Extinction Rebellion now needs no introduction, thank goodness.
The climate crisis political activism group is making an impact across the globe, including in London, where activists at the time of writing are currently blocking the streets in an act of mass civil disobedience.
Inspired by their activism, these are my 5 biggest environmental factors to think about this week.
It’s amazing that it’s a global movement. Seeing involvement from all over the world, including footage from the African continent encapsulates the global scale of the crisis. The climate is a global resource, and requires global cooperation to protect and defend.
Some have criticized the London protestors, because of the low amount of emissions directly produced in the UK. However, that ignores our globalised economy. The UK hide a lot of our worst emissions in other countries, who manufacture on a gargantuan scale to supply our demands. For example, I hope that the boycott of Christmas crackers I’ve seen circulating Facebook truly explodes. We don’t need to drive the demand for polluting tat like tiny plastic combs, for example, even when it’s not produced in our backyards.
Fast fashion is yet to truly come under fire. We need to “ration fashion”, and change how we see it. Fashion on this scale is truly new commodity and it needs to rapidly change or stop. Fashion uses acres of cotton, creates pollution from synthetic fibres like polyester or satin, and fuels human rights abuses. The enormous quantity of textiles production is done far away from the consumer and the parent companies, allowing problems of unethical production to run under the radar. People can be made to work in unsafe environments, for unfair wages, and even under-age children can be working in outsourced factories for big-name brands.
There’s growing awareness of this, but whilst fashion remains cheap, and there remain few viable alternatives, there’s no signs of bad fashion slowing down yet.
Meat eating is a bone of contention for many environmental-skeptics. Yes, there’s misinformation and confusion about the impact of livestock farming, but stats aren’t the only reason why people go vegan. People go vegan due to:
- ethical concerns about the voiceless animals bred into farming and exploitation
- concerns about the efficiency of feeding a living animal in comparison to directly farming land
- concerns about the amount of forest being cleared for an increasing appetite for meat in developing countries.
It’s tiring to constantly see this complexity boiled down into “but sometimes CO2 information is misleading!”. The other reasons matter too, and for some people, they matter more. Either way, we can all agree that diet makes a huge difference to the global environment, due to deforestation, ecological deserts (caused by lack of biodiversity) and polluting methods of farming such as use of pesticides or animal antibiotics.
People who care about the environment should be on the same side here, not fighting about burgers.
Flying might not be the worst culprit, but it’s not a neutral option either. We need to stop convincing ourselves that the atmosphere is giving us a free pass just because we need to get somewhere…cars and planes are huge polluters, and yet we often don’t think twice before we need to use one.
Even switching to other powered forms of transport, such as buses, trains or even electric cars have the potential to save emissions, so why aren’t we all pushing for them? Are we that desperate to be stuck in traffic, or endless airport queues? Do we not value our lives and our air more than that?
Thanks to other critics of Extinction Rebellion, I recently learned that the internet is equally as polluting as air travel.
Some simple searching, and I discovered this is due to the enormous data centres that power 70% of the internet traffic through 3000 companies, mainly through coal, gas and nuclear power. Alarmingly, not only is this energy usage largely invisible, it’s also increasing rapidly, with almost no signs or reason to become greener or more limited.
I was already against the prevalence of “smart” devices by companies, designed to drive consumer dependence, now I have an environmental reason as well, because their usage is further causing the expansion of this invisible energy drain. Smart cars, if they become popular, would further add to the strain on these systems. Individually, we make no difference right now, but I’m feeling conscious that this power is no longer invisible to me.
If none of us are aware, none of us can campaign against this. If no one watches, why would a company bother to be ethical? When profits come before ethics, it’s the world that burns.
Ultimately, Extinction Rebellion Protestors are Doing the Right Thing
Not everyone can protest. Some are too unwell, have too many responsibilities, are economically trapped and unable to attend physical protests. We can’t all protest, but we can at least be thankful to the people who are, across the world. If not for them, making noise, causing disruption, how would things change?
I’m massively grateful that the teams behind these protests are pushing on. I’m in awe at their resolve. I’m fascinated by how they have turned the climate discussion on its head with their urgency and violent determination. It is a climate crisis, and it only gets worse the longer legal actions are delayed. Business as usual is not usual for the planet; it’s causing pollution on a scale the planet has not ever faced before, and might not recover from it.
May business as usual continue to be on hold, until we all face the reality of what we are doing to the planet, especially those in power who would rather ignore us to make a profit. I’m really glad that they are being held responsible, even if it doesn’t make sense to everyone right now.
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Thanks for reading, I hope this inspired you to do more reading and perhaps change some habits. Let me know if there’s anything I got wrong in the comments, it’s really appreciated and could spark new information for me, I’m always willing to learn!
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