This post from the XR Sound the Alarm protest is written by a member who is also an active member of the Extinction Rebellion movement. He wants us to clarify that this movement is a non-party political movement.
This is not a protest, it’s a rebellion. A rebellion against a government that has broken the social contract, against a system that, when faced with near-term social collapse, puts profit before people, and a rebellion against giving up on the promise of a better future, and believing that the worst is now inevitable.
I’m a teacher. I first learnt about climate change, along with the rest of the world, 30 years ago. I was told it would happen in the distant future, to generations yet to come. I had never met those people, none of us had. Those people didn’t exist back then, and we had never met them. Well, now I have met them. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes when they realise that no-one has told them the truth. I’ve seen the fear when they realise that we’ve promised them a future at the same time as taking it away from them. They weren’t here 30 years ago, and so we didn’t see their fear. Well, they’re here now, and so is climate breakdown. In another 30 years, your children will have children, as sure as night follows day, they will arrive. Will you be able to face them and say you tried to give them a future?
The science is clear – climate change is here. But the extent of it is a huge unknown. We may not see the worst effects in our lifetimes but how big does the risk of entire social collapse have to be before our government treats this as an emergency? 20%? 30? 40? Even a 20% risk is a 1 in 5 chance. If there was a 1 in 5 chance that you’d die crossing the road, you’d soon choose not to cross the road. Or flying. And here we’re talking about the end of our civilisation. We need to act now!
It won’t be easy. We need a new mindset. 30 years ago, individual action might have done it. But we (myself included) did not do it. Now the IPCC says we have 10 years. It’s too late for individual actions. There probably isn’t a single person here who has dug up a fossil fuel. Not one. But someone, somewhere is digging now, and someone, somewhere is issuing another licence to another company to allow them to dig up more fossil fuels, and to take our money and to get rich from it. People before profit. This has to stop.
We are addicted to fossil fuels and economic growth. The world aims for 3% growth a year. This means a doubling every 24 years. We are in the midst of an ecological crisis, and our plan as a species is to double our impact every 24 years. So right now, there is twice the amount of economic activity as there was in 1995, and the only plan we have is to double it again by 2043. It’s madness. If a lily-pad in a pond doubles in size every 24 years, it doesn’t matter when it’s small, but by the time it fills half the pond, 24 years later it hits the edge of the pond. We’ve hit the edge. In fact we’re over it. And all the government can do is continue to try to double it – it’s madness. We need a different mindset. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.
The first duty of any government is to protect the people. That’s the social contract, and it has been broken by the governments of the world. That is why this is not a protest, it’s a rebellion.