It is clear to see that ‘we are in an Ecological crisis which includes mass species extinction. Our course is set to societal collapse, the killing of millions and possibly billions of people, human extinction is possible, the future is bleak and our children are not safe.’
This statement describes where we are now. These concerns are not new.
A simple five minute search on Google reveals streams of historical pleas from academic bodies warning of ‘extreme events‘; ‘global cataclysm’; ‘catastrophic climate change’; all signed and endorsed by thousands of scientists across the globe. A public awareness of the negative effect of humankind’s actions on the planet arose as far back as 1962 with Rachel Carson’s publication of her seminal text Silent Spring in 1962, documenting the devastating environmental consequences of the over use of pesticides. In response to a lack of funding for ‘pressing environmental and social problems’ The Union of Concerned Scientists was set up in 1969 and as early as 1899, Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin and Svante Arrhenius identified links between fossil fuel combustion and enhanced global warming. I repeat: These concerns are not new.
Yet, despite these warnings, progress is slow. Year after year, emissions have risen. Year after year, the weather has become more extreme. Year after year, glaciers are melting and polar ice is shrinking. Year after year, the soil is being depleted. Year after year, animal extinctions have increased. And in 2018, after all these years after years, humanity is starting to come to terms with the notion that there may no longer be the notion of year after year. We face the prospect of our own life on earth being considerably diminished. We can no longer guarantee a future for our children. Yet still, even now, there appears to be a deep rooted resistance and lack of willingness to change. Such inaction is evident at an individual level, at a national level and at an international level. Any attempts at implementing change are not happening fast or soon enough and time is running out.
However, at this point in time, there is still hope. There is still a choice. There is still a chance to be a part of what Marco Lambertini, the Director General of the WWF calls a ‘truly historic transformation.’ At the moment, we still have the opportunity to change things. But it has to be soon. According to Lambertini, the window for action is ‘rapidly closing’ and we need to act now.
The very recent and highly concerning summary report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges that, although there have been some positive actions toward limiting global warming, such actions need to be accelerated. The report calls for essential and ‘unprecedented changes’ to enable us to limit Global Warming to 1.5°C and thus avoid the catastrophic consequences that warming above this level would bring.
In 2016, 2300 scientists wrote an open letter to Donald Trump, asserting that ‘when science is ignored or politically corrupted, it’s the American people who suffer.’ Climate change is not just happening in America. It is a global issue and across the globe, scientists’ warnings and the demands of the people to act on such warnings are being ignored. Our governments are not acting fast enough on either a national level or a global level.
It is time to ask if the political process is no longer fit for purpose. The current political process is not working. Scientists made clear the implications of continued carbon emissions in 1990, CO2 in the atmosphere has since increased by 60%. This is not the result of responsible government.
Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent action group that has been set up to demand that the government takes its responsibility seriously and leads the way for an international response to the warnings of scientists across the globe. Such a movement is not partisan, and is not limited to the UK. Corresponding movements are happening across Europe and extending further afield.
The three demands of Extinction Rebellion are as below:
1) That the Government must tell the truth about how deadly our situation is, it must reverse all policies not in alignment with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals and communities need to do.
2) The Government must enact legally-binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions in the UK to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. It must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet’s worth of resources per year.
3) By necessity these demands mean an initiative similar to those enacted at times of war. We do not however, wish to hand further power to the Government. Instead, we demand a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee these changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose.
The movement is gathering momentum and is currently supported by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, Caroline Lucas and George Monbiot.
Should you feel strongly and want to participate, there is a Rebellion Day on 17th November 2019. We will assemble around Parliament for an act of mass civil disobedience. For full information on the event, as well as transport options, visit: https://rebellion.earth/rebellion-day/
 See,‘The scientific consensus of climate change revisited’ In: Environmental Science & Policy ( 2010) Elsevier, Le Monde, "The greatest challenge in the history of humanity": the call of 200 personalities to save the planet, https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/09/03/le-plus-grand-defi-de-l-...? [accessed 08/11/2018]
 NASA, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Arrhenius [accessed 08/11/2018]
 Marco Lambertini, WWF, Living Planet Report 2018: Aiming higher https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-10/wwfintl_livingplanet_... 08/11/2018]
 Press release regarding ‘An Open Letter to President Trump and the 115th Congress’, https://www.ucsusa.org/news/press-release/scientists-pen-open-letter-to-... 08/11/2018]