The Ethics of Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion are prominently and currently known for disrupting ‘business as usual’ with non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience, which has been enacted in previous weeks in their International Rebellion to raise awareness of the current ‘climate emergency’ and shake the current political system.

Within the strategy of Extinction Rebellion, as stated on their website, they promote mass “above the ground” civil disobedience which is in full public view and take responsibility for these actions and the risks involved, over traditional systems. Political change is advocated over personal change, despite the latter being welcomed, with the ask of people worldwide finding their courage and collectively acting to bring about change. The overall principle and strategy of the current International Rebellion is to open the world’s eyes and create a state of un-management for current political systems.

“they promote mass ‘above the ground’ civil disobedience”

The Declaration of Rebellion states with “the virtues of truth and the weight of the scientific evidence” of the current climate emergency, it is our duty to act on the behalf of the future of the planet. The rebellion is declared against our government and the institutions that threaten our future, named corrupted and inept, with conscience and reasoning, because of the failure “to provide any assurance of adequate protection” and favouring “short-term gain and private profits” over the common interest and therefore the social contract bonds are “rendered invalid”.

However, a raised question is what good and success can non-violent civil disobedience, with hippie like actions, do to impact our governing institutions to make change to alter society, potentially at the grass roots level? Because of a partial worldwide consensus of the calamity that climate change is, there is a sincere and serious possibility that the rebellion is alienating the institutions they will need and want to negotiate with. They, however, argue their aim is “to make these most critical and urgent issues of our time finally unignorable to decision makers” and, therefore, for less disruption, “they (the decision makers) must act”.  

During the International Rebellion police resources have been ‘distracted’, through mass arrests and large amounts of police reinforcements being called in, creating problems with the lack of government action in areas such as fighting knife crime. They argue that “30 years of government inaction have left us with no choice” and a lack of government action on issues, particularly fighting knife crime and on the climate crisis, “are two sides of the same problem”, but similarly they could be alienating more of the public, when they want to appeal to everyone as the climate emergency is everyone’s problem.

“During the International Rebellion police resources have been ‘distracted'”

An ethical difficulty for Extinction Rebellion is about their ‘regenerative culture’ with the welfare of less experienced rebels. People are asked to look after themselves when being involved, through their affinity groups a well-being person is assigned and support teams are aimed to be in place, before, during and after actions. But there is limited capacity and they work hard to make people aware of the risks they are taking, which is possibly not enough for their mass rebellion campaigns.    

Extinction Rebellion found themselves on peace, truth and love, named the ‘finest weapons’. There is spirit and unity in the rebellion and is opening the world’s eyes up to regenerative community for life, but just maybe their ethics around alienation could be improved and the importance of welfare could be enhanced for their social movement to gain more social impact.

Ellen Partington

Featured image courtesy of Alexander Savin via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

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One Comment
  • richard W. burcik
    27 October 2019 at 21:30
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    The world-famous philosopher of science, Karl Popper, insisted that to be a valid scientific theory any hypothesis must be falsifiable. This includes the widely held conjecture of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. In short, a single set of scholarly findings that is not explained by the premise of man-made global warming which is attributable to the burning of fossil fuels can falsify this entire body of scientific speculation and this has recently occurred. Last summer the third of three peer-reviewed scientific papers that were conducted by three separate groups of expert investigators from three different universities and which have been published in eminent peer-reviewed scholarly journals have found no evidence to support the assertion regarding human-induced climate change. Instead, all three groups independently found that the warming that has happened was almost entirely attributable to galactic cosmic rays that affect the quantity of the Earth’s low hanging clouds. These expert investigators call this canopy or blanket the “umbrella effect”. The bottom line is that the entire climate change hysteria has now been falsified and is untrue. These three experimental results have conclusively shown that the IPCC and its computer simulation models (GCMs) are not valid.

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