Over the last week or so, the world has witnessed hysterical act after hysterical act by members of a “climate crisis” movement called Extinction Rebellion. Day after day, millennial hipsters are blocking traffic, harassing people on their way to work, occupying airports, and supergluing themselves to buildings to protest what they see as the impending end of life on earth. From Montreal to New York to London, Thunberg’s Climate Strike isn’t enough for the Extinction Rebellion crowd, who admit that their alarmist language is a tactic to make people pay attention to their message of imminent annihilation.
Yesterday, BBC’s Andrew Neil welcomed Zion Lights, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, onto his show, to get to the bottom of their claims of billions of instant, sudden, human deaths.
Neil asked Lights: “One of your founders, Roger Hallam, said in April, our children are going to die in the next ten to twenty years, what’s the scientific basis for these claims?”
Lights responded: “So these claims have been disputed, admittedly, there are some scientists who are agreeing, and there are some who are saying it’s just not true. But the overall view are that these deaths are going to happen. We don’t have exact numbers, and it’s a little bit concerning to focus on just how many deaths, there will be deaths, and mass suffering, and any amount is enough as far as we’re concerned.”
The problem is, and Lights admits this, that the scientific basis for these claims of massive youth death are basically unfounded. They are extrapolated from various reports, ifs, and maybes, but they are not certain. Yet, young people who buy into this message will be making permanent decisions based on an apocalypse myth that has as much veracity as any of the others passed on through the ages.
Neil points this out: “But most scientists don’t agree with this, climate change scientists, those who know there is a problem and it has to be tackled, things have to be done, more has to be done. … I looked through the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, the latest AR5, and the October of last year special report, I see no reference to billions of people going to die, or children going to die in 20 years.”
If there’s no evidence to back up these claims from Extinction Rebellion, then why are they so earnest in proclaiming the end of the world? Their protests, with costume, flags, puppets, and terrifying slogans about the end times, have the feel of a religious procession as they march through city centers.
That climate change is a force to be reckoned with is not really in doubt, and Neil admits as much. The UN has shown that as well. What is in doubt is the fear-fueled mania that has apparently taken hold of young, low-information activists throughout the world.
Lights cannot help but admit that. “Perhaps not in 20 years,” she says, “but I can’t speak to what Roger was saying.” One wonders why she’s the spokesperson if she won’t address the organization’s driving claims.
The fact is that Extinction Rebellion doesn’t care if their suppositions about the end of the world are correct, they simply want to be heard. It’s a cry for attention, not truth. If they were really looking to be honest, they would not make up crazy concepts just so that they would be amplified. Terrifying everyone is not the way to court action; it’s the way to make people lash out.
Neil addressed this terror by pointing to easily obtainable facts. “You talk weather-related disasters, and there seem to be a lot of them around at the moment. People die from them. But in the latest figures I’ve seen, a hundred years ago, weather-related disasters killed half a million people a year. Today, it’s 20,000 a year. Still 20,000 too many, but it’s a reduction of 95%. It does not lead to the death of billions. I mean you’re scaring people with this rhetoric, aren’t you?”
Lights responded, “I think there’s a danger of scaring people simply because we’re not taking it seriously enough, and people are feeling really desperate that we’re heard on this, and unfortunately, alarmist language works, which is why we’re discussing it right now.”
“But does it work,” Neil pointed out. “I mean I’ve seen young girls on television, part of your demonstrations, the school ones, when they take the day off to demonstrate, crying because they think they’re going to die in five or six years time, crying because they don’t think they’ll ever see adulthood, and yet there is no scientific basis for the claims that your organization is making.”
Activist groups are anxious to make their voices heard over the daily assault of problems and issues that are amplified with each 24-hour news cycle. To that end, Extinction Rebellion speaks about the need to stop all industrial progress, though the reports all show that won’t have a significant impact. They incite fear in young people just to keep their attention, but what that fear really does is keep the kids in a state of panic, where all they can do is march around, chant and cry. It’s downright cultish behaviour, and the sooner young people snap out of it, the better off we will all be. This is not a way to take action, it is not measured or controlled, and it will do nothing to get anyone to adapt to the challenges that climate change presents.