Contributed by Joe Montero
We are Hearing quite lot about the new ecological movement known as Extinction Rebellion. But what is this movement, which first emerged in the united kingdom, began to spread around the world, and is now to emerging in Australia?
In the first place, it is a reaction to the unwillingness of governments to seriously take on what populations are increasingly seeing are the great threat of our age. The name says it all. We are heading for ecological extinction and we have been left no choice but to rebel against a political system that is incapable of responding in the hour of need.
A sense of urgency has created a dissatisfaction with tinkering around the edges. There is a growing sense that more fundamental change is needed to make a difference. Calls to treat the situation as case of national emergency in the various countries are on the rise.
This means special measures must be taken to mobilise resources and people, as has been done in times of war. In this sense, the climate emergency is a war that must be fought.
The problem must be tackled on a global scale as well as the national one.
science backs this assertion of a climate crisis. Researchers have overwhelmingly come to agree. New evidence coming out is showing that the crisis is even worse than we believed only a short time ago. It is not only the science. Societies around the world are feeling the effect of climate change. In the poorest places people are beginning to die. Even in the richest places, farmers are seeing their land become less productive. Pacific islands are disappearing beneath the sea.
It is a reality that is hard to deny.
Extinction Rebellion has been capturing attention because it represents a rising trend of people prepared to put themselves on the line. It uses creative tactics and fights a kind of peaceful guerrilla war. Participants in it are even prepared to break law when they believe they have to.
The message is simple and based on three demands.
Government must tell the truth and declare a climate and ecological emergency, and work with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gases to zero by 2015.
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
These demands are quite profound, because they do not settle on asking government to solve the problem. They call for involvement of the population in making the decisions and in the implementation. There is the implication that the politicians can’t be trusted.
One could say that it represents a shift in the ecological movement, from lobbying to becoming an agent for change. This and its imaginative tactics, are the strengths Extinction Rebellion.
There are further implications.
Given that central to the lack of action by governments is that they are heavily dependent on the financial support of the fossil fuel industry, this nexus must be broken. More fundamental, is that the existing economic model, based on private interest at the cost of social and environmental needs, is not up to the task and therefore should come to an end.
This must be replaced by a model that encourages us to work together to meet both our collective and individual needs, and this is the foundation on which humanity can exist in much better harmony with nature.
Such a change cannot take place, unless there is a dramatic democratisation in the running of society. On one level this means democratic control of the government, which goes far beyond being allowed to cast a vote every few years and brings in day to day participation.
Doing this involves challenging the currently dominant interests, directly targeting their power, and using this to transition into a new future. This future must delegate power downwards. It must build much greater equality and give everyone a stake in the process of change. This change must generate new technologies and new ways of doing things, to ensure that we lift society to a higher level, bringing it harmony human need and ecological health.
Perhaps not everyone associated with Extinct Rebellion fully appreciates all the implications. On the other hand, the growing awareness cannot be denied. From smaller beginnings bigger things can grow.
Extinct Rebellion is a very positive development, which deserves to be embraced by all who are serious about truly taking on the global warming crisis.