Currently protesting in full force, the Extinction Rebellion are an organisation determined to persuade the UK government (and governments around the world) to declare a ‘climate emergency’. Keeping global temperatures under 1.5 degrees is essential for the safety of the planet’s future; at the end of 2018 the UN Secretary General warned that humanity and life on earth faces serious threats, and people around the world are demanding change in our government to reflect the seriousness of this devastation. It is no longer a threat, but a new reality. The Extinction Rebellion were therefore created as a reaction to the lack of action that has been taken by our Government to act on the current climate crisis. If the climate and ecological emergency is not immediately addressed by our government, then in the next decade issues such as an increase in sea level, desertification, wildfires, water shortages, crop failure, extreme weather, millions of people displaced from their homes, disease from poverty, an increased risk of wars and conflicts and more will become our harsh reality.
Photo taken from Fox News
It is believed by the Extinction Rebellion that our system of governance is compromised by a focus on profits and economic growth. Politicians can be influenced by lobbies of powerful corporations and the media are hampered by vested interest of corporate advertisers undermining our democratic values. The rebellion want to break through to the government by demonstrating just how many people care about global warming.
Here are some staggering facts about climate change taken from the Extinction Rebellion website which are a FEW examples of why the marches are taking place;
- Globally species are going extinct at rates up to 1,000 times the background rates typical of Earth’s past due to habitat change, overexploitation etc.
- The latest Living Planet Index shows an average decline of 60% in population sizes of thousands of vertebrate species around the world between 1970 and 2014.
- Rising temperatures will melt at least one-third of the Himalayas’ glaciers by the end of the century even if we limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C. Melting glaciers in both the Andes and the Himalayas threatens the water supplies of hundreds of millions people living downstream.
- As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur much more often, causing severe disruption to coastal communities, and even rendering some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.
- All forms of pollution were responsible in 2015 for an estimated 9 million premature deaths—16% of all deaths worldwide—as well as for 268 million disability-adjusted life-years. Pollution is thus the world’s largest environmental cause of disease and premature death
- 50% of the planet’s topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years, leading to increased pollution, flooding and desertification. Desertification itself currently affects more than 2.7 billion people
Image from the Independent
Extinction Rebellion, beginning in London, has reached over 35 countries, and has used social media to create a week of ‘international civil disobedience’ this April, having commenced on the 15th April and lasting until the 29th April. This event is not a one off march; it is a continuous march, which day by day shall reach the attention of the government. They ask everyone around the world to protest for our leaders to be heard, and for them to call for a climate emergency.
There is no singular definition of what it means for the government to call a ‘climate emergency’, however it is generally defined as the government calling the climate situation an emergency, and doing everything within their power to prevent the catastrophic consequences that could come from climate change. The UN have stated we have just 12 years left to limit devastating climate change effects. This can only happen when the government understand that they must push for a more sustainable future in their policies. Many city councils have already called a climate emergency, such as Leicester council, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Leicester City Council have had their declaration of climate emergency approved this February, with aims to reduce carbon emissions in the city. They are reviewing and updating the council’s climate targets in light of the climate emergency, and with incentives such as Extinction Rebellion putting pressure on the government and councils this is a great, and necessary, step in the right direction from Leicester City Council. Extinction Rebellion have been protesting in Leicester this month with a ‘die-in’ at the train station; 18 protestors put on face masks and lay on their backs on the station floor with signs stating that global warming will kill. Other protestors stood around the group claiming that “global warming is propelling us towards hot-house Earth and we only have 11 years to prevent this. Join us now against government inaction.” Despite Leicester City Council calling a climate emergency, protestors must continue in order to make change in the houses of parliament.
It is the belief that climate needs to be a much bigger discussion in everyone’s day to day lives, and the rally’s and protests created by Extinction Rebellion hope to force the government into ensuring it is a priority in parliament for the sake of the future of humans, animals, and