Man vs. Himself: An Uphill Fight for the Future of Everything
By Laura Krochenski
You may have heard of the three environmental activists who blocked the Jacques Cartier Bridge on October 8th during rush hour. You may have also heard about the group Extinction Rebellion. If not, then you might live under a rock, but I’m not here to judge, I am here to enlighten you as to what this civil disobedience movement is.
Extinction Rebellion is a UK-born group committing civil disobedience. Their actions consist of protests and blocking intersections and bridges. They have 3 demands; that governments declare a climate and ecological emergency, that governments decarbonise the economy and stop biodiversity loss by 2025, and that there be citizens’ assemblies in order to work with scientists to make environmentally informed policies. That’s a whole lot of fancy words, but basically they want governments to stop ignoring the climate crisis so that we can have a future worth living.
Extinction Rebellion bases their actions on Erica Chenoweth’s studies. She is a Harvard University researcher who has proved that civil disobedience is the most effective way to get governments to take action.
Nearly a year after its launch, Extinction Rebellion has managed to gain thousands of members around the world, and has started a worldwide week of rebellion. From October 7th to the 13th, they caused mayhem globally. 700 arrests were made on the first day alone.
In London, an activist climbed atop an airplane. Hundreds glued and tied themselves in front of the exits at London City Airport. These actions may seem radical, however, after weeks of mass demonstrations in London, the government did declare a climate and ecological emergency.
"It’s up to you to decide which historical outcome you want to help create: extinction or rebellion."
In New York City, Extinction Rebellion successfully shut down Times Square. 62 people were arrested for glueing or tying themselves down. In Berlin, traffic was blocked for 58 hours. And in Montreal, along with the 3 activists who climbed the Jacques Cartier Bridge, 40 activists were arrested at a street party, where hundreds of people blocked traffic for over 8 hours.
Getting arrested is a pretty big deal. No, you don’t go to jail, but there is still a risk that you may end up with a criminal record. So why are people willingly signing up for this?
Noah Abecassis, an active member of Extinction Rebellion Quebec, and Dawson student says, “People are always telling me that this movement won’t make a difference. But in the slight chance that we can make a difference, why wouldn't you fight with everything you can to protect your future?”
This movement has received a lot of negative criticism for inconveniencing the average person. In response to this, Extinction Rebellion has publicly stated that “To bring the crisis to the mainstream media people and the attention of the public, we must resort to non violent actions. Our actions are disruptive, but the disruption is insignificant compared to the catastrophe we are on course for.”
Campbell, a 49-year-old australian Extinction activist states, “If our elected representatives had been acting consistently with the decades of expert advice they’d been receiving, there would be no need to be out there inconveniencing motorists on their way to work.”
At an Extinction Rebellion protest where we blocked off an intersection, one cop asked us, “You really think you are going to change the world by doing this?” As we were debriefing, we came to the conclusion that we can’t change the world, but what else are we to do? The climate crisis is an emergency that we are facing, and we don’t have time to wait around for somebody else to fix it. If we all have that mentality, nothing is ever going to change.
We, along with thousands around the world, are deciding to be the change we wish to see in the world, because that’s how change has been made throughout history. Take the Woman’s Suffragettes or the Civil Rights Movements for example. Those all started with a group of individuals who had ideas of justice which were originally frowned upon. Yet, they took up actions of civil disobedience and changed history for the better. That is exactly what Extinction Rebellion is doing right now.
So what can you do? Well, it’s not that difficult. Join Extinction Rebellion Quebec. You don’t have to go climb a bridge, but you can start showing your support by sharing their posts on social media, talking about them to friends and family and going to their events. It’s up to you to decide which historical outcome you want to help create: extinction or rebellion.