Category Archives: Ecological Breakdown and Response

Spring 2012

Published by:

By James Turner
In this street nothing grew at all
where pavement meets with churchyard wall,
but while financial markets crash,
here weeds can make a coloured splash.
They root and photosynthesise and cling
where stone and asphalt once were king.
This gum-bespattered world has mellowed,
primrosed, oxford-ragwort-yellowed.
For, since corruption bit the banks,
no men have passed with plastic tanks
of herbicide to spray the weeds
before they bloom and shed their seeds.
More weeds means insects, means more birds—
I’d paint the future green with words!—
but when the money flows again,
they’ll soon return, those dogged men,
with tanks of poison on their backs,
to mount their chemical attacks
on cheekily invasive plants.
Those primroses won’t stand a chance.

What just happened?

Published by:

By Chris Neill

A psychosocial perspective on the April 2019 Rebellion

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.

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

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Published by:

By Kate Goldstone


**  us-all-82675


“In some places climate change is an undeniable fact of everyday life. One of these places is Greenland.” – Visit Greenland.  (link to )

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.

To Power

Published by:

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

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

XR Machynlleth post-London healing debrief session

Published by:

By Beth Maiden, XR Machynlleth regenerative culture group

Almost everyone I talked to in the wake of April’s rebellion in London described taking part as ‘overwhelming’, even if they had a great time (which most had)! Actions like these are very intense and complex, and it’s hard work for most of us to participate. Hard work physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Suddenly, for days, a week, two, we are like a tiny pop-up nation, requiring systems for decision-making, communication, care and support, and more. Feelings run high as we co-create community, trying to respond collectively to a fluctuating, unpredictable environment that can change in an instant.

Then, just as suddenly, we are home, coming down from it all. Trying to make sense of what just happened, how it felt, what worked, what didn’t. What was joyful, what was painful. The whole roller-By Beth Maiden, XR Machynlleth regenerative culture groupcoaster of feelings we’ve just ridden.

We’re often so focused on the ‘action’ part of activism that we forget that driving it all is emotion. We act because we feel something. And when we are acting, we keep on feeling – highs, lows, joy, grief, anger, love, hope, elation, and of course the comedown after.

And so we need space to process. Space to share all that comes up for us – the common ground, and the different experiences. Space to celebrate. Space to release grief and pain. Space to gather back in all of the parts of ourselves that are so easily lost in these big overwhelming actions and in the fight of everyday life. Space to be witnessed as whole, imperfect, feeling beings. Space to witness each other.

Regenerative space.

A regenerative culture is one that is committed to creating those spaces, so that we can process and heal and ultimately, stay in the movement and not burn out.

Here in Machynlleth, members our Regen group hosted a healing/debrief session for local folks who had gone down to London.

I’m sharing a simple template of what we did for other groups to use/copy/adapt if wanted:

We weren’t totally sure what the session would be like – we just knew that we wanted to hold space for activists to get together and share process all they had seen and felt and experienced in London and since returning.

We booked a community room in a local church for 3 1/2 hours. We advertised the session as a debrief specifically for folks who had been to London. We encouraged people to bring along food to share, cushions, blankets. We also invited people to bring a small object that represented how they feel or felt about the action, to create a temporary community altar.

We had three of us to hold the space – two who had taken part, and one who had not (to hold the space while and allow for the other two to participate).

  • We had time to grab a cuppa while we arrived and came to sit in a big circle. There were about 20 of us from the local area. We agreed that this was a safe, confidential space.
  • For the first hour we simply went around the group. Each person took a few minutes to introduce themselves, talk about what they did in London, sharing thoughts and feelings while the group listened.
  • Then we ate together. This was really special – some folks hadn’t seen each other since the action, whilst in London everyone had felt very close. It felt really powerful and important for activists to be back together again, revisiting the experience with others who ‘get it’ about what it was like. We also lit candles on the altar.
  • After food, we worked in pairs, taking turns to share and offer active listening. One person would talk for one or two minutes, whilst the other would listen closely, without interrupting or strongly reacting. Using a timer to ensure we all got the same amount of talking/listening time, we asked three questions: How did I feel at the action? How am I feeling now? and What are you hoping for going forward, what seeds have been planted?
  • Then we joined pairs, to make ‘pods’ of four. Again using a timer (five minutes each), each group took turns to talk and listen. This time, the question was ‘What do I need?‘. This might be what I need right now (touch, words, silence…), or what I need more generally – from my community, from XR, from my self – to feel supported and remain a part of this movement.
  • Lastly, we had a closing circle to once again move round the group and share reflections on the action as a whole. Each person took a few minutes to share ideas on what was great about the action and its aftermath, and what could be done better, and we wrote these up on flip-chart paper for future planning.

Feedback after the session was that
it was healing, nourishing and really necessary.
As it was a
dedicated space for people who had shard a very specific experience,
people generally felt safe to share a wide range of emotions, they knew
others would listen and understand. And whilst not everyone understood
the purpose of the session at the beginning, we found that everyone had a
lot to say once things opened up! There were tears and a lot of laughs,
and the whole thing felt very profound. We intend to host these kinds
of sessions after every action, to keep offering space for the
regeneration that is so important to the sustainability of XR.

Speech from XR Berlin die-in,

Published by:

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).

Endangered species laws – the epitome of double standards

Published by:

By Karl Ammann – Time Magazine ‘Hero of the Environment’

Well on the way to climate breakdown and the sixth mass extinction of species on our planet, you would be hard pressed to know there have been international laws in place since 1975 with the aim of ensuring that ‘international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival’. So how are the bureaucrats who should be enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) doing on that front?

Amongst other failures on their watch:

• Wild tiger numbers have halved to under 4,000 since the 1990s;
• The South China tiger has almost certainly become extinct in the wild;
• There has been a huge increase in Asian tiger farms despite a 2007 decision by CITES parties stating that tigers should not be bred for commercial purposes (with the suits in the CITES Secretariat having not once lifted a finger against China’s massively documented non-compliance with that decision);
• The number of African lions nearly halved from 1993 to 2014, with just 25,000 or so now left in the wild (and yet the CITES Secretariat, bowing to pressure from the rich and influential American trophy hunting industry, still doesn’t recommend they be given the top level of ‘protection’ under CITES); 
• The elephant population of Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve dropped from 100,000 in the 1970s to 13,000 in 2013;
• The illegal ivory trade increased by close to 300% between 1998 and 2011;
• The illegal rhino horn trade in 2014 reached its highest levels since the early 1990s;
• There was a 9,300% increase in rhino poaching in South Africa between 2007 and 2014; and
• The western black rhinoceros was declared officially extinct in 2011.

CITES itself is comparatively well drafted, the problem is with the suits who should be enforcing it. Administered by the UN, time and again we see them bowing to commercial interests and, without being xenophobic, window dressing to protect runaway Chinese consumption of the planet’s few remaining endangered species.

I’ve been trying to get the CITES Secretariat to properly implement and enforce their international, endangered species laws for decades. With English wildlife lawyer Richard Hargreaves helping me out in his spare time for free since 2011 we’re now ready to publish our first book, ‘Slave Apes’, exposing the rot and double standards within the Secretariat.

With my pictures and evidence from the front lines and Richard’s words and analysis we have everything we need to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst case of double standards imaginable when it comes to protecting endangered species. Put simply, this has left the pair of us unable to rule out FIFA level corruption amongst the very bureaucrats who should be overseeing the full implementation and enforcement of the world’s only international endangered species laws.

In short, in ‘Slave Apes’ we’re talking about the suits at CITES punishing third world Guinea for illegally exporting dozens of live, baby chimps from the wild to lives of squalor, horrendous conditions and remorseless commercial exploitation in Chinese zoos. That’s correct but the problem is we have all the evidence proving this trade was instigated at the Chinese end of the supply chain and that the CITES Secretariat have not just failed to lift a finger against China in that respect but actually protected them from punishment and having to place these chimps in sanctuaries as required under CITES.

Our first book could just as easily have covered the CITES Secretariat’s failings and protection of China when it comes to the massive growth in their tiger farming industry or, similarly, the massive growth in the trade in lion bones from South Africa to Asia (where they’re passed off as tiger, thereby increasing hunting pressure on the world’s few remaining wild tigers). It’s just that in ‘Slave Apes’ we have the strongest, most incontrovertible evidence against the CITES bureaucrats possible

Finally, although I’m not UK based, if you would be interested in lobbying the UK’s CITES officials to call for an end to the rot and double standards within the CITES Secretariat in Geneva I understand they’re based at Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH.

Keep up the great work!

‘And the whole of creation is waiting for us to become human’

(Translation of a graffiti inscription by poet ‘Johannes’, Lake Constance, Switzerland)

With the suits at CITES being administered by the UN, the one problem we have with ‘Slave Apes’ is finding a publisher brave enough to publish. So this is basically a call-out on the off-chance that anyone involved with XR can recommend a literary agent or, ideally, a publisher we may not have tried who may be interested in getting ‘Slave Apes’ published. If you know of anyone please contact me at

Earth Day, 2019: Some Of Us Have Seen What’s Coming

Published by:

By Cody Petterson
For the first time in 15 years, I sat down in my car the other day and broke down sobbing. On the side of a dirt road, surrounded by mountains. Waves of sadness, frustration, rage, and despair welling up.
I’d spent the day planting and watering seedlings, which I’ve done for half a decade now. We have 300 acres on the north slope of Volcan Mountain, between Julian and Warner Springs. The property got hit by the Pines Fire in 2002, which killed two-thirds of the conifers. I grew up hiking in Cuyamaca, before the fires, and I got it in my mind to restore the conifer forest on the property. It took months to figure out what was what, heading up to the mountain once a week, taking pictures, coming home and trying to identify all the species, reading late into the night about botany, and forestry, and silviculture. I collected thousands of cones. I learned how to get seeds out of them and to stratify, germinate, and pot the seeds. I started growing seedlings in the backyard. I put together a working group with US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife, CALFIRE, and the US Natural Resource Conservation Service. We collected and sent 30 bushels of fresh cones up to the USFS nursery in Placerville, and I eventually got a thousand seedlings from those seeds.
I planted every which way I could, learning something new each time, year after year. The first year I planted in the open. The seedlings baked. Next in the shade. They baked. I learned to water every two or three weeks, which isn’t easy across 300 acres of steeply sloped terrain. The pocket gophers ate them from below. I caged the bottoms. Rabbits severed them at the base. I caged them above ground. Rodents climbed up and down into the cages and defoliated the needles. I caged the tops. The rodents ate the needles on all the branches that protruded from the cage, and the hardware cloth cages heated up in the sun and the metal killed all the branches and needles that were in contact with it. 
And all the time, the relentless heat and dryness killed any seedling left without watering for more than two or three weeks. Winter rains are good, but there’s no snow-melt anymore, and a winter rain doesn’t help a seedling survive in October when there hasn’t been a drop of rain in 8 months (the second half of 2017 was the driest on record here). In spite of thousands of hours of thought, and worry, and work, and care, I’ve lost probably 650 out of the 700 seedlings I’ve raised from seed and planted with my own hands over the last 5 years.
That day, after a long, dirty, hot day of planting, I walked to one of my favorite spots, a ring of granite boulders sheltered by a huge, gnarled Canyon Live Oak. There, lying shattered and rotting in the middle of the ring, was half the 60 foot tall tree. The other half was still standing, but covered in the telltale, tiny D-shaped holes of Gold-spotted Oak Borer (GSOB), a beetle that gets into the phloem, xylem, and cambium of our native oaks and kills them rapidly. GSOB arrived in San Diego on firewood from southeast Arizona fifteen years ago and has been slowly advancing north, laying waste to our native oaks. It’s killed maybe 80,000 so far. I wandered around to a dozen nearby trees, all big, ancient oaks. The trunks of every one were spotted with GSOB holes. I stood there stunned. The whole millenia-old forest was dying, as far as the eye could see. I wandered back to my truck, numb.
I sat down in the driver’s seat, staring out the window. At the oaks, dying in mass. At the stately, hundred-foot-tall Bigcone Douglas Fir, towering above the oak canopy. Each Bigcone drops maybe two hundred to a thousand cones, depending on size, every three to five years. Each cone has around 100 viable seeds in it. Maybe 40,000 seeds on average per tree, every few years. Times a few hundred trees. An average of somewhere around a million seeds a year fall on our stretch of mountain. And yet there’s not more than a dozen saplings growing naturally on the entire property, 300 acres. I sat there thinking about what that meant, year after year, a million seeds dropped and maybe one or two survive, and those only on the dampest, darkest parts of the mountain. It meant the days of the Bigcone are done.
I sat thinking about those thousands of oaks on all those slopes, and ridges, and hills. Dying. I thought of the Shot Hole Borer, working its way up through our canyons, killing all San Diego’s Coast Live Oak, and willow, and sycamore, and cottonwood. I thought of the Bigcone pushing their way up through the oak canopy. Last of their kind. I thought of all my seedlings. The hundreds I’ve planted over the years and the hundreds filling my patio and yard. I’ve lost too many to count, but I can somehow remember the moment I first saw each one had dried out, or been pulled under by gophers, or stripped bare by rodents, or gnawed by rabbits, or trampled by cattle from the neighboring reservation.
I’d thought about it all a thousand times. I’ve lain in bed so many nights trying to wrestle with it. I don’t know why, but that afternoon something in my mind buckled under the weight of it. I thought, ‘How do I tell my kids?’ and I started to cry. They’ve grown up with me storing seeds and acorns in the refrigerator, germinating seeds, potting seedlings, watering them, five hundred at any given time in the backyard, working in the greenhouses, unloading all my dusty tools and empty water bottles from the truck when I get back in the evening from the mountain. Their dad working in any spare moment on reforesting is all they’ve ever known. I thought of this photo we took a couple of years ago, sitting in front of all our hundreds of seedlings. So happy. How do I tell them that I don’t know what to do with the six hundred seedlings in the backyard? That if I keep them potted in the yard, they’ll get root-bound and slowly die, and if I try to outplant them on the mountain, they’ll die even faster? That there’s no place left in the world for these trees they’ve grown up with? And then the question that was probably there the whole time, waiting to surface: How do I tell myself? I think of all the love I’ve put into saving that forest. All the years. All the thousands of hours. All the thought, and worry, and hope, and faith. How do I tell myself that it’s all gonna die? I’ve spent so long among those trees. It’s not like trees in a park you visit. I don’t go to a different trail or campground or mountain every week. I go to the same mountain, every time. I know every corner of those three hundred acres. I can see the whole forest when I close my eyes. Those trees are like friends to me. I know their peculiarities, their personalities. I can identify some of those trees by their acorns alone. It’s honestly too much. To know they’re all doomed. And if my forest is dying, the same thing is happening everywhere on earth. My mind leapt back 20 years to when I was doing fieldwork up in Kenai, Alaska. I remembered driving past hundreds of miles of conifers dying from Spruce Bark Beetle, which had exploded without the cold winters to keep its population in check. I must have blocked it out for twenty years. But it was right there, just below the surface of my consciousness, foreshadowing.
The sadness, the fear, the despair comes over me in waves when I think about it. The whole biosphere, sixty-six million years of adaptation and speciation, is dying. I took personal responsibility for repairing, conserving, stewarding my half-mile square of it, and it finally hit me–what I’d been wrestling with unconsciously for a long time–that I can’t save it. No amount of wisdom, or sacrifice, or heroism is going to change the outcome. It’s been wearing on me for years, but when you’re raised on Star Wars and unconditional positive regard, you think that no matter how long the odds, you’re somehow gonna pull off the impossible. It’s been years of working, day-in, day-out, against odds that were unimaginably long. Only, they weren’t long. They were impossible.
And at the crescendo of sobbing and loss, the saddest thought I’ve ever had came to me: I wish I didn’t know. What else can you say, when faced with a catastrophe of such vastness, with the unravelling of the entire fabric of life on earth? I mean, we need to fight to save what we can, but the web of life as we know it is done. All the beautiful things we saw as kids on the Discovery Channel. The forests I grew up in. The mountain lions, and the horned owls, and the scat and the tracks in the washes. We’re so early in this curve, and the changes that are already baked in will be so profound. I don’t think humans are headed for extinction. We’ll survive, though many of us will suffer and many die. But all this life with which we’ve shared the planet, much of it won’t make it. I wish I didn’t know. I wish I didn’t know those ancient trees dying up there on the mountain. I wish I’d never hiked through Cuyamaca before the fires. Wish I’d never looked beneath rocks for lizards in the canyons before the bulldozers came. Or heard the frogs singing.
Some of us have seen what’s coming. Some of us feel, deeply, the oneness of all life, feel its fabric fraying. On the first of April, 2019, just after 3 o’clock, some faith–some fantasy inside me–died, and I felt despair for the world I’ve known and loved. We will not save what was. The world, the systems, the interrelationships, the densely woven tapestry, the totality we were raised to love will collapse. My responsibility now is to my children–to all our children–and the world that will remain to them. To rescue as much as we can from that global conflagration, from the catastrophes of famine, and flood, and fire, and conflict, and exodus, and extinctions that await. To end our dependence on fossil fuels, immediately. To dramatically change our food production, our transportation, our land use. Our way of life. To defeat anyone and anything that opposes or hampers that work. If there were ever a truly holy war, this struggle–to save the whole of life from ourselves–is it. There can be no compromise. No increments. No quarter. There is nothing left, but to go forth–with the grief, and desperation, and granite-hard determination–and transform the world. Utterly. Immediately.

Dr. Cody Petterson is an anthropologist and environmental activist. He is president of the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action and serves on the boards of the San Diego River Conservancy and the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego. He lives with his wife and two children in La Jolla, California, where he enjoys his passion for native habitat conservation and restoration.

Stop climate change with carbon taxes

Published by:

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

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

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

The Benefits of Accepting the Possibility of Environmental Collapse and Human Extinction

Published by:

By John BellS

Professor of Sustainability Leadership, Jem Bendell, has recently
published a thoughtful review of the scientific studies on climate
change, called “Deep Adaptation”.
He concludes that social
collapse is inevitable, environmental catastrophe is probable, and
human extinction possible
He says, dramatically enough to get our attention,

The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war

But when I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life. With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbours for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.

thinks facing this can lead to individual and collective change and
growth toward insight, compassion, and action. He proposes what he
terms “deep adaptation,” which includes the following framework:

I hope
the deep
and restoration
be a
the face
of climate
do we
what we
to keep?”
“what do
we need
to let
go of
to not
“what can
we bring
help us
the coming

reading the piece, I found myself relieved and encouraged.

because I too have been thinking about the likely collapse, thinking
that the earth’s environment is past the “tipping point” in
many areas, that we will lose more species that we can imagine, that
there will be social chaos, that we need to grieve the current and
looming losses, and that I may need to become a planetary hospice
worker, or a climate chaplain, joining with others in trying to
provide support, comfort, and perhaps some spiritual wisdom to help
us manage the coming troubles.

I was also relieved
because I too have been hesitant to share these kinds of thoughts
publicly for fear of reinforcing discouragement and despair that most
people carry. I haven’t wanted to be a voice of gloom and doom,
since that usually helps disempower people. Prof Bendell addresses
this fear by saying that refusing to look directly at the seriousness
of our situation gives us false hope that somehow we can avert the
worst, and thereby keeps us numb enough to go along with accepting
things as pretty much they are, or just advocating for mild,
piecemeal reforms, thereby sealing our fate.

because I have long believed that what is required is radical
transformation at the base of our civilization—an economy that
promotes well-being and happiness, not based on greed; a society
based on fairness, compassion, and cooperation where the “isms”
have been healed and eliminated; a re-uniting of humans with the rest
of the natural world, recognizing our inextricable interdependence
and embeddedness; a human culture that encourages contentedness,
sufficiency, caring, curiosity, and creativity. The author points in
that direction.

transformation seems like a dream, given the current trends. All the
more reason to not
continue the slow, incremental reformist moves that most of the
environmentalists have attempted. This is not sufficient. Nothing is
sufficient to stop the severe climate induced disruption and
suffering already built in. But hoping that technology or the market
or human decency or enough political will can “save” us from the
worst is not sufficient either. We are called to a radical shift in
consciousness coupled with deep changes in our behavior, policies,
and structures in the external sphere, and correspondingly deep
changes in the interior realms–our self-concept, beliefs,
internalized feelings of powerlessness and unworthiness, unconscious
biases that make us feel superior or inferior, and the underlying
conditioning that makes us feel separate from each other, other
beings, and the Earth.

The interior transformations
needed require, among many things, dedicated and effective methods of
healing trauma, providing emotional safety and safeguards in the home
and public settings, a set of mindful ethics to guide our behavior,
and ways of nurturing compassion, loving kindness, peacefulness, and
enjoyment in the joy of others.

the interior dimension of change needed leads me to three conclusions
or directions for myself. a) To re-dedicate myself to do even deeper
emotional work to release stored distress and childhood hurts so that
I can think more clearly and act more boldly. b) To re-commit myself
to meditate more diligently and to practice even more fully the
ethical principles
I’ve been engaged with, namely, reverence for life, generosity,
kind speech, and mindful consumption, so that my actions point to the
world I want, and c) To live more deeply into the insights of
interdependence, continual change, and unbroken wholeness of reality
from which I can’t be separated, so that I know that the Earth and
I are one, that what hurts the Earth or other being, hurts me, that
when I care for a river’s health I am caring for my health.

the radical change in social structures needed leads me personally to
commit myself to advocate for a bold vision beyond reform; to support
big ideas like the Green New Deal and beyond; to participate in mass
non-violent civil disobedience actions; to help dismantle white
supremacy, patriarchy, and all the dominator systems; to support the
creation of a new just, cooperative economy. A tall order for sure,
but why not go for it!

don’t and can’t know how the story ends. But starting by
embracing the strong possibility of environmental collapse and human
extinction can jar us into a deeper relationship with our true nature
and other beings.

healing, social transformation. You can’t have one without the
– the tagline of Tikkun Magazine years ago.

John Bell is a Buddhist Dharma Teacher who lives near Boston, MA, USA. He is a founding staff and former vice president of YouthBuild USA, an international non-profit that provides learning, earning, and leadership opportunities to young people from low-income backgrounds. He is an author, lifelong social justice activist, international trainer facilitator, father and grandfather. His blog and email