My first protest
by Holly Errington, 14 years old
On Thursday February 21st, I went to my first ever protest; it was to influence and spread awareness about how Devon needs to become carbon neutral by 2030. I was excited yet nervous as I walked up to the old building where the event was taking place, I went with two other girls and two guys my age. When I arrived on the sunlight flooded field at midday, I finally realised the importance of the issues we are facing. We need to join together and do more to get our voices heard so that in years to come, our great grandchildren will be eternally grateful by the effort we put into saving their future. People of all ages were united. Families, teens, and the elderly. It was a beautiful experience to share with such passionate like-minded people. Everyone who was there had the same goal and wanted to work as a team to achieve it, which is a concept that is truly inspiring to me. It was amazing to meet so many interesting people from all different backgrounds. We chanted, we sang, and we stood our ground. I was asked to come to other protests in the area and I was also approached by many older people telling me well done for coming, because as a young person this decision will affect me the most. Seeing the colourful posters with encouraging messages only made me more determined to carry on this fight until the very end. The main symbol that got stuck in my mind that day was a timer. Climate change is something that will affect all of us, and I would desperately encourage you to go out and play your part, whether that be through protesting or something else. We can do this, but we need to act fast.
12 Years to Avoid Climate Catastrophe
by Lauren Fenton, 18 years old
In an age where news is filtered for entertainment and reality TV takes over our lives, it is easy to forget the real issues at hand. In November 2018, the largest and deadliest forest fire in California states record broke out, classed as the costliest disaster in the world, 2018; despite this, only 4% of networks broadcasted the disaster. On February 25th, 2019 the UK experience the hottest day in February on record, the BBC announced that if this doubling in temperature continued into the summer we could experience severe drought. These events and disasters are no coincidence, they have a direct link to our increasingly changing climate.
We are creating a positive feedback system:
We need to mitigate this feedback loop to prevent global warming from spiralling out of control.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has warned that we must cap temperature rise at 1.5 degrees C, which is classed as ‘the tipping point’, if exceeded the temperature will increase uncontrollably and we will be past the point of mitigation. If the climate warming exceeds 1.5 degrees C, the great barrier reef will be destroyed, droughts and hurricanes will become the norm and the melting of ice sheets will cause major flooding. During the summer months the arctic will experience an increase of 2.5 degrees C, the alps, already warming more than twice as fast as the rest of Europe, will cause annual droughts, as experienced in 2018. Furthermore, in the last decade 600 meters of glacial ice has been reduced in this region and it is predicted that by the end of the century, glaciers will disappear completely, leaving only a few in mountain summits.
We have the facts. We have the power. We will have climate justice
ABC News (Australia). (2019, February 26th). Can we hack climate change to save us all? | Foreign Correspondent. Retrieved February 2019, from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZIC6hJ_fCE&t=1462s
Climeworks. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved February 28th , 2019, from Climeworks: http://www.climeworks.com/about/
Global News. (2019, Janurary 31st). Climate change: Why people aren’t taking more action to stop it? Retrieved February 2019, from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV4BdgEIOLE
National Statistics. (2017). 2017 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved February 28th, 2019, from GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics-1990-2017
A Salute to the School Strikers
by Robert Alcock, Extinction Rebellion activist and father
You’ll have noticed that there’s never any shortage of grown-ups who are eager to tell you their opinions about whatever you happen to be doing. That’s especially true when tens of thousands of you—including my daughter, I’m proud to say—skip school to protest about the state your elders are leaving the planet in.
Quite a few “responsible” adults—as in “the ones who are responsible for the mess we’re in”—have made it clear they think the Climate Strike is really just an excuse to skip school. Well, duh! Obviously it’s much more fun and educational to be out in the streets changing the world than sitting in class being taught about it. You’ve written slogans and designed placards, organised with friends and debated with opponents, made appearances on TV and in social media, made new friends and bumped into old ones you had no idea were involved. Try fitting all that into a timetable and a lesson plan.
Theresa May had this to say about the School Strike: “…Disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for. That time is crucial for young people precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates that we need to help tackle this problem.”
Sorry, Theresa, but I’ll have to give you an F for that answer. This is a global ecological emergency! We need action NOW, not in 30 years’ time when a lucky few among today’s teenagers have managed to reach positions of power and influence. Anyway the vast majority of schools don’t give kids the kind of education they need to gain access to those positions. And the wise young people who were on the streets on Friday know full well that what’s needed today isn’t more technical solutions, but the political will to put the solutions we already have into practice, in a way that’s socially just and ecologically sustainable. No amount of studying is going to achieve that.
When it comes to the cost and value of formal education, I know what I’m talking about. I left school in 1988, the year the IPCC was founded; I studied science at university, graduating in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit, went on to do a masters in ecology, then a PhD, studying the effects of climate change on rocky shore organisms.
In November 2002, the very same weekend I completed my fieldwork, the beautiful coast of northern Spain was devastated by the Prestige oil spill—the worst environmental disaster in Spain’s history—which covered the whole shore in a thick layer of toxic black fuel oil, poisoning the seaweed and shellfish I’d spent three years studying.
After all that, I still couldn’t get a job changing the world, so I had to do it on my own time, supporting myself as an writer, editor and translator while also building a house for my family—all skills that I learned mostly outside the formal education system.
Meanwhile, in those 30 years since I left school, the global economy has emitted more CO2 than it did during the whole of human history up to that point, and still shows no sign of slowing down, while ecosystems worldwide are on the point of collapse. If anyone had told me back then that we’d be in this predicament now, I think I would have done less studying and more protesting.
(But here we are.)
Unlike George Monbiot, I don’t feel inclined to apologise to your generation on behalf of my own for having fucked up the world. I’ve been doing what I can. Let everyone look to their own conscience.
But nor do I want to put the burden of the future entirely on your shoulders. Greta Thunberg has something to say about that: “It’s sometimes annoying when people say, ‘Oh you children, you young people are the hope. You will save the world.’ I think it would be helpful if you could help us just a little bit.”
Hearing you loud and clear, Greta. On behalf of the adults of Extinction Rebellion (XR)—and I think I’m safe in speaking for the whole movement here—I want to say to the school strikers: we’ve got your back. We’re here to help. We don’t want to take control of the Climate Strike, profit from it, or use it as part of our nefarious plot to take over the world (well, ok, maybe just a little bit ;-). You’ve done a great job so far, and it has to continue to be driven and organised by you, the young people. But we want to offer you our whole-hearted support to help the Climate Strike grow bigger and better every Friday, and make the next mass action, on Friday March 15th, absolutely impossible to ignore.
In a very practical sense, XR has a lot of resources that you can draw on. (Of course, we’re also aware of the safeguarding and legal issues around adults working with children and other vulnerable groups.) We can offer training and support in a load of different areas: media and messaging, legal advice, how to plan and cary out NVDA (non-violent direct action), how to facilitate meetings and assemblies, prevent burnout, resolve conflicts, and make sure we are all having a good time, how to make effective and beautiful graphics, signs, puppets, music… Really, pretty much everything your movement needs to grow and flourish, except your own passion, wisdom and dedication—and you already have that in abundance.
What about Monday morning?
It’s great that you’re out on the streets protesting on Fridays. I hope you keep it up and diversify what you do during the protests. Marching, waving banners and shouting slogans gets a bit boring after a while. How about holding (Young) People’s Assemblies to talk about the ecological emergency and what we should be doing about it? Extend the conversation you’ve started with your brilliant signs and slogans.
But I think what matters just as much is what you’re going to be doing Monday to Thursday. Many of you are about to go back to school after the half-term break: going from schooling adults in how to change the world, to having to ask to use the bathroom.
Despite the excellent intentions and efforts of many teachers, the vast majority of schools are simply not fit for purpose. They just aren’t set up to empower and inform the young people who are going to create a restorative future for Planet Earth. Rather, for the most part, they foster a culture of domination, disempowerment, passivity, and hopelessness: in fact, the culture at the root of the ecological crisis. The system persists through our resignation and acceptance. Systemic change is needed, starting where each of us is best placed to act. For you, that’s likely to be in your school.
The climate crisis is a great rallying point, though our predicament is a whole lot bigger than just the climate. From oceans to insects, forests to cities, health to justice, no aspect of life on Earth is untouched. You can create a student-led assembly to demand your school declare an climate emergency, and discuss what to do about it: whether that means planting a school forest, tackling air pollution, eliminating plastics, stopping the use of pesticides, sourcing healthy local food for school lunches or growing your own… or reaching out into your local communities. But at the same time, you’ll likely find yourselves talking about, and coming up with solutions for, a lot of other problems—from bullying to child poverty to boring lessons—once you start to see how they are all connected.
Three words to remember: NEVER. ASK. PERMISSION.
I don’t mean you should be rude or arrogant in your behaviour. Be respectful at all times—especially to your opponents; but make it clear that you’re going to do what you believe is right, whether those in power grant permission or not. Most adults will be on your side, even if they might be afraid to say so openly.
Another world is possible. See you there!
For the Earth,
Extinction Rebellion Edinburgh
This speech was planned to be read during the Youth Strike 4 Climate, in Exeter on February 15th. Youth Strike for Climate is an international movement that is gaining traction and support all the time. February 15th was the first mass countrywide UK action. Exeter was one of the biggest events. XR unequivocally supports Youth Strikes. Some Youth Strike members are also XR Youth members, including in Exeter. Thanks to ‘Jack’ for the YouTube video above. Jack, please get in touch -one of our editors would like to create some content with you!
by Molly Bovet, 17 years old
To those with the greatest power, from those who must break the system to claim it:
There never should have been a ‘time for waiting’, and now even those stolen years have run out.
Your generation has failed to keep us safe in this time, and now we, your children, are left to pick up the pieces and provoke you into action. The promises that have been made and the plans that have been discussed so far are too vague and too idle.
We have, at best, twelve years left before the state of our planet becomes catastrophic and we run out of time for action; that is not time that can be wasted like the politicians and major companies of the world have wasted the years leading up to this.
You are the ones who have created this mess and now we are here to force you into action. You are the ones with the power to help us.
Children are raised to be quiet when they’re angry and to do as they’re told, but this is one issue that we cannot be silenced on.
In just the past twenty five years, you have emitted more CO2 than the entirety of the human race before you. The climate we have been born and raised in, the climate that you have created, is born of obliteration.
We may even see climate collapse as soon as within the next five years, and if we don’t amend that, cultural collapse will inevitably follow within our lifetimes.
Even these horrific facts are things that we have had to seek out ourselves; our schools do not equip us with the knowledge and ability to mitigate the worst-case scenarios. Nor do they teach us about the direness of our climate situation or how we can live low carbon lifestyles.
We do not want to live in fear but you give us no choice. We trusted you, the adults, to keep us safe but you have failed to secure our future.
You want to raise good kids, people who will be kind to one another and the world around them, work passionately and take their educations seriously. These kids are here, begging at your feet to spare us a future in flames. We will care for this earth and its creatures. We will love every precious second that we are here; just as long as you do the same.
This is my only planet
by Holly Errington
This is my only planet
I must defend it
This is your beautiful planet
You must help us
Tired of endless excuses
Governments saying “We’ll fix it later”
And walking away with a smirk
Their pockets full and our planet empty
We will not settle for later
We don’t care if you think we’re crazy
We can band together
are happening now
Do not let others pollute your vision
Be a protector of precious life
Let us hold hope by the hand
Pray that we will be sitting amongst wildlife
In years to come
Talking about our defiance
Against this ecological destruction
We Have the Facts, We Will Have Climate Justice
by Lauren Fenton, 18 years old
In a world where governments care more about money than the environment, it has been left to the people to decide which shade of green we want for our planet.
With an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste entering the world oceans from coastal regions annually and Donald Trump looking to re-open coal mines in the USA, it is now down to the people to make the change.
But we need the support of the government, we need them to wake up and take responsibility and write legally binding agreements to cap the global temperature rise by less than the tipping point.
Limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is not good enough. A two-degree increase in the average global temperature means that mountain glaciers and rivers will start to disappear, 10% of the world’s population will be displaced due to sea level rise and A THIRD OF ALL LIFE ON EARTH WILL FACE EXTINCTION!
As a population we need to band together to pressure the officials to enforce a mandatory cap in temperature rise at 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and become carbon neutral by 2030. By the time we reach 2050 It will be too late.
In 2014, only 5 countries accounted for 70% of global CO2 emissions: China, the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and Japan. This sparked the launch of the “land mark agreement” to combat climate change in 2015 – COP 21, The Paris agreement, Which THE USA HAS NOW PULLED OUT OF.
China is so far the only country to make a major difference, announcing plans to invest over $USD 3 Billion in renewable energy. Whist the EU’s aim is become carbon neutral by 2050 and cut energy use by 20% below business-as-usual projections by 2020. This is NOT good enough! We are the 3rd largest contributor to CO2 emissions globally and our member states are among the wealthiest countries in the world. With these stats there is NO EXCUSE for not making more of an effort to become carbon neutral! Because of our governments idleness we are now on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees C, 0.7 above the tipping point.
Despite all these statistics, there has still been no legally binding agreement to combat climate change since 2009. And there are still countries refusing the latest agreement (Katowice 2018), including the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Knowing this, how can we rely on governments who are not willing to make a sacrifice to save the planet? If the temperature continues to rise there will be no trade, there will be displacement of people and there will be extinction!
We have the facts. We have the power. We will have Climate Justice.
- By Lauren Fenton