In October 2018 in the UK, a small socio-political group called Extinction Rebellion was born.
Since their inception, XR has become a global movement that has not only given citizens a voice and enabled large-scale acts of peaceful civil disobedience, but also contributed to the decision of governments declaring a climate emergency, paving the way for the legislative change needed to tackle this crisis.
This episode, I talk with Liam Geary Baulch, Creative Actions Coordinator at Extinction Rebellion, about why this movement is necessary, what progress has been made, and what vision of the world it hopes to achieve.
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LIAM GEARY BAULCH
Liam Geary Baulch uses the structures of song, dance and costume in performances discussing climate change, activism and more. The choreographed events he designs, often involve public participation, and take influence from folk culture and protest praxis.
Written, recorded & produced by Nathalie Nahai © 2019.
NN: Hello, and welcome to The Hive Podcast. As some of you may know, last year in the UK, we faced government inaction at the incontrovertible evidence of climate breakdown. 94 British academics issued an open letter calling for a citizens’ assembly to work with scientists to urgently develop a credible plan for the rapid, total decarbonisation of our economy.
In October 2018 Extinction Rebellion was born. Launched by Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell, and other activists from the campaign group, Rising Up! Their aim was to communicate with and apply pressure to our government to take the necessary action to avert climate breakdown, halt biodiversity loss, and minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.
In November last year, various acts of civil disobedience took place across London, with a large number of activists, both young and old, pledging to risk arrest and imprisonment in order to make their voices heard.
Originally conceived as a socio-political group in the UK, in only a brief space of time Extinction Rebellion has become a global movement, attracting the support of diverse groups of people from around the world.
Today, I’m excited to be talking with Liam Geary Baulch, creative actions coordinator at Extinction Rebellion, about why this movement is necessary, what progress has been made, and what vision of the world it hopes to achieve?
So Liam, thank you very much for joining me in what is a very busy schedule, I’m sure today.
LBG: Thank you so much for having me.
NN: So you previously worked with Rising Up! which is the founding group behind Extinction Rebellion. Can you tell us a little bit about this and what moved you to take an active role in these current issues?
LBG: Yeah, so I’ve been involved in creative campaigning on a whole range of issues around health and the NHS, and around housing in my local area in London, in Lewisham. Also, around ending the arms trade in the UK. But about four years ago now, there was a massive mobilization to get people from a whole range of issues to be interested in climate and mobilize around the Paris UN Climate Conference, COP 21.
As part of that mobilization I went to Paris. I’d done some things around the climate before that, but that was kind of the moment where I really realized if we don’t move on this issue, all the other things that I’m interested in improving in the world will kind of be futile if we don’t have a future world to have those, live those improved lives and live that society into.
So I kind of switched my focus there, and I was looking at helping groups look at how oppression in the movement will kind of limit its functioning, like if we don’t have young people central to this movement that will limit it. Now a few years later we’ve seen how much an impact the school strikes can have. If we don’t think about racism and climate justice, how will this movement be limited if we don’t have women’s voices in the centres?
So that was my way in. Then I thought, “How can I get people in London interested in the climate?” I looked for something about air pollution and the thing I found was a group called Stop Killing Londoners, which was a campaign run by Rising Up! around air pollution in London. They took to the streets and did roadblocks as a way of raising attention to the issue, which obviously is killing 9,000 people a year in London, and is particularly affecting the poorest communities and ethnic minorities communities in London.
And so, we were trying to get Sadiq Khan to move on this issue faster than he was willing to move, and we were using nonviolent civil disobedience as our method. So that was kind of a training campaign for what ended up turning into Extinction Rebellion, which was, we said like, “Okay, it’s great that we’ve done these small campaigns as Rising Up! on issues like air pollution or airport expansion or university’s investment in fossil fuels But how can we create a movement about the whole picture?”
Like, “How can we stop the ecological collapse that the world is currently experiencing? How can we stop runaway climate change, which is heading us towards extinction of all lives, including human beings?” And so, Extinction Rebellion was born, and I got involved in mostly organizing creative actions around this. Yeah.
NN: Fascinating. When you’re talking about creative actions, I know that last year I witnessed, it was extraordinary actually and I found it very inspiring, a massive swarming event across five of London’s most busy bridges. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came with this idea of swarming, and what that looks like, and what it means to come up with creative acts of civil disobedience?
LBG: Yeah. So it’s really key for us that this movement is about nonviolent civil disobedience. It’s about people reclaiming the power that they have really over a system. If many people come together, just like we saw on November 17th, when we blocked five bridges in central London, just with their bodies, not using kind of fancy direct action skills, not going back to the roots of what we’ve seen in the environmental movement over the last 20 years, which is groups of small, highly skilled people taking direct action against a specific site.
This was about saying, “We’re a mass who are willing now to take small scale acts of civil disobedience in the street and risk arrest because what we’re in now as an emergency that’s going to affect all of us, and it’s the government and the system that needs to really change and respond to that.”
And so, we decided, as we grew, actually a week before we took those bridges, we were taking action at the Department for Energy. A much smaller number of people, say about 100 people, came and took action, and we shut down that building using superglue, and people superglued their hands to the entrances. And so, we shut down the Department for Energy for six hours.
As those actions got more and more press, the amount of people that were going to come for the Saturday grew and grew. And so, we gradually realized, we have enough people that we don’t just take like one road or one space, like Parliament Square, let’s take like five bridges in Central London and really shut down Central London, and show how much power and energy there is for this movement now.
NN: It kind of reminds me of a little bit of the suffragette movement actually. One of the things that I was thinking about while researching this interview with you, was the mass arrest that happened back in 1961 with the British anti-war group, The Committee of 100, which was including signatories such as Bertrand Russell and Ralph Schoenman, and Michael Scott, among others.
Prior to this group, as far as I can tell, civil disobedience on this kind of scale, and what Extinction Rebellion is doing is on a much grander scale, but stuff at this scale was virtually unknown in the UK. To what extent do you think this approach is helping to achieve your aims and maybe publicize an issue that many of us find too painful to look at?
LBG: Yeah, I think what we’ve seen is that a lot of people have been concerned about climate change and concerned about extinction for a long time, but they haven’t known necessarily how to get involved themselves. They’ve seen kind of some of the bigger NGO groups who are putting forward these more skilled, highly-skilled activists to go off and go on a boat to an oil well somewhere and shut that down, which is amazing.
We love that those people have kept this issue in the centre, but it hasn’t given access for a wider range of people to feel powerful and feel involved in something. And so, I think, yeah, a similarity to the suffragettes might be the fact that art and creativity have been so central to our actions. We’ve really thought about how what words we use on our placards to make sure that this is beyond politics. This is including everyone and this is really something that everyone can get involved in and be part of.
We’ve said anyone can come and sit on a road in Central London and be part of taking that civil disobedience, but this is building on this, on the last 100 years really of nonviolent civil disobedience that we’ve seen across the world. Seeing that actually those movements have the power to change things, and change had always come through people kind of breaking the law when we’ve seen that the law is upholding a system that is failing us.
NN: When you’re talking about these changes in political and economic systems, and I know that people have written about this. So for instance, George Monbiot is quite outspoken about the changes that need to happen. With the Rising Up! website, you can actually find some really interesting content around this, including a draft manifesto for economic justice that offers, examples of policies that could enable the kind of political and economic change that we need. I’m curious, are there any specific ones that you think could be specifically effective to the UK, and some that might be more general to other countries in the world because this is now a global movement?
LBG: Yeah. So the amazing thing is where when you give people this power and they see that they can actually be involved and they can have a voice within this movement, and they get together, and they’ve been forming groups all across the UK. We’ve got over 90 groups now across the UK, and since that first action, public action at the end of October, our movement’s kind of expanded from about 3,000 people on Facebook to now 50,000 people, with groups in 25 countries. People running with this and doing their actions all over the world.
But I think a key thing of what Extinction Rebellion is doing is saying is, “Well, we’re here just to highlight the problem, and say, ‘That this is an emergency now and that we need action now.'” But it’s really up for the government and the systems to change and solve that issue. We’re putting forward, our demand is for the creation of a citizens’ assembly who decide on what system we should change to solve this problem in a more democratic way.
It’s not really up to us as a small underfunded group of activists to tell people exactly which method to do. We know that there’s lots of methods out there. We know that scientists have the research on this, that there is economists that have done amazing work on this, and they would advise a citizens’ assembly. Then it would be to the citizens’ assembly in a more truly democratic way, that isn’t blinded by party politics, that could really come up with a solution to this, in response to this emergency situation.
NN: So it sounds like what you’re discussing is basically galvanizing people to create a situation in which a citizens’ assembly can bring in various different kinds of people with knowledge in these areas to inform what potential systems could look like going into the future. So to really create something that’s much more democratic and perhaps a little less hierarchical. Would you suggest that’s the sort of thing we’re aiming for here?
LBG: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you can look up also on our website, there’s things about selectarianism, which is the method that we’re proposing to bypass party politics and make the citizens’ assembly much more democratic. Yeah, the idea is that all of these groups and people that are coming out and saying, “This is an emergency situation. I’m willing to put my body on the line.” Say, “I’m willing to get arrested,” because that’s where we’re at now with the climate and the ecological breakdown.
That’s actually raising awareness and putting the issue into the public sphere. Then we’re really telling the media and the government to tell the truth on this issue, so that more people are aware of this and know what’s going on.
NN: Why do you think that the government in the UK especially, has been so reluctant to speak up about the risks that we face in the face of all this evidence, and also to talk about the actions that we might need to take in order to change our current trajectory?
LBG: Well I think there’s the whole party politics issue of that people are so focused on their getting re-elected, and focused on internal politics, that they don’t really have the room to look at the bigger issue of climate change, because that would require kind of putting in place some serious steps that would go past the election cycle, and would actually look at improving the society for everyone in a serious way.
There’s also obviously the revolving door system, and the fossil fuel lobbies, and lots of ways that the current system is so easily held by corruption, and by the huge capitalist industries that are just functioning in the interest of creating more wealth, rather than actually creating a better society for everyone. I mean, their current functionings aren’t even beneficial to the people that work in those industries, and definitely not to their children or grandchildren who are going to have to live with the consequences of runaway climate change.
NN: I’m thinking also with this, that this idea of short-termism, which we seem to have just really bought into, and that more is more, this idea of productivity and generating wealth. It just doesn’t seem compatible with a world in which we’re trying to live more sustainably, or suggest systems that enable us to get greater balance with our environments. Do you personally feel that there are specific countries that are getting this balance a bit better that we could maybe look to for potential ways of addressing these issues?
LBG: I don’t think anywhere’s really solved this problem yet. So we’re currently facing one of the biggest problems humanity’s ever faced. Somehow, we’re overwhelmed by this, or we’re kind of ignoring it, or denying it, or we’re kind of going round in the standard political systems that we’ve been using for a long time, and not coming up with new ways and creative ways to solve this crisis. This is a new situation that we haven’t faced before, and so we’re going to need a new kind of politics and a new kind of system to solve it, I think.
NN: Do you think people will be able to galvanize quickly enough to create new systems, because obviously we’re talking systemic changes, these things tend to be quite slow and complex and people have vested interests?
LBG: Yeah, I think we always think that yeah, change is this really slow thing, but I mean, the reason that we’re using nonviolent civil disobedient and we’re trying to create a mass movement and not a small group of people working on this, is because we’ve seen in the past that mass nonviolent movements have managed to change things.
As I was saying before, I think a lot of people have been waiting for something to join around this, and that creative identity of the Extinction Rebellion has made, has allowed a lot of people to feel part of something and they’ve joined quickly. We’re seeing the same with the school strikes that have now mobilized just a few days ago, over a million people around the world on every continent.
That’s a movement that’s been led by young people and is seeing the youth really show that they care about their future and they are listening, and they’re awake, and they actually have got ideas around what to do with this. We’ve seen the Sunrise Movement in the United States galvanize a whole load of people from around the Green New Deal there. Of course, we’ve seen like lots of people in the Global South and indigenous communities who’ve been focusing on this issue for many years who are mobilizing as well.
NN: So do you think that we’ve hopefully optimistically reached enough of a tipping point where people feel that there are not only realistic ways to enact their concerns, so with for instance, swarmings, or the school rallies, do you think we’ve reached enough of a tipping point to get enough people out on the streets taking direct action for it to create the shift that we need?
LBG: I think we still need to grow. I think it can get bigger. I think it needs to be inclusive of a whole diverse range of people and really representative of the population, in terms of like really reaching out to working class people in this country, to ethnic minorities in this country, and make sure that this movement is inclusive and really representative of the population. That will really make it grow much bigger and also give it much more power in terms of saying, “This is actually what this population is asking for right now.”
NN: Do you think channels such as the BBC and other news channels, their reluctance to televise this is contributing to the problem? Do you think that people have to find alternative ways to get the word out, like social channels and more left-leaning routes?
LBG: Well, no. I think this problem affects everyone, and I think it’s really important that we don’t keep this within like a left-wing bubble, and we don’t keep this within an eco-bubble. I think the language that Extinction Rebellion is using is purposefully not environmentalist or leftist, it’s messaging to everyone
I think we need to be talking to all the media. I mean, we had a press conference here a few weeks ago, and as well as the Guardian being there, the Daily Mail and The Times were there. I think it’s really important that the BBC, and all media do you start telling the truth on this issue, because it’s going to affect everyone. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, or what your business is, or what kind of job you have, this is going to affect you and your kids. If we don’t change what we’re doing within the next five to 10 years, this is going to have serious impact on all of our futures. And so, it’s just as much a right-wing issue to care about the future of your family and your country.
NN: It’s very much a human issue, as opposed to political one in a sense?
NN: Obviously it’s political because that’s how the change is going to be affected, but in terms of who it impacts, it’s all of us. So Extinction Rebellion also has a very clear set of 10 principles and values that they espouse. Can you talk us through some of them?
LBG: So yeah, Extinction Rebellion have this set of 10 principles and values. This is what everyone who comes and works for us is asked to sign up for, because obviously we’re a decentralized movement that’s growing really fast. And so, there needs to be some kind of core values that people across the movement, whether they’re working up in Glasgow or whether they’re working in New York City, all follow these principles.
And so, they are that number one, that “We have a shared vision of change,” And that’s creating a world that’s fit for generations to come. Number two is, “We set our mission on what is necessary, which is to mobilize 3.5% of the population to achieve that system change,” and are using ideas, “Such as a momentum-driven organizing system to achieve that.”
Number three is that, “We need to regenerative culture.” So this is, “Creating a culture that is healthy, resilient, and adaptable.” So the whole point of Extinction Rebellion is that on the 31st of October we declared a rebellion against the government. We didn’t just have a march through London and then go home again. We actually said that we’re going to keep acting and creating disruptions and growing as a movement who want to see this change, until they meet with us on our demand.
And so, by having this be a rebellion, by having over the next month about 10 actions happen in Central London, which was a huge undertaking, we have to have a regenerative culture which lets people rest and recover, and learn from their mistakes, and then move forward and rebuild. And so, that involves thinking about people’s wellbeing, thinking about supporting them through the court system, if they do go through that.
Thinking about across everything we do really, building in a culture which is healthy and regenerative. We also avoid kind of blaming people and calling people out in public spaces. We try and resolve things through conflict resolution and one-on-one discussions.
So number four is, “We openly challenge ourselves and the toxic system.” So leaving our comfort zones to take action for change. What we’re seeing, and I don’t know if you are aware, we just had this massive festival in Bristol, where we were training and learning from each other?
LBG: And so, it was really interesting to hear. I heard this particularly from a group of women in a workshop I was running that Extinction Rebellion has given them kind of permission to step outside their comfort zones and do things they might not do. For example, like speak in a public situation, giving the extinction talk to a room of 50 people, or to go and sit in the middle of the road and kind of take action with their bodies, or speak on a megaphone.
Yeah, I think Extinction Rebellion has really given people the opportunities to try new things and to step outside their comfort zone, because we’re saying, “This is an emergency situation and it requires this new response, and it requires all of us to be almost bigger than ourselves, be part of this movement and do amazing things.”
So number five is, “We value reflecting and learning, following a cycle of action, reflection, learning and planning for more action.” So what I was saying about this fits in with our regenerative cultures, that we always after an action, have a debrief where we can discuss what went well and what needs improving. We learn from other movements in context as well as our own experiences as we do that, and build on what we’ve learned and improve it.
NN: I imagine as that becomes something which more and more people from different parts of the world and different cultures experience, then that creates a richer set of insights and tools for people to bring into the future actions that they might take.
LBG: Yeah, exactly. We’ve got an international team that’s helping with all of the groups that are forming across the world. Then we also have an international solidarity team now, which is actually reaching out to other movements that aren’t Extinction Rebellion, but are kind of in line with us, that are happening elsewhere in the world, and work out how we can support them and work with them.
NN: So really creating a network of fellow minded movements?
LBG: Exactly. So number six is, “We welcome everyone and every part of everyone working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces,” which I think speaks for itself.
LBG: Number seven is, “We actively mitigate for power, breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.” We use something that’s based on a kind of a holacratic system, which is basically offering people as they form groups to work on things, working groups, or as they form local groups, giving those groups autonomy to plan and act, and go on the basis of what they want to do, and the skills that they have and move, rather than having everything have to come from a central location.
We’ve seen already that Glasgow organized, for example, this blue wave around sea level rising, whereas in London, on the same weekend, they organized connection around blood of our children and pouring red paint. And so, while working to a similar schedule of when we want to have some kind of big action, but as their local group, they had the autonomy and power to work out what works for where they are.
NN: I’m curious with that then, because obviously there needs to be some kind of direction and consistency in terms of people engaging in actions that are coherent with the values that you’ve espoused. So how does that play into it? Do people get signed off on specific actions? How do you align timelines? From that organizational perspective, how does it work?
LBG: Yeah, so we have these 10 principles and values that I’m just going through, which are really useful. Then we also have our three demands. And so, things that are in line with that are great and basically can go ahead, but we have national working groups within the UK I can talk about, are working on things like the regenerative culture, or the outreach and training, and doing the media messaging. And so, the people from all across the UK are part of those working groups. And so, they can share information and work out what’s happening that way.
Then also since we’ve expanded bigger and bigger, we now have three movement strategy teams that are focused on movement, political and actions. And so, those strategy teams are holding parts of Extinction Rebellion and developing the kind of strategies that which they then publish and put out to people who can choose to sign up to parts of it or the whole thing, or invent their own version of it for where they are.
NN: Well, it sounds super complex and very, yeah, exciting. That’s a totally different model. So, okay, so I’ve taken us on a detour. So you were talking about point seven, which is, “Actively mitigating for power.” Value number eight?
LBG: So yeah, number eight is, “We avoid blaming and shaming. We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.” So I think this really, again, comes back to this, it’s like beyond politics. This is a human issue, and I think Extinction Rebellion is dealing with this in a really human way. So this is within ourselves, like I said, we’re not calling people out in public space, we’re really trying to solve relationships and issues in a one-on-one way that makes it a safer space for everyone to put themselves out there.
We know that everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes are part of trying to build something completely new, and so, kind of having an understanding of that. But it also goes wider to the fact that this isn’t about targeting one individual corporation or one individual politician, we know that this is a systematic problem that needs the whole system to change.
And so, by focusing on the government and having these three demands for the government as a whole, I think that changes that traditional trap of a lot of activism that can fall into just blaming or calling out. If we get rid of one politician, they’re going to be replaced by someone else, and they’re going to probably still have lobbying groups go after them and try and get their ear to fund like fossil fuel products or fracking, et cetera.
And so, we know this isn’t about just removing one individual ever, this is about changing the whole system. So, “We are nonviolent network, using nonviolent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change,” and that’s number nine. And so, this is based on a whole load of research that’s been done over time around what works in terms of change.
I think one of the statistics is that nonviolent movements for change have been successful and they’ve managed to have a change of heart in the public. It’s in particular, a change of heart in the security services or the police, or the army. Whereas violent movements that have managed to create change have relied on external states or actors providing them with more and more weapons.
That’s just really obvious to me why it makes so much more sense to go down the route of nonviolent change and working out how we can get people to care about this, because people do care about their future and their children’s future, rather than going down the route of like more violence, which has already caused a lot of climate change that we’ve seen. We know that the US military is one of the biggest, if not the biggest carbon emitter in the world-
LBG: … and has managed to exclude themselves from the Paris Climate Agreement.
NN: Gosh. I mean, how?
LBG: They’re the US military.
NN: But what is it that they’re contributing? How are they contributing in such an epic way to the CO2 emissions?
LBG: The machinery, the equipment, the vehicles that they use. The mass global scale of movement of people and movement of that equipment. War is just a very wasteful, wasteful thing.
NN: It’s extraordinary. I wonder, while we’re on this point nine about being a nonviolent network, I wonder what the reception has been like when, for instance, for the swarming on the bridges or other peaceful physical resistances, when police have encountered bodies of people? What’s the response been like there in terms of the dynamic between the police and the protesters or the activists?
LBG: Yeah, I mean, so we’ve been very clear with the police, actually telling them in person like, “We are this nonviolent movement. We’re going to be respectful, and we’re also going to stand up for our actions. So if we do do something, criminal we’ll stay there and expect to be arrested for it.” So when people have spray painted government buildings, they’ve kind of sat there and waited for the police to come and be arrested.
LBG: I think that kind of calms them down and changes how they’re responding to the situation, because if they know that we’re nonviolent, and they know that we’re going to be respectful, and wait to be arrested, they don’t have that kind of rush to control the situation in a violent way. Obviously, at some point the state or the powers that be could feel threatened enough that they do shift to some kind of violent repression of this, but we haven’t seen that at all. We’ve actually seen the police be very respectful of us.
A lot of them obviously understanding the issue of climate change and caring about it themselves, and they’ve responded to us in a very, generally respectful way. Arresting people and using the correct procedures to do that.
NN: Has anyone actually been imprisoned for longer than a couple of days while people have been accused of breaking the law, or is it generally been you go in and then you’re let out?
LBG: Yeah. So when you’re arrested, the police in the UK can only keep you for up to 24 hours. And so, people have been released. Then some of them have been released without any charge. Some of them have been released pending investigation, and some have been taken to court now, and some people are in the middle of those court cases trying to see what they’ll be charged with. It doesn’t look at the moment like anyone has been put in prison. Previous Rising Up! campaigns have seen people put in prison for small-scale civil disobedience.
LBG: But because we’ve been so public as a movement about, that we are willing to risk arrest and that that’s part of our tactic, the police have actually been very hands off and very slow to arrest people, unless they really have to.
NN: That’s really fascinating.
NN: I wonder also, you’re describing here a really interesting psychological framework for diffusing potential aggression in the police, for setting the tone, for making sure that you know that there’s consequence to action. How much do you think that psychological context is contributing to the effectiveness of the actions?
LBG: Yeah, I think it has a big effect. If you are there saying that, “We’re going to be respectful and nonviolent,” I think their issue and their concern is obviously public safety. If they think that there’s going to be some kind of violent riot, they have to respond to that and police that in a very different way, to if they know that people are going to sit down on a bridge and wait to be arrested, and that’s a very nonviolent …
It’s very hard to come up behind someone who’s sitting down, facing away from you and baton them over their head. That just goes against a lot of human training. Obviously, the police are trained to be able to violently repress people if they need to. We’re not saying, we’re not casting a moral judgment on the police. We actually are aware obviously that the police are structurally racist and there’s a lot of problematics in their structure.
But what we’re trying to do is develop a tactic that is going to work to shift both how people participate in a mass movement, and also how the police, police it. And so, this is about, yeah, how do we shift that tone and that relationship, and have it work so that this can grow to be a mass movement that can create that change?
NN: And so, let’s go to your 10th and final point, the 10th and final value.
LBG: Okay. So that is that, “We’re based on autonomy and decentralization. So we collectively create the structures we need to challenge power. Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take up action in the name of Extinction Rebellion.”
And so, I think I’ve kind of mentioned that throughout, but basically, again, coming back to this human approach, for six months before we actually did any actions as Extinction Rebellion, we went around the country and gave over 60 talks to people in town halls and in churches, and at festivals, and in universities, and got a whole range of people to really undertake in a room, not just on their computer, what it means to be facing another mass extinction, and how we can move through that.
And so, from that people then signed up to help out either by taking action, or by getting involved in a working group. They were kind of called up at this point on the phone and talked through how they could help the campaign in a very human way and personal way, and then be put in touch with the group.
That group then had the autonomy to go and work on media or messaging, or to go and work on art and creative actions, or to go and work on outreaching and training more people. And so, those people had that power to go.
Now since that first action, we’ve gone from that kind of very linear, gradual growth, to this explosion of action, and people just taking up and forming groups where they are, and finding the information through our online networks.
NN: What would you say is your biggest concern for the future, given the momentum that this is already having, that there is some kind of change that’s happening that’s for the positive? Notwithstanding that, what’s your biggest concern?
LBG: So I’m massively concerned obviously that we might be too late, that we might not be able to change the system, and that we might continue into a bigger and bigger climate, an ecological collapse. We’re already seeing species dying. We’re already seeing people lose their homes and their lives due to climate change around the world. As that grows, I have a massive concern for how we will cope with that and how our societies will cope with that, and potentially see the increase of war and all sorts of negative things.
And so, that is a massive concern for me. I think that’s why as part of Extinction Rebellion, we’re not only just forming these groups that can take radical action together, but we’re actually forming new ways of people learning to work with each other across different politics, and across different countries and communities, and working how people can actually work together. So I hope that that is also starting to build resilience for a potentially troubled time ahead due to climate change. Yeah.
NN: If you’re going to in a few lines … it’s not very fair, but if in a few lines, you’re going to say what vision you’re working towards achieving with the best possible outcome, what would that be?
LBG: So I think that we’re working towards setting up a new system that can really care about all life, and really stop the destruction of the environment, and stop the runaway climate change that we’re seeing. I think that would involve a real change, a massive shift in our system and how we’re functioning as a society right now.
NN: Finally, what single action do you think we can take today as individuals to build a more resilient the future?
LBG: So as individuals is the hard part there. I think we need mass collective action. I think Extinction Rebellion is saying that mass nonviolent civil disobedience is the way to go. So I think find people around you who are willing to do something a bit naughty and go out and see how you can change the system. See if you can get your school, or your industry, or your local government to declare a climate emergency and to join the Extinction Rebellion.
NN: Okay. If they want to find out more, where’s the best place to find out more about Extinction Rebellion?
LBG: So rebellion.earth is our website. You can find hundreds of events all the time. So I suggest going to a talk or a training that’s happening near you and getting involved in a local group, and finding out more. Yeah.
NN: Great. They can also get in touch with you on Twitter @ExtinctionR, and also on Instagram, but you’re going to have to remind me what the label is.
LBG: I think it’s extinctionrebellion on Instagram, but I will just check that.
NN: I’ll include these all in the show notes. Is there anything else that you want to point people towards as a resource, or are you happy with the links that we’ve got?
LBG: I think the links you’ve got should be great.
NN: Well, Liam, thank you very much for joining us today. It’s been really interesting talking with you.
LBG: Thanks so much for having me. I hope it was useful.