We supported the Strike for Climate. And that’s why we believe in and will continue to protest the inaction.
The Climate Crisis Is Personal
This climate crisis statement is personal because Maya and I have a 7-year-old son.
He is a 21st-century child.
Global Temperature Trends
This means that for him, and many children like him, he will live through a period of time where global temperatures will rise between 1.8° and 4.0° Celsius.
This temperature rise is predicted by various mathematical models, all of which differ depending on the model emissions scenario (how much greenhouse gas emissions it assumes for the future).
In addition, the amount of predicted warming also differs between different climate models.
However, one shared conclusion from all of these models is that temperatures will rise and that they will have terrible consequences for the world.
Catastrophic Feedback Loops
These models do not account for feedback loops. A feedback loop in the context of the Climate Crisis are situations whereby the on the man-made change in climate triggers another event (or series of events, which in turn cause global temperatures to increase even more. An example of such a situation is the release of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) from seas and soils in permafrost regions of the Arctic.
Therefore, there is also a consensus in the scientific community that these feedback loops may act as tipping points, where, temperatures will actually exceed the figures previously mentioned.
The consequences are even starker.
On a fiery school bus
So imagine a school bus that takes my son to school. But the school bus has an engine that we know is overheating and may explode upon the journey.
We know that the explosion will lead to shock, crash, burns and maybe even death. I and all the parents raise the alarm, waving our hands in desperation for the bus to stop, which is jeopardising the lives of all on board.
Even the children are now screaming at the bus driver to stop, pleading with him that it is their lives that are at risk. It’s unclear why the bus driver is not listening but whatever the explanation, the passengers and parents outside of the bus are bound to take reasonable action to prevent catastrophe.
It’s an emergency and the ordinary conditions of social interaction cease to apply.
When the bus is on fire the normal rules don’t apply: it’s not a crime to break a window to save the children that are inside.
So, I have joined the Extinction Rebellion to do what I can to avoid irreversible and catastrophic harm and mass loss of life from climate breakdown, for all living species on this earth but most especially for my son.
Climate Crisis Science
Any climate crisis statement would not be complete without science.
And for decades scientists have been sounding the alarm with increasing urgency and desperation. In 2017 more than 15,000 scientists from around the world signed an open letter to humanity:
“To prevent widespread misery … humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual … Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”
Our Government is failing in its most fundamental duty to safeguard its people and its children. It is failing us in two ways.
First, it is failing to provide the public with honest and accessible information about the urgency of the threat and the measures that are required to be taken.
Second, it is failing to take the measures necessary to reduce the risk of mass loss of life to a tolerable level.
This failure is widely recognised. In September 2017, the Government’s own former Chief Scientist, Sir David King, told the BBC :
“This is crazy. The government knows very well what needs to be done – but it isn’t doing it.”
In October 2018, the world’s leading climate scientist, Professor James Hansen, wrote to the UK Government to say :
“So the UK joins Trump, ignores science… full throttle ahead with the worst fossil fuels. The science is crystal clear, we need to phase out fossil fuels starting with the most damaging, the ‘unconventional’ fossil fuels such as tar sands and ‘fracking’.”
In December 2018, Sir David Attenborough told the United Nations :
“Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change … If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon … The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead.”
I believe in science. That is what this country and its education system have taught me to do.
I believe that this Government, by failing to be honest about climate breakdown, and by actively expanding fracking and aviation and subsidising fossil fuels, is leading us towards unprecedented human misery and mass loss of life.
For decades, concerned citizens have joined scientists in raising the alarm through ordinary lawful means – through protests and marches and letters and the ballot box. It’s clear these efforts are not working and that time is running out.
Leading scientists and others (including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams) are supporting Extinction Rebellion, which is informed by research into theories of social change, and analysis of social movements such Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign of the 1960s.
When we look back at the horrors of 20th century Fascism we are reminded that it is not enough to be a bystander. To understand what’s happening and to do nothing is to be complicit. What are we to do when to do nothing is morally abhorrent, and all lawful means of protest have failed?
A moral imperative
I have done only what I consider to be necessary and proportionate to protect myself, my son, my family and my fellow citizens from catastrophic and irreversible harm, by helping to raise the alarm in the face of the Government’s failure to do so.
This climate crisis statement is an expression of this.
Already there is evidence our actions are forcing a confrontation with reality. In the words of James Baldwin:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
On 25 November 2018 the Times reported as follows:
“Academics said although ER’s [ie XR] claims about climate change sounded apocalyptic they were broadly scientifically correct. “It is important to make more noise about climate risks,” said Professor Sam Fankhauser, director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. “We need to do something radical. So calls to ‘tell the truth’ are welcome.”
On 11 December 2018, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, declared a climate emergency but complained of lack of government action and support:
“We are in the midst of a climate emergency which poses a threat to our health, our planet and our children and grandchildren’s future. City Hall is doing everything in our power to mitigate the risk in London but the stark reality is that we need urgent government action and funding.”
It has been recognised across the media that Extinction Rebellion protests are necessary and that they are working:
On 9 May 2019, at Southwark Crown Court, 12 men and women, a cross-section of the public, found two XR activists not guilty of causing £7,000 worth of criminal damage. The activists admitted causing the damage but argued their actions were a proportionate response to the climate emergency.
Democracies function effectively when people have access to good information, and the government’s failure to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis is a betrayal of our country’s most democratic principles.
The Government is failing its most fundamental duty. The social contract is broken. We have no choice but to take action.
We are all onboard the bus, which according to the best available science, is heading rapidly towards a fiery end. As passengers on the bus, and with so many children on board, we must do whatever it takes to fix it.
It would be inhuman to do otherwise.
What can you do?
If you are in agreement with this climate crisis statement but are unsure what to do to help, this is ok.
The urge act is mitigated by our conditioning to fit in and be obedient. Not everyone wants to lock themselves to a car and get arrested.
And that’s ok! There are lots of jobs that support the “Arrestables”.
You can wait for arrested people at police stations.
You can help in kitchens.
You can collect food.
Or you can simply show your support through messages of love.