Extinction Rebellion Rebels against Extinction in Atlanta, Worldwide
(APN) ATLANTA — As a new generation of activists comes of age, an international movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), is creating pressure for societal changes that would be sufficient to prevent the possible extinction of humanity and other species.
XR has a chapter in Atlanta and is an international movement.
XR started in London in 2018 in response to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which concludes that we only have twelve years to stop catastrophic climate change and that we have already entered the sixth mass extinction event on the planet.
XR in Atlanta
Locally, Extinction Rebellion (XR) made a big splash by performing a mock wedding between the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) and Georgia Power during a PSC meeting.
The wedding was performed by “the Grim Reaper” during an Integrated Resource Plan meeting much to the dismay of the Commissioners and to the delight of advocates for clean energy.
“We were calling out the cozy relationship the PSC has with Georgia Power and the donations they get from law firms that work with Georgia Power,” Scott Brown, a member of XR, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“The federal government is AWOL on this [climate change] for the foreseeable future… so it’s in the hands of state regulators and cities,” Brown said.
“We want the PSC to transition to clean energy much faster than they are moving now,” Brown said.
They are demanding net zero clean energy by 2025 to avoid runaway climate change with disastrous consequences.
“We are protesting about the future of our species and if there will be a future,” Brown said.
“Georgia Power has about 1,500 megawatts (MW) of solar online and is expected to have 1,800 MW by the end of the year and up to 2,500 MW by the end of 2021,” according to an email from Tom Krause, Public Information Officer for the PSC.
That is about six to eight percent solar energy in Georgia’s electricity mix, with lots for room for more clean energy.
Currently, the CO2 levels are 400 parts per million (ppm), or 50 ppm above what is safe and healthy to preserve a livable planet, as previously reported by APN.
“The government needs to protect the people from the incentives of capitalism that exploit people and destroy the environment and not taking into account for the negative externalities,” Brown explained.
A “negative externality” is when an industrial activity has negative effects like pollution, but the costs of those negative effects are “externalized” or passed off to other people. When children die of asthma because of carbon dioxide pollution, that is a negative externality.
“This is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced, so we have to come together and figure it out,” Brown said.
On March 15, 2019, students from more than one hundred cities in the U.S. and 112 countries walked out of school to demand that lawmakers start fighting back against climate change.
This was the largest environmental protest in history, with many students still walking out of school every Friday to demonstrate and demand action to prevent further global warming.
One Swedish young woman, Greta Thunberg, 15, has become an international leader on climate change, participating in a school strike and protesting outside of the Swedish Parliament demanding action on climate change.
Here is a link to her speech at the United Nations Climate Change Conference:
The Norwegian parliament has nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The students are saying that walking out of class to protect the planet is more important than being in class because if global warming is not stopped, they will not have a future and there is no reason to be in class.
“Climate breakdown is urgent for Extinction Rebellion for many reasons. The most significant is we are already in the midst of the planet’s sixth mass extinction event… and humans are as susceptible to extinction as any other species,” Rory Varrato, an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Philosophy at Fordham University, and an XR member, told APN.
“Because this extinction event seems to be accelerating… XR believes it is imperative that we act swiftly to identify and respond to what all humans should view as an immediate existential crisis and emergency,” Prof. Varrato said.
“In the United States and most other industrialized nations… governments are held captive, either directly or indirectly, by the fossil fuel industry… Some politicians don’t care or worse some choose willingly to exacerbate the situation… and are interested solely in increasing their own status, wealth and power,” Prof. Varrato said.
“We need to completely change our system of social organization, not simply modify or reform the social system that presently exists,” he said.
“Nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience are as nice as we can afford to be given the dire circumstances and the short window of opportunity within which we must act,” he said.
“We have seen some policy responses, such as Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declaring a climate emergency last fall, and now the British Parliament declaring a climate emergency. We hope to replicate those developments in NYC by placing pressure on Mayor De Blasio,” Varrato answers.
“We support the decarbonization of the economy and the shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. In the U.S., the Green New Deal is a good move in the right direction.”
“We also support increased political democracy, especially through the establishment of citizens’ assemblies that can empower all persons to contribute to these efforts.”
XR views Citizens assemblies as necessary because our government is hostage to the fossil fuel industries and will protect those corporate interests. As we saw during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests when the government and state protected fossil fuel interests and not the environment.
“The Titanic has already struck the iceberg and we are all just rearranging the deck chairs. However, I think XR is playing a crucial role in raising awareness, and through this increased awareness we can help to save lives and mitigate the worst effects, to the best of our ability.”
“We believe firmly in the power of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. We will continue to escalate our efforts on those fronts for as long as it takes,” Varrato promised.
Since its inception in 2018, XR now has chapters in 35 countries, including the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and the United States.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2019)