I was fascinated to read a letter in support of the Extinction Rebellion last week, expressing support, as business people, for the aims of XR. After 24 years focused on voluntary business efforts on sustainable development, last year I abandoned that to explore different approaches to our climate disaster. That included supporting people putting together […]An Open Letter to Business Supporters of Extinction Rebellion — Professor Jem Bendell
Existence is Rebellion: A Regenerative History of the Universe
by Matthew T-hanu Kalessin
Two: The Birth of Galaxies
[All quotes and information below are sourced from the website of the McDonald Observatory in Austin, Texas: https://stardate.org/astro-guide/galaxy-formation]
We have already established that the very existence of the Universe is an act of Rebellion -the original act of Rebellion.
The Hubble Space Telescope and other measuring tools have shown the first galaxies took shape from around one billion years after the Big Bang or the Original Rebellion, as you might call it.
There are two main theories to explain how the first galaxies formed. The truth may involve both theories.
One theory says that galaxies were born when massive clouds of gas and dust collapsed under their own gravitational pull, allowing stars to be created.
The other theory says the young universe contained many small “lumps” of matter, which coalesced to form galaxies.
Every galaxy is a rebellion, because before galaxies, there were no galaxies. Extinction Rebellion is just such a galaxy.
According to the McDonald Observatory, ‘The galaxy-formation process has not stopped. Our universe continues to evolve. Small galaxies are often pulled into larger ones.’
Extinction Rebellion attracts other smaller social movements, gives them a platform and a new, larger centre of gravity.
‘Galaxy mergers happen fairly often. A large portion of the bright galaxies that we see today may have formed from the mergers of two or more smaller galaxies.’
Extinction Rebellion joins in solidarity with other global non-violent direct action movements for ecological and social justice, like Youth Strike For Climate and Earthstrike. Together we can form one uber-movement.
‘Mergers can take anywhere from a few hundred million to a few billion years to complete. They can trigger intense bursts of new star formation’.
Extinction Rebellion is making stars of all of us, but let’s not take too long about it!
‘Galactic collisions rarely produce head-on wrecks between individual stars. Even when two galaxies ram together, the distance between stars is enormous’
Extinction Rebellion and every other global non-violent direct action movement can work together without anyone getting hurt.
‘While galactic collisions rarely destroy stars, they often create them. As vast clouds of gas and dust in merging galaxies slam together, they can create thousands or even millions of new stars.’
The more Extinction Rebellion joins with other movements, the more new volunteers will appear in all movements.
Join the international Extinction Rebellion here.
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.
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
Policeman, picking him up: ‘Are you okay?’
Young man approx 14 years old: ‘The planet is not okay, and that’s what matters.’
Policeman: ‘This isn’t going to help the planet’.
Me, with at least 10 other cameras around filming: ‘His voice is being heard, that’s what matters’.
Words: Snowflake Foxtrot
Originally posted here: https://theelders.org/news/students-sunrise-and-rebels-unite-defy-extinction
On 15 March students from around the world will join a global Youth Strike for Climate, leaving school and college to demand that their leaders urgently take climate action. In this guest blog Farhana Yamin, CEO at Track 0 and Extinction Rebellion Activist and Jake Woodier, an organiser of #YouthStrike4Climate explain why.
Politicians beware. Young people are demanding answers from governments to some tough questions.
- Why have scientific warnings about the climate and ecological crisis been ignored for so long?
- What emergency actions can now be put in place to stop the extinction of life on Earth?
Tired of the apathy and denialist campaigns funded by vested interests, young people are taking to the streets and joining new social movements that are demanding solutions be put in place in 10 years or less.
That timeframe more or less matches the 12 year deadline given by the United Nation’s chief scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In October 2018, the IPCC spelt out the consequences of what a hotter more disruptive climate would look like. Unless we cut global greenhouse gases emissions by 50% in the next 11 years, billions of people would be exposed to increased storms, wildfires, droughts, floods, acidified oceans and sea level rise which would result in water and food shortages and mass migration.
Fearing for their future and acting out of solidarity with their fellow global citizens, this week hundreds of thousands of young people are expected to walk out of schools and colleges to join the school strike movement. They are inspired by 16 year old Greta Thunberg, who in August 2018 stopped going to school on Fridays to sit outside the Swedish Parliament and demand climate action. Since then, thousands of young people around the world have joined the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement with campaigns now active in around 71 countries. In Belgium, around 50,000 children and young people take to the streets every Friday. The UK’s student movement is gathering momentum. The first national strike resulted in 15,000 students and young people ditching classrooms to demonstrate a need for radical and urgent action to achieve climate justice for current and future generations.
Anna Taylor, 17, co-founder or the UK Student Climate Network which is coordinating the mobilizations explains:
“The burden of holding powerful actors to account over their climate records has unfortunately fallen on the young. We’ve been betrayed by the climate inaction of previous generations. We’re having to rise up and fight for those around the world already suffering the devastating effects of climate change, and for our very futures.”
Long held attitudes of moderation are now woefully insufficient given the global climate emergency we all face. From the “Green New Deal’s 10 year plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero in ways that generate clean jobs, supported by the youth-led Sunrise movement and championed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the Extinction Rebellion’s campaign of mass civil disobedience to dismantle the toxic systems that are putting all life on Earth at risk, it is clear that the desire to build a more inclusive society based on respecting nature’s boundaries is beginning to reshape politics.
No-one knows what will happen and no-one can say for sure whether or not fundamental ecological tipping points have already been breached. The good news is that there are millions of people – old and young – who are mobilising around the world to stop humanity from falling off a cliff.
We can and must succeed in catalysing a peaceful revolution to end the era of fossil fuels and economic systems based on the extraction and extinction of nature. Life on Earth literally depends on it.
That is why we will be supporting students on strike and all those working to defend life on Earth. As citizens around the world join together to courageously speak truth to power, we hope you will give your full support to strikers and rebels where ever you are.
Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation.
By George Palen
In the game of football, no one ever grows potatoes. Not only is this a true fact, but no one is surprised by this fact. The rules and objectives of football simply do not allow for the planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting of potatoes. Everybody knows this. You would be laughed off of the field if you brought a hoe, some gardening gloves, and some seed potatoes onto a football field at the beginning of a game.
Similarly, in the game of western culture, Mother Nature is not supported. The rules and objectives of western culture, whereby individuals pursue as much wealth and power as they can, simply do not allow for the support of Mother Nature. And thus we should not be surprised that life on Earth is going away. Indeed we have seen how people in support of life on Earth have been laughed out of corporate board rooms, swept into the streets where their voices have no seat at the decision making table.
We are playing the wrong game. I refuse to play football. I would surely get hurt if I did and besides, the score at the end of the game is meaningless. Society should stop embracing the game of “get rich and powerful”. People just get hurt and the score at the end of the game is meaningless. Instead the rules and objectives of our society should support life. Let us change our game. Let us change our culture. Let us support life on Earth.
By Ian Paterson
Extinction Rebellion Glasgow formed in November 2018, and took our first actions the following month, including disrupting Christmas shopping by swarming in Style Mile shopfronts, and forcing BBC Scotland to close their front doors due to our Reclaim the BBC demonstration.
XR Glasgow aren’t where we want to be yet, but things are starting to come together and we are on track to deliver a strong contribution during the International Rebellion of 15th–19th April 2019. Affinity groups are forming, with XR Glasgow students organising a Youth Strike on Feb 15th, and XR Glasgow is staging a mass action on March 2nd. So far in 2019, a wide variety of activities have already taken place…
Ae Fond Rebellion.
You may have seen XR Scotland’s Rabbie Burns inspired action, in the news recently too, as XR members occupied the Scottish Parliament and conducted the UK’s first ever Citizens Assembly on Burns Day, the 25th of January, with crucial contributions from XR Glasgow members.
I don’t actually know any Burns poems to quote to you and find the language archaic but I’m quite a fan of social commentator and poet, Gil Scott-Heron. He famously said “the revolution will not be televised” but I’m beginning to wonder if he was right about that, as News outlets seemed quite keen to broadcast our recent action at the Scottish Parliament.
Fun Fact: Gil Scott-Heron’s dad played football for Celtic FC in Scotland and was the first person of colour to do so.
You may take our lives, but you’ll never take our treedom!
When faced with the destruction of trees and natural habitat, to make way for building developments on Otago Lane close to her home, XR Glasgow member Cheyenne was quick to react and form alliances with a local ‘Save Our Lane’ group.
“The main criticism involves the destruction of a vital green area that is home to native wildlife such as otters, kingfishers and bats. The area is part of Glasgow’s Green Corridor and hence should be considered a protected nature conservation area. The initial application stated that trees of a certain maturity and height will not be cut down. However, this was not adhered to”, Cheyenne told me.
Glasgow is known affectionately as ‘Dear Green Place’ and wider Scotland fondly referred to as ‘Caledonia’ – the name given to this area by the Romans, due to the vast expanse of woodlands in our region. Sadly we’ve seen our forestry systematically destroyed to a tiny fraction of the size it once was.
As the old song by Dougie MacLean goes: ‘Caledonia, you’re everything I’ve ever had’, yet still we destroy her namesake. Come to think of it, ‘Dear Concrete Jungle’ doesn’t have much of a ring to it either.
Rebel & Rejuvenate.
Of course, a hard day of action requires time to reflect and rejuvenate and with XR Glasgow’s new ‘Book/Craft’ gatherings, people are able to come together, talk, listen and conduct vitally important talking and making therapy with one another.
“We need to form bonds and care for each other as well as planning actions and creating resources”, group creator, Anna, reflects. “It might also be a focus for people who don’t feel any of the Working Groups are calling to them just now, or are trying to work out how they want to get involved”, she goes on to say, so this event provides a welcoming and inclusive outlet for further discussion.
Youth Strike 4 Climate.
It’s true also, that some of the younger members, along with their families, have found our way of working hard to fit in with the demands of daily life. XR Member Sapna has developed an inspiring initiative to combat this however, with ‘Wee Rebellion’, an event attended by 250 parents and young people.
“It’s really difficult for parents, teenagers and children to get to meetings in the evenings but because of the way most people’s work schedules function, it’s the obvious time to have meetings to talk about issues and plan actions. Wee Rebellion will attempt to be a space for parents, children and young people to talk to each other about how they can engage with XR and to generally raise awareness about climate change with the hope of finding shared vision for change. At our first event, among other activities, there will be a discussion space for adults asking what are the barriers to participation for caregivers and what strategies can we collectively come up with to overcome them”, Sapna tells me.
Less nuisance, more news sense.
Although there are challenges to overcome, fortunately it’s now fairly easy for me to keep abreast of environment news, thanks to the new ‘Glasgow St’ online briefing paper. The brainchild of XR member Thomas, ‘Glasgow St’ has clear principles, which set it apart.
Being over-reliant on traditional media for your climate news may not be the wisest decision. With climate lobbyists and business interests attempting to influence the agenda, we must analyse and scrutinise it ourselves. G-Street’s wiki approach allows for a collective learning experience, which I’m sure will prove valuable to the whole XR movement. Users of Medium – take a look and contribute.
To keep in touch with XR Glasgow, like us on Facebook, follow @ScotlandXr on Twitter, and @xrscotland on Instagram. Sign up for our mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. From February we will meet weekly on Tuesdays at 7pm at the Kinning Park Complex.