Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science student, Rebecca Jones, discusses what last month’s heatwave really meant…
Last month, the UK experienced its hottest day in February ever recorded; the first-time winter temperatures had ever exceeded 20⁰C. But whilst downplaying narratives of cornetto crunching families on beaches were occupying the front pages of the national media, there lay a darker side to the reporting. Some responded with facts that put this heatwave into a suddenly terrifying context, one of these being that this is just another ‘hottest day on record’ badge to add to the sash of the 21st Century. Concerningly displaying 16 of the 17 hottest years ever recorded. Only when we combine this ‘glorious day’ with the dawning of the ‘Anthropocene’, the sixth greatest mass extinction, and ravaging environmental disaster, we start to see the full picture. This picture is what impassioned a group of people to change it, declaring a rebellion on the British Government for inaction on this climate crisis. The 31st of October 2018 saw the birth of Extinction Rebellion (EX-R), and since then, the movement has grown into 206 autonomous groups in 24 countries. The power of its focused non-violent direct action is speaking for itself, with the biggest act of civil disobedience the UK has seen in decades taking place on the 17th of November 2018. 5 of London’s biggest bridges blocked, less than a month after the declaration. When we consider this, it is obvious that the message of EX-R, to tell the truth about our impending climate disaster, simply resonated with concerns already bubbling in the consciousness of our society.
It is now undeniable that we are running out of time. The results of the latest International Panel on Climate Change (ICCP) report state that we have just 12 years in which to halt irrevocable, runaway, climate change. But the clouds closer to home are tinged with silver. Assisted by pressure from Reading EX-R, as of the 26th of February, Reading Borough Council (RBC) unanimously declared a climate emergency, outlining aims to make Reading carbon neutral by 2030. This is an amazing achievement, but this now relies upon continuing pressure so that the national government delivers the resources RBC needs to fulfil this pledge. Are we disheartened that when climate change gets a spotlight in the Commons for the first time in 2 years, a mere 40 MPs show up? Maybe, yes. But what I see most is anger, and hunger for change.
This hunger is no more fervently present than in the youth. In August 2018, 16-year old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg staged a one person protest outside of the Swedish parliament every school day for 3 weeks, continuing to do so every Friday since. Capturing the imagination of thousands of students distraught by the lack of education and action on this existential threat, this gave rise to the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement. Greta paved the way for students in over 60 UK towns to take to the streets and demand action on climate change on the 15th of February global ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’. The next day of action on March the 15th, already sees over 500 locations in 51 countries taking part, including Reading, and EX-R will feel privileged to support students engaging in this. The youth have their eyes wide open, and they will not rest again until they’ve reclaimed their futures, squandered by those in power. Climate justice is social justice, it ensures that the prospects open to generations before will exist in the lives of generations to come, and we can all play a part.
Please, if you are interested in averting this catastrophe, we would love to hear from you via any of the mediums listed below:
Facebook: Extinction Rebellion Reading
For more information on Extinction Rebellion’s vision, visit the website: https://rebellion.earth/