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What Exactly Is Extinction Rebellion?

Around the world, the effects of climate change and global warming are now seen at new and alarming rates. Various advocacy groups have developed in response to the impending climate crisis. One such of these environmental justice groups is Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion is a grassroots environmental movement that executes peaceful and non-violent protests in London, New York, Sydney, Berlin, and other cities around the world. 

The leaders of Extinction Rebellion are demanding that world governments declare an environmental and climate emergency, halt biodiversity loss, and create a “citizen’s assembly” on climate justice. According to the Extinction Rebellion site, when the movement reached the United States, a new demand was added: “We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.” 

This group’s protests have consisted of sit-ins in train stations and airports. Extinction Rebellion protesters have superglued themselves to the ground in these places to delay trains or planes to prove their point. There have been major roadblocks created by large groups of protesters creating masses in the streets, effectively blocking cars and buses from traveling along major roadways. Extinction Rebellion also uses mass arrests as a means of protest. At one such protest in a train station in London, a protestor climbed onto the top of a subway car in the early morning of a workday. This action halted people’s commute to work, mainly effecting working-class commuters instead of the big-time companies that contribute to climate change on a large scale. This protestor was dragged off of the top of the subway car and beaten by commuters, leading to a momentary loss of Extinction Rebellion’s hope for peaceful protest. 

Extinction Rebellion protests have faced major backlash around the world. People have criticized Extinction Rebellion’s methods of mass arrests, claiming that this undermines the negative experiences that people of color face in a biased justice system. It has also been claimed that the method of mass arrests may not force the government to increase environmental protections, but may instead cause the government to increase anti-protest laws. 

Despite this backlash, Extinction Rebellion protests have also garnered massive support by people such as Greta Thunberg, Emma Thompson, and other prominent figures. Trevor Neilson, Rory Kennedy, and Aileen Getty created the Climate Emergency Fund and donated almost half of a million dollars to Extinction Rebellion groups in New York and Los Angeles. 

No matter one’s personal opinions on the methods used by Extinction Rebellion, there is no way to claim that these protests have not achieved their goal of attracting attention to the climate emergency that this world is facing. As 2020 is approaching, the methods used by Extinction Rebellion and other climate justice groups may change, but it can be guaranteed that these groups will not stop working towards a more environmentally conscious society.  

*Image Source: https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/the-emergency/

Sociology and Philosophy Double Major at Fordham Rose Hill Interested in: Art, Music, Makeup and Current Events
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