12 Days Of Crisis
In the lead-up to the December general election Extinction Rebellion is running the 12 Days of Crisis campaign to highlight the climate & ecological emergency.
This will involve actions & outreach events up & down the country. Here, we will each day highlight some of the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, and the causes behind them.
DAY 1: A partridge in a pear tree
We are in the midst of the world's 6th mass extinction - the first caused by human activity. Species are going extinct at a rate of around 150-200 every day. 40% of global insect species are threatened with extinction.
These images show farmers in China pollinating pear & apple trees by hand, because there aren't enough insects left to sustain the tree populations by natural pollination. We rely on nsects and pollinators to support our crop yields. This 'insect apocalypse' is just one way in which global food supplies are threatened. The UK imports around 50% of the food we eat, so as global food supplies fail we are at high risk of food shortage.
People frequently blame China for the climate crisis. But China is the largest global exporter of goods, and therefore emissions. The fall in UK emissions in recent years is largely tied to the outsourcing of emissions to other countries. In fact, when you consider our consumption footprints, a UK citizen is responsible for nearly 3 times more emissions than a Chinese citizen. Consumerism in the Global North is a driving factor in China's emissions. Whilst climate breakdown requires overhaul of the world's economic systems, China's footprint is something we all can change via the way we consume goods, shop, and how we view our own impact on Global South communities.
Important to remember during the season of frivolous & wasteful buying.
DAY 2: two turtle doves
The RSPB recently gave the European Turtle dove the unenviable title of being Britain's most at-risk of extinction bird. In the last 5 years alone, their numbers have declined by 70%. They are not alone. 1 in 4 bird species is threatened with extinction in the next few decades.
A driving factor in declining bird numbers is habitat loss. Human activity - in particular intensive agriculture - decimates the ecosystems which birds rely on for breeding grounds and food supply.
Tigers, orangutans, Sumatran elephants, sea turtles, the Amur leopard, all of these animals are also at risk of extinction within the next decade due to habitat loss.
This is ecocide for profit. Destruction of the natural world for the benefit of a few multinational corporations. Companies that ignore everything other than shareholder returns because of an economic system which uses growth as the only measure of success.
Without an overhaul of our economic systems, 1/4 of all species on earth will be wiped out.
DAY 3: Three french hens
Intensive agriculture is a driving factor in both the climate and ecological emergencies. Farming accounts for about 12-15% of total global emissions, making it the 2nd worst sector after energy production.
Meat production is by far the worst offender. Cattle farming accounts for about 60% of agricultural emissions. Worse, about 65% of global soy production goes to feeding cattle. So we destroy huge swathes of land to grow a crop which doesn't even feed humans.
And that's the second issue. We have destroyed so much wilderness for crop monocultures that we have decimated natural habitats, causing the extinction of thousands of species. On top of this we are cutting down natural carbon sinks by removing ancient forests.
Eliminating meat from you diet will cut your food emissions footprint by about 65%. Even cutting out ruminant meat (beef, lamb, goat) can significantly reduce your own environmental impact. There are also significant health reasons to cutting meat out your diet (even before we get chlorinated US chicken!!). Battery hens are packed so close they peck each other pretty nastily, causing abscesses. You eat these abscesses when you consume chicken.
But the real issue here comes back to our economic system. The drive for profit means that destruction of our ecosystems is not just tolerated, it's aggressively promoted by a system that focuses on shareholder return whilst ignoring social & environmental implications.
DAY 4: calling birds
Because we’re not really sure what a calling bird is (search engine seems to suggest it derives from collie birds, which is an old term for blackbrids) we’re just going to talk about wildlife generally for this one.
Human activity is eliminating species at a rate 10-100 times higher than we would see in a non-extinction event. The image shows the rate of extinctions since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Contrast that with the curve of Co2 atmospheric concentration and it shows clearly the responsibility of humans for the 6th mass extinction.
There are numerous reasons that species are disappearing so rapidly. Firstly, as discussed in earlier posts, we are destroying the ecosystems which hundreds of thousands of species rely on. Clearing wildlife habitats for our own food production squeezes species until the point individuals outcompete each other, and eventually there aren’t enough breeding adults left to sustain a population, so it dies out.
Secondly, warming temperatures associated with increased CO2 levels shift the patterns of behaviour of wildlife. For example, thousands of puffins died this yeare when their regular food source moved further north due to the warmer sea temperatures. All of these shifts in behaviour change have devastating knock on effects throughout the food chain. Including for humans.
Thirdly, and perhaps the most tangible reason, is pollution. Plastic pollution is a very visible, real problem because it presents in horrendous images of turtles being choked to death by beer can holders or sea birds whose guts rupture due to plastic ingestion. But plastic isn’t the only form of pollution that is destroying the world’s ecosystems. Run-off from intensive agriculture can kill of entire river systems. The leaks from the oil & gas industry can decimate local populations of marine and land animals.
We have lost sight of our impact on the planet. Completely lost our connection to nature, and the consequences that every decision we make has on a community in the Global South. Next time you buy something, think about that for a moment, And decide if it’s worth it.
DAY 5: Gold rings
Mining is widely known to be a heavily polluting industry. In fact it’s the world’s 2nd worst offender, after disposal of lead batteries. When accidents happen in this sector it has a devastating effect on life and on our ecosystems - such as the Vale owned Brumadinho dam collapse in Brazil which killed 272 people.
Taken as whole, extractive industries (mining & farming) contribute 50% of the world’s carbon emissions, and a staggering 80% of biodiversity loss.
Earth Overshoot day - the day of the year in which we surpass the level of resources taken from the planet to keep living sustainably - is now July 29th. We are using over 1.5 world’s worth of resources every year. We are robbing future generations of even the most basic resources for survival.
Vedanta Resources, headquartered in London, produces over 50 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions every year, putting it on par with entire countries like Hungary, and even Gulf states like Oman.
All of this, is simply to feed consumption habits in the Global North. Deregulation and a total lack of regard for the continued existence of life on earth means that corporate profit is placed above all else, including the exploitation of natural resources and human beings.