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The Extinction Rebellion Brings Global Civil Disobedience to the Modern Matter of Climate Change



Photo / Extinction Rebellion / Ruth Davey

Climate Crisis Will No Longer Go Unnoticed as Global Civil Disobedience Breaks New Ground

It has been 170 years since American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau published “Civil Disobedience.” In the essay, he questions that in the face of unjust laws, “shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress at once?”

Today, an international rebellion is taking place, and by no coincidence, it is over the environmental matter of sustainability and reformation in the face of governmental inaction. The revolution is about climate change, and it is currently spearheaded by the global movement known as the Extinction Rebellion. The movement’s message is simple: “To the governments of the world, we declared a climate and ecological emergency. You did not do enough. To everyone else, rebel.”

The Extinction Rebellion began in the United Kingdom during May 2018. Their tactic is to use nonviolent civil disobedience to compel governments around the world to take action against climate change. The group’s three primary aims are to get the government to 1) admit to climate change’s reality and urgency, 2) take action to halt bio-diversity loss and carbon emissions, and 3) create legislation and a citizen’s assembly to continue combatting climate change in the future. 

Global Mobilization is Only the Beginning as Celebrities & Everyday People Continue to Join the Cause

In the movement’s infancy, the Extinction Rebellion was only about a hundred British academics who signed a commitment towards activism. In late 2018, the group started its rebellion with a number of protests in London. Since then, it has grown to hundreds of thousands of participants from all around the globe

Among the Extinction Rebellion’s supporters are Greta Thunberg and a number of celebrities, many of whom recently signed a controversial letter admitting to living hypocritical high-carbon emission lifestyles, but refusing to back down from the rebellion.

In 2019, the group has put on protests in cities across all six of the developed continents. Most recently, massive protests have taken place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Over ten of the Canadian protestors were arrested during these events. However, members of the Extinction Rebellion use arrests to their advantage. Basing themselves off of former historic protests, the group assimilates these tactics to the matter of climate change. Therefore, whenever a protestor is arrested, the rebellion can use it as publicity and evidence of oppression. Many of the arrestees so far have pleaded guilty to their charges, owning their actions as just given the cause.

From London to the Rest of the World, the Extinction Rebellion Will Not Be Stopped Until Demands are Met

Ironically, London, the city where the rebellion began, is now the first city to have banned Extinction Rebellion protests across the board. After a number of arrests and events that took a toll on the city, London declared the group’s protests illegal. Nevertheless, this is unlikely to silence Extinction Rebellion. Although their actions may create temporary inconveniences in local areas, their cause is combatting a potentially irreversible global destruction.

On the Extinction Rebellion’s website, they have over thirty future events lined up between now and the end of the year, and that is not even counting the smaller protests that may not be posted or pre-planned. Climate change is not going anywhere, and neither are the people committed to acting against it. The group’s symbol is an hourglass, representing the limited amount of time we have before climate change permanently affects our planet on a global scale. The clock is running out, and the Extinction Rebellion is determined to accomplish its mission. When will that be? Well, to quote Thoreau yet again, “when a subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished.” Therefore, when action against climate change is met, and those who deny its severity are overpowered by those who realize the truth, then the Extinction Rebellion will be accomplished.

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