Now or never

London was rocked by Extinction Rebellion (ER) protestors this week. Citing inspiration from movement such as Gandhi’s independence movement and the suffragettes, ER initiated a peaceful civil-disobedience movement this week, occupying key transit routes and choking major traffic arteries in the British capital. They have demanded that the British government take action to bring carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, and the formation of a civilian panel to oversee progress in this regard. Over 680 climate activists have been arrested so far.

Similar protests erupted in Paris on Friday, where climate activists laid siege to the headquarters of French bank Societe Generale, state-run utility EDF and oil titan Total. All of these organisations were accused of being leading contributors to man-made climate change, and condemned for their links with the oil and gas industry.

These protestors have been criticized for their methods. Their detractors have said the forcible occupation of city streets and preventing innocent people from reaching their workplaces is not justifiable.

Were this an ordinary issue, perhaps that would have been the case. The fact of the matter, however, is that global warming is anything but an ordinary problem. According to a report published by the United Nations on October 2018, the world has till 2030 to reduce global net emissions of carbon dioxide by 45%. This is the only way possible to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees Celsius. Fail to do this, and the consequences would be disastrous, threatening the very existence of human civilization. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that humanity has not been this close to total self-destruction since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. In other words, it is time to panic.

Action needs to be taken on a war-footing. The world can no longer afford to take half-measures when it comes to safeguarding this planet. The global community must move to rid itself of the curse of fossil fuels and unsustainable industrial practices. Narratives questioning the validity of climate change, such as those that emanate from the Republican party in the US, must also be fought tooth and nail. If humanity fails in this regard, mankind may not have much of a future left. *

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