The actress Lily Tomlin famously said.
“I said “Somebody should do something about that.” Then I realized I am somebody.”
I love this statement. It’s a beautiful reminder that we have the power to make the changes we want to see in the World.
This is my first blog post for Extinction Rebellion and I wanted to share my call to action in the hope it will inspire others to get involved.
Like so many decisions we make it was a process. Moments of realisation that lead to an eventual Eureka! moment.
For me, it was while watching Sir David Attenborough’s One Planet with my children.
You see, when I was a child I used to love watching the nature show, Wildlife on One with my family. Okay, that’s not strictly true. What I loved was that it was on past my bedtime, and feigning an interest in the show meant I got to stay up later once a week. My parents were happy for me to watch it..it was educational! I did enoy seeing all the animals and exotic locations although I recall finding David Attenborough’s soothing tone a bit boring.
And while I remember appeals to protect the natural world being a regular feature of the show, I don’t remember much focus on the impact of climate breakdown. Although you may be surprised to learn that “Nearly everything we understand about global warming was understood in 1979!” The year I was born. “By that year, data collected since 1957 had confirmed what had been known before the turn of the 20th century: human beings have altered the Earth’s atmosphere through the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels” – NY Times 2018. Despite this knowledge, the pusillanimous leaders of the day did very little beyond some tinkering around the edges. It was tomorrow’s problem, it was convenient to believe.
Today’s nature programmes, on the other hand, heavily focus on climate breakdown and the dangers of our continued failure to act.
It is so difficult to all at once watch the awe-inspiring spectacle of the mass migration of caribou across North America, while instantly learning that this phenomenon is a mere fraction “(70% less) of what it once was due to climate breakdown”. Or the terrifying spectacle of a breakaway Iceberg the size of a skyscraper. “A phenomenon that’s happening twice as fast as it was ten years ago and contributing to significant sea level rises.”
How heartbreaking it is that every story of species and planet is instantly a story of a species in decline or a habitat lost. Especially when watching with my children. What it must feel like to be a child at this point in history.
Recently while watching One Planet my 13-year-old left the room. She said it was ‘too depressing’. She knew climate breakdown was happening but she didn’t want to watch it. My 7-year-old commented on how people “knew what to do to save the planet, they just weren’t doing it”.
That broke my heart. As a family we recycle, are Vegan and vegetarian and we had attended a couple of demonstrations for climate action too! But the fact that despite these things my 7-year-old still felt that people weren’t doing anything made me wake up to what I already knew…I wasn’t doing enough.
Everyone faces a choice every day that carries a climate cost. Do we walk or drive to work? Eat bacon or porridge for breakfast? But these individual choices alone are not enough. There’s no bag for life-ing our way out of this mess. It’s important to recognise that “arguments around individual choice shift the focus to individual action as opposed to lobbying governments against fossil fuel companies who counteract individual efforts every day. For example, “more than half of all global industrial emissions since 1988 can be traced to 25 corporate and state-owned entities.”
All these things led me to Extinction Rebellion. Their demand that Governments “Tell the Truth” about climate breakdown is crucial to counteract decades of delay and denial and strategic campaigns by fossil fuel companies to deceive and distract the public, dismiss the message and distort the facts. These are the reasons we now stand at the brink of the highest global temperature considered safe. Consider this: The last time the global monthly temperature was below average was February 1985.
Extinction Rebellion demands the Government “Act now”. Climate change is here. We don’t have the time or the luxury to do nothing. There have already been too many wasted decades of inaction. My generation, now in their 40s, had “adults around them who knew, and did nothing”. Now we’re the adults, what are we going to do?
Extinction Rebellion demands that decisions on climate justice go “beyond politics”, as over the decades politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have failed to take decisive action.
“We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making”.
I need my children to see that people care and people are doing something. That I care and I’m doing something. That is what led me to Extinction Rebellion. Because “climate breakdown is not only the crisis of our lives, it’s also the crisis of our species existence”.
This was my call to action. What will be yours?
Join Extinction Rebellion today.
For if not you, then who? And if not now, then when?