Extinction Rebellion are irreparably damaging their cause
THERE comes a point in every petulant, cultish uprising when public patience wears thin.
For Extinction Rebellion (XR) it was last week when a crowd of enraged London commuters dragged two middle class protesters from the roof of a train.
In footage posted online, the crowd of East London commuters throw crisps at the ecowarriors standing atop a train holding a banner that reads: "Business as usual = death".
One protester dressed in a suit is dragged by his kicking feet to the ground, while the other is chased along the roof of a carriage before also being pulled to the platform. It's shocking to watch. The mob are furious and intense.
And that's the fatal flaw of XR. They haven't targeted city boys off to dabble with multi-millions on the stock exchange. These are working class commuters trying to get to their jobs before sunrise. They are cleaners and construction workers. If they don't show for work, they don't get paid. Stopping people from trying to keep their families fed is not peaceful protesting. It's aggressive and conceited bullying.
The irony of this stunt is that poor people are among the lowest energy users in the community. They can't afford to run aircon all night, take overseas flights or drive 4WDs on the school run. And this is one of the biggest issues XR will soon face - when people finally wake up to the reality of how much their demands will actually cost households.
In six years time, we must be net zero carbon, they claim. So, once we've switched off the life support machines and premmie baby incubators, stopped all flights and cars and scrapped mobile phones and Instagram stories (the e-waste is huge), we are left with the significant financial burden of green taxes and renewable energy.
The poor will keep on getting poorer. And any funds for science and technology driven solutions that may save the environment more than some superglued limbs on main roads will be gone.
Meanwhile, XR's arrogant, street-theatre antics, which they naively believe unite society, only alienate.
As a former protesting hippie in my 20s who grows her own veggies and composts, I should support the group. But I feel deep exasperation at their self-referential behaviour, like those irritating people who play an acoustic guitar at a party.
Climate change is real and needs more direct attention from our governments. We all want countries (including mass-emitters like China, the US and India) to commit to ensuring a safe and healthy future for our children. But this message is drowned out by XR's narcissistic attempts to clog our roads, police cells (while being served vegan meals) and courts.
It begs the question: Is the fight against climate change more compromised by XR than helped?
Perhaps, the answer is yes.
Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's move to rush through parliament controversial anti-protest laws last week was slammed as reminiscent of the authoritarian rule of Sir Joh.
The law was justified as an alleged deterrent to the dangerous guerrilla-esque protest tactics used by XR. It is also a desperate attempt by a besieged and rudderless government to appeal to moderate mainstream voters ahead of next year's election. But it could backfire and possibly push voters away from Labor.
"Appearing to be a bit tougher might play in her favour in the broader electorate but not to the branch members," Griffith University's political expert Professor Emeritus John Wanna says.
The same goes for Queensland's only state Greens MP Michael Berkman.
Having won the wealthy inner Brisbane seat of Maiwar with a margin of less than two per cent, Berkman told the ABC that the Greens would no longer be a party of protest, but one that could form future government.
Fast forward two years and Berkman has thrown his support behind XR and the group's demands, which include a Communist-esque "Citizen's Assembly", making his own job as elected politician redundant.
Appearing so closely aligned to XR's radical activities could potentially turn off voters, especially if the LNP (who have named Maiwar as a "must win seat") parachute in local councillor Peter Matic, who is just as active and community focused as Berkman.
We all saw how the anti-Adani convoy antagonised more people than it won over. The closer you got to the Adani site the bigger the swings were to the LNP.
XR have the same problem: there is no persuasion behind their publicity stunts.
The more they disrupt and aggravate, the more the public will turn on them - just as they did at the East London tube station.
If XR keep on the way they're going, perhaps they could be the best ally for the LNP to win the next election.
Somehow, I don't think that was part of their plan.
Lucy Carne is editor of Rendezview.com.au