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A Magazine for Sheffield

Mass Extinction or Mass Action

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Anna Forlati

"Our leaders have failed us. This twisted system is killing us. It has us headed for extinction. It's time to rebel." This is a statement by Extinction Rebellion. You may have seen the children's climate protests last month. You may recognise the XR symbol of a circle representing the Earth around an hourglass. Get ready for 15 April, when they start acts of non-violent civil disobedience around the world.

Extinction Rebellion is different to previous environmental campaigns. It will grow and grow because climate chaos is gathering speed and destroying our ecosystems, and it will not be stopped without intervention on an unprecedented scale. It only takes 1-3% of a population to be mobilised to "bring about massive social change", says Gail Bradbrook, one of the founders of XR. To reach that point, various tactics will be used, from road blocks to hunger strikes, all based within a 'regeneration culture' designed to avoid activist burnout.

This movement will continue, because it's people-powered

Non-violent civil disobedience with 'ordinary' people works, because it disrupts 'business as usual'. The authorities must tolerate, arrest or negotiate. Negotiation is best, but all three options work. When authorities try to repress, there is a tipping point when credibility brings so many people out in support of a cause that change is inevitable. By the end of this month, Extinction Rebellion could be smeared with every nastiness under the sun. Don't be surprised, but know that this movement will continue, because it's people-powered, with intelligent, responsive tactics.

We are living through the Holocene, or Sixth Mass Extinction. Pollution, principally caused by oil, coal and gas, has driven CO2 levels up to their highest levels for between three and five million years. According to XR, the northern hemisphere had a 30% decrease in staple food yields in 2018 and the El Nino event is likely to produce the highest ever temperatures in 2019 and 2020. We have wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles in just 50 years, and now the insects are dying.

turning away won't help

We face social collapse caused by ecological breakdown. Life is going to get very bad for all of us, but turning away won't help. Governments need to make drastic changes, not in the future but in this generation - now.

Don't stand by. Stand up. Become part of the movement for change. There will be accommodation and transport to actions in London and other major capitals. Likewise here in Sheffield disruption will force authorities to the negotiating table. Whether or not you've taken action before, try to get out on the streets in the second half of this month. Take a day off work. Take a fortnight off. With the roadblocks you may have trouble getting to work anyway, but that's a small price to pay. This is about survival.

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