Dear Rebel…

DEAR REBEL -LOVE LETTERS FOR REBELS AND ARRESTEES:

Between the 15th and 25th of April 2019 over 1000 people were willingly arrested, sacrificing their liberty to block – with peaceful and joyful nonviolent resistance – five high profile locations in Central London: Marble Arch – (‘This is an Emergency’) Oxford Circus – (‘Tell the Truth’) Waterloo Bridge – (‘Act Now’) Parliament Square – (‘Beyond Politics’) Piccadilly Circus – (‘Extinction Rebellion Youth’). During the Oxford Circus occupation, a member of the wellbeing team came up with an inspiring idea: to have people write ‘loveletters’ that could be handed and read out to the people who were ‘locked-on’. It brought many welcome smiles. We then decided to take things one step further, inviting people across the world to write an anonymous ‘love-letter’ of gratitude to the rebels who had been putting themselves on the front line and spending time in police cells to protect what we all rely on for life. ~What follows, are just some of those LOVE LETTERS~ Please send a ‘love-letter’ of your own to: XR-Love-Letters@protonmail.com x

Dear beloved Rebel, My rebel, my love, my heart, I write to you with the upmost passion and urgency to express the love I hold for you, but before I continue I will tell you about where I am now and what spurned me to write this letter. I am sat on the bank of a river, in a meadow in Cambridge, there was a sudden spring shower and the skies darkened and a-darkened above unforgivingly. The rain came and fell upon the earth sending every creature running for cover. But after it passed and I continued my journey down towards the quiet green tranquil meadows the sun broke through and suddenly all around me was a sight so beautiful. The river is glistening, the trees fresh with bright green spring growth, willows overhanging the waters edge, the birds sing merrily and altogether the moment struck me with such an awe and inspirational love for the natural world around us that I could do nothing but feel fear for the earth and environment. And this leads me onto you and the passion for our earth that you have shown, a passion so true and so courageous that it will inspire many and be told for generations to come, for what you have done might seem trivial, a small thing, but it is a part of a journey so noble than none but the devil himself could mock or fault you. You dear rebel are beautiful, and your beauty will last forever, immortalised in legend. Dear rebel, I love you. Sol x

Dear Rebel, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your bravery in getting arrested in the name of the greatest cause in human history; averting climate change and ecological disaster. Speaking of history, whatever happens in the course of your arrest / court case / other consequences, you can know that you will be on the right side of history, having stood up to the disaster capitalists hell-bent on putting profits before people and planet. You can tell future generations you did all you could in what has now become a war for our very survival. As I write this, my baby son sleeps next to me, unaware of the events unfolding around him. He delights in pictures of elephants, gorillas and tigers, yet I worry they won’t even exist by the time he is grown up. I worry daily about the kind of world he and his descendants will inherit, or even if he’ll be the last generation. He is both the reason I can’t currently risk arrest myself and also the reason I have joined Extinction Rebellion. As an innocent baby he is powerless to change our course to avert climate change but you and I are not. Together we can and must stand and act together to avert this impending climate disaster. Thank you for taking the first steps and for inspiring me to join you. Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Your actions mean you are already creating a more truthful, harmonious and greener world for us all. Thank you from me, my husband, my baby and (I hope) his children’s children’s children’s children … With very best wishes, love and rage, Natalie

Dear Rebel, With tears in my eyes I send you my love. Thirty five years ago I stood up for the environment. My family ate organic food produced mainly by my husband, but sometimes bought expensively with meagre earnings. I kept plastic out of my home and brought up my children to love nature. I cannot thank you enough for taking part in Extinction Rebellion now that I am in my 70s and have not enough stamina to be with you in person. I am right behind you in spirit and will help however else possible. Maria

Dear Rebel, You are a rock star!! When my children grow up I’m going to tell them stories about the amazing people who gave everything to save our future. I’ll tell them that even though it must have been scary, it’s also so brave and courageous and I feel so immensely proud of the people that faced arrest for what they believe in. Even though I don’t feel like I have a right to be proud of you, because I haven’t done enough myself to earn that right. But I want to do more, you’ve inspired me to do more and I imagine thousands of other people will be in a similar position. It could be the tipping point that saves the world. Every single person that stood up that day is my hero. I don’t have the words to eloquently describe how thankful I am to you but I promise to let everyone know, now and in the future, how absolutely bloody brilliant you are. Hannah

Dear Rebel, I am so very grateful to you. Wonderful you! You have been brave, bold and beautiful on behalf of future generations. Generations of birds and beasts yet to emerge, generations of insects and amphibians, who will never know your commitment. On behalf of all life: generations of humans who have hope because of you, plants, animals, bacteria and fungi, thank you so much! With admiration and kindness Becky

Dear Rebel, Locked on. Locked in. Locked up. Super glued super heroes using super powers, you make me marvel. Enduring that parallel universe of uniforms and metal doors, of finger prints and scary forms. Parliament has declared a climate emergency. Your tools of disobedience have leveraged change. Today, 3rd of May, councils have gone Green across the UK. A hive mind, paradigm, seismic shift. Thank you for your amazing part in this gift. With thanks and admiration, I salute you. Sophie

Dear Rebel, You have given hope, where hope was waning. You have given time and life and liberty, when all of these are in short supply. You have offered such courage, it makes my heart weep – and I am so very, very grateful. The world is changing faster than we knew. Until this past month, it seemed all a slide downhill. And now…. now there is hope. Life is wonderful and I am beyond grateful for all that you have done With many blessings Mx

Dear Rebel, From the bottom of my heart, I want to let you know how much I love you. I want to put my arms around you and say that that I admire you and I’m proud to be part of a movement that includes YOU. You have been prepared to stand up and be counted and to sacrifice your liberty for the benefit of humankind and all life on earth – thank you so much for your selfless, truly loving and peaceful act.. On one of the road blocks at International Rebellion I saw a placard saying ‘be a Worthy Ancestor’. Well that is what you are, you are indeed a WORTHY ANCESTOR and you should be very proud of the path you have taken. On that theme, this is an abridged piece I came across in the Earth Pathways Diary: This is an urgent message from the future and it’s a message for you. We are the as yet unborn and we’re asking you not to give up on us. We know that your actions, your choices, your beliefs, play a crucial role in the direction of the Earth’s history. We tell stories about you and people like you who refused to give up on the future. You are our ancestors and we call on you to play your part, to recognise your responsibilities and to rise to the occasion. Hold on to hope as we do; our hope lies in you. Jenny

Dear Rebel, My name is Ella and I am 14 years old. People like you inspire me tremendously and I hope to one day be as powerful and inspiring as you are. I love you for saving me and my future. Thank you so much xxx

Dear Rebel, I’m completely in awe and delighted to see the XR protests around our dear little planet. That you have offered yourself to the cause by being arrested brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. I offer you thanks from the depth of my heart. As an elderly gent (72) I’ve done my share of polluting our home and now having a granddaughter my feelings are mixed. A bit of shame at years of flying etc (tho I have lived off grid these last thirty years) and fear for my daughter’s new child. I live at the bottom of the planet in Tasmania where our temperate rain forest burned for the second year, an unprecedented event. My partner and I have signed up for XR. I offer this info in solidarity. What you have done is to start the ball rolling and my gratitude is just a small note of appreciation for your sacrifice. I hope that the changes you have set in motion will be some recompense for your action in being arrested. Best wishes, hugs and love Dr Jim

Dear Rebel, I am writing to express my love and gratitude to you for standing on the front line in our rebellion. Without your courage, this beautiful movement would not have flourished, and touched thousands of people with its compassion for our planet and the life it sustains, and galvanised us to work together to defend our natural world and give our children the chance of a life worth living. Life fights to survive, and truly knowing that is profound and humbling. A year ago I started working at an animal welfare organisation, where I signed up for wildlife bulletins from various sources. Every day since I have been forced to accept little truths about the scale of our destruction of life on this planet. The near extinction of monarch butterflies and the loss of one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. The quietening of the cliffs of the Shetlands because of the loss of its seabirds. Every tiny pocket of Earth, where life has found a way to thrive, it is assailed by man-made threats as we destroy habitats, pollute eco-systems, kill wildlife for profit and murder our life-giving planet. Until the International Rebellion began, I couldn’t bear to acknowledge the deep sense of grief and mourning I have been carrying around with me. The prospect of the end of life on this planet was too overwhelming to cope with or meet with anything other than fear and anxiety. I’ve carried around a sense of guilt that I had brought two sons into a world with such an uncertain future. Until the International Rebellion began. You have shown me and my family that we are not alone. You have given us belief that together we can change our collective fate. I hope I can repay you and our community for these gifts and I will do whatever I can to help. Please remember when you have moments of doubt, or fear, or worry, that behind you are tens of thousands of people like myself, loving and grateful for your sacrifice. Let’s celebrate this moment, when the environmental movement has burst back into public consciousness, led by XR and the Youth Strikers. Thank you. Thank you a million times over. Thank you. Love, Peter

Dear Rebel Thank you for what you are doing to stand up for the planet and its future. For many years, I have tried to share the message about the importance of caring for the earth through environmental teaching and earth education. Recently, I had been wondering if it had all been in vain; if anyone had heard or understood the things we educators and scientists have been saying about the seriousness of it all. Had it all been a waste of time, I wondered? But seeing the passion and courage of the Extinction Rebels has reignited my hope and fired my enthusiasm! It has renewed my faith in humanity and made me feel so much less alone. That there are selfless people like you out there, making sure that this vital information is seen and heard by so many people around the world, is truly inspirational. Well done for standing up for what you believe in. And from me, and for our fellow passengers on the earth, thank you. Kate

Dear Rebel, First, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a 39 year old male living in Shropshire and working as a chef. Around 20 years ago i was involved in the animal rights movement, with environmental issues, and with the anti capitalist movement. Then I got a mortgage, bought a car, and generally did all the “normal” things. 20 years went by and I think I got a bit sucked in to all this consumerism bollocks. Two weeks ago I watched people standing up for the world in which I live, people such as you and I realised that I had forgotten so much of who I was and really who I wanted to be. Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that, there are obvious victories, the government have declared a climate emergency being the most obvious. But the real victories are the amount of people like myself who looked at the actions that were taken in London and thought “shit, these people have a point” and want to know how they too can make a difference. So I want to say thank you. You have changed me and you are changing the world. Dave

Dear Rebel, Firstly – and forever – thank you! I was thinking about what you have done by calmly and deliberately getting arrested – and how difficult I would find it to decide that it was worth taking on the consequences of this action in the way that you have. I wanted to tell you how extraordinary you are, how much of a difference you have made, how much bolder you are than me, and how much better you are than anyone who critiscises you for what you have done. When it really mattered for our planet and for future generations of humans (as well as all other species) you stood up and did what was needed no matter the consequences. I genuinely believe that you, and your actions, will be written into the history books as the sparks that ignited the changes we need. I am utterly convinced that what you have done is not only right, but necessary. Thank you for being bold and clear sighted. Thank you for being a leader. Thank you for doing as much as could possibly be asked of you. Thank you for our future. Nick

Dear Rebel, Hey wonderful, you know how much you mean to me, but let me say it one more time! You are the most beautiful and caring thing that has ever happened to save the planet. Words are not enough to express my gratitude. There should be a poster of you, the 1000+ who helped change history. Your non-violent peaceful and polite protest will be looked upon in high regard. I hope that the police were kind to you and avoided the use of handcuffs. That they softened their stance once they knew you were a first timer and showed you some humility and humanity. I hope that when you were released, you were not too far from where you were taken, and that XR colleagues were present to help you. I hope that those that love you boasted of this ultraistic badge of “arrest” honor. I hope that you have excellent legal representation and your fine is minimal. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to me and to the rest of the world. Thank you very much for bringing eternal sunshine to my life and a climate emergency declaration by this government. The sacrifice of your liberty makes my day and inspires me to do the best of things in my life. I am humbled by your sacrifice. Thank you very much for that motivation. Sharing the Earth with someone willing to spend time in the cells for future humans keeps me hopeful. Thank you very much. Hey sexy rebel, I think I love you, Thank you for being there, when the planet needed you.All life on this planet loves you. Thanks for you time and amazing efforts.Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Truly yours, Ian

Dear Rebel, I thank you from the deepest part of my heart for what you have done. This cause, more than any other, lives inside my soul. The earth is our Mother, and has given us so much. She supports us and lets us live. She is so beautiful! And we know that we are destroying her… You have been brave enough to put yourself in the front line, facing the law, getting arrested, being deprived of the freedom which is integral to life. I am in awe of your bravery, of your commitment, of your love. I am indebted to you (and others) for your willingness to be arrested. You have truly done something amazing, for which I hope you are very proud. The earth will feel your actions; your actions will have ripple effects and bring us to a better future. I also worry about you, wondering how you are post-arrest. I do hope you are proud and happy and energised, but I wonder if you are also shaken and frightened and sad. If so, I hope you can reach out to your friends, family (of choice) and the XR community, for the love and support you need. You deserve to be held and nurtured, coming back from the front lines of this struggle. Thank you. Thank you from me, from the birds in the garden, from the polar bears in the arctic, from the bees. With love overflowing, Max

Dear Rebel, Thank you for all that you are and all that you have done, in dreaming and determination. I see you and I love you. Alexander

Dear Rebel, I watched over several arrests. I hope yours wasn’t one of the rough ones. I couldn’t get arrested myself, and the more I saw the more badly I wanted to. I cried at every one. I hope you weren’t scared. It was harder to watch when people were scared. And so many seemed so, shaking, to have vultures come down and take their autonomy away like that. Probably you aren’t the girl with the human/coral tattoo on her arm. I wanted to tell her that her tattoo was cool but it felt like such a private moment. She was so potent, lay on the floor with her arm in a metal tube. Singing while they read a section to her. She was with a group, and I felt so moved by the comraderie of them. They had a copy of H is for Hawk with them and that just really stuck with me. One of the arrestees I witnessed was one of the first to be tried and left court with a fine. They were so jubilant in the newspaper, and seeing them, I felt this feeling of, yes! You did it! Even though I never knew them. They didn’t say a word as they were being arrested and carried away. They were so dignified. You probably aren’t the girl either who was crying so much. It was hard to watch, and everyone who looked at her, honestly, I was taking note of it, everyone who looked at her was weeping too. You know what, it felt like an honour to cry with her. I really hope she noticed how many people were feeling that because of her. I don’t know who you are but I just want to say thanks truly and deeply. Because if I had had seen you I know I would have been in awe and gratitude to you, with real tears of something like grief and something like real hope, hope with teeth. I hope to join you next time X To all those who have matched their words with actions To all those who have shown what is possible with bravery and imagination Thank you for showing that love can overcome fear I am so humbled by your commitment I am so inspired by your example I am so moved by your sacrifice I am so thrilled by your success Please know that when you are alone in a cell, if you are afraid in the dark or intimidated by those in power Millions are with you Millions are watching You are making a difference You are doing this for all of us

Why I say that this civilisation is finished.

By Rupert Read.

It has been a huge privilege to be involved with Extinction Rebellion, for nearly a year now. For the first time in years I feel a growing glimmer of hope for humanity. Finally, we are seeing a mass mobilisation of people who are not willing to die quietly. An upwelling of people unafraid to call for the radical initiatives that we need to limit the scope of global overheating. As a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, I have been among those privileged to put the case for the action of our rebels to those in the media and in Government.

We need to be clear that there is no ‘safe’ level of warming. ‘Even’ 2 degrees (which is now almost unachievable) means the death of over 99% of the world’s coral reefs – permanently defacing the ecology of our planet, and probably means the end of ice in the northern hemisphere. The International Panel on Climate Change — which is still, contra popular belief, a relatively conservative body — is unambiguous in its latest report (1.5 degree) that 2-degrees means the displacement of millions of people through desertification and flooding. It means a much greater frequency and a higher magnitude of the extreme weather events that are increasingly blighting the world. It means an increase in violence and war globally because of resource scarcity and hotter temperatures. It is violence: 2 degrees is violence from the rich and stupid against the global masses. It means increased frequency of pandemic and pestilence, with greater threats to our health and the food supply we rely upon to nourish us. And because of the inherent unpredictability of the effects of 2-degrees warming, it could expose us to a myriad of other threats that we cannot predict and that could be far worse than our models suggest.

This is why Extinction Rebellion’s actions are so important, and in particular why the call for net zero UK emissions by 2025 is vital. Our movement has been courageous by communicating with brutal honesty exactly what is at stake over the climate emergency. There needs to be far more of this communication within the public sphere.

In my new book, This Civilisation is Finished, co-authored with Samuel Alexander, we attempt exactly this. We reject the ‘soft denialism’ so often present in the mainstream discourse about the climate emergency. A discourse that seems cherry-picked to present what is actually ecological apocalypse in as palatable and unthreatening a way as possible. Instead, we have found that minds and hearts are only truly concentrated when the scale and enormity of the threat to human and non-human life is exposed in its unveiled magnitude. When this occurs, people stare the threat in the face, the fight-or-flight response is activated and – as there is nowhere to run – they become energised by the necessity to battle for the survival of themselves and their children.

This is no exaggeration. The stakes of course are very, very high, here, because the climate crisis and the broader ecological emergency of which it is only the most urgent part puts the whole of what we know as civilisation at risk. By ‘this civilisation’ I mean the hegemonic civilisation of globalised industrial growth capitalism— sometimes called ‘Empire’—which today governs the vast majority of human life on Earth.

As I see things, there are three broad possible futures that lie ahead:

  • This civilisation could collapse utterly and terminally, as a result of climatic instability (leading for instance to catastrophic food shortages as a probable mechanism of collapse), or possibly sooner than that, through nuclear war, pandemic, or financial collapse leading to mass civil breakdown. Any of these are likely to be precipitated in part by ecological/climate instability, as Darfur and Syria were.

    Or
  • This civilisation (we) will manage to seed a future successor-civilisation(s), as this one collapses.

    Or
  • This civilisation will somehow manage to transform itself deliberately, radically and rapidly, in an unprecedented manner, in time to avert collapse.

The third option, at which XR aims, is by far the least likely, though the most desirable, simply because either of the other options will involve vast suffering and death on an unprecedented scale. In the case of (1), we are talking the extinction or near-extinction of humanity. In the case of (2) we are talking at minimum multiple megadeaths. But (2) would obviously be hugely preferable to (1), and thus the ultimate importance for us of getting our societies not only to mitigate but also to adapt, deeply.

The second option is very difficult to envisage clearly, but is, I now believe, very likely. Unless we are incredibly lucky or incredibly determined and brilliant (or almost certainly both) then we are facing, almost certainly, changes around the world which are going to bring an end to this civilisation. So we need to think about what comes after it. We need to think about it now, and we need to start to work toward it; because there are many sub-possibilities within possibility two, and some of them are very ugly.

One of the reasons I wrote the book with Sam is so that we can talk about how we can prepare the way for (2). I think that there has been criminally little of that preparation, to date. Virtually everyone in the broader environmental movement has been fixated on the third option, unwilling to consider anything less. I strongly believe now that that stance is no longer viable. And, encouragingly, I am not quite alone in that belief.

The first option might soon be as likely as the second. It leaves little to talk about.

Any of these three options will involve a transformation of such extreme magnitude that what emerges will no longer in any meaningful sense be this civilisation: the change will be the kind of extreme conceptual and existential magnitude that Thomas Kuhn, the philosopher of ‘paradigm-shifts’, calls ‘revolutionary’. Thus, one way or another, this civilisation is finished. It may well run in the air, suspended over the edge of a cliff, for a while longer. But it will then either crash to complete chaos and catastrophe (Option 1); or seed something radically different from itself from within its dying body (Option 2); or somehow get back to safety on the cliff-edge (Option 3). Managing to do that miraculous thing would involve such extraordinary and utterly unprecedented change, that what came back to safety would still no longer in any meaningful sense be this civilisation.

That, in short, is what I mean by saying that this civilisation is finished.

Extinction Rebellion is key to transforming the civilisation we have into something that will allow us to maintain human life either in the third option or in arming our global consciousness with the understanding of the need for deep adaptation in the face of the second option.

If not, we are left only with terminal collapse.

I hope that this book, in which I discuss XR at some length, will help us in these difficult and necessary thought-and-feeling—processes.

Extinction or business as usual? Hmm – that’s a difficult choice.

Bill McGuire’s Climate Bombshells

Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL and author of Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions. He was a contributor to the IPCC 2012 report on Climate Change & Extreme Events and Disasters.

Well, it is if you are the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. Dead and buried PM, Theresa May seems keen to sign up to the government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommendation, which advocates a zero-carbon UK by 2050 – so as to leave something of a legacy other than a cocked-up Brexit. Her chancellor, however, has other ideas. In a speech a couple of weeks ago, he warned that achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century would cost ‘well in excess’ of £1 trillion; a vast sum of money that would take funding away from essentials such as schools, hospitals and the police and make our economy uncompetitive. Extraordinarily, the point he seemed to be making was that we couldn’t afford to cut emissions to zero. What an astonishing point of view – even for a Tory minister. Does he not understand that there is no choice here? It is something we can’t afford not to do. Without transitioning as fast as we can to become carbon-free, there won’t be any schools or hospitals, or an economy or society to speak of – for that matter.

His figures are a nonsense too. According to the CCC, the cost of a net zero 2050 target would be nothing like £1 trillion. In fact, the cost would fall within existing spending plans. There is no arguing with the fact that such a change will cost money, but – in addition to slashing emissions – it will be beneficial in all sorts of other ways. A wholesale switch to electric cars powered by renewable electricity, and a refocus on clean public transport, cycling and walking, would clean up our air and massively reduce the health impacts associated with atmospheric pollution and sedentary lifestyles. A mass programme to insulate new buildings and retrofit existing ones, would help older and vulnerable people stay warm and cut their energy bills. Such initiatives would be part of a Green New Deal aimed at transforming economy and society. Rather than making the UK economy uncompetitive, such a deal would drive the economy forward through investing in the low-carbon technologies and skills of the future. The result would be an economy that is sustainable and which improves society rather than destroys it. A Green New Deal is so beneficial, in fact, that there is simply no excuse for not launching it now – today. If we start now, then there is no reason why we can’t achieve net-zero emissions well before 2050, and the latest news on carbon levels in the atmosphere show why we need to do this.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere last month reached a whisker below 415 parts per million(ppm); a rise of 3.5ppm on the previous May. At this rate, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will break through the 450ppm barrier in May 2029 – a little less than a decade hence. Why is this important? Because keeping carbon dioxides levels below this figure provides our only chance of keeping the global average temperature rise (since pre-industrial times)below 2°C, above which all-pervasive catastrophic climate change will prevail. And even then, it is possible – perhaps even likely – that feedback effects will still result in the 2°C guardrail being smashed.

These new data throw a spanner in the works of the idea that we can still keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5°C. They also mean that net zero emissions by 2050 – in the UK and, in fact, right across the planet – is simply not sufficient to prevent devastating climate breakdown. We need massive emissions cuts far sooner, which is why Extinction Rebellion is still calling for net zero emissions in 2025. We can do it – we can’t afford not to.

“To defend nature, we must organize” – Greetings from Rojava to the climate movement

by ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ https://makerojavagreenagain.org

As part of a global action day of the climate movement “FridaysForFuture”, also an action in the city of Qamislo in Rojava took place. Together with the city administration of Qamislo, Internationalists from ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ and students of the Rojava University, demonstrated and cleaned up the city.

With banners and shouting slogans, more than 50 students of the Rojava University in Qamislo walked through the city and drew attention to ecological difficulties, from waste in the city to the global climate crisis. With this demonstration the activists took part in the global climate movement FridaysForFuture, which had called for a worldwide action day on the Friday. Besides the students and activists of the city administration, also internationalists of the campaign Make Rojava Green Again took part. On the banners brought along and carried by the students, was written: “To defend nature we have to organize ourselves – system change not climate change”, signed with FridaysForFuture-Rojava.

The slogan brings it to the point: only in a self-organised society, that is able to determine its future outside the logic of capitalist production and inner need to produce and to consume more, will there be a solution of the ecological crises we are facing today. Only in a society, that lives on the values of solidarity, with a holistic understanding of the world, can a future be built.

In the demonstration in Qamislo, Mahir Pir, a history student at Rojava University, emphasized that the way we deal with nature and the cleanliness of cities also reflects the mentality of a society. Cleanliness in daily life, cities, homes and the preservation and defense of nature, is one of the essential things in life.

The students underlined the importance of leading this action as the youth, because in the youth the strength of society lies. Especially in current times, in the global movement for a radical change of the economical and political system, we can see this importance. At the front line of every Friday demonstration, the youth is marching, claiming a future worth living in.

As in the defense of the revolution in Rojava and the Democratic Federation of North East Syria, with the building-up of the democratic system and an ecological society, the revolutionary youth is playing a significant role.

With the action in Rojava on the second global day of action of the climate movement, the activists also sent their warmest and revolutionary greetings to the people on the streets of the world, wished them every success in struggle for a democratic modernity, in harmony with nature.

Focus Greenland – Wildfires, record ‘melts’ and boggy permafrost

By Kate Goldstone

*    http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/greenland-population/

**  https://theconversation.com/greenland-how-rapid-climate-change-on-worlds-largest-island-will-affect- us-all-82675

*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_ice_sheet

“In some places climate change is an undeniable fact of everyday life. One of these places is Greenland.” – Visit Greenland.  (link to https://visitgreenland.com/about-greenland/the-guide-to-climate-change-in-greenland/)

Greenland is the world’s biggest island. It’s a Danish territory that enjoys limited self-government and has its own parliament. In 2018 just 56,000 people lived there*, not a lot. So does it really matter if climate change melts the ice that smothers this extraordinarily wild, remote place? As it turns out, a fast-melting Greenland will have a dramatic effect on the rest of the world. Here’s a quick look at the potential damage caused by global warming in Greenland.

Climate change – Greenland in context**

Greenland’s vast ice sheet covers 80% of the island, acting like an enormous mirror reflecting the sun’s heat back out into space. The resulting ‘Albedo effect’ cools the earth’s surface. When there’s no snow, there’s no Albedo effect and the surface of the earth warms faster.

Greenland’s position on the globe, in the North Atlantic, matters as well, since the meltwater affects the normal circulation of the ocean currents. And it matters even more when you consider most of the island’s ice is more than a kilometre deep. That’s an awful lot of water. As Wikipedia says***, if the entire 2,850,000 cubic kilometres of Greenland’s ice were to melt, global sea levels would rise 7.2m (24 feet), leaving many of the world’s greatest coastal cities, including London and New York, underwater.

Greenland is particularly vulnerable to climate change. In fact temperatures in the Arctic are rising at twice the rate of the global average, and not a month seems to go by without some weather record or another being broken. One of the most recent was a proper shocker, a highly unusual and very large wildfire whose cause has been laid at the feet of global warming. The drier the land gets, the more runaway wildfires we’ll see in Greenland.

It looks like some frightening climate-led trends are emerging in Greenland. Take the fourteen years between 2002 and 2016, when Greenland lost around 269 gigatonnes of ice every year, one gigatonne being a billion tonnes. In 2012 they saw an exceptionally severe melting season, with 97% of ice surfaces melting at one time or another through the year. When the snow actually melted on top of the 3km high summit of the island, scientists were astonished.

The big warm-up carries on. April 2016 delivered abnormally high temperatures and the island’s earliest ever ‘melt’, a day when more than 10% of the ice sheet’s entire surface turned to water. While early melts like this aren’t catastrophic, they do reveal how very quickly and dramatically the ice sheet responds to temperature hikes.

Iceland’s permafrost is thawing at its top level, leaving more and more of the island boggy, damp, and perfect for disease-carrying mosquitoes.  The underlying permafrost reaches as deep as 100m and while it’s permanently frozen right now, there’s no reason to believe it’ll stay that way. The molten ‘active’ layer of permafrost is currently growing by around one and a half centimetres a year, a trend that’ll continue unless we start to reverse climate change.

Experts predict Arctic air temperatures will rise by anything from two degrees Centigrade and seven and a half Centigrade by the end of the century, revealing more than 1,500 billion tonnes of organic matter that has remained frozen solid for many thousands of years… until now. Melting it means the CO2 and methane it contains will be released into the atmosphere to cause yet more global warming.

Glaciers tell us a lot. Following their movement is a reliable way to spot climate change in action.  The magnificent Ilulissat Glacier, in West Greenland, is the world’s fastest moving glacier and Greenland’s biggest contributor to worldwide sea level rise.  May 2008 saw it ‘calve’ the biggest chunk of ice ever recorded on film, an event lasting more than an hour that left a vast three-mile-wide scar. Early 2019 saw even worse news emerge, with a study showing that the biggest ice losses between 2003 and 2013 happening in the south west of the island, hinting that ice is melting directly into the sea, via rivers, avoiding becoming part of the glacier altogether.   

Last but never least, polar bears. Since 1979 the sea ice around Greenland has decreased by just under seven and a half percent, which is already badly affecting polar bears. Scientists predict a 30% drop in polar bear numbers over the next few decades, leaving us with fewer than 9,000 of these precious creatures left on earth.

We’ll leave the last word to the Visit Greenland website: “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average, and is experiencing some of the most intense effects of climate change, with southwest Greenland seeing the most rapid warming (about 3°C during the past 7 years). In July 2013, the temperature at Maniitsoq airport, just beneath the Arctic Circle in west Greenland, was recorded at 25.9°C. This is the highest temperature ever recorded in Greenland.”

Greenland might be home to fewer than 60,000 people. But the effects of climate change on the island will have an impact on us all, wherever on our lovely blue planet we happen to live. Politicians have failed miserably. Now it’s down to us to bring global warming to an end.

An open letter to Extinction Rebellion by Wretched of the Earth

[Originally published on Red Pepper:
https://www.redpepper.org.uk/an-open-letter-to-extinction-rebellion/ ]

“The fight for climate justice is the fight of our lives, and we need to do it right.” By grassroots collective Wretched of The Earth.

May 3, 2019 · 11 min read

This letter was collaboratively written with dozens of aligned groups. As the weeks of action called by Extinction Rebellion were coming to an end, our groups came together to reflect on the narrative, strategies, tactics and demands of a reinvigorated climate movement in the UK. In this letter we articulate a foundational set of principles and demands that are rooted in justice and which we feel are crucial for the whole movement to consider as we continue constructing a response to the ‘climate emergency’.

Dear Extinction Rebellion,

The emergence of a mass movement like Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an encouraging sign that we have reached a moment of opportunity in which there is both a collective consciousness of the immense danger ahead of us and a collective will to fight it. A critical mass agrees with the open letter launching XR when it states “If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.”

At the same time, in order to construct a different future, or even to imagine it, we have to understand what this “path” is, and how we arrived at the world as we know it now. “The Truth” of the ecological crisis is that we did not get here by a sequence of small missteps, but were thrust here by powerful forces that drove the distribution of resources of the entire planet and the structure of our societies. The economic structures that dominate us were brought about by colonial projects whose sole purpose is the pursuit of domination and profit. For centuries, racism, sexism and classism have been necessary for this system to be upheld, and have shaped the conditions we find ourselves in.

Another truth is that for many, the bleakness is not something of “the future”. For those of us who are indigenous, working class, black, brown, queer, trans or disabled, the experience of structural violence became part of our birthright. Greta Thunberg calls world leaders to act by reminding them that “Our house is on fire”. For many of us, the house has been on fire for a long time: whenever the tide of ecological violence rises, our communities, especially in the Global South are always first hit. We are the first to face poor air quality, hunger, public health crises, drought, floods and displacement.

XR says that “The science is clear: It is understood we are facing an unprecedented global emergency. We are in a life or death situation of our own making. We must act now.”  You may not realize that when you focus on the science you often look past the fire and us – you look past our histories of struggle, dignity, victory and resilience. And you look past the vast intergenerational knowledge of unity with nature that our peoples have. Indigenous communities remind us that we are not separate from nature, and that protecting the environment is also protecting ourselves. In order to survive, communities in the Global South continue to lead the visioning and building of new worlds free of the violence of capitalism. We must both centre those experiences and recognise those knowledges here.

Our communities have been on fire for a long time and these flames are fanned by our exclusion and silencing. Without incorporating our experiences, any response to this disaster will fail to change the complex ways in which social, economic and political systems shape our lives – offering some an easy pass in life and making others pay the cost. In order to envision a future in which we will all be liberated from the root causes of the climate crisis – capitalism, extractivism, racism, sexism, classism, ableism and other systems of oppression –  the climate movement must reflect the complex realities of everyone’s lives in their narrative.

And this complexity needs to be reflected in the strategies too. Many of us live with the risk of arrest and criminalization. We have to carefully weigh the costs that can be inflicted on us and our communities by a state that is driven to target those who are racialised ahead of those who are white. The strategy of XR, with the primary tactic of being arrested, is a valid one – but it needs to be underlined by an ongoing analysis of privilege as well as the reality of police and state violence. XR participants should be able to use their privilege to risk arrest, whilst at the same time highlighting the racialised nature of policing. Though some of this analysis has started to happen, until it becomes central to XR’s organising it is not sufficient. To address climate change and its roots in inequity and domination, a diversity and plurality of tactics and communities will be needed to co-create the transformative change necessary.

We commend the energy and enthusiasm XR has brought to the environmental movement, and it brings us hope to see so many people willing to take action. But as we have outlined here, we feel there are key aspects of their approach that need to evolve. This letter calls on XR to do more in the spirit of their principles which say they “are working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised, and inclusive”. We know that XR has already organised various listening exercises, and acknowledged some of the shortcomings in their approach, so we trust XR and its members will welcome our contribution.

As XR draws this period of actions to a close, we hope our letter presents some useful reflections for what can come next. The list of demands that we present below are not meant to be exhaustive, but to offer a starting point that supports the conversations that are urgently needed.

Wretched of the Earth, together with many other groups, hold the following demands as crucial for a climate justice rebellion:

  • Implement a transition, with justice at its core, to reduce UK carbon emissions to zero by 2030 as part of its fair share to keep warming below 1.5°C; this includes halting all fracking projects, free transport solutions and decent housing, regulating and democratising corporations, and restoring ecosystems.
  • Pass a Global Green New Deal to ensure finance and technology for the Global South through international cooperation. Climate justice must include reparations and redistribution; a greener economy in Britain will achieve very little if the government continues to hinder vulnerable countries from doing the same through crippling debt, unfair trade deals, and the export of its own deathly extractive industries. This Green New Deal would also include an end to the arms trade. Wars have been created to serve the interests of corporations – the largest arms deals have delivered oil; whilst the world’s largest militaries are the biggest users of petrol.
  • Hold transnational corporations accountable by creating a system that regulates them and stops them from practicing global destruction. This would include getting rid of many existing trade and investment agreements that enshrine the will of these transnational corporations.
  • Take the planet off the stock market by restructuring the financial sector to make it transparent, democratised, and sustainable while discentivising investment in extractive industries and subsidising renewable energy programmes, ecological justice and regeneration programmes.
  • End the hostile environment of walls and fences, detention centers and prisons that are used against racialised, migrant, and refugee communities. Instead, the UK should acknowledge it’s historic and current responsibilities for driving the displacement of peoples and communities and honour its obligation to them.
  • Guarantee flourishing communities both in the global north and the global south in which everyone has the right to free education, an adequate income whether in or out of work, universal healthcare including support for mental wellbeing, affordable transportation, affordable healthy food, dignified employment and housing, meaningful political participation, a transformative justice system, gender and sexuality freedoms, and, for disabled and older people, to live independently in the community.

The fight for climate justice is the fight of our lives, and we need to do it right. We share this reflection from a place of love and solidarity, by groups and networks working with frontline communities, united in the spirit of building a climate justice movement that does not make the poorest in the rich countries pay the price for tackling the climate crisis, and refuses to sacrifice the people of the global South to protect the citizens of the global North. It is crucial that we remain accountable to our communities, and all those who don’t have access to the centres of power. Without this accountability, the call for climate justice is empty.

The Wretched of the Earth

Argentina Solidarity Campaign

Black Lives Matter UK

BP or not BP

Bolivian Platform on Climate Change

Bristol Rising Tide

Campaign Against the Arms Trade CAAT

Coal Action Network

Concrete Action

Decolonising Environmentalism

Decolonising our minds

Disabled People Against the Cuts

Earth in Brackets

Edge Fund

End Deportations

Ende Gelände

GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Global Forest Coalition

Green Anticapitalist Front

Gentle Radical

Grow Heathrow/transition Heathrow

Hambach Forest occupation

Healing Justice London

Labour Against Racism and Fascism

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants

London campaign against police and state violence

London Feminist Antifa

London Latinxs

Marikana Solidarity Campaign

Mental Health Resistance Network

Migrants Connections festival

Migrants Rights Network

Movimiento Jaguar Despierto

Ni Una Menos UK

Ota Benga Alliance for Peace

Our Future Now

People’s Climate Network

Peoples’ Advocacy Foundation for Justice and

Race on the Agenda (ROTA)

Redress, South Africa

Reclaim the Power

Science for the People

Platform

The Democracy Centre

The Leap

Third World Network

Tripod: Training for Creative Social Action

War on Want

Wretched of The Earth is a grassroots collective for Indigenous, black, brown and diaspora groups and individuals demanding climate justice and acting in solidarity with our communities, both here in the UK and in Global South. 

To Power

By Matt Byrne

In 2015, I was working in Mariupol, Ukraine, setting up office and rolling out a humanitarian response to the ugly, harsh and continuing conflict in the Donbass. Daily our team would trek towards the ‘line of contact’ separating the two warring sides, passing kilometres of WWII style trenches, and heavily fortified checkpoints packed with Ukrainian soldiers, who would go give our vehicles a quick once over before letting us through. Invariably, we found that those still living on the frontline, in their bullet pocked and shell-mangled houses, were the elderly and people with disabilities. Those, who by their own admission, had nowhere else to go, this was their home.  At night, over a beer, we would listen to the shelling less than 15 kilometres away as the two sides delighted in keeping each other up all night. 

In my spare time, my chosen reading material was This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. As I looked up from the pages of the book, out of my window to the industrial skyline of the city, ringed as it is by steel and chemical works all across the horizon and the port to the Azov Sea to the south, I noted the light film of black soot that covered my window sill if I left it open for the day, the giant chimney stacks perpetually spewing smoke and the soapy film that ran down the middle of the street every time it rained. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far with the book. It was all too much for me, the people of Mariupol were getting a raw deal, short-changed from all sides. I already felt small, adding climate change to the mix, made me feel powerless, useless.

Watching XR take off and command global attention, seeing non-violent civil disobedience do exactly what it is intended to do, is changing that sense of powerlessness inside me. Hearing the flimsy response of the UK authorities that police are being diverted from ‘violent crime’ in order to manage the blockades by the rebels or reading academics who recommend ‘tea fetes’ as a more viable tactic to obtain sympathetic public opinion is a testament to the work of the movement thus far. In these feather-ruffled responses, I hear a call for business as usual. But the courage of the rebels has been heard and noted with the various declarations of a climate emergency in the UK, the Committee on Climate Change’s report for a net zero carbon free UK by 2050 that they are pushing to be signed into law now, and the global surge of protest movements demanding change. These are revolutionary times we live in and it appears that a global wake-up call from the streets has put the heat under the decision makers.   

In 1968, Howard Zinn, wrote ‘this is why civil disobedience is not just to be tolerated; if we are to have a truly democratic society, it is a necessity. By its nature it reflects the intensity of feeling about important issues as well as the extent of the feeling.’ He was writing about those who risked and endured incarceration by objecting to the Vietnam War but his words are as valid today as they were then, if not more so. The CCC pointed to the level of intensity seen in the recent protests as part of its advocacy for cutting carbon emissions to zero starting today.

Recently, I have participated in on UN led sessions monitoring progress towards the 2030 Sustainable development goals. Climate change and the need for action has not been neglected in these discussions. That said, as I observe the member states and participating agencies wrangle over terminology and monitoring indicators, I am struck by how this is also business as usual, very well intentioned business but far from the revolutionary type required given the emergency timeframe we are living in. The urgency is lacking.  So, back we go to Zinn, who concluded; “A new politics of protest, designed to put pressure on our national leaders, more effectively, more threateningly, more forcefully than ever before is needed”. The streets rose up, the urgency appeared.

That said, I also realise to be effective you need to have rebels on the so-called ‘inside’ and ‘outside.’ You need networks of influence that punctuate all levels of the political and justice systems. You need networks that represent the full gamut of those affected by climate change; youth, the global south, diversity, ethnicity, the dispossessed. We also have to mobilise ourselves against emergent threats such as fossil fuel dominated Climate Leadership Council which lobbies for legal immunity from cases taken against them for climate and environmental damages caused by their actions.

Rolling town hall meetings were an instrumental part of the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign mobilizing the great surge in grass roots support for his candidacy. Coming from Ireland, I have watched in admiration, the great societal leaps spurred through the debates and decisions taken by a national level citizen’s assembly. Public support can be mobilized and maintained through a campaign of holding local level citizens assemblies and XR has chosen its tactics wisely by adopting them.

I may be too much of a dreamer but guerrilla tactics that provide a social service like providing renewable energy to underserved public services (like hospitals or clinics) in marginalized areas can also drive the message home to people that there is a climate emergency and the system is failing us now, not at some unspecified point in the distant future. The clandestine Gap organization in Rome is exactly this, a vigilante group performing ‘illegal’ acts of repair to the cities crumbling infrastructure. Partnership with renewable energy providers, if they were willing to take the risk and it appears that a number of businesses are, could be an interesting mechanism for responding to some of the manifold grievances that are sure to be raised in the citizens assemblies that link climate injustice to social neglect and marginalization.  

The people living in Mariupol, still live with ongoing conflict, landmines, shelling, dispossession, loss of income, loss of family members, restrictions on movement and hostage to an unhealthy, toxic environment. They have innumerable daily challenges to confront but with nowhere else to go it is still their home. This is our home, we have nowhere else to go. We will not be victims, if we stand together, we are strong, a better future awaits.

I am inspired and forever grateful to those that took to the streets globally to demand exactly that.