This week I attended an Extinction Rebellion talk hosted in my hometown and given by Dr Gail Bradbrook. For those that aren’t familiar with XR – they are a powerful rebel movement to protect the livelihood of citizens and our natural world using peaceful civil disobedience. I’m slowly recovering from what was said at the event, but it still feels like I’ve been punched in the gut.
I can’t sugar coat the message that I’m about to pass on, but I do want you to know that every fact, figure and message in this blog comes from mainstream scientific sources.
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED
- When we breach 2°C of global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, we will be heading into a period characterised by the domino cascade of feedback loops. Scientific jargon aside, it’s basically where the warming triggered by humans sends the natural world into a vicious circle of breakdown and warming. It’s what has caused every mass extinction on the planet other than the one that killed the dinosaurs. 
- We only have a 1% chance of hitting the Paris Agreement 1.5°C target, and a 5% chance of keeping it less that 2°C. The likely range is between 2°C and 4.9°C, well within the extinction range suggested above. It will also be within the lifetime of children alive today. 
- By 2050, one in nine people on the planet will be on the move due to climate change and its consequences. This isn’t just country to country migration, it will also be internal as people flee coastal flooding around the globe. 
- Societal collapse is inevitable and it’s coming soon. The conditions we are starting to see are a breeding ground for authoritarianism, fascism and totalitarianism. Fascism is particularly good at hijacking democracy. 
- With all aspects of climate change taken into account, human extinction is a possibility on our current trajectory, with 1.5°C being dangerous, 3°C catastrophic by 2050 and beyond 5°C existing as an unknown, beyond catastrophic. 
Are you crying? I was.
These are only five of the soul-crushingly stark scientific revelations from the talk, which I strongly recommend you watch online. It’s true that turning and facing up to the consequences we are confronted with is devastating, but one of the reflective points stressed by Dr.Bradbrook is that we mustn’t shy away from doing so. We shouldn’t shy away from the grief either.
Indeed, grief is a part of the process we must go through in acknowledging the enormity of climate catastrophe. The reality is terrible and terrifying, but grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness, it is the price you pay for love. And, unfortunately the only cure for grief is to grieve.
We’re in a position, strangely, not of hope (because there is very little of that left), but of courage. Despite the enormity of things, and indications of the super-rich planning to leave the rest of us behind, we must find the courage to aim for something better than the worst predictions; and at least try to be an ancestor our children and grandchildren will know had tried.
FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO
- Face up to the reality, grieve for it and share that grief with trusted individuals and communities.
- Join the Extinction Rebellion. This is now a global movement of peaceful civil disobedience, part of a moral duty to rebel against our governments who remain criminally complicit by not urgently acting to tackle the greatest threat our species has ever faced.
- Take part in the week of rebellion. There are events up and down the country, but you can also start your own. Just a heads up, The XR Days of Action begin in London on Monday 12th November and if you’re willing to risk arrest, rebellion day is November 17th.
- Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Like their Facebook page and engage with what they’re doing and share their message. I’m as much a culprit of being coy as anyone, but here I am writing a blog about it. The time for being quiet, quite literally, is over.
- Remember that this is not a question of them and us. The consequences of climate change are coming for everyone and it is the most vulnerable who will suffer first and fastest. Don’t allow hateful rhetoric to distract and divide you from them and remember to listen.
If you are frightened or angry, then know that I am too. Along with a huge number of people around the world that are desperate to see the changes we need. What’s important to understand is that this is it; no cavalry is coming to save us because we are the cavalry. It’s time we acted like it.
-  http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/115/33/8252.full.pdf
-  https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3352
-  https://rebellion.earth/rebel/
-  http://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf
-  http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/09/13/1618481114