Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Financial Times, you build people’s support for your cause by adding to the misery of their work commute.
Climate change protesters are telling us the deadly truth
Extinction Rebellion challenges decades of belief that pessimism backfires
APRIL 19, 2019
The furious reaction to this week’s climate change demonstrations in Amsterdam, Paris and other cities is in marked contrast to what I’ve observed on the streets of central London this week. “Sorry for the inconvenience” said the young bearded men at Marble Arch, where protesters closed the junction. Further south, one chauffeur-driven executive leaned out of his stationary car window to tell cameras that “climate change matters”.
Attempts to portray this movement as a bunch of angry, self-indulgent hippies don’t capture the reality. I met grandmothers who have never marched before, and commuters who decided to join in. On Oxford Street, one placard summed up the mood of regretful determination. “I apologise” it read “but I don’t know what else to do”. That echoes what many of us feel, as we watch our societies distract themselves with everything except the looming climate emergency.
But if this movement can continue to capture the headlines, it might achieve the sustained change that we need. Government action will follow when voters become sufficiently worried. People feel deeply about the natural world, but the silence on the creeping threats to our planet has been extraordinary. Few people are even aware that we are living through a mass extinction of species.
The green movement lost years of progress when it went red. In campaigning for things like social housing, world government and the minimum wage, it blurred its message and alienated much of its potential audience. It also enabled successive US presidents to claim that climate change was a pinko conspiracy. When the old movement campaigned against clean nuclear power, it made green prophets like James Lovelock despair.
…Read more: https://www.ft.com/content/6b044d08-61cb-11e9-9300-0becfc937c37
I used to be a London commuter. I can’t help thinking there is a massive disconnect between the feckless dilettantes and climate obsessives who seem to have the leisure time to join weekday climate protests, and ordinary people commuting to work to pay their bills.
Trying to get to work in cities like London is often a thoroughly miserable experience.
Tube strikes, gridlocked traffic, terrorist attacks, the constant risk of being assaulted or mugged, endless maintenance overruns, being squished like a sardine on the Jubilee line or other busy metro lines, paying exorbitant first class prices just to get a seat, melting in Summer, freezing in Winter, worrying about when you will get home to your family and kids, hoping nobody has vandalised your car sitting in an open, unsecured parking lot near a graffiti covered station.
Your baby just missed their goodnight kiss from dad, again.
The last thing most people in these circumstances wants is a group of climate hippies saying “sorry” while deliberately inflicting even more misery on their daily commute.
I somehow doubt this effort to mess up everyone’s day will translate into significantly greater support for climate action.