XR Activism is an anti-depressant

By Kirsten Downer

As a group of Extinction Rebellion activists glued themselves to a DLR train at Canary Wharf three Fridays ago, a message popped up on the group’s Facebook livestream: Activism is an anti-depressant.

Eighty-two-year-old Phil Kingston was among those up on the train roof to draw attention to the fact that the financial sector is driving the climate crisis, which is already displacing and killing people. And that without urgent action, billions of human beings will die by 2050.

There’s something about witnessing an octagenarian sacrificing his comfort and liberty for the benefit of other human beings which reaffirms ‘something I thought I’d lost’ to quote another message on the Facebook live stream. And of course it’s not just Phil Kingston – more than 1100 people peacefully got themselves arrested this April, in order to cause maximum disruption and push our society to save itself. Among them was Hanna, seven months pregnant, the last person to be removed from the Oxford Circus XR site.

Alongside the so-called ‘arrestables’ thousands more hearts, minds and hands created and supported the Extinction Rebellion phenomenon, whether by offering meditation on Waterloo Bridge, acting as independent legal observers, cooking and serving free vegetarian food for participants, or holding up colourful, witty banners at road junctions.

Waterloo Bridge, photo by Jamie Tarlton

We did this not for direct personal benefit, but for children living today and their children, and for the millions of people in the global South already suffering the impacts of climate change. XR is not perfect; the movement needs to work harder to involve BAME groups and keep highlighting the way structural inequalities drive climate change.

But in our actions we embodied something which our society denies, telling us that we’re apathetic and selfish: Love.  A reverence for life, common to all spiritual traditions across the world. And an instinctual understanding of interbeing – a Buddhist wisdom recognising that all is one and one is all. We are ourselves, but we are also all each other.

photo by Extinction Rebellion

We live in a society which denies this truth and actively works against it. No wonder we have an epidemic of anxiety and depression.  So I agree with the Facebook comment: activism can be a practice which feeds us. When we act non-violently and collectively, we embody the interbeing principle and this feeling of connection gives me delight, freedom, and fresh energy.

Peaceful activism is not just about sacrifice – you can feel adventure and purpose when (non-violently) breaking oppressive societal norms.  When we’re all one, I am you and you are me, it means you can let creativity and nature flow through you. It’s a huge relief to know it’s not all down to you, your ego and your mind. And being part of something so vast and creative means that things which looked absolutely impossible start to look more achievable. If this isn’t an antidote for depression, I don’t know what is.

Waterloo Bridge photo by Jamie Tarlton

In his book The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that because people cut reality into compartments, they are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. But deep down it seems we all know it.

It was there as I approached Oxford Circus, and a complete stranger walked up to me, beaming, offering me one of her home-made flapjacks. It was there as arrestees were carried off into police vans while other participants yelled ‘We love you’. It was there in the woman serving me food at Marble Arch: ‘How did you get involved? Oh, I was just walking past earlier today.’ And the 71-year-old bearded man doing legal observing through the night at Oxford Circus, who’d travelled all the way from Wales to help out.

‘This Way to Save the Planet’ photo by Jamie Tarlton

It was there in all the passersby who thanked us, and the Oxford Street shop-worker who told me that although it made it harder for him to get to work, he agreed with the action because it was ‘for a good cause’ and that inconvenience was needed. It was there in the stories I heard of kids who no longer needed their asthma inhalers. And it was there in the woman who thanked the campers at Marble Arch: ‘I haven’t heard birdsong here in thirty years. Now I can.’

I laughed very hard many times during XR. And I witnessed many beautiful things. Spontaneous, deep conversations between strangers; dancing on Waterloo Bridge under a huge pink moon.  While there will no doubt be tensions and conflict within such a huge movement, during the week I began to believe that collectively, humans are capable of solving huge problems – if we’re just given the space and power to get on with it.

‘How did they manage all this?’ a couple asked me, taking in the solar panels, trees, stage, singing, musicians, performance, meditation, conviviality. ‘Hive mind’ was my answer. As ‘Being Mortal’ author Atul Gawande says: ‘We’re all so limited as individual human beings, and yet magic happens when we all string together. When that happens, we are almost unlimited.’

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What just happened?

By Chris Neill

A psychosocial perspective on the April 2019 Rebellion

Until two years ago I was a hard-working psychotherapist whose mind was mostly preoccupied with looking underneath the surface of events for an understanding of what they actually meant. I retired for a quiet life in the garden (although now I seem to have become a hard-working environmental activist instead). Letting go of the professional duties doesn’t mean you stop thinking like a psychotherapist and I found, anyway, that the powerful significance and intensity of the Rebellion brought an automatic re-connection – emotionally, spiritually and mentally – to that way of experiencing and relating to things.

Like very many of us, I’m sure, I found myself drawing on old skills as well as learning many new ones during the frenetic build-up to April 15th and the tumultuous unfolding of the 11 days afterwards. A key thing in psychotherapy is self-reflection and as the pace of things slackened in the final couple of days, as we all began, however reluctantly, the heartfelt process of withdrawal and dis-engagement, turning our attention again to the concerns and demands of the ‘real’ outside world (which now seemed less real than it ever had) I found myself wondering how to understand the narrative of what had happened.

By using the word ‘narrative’ I mean deliberately to suggest that a sequence of events tells more than just its own story. Most often, it also tells us something deeper about ourselves. There is a tradition of thought running through most of the the central theories and philosophies used by psychotherapists – whether they be Freudian analysts, Jungians, Gestalt humanists or transpersonal psychologists – which says that the things we do, individually and together, ranging from brief personal actions and simple physical gestures through to extended periods of complex social interaction – can be understood as enactments and re-enactments of deeper unconscious realities. These things – from simple ‘Freudian slips’ to the repetitions of history with global impact talked abut by people like the contemporary communist psychoanalyst Slavo Zizek – reveal ideas and truths that are not yet fully conscious. By studying the narrative, then, we may be able to see something which is trying to emerge.

So, as I found time for pause and reflection while shuffling between the tea tent, the people’s assemblies and the drumming bands at Marble Arch on the penultimate day of the London rebellion, I found myself wondering about this story that we seemed to have just told ourselves about ourselves. Other than the fact that we had made a tremendous, incredible collective effort which had brought about a radical change in public consciousness, what else did the narrative tell us?

The thought which impressed itself upon me most strongly, and which I had already found myself mentioning to many people I spoke to, was that this was a story about collaboration and determination, goodwill,, kindness and creativity. Even though parts of the media were still trying to run a story which was about police inefficiency or collusion or about work-shy dreamers who had no idea about reality, the obvious truth was emerging for all to see if they wanted to: when people act together and are connected to a worthwhile sense of purpose, and when they do so whilst seeking to stay connected to higher values like Truth, Beauty, Will, Love and Wisdom, astonishing things can be achieved. This, perhaps, is how we will address the huge global problem of climate change. We will consider and plan carefully and we will act decisively with urgency and discipline. We will dedicate ourselves to this cause, acting without self-interest, sharing generously of ourselves and our resources. We will care for each other and ourselves, making sacrifices to the greater good without losing sight of of our own rights and dignity. The idea that everyone is responsible will spread like a wildfire and become the new ’normal’. We will climb with exhilaration a steep learning curve in which a process of creative collaboration feeds upon and nourishes itself. We will rapidly develop new skills, exchange knowledge and information at breakneck speed in order to meet the escalating challenges which present themselves to us. In doing so we will amaze others and ourselves with the truth of the proposition that a small group of people can change the world.

Even as I considered the evident and inspiring truth of this, however, I could not escape another truth – which is that we had, ultimately, failed. We had not continued “until we win” as the mantra had been Yes, I know we are not in the least finished, and the rebellion is only paused, it is is only the beginning, etc. And I truly believe all that. But the narrative of April 15th-25th does also have less cheerful things to tell us. It tells us that that, notwithstanding our Herculean efforts and all the marvellous variations of Love and Will which were expressed, we were in the end defeated. Our roadblocks were taken down. The glorious symbols of our defiant audacity, the pink boat, the lorries, the trees, the solar panels, were removed. Our people, one by one, were carried away. In the last days , there had been plentiful evidence of our weakening. Resources ran low. People got dirty and tired and ill. Some looked skeletal. It was harder to think and make decisions and communicate effectively. There was more evidence of fracture and discord in relationships. On Waterloo Bridge we ate bread and jam instead of delicious vegan stews. Drinking water became scarce. As we abandoned one site after another, Marble Arch became too overcrowded, too noisy. People lost valuable possessions and lost track of each other. Even as we continued to assert our triumph, we could not deny that we were all exhausted, completely done in. This, of course, is what may happen in the story of the battle against climate change. We will make wonderful, unbelievable progress and it will be a heart-opening and joyful experience, but in the end we will fail.

As i thought about this, I began to consider more specifically the role of the police in this narrative. What had they been doing and what did that mean or represent? We all kept saying how good they had been and how kind and non-judgemental, how they were ‘“just doing their job”. How might this be understood? It struck me that the police in this narrative might best be seen as the forces of nature – not unkind, nor intolerant nor even indifferent, but implacable nonetheless. In the end, if a few thousand people come to occupy London, to erect roadblocks and kitchens and performance spaces and toilets and yoga spaces and meditation tents and gardens and tree houses and skate ramps in the streets of the capital, the police will marshal their forces and dismantle them and arrest the people who put them there however much they sing and dance in defiance. This is as much the ‘law of nature’ as is the fact that if we keep pumping carbon into the atmosphere, cutting down forests and destroying wildlife then the oceans will rise, the icecaps will melt, the land will become desert and we will all die. The police were just doing what the police do. It is as foolish to complain about supposedly ‘unfair’ tactics like issuing Section 14 notices or publicising the details of people charged with offences or cordoning off demonstration spaces as it would be to complain about average global temperature rising. Nature, like the police, is not unkind nor inflexible but it has its limits, If we push it far enough it will destroy us. In the last days we became simply unable to combat the rising power of the police, just as we may be unable to keep up with the escalating challenges with which nature presents us. Torn between responding to one emergency or another – do I rush to reinforce Parliament Square, or Waterloo Bridge or Oxford Circus? – undermined by emotional stress and depleted by a lack of rest and nurture, we will be simply overwhelmed.

But even if that it is an accurate understanding of the narrative, this should not be depressing; because it is only a narrative. And a narrative, like any myth or fairy-story, does not tell us what is going to happen but only what will happen under certain conditions. If. like Icarus, you fly too close to the sun, you fall. If, like Rapunzel, you cannot free your inner feminine, you end up locked in a tower. If, like two of the Three Little Pigs, you build a house of straw or sticks, it will get blown away and you will be at the mercy of the wolf.

The condition we need to pay attention to in our story, I think, is simply to do with numbers. This narrative of the April 2019 Rebellion shows us what will happen if we do not have enough people on our side. Fortunately, we have some time; not much, but enough to have another go, another practice, maybe even two, in order to get it right, so that we tell a different story, one of real triumph which ends with us living in glorious harmony with nature and in right relationship with ourselves and each other.

From what I saw over the 11 days in London we could not have tried harder or better. We were really amazing. We were magnificent. But we lost. Yes, I know we won too and did so much more that any of us dared to expect but the actual story, within its own frame, is not one of victory, and it is crucial that we pay attention to that. How we will win next time or the time after is that there will be a lot more of us. We must learn from the story that we just told ourselves about ourselves. We must give ourselves a little time to recuperate and heal and then we must start to nurture the immense appreciation and goodwill which our actions have seeded in the general public. Already many of us are aware of people in our local communities sparked, stimulated, even clamouring to join us. This must be grown and protected and harvested so that whatever ‘next time’ looks like and whenever it happens we will be three times, five times or ten times bigger and stronger. When we have that many people with us, working in the same wonderful way, we will be actually unstoppable. And this amended story, with its happy ending, will, I believe, inform and inspire a realistic and ultimately successful endeavour in that ‘real’ life, in which we will come to be at last in harmony with ourselves, each other and the natural world.

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. 

Speech from XR Berlin die-in,

By John Ames
47 years ago, in 1972, an incredibly influential report was released by the group of scientists and professionals known as the Club of Rome. Working with MIT, they commissioned a group of modellers and systems analysts to describe the global system as deeply as possible. Together they built ​ World3​, and showed clear evidence of how the combinations of population growth and resource use would strain our planet. The natural end result would be huge ecological damage limiting the earth’s ability to support life – both animal and human.


It caused serious alarm, and many promises were made by the world. The obvious catastrophe laid out in the book was the foolishness of expecting infinite growth on a finite planet. We were warned to change our economic goals, and soon, to prevent environmental (and societal) collapse. Their projections suggested rising material wealth until the first quarter of the 21st century, after which the damage to the environment would become so severe as to severely impact our way of life. Their projections have been shown to be highly accurate. They did not need to know exactly what technologies would be invented to show roughly how capital and human numbers would expand, and the damage that would inevitably cause.

Around this time, Big Oil started two campaigns. One was to study the science of climate change, with internal communications and published journals showing they knew full well the dangers of huge greenhouse gas emissions. The second was to try to cast doubt on the science, and convince the public that it was not a real issue. Unfortunately, they were largely successful.
20 years later, and 27 year years ago, in 1992, the world’s leaders met for the Earth Summit in Brazil, and signed the Rio Convention. 190 coun​tries agreed to reduce their emissions and treat climate change with the seriousness it required. They agreed on the ​ precautionary principle​ , a principle stating that when some science is still needed to prove something beyond a doubt, but there was clear evidence of risk, the cautious option would always be chosen. This principle is invoked for keeping GMOs out of Europe, for instance. The economic (and political) sacrifices from cutting emissions proved to be too much for most countries though, and the following Kyoto protocol has fallen victim to the moral hazard of “whoever cuts first, loses; whoever cuts last, wins”, prompting foot dragging and withdrawals from many countries..

In 2004, they published an updated Limits to Growth… the 30 year update. World3 was further
refined, the previous projections compared to the observed trends, demonstrating clearly the general accuracy of their thesis. They highlighted possible future scenarios where we started strong emission cuts at different time points and severity. Starting directly and strongly at 2004 would have led to the best future scenario. For every year we waited, the future we were giving to our children, grandchildren, fellow citizens and nature itself became ever darker.

They emphasised that we must begin immediately. We still did not.

In 2015, world leaders met again, and following lengthy discussions and concessions, the Paris
Agreement was undersigned by 195 countries. The limits originally decided have since been clearly shown to be wholly inadequate for keeping warming below 2 degrees, even if they are faithfully implemented. So far, they have not been.

Four years later, we are still planning policy that goes in the wrong direction. New runways, coal
power stations and other counterproductive things. And now the UN and IPCC are both screaming warnings as loud as they can. That is why we are now rebelling. Finally.
There is no doubt in the science. There is no doubt in our broad understanding of the systems and mechanisms. The only surprise for scientists is how much quicker it is now progressing. We are seeing feedback loops we had never expected – As the global system gets worse, a result of that damage is to then speed up the future rate of damage. Therefore we are not seeing linear growth in temperature with rising CO2 concentrations, we are seeing an increasing rate of temperature rise and system damage.

Many systems have ​ tipping points in them, points where we lose control of the problem after a
certain point. After we cut down enough rainforest, the microclimate to sustain such forests will not exist any more, and we will turn our planet’s lungs into savannah. After we heat up the tundra enough, we will release huge quantities of methane, a gas around 50 times better at trapping the sun’s energy than CO2, causing even faster warming. These events would seriously undermine our chances of a happy ending.

What is the solution from those in power? They nibble at the edges of the problem. Rearranging the tablecloth and silverware while our house is on fire. Rearranging the deckchairs while the iceberg slowly emerges from the darkness.

These are not bad people. There are greedy people changing the dialogue for their short-term
survival. There are stupid people who believe the free market signals and human ingenuity can fix all problems, including super wicked ones like climate change. There are people who silenced their doubts and concerns with the reassuring lies and misinformation of vested interests. But there are no bad people.

The fact remains. The 10th biggest polluter in Germany is Ryanair, and air travel industry expands 6-8% globally per year. The rainforest in Brazil is being cut down at an alarming rate again. 95% of the things we buy are no longer in use 6 months after we buy them. GDP growth is still the greatest and only goal for every government in power.

Realistically, their behaviour is rational. Fighting against this will require sacrifices. We must consume less, and submit to less convenience. No politician wants to give that news to their voters. They only want to maximise the current “happiness”, ie GDP growth, now, and ignore anything that will happen beyond the next election. This “short termism” saps political will for meaningful change, and we have listened to their “beautiful words” for too long. How can we expect them to commit radical solutions without our clear support and understanding?

The Fridays for Future movement was originally written off as “Young and naive”. The media and politicians helpfully informed us that they don’t understand how the world really works. Alternatively, perhaps it is we that are “old and cynical”; we that lack vision and imagination, we that are not willing to fight for the world we and our children deserve. Seeing they needed support, scientists founded their own group, ScientistsforFuture, to show that there is no more doubt in academia. And also, supporting the same movement, is Extinction Rebellion; a group of concerned citizens, hoping we can follow in Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela’s footsteps. We believe we can finally force the issue with non-violent and creative demonstrations, using peaceful disobedience as our best weapon.

We need to acknowledge the global state of emergency for what it is. How many more “hottest
summer since records began”s do you need to be convinced? This is bigger than normal politics. This is not a matter of supporting left or right, the only important direction is forwards.
Only through working together with all the countries of the world do we have a chance. We cannot wait for other people to do this for us anymore, it is time we took control. We need the courage to really try to change our direction, with bold new economic organisation. We need the courage to be the global leaders in this, and to lead by example. And we need to rebel until our governments make that happen.

I will leave you with a slightly adapted speech from a timeless movie…
“We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is
going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are
living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living
rooms. Let me have my Netflix and my steak and my cheap Ryanair flights and I won’t say
anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!” (From “​Network”, 1976).

Five Early Lessons From Extinction Rebellion

By Chris Taylor

How the new movement for ecological justice is reimagining the world by reimagining the art of protest, protection and healing. By Chris Taylor / filmsforaction.org / Apr 25, 2019

Five Early Lessons From Extinction Rebellion

Photo: Ruth Davey/Look Again – Photography for the Wellbeing of People and Planet (www.look-again.org)

Like many in the UK I have jumped feet first into the Extinction Rebellion movement. It has captured something in the zeitgeist, bringing together people across cultures and generations in a movement for fundamental global change. It’s not just about climate change. It’s about a revolution of love, deep ecology and radical transformation.

There is a long way to go. Victory will be secured over years rather than months. This is the struggle for the heart and soul of the human species, not for a quick fix climate solution. But even at this early stage we are starting to see trends and approaches that are making the difference – and that show how world-changing movements will operate in the coming global transition.

  1. This is a Self Organising System. XR is based on careful study of mass movements for civil disobedience and disruption. Local groups are free to plan and implement their own actions so long as they stay within the movement’s guiding principles. The sites occupied in London had the same freedom – to organise actions, events and activities as they saw fit.

The whole movement runs on self-organising interlinked circles connected through virtual platforms including Basecamp, Google docs and WhatsApp.

The focus on self-organisation releases untold amounts of energy and creativity. It builds agency and ownership and avoids the traps and delays of hierarchy.

  1. There is a very strong set of guiding principles. Rebels are able to navigate how to act because of ten core values. These include a shared vision, absolute non-violence, welcoming everyone and every part of everyone. Because these values are upfront and out there, they build a shared culture, which mirrors the world we are trying to create.
  2. XR’s organizational culture is “regenerative”. It aims to be nourishing and sustaining for all members. There were “welfare” tents at all London action sites offering space to relax, recuperate, meditate, practice yoga, as well as providing medical care as needed. This regenerative culture avoids burn-out and is attractive to the general population. The police were at a loss as to how to deal with such friendly protesters. Commuters grew to value the calm brought to the city, the festival atmosphere and the decrease in traffic.
  3. The movement is paying attention to its ultimate vision. XR publicly declares three concrete short term demands: governments should tell the truth about the climate emergency, they should go carbon net-neutral by 2025, and there should be a citizen’s assembly to explore and devise solutions.

But this is just the short term. Alongside this is a much longer term transformational vision, which takes its map from “the map of the human heart”. This is a vision of radical social transformation and a rebalancing of humanity’s relationship with nature. That’s the ultimate goal.

5. At its core this is a profoundly spiritual movement (with a small “s”). It is jam packed with muslims, sufis, christians, jews, quakers, buddhists and people of no faith, all exploring thier common beliefs, beyond religion. What we have found is a yearning for deeper meaning, for the magic and mystery of life, for a felt connection to the entire eco-system of this Earth. XR is alive with ceremony, contemplation and a careful, conscious action in honour of life, love and abundance. We are becoming nature protecting itself, experiencing its own beauty and evolving into its higher self.

How this will all play out is not easy to see. The movement in the UK is taking a pause, to regroup, recuperate and shift to some serious political horse-trading. What tactics will be needed to bring about both short-term policy change and long-term global transformation, only time will tell. But for sure, we’re off to a great start.

As one activist friend of mine, Nikki Levitan, put it:

“At the core of my experience this last week I see that this is the first ever activism that is heart-led, no blaming or shaming, just taking action from a place of love and collective responsibility. 
A community of all generations who care and are able to self organise. 
It is amazing when humans step out into the world and really do something and be the change, it unleashes so much creativity, possibility and courage.”

Mao once said “The Revolution is not a dinner party”. XR is showing it might just start with a street party instead.

An Open Letter to Business Supporters of Extinction Rebellion — Professor Jem Bendell [repost]

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

Stop climate change with carbon taxes

By Andy Gebhardt

Everything has a price

Everything has a price. We can look at climate change as an economic problem. Economically speaking, climate change is a market failure. People fly, drive cars and overuse air conditioners because the consequent carbon emissions incur no cost: we do not have to pay for the damage we cause. That is where a carbon tax comes in: to resolve the market failure.

A carbon tax puts cost to pollution

A carbon tax is a tax just like VAT (value added tax), that we pay at the point of purchase, included in the price of the good/service, on all purchases we make. However, a carbon tax is a tax not levied on all purchases like a VAT. It is only applied to fossil fuels and other Green House Gas producing activities. The level of taxes is determined by the amount of CO2 emissions generated per unit of sold energy or substance.

Higher energy cost = higher efficiency = lower consumption

The tax increases the cost of energy intensive goods and services (e.g. fuel, flying). This is an incentive to use less of the now more expensive goods/services. It triggers efficiency. And with that, lower emissions.

However, for people with limited income, a hike in e.g. fuel cost can be disastrous -they might not be able to afford to go work anymore, as the yellow-west protests in France have shown. In particular in the absence of an affordable alternative to gasoline fuel. In addition, increasing the cost of GHG emitting fuels alone will not reduce emissions as fast as is required.

For this reason, individuals have to be compensated for the increasing energy cost. Simultaneously, we have to develop an affordable GHG-free alternative.

The climate tax develops a cheaper and GHG-free alternative to fossil energy

This is why 50% of the tax revenues will be paid back to individuals in cash; to compensate for the increasing energy bill and potentially increasing cost of goods. 40% of the tax revenues will be used to finance the rapid development of a renewable energy infrastructure. The new renewable energy infrastructure provides a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels, and will reduce emissions fast. The remaining 10% could be used for research and development of renewable energy technology.

The proposed carbon tax will reduce GHG emissions to Zero by 2035, while reducing the total global energy bill by 2% of World GDP.

For more information, please check http://www.globalcarbontax.org