Extinction Rebellion: Open the roads or save the planet?

PLMR

PLMR Intern Noah Hudson discusses the Extinction Rebellion protests currently taking place in London.

In the 10 months since Extinction Rebellion was established on 31st October 2018, it has become an internationally recognised movement, growing by the day.  Although their one-year anniversary may not make the headlines due to another controversial topic, even amongst the disruption of Brexit, Extinction Rebellion has gained widespread attention that is impossible to avoid.  It is their contemporary and brave approach that has captured the imagination of such a variety of people.  Although controversial due to their disruptive actions, the amount of opposition to the movement is arguably a measure of their success.

With nearly 300,000 Facebook followers and thousands more participating in protests since they began, Extinction Rebellion has already succeeded in uniting people from all walks of life.  The ownership taken on by young people to defeat climate change has been matched by parents and grandparents alike, all with the common commitment to sacrifice their time to initiate change.

The influence of young people on the movement is clear to see. The marches and protests are colourful, creative and effective.  Their message is communicated perfectly whilst balancing on the edge of controversy.  Roads in central London have been taken over and transformed into skate parks, yoga classes, concerts and more.

The most recent protest to launch in London – a two-week campaign aiming to be five times as big as the previous marches in April – has faced criticism that important routes to St. Thomas’s Hospital will be blocked.  Extra mobilisation of the police in central London will also be required.  Disruption to the emergency services as well as surrounding businesses has given any opposition an easy argument against the protests.

Many have taken to Twitter to speak out against the movement, ironically capturing exactly what they don’t seem to understand about the protest: disruption stimulates a response.  Voicing your opinion on social media is unlikely to impact upon anyone else’s life let alone the future of the environment and this is the exact reason for the civil disobedience tactics of Extinction Rebellion. The short term inconvenience on the streets is what could possibly initiate a wider discussion that leads to change on a global scale.  This wider perspective is what critics seem to be lacking.

As a constant reminder about the issues of climate change amid a political climate which has never paid enough attention, this movement is one that has countless positives to outweigh the negatives of congested roads in the already congested city of London.

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