There is no photographer worth his salt who would attend a protest against global warming without producing a page-17-in-the-Sun worthy image of Caroline Lucas getting goose-marched into a police van. Her stoic expression (slightly smug) between two policemen’s stoic expressions (slightly bored), often grace the middle pages of our newspapers. They are as noteworthy a sight as toxins billowing from the tower of a power-plant.
It is surprising, then, that only two national news organisations passed any comment on the recent Extinction Rebellion event in Parliament Square. Fifteen arrests were made as the protestors shut down the area, in what they described as a “Declaration of Rebellion”.
Extinction Rebellion are a protest group that have over a hundred academics ready to commit themselves to a “Week of Rebellion”, which starts on the seventeenth of this month. The great unwashed (ecologists, geographers etc) are now willing to forgo their freedom, get arrested and potentially be imprisoned, to move the government to take action on climate change.
It is remarkable that it has come to this. Thirty years of warning from scientists has resulted in next to no action from` government. In the words of George Monbiot: ‘Every year there is a beginning, but never a middle, or an end to this story.’ Again and again they have applied bandages to Gaia, ignoring her tumours.
Now, with the real threat of extinction being hinted at in the latest IPCC report, they still do nothing. It is not that extinctions will happen in the future; 60% of animal life has already been lost. It is not that we (in the glutinous, gangrenous west) will only be effected in the future, because Venice is sinking now. It is not even that people will die in the future. Peoplearedying in Bangladesh, in floods precipitated by climate breakdown.
I do not think, in spite of this, that I am prepared to give up my liberty just yet. But I think I should consider it. It will take more than an ear-ringed student activist’s pitiful arrest to stop governmental negligence on this scale, but there is a serious possibility that if Scientists engage in acts of civil disobedience, they might be listened to.
It is, however, within the scope of my limited capabilities to do (or not do) somethings. We all have moral responsibilities which come with knowing about this crisis. If you eat meat and dairy (at the same rate as before), whilst knowing that it contributes 10-15% of the UK’s carbon emissions; and if you take needless long-haul flights, whilst knowing how much carbon they spew out into the atmosphere – I’m sorry, but: “J’Accuse…!”
Moaning that corporations are too greedy, or that governments are too intransient to instigate change, is a bit bloody rich if you are not willing to make sacrifices. Unwillingness to act on what you know to be true, when governments will demonstrably not act for you, is tantamount to climate denial. Giving up hope has to be preceded by some attempt at action, otherwise it was never really hope at all.