Suzanne Harrington: Wars and starvation will be much more inconvenient than traffic disruption

Suzanne Harrington: Wars and starvation will be much more inconvenient than traffic disruption

Inevitably, the backlash against Extinction Rebellion is in full swing, writes Suzanne Harrington.

Suzanne Harrington: Wars and starvation will be much more inconvenient than traffic disruption

YOU would expect clickbait-desperate sections of the media to wade in with insults and inaccuracies, but everyone is at it, from the rabid end of Twitter to the British PM.

“Hemp smelling unco-operative crusties,” said Boris Johnson, of the middle aged and retired people who have been peacefully clogging up areas around the UK parliament. London has had the most arrests of the 60 participating cities worldwide.

The Gardai, on the other hand, have praised the peaceful protestors in Dublin, who sang to them as they were being arrested: Gardai, we love you, this is for your children too.

Johnson thinks he will be pelted with eggs if he appears in public. He doesn’t quite get it that Extinction Rebellion is non-violent, and wouldn’t dream of throwing anything, or wasting eggs. Not to mention the fact that the movement is largely egg-free, because the meat and dairy industry creates more global carbon footprint (25%) than all forms of transportation combined (14%). Has he been briefed?

Nonces, screams Twitter. Posh vegan nonces, disrupting the daily lives of ordinary people. (A nonce, you will remember, is English slang for paedophile).

Extinction Rebellion, according to Twitter, is full of them: burn in hell, you insufferable eco-terrorist nonces — that’s a direct quote. Using more joined up contempt, sociologist Frank Furedi calls the actions “a carnival for middle classes who love to dress up as activists.” Even the Guardian complains that the movement is too white and middle class. Talk about missing the point.

Here’s what the movement is: terrified enough at the prospect of mass extinction to take time off work from teaching, building, doctoring, nursing, office working, farming, accounting, studying etc, to beg governments to tell the truth, to act now, and — because opposing political parties are so rubbish at working together for the greater good — to appoint citizens assemblies to get change started.

The New York Times reports how Extinction Rebellion “urges its members to try and get arrested so it can use the judicial system as a platform to force change”, making it “one of the most prominent and radical climate movements worldwide.”

Suzanne Harrington: Wars and starvation will be much more inconvenient than traffic disruption

Yet who wants to spend their precious annual leave in a police cell? Why would people risk their jobs for a possible criminal record? Be called a nonce on Twitter for your trouble? Be screamed at by the media for causing inconvenience?

Petitions, campaigns, polite letters to the government — people have been doing this for decades and it hasn’t worked.

So now we have middle class professionals locking themselves on to government buildings and octogenarians being arrested in tents. “If your fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night you don’t turn it off and say, oh you’re disturbing my sleep,” says Dr Emily Grossman, of Scientists for Extinction Rebellion.

Because when it comes to the crunch — and science says we are almost there — climate wars, starvation and mass extinction are the most inconvenient of all. Like really, really inconvenient.

More on this topic

First ever Youth Assembly on Climate held at Leinster HouseFirst ever Youth Assembly on Climate held at Leinster House

Climate activist Greta Thunberg sets sail once againClimate activist Greta Thunberg sets sail once again

Goats, climate change, and the positive feedback loopGoats, climate change, and the positive feedback loop

Cork is Ireland’s ‘Venice’ and just as vulnerable to climate changeCork is Ireland’s ‘Venice’ and just as vulnerable to climate change

More in this Section

'If you want to feel good — okay smug — about yourself, buy or sell stuff secondhand''If you want to feel good — okay smug — about yourself, buy or sell stuff secondhand'

Being fat is hard, so I amputated my stomachBeing fat is hard, so I amputated my stomach

No denying there is a new era of hatredNo denying there is a new era of hatred

Ending racism must be a priority but it must always be seen in its proper context Ending racism must be a priority but it must always be seen in its proper context

More by this author

Being fat is hard, so I amputated my stomachBeing fat is hard, so I amputated my stomach

Self-partnering and the pitfalls of narcissismSelf-partnering and the pitfalls of narcissism

Limitarianism: Rein in mega-wealthy before it’s too lateLimitarianism: Rein in mega-wealthy before it’s too late

Will somebody please think of the children?Will somebody please think of the children?


Lifestyle

About 70% of our planet is covered in water, in one form or another and it is vital to our survival.Appliance of science: Where does water come from?

NAYA, a female wolf, arrived in Belgium in January last year.Naya’s ‘death’ leaves August a lone wolf

First up: The Crown on Netflix.Five things for the week ahead

Seán O’Sullivan owns Badly Made Books, a stationery, design and printing shop/workshop at 1, Friar Street, Cork.We Sell Books: Sean O'Sullivan is binding his time in a job he loves

More From The Irish Examiner