Extinction Rebellion, the environmental rights and action organisation that are looking to push through a global declaration of a climate emergency, have the opportunity to cement themselves as an intrinsic part of the story to change the direction of politics and of how we should live in harmony with the environment and, consequently, the destiny of all life on the planet as we claim to know it.
Openly committed to conscientious, peaceful protest, at least for the near future, yet ever willing to step up the scope and extent of activity every time they organise a major gathering, Extinction Rebellion (XR), part of the Rising Up network, hit the global news again yesterday.
Following up recent actions which included publicly declaring their intent both in the UK and US as well as occupying the building of the UK Department for Business & Energy, XR received deserved national UK coverage throughout the day and night, with the entire protest area brought to a standstill for most of the day.
Arrests are currently reported to be at over 120 this morning across the five protest locations spanning the main commercial district of Central London.
Chosen for being five of the busiest junctions in central London, protests are expected to continue across the five locations for the next fortnight.
Partially mimicking the structure of their organisation, the four outer protest locations are symbolic of some of Extinction Rebellion's foundational concepts, with the central protest at Piccadilly Circus at the heart serving as the hub of the entire fortnight long protest.
London worker’s and students will join protests during their lunch hours and after work, with the organisation expecting numbers to swell over the week, culminating in massive protests for each of the next two weekends, though maintaining all five protest locations with adequate numbers may be difficult during the week.
Extinction Rebellion now have the opportunity, firstly, to fully highlight the urgency with which the issue of the continued careless disregard of the environment and the intricacies of all its ecosystems by some of the biggest countries and companies in the world, must be addressed.
It’s positive to step up upcycling plastic and rubber and making things like litter picking a proud duty of humanity. They are both courses of action to be approved of and we are setting them into motion at a fundamental level. But it looks as if starting change from the family or individual level won’t be enough.
It would take at least two generations, even more, to fully instill community values such as the classic green festival motto ‘Leave No Trace’, or even have the everyday public consider offsetting the carbon footprint of their holiday to the Bahamas, for example, by the entire family utilising bicycles, instead of the family car, for all feasible local runs. For at least half the year, that is.
By current calculations, we are thought to have less than 15 years to change our attitudes and actions before mass migration and extreme weather events, and the beginnings of mass starvation, which are all already close to being the new norm, become a fully defining characteristic of the 21st Century, although there are those who, less warily, claim otherwise.
Safe to say, change would be most quickly affected from the top down by government, but until private interests such as Shell and Exxon Mobil that run their businesses contrary to the health of the planet can find something more profitable to divest into, that seems unlikely to change.
Secondly, Extinction Rebellion could be a hugely unifying force in an ever more divided country if they manage their actions wisely. With Brexit politics and the rise in increasingly right wing, xenophobic views serving as forces of social unrest and division, having an organisation such as XR highlighting the greater enemy of unresponsive, even complicit governments and profiteering multinational entities.
Only by drawing attention to and helping the public to fully comprehend the impact of consumerism as spurred on by big business will XR become a force helping to heal those social divisions that distract our attention away from the really important decisions about the futures of the generations to come.
So whatever you are doing to start helping to save the environment, whether it’s peacefully participating in protests or helping friends, family, and the general public to waste less and use less in everyday life, or even making sacrifices to even out your carbon footprint, make sure to support organisations like Extinction Rebellion and Climate Reality, as well as activists like Polly Higgins.
The real fight to save the environment is just beginning, and it looks like it’s going to take all the power of all the everyday people across our beautiful planet to win this one.
With rallies planned across 33 major cities over the next few days, stay up to date, check out their manifesto handbook and see what you can do to help at rebellion.earth
cover image @Independent