Welcome to the Anthropocene era, the fossil fuel-powered nightmare of our own making. Our hot and crowded planet has hit Defcon 3. Right now, a record number of fires is burning down the Brazilian rainforest, threatening three million endemic plant and animal species. Mass bleaching in the heat-stressed Great Barrier Reef has reduced baby coral by 89% since 2016. Okjökull is the first (but not the last) glacier to disappear from Iceland. Last month Paris hit 109º, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city, which is at the same latitude as Seattle.
Our new normal is extreme drought, empty aquifers, thawing permafrost, superstorms, 500-year floods, and 0%-contained wildfires. However, the crisis doesn’t stop there. If we keep burning fossil fuels, the average rise in global temperature will continue well past 2º C. We’ll melt the world’s ice, boil the ocean, and drown our coastlines. No place on the planet will be hospitable to human life, let alone “safe.”
The rich won’t act to stabilize the climate because their bank accounts benefit from offshore drilling, deforestation, and disposable consumerism. Those in power won’t act because politicians believe anything other than incrementalism will cost them their seats. So it is down to we the people to move past despair and rebel against state-sponsored ecocide.
As explained in this new handbook, the UK activists who sparked Extinction Rebellion (XR) have learned from successful uprisings of the past. They rely on non-violent, grassroots direct action that is open to all ages. (Greta Thunberg has spoken at XR events.) XR activists protest moribund government policies by holding sit-ins and die-ins, by blockading bridges and roads, by occupying squares, and even by gluing themselves to buildings. Those who can afford the risk hold out until the police arrest them. Above all, their civil disobedience is joyful. People sing and dance. They keep up their strength with free vegan food and hot tea. Their most visible symbol is the hot pink boat Jeannette Kawas, named for the assassinated Honduran environmental activist.
If humanity survives the Anthropocene, it will be because at least 3.5% of us mobilized, whether through XR or other activist networks. No one is coming to save us. As my forever President once said, “We are the change we seek.”
Read more about XR at https://rebellion.earth/