Extinction Rebellion Comes to Israel

By Dr. Lia Ettinger

On May 1, the British Parliament declared a climate emergency. A week and a half later, Ireland’s parliament issued a similar declaration. Who influenced the members of the parliaments to adopt such a harsh formulation? In one word, the answer is the public. For 11 days the strike was conducted by a creative and energetic group of people calling itself the “Extinction Rebellion” at the central junctions in London. More than 1,000 people were arrested – as an act of nonviolent civil disobedience – in order to pass on three demands to the government:

  • Tell the public the truth about the urgency of the situation
  • Start acting now to stop recourse degradation and to switch to 100% renewable energies by 2025
  • Act beyond the usual politics – established a conference of citizens for climate and ecological justice in order to direct the urgent activity

Rebellion Extinction groups are established in different countries. And in Israel protest began, too. The first event of the movement in Israel took place on Monday 27.5.19 at 18:30 at the “Paul” Paul Kor 16 Tel Aviv.

The rebellion movement in extinction joins the millions of children who have been campaigning for the climate since last summer. The children are inspired by the Swedish girl Greta Thunberg, who is already nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On March 15, about 1.4 million children in more than 100 countries left schools to strike for urgent actions in the climate crisis. Hundreds of children across the country joined the world protest. On May 24 the children announced the second worldwide student strike for the climate. Also, Israeli Students arrived in buses from around the country on May 21, gathered near the Supreme Court and marched to the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). Anyone who has come to support the children has seen a young, inspiring and energetic society that understands how serious the situation is and believes they can change the bitter reality.

The participants of the Heschel Center Fellows Program (19th graduating class) felt the urgency and spontaneously decided to take advantage of the opportunity of the large crowd in the village of the Eurovision to mobilize people to fight the climate crisis. We were a little surprised that they did not stop us from hanging the signs and we started talking to the passersby. We were very happy that Inbal and Michael who are among the organizers of the children’s protest in Israel were there. We were pleasantly surprised by the reactions of the audience who stopped to hear what it was all about.

The sense of urgency is not new to anyone who deals with sustainability. But recently the sense of urgency has been greatly amplified by the accumulation of alarming scientific reports showing that the situation is deteriorating even faster than we thought.

We would like to demonstrate the gravity of the situation in one “innocent-looking” and most frightening image published in Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene:

The depth of the depression in the plain indicates the degree of stability of the climatic situation. In the last 1.2 million years, the Earth has cyclically fluctuated between the steady state of the ice age (the blue depression) and a less stable and hot state of “glacial time” – where the ice is found only at poles and glaciers on the mountaintops. This situation is symbolized by the location of the earth in the shallow depression in the middle of the picture.

The development of our civilization was made possible by the extraordinary climatic stability of the interglacial state of the last 12,000 years – a period known as the Holocene.

Today we have moved to a new era where the human activity of burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), deforestation and biodiversity destruction is pushing the earth towards a steady state of a hot bullet compared to the current situation. In this new situation, the Earth will have very harsh climatic conditions of storms, tornados and fires. Large areas will be flooded as a result of a significant increase in seawater.

The only way to prevent the continued destruction of the biosphere and the accumulation of greenhouse gases is to return the planet to a state of climatic stability, suitable for humans before we pass the irreversible planetary boundary.

We have about 10 years to operate, the necessary change is drastic – what is your next step?