As I write, Gatwick drones suspects are being questioned. One police line of enquiry has been stated to be a lone-wolf eco-protester. News reports only say that all who know the suspects find their involvement difficult to believe. XR has stated that it is not involved. To be pedantic, drone-flying is not guaranteed to be NVDA and so is not within XR’s rules of engagement: if not spotted, so that a plane took off and was hit by a drone, the result would certainly not be non-violent. So my fears of alienating the public have not been confirmed.
As soon as I heard of XR I pitched into its activities head-first, blocking Eastgate, Leeds a week before being one of the 6,000 on London bridges on 17th November. However, I was always concerned about alienating the public. I thought we should go for the real climate wreckers. Unfortunately due to an injury doing more mundane activities (delivering leaflets) on behalf of the Green Party, at the time I had promised to obstruct fracking at Preston New Road, Kirkham, I was in Orthopaedics at Leeds General Infirmary.
Bu the logic of linking air travel to the IPCC warnings was always there. Hydraulic fracturing is a more serious cause of climate breakdown than air travel due to methane escapes, and at least Cuadrilla and Igas are well aware of why we oppose them, but that does not mean that air travel is not also a significant part of the problem.
I know of Green Party members who do frequent inter-continental trips to visit family, but individual self-denial would hardly reduce the steadily rising CO2 levels. The vast majority of those 10,000 stranded passengers do not think they were doing anything wrong. They are simply furious that their normal expectations have been ruined.
A few of us – more than I expected, judging by the 17th November Thames bridges event – think the IPCC warning should terrify every one into at least demanding government action, if not dramatically changing lifestyles. But as an attempt at a wake-up call, obstructing pre-Christmas travel would be spectacularly counter-productive.
The hard fact is that there is nothing which could act as a wake-up call, because we humans are hard-wired against loss, in this case having lower expectations than we had this time last year.
I have accused my fellow XR conspirators of the same naivete from which I suffered for many years. If millions of lifestyles changed as needed, or if governments made all the tax and incentive changes we Greens say they should, the effect would be a serious drop in economic activity – a recession. Merely not flying next year due to this year’s experience will lower GDP.
Bu the IPCC have said that all this and worse will happen if we do nothing to forestall it, just a bit later. A universal, unconditional basic (citizens’) income will not automatically change anything. But it will at least allow a wake-up call to be heard.