This is an interview we were able to do with the UK based radical environmentalist organisation Extinction Rebellion.
- So, what is Extinction Rebellion?
The Extinction Rebellion is a necessity. Our political establishment has failed to protect its people from pollution, prevent further mass extinction of species on earth and prevent the possibility of human extinction in the near future. Therefore we must rebel to protect the livelihood of citizens and our natural world or risk losing everything we cherish.
- How did the project start?
It began with a gathering of the Rising Up! network who have been experimenting with civil disobedience campaigns for about two years now. They decided that our time to act is now and that the appropriate response to the humanitarian crisis of climate change is no longer mass marches and petitions. It is time to make a sacrifice and build a new vision for our society before it collapses in on itself. It is time to rebel.
- What are the projects immediate goals?
There are several goals of the rebellion, the most immediate one is to spark a national conversation about climate breakdown and the ecological crisis. We then aim to create a WW2-style mass mobilisation of the public to address the crisis through heavy investment in renewables, city-wide planning and full employment in developing a more sustainable society.
- Do you believe the government will respond to your demands?
The first on our list of demands is that the government publicly acknowledges that climate change presents an urgent, clear and present existential threat and that, so far, it has failed to address the situation responsibly.
We are basing this rebellion on what we believe is necessary to avoid a major apocalyptic catastrophe and deep down this is not all about winning, but also about what it means to be human at a time when humans are on course to destroy the majority of life on earth, including ourselves.
- What links does your organisation have to the eco-anarchist community in Britain?
Many of us have been involved with various direct action campaigns run by eco-anarchist groups in Britain and we frequently participate in the Earth First! gatherings. However, we are trying to work beyond some of the limitations we have come across in that community. We are taking burn-out very seriously and actively try to build a regenerative culture within our network and emphasise the importance of looking after ourselves and doing inner work as well as campaigning. We are also embracing more spiritual approaches to social change, incorporating ceremony to our gatherings and we have many participants with a spiritual background. Overall, we believe that climate change is not a political issue, it is a moral one. We are facing the mass deaths of people all across the world and it is on us in the industrialised world to take a strong moral stance on the crisis before it becomes too late.
- Do you have a projected destination mapped out for after the rebellion, should your demands not be met?
We see our plans for October-November this year as the beginning of a nationwide struggle to restore peace and stability to the land. The actions in the Autumn will be one of several iterations that will continue to create mass disruption until our demands are met. We do not expect all our demands to be met straight away and in December we will debrief and reflect upon our experiences and then build towards next iteration, possibly in early spring 2019.
- Is your organisation primarily focused on means of human survival of ecological collapse?
We think it is important to talk about the possibility of human extinction in order to expand the window of acceptable discourse on climate change and ecological collapse but we also acknowledge that this is not only about our species and that the web of life is intricately interconnected. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists mention that there already exists a 1 in 20 chance that the 2.2 trillion tons of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere could cause an existential warming threat. This “fat tail” scenario would mean the world experiences “existential/unknown” warming by 2100 — defined in the report as more than 5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. We cannot afford to run that risk. As one of the scientists who wrote the paper comments, “How many of us would choose to buckle our grandchildren to an airplane seat if we knew there was as much as a 1 in 20 chance of the plane crashing? With climate change that can pose existential threats, we have already put them in that plane.”
- Does Extinction Rebellion see itself as potentially the next platform for radical environmentalist campaigning in Britain?
We want to break new ground within campaigning and show to radical people internationally that it is possible to have an ‘impossible’ plan and carry out a rebellion, however small or large. We want to contribute to prototypes which have been tested and share our experiences of running them. Western ‘democracies’ are in a state of degradation and with fascism on the rise we need to find tools to create a truly democratic system.
- How can people find out more information, get in contact and/or involved?
The most frequently updated source on the Extinction Rebellion is currently our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ExtinctionRebellion/ or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Rising Up! also has a website: https://risingup.org.uk/
- If you were to sum up the ethic/message of Extinction Rebellion, what would it be?
It is about asking ourselves what we do with our lives as human beings at a time when we are destroying the web of life, to be telling the truth and acting accordingly and following our moral duty to rebel against this destructive system even though all hope might be lost.