“If not you, then who? If not now, then when”

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In September James and I joined the Extinction Rebellion movement. At this point, some (or possibly many?) of you may stop reading. Maybe you don’t believe there’s a climate crisis. Maybe you believe there is, but there’s not much you can do about it and anyway, it’s probably too late. Or maybe you’ll keep reading because you believe the crisis exists and action is better than apathy. Hope is better than hopelessness.., or helplessness.

Whilst I haven’t waded through every scientific tome produced on the subject, I have been paying attention. I believe the science is accurate in the sense that we must plan and act now in order to be in the best position to adapt for what is going to be a very different kind of life on Earth.

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Reading one of the essays in ‘This is not a Drill’ (the Extinction Rebellion handbook), helped me to commit. ‘Survival of the Richest’ is the true story of an event that happened to Douglas Rushkoff (an American media theorist, writer and columnist), and I wish to share some extracts with you..,

“I got invited to a super-deluxe resort to deliver a keynote speech (on the future of technology) to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. Instead of being wired to a microphone and taken to a stage I just sat at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me; five super-wealthy guys from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. They had come with questions of their own.”

Rushkoff writes that it all started innocuously enough, but eventually “ the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, ‘how do I maintain authority over my security force after the event’? The event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus or Mr. Robot Hack that takes everything down. They knew armed guards would be needed to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? In short, the future management of ‘the event’ was just one thing for these men; escape” .

Rushkoff goes on to discuss the impact and implications of technology in the digital age but ends by saying “Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together”.

And this is the message of collective action being encouraged by the likes of the Extinction Rebellion movement and SS4C (Schools Strike for Climate). Greta Thunberg defends her decision to strike from school because “What is the point of learning facts within the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of the same school system clearly mean nothing to our politicians and our society?” Extinction Rebellion states that “there is something very, very wrong. We all know it, and yet from those in power we hear only empty words and weak promises”.

In short, Government and big business have paid scant attention to the science provided by the IPPC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) and the targets/committments set at the last Paris Agreement are far from being achieved. Speaking via video link at the UN Climate Action Summit, the World Meteorological Organisation stated that “climate causes and impacts are increasing rather than slowing down carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increased at a higher rate in the 2015-2019 period than in the previous 5 years and are on course to reach a record 410 parts per million this year”.

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Extinction Rebellion further states that “this is the defining issue of our generation, if not of all time - and we ALL have the power to act. We CAN insist that something can be done. But none of us can do this alone” . In a very short period, James and I feel ourselves to be part of an incredible community, all committed to taking non-violent, direct action. We both agree that conventional approaches (lobbying, petitioning etc.) aren’t working - because powerful political and economic interests don’t want them to work, they don’t want things to change.

As such we’ll be joining the two weeks of global, non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience between 7th to 19th October 2019. We are joining a rebellion. We feel there is no other way to make Government and business take notice. We don’t want to be helpless and we don’t want to rely on hope.

If you’re interested in joining the rebellion, then simply search ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and you’ll very easily find out how - and it’s no longer a U.K. movement, it’s a global movement. In November, I may write about our experiences during this period of action, or I may return to art - but perhaps the two are linked as collectively, many of us have come together to make protest banners, placards and sashes. It’s been fun, energising and creative and just as importantly, it’s about community.

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Another ‘bib’, although we’ve added ‘Change Now’ as the bottom line.

Claire Benn