Climate activists host talk on campus

Extinction Rebellion activists discuss Canadian responsiveness to climate crisis

XR activists Jonathan Sendker and Zoe de Jonge.
Photo: 
On Tuesday, Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists hosted an event about the effects of the climate crisis, bringing their concerns about the Canadian government’s response to the forum.
 
XR is a movement that began in London, England on Oct. 31, 2018, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that humans have only 12 years to stop climate change before the earth enters the sixth mass extinction. 
 
Since then, XR has been active in more than 72 countries, using non-violent civil disobedience to try to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse. Most recently, XR hosted a “die-in” on Oct. 27 at the Kingston Memorial Centre.
 
XR activists Zoe de Jonge and Jonathan Sendker kicked off the Nov. 5 event by pointing to the movement’s solidarity with Indigenous peoples, acknowledging their advocacy for respecting the environment.
 
De Jonge addressed optimism within the movement, claiming that enthusiasm for recycling and limiting meat consumption will not be enough to combat the greater effects of the climate crisis. 
 
According to NASA, the world is warming at approximately one degree Celsius per year. 
 
“Climate change is happening and is already ending lives,” she said. De Jonge added Canada has been warming at two times the rate of the rest of the world.
 
De Jonge described present consequences of the climate crisis, including rising sea levels, growing global hunger, and one million species facing extinction. 
 
“This species has never lived on this earth with this much CO2 in the air,” she said.
 
Addressing the possibility of human extinction, de Jonge warned that, despite the figures available to the public, there is a tendency for climate crisis events to occur earlier than initially predicted.
 
De Jonge’s co-host Sendker spoke about the feelings associated with the climate crisis. 
 
“Grief is welcome here” Sendker said. “We hope this next part will give you courage, but anger, grief, fear, pain is appropriate.”
 
He acknowledged the scientific nature of the climate crisis, but emphasized politics are another important dimension to the problem.
 
“Canadian politics is definitely worsening the problem.” Sendker said.
 
Sendker said that, historically, Canada has struggled to meet emissions targets and is currently not on track to meet its Paris Accord emissions targets.
 
“The conventional ways of addressing this have not worked out and looking at [the climate crisis], Extinction Rebellion and many people around the world don’t think we have time to keep trying.” Sendker said, “We are not going to recycle our way out of this.”
 
Sendker emphasized the importance of XR’s methods of civil disobedience in the face of what the group calls inaction by government.
 
“We need to stand up, we need to get politically active in a way that’s probably going to be uncomfortable.” Sendker said. 
 
Sendker ended the talk by addressing what it means to do nothing. “Will you be able to look your children in the eye and say you did everything you could?” he asked. 
 
XR will be hosting another meeting to discuss the climate crisis on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Biosciences Complex, room 1103.
 

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