More than 1,000 people participating in the Extinction Rebellion have been arrested during the past week in London. The international movement, which seeks radical changes “to minimize the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse,” began in the United Kingdom six months ago after the release of a dire report on global warming from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and is spreading to other European countries.
In recent days, protesters in London have glued themselves to a commuter train, blocked a major bridge with a mass yoga class, occupied major landmarks, and staged a “die-in” beneath a whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum to raise awareness that Earth is experiencing an extremely rapid loss of biodiversity known as the sixth extinction. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish phenom leading a worldwide school strike for climate action, joined the London protest yesterday.
Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the UK government “tell the truth” by declaring an ecological emergency; take action to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and create a citizen-led assembly in charge of decisions on climate and ecological justice. The group’s strategy is “disruptive civil disobedience,” rather than conventional organizing efforts aimed at electing and influencing government representatives. It’s unclear what comes next in the rebellion, which is entering what the group calls “a new phase,” possibly one focused more on negotiating than awareness-raising.