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Extinction Rebellion taking bold action

  • 21 November 2018
While Brexit negotiations in the UK have dominated Australian news headlines in the last week, there has been less attention given to preparations for Rebellion Day and how protests played out in London on 17 November. Rebellion Day has been organised by Extinction Rebellion: a grassroots organisation that is spearheading a campaign of mass direct action and peaceful civil disobedience aimed at forcing government to address climate change. The movement is rebelling not only against government inaction in the face of climate change, but against the existential threat to our own existence.

The science of climate change is clear. According to the latest report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have only just over a decade to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Beyond this, extreme weather events will increase and cause untold misery, poverty, and even death for millions of people. Globally, ecosystems including water sources and capacity for food production, will suffer if not collapse.

This is no dystopian, imaginary, future. Around the world, we are already feeling the effects of climate change. Species collapse, rising oceans, and the death of large swathes of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef, are all evidence of a changing climate.

According to Professor Steve Turton, Australia is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Using climate modelling, he suggests that the tropics are expanding — likely as far south as Sydney and Perth. As a consequence, pests and diseases are already migrating into regions that were previously uninhabitable for them. This has huge implications for our food security — if nothing else.

As with other environmental disasters, climate change knows no geo-political boundaries. And yet the responses to climate change are highly political. One might think that they were tailored to maximise electoral prospects. However, as evidenced by the recent Wentworth by-election in Australia, the Australian government’s pro-coal policy agenda is at odds with electors’ priorities. The strangeness of a pro-coal and anti-renewable approach is perhaps explained by the capture of our politics by the mining industry through political donations.

In the face of the absence of political leadership on climate change, and the vested interests that seek to maintain the status quo through economic clout, Extinction Rebellion aims to upset the balance of power. Those concerned with short-term super profits will now be faced with the will of the masses. Ordinary people from all walks of life