of intellectual and emotional soul-searching. A journey that began last year with a large helping of scepticism on my part took me last Friday to a cell in Sutton Police Station, where I whiled away several hours. I’m not going to tell that story here, but my enforced idleness at least gave me the opportunity to reflect on the various criticisms of XR that have been doing the rounds of the media, formal and social, during its actions over the last couple of weeks and why I’ve now come to find these criticisms unconvincing.

So below I bring you a sceptic’s guide to XR scepticism, in a two-part post that’ll be continued next time. In this first one I focus on issues that strike me as requiring a genuine, substantive response and/or that I wrestled with myself in embracing the movement. In the next one, I discuss objections that seem more like flummery to me (“XR is too white and middle-class”, “XR is a millenarian death cult”, “technical innovation will save us” etc.) but nevertheless tell us interesting things about our times.

I’ve chased down a few references and datasets to inform this post after regaining my freedom and internet connectivity (same thing, right?), but I’m dashing this out kind of free-form while I can still remember my thoughts without explicitly linking to many sources for these criticisms. They’re not hard to find online for anyone who cares to look.

Here we go, then – XR defended, Part I, in relation to four common objections.

1. With their nylon tents, smartphones, coach rides to London and so forth, XR activists demonstrably participate in the fossil fuel economy and are therefore hypocritical.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Extinction Rebellion: What is it?

Extinction Rebellion: What is it?

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The climate crisis is turning average law-abiding people into raging law-breaking eco rebels, by boatloads. Extinction Rebellion (ER) is at the forefront, demanding that governments declare climate emergencies and take urgent action.

In that regard, ER, which started in the UK, says government must reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2025, or else! Social chaos will spring loose from within the darkened shadows of a raging climate, bringing civilized society to its knees and within current lifetimes. For proof, read the science, which says it all. We’re doomed without taking action to cut greenhouse emissions to Net Zero.

In that regard, in November 2018 ER activist extraordinaire Jenny Shearer super glued herself to a railing outside the glorious golden-trimmed gates of Buckingham Palace in expectation that: “This will get the Royal family to come and join us.” Meanwhile, another 2,000 ER activists brought a coffin, which symbolized a “sure-fire death sentence” facing the “next generation” vestiges of the present-day crisis.

For ER warriors, the climate crisis is like a freight train with failing breaks barreling down a mountainside headed for a massive wipeout of society. Regrettably, it’ll happen way too soon to take comfort today.

This coming October 31st marks the one-year anniversary of ER from beginnings on Parliament Square on October 31st 2018 when the ER leaders announced a Declaration of Rebellion against the UK government, expecting a couple hundred people to attend. Surprisingly, 1,500 showed up to exercise their right to peaceful civil disobedience whilst breaking the law and getting arrested.

Shortly thereafter, 6,000 ER activists peacefully blocked five major bridges across the River Thames. They planted trees in the middle of Parliament Square, and dug a hole for a coffin. Additionally, they lie down in streets or at entryways to public buildings, bringing parts of London and other UK cities to a standstill.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Toward Climate-Catalyzed Social Transformation?

Toward Climate-Catalyzed Social Transformation?

Applying the work of Erik Olin Wright to emergent climate change movements helps us to understand current trajectories and possible pathways for transformation.

In the past weeks, Extinction Rebellion has continued to make news headlines with acts of protest in LondonBostonNew York and other cities across the globe. In London, thousands of activists blocked roads and bridges and over 1,000 were arrested. These actions are a part of Extinction Rebellion’s ongoing strategy to disrupt the economy and pressure governments to meet their demands to address climate change.

In addition, the youth movement Fridays for Future continues to hold school strikes with an estimated 1.6 million participants across the globe on March 15. In the United States, the Sunrise Movement has just launched a tour to promote the Green New Deal, a possibly transformative resolution that targets both inequality and greenhouse gas emissions.

These movements are unprecedented, growing, and are unlikely to go away any time soon. In addition, meeting the demands of these movements would require significant social and economic changes through a radical political program.

Given the momentum of these movements, are we on the verge of a possible climate-catalyzed social transformation? And if so, what strategies for transformation will be most effective?

To interpret the recent rise of these climate change movements, we draw from the late Erik Olin Wright whose work illustrates a deep understanding of social transformation.

In his book Envisioning Real Utopias, Wright outlined a detailed theory of social transformation with four main components. First, identify the forces of social reproduction that impede positive social change. Second, find gaps and contradictions that can be politicized to open the door for change. Third, understand and build a trajectory of change: history tells us that transformation occurs when unintended social consequences combine with purposeful social movements.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Human Extinction: An Idea Whose Time had to Come. 

Human Extinction: An Idea Whose Time had to Come. 

A few years ago, a political movement that took the name of “extinction rebellion” would have been wholly unthinkable. On the other hand, after more than forty years of warnings on climate change and ecosystem collapse from the world’s best scientists, the message had to start going through, somehow. One consequence is the appearance on the social media of a crowd of deranged, depressed, misanthropic, and generally nasty people who have decided that extinction is what’s going to happen no matter what we do and who seem to enjoy insulting those of us who dare to express the opinion that maybe there are ways to avoid it. Other, fortunately, seem to think that we can still rebel against this manifest destiny and that’s the origin of the movement. 

These openly declared attitudes may be just the tip of the iceberg, others may well have decided that, if overpopulation is the cause of the problem, then there are quick and very dirty ways to solve it. They may be concocting dark and dire things we know nothing about. But, as usual, we see the future darkly, as in a mirror, and the time when we’ll see it face to face has not come, yet. 

Below, a text by “Reverse Engineer” of the Doomstead Diner who examines the question and, at the linked page, you’ll find also a longer video. (U.B.) 

Guest post by R.E. (Reverse Engineer).

Extinction has moved from the dark corners of the Collapse Blogosphere into the consciousness of the mainstream.  Just a few short years ago the discussion of human extinction was relegated to a few fringe websites, but not so anymore.  Now it has become Topic #1 in the discussions on many websites that concern themselves with topics of collapse.  Sometimes this comes to the exclusion of many other collapse related topics in economics, geopolitics, energy and social psychology that are impacting more directly right now.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Without a rebellion there might be nothing left. The tide is turning and necessarily so.

Without a rebellion there might be nothing left. The tide is turning and necessarily so.

extinction rebellion

An international rebellion has begun. I am writing this as a call to action for humanity and permaculture enthusiasts everywhere. I want to take a few minutes to share my story, and perhaps you will be inspired by a world that is waking up. The sea is rising and so are we.

I will finish with some practical ways you can get involved in the rebellion and what you can do after.

10 years ago I did a course in Permaculture Design and it changed my life. I no longer felt alone in seeking solutions to global warming and ecological disasters like mass deforestation. I had found my people⎯ agrarian systems thinkers and community activists with a deep connection to the world around them. And much to my relief a network of curious people with the will to design a world that works alongside nature!

Permaculture designers have been acting to mitigate the climate emergency and ecological breakdown since the 70’s. The approaches used in permaculture have inspired a generation to redesign the places that they live. Permaculture networks, the Permaculture Association and groups like Transition Towns have done much of the groundwork for grassroots action for ‘systems change, not climate change’ in the UK and beyond.

The permaculture approach helps design intelligent systems which meet human needs whilst enhancing biodiversity, reducing our impact on the planet, and creating a fairer world for us all.

We will need grassroots movements like permaculture systems thinking and design to reinvent the way we design our society so that we can meet the our needs whilst working in harmony with our planet. Without approaching our challenges in this systematic way we do not have a chance to innovate and make integrated policy changes needed meet the Paris agreement or the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Confronting extinction

Confronting extinction

Photo by Julia Hawkins (Flickr)

With high-profile direct actions across London, the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has captured media headlines, garnered influential supporters, and inspired a wave of participants across the globe. From blocking bridges to occupying government departments, XR has sounded alarm bells at the extinction before us, demanding a more radical response.

As global carbon emissions surge, and extreme weather ravages communities from Iraq to Uganda, the need is certainly acute. Many have indicated that the emergence of XR marks a step change in the fight to tackle climate change, with the movement well-positioned to break the deadlock of past activism, and usher in a new phase of invigorated climate politics. Even the Financial Times has paid notice to the fact that ‘tediously law-abiding, taxpaying homeowners’ are now among the activists getting arrested and taking action.

Yet XR has also faced a range of criticisms not unfamiliar to the environmental movement. The movement’s embracing attitude to the police, the absence of safe spaces policies, and its particular messaging, have echoed longstanding questions around the inclusivity and priorities of the environmental movement.

On November 17th, as thousands of XR participants blocked bridges across the Thames, just hundreds of yards away, 30,000 people marched as part of a major demonstration against racism and fascism. This moment symbolises perhaps one of the greatest obstacles to the systemic change we need, as surmised by sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos: ‘the tragedy of our time is that domination is united and resistance is fragmented.’

As XR sets its sights higher and expands internationally, the need for a critical conversation about its role and potential within a more potent global climate movement gain importance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Five (More) Things You Can do Now to Address Climate Change

Five (More) Things You Can do Now to Address Climate Change

Recycle. Eat less meat. Buy electric cars. Have fewer kids. Reduce consumption. Install solar panels on your home.

These are just a few of the (primarily middle-class oriented) ideas that the media have offered over the last year to help you figure out “what you can do now” to address climate change and to avoid its most devastating impacts.

Yet, in view of the 24th Annual Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland–a fiasco that produced no binding commitments by nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so as to avoid catastrophic climate change–these actions are clearly not enough.

They never were enough.

So, that being said, here are a few more things you can do:

1) Join the Extinction Rebellion.

Started this year in the UK, the Extinction Rebellion–which has spread to at least 35 countries–is a movement dedicated to taking radical, nonviolent direct action in rebellion against government inaction on climate change.

If the Extinction Rebellion is not your cup of tea, however, then find or start a rebellion that is, because by now it should be incandescently clear that radical, massive, strategic nonviolent civil disobedience, disruption and noncooperation are precisely what are called for in the face of governmental elites’ intransigence regarding climate change. We must disrupt, disrupt, disrupt until they surrender their allegiances to fossil fuel interests and neoliberalism, go back to the negotiating table, and then in good faith hammer out a robust, binding, enforceable and equitable global climate agreement.

2) Organize where you are.

An existential crisis demands more than signing petitions and climate marches.

So, take responsibility for canvassing at least 25 homes and apartment complexes where you live. Recruit concerned neighbors to help with canvassing and to organize neighborhood events and climate resistance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Extinction Rebellion: From the UK to Ghana and the US, Climate Activists Take Civil Disobedience World-Wide

Extinction Rebellion: From the UK to Ghana and the US, Climate Activists Take Civil Disobedience World-Wide

More than 100 people were arrested during a week of action across the UK as protesters demanded the government treat the threats posed by climate change as a crisis and take drastic steps to cut emissions to net zero by 2025.

Thousands of people joined a mass protest that blocked roads and bridges in central London, with some gluing themselves to government buildings to draw attention to what they see as climate breakdown.

This was the birth of Extinction Rebellion, a movement that calls for mass economic disruption using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to halt the destruction of the planet and its wildlife and prevent catastrophic climate change.

Around the world, environmental campaign groups and activists watched the action unfold. In London, there is a growing hope that this could be the start to a new form of international mobilisation for climate action.

‘A game changer’

From the US to Ghana and New Zealand to Western Europe, campaigners have shown enthusiastic support for Extinction Rebellion’s declaration of climate emergency.

Jamie Henn, co-founder of the campaign group 350, said watching the launch of Extinction Rebellion in London from the UShad been “incredibly exciting” and embodied “a growing sense of anger and desire for radical solutions”.

Henn said he was confident Extinction Rebellion would inspire similar non-violent direct climate actions in the US over the coming months, but whether the movement was one that could endure the test of time was yet to be seen.

Margaret Klein Salamon, founder of the US grassroot group Climate Mobilization, said she believed Extinction Rebellion is “a game changer” for the climate movement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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