The economics of extinction: a reason for rebellion

Featured


Professor Jem Bendell and Rabbi Jeffrey Newman

What would a sane society do, knowing that one of its luxury food supplies was being exhausted? Consume less perhaps? Or grow more? Japan, knowing that the Bluefin tuna is going extinct, does neither. Bluefish tuna make the most profit for fishermen the nearer they are to extinction, as their rarity endows all the more status on their consumers.

Some might think that is a quirky Japanese behaviour or an anomaly of economics, but actually the free-market system in which individuals compete for profit is resplendent with such stupidities. How else could the investment in fracking or tar sands be explained? Or the way Brazil is consuming the lungs of the Earth to pay back its debts. Or the way industry externalises the cost of processing much of its waste, poisoning the Earth and its future consumers?

The logic that leads to these flaws has long been understood, and there have been waves of visceral protest as the ideology of markets became more entrenched. It is two decades since we were shutting down city centres hosting WTO and World Bank conferences; and almost a decade since Occupy camps squatted in the sacred places of decadent high finance. This time our issue is more than economic justice – it is the way governments are standing by as the global house we live in is burning down. We now see clearer than ever how a stupid financial system is driving an environmental breakdown and mass extinction which will undermine our very civilisation.

But for all the dissent about this situation, there’s little agreement or clarity on where within the financial system the real problem resides – or what could be done about it. Explanations from the marching crowds often invoke privatisation, corruption, greed, the power of banks, or the shrinking state. Deeper analyses point to something that many are unaware of, even economists. It is how private banks, not the government or central banks, create our money supply when they issue loans. It is this practice of issuing money as debt that over time creates a scarcity of money which encourages perpetual economic growth whether a society needs it or not. That means more junk, monotonous work, energy burned, natural environments ripped up, more waste, more money locked up in tax havens, and more unpayable debts. Lifting the veil on the monetary system reveals the interconnection between our social and environmental suffering. Through complex chains of profit-taking, the extortionate financial rewards taken by banks leads to people relying upon food banks while we trash the foundational bank that is a healthy planet.

Therefore, after decades of work on reforming corporations to be more sustainable, we both came to understand that we can’t change the way business does business unless we change the way money makes money. Given our perilous situation with the unfolding environmental breakdown, this change is more urgent than ever. As it oscillates along the knife-edge of debt maximisation and debt default, the current system is simply not fit for a future of climate-induced disruption.

But understanding the driving role of the financial system doesn’t give us a course of action and it certainly doesn’t help us to curtail it. For starters, we exist within the confines of this system. Many of us have little capacity to take radical action because we are working off our debts, or earning wages suppressed by employers servicing their own. That is hardly surprising in an economy with more debt than money.

So what might we do? We can move our money to building societies. But that won’t reform the big banks. We can work together to build alternatives at the local level, such as credit unions and mutual credit currencies. Yet in the UK this has proven difficult, as they are less available and less-funded than their competitors. So we might buy into crypto-currencies, yet many of them are run by speculators who make bankers look saintly!

So the only possible way to put the financial system into a reverse thrust is through government who, after all, unleashed the financial beast over thirty years ago.

It would seem though, that the present UK government imagines a different mandate for itself. In his 2018 party conference speech Chancellor Hammond claimed already to have ‘rebuilt the financial system’ since 2008.He said nothing about energy security, food security, climate change, the global migration crisis or indeed any future concerns except a future Labour government. One can’t imagine the sixth Mass Extinction keeping him awake at night. Rather than existential threats he focused instead on linguistic ones, repeating the term ‘21st century capitalism’ as if the next 80 years of economics were already written.

Hammond is out of touch with a public increasingly alarmed by climate predictions. After 30 years of warnings but no meaningful action, the current (very conservative) estimate is that dramatic changes are needed within the next twelve years, just for a chance of avoiding ‘run away’ climate change. Less optimistic readings of the data indicate that rapid and uncontrollable climate change has already begun. That will mean failed harvests and with it, exploding price rises and, understandably, social unrest. A new paradigm of Deep Adaptation  to environmental breakdown is needed to reduce harm and risk in a very uncertain future. As friends and neighbours we might stockpile food, nurture our gardens and install solar power, but government is needed to build the sea defences, mobilise emergency food production and distribution, rebuild transport systems and integrate large numbers of people fleeing droughts, floods and related conflict.

Governments around the world need to develop climate-smart monetary and investment policies. Such bold policies must involve a scaling down of our non-reserve banking system and an increase in government’s issuance of electronic money instead of bonds. All central banks must be instructed to stop buying bonds from companies with large carbon footprints and instead only buy bonds of firms providing low-carbon solutions for a climate-disrupted future. Governments should also ensure there are networks of local banks with a requirement to lend to enterprises that are focused on cutting emissions or drawing down carbon, as well as developing resilience to disruptive weather. Making that the RBS mandate in the UK is a ‘no brainer’. Government should also look at enabling local governments to issue their own interoperable currencies, as a way of helping local communities become more self reliant in preparation for future disturbances. Treasury officials could begin their education on these ideas by talking to the folks at Positive Money. Meanwhile our diplomats could get cracking on negotiating a global carbon tax, embedded into trade law at the WTO, with government commitments to invest revenues for carbon cuts, drawdown, adaptation and reducing impacts on the poor.

Given how bad things are with the environment we don’t know if such dramatic changes will be too little too late. But it is worth a try. And we are convinced that without an attempt to transform the monetary system then we aren’t really trying.

Let’s for a moment imagine what such changes could support. We can imagine what thriving ecosystems look like, so we let’s imagine a thriving economy. Waste would be minimised, and toxic waste eliminated. Most of what we needed would be produced nearby. There would be no unemployment and no shortage of money to pay for valuable work. Housing would be affordable as it was in the 1970s. Children would see more of their parents. Enterprises and population centres would be governed and managed less as pawns of London, Brussels, Berne, or Frankfurt and more by the people who have a stake in them and their continuance.

There must come a time when when it becomes necessary to flout the law to bring down an immoral or incompetent government. Philosophers call it the ‘right of rebellion’. Naturally they differ on the details, but generally a rebellion these days must use non-violent methods, and it must be against a government which is grossly incompetent, malignant, or treacherous. In upholding a financial system determined to burn all the fossil fuels while not protecting the people from the catastrophic consequences, governments are surely being grossly incompetent, malignant and treacherous.

On April 15th international rebellion week will create all manner of creative, exciting and loving peaceful civil disobedience to show the UK government and its financial masters that we can no longer support interlocking economic and political systems that threaten to curtail the life of our children. It is time to tell the truth, act in accordance with it, and set up Citizens Assemblies with mandates that include both financial reform and Deep Adaptation.

If international rebellion doesn’t startle our politicians into making the climate crisis their central agenda, then we must stretch the rebellion into our everyday lives. How many coordinated withdrawals and loan defaults might bring down a targeted bank? How many local councils issuing inter-operable currencies could create an alternative to the Bank of England? How many people joining networks with their own currencies, like Fair Coop, Credit Commons and Holochain, could make these viable alternatives? If government does not heed peaceful calls to change our economic system so that climate sanity is an economic norm, we may well find out.

We realise that initially our suggestions may be dismissed by some office holders in our current system. Religious texts remind us that privileged people “who detest the one who tells the truth” (Prophet Amos 5:10) are neither new or unusual. But the joy of generations coming together in a new spirit of fearless love, reminds us of the divine invitation to “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Prophet Amos 5:24). We therefore invite more leaders in our current system to join this sacred flow of a peaceful rebellion for life on Earth.

Professor Jem Bendell is founder of the Deep Adaptation Forum and teaches leadership at the University of Cumbria.

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman is Emeritus Rabbi of Finchley Reform Synagogue and leads Shema (Jewish Action on Climate Change).

Further reading on monetary issues:

Currencies of Transition: Transforming money to unleash sustainability. Bendell, Greco (2013)

Re-imagining Money to Broaden the Future of Development Finance Bendell, Ruddick, Slater (2015) UNRISD

The future of sharing: it’s all about freedom, Open Democracy

Thwarting an Uber future for complementary currencies. Bendell & Slater 2017

The Captain-less Raft: a poem

By Liz Darcy Jones

‘Who are your leaders?’ curious shouts
‘We don’t have leaders, so every one counts’
‘But when you cock up, who is to blame?’

‘We are all human, we don’t play the game
of naming, wronging or indulging in shame –

nor do we promise position or fame.

This means we build a raft which is flat

we dismantle hierarchy, slim the fat cat

(that 1% creaming the best out of greed):

we’re creating a platform to meet our earth’s need

Our power is love which honours the world –
so whether you’re blond, or have hair tightly curled

or feathers, or fur, or are frail and bald –
come and join in, whatever you’re called!
this is fierce love and this our power

an unstoppable force at hand ever hour…

but creating it can’t just rely on a few

because at its heart it IS me and you.’

Burning coal, oil and gas may cause sudden, extreme climate change

By Zeeshan Hasan

It is scientifically established that our burning of fossil fuels and the resultant carbon dioxide emissions will result in global warming, and ultimately may cause dangerous climate change. But how fast can that happen? The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change And Our Future by climatologist Richard B. Alley, explores climate scientists’ answers to these questions. The author is Professor of Geo-sciences at the Pennsylvania State University in the USA.

Alley is one of the climate scientists who has spent years collecting and analysing ice cores; these are long samples of ancient ice which have been extracted from the two mile thick Greenland ice cap. This massive layer of ice has been forming for over 100,000 years, and is an repository of historical evidence to climate scientists. The snow deposited each year is still visible as layers in the ice, and these annual layers preserve much chemical information from which scientists can extract a record of past snowfall and temperature. Of particular importance is what the ice cores have revealed of the end of the “Younger Dryas” ice age.

‘At the beginning of this book, we met the Younger Dryas, the last cold gasp of the ice age between about 12,800 and 11,500 years ago… Standing in the science trench in Greenland, I measured how thick the annual layers were in the [ice] core across the end of the Younger Dryas. I found that… many thick layers were followed by one slightly thinner layer, one scarcely more than half as thick, one scarcely more than half as thick, another slightly thinner than that, then a lot of similarly thin ones grouped around a spike of thicker ones. This is most directly explained as a twofold change in three years, with most of that change in one year… So I cannot insist that the climate changed in one year, but it certainly looks that way.’ (pages 110-111).

So science tells us that very significant climate change can occur in just a handful of years. Similar warming may well be in store for us, given that our carbon emissions are changing the atmosphere far more rapidly than any natural process has in the past. Alley proceeds to give details of the sudden, extreme temperature change that occurred at the end of Younger Dryas ice age:

The most direct interpretation… is that the surface of Greenland warmed by about 15 F (8 degrees Celsius) in a decade or less. (page 112)

This should frighten us. This sort of warming today would mean the end of the world as we know it. Climatologists estimate global warming of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius today would render most of the world too hot for agriculture (except a narrow northern band comprising Canada, northern Europe, Russia and Siberia). Widespread famine, starvation and war would be the norm. The vast majority of humanity would almost certainly perish.

Alley’s conclusions regarding the climate change which ended the Younger Dryas ice age should serve as a wake-up call. The reason that no action has been taken by governments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and stop global warming is that climate change is assumed to be something that will happen very slowly, and thus only impact the distant future. However, this assumption is questionable given the findings of the 2018 UN IPCC report, which said that there was only 12 years left to drastically reduce fossil fuel use to prevent global warming of more than 1.5C. The scientific record of the Greenland ice cores shows that when climate change does occur, it can be both quick and extreme. In that case it is not just nameless future generations that our carbon emissions endanger. Rather, our addiction to fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas may well sacrifice the lives of our own children and grandchildren. All of us who wish for a better future than this need to start lobbying our governments and continuously demanding that elected officials quickly replace fossil fuels with solar and wind power.

Standing with Youth for Climate Justice

By Janet Weil

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.” – Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist


In all my years of activism, I had never heard anything like it. A shiver of nervous excitement ran through me.
The high, piercing voice of a girl on a megaphone demanded: “Tell me what democracy looks like!” A chorus of mostly teen girls shouted back: “This is what democracy looks like!”
A boisterous crowd of a few hundred self-led youth and children, with a handful of adults, we marched uphill in downtown Los Angeles. We were adding our small part to the worldwide Student Strike for Climate Action, in which 1.6 million participated in over 125 countries.
The march was more like a trot, and I was having a bit of a sweaty struggle to keep up. I was relieved when the march stopped briefly near the iconic Disney Concert Hall. A group of Latina high school students formed a line for photos and chants.


Some students’ colorful signs reflected grim humor: “If you fail our planet/ good luck/ getting elected on Mars” and “Sunscreen won’t save you forever”. Some were nature-centered: “Plant Trees/ Save Bees/ Clean Seas.” Much love of the natural world and artistic flourishes had gone into the making of their messages.
As we trooped past the huge, fortress-like headquarters of the LA Police Department, a song familiar from my high school days burst out: “Everywhere we go/ people wanna know/ who we are/ so we tell them/ mighty, mighty students/ fighting for justice…” The “fighting for justice” part was different. These kids weren’t yelling for their basketball team. I thought back to the desperate anger I had felt as a teen during the Vietnam War.
The crisis that threatens this generation of youth dwarfs even a decades-long war. As both the U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment and the UN’s IPCC report documented in late 2018, we are in a national and a global emergency. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the highest in 800,000 years. Emissions are rising, not decreasing. We – in California, but also all over the world — are already suffering the effects of a rise of just over 1 degree Celsius: harsher and more frequent storms, wildfires, droughts, crop failures, unpredictable weather.


The march looped back to LA City Hall. I complimented a boy on his large sign, and we exchanged info on our home towns; his, Venice Beach and mine, Palm Springs. We gave each other a small nod of approval and a “thanks for being here.” After talking to Alissa, an adult activist at the Extinction Rebellion table, and getting a sticker from the Center for Biological Diversity folks, I took a seat in a grassy area above the small stage to listen to the rally.
An indigenous woman led us in a heart-opening ritual to the seven directions: east, south, west, north, above, below, inside. Scientist Peter Kalmus, whose two sons have been climate striking on Fridays at Pasadena’s City Hall, spoke briefly, followed by his son Zack: “I strike because the Earth is so beautiful…” A hush fell on the crowd at his words.


A Chicana high school student cried out: “We are more than a hashtag! We are the generation who will have to deal with this! I would rather be in school.” Another girl spoke of her terror during the wildfires last November, and her feeling of dread at the approach of summer.
‎From Boulder, Colorado, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, an environmental justice activist since age 6 (he’s now 18), performed his spoken word piece, then changed to “rally speech.” He observed, “It used to be me and a bunch of old white people, talking about climate change. And shout out to all the old white people” – I grinned – “but now is OUR time!”
In the wave of applause that followed, I didn’t clap or cheer, because a huge lump rose in my throat and grief overwhelmed me. Why should these young people have to face such a bleak future?
So what is left for us, their elders, to do?
Educate ourselves on both the crisis and the solutions; I recommend the book “Drawdown” for starters. Decrease our own emissions by flying and driving less. Speak up in public and private — but don’t waste time on the deniers. Support young activists, and take up some share of the burden. This fight for climate justice has the potential to draw humanity, and the generations, together in the face of a shared existential threat.


I am grateful to the young people I shared an afternoon with. They could have spurned me or asked me to leave. Instead, there was a shared feeling of concern and trust that I will cherish. My feet were sore, and my heart was full.

Janet Weil is a longtime activist for peace and justice. She lives in the California desert town of Palm Springs with her husband and many hummingbirds. You can find her on Twitter: @JanetRWeil.

Inside XR #4


Web version here

The last few weeks have been frantic, frenetic and fabulous. The groundswell of awareness and support for XR continues to grow exponentially. Well done, Team XR!

XR is full of admiration and respect for the children and young people who skipped school to make their voices heard across the globe on Friday, March 15th. They are so right and so justified to shout about the state of the planet they will inherit. The numbers who turned out were staggering. We salute and support you! More in the main newsletter.

And so we move towards the upcoming Dover blockade on 30th March, described in the main newsletter as ‘one of their most turbulent actions to date to highlight the extreme vulnerability of the British people to our food insecurity.’ Climate change will without doubt induce famine – something barely touched on in the mainstream media.

To more practical matters… we have a useful new form – Integration’s latest way for working groups to ask for more volunteers (replacing the old method which involved writing a role description) which will be put on this page.

There are also rumours that the tech team, after weeks of hard work, will be unveiling a new XR website in the near future.

Online Meetings

Does your working group use online meetings?

Do you sometimes struggle to find room for a meeting-slot in the Goto calendar?

Have you ever had your meeting cancelled by another group who wants your slot?

If you’ve experienced any of these problems, please be aware that as well as the Goto Meeting account, XR also has 4 separate Zoom accounts which can be used for working group meetings. If you’d like to have the login details for one of these accounts, please email tech@rebellion.earth

The legal team has spent quite some time producing this; a document that contains valuable expert advice and information about your legal rights if you are arrested. Do read it if you are thinking of direct action and are wondering what to do – and what you need to know – if you are arrested.

From Lynn Michell:

I’m the enthusiastic novice now in charge of this newsletter, replacing the overworked Doug. I’d love each group to nominate someone to be responsible for communicating with me and for getting reports and longer pieces in. Some photos and artwork to go with your pieces would be very welcome to make the newsletter as buzzy as your real life activity.

My sincere thanks to all who’ve found time between the planning and the plotting and the protests to send in reports for Inside XR #4, even as we move with passion toward April’s momentous events. It’s important we all keep in touch.

Thank you for reading this.

Internal news

Actions, Art and Logistics

Actions

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Bn7gjUWGXotrISKEFaBmYTJFGtyjEG067ab8xlTtto8/edit#

Art

This is what we’ve been up to:

  • Rolling out a very serious flag manufacturing program and new patches
  • Producing 100s of thousands of beautiful new poster and flyer designs for promotion of April’s rebellion!
  • Finishing the new website – almost there!
  • Arts and cultural groups are expanding, putting pressure on institutions to declare emergency and hosting workshops to train ready for a performative rebellon.

M&M

Social media

  • We’ve passed 70k followers on Facebook, and over 55k on Twitter – thanks for your support! We’ve also shot up to over 40k on Instagram, partly thanks to interest from the schoolstrikes and a shoutout from Jack Harries, a filmmaker and influencer who was arrested with the #Petroleum9 for blockading International Petroleum Week in London.
  • NEW EVENT UP! We’re kick-starting the callout for a worldwide week of MASS FLYPOSTING to tell the truth on the climate emergency and ecological collapse, starting from March 30th in the lead up to International Rebellion.
  • Over 10,000 Rebels are already listed as Going or Interested to the Facebook event for International Rebellion event starting April 15th – but we want MORE, so invite all your friends! This takes two minutes, but it could be the most important thing you ever do on social media, so please do it. Together we change the world!

Press

The press team is working hard to keep up with covering the many events now happening and upcoming. Alongside the usual writing of press releases and liaising with journalists, we’re also looking to place features in publications outside of our normal audience, so that we can reach out to and bring as many people on-side as possible before we get into April.

Blog

Calling Affinity Groups to share their stories for the international XR Blog and beyond.

Are you part of an affinity group that has participated in direct action? We ask for your stories of courage, struggle, compassion and collaboration, of whatever you have experienced together, from when you first formed to where you are now. This is an offshoot of the #HumansofXR project, to show the world that this movement is their moment too, and demystify NVDA to encourage more to get involved. Creative writing and mixed media all considered. Please email xrblog@protonmail.com with your A.G. name in the subject line.

If you are interested in being a photographer/videographer of your affinity group’s ongoing story, particularly in April, please email francesca.xr.media@gmail.com

Please get permission from all AG members before printing names publicly, or choose pseudonyms.

Additional blog news: we are considering expanding our remit to cover more than just XR, to be a blog space that brings together all radical nonviolent civil disobedience movements that are happening internationally, to promote greater solidarity and revolutionary cohesion moving forward. Get in touch to give your views on this either way, as we are yet undecided.

Note that the international blog is separate from the main XR websites, so we have a lot of freedom and tactical manoeuvrability. (What a great word!)

Newsletter

Through the amazing work of those who’ve joined us, the external newsletter team is excited to be on the very cusp of regular weekly output. We’re also really happy with our new International Highlights section which showcases the sometimes under-appreciated global magnitude of XR. Going forward, we’re hoping to grow the team to include a role focussing on readership growth. If you’d like to include an announcement in the next newsletter, please email xr-newsletter@protonmail.com.

Regen

A sanctuary space is now ready in our London offices, hosting regenerative workshops, massages and healing sessions. Our kitchen is also opening up on Wednesday with an inaugural pot of soup! Any London-based healers/space holders/therapists/masseuses/cooks wanting to get involved, please contact Iain on xlaieounr@protonmail.com

Land and Respite

The UK network of respite hosts continues to grow. We continue to receive enquiries from individuals, places and organisations who want to support Rebels. It is also nice to see more requests for respite coming in. Please keep them coming. Look after yourselves! Please get in touch at xr-landandrespite@protonmail.com if you know anyone/where that would be interested in growing this network, or if you would like some respite time in an XR person’s house, resting up and being fed. We have hosts all over the country, including near London.

In preparation for April and all future Actions/Work, the team is building a new database of Land Support around London. This will include all common land, parks, open spaces, land squats (or potential), farms and private holdings where Rebels are free to roam, organise, take respite and engage in civil disobedience. Longer-term into the autumn and into 2020, this City Support Belt could potentially provide a larger strategic role. This is just our intuition, so it’s up to all of you, especially strategy people, to think of how this could be useful, if we’re right!

We are also exploring which sites around the city could welcome Earth Marchers on their way into the centre.

Watch this space as we develop a Land Support map for London for all Rebels to use.

We are reaching out to the horse-drawn community, to see if any would join the Earth Marches to provide support (carry bags/food/tents/people) and perhaps join us in the middle of London mid-April. We have put a call out, but if any of you have direct links, please get in touch. Wouldn’t you like to see a bunch of horses and wagons in London? And a big pile of horse-shit in Parliament Square? Help us make it happen!

Finally, we urgently seek a techy person to maintain our Land and Respite map of the UK, and to begin and maintain a Land Support map for London. This is a new volunteer role. Please get in touch if you can help.

Legal

Please come to our Arrest Watch Training this Sunday 24th March

https://www.facebook.com/events/1037954563058520/

It will give you the skills to prepare you and your group for arrests at actions. It will be a day of skilling up so that the next time you are out on the streets and someone gets arrested next to you, you’ll be able to support them. It’s also about skills for the action day so that there’s a framework in place to support arrestees on the day itself and to get ready for post arrest. Please send 1-2 representative(s) from your local XR group down to this training so they can skill their local rebels up in how to watch arrests. There is a lot we need to get through so prepare yourselves for a full-day training.

Bring some food so we can have a shared lunch together – we’re looking forward to training with you!

Talks and Trainings

In February, Events Organisation has helped to set up 36 talks and 22 NVDAs. In March they organised 41 talks and 20 NVDAs. And these are only the ones we know about… which is pretty amazing!

If anyone else is organising speaker trainings or NVDA Train the Trainers, please do get in touch with eventsxr@gmail.com so that we can put them into our calendar and get as many attendees as possible.

Festivals group has confirmed 8 festivals over this summer. We’ll be there with our Rebel Rebel tent including Noisily, Shindig, Glastonbury, Byline, BlueDot, Wilderness, and Boomtown!

We are looking for more volunteers to join our Events Organisation team from different regions.

Other than that, we’ve finalised our new talks and workshop scripts in time for April, and now we’re ready to go on all fronts! We are looking to decentralise even more by helping to support more Talks & Trainings working groups of Local groups, all thanks to Robin’s new Local Links idea.

Communities

Regional Development

The regional development is pleased to welcome aboard a raft of new super proactive regional coordinators in the South East, South West and the North! We are now setting up regional art factories across the UK to ensure that the rebellion is fully equipped and colourful in April. Local groups are now preparing themselves for April by gearing up with more talks and NVDA trainings. We are still looking for regional coordinators in the Midlands so if you are keen and prepared to give just a few hours a week then please contact us at xr-regionaldevelopment@protonmail.com.

Integration

The main priority within Integration is bringing in committed volunteers with regular availability into key organising roles for the International Rebellion. We’ve advertised loudly for new volunteers and are inviting working group coordinators to update us on current requirements using THIS online form.

Tech

The Tech group has been working on a number of projects including bringing a new ticketing system online for tech support requests at tech@rebellion.earth, bringing our Basecamp system more in line with the Self-Organising System structure, getting our new website up to production standard, and increasing security and data protection across the XR organism. Talk about a busy month for Tech!

International Support

The International Support team has been working on facilitating conversations among different national XR teams in different countries and to build more connections across the international network. We’re working on twinning city/local groups and bringing representatives from specific work areas such as Media and Messaging together with similar national working groups in other countries to make sure that folks internationally are as up to date as possible with one another.

A European gathering has been organised for the 30-31st March in Brussels, bringing several national teams from across Europe together for the first time in the same space to meet face-to-face.

Finance and Fundraising

“Calling All Rebels” at the beginning of March gave a huge boost to our Crowdfunding campaign: an extra £40,000 in 10 days. But we are not there yet. Tell people around you that we have a rebellion to fund!

For donations,  click here

This is an extract of what donors wrote:
Extinction Rebellion is the Earth’s last best chance – so there’s just no choice – we’re donating what we can afford and will be in London for the 2 weeks” – Jenny


“inspirational work – gives us all hope! Thank you to everyone who puts themselves out there to change hearts and minds” – Margaret

Self Organising System

We have a wonderful new, visual version of the XR Organism which shows who is a coordinator in different working groups. Check it out here.

Recently our recommendations for an XR Constitution were approved by the Anchor Circle. An exciting step towards a functioning Self Organising System! Curious about what the Anchor Circle is? Check out our explanation post here.  

We are delighted to have a few new members on the team who will be looking at how we can share the SOS system with local groups, general trainings and to structure our debrief/feedback systems.

Please make sure you send us all the key documents and videos for your group to add to this spreadsheet. Info on how to do this here.

If you need help setting up the SOS system in your group please get in touch with xrmandates@gmail.com

SOS out!


Briefing: What’s faith got to do with Extinction? Learning to hold the world in our hearts

(mothiur@neweconomylaw.org, skeena0408@hotmail.com)

We live in a secular society where, for the last few hundred years, affairs of the heart and spirit have been firmly kept separate from the “worldly” affairs of power and politics. And yet many are longing for a deeper connection to one another and enlisting in actions of civil disobedience. This demonstrates that the craft of civil disobedience as a powerful force for societal transformation when held from the heart and with the intention of non-violence (see in particular Mark & Paul Engel’s book “This is an Uprising”).

We’re a group of people who practice our faith in many different ways: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, shamanic, healing practices, meditation, humanist and ‘nothing in particular’, to name a few. We have already developed several strands of action. Our first activity was to support a civil disobedience action, the ‘Blood of our Children’ on 9 March when some of our group held space at the beginning of the procession and helped hold the “field of intention” as we all gathered to hear the children and youth speak their truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW02kNbpAmU&feature=youtu.be

One comment on the event: “This was an extremely moving event – more than I imagined, to be honest. And in part to this holding of sacred space.”

Creating “sacred space” may be no more than just telling people to put a hand on one another’s shoulder as we gather together, a remembrance of touch and togetherness uncommon in our atomised culture, the “sacredness” coming through an alignment of intentions through an action that, in its own small way, opens the heart.

We also now have an online “intention field” Facebook group, “Holding the World in our Hearts”, which we invite you to join. Together we hold the intention to move through our planetary crisis with “love in action” and “love in stillness”. We lean into the riches of our imagination and curiosity and through our hearts into leadership. Please join us and dedicate your sacred practices to this vision. We are planning regular ‘virtual meetups’ where we can contribute our love, our intentions and our spiritual and heart-led capacities for creating a more beautiful world. Please join us!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/holdingtheworldinourhearts

As we move towards International Rebellion, we intend to build our supportive capacities for working with civil disobedience action. We are also reaching out to faith communities in their churches, synagogues, mosques and other spiritual centres to invite them to the International Rebellion, to demonstrate “love in action” from each of their perspectives and help XR become a fractal pattern of the dynamic diversity we need to be. We are also supporting XR through creating materials to help in the transmission of “XR’s DNA”. We gave a taster of what we hope to bring to such DNA transmission training at the Spring Rebellion. There are plans for this to be rolled out as a “train the trainer” set of materials.  

One member of our group is a professional who is not of any particular faith and said he felt a little bit excluded by many in our group who are on “journeys” of spiritual transformation.  When he heard the statement below he felt it spoke to him, an ordinary guy in a job he liked and wanted to keep, but who felt fear at what he was hearing, wanted to protect his children and wanted to be reminded of what was important in life as it was easy to forget in a busy and stressed life. So finally, we would like to hear your thoughts on this: Does this speak to you, would you like to hear it read out at the beginning of the Regen Statement for XR meetings?  

If you could please take 1 minute to answer “yes/no/yes with minor amendments” in this poll that would be AMAZING:

http://www.easypolls.net/poll.html?p=5c918a20e4b070a0255c22e5

A Collective Intention:

Let us take a moment, this moment, to consider why we are here.

Let’s recall our love for the whole of humanity, in all corners of the world.

Let’s remember our love for this beautiful planet that feeds, nourishes and sustains us.

Let’s recollect our sincere desire to protect all this, for ourselves, for all living beings and for generations to come.

As we act today, may we find the courage to bring this sense of peace and appreciation to everyone we encounter, to every word we speak and to every action we make.

Thank you for turning up.

If you would like to be involved in this group’s activities please contact one of the coordinators, Mothiur or Skeena, or join the Basecamp group click here.

A Poem for the Bellingham Climate Strikers

By Rob Lewis

Bellngham City Hall, 3/15/19

Where the sun meets the earth

your education begins.

Where the gold light meets the green striving

the lesson plan is all laid out.

Your teachers sing from the branches.

Stored knowledge shines in the leaves.

Study closely this living encyclopedia.

Become friends with things

and they will reward you with their meanings.

Though the adult world seems to have abandoned you

The earth is behind you every step of the way.

You have on your side all flowers and all rivers,

mountains and sand grains and the universes

inside those sand grains.

You have the oceans around you and the one inside you,

which occasionally appears on the lip of your eyelid

in the brief relief of a tear.

You didn’t come across waves of time

to fulfill the educational metrics of the state.

You are not given sight, and hearing and imagination

just to elbow past the others

in an economy that’s liquidating the world.

Out of the earth you came.

You hold in your eyes

the sun’s own candles

Don’t be afraid to burn

a few bad ideas down.

Don’t be afraid to dazzle us

with your fire.

An Alarmist’s Guide To Climate Change

By Bill McGuire

First posted on Scientists for Global Responsibility

Have you noticed how the term ‘alarmist’ has been high-jacked? In the context of climate breakdown, habitat and wildlife loss and other environmental issues, it has become synonymous with scaremongering; with the voice of doom. In certain circles it is frowned upon and judged to be a hindrance to getting the global heating argument across. Iconic broadcaster David Attenborough is the latest to express the view that ‘alarmism’ in the context of the environment can be a ‘turn-off’ rather than a call to action. But are such viewpoints justified, especially when our world and our society teeter on the edge of catastrophe? After all, the simplest, most straightforward, meaning of an ‘alarmist’ is someone who raises the alarm. Is this not what we need now more than ever; to be told the whole story – warts and all? The alternative, it seems to me, is to play down the seriousness of our predicament; to send a message that is incomplete, and to conveniently avoid or marginalise predictions and forecasts that paint a picture regarded as too bleak for general consumption. Surely, this is the last thing we need at this critical time?

No-one could ever accuse the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) of being alarmist. Because every sentence of IPCC report drafts is pored over by representatives of national governments – some of whom are luke-warm or even antagonistic to the whole idea of climate change – the final versions are inevitably conservative. The closest the IPCC has come to sounding an alarm bell can be found in its latest report Global Warming of 1.5ºC, published last month. Here it warns that emissions must be slashed within 12 years (by 2030) if there is to be any chance whatsoever of keeping the global average temperature rise (since pre-industrial times) below 1.5ºC, and fall to zero by 2050.

Notwithstanding the unlikelihood of achieving net zero global emissions in a little more than three decades, the pace and degree of climate change are about more than just anthropogenic emissions. They are also influenced by tipping points and positive feedback loops; sudden changes in the behaviour of ice sheets, carbon sources and sinks, and ocean currents, which can accelerate warming and its consequences way beyond the expected. Depressingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the latest IPCC report’s Summary for Policymakers1 – let’s face it, the only bit likely to be read by the movers and shakers – includes just one brief mention of feedbacks and has nothing at all to say about tipping points. The justification for this appears to be that because it is not possible to assign levels of confidence to such known unknowns, they cannot be included. But it is difficult not to conclude that the real reason is to tone down the threat in order to appease those governments that view climate change as a nuisance that they would like to go away.

The decision to bury concerns over tipping points and feedbacks in the depths of the full report rather than flagging them in the Summary is nonsensical. Touting the critical importance of drastic action while at the same time soft peddling the threat has the potential to backfire, providing the obvious get out: well, if the situation is not so bad, maybe the response doesn’t need to be that urgent. If drastic, life-changing, action is being mooted, people need to know – have a right to know – why. They need to be presented with a complete picture showing how bad things might get – however scary or poorly constrained.

Bringing the potential consequences of tipping points and feedbacks into the equation inevitably transforms perceptions of the dangers we face. Suddenly, climate change ceases to be something vaguely inconvenient that we can leave future generations to deal with. Instead, it becomes far more of an immediate threat capable of tearing our world apart. Take sea level, for example. The IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, published in 2013 and 2014, predicts – for a worst case scenario – that global mean sea level could be about a metre higher by the end of the century. Bad enough for millions of coastal dwellers, but nothing compared to what our descendants might experience if a tipping point is crossed that sees the Greenland and/or West Antarctic ice sheets start to disintegrate in earnest. Models that incorporate this point to sea level rising far more rapidly. One suggests that the ice loss in Antarctica could occur at a much faster rate than expected, leading to global average sea level being more than 3 metres higher at the end of the century (Le Bars, D. et al. 2017 A high-end sea-level rise probabilistic projection including rapid Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss. Environmental Research Letters 12). Another, based upon correlations between temperature and sea levels during the last interglacial, which ended around 115,000 years ago, proposes that sea level – in theory at least – could climb by as much as 5m by 2100 (Hansen, J. et al. 2016 Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming could be dangerous. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3761-3812).

Worrying evidence that we might be at a tipping point in Antarctica comes from a very recent study on the rate of ice loss from 2012 to 2017. During this five-year period, Antarctic ice loss shot up threefold, from 76 billion tonnes annually, to a colossal 219 billion tonnes (The IMBIE Team 2018 Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet 1992 – 2017. Nature, 558, 219-222). In total, more than 2.7 trillion tonnes of Antarctic ice has melted in the last quarter century, adding three quarters of a centimetre to global sea level. At the new rate, the contribution over the next 25 years would be 1.5cm. Not enough to worry about in its own right. If, however, the rate of increase is maintained over this period, then the annual rise by 2043 would be close to a catastrophic five centimetres a year. And this is without the growing contribution from Greenland and from the increasing expansion of sea water as the oceans warm.

And there are other causes for serious concern too. None more so than the behaviour of the Gulf Stream and associated currents (together making up the AMOC – Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) that warm north-west Europe and also have a big influence on global weather patterns. In the distant past, surges of meltwater from shrinking ice sheets have caused the Gulf Stream to shut down. Now, it looks as if it might be in danger of doing so again as huge volumes of freshwater from the crumbling Greenland Ice Sheet pour into the North Atlantic, forming a so-called ‘cold blob’. The IPCC’s official line is that another complete shutdown is ‘very unlikely’, but this is not the same as ruling it out. And there are certainly some worrying signs. The Gulf Stream has slowed by 15 – 20 percent since the middle of the 20th century and is now at its weakest for at least 1600 years (Caesar, L. et al. 2018 Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation. Nature 556, 191 – 196). The Gulf Stream has a tipping point, and – evidence from the past shows – can shut down in just a few years when this is crossed. The problem is that no-one knows when – or even if – this will happen. If it does, the ramifications will be sudden and widespread. The North Atlantic region will cool dramatically, particularly across the UK, Iceland and North West Europe, while sea ice will expand southwards. Sea-levels along the eastern seaboard of North America could rise at three to four times the global average rate. Further afield, changes to weather patterns are forecast to include a weakening of Indian and east Asian monsoons, which could have devastating consequences for crop yields. No-one is saying that the Gulf Stream is in imminent danger of collapse. Nonetheless, the threat is not insignificant, and as such should be soberly touted, not wilfully ignored.

Of the many and varied feedback loops and tipping points linked with rapid anthropogenic warming, perhaps the most disquieting involves the vast tracts of permafrost at high latitudes – both on land and beneath the sea. Trapped beneath this frozen crust are colossal quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas that has a warming effect 86 times greater than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, methane has a relatively short residence time in the atmosphere and breaks down to carbon dioxide within a few decades. Nonetheless, major outbursts of methane from the rapidly thawing permafrost are capable of causing climate mayhem with little or no warning. The geographic region of most concern is probably the submarine permafrost that floors the East Siberian Continental Shelf, where an estimated 1400 billion tonnes of carbon, in the form of methane, is lurking beneath a frozen carapace that is thawing rapidly. According to Natalia Shakhova and colleagues (Shakhova N. E. 2008 Anomalies of methane in the atmosphere over the East Siberian shelf. Geophysical Research Abstracts10, EGU2008-A-01526. Abstract), as much as 50 billion tonnes of this is available for sudden release at any time, which would – at a stroke – hike the methane content of the atmosphere 12 times. According to a study published in 2013 (Whiteman, G., Hope, C. and Peter Wadhams. 2013 Vast costs of Arctic change. Nature499, 401–403), a discrete methane ‘burp’ on this scale, could advance global warming by 30 years and cost the global economy USD60 trillion – a figure close to four times the US national debt. Once again, the occurrence of such an outburst is far from a certainty and there are other issues to consider, including how much methane is absorbed by the ocean as it bubbles upwards. Notwithstanding this, there is a potential danger here that needs to be promulgated rather than hidden away, so that the scale of the climate change threat is clear to everyone.

So – to conclude – be alarmed; be very alarmed. But don’t let alarm feed inertia. Use it instead to galvanise action. For your children’s and their children’s sake, stand up and do something about it. Drastically change your life style; become an activist; vote into power a government that will walk the walk on climate change, not just talk the talk. Or – preferably – all three.

“Who is Extinction Rebellion for” Ditty

By Liz Darcy Jones

I was challenged this week by an acquaintance as to who the leaders of XR are and who it’s for… Very serendipitous timing as I’d reached Principle and Value No 6 ‘We welcome everyone and every part of everyone’!

And after joining members of the Green Party, other environmental groups and fellow XR rebels in Newbury in pouring rain to remind the Council that the climate emergency will have an impact on their spending (it was their annual Budgetary meeting) the ditty below emerged. We were a diverse group and my imagination lit up…

Who is XR for?’

‘Everyone.’
‘Too general, it can’t be done! Nah!’
It’s something I muse upon. And now I’ll hazard a try
to tell you why…’

Because XR is you

the passionate, secret tree-hugger

daring to start a chant (she’s eighty-two)

Because XR is me

the child of three

who doesn’t understand but likes to bang

his tambourine and make a noise indefinitely!

Because XR is her

retired and studious academic

now prepared to make a stir

Because XR is him

who doesn’t agree entirely with the strategy

and whose sight is getting dim

but feels valued (and the endless marching

keeps him trim)

Because XR is he/she/neither and LGBT

removes all labels and yet recognises

each for who they are – safe and heard in a holacracy*

Because XR is multi-sized

embracing every part of you –

yes, the bits you conveniently forget

and the lovely parts you’ve not yet met

Because XR is me

lover of solitude, pacing my supplies of energy

XR could be each and every one of us

the passengers and driver of the bus

XR could be mankind – man kind – transformed into one ginormous ‘we’
will you join up and help that come to be?!

*A holacracy is a decentralised nimble form of organisation, flat in structure leveraging autonomy, see www.holacracy.org