Rebel for life

Extinction Rebellion demo
Extinction rebels from Walthamstow on a recent protest against climate change

Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion now has a group in Walthamstow, writes Jessica Townsend

I first began to properly engage with the sixth mass extinction – the fact that we are losing as many species now as at the time of the dinosaurs – when researching a writing project. As I read about the science and the detailed media reports, I didn’t really know what to do with the grief and rage that washed over me.

Last summer I met members from a group called Extinction Rebellion, who claimed they were going to stage a ‘rebellion’ in the autumn using the principles of non-violent direct action. They were, they said, confident of success, because they had people who were prepared to be arrested for their beliefs. I was impressed, but also sceptical, and I certainly wasn’t ready to think of getting arrested myself.

Extinction Rebellion is determined to respond to the 2018 United Nations report on climate change that warned us we have twelve years to stop runaway man-made climate change. We are staging a rebellion, not a revolution, with the aim of getting the government to meet our three main demands:

1. Tell the truth about what is happening to the climate and biosphere and declare a ‘climate emergency’.

2. Reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2025.

3. Start a democratic process that will enable us to decide as a country how to deal with the climate crisis.

Like other global hazards, the environmental crisis will hit the poorest hardest. According to Professor Jem Bendell, director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, the world only has four months of reserve grain supplies. That means we only need one difficult year for there to begin to be a food crisis not just in the global south, but even here in Britain, where prices will rise and there will be scarcities and even hunger.

Last year Extinction Rebellion grew as a movement from 15 people in a café to more than 6,000 people blocking London bridges. We now have 75,000 people signed up in Britain and many more all over the world. This spring, a second rebellion aims to grow the movement to include a million people.

We have activists of all ages, colours and genders. We are planning a families group as well as actions in our local area. As a grassroots movement we welcome everyone!

The next rebellion against the extinction is planned for Monday 15th April. For more information: