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XR speaker Larch Maxey came to Hastings as part of “The Time is Now” tour

Extinction Rebellion: the time is NOW


Dr Larch Maxey

Larch Maxey came to Stade Hall last Wednesday evening (3 July) to talk to around 70 people about the climate emergency and social change. He spoke with passion about his discovery of Extinction Rebellion (XR) after a 25-year record of unrewarded activism and how he, like so many of us, found in XR what he’d been looking for all that time. XR understands that humans respond to stress emotionally, that we’re only about 20% rational, so, faced with climate emergency, we don’t simply do the math and put things right. Hence, our important principle of no shame and no blame, especially as our choices as consumers and non-consumers are in very short supply. XR Hastings member, Terry McBride shares her experience of the meeting with HOT readers.

The only dinosaurs to survive the Cretaceous (fifth) mass extinction were the avians, and the gulls are mewing and wheeling and honing their 65 million year flying skills over the waves of the sea as I make my way to the event.

We are in the sixth mass extinction Larch says. At the beginning of my XR journey I read a 2011 review article in the journal Nature that asks ‘Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?’. Science has answered that question with a sobering affirmative that has charted the biological annihilation of species and is now calling it what it is. And the human race is culpable, this is the Anthropocene extinction, and if we don’t Act Now, the last human will be buried alongside the memory of the dinosaur and amongst the debris of our toxic environmental pollutions.

To come back to Larch, there is the possibility of our three demands being met, not by the car crash of our current government as it squeals towards the brutish bang of Brexit, nor by the liberal, reformist co-optation of our demands by parties governed by powerful lobbyists whose interests are so short term as to profit from human extinction.

Our three demands are, and members of our audience shout them out:

(1) ‘Tell the Truth and Act as if it is Real’. This crucial twin demand has not been honoured by any governing body giving lipservice to parliamentary declaration of climate emergency.

(2) ‘Halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025’. Someone said get rid of the net. Reduce carbon emissions to zero, regardless of offset (and we are reminded of the carbon offset of the gargantuan containers of our unrecycled waste being shipped to newly emerging economies that don’t have the resources to deal with it, like us, and are plagued with climate disasters, like floods, that unearth our plastics from landfill and deposit them in soiled rivers that reach out to the seas and the oceans, choking them with the debris of our personal over-consumption). Liberal lipservice from a spokesperson somewhere in the bowels of our government commits to zero net carbon by 2050. That is ecocide. It is not viable and it will kill us, is already killing us.

(3) Set up a Citizens Assembly.

The possibility of real and necessary change comes down to this third demand. A member of the audience describes it perfectly. It is a kind of jury, forming a demographically representative cross-section of the population, which is informed by science and advised by expert witnesses and which makes binding decisions on policy that government must implement. This is the beauty of our third demand, because the policy decisions of a citizens assembly legitimizes government to act in favour of the environment and in detriment to financializing interests that run counter to species survival and gamble with ecocide. This liberates government by virtue of a truly democratic yet to be established convention to act in the interests of the people it represents and has a duty to protect. It is at the point when Larch is minding us of successful outcomes of citizens assemblies that he falters, his voice breaks and he admits to his emotion, which fills my own eyes with the same emotion, and others who applaud it.

The good news is there are XR lawyers pursuing a ‘Three Demands Bill’ and the human right of Conscientious Protectors to act according to their conscience is gaining traction in courts. To me this sounds like something a child might read about in a history book. I hope that history book will survive and stay true to its roots. Larch mentioned the film ‘The Children’s March’, Birmingham Alabama, 1963, suggesting we watch it together.

Larch has taken a year’s sabbatical to dedicate himself to XR. We urge you to go to one of his talks around the country, where you will discover much more than I can capture here and which builds on the work of Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook and many many others. What I know is XR is an extraordinary force for action. The commitment, energy and incredible speed at which ideas become manifest is eye-opening and jaw-droppingly efficient; if corporations could only harness it, they’d rule the world. But that kind of energy and flexibility doesn’t lend itself to ruling the world, and XR is an autonomous and decentralized movement that embraces ten unbreakable principles. Our task—our superpower—is to halt and roll back the sixth mass extinction, without violence, without blaming and without shaming. Our desire is to breath clean air. This is the consummate power of integrity: tens upon hundreds of thousands of rebel wings rising up in cities around the world in response to three urgent demands.

Posted 15:56 Saturday, Jul 6, 2019 In: The HOT Planet

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