Is Extreme Necessary?


Courtesy of Planet Activists

In the fight for climate change legislation, protesters have been using more extremist methods.

Taylor Cozloff, Editor-In-Chief

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This common six-letter phrase means that actions that may seem extreme under normal circumstances are appropriate during adversity, but how do we know for sure if something is desperate enough to require extreme measures?

One group by the name of Extinction Rebellion believes that, for the environment, we are in desperate times right now. Extinction Rebellion is an international group that utilizes nonviolent civil disobedience in an attempt to demand action against climate change.

Since October of last year, the group has performed numerous acts of civil disobedience that has drawn headlines. Many have called the movement extreme and radical, and it’s not hard to tell why. They have blocked traffic, sprayed fake blood on the UK’s finance ministry, stopped trains and planes, and chained themselves to bridges, and that’s not even the half of it.

However, these types of protests are nothing new. Throughout history people have used civil disobedience that may have seemed radical at the time, to ultimately create necessary change. The Civil Rights movement utilized Sit-Ins, where African Americans would sit at “whites only” counters, marches, and Freedom Rides into segregated neighborhoods to urge the government to end segregation. Gandhi performed a Salt March to protest British rule in India, and from 1989-1990, thousands of London citizens used acts of civil disobedience to protest an unfair poll tax.

The actions of Extinction Rebellion, or XR, have been heavily criticized by some. Most say that the group’s radical ways need to stop. However, XR’s released a statement following their heavily criticized, two-week protest in early October of this year.

The statement read, “Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites, You’re right. We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints. Like you – and everyone else – we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm. There is, however, a more urgent story that our profiles and platforms can draw attention to. Life on earth is dying.  We are living in the midst of the 6th mass extinction. Climate change is happening faster and more furiously than was predicted; millions of people are suffering, leaving their homes and arriving on our borders as refugees.”

The letter ended with a call to action, “The media exists to tell the public the truth. Right now there has never been a more urgent need for you to educate yourselves on the CEE (Climate and Ecological Emergency) and to use your voices to reach new audiences with the truth. We invite all people with platforms and profiles to join us and move beyond fear, to use your voices fearlessly to amplify the real story. Thousands of ordinary people are risking their freedom by taking part in non-violent civil disobedience.  We’ve been inspired by their courage to speak out and join them. We beg you to do the same.”

Hundreds of high profile celebrities have shown their support of the group by signing the letter. But it isn’t just celebrities that have shown their support, over 1500 scientists from numerous fields have signed a declaration of support of the nonviolent actions taken by XR.

The science is there to back up XR’s actions. A report by the IPCC shows society will need to achieve net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide by 2050, and achieve net reductions of other global warming gases by 2030, if we want to avoid devastating effects of global warming.

It’s clear that now is the time to take desperate actions, and it has been for a while. If there is any hope to avoid disaster, we must urge leaders to take the actions necessary to stop the increase in temperatures, and if ways that may seem radical are the way, then so be it.