Will the current #ExtinctionRebellion protests work and deliver the change that they believe is necessary to save the planet from extinction?
Firstly, I'm a Life Coach and Business Coach, based in Peterborough with several years coaching experience, 44 years life experience and a qualification as an NLP Practitioner. I'm not a climate scientist, my knowledge of the climate is only an A-Level in Environmental Studies, a year of a Degree in Environmental Biology combined with the same access that we all have to the information that is available in books or online. My focus is on things like beliefs and values that drive behaviour.
This blog is not about whether I believe Exctinction Rebellion are correct or not based on what they believe. There are over 6000 studies that make predictions on climate, so do your homework, avoid researching with bias and make up your own mind.
What we can all agree on is this. Reducing the amount of CO2 and pollutants that we release into our world including things like plastic can only be positive, and the faster we can do so the better for everyone. This needs to be done at the same time as reducing the destruction of ecosystems that help offset the damage we are doing.
To bring about change you can inspire people, deceive and manipulate people or even force people. I think most of us would prefer to be inspired. I had a conversation on Facebook with someone who supports XR and I'd like to share a couple of quotes from his messages to me in response to me saying that we need the people to make changes.
His comments are as follows-
"Personal changes, although necessary are not going to solve this issue, only systemic changes to economics and governance can do that."
then in reaction to me mentioning the following story, Ethiopia ‘Breaks World Record’ by Planting 350 Million Trees in 12 Hours
"If activism in Ethiopia was not incredibly dangerous I'm sure it would be more common."
"Not everyone has to change everything now, thinking that anyone will is unrealistic. Also, making judgements about others isn't part of XR ethos, they work on non-violence (including communication)."
Extinction Rebellion and the individual mentioned above are basing the protests on causing disruption to the Government that will push their message to the top of the agenda and force or bring about the changes they want faster. But most of the protests are causing major disruption to the public instead of government and this will only alienate people from the cause instead of inspiring them. I would suggest that change needs to happen at ground level with each of us and an example of this was Sky's campaign to reduce plastic among others.
The video here shows Extinction Rebellion protesters climbing onto the roof of trains on the Jubilee Line in London today to cause disruption. The trouble is this doesn't disrupt governance as suggested. It affects the very people that they need to grow support from.
Equally, if you watch the video you will see that members of the public are extremely angry and are effectively climbing on to the trains to remove the XR protesters themselves. The protester they try to remove can clearly been seen to kick the member of the public in the face to avoid being removed from the train roof. Firstly this certainly won't positively help XR's cause and secondly it goes against the very message of "they work on non-violence".
Let's go back to the positive story from Ethiopia which an #ExtinctionRebellion supporter stated was only happening because activism is incredibly dangerous in Ethiopia. Now activism may be dangerous in Ethiopia. But that then assumes that people only planted 350 million trees in a day because they couldn't protest, and they would have just protested instead if they could. That makes absolutely no sense. It also doesn't explain why we can protest without this fear but still didn't plant 350 million trees as well in a day.
In fact, the government were heavily involved and instrumental in achieving this. All of this without any protesting. Check out this "State-run media have urged members of the public to devote their efforts to planting and caring for the indigenous trees, with staff from foreign embassies in Ethiopia as well as international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and African Union taking part in the project." They even gave people days off to help with the planting. I will paste a link to the full story at the bottom of this blog. #GreenEthiopia
For that many people to carry out what is probably a new world record in planting trees in one day, they were inspired. Check out the Tweet below. Positivity.
If Extinction Rebellion continue saying that they are disrupting government, but in reality, they just hurt the very people that they need to gain support from, then the current protesting will damage their cause and have the complete opposite outcome.
To be successful and bring about the positive change they require needs a positive message and it will need us, me and you, to begin changes at home and work and within our family. Some of these changes will be inconvenient and possibly incur more costs. This will be difficult as humans more often choose the easier path in what may already be a challenging life. Placing further obstacles and challenges in front of us won't help.
There is also something else that needs to be addressed. If the comments are to be believed from XR that only changes to governance and economics will work, then the outcome will be that Government would have to force changes onto us. So, we are basically saying that we cannot make any of the changes ourselves, we need government to make us stop flying so much for example. Celebrities that have been called Hypocrites recently wrote an open letter that says the following -
It starts: “Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites…
“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.”
Once again it doesn't address all the changes they could make as individuals that have nothing to do with a fossil fuel economy or systemic change. Yes, they are Hypocrites, but they are also Hypocrites that want to place the blame and responsibility onto other people. Owning multiple houses throughout the world that they barely use are no one's fault but their own. Living the high life and running private jest all over the place is equally not something that anyone else can change but themselves.
Whether you are a celebrity Hypocrite or just an average Joe, it starts with the little or big changes that we can all make as individuals. When these are combined, they become enormous. Find an energy supplier that only produces Electricity from renewable energy sources, get an electric car, stop using bin bags, turn lights off, don't leave the TV on sleep mode, plant trees, buy produce locally or from a UK supplier instead of having it shipped or flown in from abroad. These are things we can all do and the way to deliver change is for Extinction Rebellion to inspire us as a nation to make these changes and for the celebrities we follow to set an example themselves.
In summary, do I think that the #ExtinctionRebellion protests will work. No, I don't. Hopefully they will realise this before there very message they hoped to promote causes most people to actively feel negative emotions related to the message they have tried to promote. If this happens, then we will go backwards as opposed to forwards in our journey to help save our planet.
Below are links to the previous blog I wrote about Small Changes in each of us that could change the world. There is also a link to the Mind Unleased story on Ethiopia planting 350 Million Tree in a day.
I hope you enjoyed the blog and feel free to comment and share.
A small change in each of us could change the whole world. This focuses on the importance of everyone making small changes that could then change the world more positively.
The Mind Unleashed - Ethiopia Plants 350 Million Trees in a Day