Two days ago George Monbiot’s dearest wish was granted when he was arrested at an Extinction Rebellion event. The joy on his face as he is dragged along the ground is a sight to behold.
After the arrest, and after the cheers of the crowd have died down, he announces to the camera which has faithfully recorded the historical event:
So this just feels like the right place to be, the right thing to do, strange as that may sound. I just feel we’ve got to make as much of a stand as we possibly can to prevent ecocide. Politics as usual, that is ecocide, the destruction of the conditions that make life possible on this earth. And I’m standing up against that and I’m proud to be arrested for that cause.
In the accompanying article “Today, I aim to get arrested. It is the only real power climate protesters have” he describes how:
“By putting our bodies on the line and risking our liberty, we make this great neglected issue impossible to ignore.”
This “great neglected issue” is the one mentioned under the on-line article, indeed, under every single on-line article at the Guardian, which describes it thus:
We will not stay quiet on the escalating climate crisis. This is the Guardian’s pledge: we will continue to give global heating, wildlife extinction and pollution the urgent attention and prominence they demand. The Guardian recognises the climate emergency as the defining issue of our times… We will inform our readers about threats to the environment based on scientific facts… the language we use accurately reflects the environmental catastrophe. The Guardian believes that the problems we face on the climate crisis are systemic and that fundamental societal change is needed. We will keep reporting on the efforts of individuals and communities around the world who are fearlessly taking a stand for future generations and the preservation of human life on earth.
The article, as you might expect from the title and video, is all about George and his new version of the White Man’s Burden; being condemned by fate to be not only white, but also educated and middle class, and silenced by an oppressive political system which limits his freedom of expression to one chance per week to address the five million plus readership of the world’s oldest and most prestigious left-of-centre news medium.
There are a couple of times when he refers to the world outside his head. First, in the only concrete reference to what he’s protesting about, he claims that:
“we know that, even with just 1C of global heating, climate chaos is already a bigger cause of forced migration than either poverty or political oppression.”
The link is to a paper (paywalled) whose publicity blurb claims that “Climate change is a more important driver than income and political freedom at origin together.”
Though we can’t read the source of this claim without forking out 39 dollars, there is another article by the same lead author on the same subject freely available whose abstract reads:
This paper provides an overview of research into the phenomenon of whether climatic factors, such as temperature and weather‐related disasters, affect the decision to migrate. As an example, we examine migration flows from 198 countries to Australia for the time span from 1980 to 2015. Our results show that temperature does not have a robust, significant effect on migration flows, while weather‐related disasters do significantly affect flows to Australia.
Note that temperature change is not a factor, but weather-related disasters are. No mention of whether said disasters are getting more frequent, or whether they’re related to climate change. When a hurricane strikes, people tend to go somewhere else. But I think we knew that already.
Apart from this brief excursion into peer reviewed science, George sticks closely to the same script he’s been reciting for the past twenty years:
…the big fossil fuel companies have used political funding, intense lobbying and gross deceptions of the public to overwhelm environmental protections and keep harvesting their massive profits. Those who confront them have no such power. We cannot buy television channels and newspapers, pour billions into political lobbying…
Oh, can’t we? George also links to Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam’s Dummies’ Guide to Saving the Planet, which is well worth a read. I particularly enjoyed the Foreword by “Anonymous Climate Activist” which begins:
I was there. For the past 20 years. Climate activism. It didn’t work.
We protested in our hundreds of millions – it didn’t work.
We raised billions to reach people and politicians – it didn’t work. […]
I was wasting my time. I had a clue back in 2007 that there might be a fundamental flaw in the reformist approach. The problem of the political influence of the industrial billionaires like the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel bosses.
Raised billions? Really? And all the time our anonymous activist was wasting her time? Has anyone told George? Does he realise that the movement he so happily sacrificed his freedom for – getting dragged along the pavement by the oppressive forces of the state – has wasted billions, to no avail?
Billions wasted over twenty years, when everything could have been solved with a bit of glue and an inflatable pink octopus. That’s something to meditate on as he nurses his bruised bottom.