When you read this, I will be on my way up London (if not already there) to take part in the Extinction Rebellion uprising to drag climate change back to the top of the political agenda. This is something I feel extremely strongly about.
I’ve been going on environmental protests, and supporting environmental issues for about thirty years, after first reading a book on topic when I was at university. Over the years I’ve been that guy giving out leaflets in the street, writing angry letters to politicians and businesses, and that guy who stands outside government buildings holding banners and hoping to affect some sort of minor political change through direct action.
Technically I’ve been guilty of breaching a number of laws doing this, even risked arrest under anti terrorism laws (widely mis-used against peaceful protesters in the UK). I’ve been filmed by the police and asked to give me name, but never arrested or charged yet.
Today, along with many thousands of people, I’ll be in London trying to cause as much disruption as possible to drag this issue to the forefront of the political debate. This will likely involve a LOT of disruption, a LOT of police. There will be a lot of arrests, certainly hundreds. It will be a big deal, and its happening all over the world, not just in London. I *probably* wont take any risks that mean I’m arrested and kept overnight, but you never know…
I’d like to bust a few myths on this topic.
Firstly, not all environmental protesters are unemployed hippies. There are ALWAYS some people who show up with dreadlocks and bongo drums. You cant stop them. There are always people who try to twist the whole climate change message into being anti-capitalist, or a far-left agenda, or link it to a number of other issues. This is a small, minor, hardcore set of people who tend to get on TV, and tend to describe themselves as spokespeople, regardless what the rest of us think.
I’m a 49 year old company director in a software company. Not a hippie, not unemployed, have never played the bongos, definitely not anti-capitalist at all. I’m concerned about climate change because its happening RIGHT NOW and if you read about it, its FUCKING TERRIFYING. I am scared. I think this is way scarier than terrorism, or brexit, or inequality, or bio-terrorism. I am not doing this because I care about squirrels, or have a passionate fear for future generations. I’m doing this because if I don’t, its going to ruin my life, along with yours.
The best time to prevent climate change was about twenty years ago, when people like me used to bang on about it. Everyone ignored the issue (and they still are), so now the situation is absolutely critical. This isn’t something we sort out after brexit or after trump. It has to be sorted out immediately, and drastically. This isn’t a problem for your kids or your retirement, its a problem right now, this year.
Which means that this, being the last big environmentalist protest of the year is basically the last chance to protest before ‘shit gets real’ and everyone wakes up to how bad things are. This is the last chance to force governments to take real action. Not ‘£10 million subsidies for some EV charging points’ but dramatic economy-spanning action. We can’t be doing crazy shit like expanding heathrow airport, or fracking. Those are literally suicide. We need to tax airline fuel NOW, we need to increase fuel tax NOW and we need drastic, huge incentives for constructing more renewable energy, and switching cars, trucks and buses away from petrol/diesel.
In theory, I shouldn’t care so much. I’m 49, have had a good life, have no kids, earn a very good income, and sensibly bought a house on fairly high ground. We even have a well, and some land to grow a small amount of food (not enough). I can afford an electric car without subsidies, and I could afford a doubling of food prices. However…most people are not in this position, most people are fucked.
And if you only remember one thing from this blog post, let it be this: That climate change is very likely going to decimate crop production. That means vast increases in food prices. Likely food rioting. Not food rioting just in ‘the developing world’ but everywhere. Imagine the cost of the weekly food shop in the UK doubled in 2 years, think about the implications for poverty, law and order, immigration and the kind of extremist right and left-wing groups that will come to power in the chaos.
Climate change isn’t just about warmer summers or colder winters, its about a dramatic economic shock wave starting at food production and sweeping through the whole economy, destroying political consensus and social stability as it does so. Its already started.
I’ll be in London today because I could not possibly explain to future me what I could have done on this day that was somehow more important.