‘I’m Putting My Life On Hold’: 22 Climate Activists Arrested


Anti-fracking protesters hold a demonstration outside Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in central London on Nov. 12. ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP / Getty Images

In 2012, geophysicist Brad Werner gave a talk at a conference asking the question, “Is Earth F**ked?” The answer? Not if ordinary people fought back in a movement reminiscent of the Civil Rights or anti-slavery struggles, Think Progress reported at the time.

Six years later, a group of activists in the UK appear poised to bring Werner’s hope to life.

Extinction Rebellion, which launched itself into the public consciousness with a civil disobedience action outside London’s Parliament Square a little under two weeks ago, coordinated another action Monday in which activists blocked the entrance to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), The Guardian reported. Protesters super-glued their hands to the entry gates to the staff door and lay in the streets to block traffic outside the building.

“The IPCC report in October gave us six to 12 years, and this is known to be a conservative report. If we don’t respond with a war-style effort now we are all fucked, all of us. My heart is breaking and I’ve got to do something, and I’m putting my life on hold,” protester Bell Selkie told The Guardian.

Selkie, a 48-year-old farmer from Wales, locked and glued herself to the doors of the building, said climate change had had a clear impact on her harvests.

One protester used wash-off spray chalk to write “frack off” above the main entrance to the building. The UK’s Conservative government has approved two controversial fracking wells in Northwest England.

Extinction Rebellion said 22 people were arrested at Monday’s action, and police confirmed that at least eight had been detained, BBC News reported. Everyone has since been released, according to Extinction Rebellion’s Twitter feed.

Protesters said Monday’s action was the kick-off to a week demonstrations that will culminate with what they are calling “Rebellion Day” on Saturday.

The BEIS was targeted specifically because of its involvement in fracking, Extinction Rebellion said in a statement reported by The Guardian.

“The UK government, specifically BEIS, is promoting fracking—meeting with fracking companies more than 30 times in the last three years, compared to zero times with anti-fracking groups—despite massive local opposition,” the statement said.

The group wants the UK to both cancel short-term projects that will increase greenhouse gas emissions, like the fracking wells and a planned third runway at Heathrow airport. Long term, they want the country to aim to be carbon neutral by 2025, a goal that experts say would require a “revolution” in transport, energy use and agriculture, BBC News reported. The UK government is eyeing 2050 as is goal for carbon neutrality.

But the point of the movement is that the science itself justifies ambitious goals.

“The facts and figures are easily accessible if you have the stomach to look, but here within Extinction Rebellion and certainly with myself, is an offer of friendship, guidance and mutual grief,” protester Lizia Wolf told BBC News. “The first step towards creating the changes necessary for survival—and towards solving any problem in general—is to acknowledge the utterly terrifying situation we are in.”

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