Lucy Mangan

Lucy Mangan: “Don’t mock Extinction Rebellion protesters – they’re fighting your war”

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Lucy Mangan
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It makes no sense – logically, emotionally, practically – to be against environmentalism in at least the widest sense, says Lucy Mangan.

Dear god – the hostility I have been seeing and hearing about the Extinction Rebellion protesters, both in the media and from people who have had their commutes slightly re-routed or delayed, blows my mind. “You know the planet’s dying, right?”

I want to say to them. “It’s, like, official now. David Attenborough’s said so and everything.” I don’t understand the mentality of people who ‘hate’ (or, as seems increasingly frequent, actually hate, no quote marks required) eco-warriors. I’m so unendingly grateful to them for doing what I just don’t have the temperament – or the balls – to do.

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I suppose I understand the immediate, superficial annoyance caused by disruption to the smooth passage between home and pub or office (I’m less clear on the rage that surrounds the activists’ perceived social class and personal hygiene levels). It’s the deeper stuff that gets me. Who are the people who reckon it’s somehow “PC gone mad” to care about your environment and your planet? Because what they’re essentially saying is, “I embrace waste and I like to live in shit.”

Do they, though? Do they all live in homes knee-deep in litter, rotting food, human detritus and whatever their pets feel like leaving about the place, and happily pay the bills that come from leaving the lights and gas fire on day and night with the windows and fridge door open? I bet they don’t. I bet they keep their individual existences relatively clean, efficient and pleasantly ordered. They just see no need to contribute to reproducing that quality (or continuation) of life on a grander scale. 

You might object to some activist tactics: I would have made efforts not to disrupt public transport at all, for example, given that it’s the greenest option, the optics are bad and the bad feeling it engenders among a demographic probably relatively open to your cause is likely to do more harm than good (but I equally accept that it’s not my call to make, given that I am sitting on my arse doing nothing at all).

But it makes no sense – logically, emotionally, practically – to be against environmentalism in at least the widest sense. Do you truly think that the accumulated scientific evidence, the informed and virtually unanimous opinion of every expert in the matter globally, and the experiences of your own senses over your own lifetime (I’ve watched the daffodils in my parents’ garden flower earlier every year and the sparrows in the forsythia get fewer and fewer) is one giant conspiracy? Or do you believe in it all and actually want the human race to perish as our habitats are flooded, desiccated, burned and leave us homeless and starving? If your answer is no, then you’re on the greens’ side, my friend. The eco-warriors are fighting for what you believe in, even if you don’t realise it.

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It all reminds me of women who say they aren’t feminists then look bewildered when you ask when, in that case, they’re going to be giving up the right to vote, their jobs after marriage, and hand their bank accounts over to their husbands or fathers.

We live off so many of the benefits of fights that came before us. The one against climate change and environmental catastrophe is our own and one that we need to join in – or at the very, very least, not stand in blind, unthinking opposition to – so that we and future generations can live to feel its benefits. By which I mean – just live. 

Images: Getty