Extinction Rebellion And Me. Climate Emergency And you?

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Kate Sandle


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If you don’t know, now you know. Well, Extinction Rebellion hope you do.

 It’s in the news, they’re pissing people off, and some, who understand the climate emergency, feel excluded. Is the Extinction Rebellion mobilisation working?

For a while now the only way I validated my rants on Facebook was through quoting David Attenborough. The man who singlehandedly has changed the conversation. Ok, that statement isn’t totally true. And, dare I be controversial, for many he was way too slow to the party. But, people listened to what he said when he said it. People suddenly got ‘it’, they bought reusable bags and coffee cups, stopped using straws… but is that enough?

Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) mass mobilisation to highlight the climate emergency is dominating our media. If you live in central London, it’s highly likely they are affecting your travel.

I’ve heard so many comments:

‘But WHY do they always look unwashed?’

‘Can’t they look normal?’

‘Are they just a bunch of hippies jumping on the next cause?’

‘They’re just professional protestors’

There is a disconnect. Something is lost in translation.

As someone who met some people from XR, listened to a climate scientist and was spoken to about despair and grief, I also felt excluded. I was challenged by their certainty of my emotional reaction. Mulling it over it dawned on me, they know more than me – they’ve done their research. They aren’t doing this to cause trouble, it is for everyone. Their agenda is simple – to safeguard our planet for our ‘children’s’ future.

Since then, I’ve read more and one stat that really sticks with me – humanity has wiped out 60% of wildlife since 1970s. And that was only up to 2014. We’ve trigged something we can’t undo.

I’ve drunk the kool-aid. I understand the need for action.

Yet, I am in a WhatsApp group with sustainability professionals who feel excluded. If THEY, who make their living talking about future proofing, can’t get behind XR, who can?

This, for me, is the biggest threat to XR – the disconnect. How can we capitalise on the momentum built by XR, Greta Thunberg, the school strikes, David Attenborough, Emma Thompson and everyone else who is making themselves heard?

The challenge is multifaceted. How do we create change?

We need to become the bridge – to help translate the challenges into something the vast majority of people can understand and can relate to.

The next challenge is knowing how to talk about it. There is so much information available, so many ways we are in a climate and ecological emergency – how do you know what to say? There is information overload. Saying the planet is going to warm just sounds like better British Summer holidays. In a bid to help that conversation I’ve begun to create a simple worksheet for anyone who wants to read articles about a variety of topics. It could be better – and I would really like help if you have articles to add – request edit access and I’ll grant it.

So, if we know we need to be the bridge, we have a couple of facts and articles up our sleeves what do we do next?

Protesting with XR might be too far for many. I get that.

Here are my top 10 simple things…

1.   Switch to renewable energy. It is cheaper than the big six. While you’re at it what does your work use?

2.   Buy and USE a re-usable water bottle and coffee cup. (I struggle with coffee cups because they’re bulky and I don’t often buy coffee… but there are some foldable ones that work really well)

3.   Be conscious of your water usage – shorter showers, turn off the tap when you don’t need it – washing up or your teeth

4.   Think about your need to fly – could you enjoy some slow travel? What about exploring the UK for a weekend away? Failing that…. balance out your carbon emission and offset your carbon.

5.   Alter your diet and shopping habits…

a.   have a foldaway bag in your handbag or back pocket

b.  try to buy fruit and veg out of plastic and from Europe – that saves plastic and the airfreight

c.   You don’t need to be a vegan but meat should be a treat, like it was for thousands of years. Beef should be a rarity.

d. Check your packaged food, avoid palm oil, but if that is too challenging is it sustainable?

6.   Leave the car at home – walk, cycle, use public transport. There are so many apps that can tell you when a bus is coming, it’s so easy to plan your journey so it’s efficient

7.   Write to/email/tweet your politician to demand government action on the climate and ecological emergency

8.   Use your purchasing power to ask businesses to do more, think about who you bank with, where your pension is and how you spend your money. Use social media to question what are they doing to combat the climate breakdown?

9.   In your workplace start a conversation about the climate emergency, what is the organisation doing? Use any forum that exists to have this topic debated

10. Ask friends over for dinner or drinks and ask for 30 minutes of their time to share what you are passionate about. After those 30 minutes are up you can change the conversation. But ask them – if they want to be part of the change and to do something similar. You don’t have to be an expert but discussing the topic is key. Even if people disagree.

These actions aren’t going to change the world, but Tesco have one thing right, every little helps.

You might even question, why do it if very few others are. One quote that I think is worth remembering, if not you, who? If not now, when?

Featured image: Unsplash

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Extinction Rebellion And …

by Kate Sandle time to read: 4 min