Extinction Rebellion: why an environmental activist doesn’t support them

I am a huge activist for climate change. I supported the climate strikes that occurred a few weeks ago, and I support all of the peaceful and positive movements that surround the argument that we need to change the way we live in order to save our planet.

However, upon reading about the recent activism from Extinction Rebellion I find myself feeling disappointed, and on the verge of disgust. Today, members of the group decided to spray the Treasury in Westminster with nearly 1,800 gallons of fake blood (water and beetroot juice) from a fire engine. They lost control of the hose very quickly and landed up spraying the street instead, and were arrested for criminal damage.

how is this a positive movement?

I understand their point of view, but I do not understand their actions. How is causing damage to property going to change anything? In fact, I believe it will do the complete opposite! Some of their past protests have included spray painting government buildings, glueing themselves semi-naked to windows, and blocking busy roads. Nearly all of these methods including the use of harmful chemicals and take valuable time from police and doctors who could be helping others in less self-inflicted circumstances. If I was trying to convince someone to understand my view, I would not commit ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ (as they describe their actions) in order to make them ‘see’ my opinion. It is actions like these that make me feel sad to call myself part of the climate change movement.

As well as not sending a positive message to the world, they are achieving completely the opposite of what they claim they are trying to do. Surely, if they really believed in protecting the environment they wouldn’t have driven a diesel-powered vehicle to Westminster in order to waste gallons of water by just pouring it onto the street? The cleaning of which will most likely require chemicals and yet more water. It’s been a complete waste of resources – the police required to attend the scene have cost the government a lot of money, and their time could have been spent elsewhere in more urgent circumstances.

Not only this, but it is known that a fire hose is dangerous when control is lost due to the high water pressure and the huge metal part on the end. So when they lost control of the hose it was lucky that they only damaged innocent bystanders’ clothing with the fake blood. Today, not only did Extinction Rebellion waste many environmental and human resources, but they also put people’s lives in danger. For me, I see no positives in this, because although they have captured attention, it is not the right kind.

I am an avid supporter of eco-friendly movements, but even for me, this is too far. There are so many ways that we can achieve environmental change in a peaceful way. Cooperation and inspiration are what is needed at the moment, and not violence and resistance. The reason why we have gone so far down the line of lack-of-action is because of our negligence of communication. Actions, like the hosing of the Treasury, do not instil a feeling of warm reunion, it only angers people. If we want the government to listen to us we need to show them that we are worth listening to, that we are rational and that we can work together.

What’s your opinion about Extinction Rebellion and their recent actions? All opinions are welcomed, as education about either side is always valuable; that is, after all, how we create a united planet!

Image: Reuters

Michaela Clancy

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