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'Why we joined Extinction Rebellion King's Lynn and West Norfolk'




Opinion on the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion is split.

Many people believe members are playing an important role in highlighting that climate change is a real and present danger, while pushing governments and local councils to do more to tackle the issue.

Others are not on board with all of Extinction Rebellion’s beliefs and are unhappy that members’ actions sometimes cross the lawful line.

One leading member of Extinction Rebellion King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (XRKLWN) told Lynn News: “It seems some people think we are either stark-raving loonies, anarchist trouble-making terrorists, or layabout tree-hugging hippies.”

XRKLWN was criticised by people who supported their motives after members claimed they were responsible for daubing graffiti on council property in September.

However, members of the local group insist they are purely ordinary people with extraordinary concerns. They want to “tell the truth” and “act now” to do something about those concerns.

So we asked three people in the local group to explain why they joined.

JENNY WALKER

Jenny Walker (42965785)
Jenny Walker (42965785)

When I was working as a teacher (I taught adults who had missed out on gaining qualifications at school), I always said I’d do more for the environment when I retired.

At that time I hadn’t realised the extent of the damage we had done to our world. I sometimes worried about rising sea levels and seeing fewer butterflies, but mostly I just got on with looking after my little patch of land and reading novels.

About two years ago I went to St Nicholas Chapel to hear Dr Charlie Gardner talk about the climate emergency. His talk made sense to me, and I was alarmed when he compared our future - just 30 years away - as like being in a car on a hot summer day with the window shut unless governments cut carbon emissions.

The ideas behind XR also made sense; tell the truth, and act, non-violently, to make governments act.

After that evening in St Nick’s chapel I started going to XR meetings and reading books on the environment. Sadly, the evidence is clear. We only have a short while to cut carbon emissions.

No one can doubt Covid is devastating. I believe the climate crises will be far worse.

My big fear for the future is crop failure leading to hunger. I just wish our local council had listened to Charlie Gardner’s talk. Then they might begin to put climate first. I’m worried because there is no sense of how urgent this is from council leaders.

GEORGE BROUGHTON

George Broughton waiting to have his head shaved outside the Town Hall in protest at West Norfolk Council not declaring a climate emergency. (42965783)
George Broughton waiting to have his head shaved outside the Town Hall in protest at West Norfolk Council not declaring a climate emergency. (42965783)

I’m a 23-year-old teacher in King’s Lynn.

I have felt for a long time that it’s important for people of my generation to take responsibility for the future that we’re going to be living in.

I think what led to me joining Extinction Rebellion was the realisation that taking responsibility means doing more than signing petitions and writing letters to people who aren’t willing to listen.

It means speaking truth to power and fighting what’s necessary, because any less would amount to a betrayal of my generation and those younger than me who are going suffer because of climate change and ecological collapse.

It’s innocent people – young people and people who are yet to be born – who are going to suffer the most in future decades, and that’s what we need to realise as a society.

I think the most important thing Extinction Rebellion is doing is galvanising local people and making them realise the extent to which these issues are going to affect them – through the destruction of priceless green spaces and crucial habitats, as well as through the threat it poses to our homes, our supply chains, and the basic necessities we take for granted.

I’m very grateful that we have in this country a robust foundation to build on, to help us organise, network with people, and get the message out there.

JULIA IRVING

Julia Irving at the poropsed Parkway development in Lynn (42965781)
Julia Irving at the poropsed Parkway development in Lynn (42965781)

I am a social worker, I am 63 and a long-standing wildlife enthusiast. I had been hopelessly worried by climate change, habitat loss, pollution and micro-plastics in the seas. It seemed that scientists had been drawing attention to these dangers but the powers that be still ploughed ahead regardless.

Then in 2019 Extinction Rebellion burst onto the national scene, full of colour, creativity and serious passion.

I joined because it gave me hope that I could do something that might make a difference.

Some people criticise the more radical actions we take. It may break some laws but it is never violent.

It is necessary because persuasion backed by scientific research has not moved government or multi-nationals to take the radical steps they need to take to save the planet from burning.

This failure is amply demonstrated by the council leaders of the West Norfolk Council who have failed to declare a climate emergency, and only pay lip-service to environmental responsibilities.

* Anyone with questions for King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Extinction Rebellion should visit its Facebook page.



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