Extinction Rebellion

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  • Couldn't agree more. Just illustrates my point that offshore wind is not really an example of how we're going to solve this thing. You could argue that the successful de-carbonisation of electricity is masking the scale of the challenges elsewhere - where we're really not making any progress.

    Going back to @SwissChap's point - if we can decarbonise electricity (and heat) does this lead to all the raw materials and production process also being de-carbonised?

    If an electric digger extracts the ore, and the process to refine this into steel/aluminium also uses green energy, surely the carbon footprint of the product improves along the way. I fear its this route we're going to take rather than the "stop driving around so much" option.

    Over the "boom" of cycling in the last decade, and the roll out of cycle infrastructure, its thought this has only led to a reduction in car journeys of about 0.1%. I've heard we need at least a 10% reduction to get close to the net zero 2050 ambition. That's a massive shift.

    On the space heating point - the issue we have in the UK is that getting people to use electric heating is really difficult - huge numbers of people have houses and heating systems designed around gas or oil.

    Getting these people to change is really difficult. Electricity was easy - any house/bushiness/process designed to use electricity can use green electricity from a turbine down the same wires as from a coal power station.

    If you currently use gas for anything you're going to either need green gas, of which there won't be enough, or rip it all out and install something different at considerable cost. Doing this round the whole country is hugely difficult, hence why the government still haven't published a clean heat plan that explains how we're going to meet future carbon budgets.

  • Agreed, but somehow you need to undo the structural changes to the way people live that car ownership has caused. That means more local clustering of services.

    For example, think of trip-chaining, ie the parent that drops kids at school, takes an elderly relative to a hospital appointment, works part time and shops all in the same day. That doesn’t work without a car if your town doesn’t have all the different bits of the puzzle.

  • On the space heating point - the issue we have in the UK is that getting people to use electric heating is really difficult - huge numbers of people have houses and heating systems designed around gas or oil.

    We’ve done similar before - think of the switchover from town gas to natural gas in the 1960s.

  • @Scrabble - Yes, agreed. My gas industry contacts are making lots of noise about hydrogen but I don’t really see how it’s going to work at the scales required without CCS, which nobody has so far been able to make work economically. I’m also bitterly disappointed at the lack of progress on energy efficiency measures, which I think have been woefully underfunded and could provide quite a significant reduction in energy consumption at reasonable cost.

    I do fundamentally agree that a lot more needs to be done, and I would be in favour of something like a Green New Deal so that we could have a concerted push to deploy viable technologies and overhaul our transit systems. I just think that framing - of a pro-jobs economic stimulus package that will put us on a low-carbon path - has more chance of political success. But maybe that’s me being a lily-livered centrist.

  • Agreed, but somehow you need to undo the structural changes to the way people live that car ownership has caused. That means more local clustering of services.

    A small, but brilliant, illustration of why planned systemic change in how we live is required.

    Unfortunately, as Brexit has so brilliantly illustrated our current crop of politicians lack both the vision and ability.

  • That's a massive shift.

    It absolutely is. It would also absolutely be achievable, but there would need to be a fundamental attitude change along with things like big investments into carbon neutral public transport, while cars are being banned and taxed to high heaven left right and centre. I can't really see it happening realistically, but I won't give up hope we can at least vaguely move in the right direction.

    As a side note:

    Electricity was easy - any house/bushiness/process designed to use electricity can use green electricity from a turbine down the same wires as from a coal power station.

    That part is easy, yes, but electrical / power engineers will tell you that the distribution of power in itself is a super complex thing, and getting it from many individual turbines vs one big coal power plant is not as straight forward as the slightly naive thinking of "well you 'hook it up' to the grid" that us non-electrical-engineers tend to have. Again, totally doable, but even that 'easy' bit isn't that easy when you drill down into it.

  • Space heating of the national housing and commercial stock has changed fuel source twice in most of our parents life times, solid fuel to town gas and town gas to natural gas.

    Switching over to electric is feasible if government and industry decide they want it to happen. Labour published thier plan to carbon neutral by 2030 yesterday which included the roll out of 8m heat pumps which is totally doable if thier is the will.

    Probably easier than trying to convert the gas system to hydrogen and stopping it from leaking everywhere. (Hydrogen totally has a place for transport however and industrial heat provided it isn't a fossil fuel byproduct).

  • need to undo the structural changes to the way people live that car ownership has caused

    So much of this.

  • That means more local clustering of services.

    Yes, and more generally: More even distribution of development. Before the coming of the railways, Europe (and I guess the vast majority of the world, but I've only studied Europe) had a very simple structure--market towns surrounded by agriculture, with some larger cities, usually where power was concentrated--but most market towns were roughly of equal size and quite evenly distributed, depending on the shape of the land. In the villages, you had independent craftsmen/craftswomen, and in the towns you had certain other services that needed a bit more traffic to make them worthwhile. There was an unevenness of development, but while the difference between the rural areas and the cities would have been felt to be stark by people at the time, it was nothing compared to today. That's not to say it was a golden age; there were enough problems as it was, e.g. poor healthcare, but the basic shape was much better than what it was replaced with during the (first) 'Industrial Revolution', i.e. a few mega-cities (by the standards of the time, not the even worse trend today), flight from the land, etc.

    All of this was exacerbated when mass motorisation happened. As @h2o says, there is a widespread acceptance that mass car use is/was the future. Of course, car use is only one aspect of hypermobility, the expectation and practice of being able to carry anything or anyone anywhere at the drop of a hat (including freight shipped across half the world). The main root cause of this is economic concentration, i.e. businesses/wealthy interests usually want to be able to do business from as little land/as few sites as possible while exploiting artificially depressed transportation costs that make this possible.

  • And, generally, when it comes to change, you don't get people wanting to change the causes, but mostly the symptoms. This never results in sufficient change to tackle a problem.

  • Yeah, clearly over simplified but the point being that nothing in my house has had to be modified in anyway for it to shift from being 100% powered by coal to 100% powered by wind. The changes can happen without involving "the public" at all which make it a gazzilion% easier.

    The government policies to get people off natural gas are going to seem much more interventionist, hence reluctance from politicians to make any actual decisions.

  • Yeah, that's a good point.

  • It would also absolutely be achievable, but there would need to be a fundamental attitude change along with things like big investments into carbon neutral public transport, while cars are being banned and taxed to high heaven left right and centre. I can't really see it happening realistically, but I won't give up hope we can at least vaguely move in the right direction.

    It sounds like a group of non-partisan rebels who are willing to make sacrifices (and mistakes) to bring the ecological crisis to the attention of the masses and shift popular opinion to such a degree that it would be political suicide not to put the environment first are needed? We could all get behind them, even get involved, challenge them from inside when they're losing sight of the goal and help shape them into what they need to be?

    Hoping for moving vaguely in the right direction ain't gonna cut it in the time available...

  • shift popular opinion to such a degree that it would be political suicide not to put the environment first are needed

    ... and that's exactly why I'm very confused by XR stating they only want to get 'a large enough minority' on their side. Generally speaking, even 'large' minorities aren't enough to make things 'political suicide', especially when there is already a political split on the issue.

    Hoping for moving vaguely in the right direction ain't gonna cut it in the time available...

    Absolutely nothing I've seen so far points towards us getting things done on time. So yeah, I'm pretty pessimistic about this. It doesn't mean that in my dreams, I'm not hoping for something a whole lot more radical, but realistically...

  • It's an application of marketing thinking to a political and social issue. This thinking is why we have Brexit. It is why we have trump. You don't need an actual majority for progress - you need enough noise.

    The noise doesn't have to make you happy and it doesn't matter if it pisses you off. As long as there is enough noise of the right quality (which is an issue of the latest actions) it becomes engrained in culture. That's it. You don't even need to understand it. It would be delightful if the stated aims could be achieved without pissing anyone off but it has been calculated that this is not the case. It's a risk, but probably one worth taking considering the situation.

  • Yeah I'm sorry but that's all also more of a vague hope than anything else. And yes, I kind of do need to understand it. Because if I don't understand how it's supposed to work, then the causal link from 'make some noise' to 'things change' is way too vague to ever come to fruition.

    The noise doesn't have to make you happy and it doesn't matter if it pisses you off.

    No. Btw, I'm neither unhappy about it nor does it piss me off. The problem is that generally speaking, when you make a majority unhappy and piss them off, that whole idea of it somehow being 'engrained in culture' becomes unworkable. And that's also the true risk there - not that it might fail overall, but that some actions that aren't thought-through properly might achieve the opposite of what they set out to do.

    Also, you know, there's either a large minority or even a small majority currently against Brexit - definitely a large minority very strongly against Brexit. And yet it's far from 'political suicide' to steam full power ahead with it. I just really dislike how that supposed mechanism is always phrased as if it was some kind of inevitability.

    As I've said before: a vast majority of people in this thread, myself included, broadly support XR and most of the things they'd like to achieve. That doesn't mean we can't criticise aspects of their thinking, or specific actions like the Canning Town one.

  • The italics suggest I'm not talking about you personally?

    Maybe find your local XR group and join in the conversations they have to understand how they believe their strategy will work? Then challenge anything you think is wrong...

  • The italics suggest I'm not talking about you personally?

    Ok, that is not clear from italics at all, but it doesn't really matter, the general point stands.

  • Cool.

    Your point is you're unhappy about not understanding their tactics? And you're concerned about this.

    Drop your local group a message and see what they're all about. You might like it, you might hate it. You'll probably find something quite imperfect but full of hope and good intentions that you mostly agree with. You'll only be able to help steer it in the right direction by being part of it...

    I've hit my LFGSS interaction that is not organising bike rides limit for the month, so I'll disappear now.

  • Just 1 year today since the public launch.
    It's been an interesting year and I think XR have been instrumental in changing mainstream concerns and media discussion. It's not been them alone of course, but they've played an important part. To me the only significant error was the recent tube action - Canning Town will haunt. I don't think public transport is always out of bounds - the Canary Wharf DLR action in the spring was good. But the organisation has had to do a huge amount of growing, learning and evolving in the public eye. It's not over by any means but they've already made a difference. The challenge (which they acknowledge) is maintaining momentum and goodwill.

  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/­2019/nov/06/police-ban-on-extinction-reb­ellion-protests-ruled-illegal-by-high-co­urt

    Section 14 order issued to ban protest across London was not legitimate, high court rules

  • Quite right - the right to peaceful protest should be protected (I realise this wasn't the basis of the ruling).

  • Is it better to not be alive than live in a dictatorship?

    "live free or die". I really believe it. I wish I didn't.

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Extinction Rebellion

Posted by Avatar for Lebowski @Lebowski

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