Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
This is an interview we were able to do with the UK based radical environmentalist organisation Extinction Rebellion. Originally published in Feral Culture blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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/
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.
Tim Shaw September 27, 2018 — 11:28 am
I have written this because I serious doubts about supporting the Extinction Rebellion in London, in its current form.
Who’s really driving this UK based radical environmentalist organisation, Extinction Rebellion? Will it make any difference? Personally, I doubt it. To me Extinction Rebellion (ER) feels wrong, and there’s possibly a hidden Corporate Agenda driving it.
Who gains? This ER group wants to address the Climate Change crisis through, “Heavy Investment in renewables.” This means giving lots of money to big corporations to create electricity and power to feed energy to machines. One has to ask, since when has the generation of industrial renewables had a material effect on Climate? Going into a rebellion, and risking arrest, to be a flag waver for industrial renewables is to my mind foolish.
The simplistic argument supporting the “heavy investment in renewables” idea seems to go a bit like this – generating more energy (‘industrial green energy’), cuts carbon emissions (a bi-product of conventional energy consumption), and thereby through this investment, it this will help the climate! It’s a bit like saying, spending you’re money in a supermarket, saves you money. If you want to save money, best not spend it in the first place. Dig the soil instead. Likewise, if you want to cut emissions, focus on using less energy, don’t embrace generating more.
In fact if you’re really want to be serious about cutting emissions then why not call for a controlled recession instead! I know it’s not going to be popular, but recession is coming anyway, and it works, it cuts emissions! Just look at the data. Every time there is a recession, energy consumption goes down, and so over the last decade the UK has cut it’s energy consumption by about 10%. That’s more than all the renewables generated in the UK put together, most of which comes from biomass and waste anyway (about 70%). Renewables currently, include cutting down rain forest in America to make way for the USA’s fracking industry’s infrastructure, and shipping the biomass across the Atlantic in pelletised form, to be burn’t in Drax Power Station! Big renewables are an industrial game based on carbon trading! Be careful what you ask for. Small is beautiful.
In my opinion, if we are going to avoid ecological catastrophe/extinction, then as a species, we need to disengage from the CONcepts of E-CONomy, E-CONomic Growth, Corporate Entities, and Debt. Our lives, even today are underpinned by our Ecology. If our focus is to reconnect with that, then we have a doable way forward for everyone, and in such a scenario, the CONcept of money would have no real value. Within Ecology we may find Life everlasting, love, laughter and light, healing, and possibly peace, and a free meal. Whereas within Economy, where we are today, we have to pay for everything, and every mouthful is wrapped in plastic, and served up on an industrial conveyor belt, in an industrial shed, called a Supermarket.
Amongst other things, we need land reform. This would create opportunities for individuals to connect more directly with the living environment, to work with it, help it, and heal it. For when people have food in their bellies, then they have life, and if we have life then the rest is up to us. Green Energy is not the answer – it is the energy stream of the machine, and if we continue to feed the machine, we’ll go hungry.
The bottom line is, we do not need the energy for the machine to live, and we would do well to use a lot less of it. For most of humanity’s existence on this planet, humanity has survived for better or worse, without harnessing the mechanised energy stream. It is not what keeps us alive, and our current addiction to it, as ‘energy junkies’, has driven humanity rapidly towards an ecological precipice.
We can do better than that. The message is simple, use Less – Look after Life and She will look after us.
Peace, Love and Chocolate