New Activists Preventing the Climate Tipping Point

by Alex Docherty

Since the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report saying we had just 12 years to prevent a climate catastrophe was published last year, we have seen a massive increase in the amount of climate protests going on.

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Susie Hotham (right) when XR shutdown Glasgow Cross. Photo by Alex Docherty.

Susie Hotham is an Extinction Rebellion Activist – Her role in October’s London Protests was as part of the World Building Team. Hotham says: “I joined Extinction Rebellion last January [2019], I started to see more and more in the Guardian about different actions that Extinction Rebellion were taking in London. Although I had been aware of the climate crisis for a long time I guess that because no one was really doing anything about it, its put to the back of your mind so to see people taking direct action, I guess inspired me and just made me more aware of the severity of the crisis. So I found someone giving a talk in Glasgow and I went along to that and I’ve been involved ever since.”

For many members of Extinction Rebellion like Hotham, this is the first time they have been involved in Activism. Hotham says: “I had been very opinionated before about things but I had never actually done any about it, I think its really inspiring to see people just taking direct action and you see oh I could actually do that myself. You think its not something you could do, but then you start to take part in just a small way at first. Like I just took part in some marches at first, but then it becomes easier the more that you meet people. I think that being part of the Extinction Rebellion community in Glasgow made me a lot more aware of the facts, like theres some amazing people that are just incredible well informed.”

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Glasgow-based Hip-Hop Artist Sentrix performing at XR’s Glasgow Cross Protest. Photo by Alex Docherty.

 

Along with having a  strong sense of community among they’re activists another way that Extinction Rebellion has been able to spread their message – as well as raising funds is by arranging their own gigs and having live music at there protests. Extinction Rebellion has also collaborated with other established music events. Hotham: “Then I gave a talk at Doune the Rabbit Hole [Festival]  and I started doing a lot of reading for that.  I started to read the uninhabitable earth – its devastating, it explains the science very clearly, but it also explains the Humanitarian cost of climate change. It breaks down what will actually happen to the earth with global heating and what will actually be the cost in terms of human health – with heating, with flooding, with rising sea levels. And then it also explains tipping point – basically the amount of warming that happens is dependent on how we deal with the crisis right now. Its already been completely changed, there has already been a one degree increase, but the amount of degrees of that increase is dependent on how we act now. At a certain point it will get to the tipping point, which will mean it will be irreversible.”

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Diagram of tipping elements in the Earth’s climate.

The tipping point is when the temperature increase gets to a point that it creates a self-reinforcing feedback, which would further increase the rise in temperature. If the tipping point is reached – some scientists believe that this could lead to a runaway greenhouse effect which would lead to large parts of the earth being left uninhabitable. We only have a limited amount of time to reduce emissions before we cross the tipping point, which has been an a big factor in motivating many people to get involved with groups like Extinction Rebellion or to take part in the School Strikes. Hotham says: “That was a massive depression for me, I started reading this book and it made me feel really angry, because this information has been out there… your taught your whole life that science is important – and then you realise like your whole life you’ve just been lied to. Because thats the reality- and what the human cost is gonna be, its already happening right now. “

Thousands of people have already been displaced due to climate change. For some this has been temporarily due to an environmental disaster such as a tsunami.  For others they have fled because of deteriorating environmental conditions, such as changes to the coastline as tides rise or deforestation. Climate change has also caused many economic factors motivating people to find a new home, like potential crop shortages due to how wether has effected growing. Hotham says: “The way climate change has always been seen in education and in the press has always been seen as very like animals and ecosystem, and you can be detached from the human cost of that, obviously we all care about animals but we care more about humans dying. Not communicating the human cost of that has been a massive failure.”


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