Newcastle called to ‘Climate Rebellion’ to prevent collapse of society

7 January 2019

Following a hard-hitting talk in Newcastle last week, Newcastle Green Party will question the City Council tomorrow about progress to tackle climate change. In his talk, think-tank founder and Green campaigner Rupert Read warned a packed audience of the impending collapse of society due to climate breakdown. Over a hundred people gathered at Brunswick Methodist Church to start the \New Year by hearing his urgent call to take action against climate change and its catastrophic effects. The event was spurred by an increasing sense of urgency following the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this autumn, which warned there are just 11 years left to take emergency action in order to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown due to global warming greater than 1.5°C.

Read opened by remarking that if human society were serious about tackling the climate crisis that threatens our own extinction, then “instead of making a spectacular range of bigger and better TVs and gadgets to fill department stores, all of that effort would be being put into renewable energy ... and other green technologies”. The conclusion he drew is that we are not serious, but that we must become so if we are to “save ourselves” and prevent human society from eventual collapse due to climate and ecological breakdown. “We are in absolutely desperate trouble, and we are not going to make it”, warned Read, “This is not a drill”.

In his talk entitled ‘The Time is Now: the Case for Green Rebellion’ Read, a philosopher from the University of East Anglia, argued that society has been in denial about how extreme the global climate crisis and large- scale species extinctions have become. He contends that the issue has been generally disregarded by the media, while politicians have failed to show adequate leadership.

Read spelt out the dire emergency now faced by humanity, which threatens civilisation, countless human lives, even humanity’s own extinction and perhaps all life on Earth. Even if the aims of the international Paris Agreement on Climate Change were achieved we would still be looking at 2°C of global warming, which scientists believe to be “desperately unsafe”, he warned, explaining that even commitments currently made under the Paris Agreement add up to “way less than needed to meet the 2°C target”.

Worse still, countries have plans that “directly contradict” the climate targets they claim they hope to achieve - like fracking, road building and airport expansion in the UK. “Newcastle is no exception to this trend” said Newcastle Green Party campaigner Taymar Pitman, “with Newcastle Council going against its own carbon reduction goals by supporting plans for road building, felling trees and tarmacking over green space to build housing designed around car use”.

“The upshot is we are not going to make climate targets - they are pie in the sky. This civilisation is finished”, said Read. “Business as usual will end within the lifetimes of many in the room”. Urging the audience to “look this in the face and wake up to the truly horrendous prospect we face”, Read proscribed letting go of the dual fantasies of a technological fix and that civilisation as it is now will be able to survive - “with 3 or 4 let alone 5 degrees of warming, it is simply not possible”.

Read argued that humanity’s best hope to avoid its own demise is to start a rapid transition immediately to radically re-localised, sustainable and more resilient communities. This would entail cutting carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown and building resilience to those that are now already inevitable. He envisioned “something like the Green Party manifesto being enacted”, warning that none of the vast global infrastructure we currently depend on for food is going to be reliable in years to come. Somberly he reminded listeners of the huge shift needed - “bigger and quicker than that seen during World War 2”.

“It would be a very brave person who would have no insurance policy”, he stated, arguing that as well as trying to avoid the very worst effects of climate breakdown we also need to do more to adapt society to the consequences. Read contended that “we should be trying to adapt our society now to the climate devastation that is coming” in ways that both reduce the level of climate change suffered and at the same time prepare our communities for it. “For example rather than building higher sea walls, we should be thinking about restoring wetlands” to absorb carbon as well as floodwater.

Ethical consumerism, consumer boycotts, strikes, lobbying, and voting - “these are more important than ever right now” emphasised Read. But we also “have to start to think about the possibility of completely radical changes”. “Let’s try to get a Green-led government in this country - it sounds outlandish, but things are going to transform rapidly, and if they don’t they are going to collapse”.

Read highlighted the recent rise of the non-violent protest movement Extinction Rebellion as evidence of the growing number of people who face the reality that’s coming but “refuse to accept the possibility of the collapse of humanity and choose to rebel against it”. With a baby in the audience beginning to wail - “the future making its views known”, quipped Read, he concluded that “By looking reality in the eye we will find ways to do things that currently seem impossible”.

The Newcastle Green Party is taking seriously Read’s call to action, and will question the Council about progress on its Climate Change Strategy in tomorrow’s full council meeting. Green campaigner Taymar Pitman said “the Council’s Climate Change Strategy, written in 2010, is now dangerously outdated - the urgency of action needed on climate change has vastly accelerated in the last nine years. The threat to Newcastle is a real one, yet the Council are not taking the action needed to protect its citizens. Deadlines in the strategy, set a decade ago, are now just one year away. We cannot afford to waste more time, which is why tomorrow I will ask the council which of the actions pledged in their 2010 Climate Change Declaration have been achieved”.

A video of Rupert Read’s lecture is available via the Newcastle Green Party’s Facebook page.

Taymar Pitman will ask a question to tomorrow’s full council meeting beginning at 18:00.

Following a hard-hitting talk in Newcastle last week, Newcastle Green Party will question the City Counciltomorrow about progress to tackle climate change. In his talk, think-tank founder and Green campaignerRupert Read warned a packed audience of the impending collapse of society due to climate breakdown. Overa hundred people gathered at Brunswick Methodist Church to start the \New Year by hearing his urgent callto take action against climate change and its catastrophic effects. The event was spurred by an increasingsense of urgency following the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) thisautumn, which warned there are just 11 years left to take emergency action in order to prevent catastrophicclimate breakdown due to global warming greater than 1.5°C.Read opened by remarking that if human society were serious about tackling the climate crisis that threatensour own extinction, then “instead of making a spectacular range of bigger and better TVs and gadgets to filldepartment stores, all of that effort would be being put into renewable energy ... and other greentechnologies”. The conclusion he drew is that we are not serious, but that we must become so if we are to“save ourselves” and prevent human society from eventual collapse due to climate and ecologicalbreakdown. “We are in absolutely desperate trouble, and we are not going to make it”, warned Read, “This isnot a drill”.In his talk entitled ‘The Time is Now: the Case for Green Rebellion’ Read, a philosopher from the University
of East Anglia, argued that society has been in denial about how extreme the global climate crisis and large-scale species extinctions have become. He contends that the issue has been generally disregarded by the
media, while politicians have failed to show adequate leadership.Read spelt out the dire emergency now faced by humanity, which threatens civilisation, countless humanlives, even humanity’s own extinction and perhaps all life on Earth. Even if the aims of the internationalParis Agreement on Climate Change were achieved we would still be looking at 2°C of global warming,which scientists believe to be “desperately unsafe”, he warned, explaining that even commitments currentlymade under the Paris Agreement add up to “way less than needed to meet the 2°C target”.Worse still, countries have plans that “directly contradict” the climate targets they claim they hope to achieve- like fracking, road building and airport expansion in the UK. “Newcastle is no exception to this trend” saidNewcastle Green Party campaigner Taymar Pitman, “with Newcastle Council going against its own carbonreduction goals by supporting plans for road building, felling trees and tarmacking over green space to buildhousing designed around car use”.“The upshot is we are not going to make climate targets - they are pie in the sky. This civilisation isfinished”, said Read. “Business as usual will end within the lifetimes of many in the room”. Urging theaudience to “look this in the face and wake up to the truly horrendous prospect we face”, Read proscribedletting go of the dual fantasies of a technological fix and that civilisation as it is now will be able to survive -“with 3 or 4 let alone 5 degrees of warming, it is simply not possible”.Read argued that humanity’s best hope to avoid its own demise is to start a rapid transition immediately toradically re-localised, sustainable and more resilient communities. This would entail cutting carbonemissions to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown and building resilience to those that are nowalready inevitable. He envisioned “something like the Green Party manifesto being enacted”, warning thatnone of the vast global infrastructure we currently depend on for food is going to be reliable in years to
8/1/19come. Somberly he reminded listeners of the huge shift needed - “bigger and quicker than that seen duringWorld War 2”.“It would be a very brave person who would have no insurance policy”, he stated, arguing that as well astrying to avoid the very worst effects of climate breakdown we also need to do more to adapt society to theconsequences. Read contended that “we should be trying to adapt our society now to the climate devastationthat is coming” in ways that both reduce the level of climate change suffered and at the same time prepareour communities for it. “For example rather than building higher sea walls, we should be thinking aboutrestoring wetlands” to absorb carbon as well as floodwater.Ethical consumerism, consumer boycotts, strikes, lobbying, and voting - “these are more important than everright now” emphasised Read. But we also “have to start to think about the possibility of completely radicalchanges”. “Let’s try to get a Green-led government in this country - it sounds outlandish, but things aregoing to transform rapidly, and if they don’t they are going to collapse”.Read highlighted the recent rise of the non-violent protest movement Extinction Rebellion as evidence of thegrowing number of people who face the reality that’s coming but “refuse to accept the possibility of thecollapse of humanity and choose to rebel against it”. With a baby in the audience beginning to wail - “thefuture making its views known”, quipped Read, he concluded that “By looking reality in the eye we will findways to do things that currently seem impossible”.The Newcastle Green Party is taking seriously Read’s call to action, and will question the Council aboutprogress on its Climate Change Strategy in tomorrow’s full council meeting. Green campaigner TaymarPitman said “the Council’s Climate Change Strategy, written in 2010, is now dangerously outdated - theurgency of action needed on climate change has vastly accelerated in the last nine years. The threat toNewcastle is a real one, yet the Council are not taking the action needed to protect its citizens. Deadlines inthe strategy, set a decade ago, are now just one year away. We cannot afford to waste more time, which iswhy tomorrow I will ask the council which of the actions pledged in their 2010 Climate Change Declarationhave been achieved”.