We are facing Earth’s sixth mass extinction. This is a worldwide emergency. We were given the facts and the opportunity for individual lifestyle adaptation and incremental policy change but time for this to suffice has passed. If we are to save ourselves and our planet from catastrophic consequences, we need to make wide scale changes and the only way this will happen is with direction from our world’s leaders. I’m sorry if that sounds like scaremongering but I am pretty scared.
Yesterday, my husband, children and I joined Extinction Rebellion to protest against climate change and plead with the government to declare the emergency we face, commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and agree to a citizens’ assembly.
We were welcomed with open arms, huge hearts, steaming dandelion coffee and free harp lessons. The urgency of the protest was immediately apparent as a group gathered to spread the word to Camden. In order to get involved officially, we signed up at the stewards’ tent, where I was amazed and impressed at the organisation. The volunteers were friendly and supportive and directed us towards various training sessions and ways to take part as a family. The whole effort was collaborative and inclusive and no time was wasted with hierarchy or bureaucracy which was a breath of fresh air and reflected the urgency of the task.
The family tent was a wonderful reception for us all to sing songs, play games and adopt the perfect mind-set for a peaceful protest. While there, we were generously offered sun cream and canopies to shelter from the already blazing April sun. The intense April weather, an apt reminder of the climate change we were all there to protest about.
Another family attraction for us was the music truck which helped us relax into the harmonious and non-judgemental atmosphere as we danced across the car-free roads. Rows of solar panels provided the power to amplify the sound and demonstrated the musician’s commitment to lead by example. Scattered chalk markings on the roads and pavements reminded us to “please respect our drug and alcohol free zone” and “go this way for vegan pizza” and provided an insight to the background of this plight by highlighting key facts and figures. I was immensely touched by the level of effort that was made to keep the protest peaceful and the amount of thought that went into looking after everyone there. Our trainer wisely summed this up as the importance of “self-care, people care and planet care”.
Later, we stood in Hyde Park, amongst our homemade placards, and handed out leaflets about the protest. I was filled with pride as I watched my excited children run up to strangers to give them the message. My heart almost burst as I listened to them appeal for help to save the planet for their futures.
I did start feeling nervous, and even defensive, when the police approached. But that was soon replaced by relief and encouragement when I realised they simply wanted to chat, especially to the children, about how we were doing. The relaxed children knew that the police were there to do their job, as were we, and that both things could take place simultaneously.
We also visited Oxford Circus which felt much tenser than Marble Arch but just as peaceful and tolerant. Excitement mounted when a man jumped on a pillar to make an engaging speech. But we were saddened to watch police finally remove 3 protesters as their dedicated lay ins came to an abrupt end, albeit to a roar of cheering and clapping in thanks to their sacrifice.
Overall, I was deeply moved by this beautiful attempt to save humanity and our planet. I feel privileged to have played a part in the demonstration and encouraged by the volumes of people who share the same passions as I do. There was no pressure to take part. We just all wanted to do the right thing. But leaving the streets of London today, I felt depressed. How many more people will come forward to join the struggle? How long will the fight continue? Will it be long enough?
As much as I’d like to be on the streets fights for this cause day and night, I can’t be. However, I plan to continue the battle from home by reducing my carbon footprint, spreading the word and helping to coordinate the Kentish effort. I’m not an expert in this field. But I believe what the experts are saying. And I hope you will too.
If you would like to help fight climate change, please join Extinction Rebellion in London for this vital protest. Find out about other ways to help at the Rebellion Extinction website.