For years, and years I have been exposed to depressing and shocking articles, journals, lectures, films, and documentaries about the destruction of our planet. The older I got the more terrifying my future looked. I seriously began to wonder if it was possible for me to ever find happiness in a world that seemingly waged war against itself – rapidly breaking down the natural world into dismal fragments of toil and terror.
In the haze of dreadful news it’s easy to become desensitised, especially with constant exposure through social media. Of course there’s another forest being destroyed for mining, another big oil leak in the sea, another hottest summer, another species listed as near extinct, another collapsing fish stock, another whale full of plastic, another record breaking hurricane, another massive flood. It just keeps banking up. Even so, some days I felt like I was the only one genuinely concerned about these stories. Nothing was changing. The same tigers, pandas, elephants, rhinos and whales that were threatened in my fathers childhood, are still in the same position now, in spite of the international campaigns, and who knows how much money, donated to save them. Conservation efforts seem to be tinkering around the edges, with a few success stories here and there.
The last 50 years has seen things get worse, not better, despite the increasing amount of conservationists, ecologists, and environmentally aware people. We have been losing the battle, and we’ve been losing for a while now. Scientists have published reports stating that the rapid loss of biodiversity indicates that we are already in the sixth mass extinction event. In a 136 year record of annual temperatures, 17 of the 18 warmest years have been since 2001. Even more worrying is that according to the World Health Organisation, 9 out of 10 people now breath polluted air, causing 7 million deaths every year. Not to mention over 26,000 species are now at risk of extinction. There is an abundance of more horrendously worrying stats out there, that suggest we are facing the biggest threat to life in the history of mankind, but to save you, and me some time I won’t list them all.
Instead, this is where the Extinction Rebellion (XR) comes in.
About two weeks before the ‘Rebellion day’ on the 17th of November, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. He started telling me about this XR meeting he had just been to, and explained in little detail what they were about. I thought it sounded interesting so the first thing I did when I got home was… google it. As I read their demands, and their plan of action I felt like all my anxiety and distress regarding the health of our planet had been relieved a little.
I suddenly felt that I was not alone. There are people out there, that share my concerns, and have had enough of the stagnant state of current actions. There are people prepared to sacrifice their liberties for the future of all life on earth. There are people that feel it necessary to act now, and not later.
In short, XR are a collective group of individuals from around the world, in agreement that not enough action is being done to tackle the imminent threat of climate change and all that comes with it. They believe in non-violent direct actions that will cause enough disruption to get people to turn their heads, and listen. They want the government to take responsibility and act now to save their people. They want the UK to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. They want change, and they want it now. There are XR groups all over the country, and it didn’t take me long to join my local affinity group. I attended a meeting about non-violent direct action, and agreed to get arrested in London on the 17th.
I went down to London with some friends and took part in the blocking of Waterloo bridge. I was astounded by the diversity of people. I’ve been to plenty of protests in the capital before, but never have I been so surprised by the variety of individuals, cultures, ages, and religions all standing up for the same thing. The whole time I was on Waterloo bridge nobody was arrested, and the police acted calmly. However, I later heard the news that there had been over 80 arrests on the other bridges. That’s 80 people risking their jobs, and their futures to show that they are not happy with the present situation, which I found quite admirable.
To wrap up, XR appeals to me because it’s an inclusive movement allowing people from every generation to take part. People from all walks of life are involved with the group, showing just how many people feel affected and threatened by the issues concerning climate change. Finally, the other thing that really pulls me in, is the devotion and determination of the people participating and the feeling of solidarity that radiates from this movement.
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