This week Europe has been gripped by a scorching heatwave, and while sections of the media, including the BBC, have been romanticising this as a delightful summer frolic others of us are aware of the threat it represents. This is the climate crisis revealing itself.
Heatwaves in the UK in February, wildfires in the Arctic and super drought in Australia. These are becoming more and more common as our climate worsens, and this is barely the start of the oncoming chaos based on what we’ve already emitted. Yet meanwhile our government is subsidising the fossil fuel industry, fast-tracking fracking and cutting subsidies to solar panels. And worldwide emissions continue to rise, year after year.
Therefore there is no option left but to protest. To organise, to cause disruption and force politicians to listen to the very real threat to our species and our planet caused by human actions.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the Youth Strike 4 the Climate have been crucial in forcing the government’s hand. Recently, climate change topped a poll on British people’s biggest concerns for the first time, and the government has committed itself to a 2050 carbon neutral target. This target is too far away and unambitious to actually address the crisis (we have 18 months to turn this ship around and avoid calamity) but it is a step in the right direction. Direct action results in change.
Some have been critical of XR slowing down public services and causing economic damage due to lost working hours, but it needs saying that those are the very public services that will soon be overwhelmed by casualties from an increasingly dangerous planet and the potential economic losses pale in comparison to what stands to be lost from resource depletion and ecological collapse. If you are not prepared to cause disruption then your message is easier to ignore.
XR must stand strong, must continue to push for logical climate targets (carbon neutral by 2030 at the latest) and must keep themselves visible. Afterall, XR is the fight for all our lives.
Photo by Julia Hawkins on Flickr.