Why Extinction Rebellion seems so nuts

The more dogmatic environmentalism becomes, the more it loses touch with reality.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Topics Politics UK

This is an edited version of a short speech Brendan O’Neill gave at the Battle of Ideas festival in London on 3 November 2019.

One of my favourite political events this year was the Battle of Canning Town. This was the moment when Extinction Rebellion decided to send its painfully middle-class agitators to a working-class part of East London early in the morning to lecture and inconvenience people who just wanted to get to work. What could go wrong?

Quite a lot, it turned out. There were many wonderful moments. The two posh greens who climbed on top of a Tube train at Canning Town were mocked and eventually dragged down. A commuter can be heard branding one of the protesters a ‘ponytail weirdo’. Elsewhere on the Tube system that day, commuters pointed out that the London Underground is run on electricity and is therefore pretty eco-friendly. ‘Are you that fucking stupid?’, one asked a smug-looking couple of XR agitators. ‘No wonder you can’t get jobs…’

But the best moment came during the Battle of Canning Town, during that clash between working people and eco-elitists, when one of the commuters shouted at the protesters: ‘The world is not coming to an end!’ I thought that was brilliant. This woman was just trying to get to her job and yet she found herself having to act as the voice of reason against the new hysteria. And she rose to the occasion wonderfully. She said what many of us know to be true: humankind does not face extinction.

The reason I admire the Battle of Canning Town is that it represented a potential turning point in modern green politics. It was really the first time in a long time that eco-hysteria was subjected to public judgement, to democratic rebuke, to the rational scepticism of the people. For far too long green ideology has been insulated from public challenge and public debate and this has allowed it to become increasingly eccentric and even unhinged. The Battle of Canning Town represented a reasoned, bottom-up pushback against the protected hysteria of modern environmentalism.

This is the thing I find most fascinating about Extinction Rebellion: its very name is a lie. Those two words themselves are untrue. Humankind does not face extinction, and all reasonable people know this. We know that there is nothing in the IPCC reports – which themselves are often over-the-top – to justify XR’s harebrained claims that we have 12 years to save the planet, and if we fail billions of people will die. They’ve just made this up.

As for the second word – ‘rebellion’ – this is a lie, too. Extinction Rebellion is not a rebellion. Rather, its ideology and misanthropy are entirely in keeping with the outlook of mainstream politics and popular culture. From the educational sphere to Hollywood’s output, from the political elite to the worlds of advertising and publishing, the ahistorical, anti-human idea that mankind is destroying the planet and will be punished by Weather of Mass Destruction for having done so is entirely accepted, and increasingly unquestionable, in fact.

Extinction Rebellion is not an edgy, radical movement. It is the militant wing of capitalist society’s loss of faith in itself. It expresses in an outward, colourful, pseudo-protesting form the intellectual and moral rot of the capitalist system itself, which now prefers to freak out over the ‘human footprint’ on the planet than to remake the world in the image and the interests of at least a certain section of humanity.

There are two striking things about Extinction Rebellion. The first is that it expresses the same old incorrect, disproven claims of conservationism and environmentalism that have been doing the rounds for decades. And the second is that it does this in an increasingly intemperate, morally unanchored and even apocalyptic fashion. We need to explain why this is.

On the first point – XR makes the same fundamental mistake as every naturalist misanthrope in history. It views population growth and humanity’s use of resources as variable and everything else, most notably human ingenuity, as fixed. This means its basic maths, not to mention its morality, is wrong.

It means XR makes the same mistake as Thomas Malthus did, and as the early 20th-century eugenicists did, and as 1970s eco-extremists did. It sees humankind as merely a consuming force, never as a producing or imaginative one. This is why Malthus failed to foresee the Industrial Revolution, which obliterated his claims that humankind would starve; and this is why 20th-century eugenicists failed to foresee the Green Revolution and its feeding of vast numbers of human beings; and this is why contemporary eco-alarmists fail to see, or simply ignore, the potential of the Nuclear Revolution – because these people have a jaundiced view of mankind as merely a user, an exploiter, a drain, which means they rarely appreciate mankind’s capacity for production and discovery and invention.

But XR expresses this old morally illiterate, scientifically dubious view of mankind in a strikingly new way. Its language is, to be frank, deranged. It says Africa is on fire, which is a lie. It says billions of humans will die in the next few years, which is not true. It says we are running out of resources – another myth. The linguistic shifts are remarkable. Greens have gone from talking about climate change to climate emergency to climate breakdown to climate catastrophe. These are not scientific terms; they are moralistic terms that express a fearful and often quite unstable view of humanity’s impact on the planet.

Why is XR like this? Because for too long green thinking has been insulated from debate and confrontation. Censorship has been deployed to deflect criticism from the green ideology. Anyone who raises questions about eco-misanthropy is branded a climate-change denier and efforts will be made to expel him or her from public life. The tragic environmentalist outlook has been forcefielded against rational, serious challenge, and in such a criticism-free vacuum green thinking has become more estranged from reason and more apocalyptic in outlook.

Censorship is the midwife of stupidity, and more importantly of dogmatism. When religious or political or moral ideologies are insulated from critique, they become dogmas. They become belief systems that are cleaved to, not because they have been tested and discussed in the public sphere, but because their adherents just know that they are right. These are the perfect conditions in which arrogance and intellectual hollowness can flourish, and in which defensiveness and fury become the default responses to any challenge from outside.

That is what has happened to environmentalism. It has been protected by the establishment against questioning and ridicule. Until the Battle of Canning Town. That’s the beauty of that battle – how quickly green hysteria crumbled in the face of simple scepticism. ‘The world is not coming to an end…’ This was the light of reason shining into the dark, dogmatic recesses of green ideology. Let’s have more of it.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty

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antoni orgill

12th November 2019 at 10:14 pm

Excellent article. The moral force of eco-catastrophism comes with a simplistic, binary logic that’s like a bratty child blackmailing a parent. If you don’t give me what I want the world will know how much I hate you. This tendency has been the basic modus operandi of Greenie Meanies for decades. Only recently has it been embodied by Greta ‘Bitter-face’ Thunberg. To be honest, I’d hate them even if they were right. They don’t just ‘seem nuts’, though, Brendan. They are. Fearing the apocalypse is upon us on a daily basis has destroyed what little grasp of reason they once might have had. They’re mentally ill … and, proud of it.

Shirley Isaacs

12th November 2019 at 9:19 am

I heard you this morning on LBC and completely agree with what you said.

Graham Woodford

8th November 2019 at 5:39 pm

The latest bout of climate change denial then. It’s never quite stated, just the specious claims like ICCC reports are ‘frequently over the top’ (they’re not), the insinuation that there’s an ‘educational’ elite aligning with beardie entitled middle classes to cast hate down upon the heroic ‘masses’, who are being denied access to the world’s bountiful and limitless riches by these new shock troops of capitalism (that is a bit of a new one mind). Climate change is real, AGW is real, a mass extinction event of species is underway and real. Brendon O’Neil can keep his head up the place where it is darkest, and refuse to consider the evidence, but it is not only here but blindingly obvious. It’s bizarre to suggest that growing our cities more and denuding the environment further isn’t going to have grave impacts. Brendon calls for us to have ‘faith’, a rather ineffective alternative to action, while suggesting the human ingenuity we need will come from those self same scientists he pretty much derides when they come to exactly opposite conclusions on climate change and the environment.

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 5:58 pm

Graham Woodford
No one denies climate change.. don’t you get fed up with pushing that disingenuous bit of nonsense all the time it doesn’t fool anyone ?
Ah yes, the IPCC and Mann’s faked hockey stick which they now try to distance themselves from , oh and the leaked emails where they discussed how to ‘hide data’ yes Graham you keep your faith. The rest of us smell cr*p.
The 97% of scientists prefer kitekat rubbish has been well and truly debunked.
99% of all species that ever existed have died species become extinct all the time, and new ones are discovered all the time. You have no basis for that assertion.
Geological records show that CO2 levels only rise after the planet warms up. The sun moon and our cycle around the sun is what drives the climate.
These are the indisputable historical truths literally written in stone !
Explain how the medieval warm period and the little ice age came about.
Oh, and why has every prediction about climate change never happened .. Gore’s ‘no ice at the poles’ in the year 2010 a great example of the AGW goofs total lack of science.

Graham Woodford

8th November 2019 at 7:10 pm

Still trying to peddle that bunkum story about the supposed ‘faked hockey stick’. Desperate stuff. It’s funny you quote that ‘99%’ thing because that’s usually referred to those, the growing scientific consensus, that argue we are in the midst of a sixth major extinction event. That’s those who have studied things, mind, rather than journalists like the author and people like Dellingpole who arrive at the facts from their own political bias, not to mention those sponsoring their output.

You can also keep your head up there. It won’t matter that much if you do. In the meantime, i’ll Listen to those people who actually have a clue.


Jerry Owen

9th November 2019 at 10:04 am

You appear not to be able to articulate the case for AGW .
Just like XR, full of hot air .. pardon the pun , and no substance. Hilarious!

Jerry Owen

9th November 2019 at 10:12 am

G Woodford
Where is the medieval warm period and little ice age in Mann’s hockey stick graph .. I can’t see it?
Maybe it never happened eh !!

Christopher Gutteridge

8th November 2019 at 4:38 pm

Most people involved in the October London protest were strongly opposed to the Canning Town stunt, and unsurprised at how much it back fired. Humans certainly impact the environment, the only question is how much and how much are we willing to risk for convenience now. Eventually a future generation is going to run out of fossil fuels, so no matter what you believe on carbon and climate change, if we are decent to the future generations we should be working hard now to reduce our need for coal & gas etc. It’s better to do this in a planned way than have a crash where modern farming becomes impractical and people starve. The rich (well, most of them) won’t look after anybody but themselves when food is short. Some climate models predict that more extreme weather variation and “events’ (storms, floods etc) could seriously impact our farming and that may happen in our lifetimes. If we’re really lucky it’ll all not kick off until after our generation is in the ground, but I’m not optimistic.

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 5:10 pm

C Gutteridge
Nobody denies that several billion people impact the environment, that is not the same argument as AGW, why do you people insist on conflating the two? What isn’t proven is that CO2 causes the climate to heat, further the amount of CO2 humans put into the atmosphere is barely measurable. In fact we need more CO2 in the atmosphere as it is historically low at 440 PPM , at around 280 PPM plant life starts to die, if that happens we die. Plants like around 1000 PPM and there is no evidence that higher CO2 levels harm humans, indeed it is a trace benign gas that we need as humans.
Fossil fuels are the most efficient and cheapest ( standing on their own two feet without subsidies ) forms of energy for man. America now fracks and is self sufficient for energy. There are new ways and techniques for accessing fossil fuel being developed all the time.
Human ingenuity is that we progress all the time, it wasn’t that long ago that coal was used for carving jewellery until man realized it could heat our homes.
Of course if you really cared about our children you would embrace nuclear power a very efficient and cheap form of fuel. But I don’t think you do.
Do you support nuclear power?
Man is improving his lot in terms of technology and comfort all the time and there is no evidence it will cease to be the case.

Lord Anubis

8th November 2019 at 11:03 am

As a more general comment,

Re Nuclear Energy.

My feeling has always been that the real reason why the Green Lobby object so much to the use of Nuclear Power isn’t because they think the technology is dangerous or environmentally unsound.

It is because they are actually concerned that it might be able to deliver the good that its proponents claim for it.

The last thing, absolutely the last thing, that the green/ER types want to see is an inexpensive safe and reliable means of supplying almost unlimited quantities of energy.

Should this ever become available, any notion of compelling humanity to go back to a pre-industrial lifestyle will be doomed and they absolutely do not want that to happen.

Caroline Jones

8th November 2019 at 4:54 pm

I think that the greens objection to nuclear power is more based on the fact that the waste it produces is highly dangerous and cannot be treated to make it safe.
The cost of dealing with nuclear waste is incalculable (since it has never been done)
Add to this the uncertainty that climate change brings and that nuclear power plants are sited next to large bodies of water for cooling… I mean, what could possibly go wrong!?

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 6:19 pm

Caroline Jones
You comment about cost of nuclear power and it’s disposal, have you studied the cost of AOC’s green new deal ? Ludicrous beyond belief.
Not all nuclear power stations are by the sea.. you really need to check your facts before posting.

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 6:20 pm

Further to my post you don’t know the cost of nuclear waste disposal .. you don’t have a point then do you?

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 5:19 pm

Lord Anubis
I have responded to C Gutteridge above but it’s at the mod stage. In the seventies nuclear power was a dirty word with the obvious links to nuclear bombs. I was against nuclear power in those days CND etc, as I lived near Greenham Common ( I only glow a little in the dark now ) . However it is probably one of the best forms of power for efficiency we have.
I agree with you that the AGW goofs would become extinct if the efficiency of nuclear power were to recognised. As is becoming clear and indeed is admitted XR and the Green New Deal are not about AGW, it is about overthrowing our system. If they were honest I wouldn’t mind but they are dishonest, why? Because they know the vast majority of the public would tell them ‘on your bike’.

Christopher Gutteridge

9th November 2019 at 12:06 am

In the interests of honesty, I am an XR member and was in the protest in London (although argued very hard to try to talk people out of the tube train thing). I can tell you some members are definitely interested in various solutions ranging from full socialism, forms of modern anarchist thinking, or other approaches. But there is only a consensus on the problem, not what solutions should be applied. I think there may be other systems other than our own that can provide humans with security, autonomy and quality lives, but I’d rather we evolved towards them than instigated some revolution which will end in a mess that nobody intended the way revolutions tend to.

I’m a nerd who works for a university so I quite like the solution of investing vast amounts into engineering and science solutions to the world’s problems, but I’m aware that’s probably my own filter in action. We see problems and solutions through the lens of our experience, and all that.

Jerry Owen

9th November 2019 at 10:08 am

C Gutteridge.
I wrote a lengthy response to another post of yours which is still under moderation after a day so it won’t appear now.
At least you are honest . You are a self confessed socialist and a nerd . I don’t need to rest my case .. you have. Thank you.

Jerry Owen

9th November 2019 at 10:10 am

Reading your post again you are a self confessed nerd only, not a socialist nerd ..still not a good look is it !!

Winston Stanley

8th November 2019 at 1:40 am

Bizarre times, green politics is arguably reinforcing a collapse in faith in capitalism in USA and a rise in support for communism.

> More than a third of millennials approve of communism, YouGov poll indicates

More than a third of millennials in the US now approve of communism, while the popularity of capitalism has plummeted since 2018, according to YouGov polling.

The survey found just 57 per cent of 23 to 38-year-olds believe the Declaration of Independence better “guarantees freedom and equality” than the Communist Manifesto, with only 50 per cent viewing capitalism favourably.

Approval of the controversial ideology rose by 8 per cent in the past year to 36 per cent, the survey of 2,100 adults found, while appreciation for capitalism dropped by the same margin.

“It’s an alternative,” said professor of political theory at San Jose University, Lawrence Quill. “The theories are so broad they lend themselves to endorsement by very different sorts of people looking for very different things.

“[Younger generations have] no memory whatsoever of the Cold War and its related ideological battlefield. There is an absence of an ‘overlapping consensus’ based on the shared experiences of war or Cold War.”

In contrast, the proportion of those harbouring favourable views of the ideology remained extremely low among “boomers” (seven per cent) and the over-74s (four per cent).

Jodi Dean, a political science professor at New York’s Hobart and William Smith Colleges, offered further reasons for the current popularity of communism among younger generations.

“First, capitalism is clearly and undeniably failing. It’s directly responsible for the climate catastrophe and everybody knows it,” Ms Dean said.

“Second, the US right calls everything it doesn’t like ‘communist’. They call Clinton and Obama ‘communists’. With ‘communist’ as the go-to name for anything that isn’t right wing, its acceptability increases. If you don’t like the right, you’re a communist.” – Independent, Nov 7

Winston Stanley

8th November 2019 at 12:05 am

A new poll shows majority support for the extreme policy of a carbon zero economy by 2030, 10 years time. I doubt that they understand the economic consequences of that. Oh well, this is supposed to be a democracy, so the next government should give us a referendum on the matter, so that we can have the debate and make a decision. Just never let it again be said that Brexit would “hurt the economy”.

> Majority of UK public back 2030 zero-carbon target – poll

Nearly half of Tory voters back plan, compared with 16% who back party’s 2050 target

A majority of the UK public and almost half of Conservative voters support a radical plan to transform the economy and tackle the climate crisis, a poll suggests.

YouGov found that 56% of people back the total decarbonisation of the UK economy by 2030 and just under half support public spending to make large swathes of public transport free to use.

The findings appear to highlight a growing awareness of the scale of the climate crisis and the increasingly radical policy solutions the public is willing to support.

Last week a separate survey found that the climate emergency would influence how most people vote, with almost two-thirds agreeing it was the biggest issue facing humankind. – Guardian

Glenn Bell

7th November 2019 at 11:58 pm

Brilliantly written & argued, sadly I doubt any of these xr morons will read it & even they did they’d be too bone headed to consider your words might actually make some sense!

jessica christon

7th November 2019 at 11:40 pm

“Why is XR like this? Because for too long green thinking has been insulated from debate and confrontation.”

This is true of all strands of woke. It has no answers to a debate, only name-calling.

Steve James

7th November 2019 at 5:02 pm

I love the interviews of XR on mainstream media where, when it is pointed out that they are clearly nuts, they just smile inanely. Having said that, it is a bit worrying that people can be brainwashed so easily, especially the young.

Winston Stanley

7th November 2019 at 3:37 pm

1,000 scientists have signed a letter calling for global population reduction and for the wide vailability of contraception in Africa. The Vatican has its own solution: no contraception, more ppl and an enforced universal poverty – “consumerism” needs to end. Happy times. “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of god.” Ironically the celibate old men in the Vatican are all for fertility, just so long as everyone ends up in extreme poverty. The Vatican has gone all “gaia” with its recent eco Amazon Synod, and now we know what they really mean. The Vatican has got no intention of being outdone by XR on the bonkers stakes. You really do not need condoms to be bonkers, QED.

> Scientists call for ‘gradually reduced’ population to fight climate change

The ‘World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency’ was by 11,258 people from 153 countries

A letter warning of a “climate emergency” signed by more than 11,000 scientists calls for a “gradual reduction” in the world’s population.

The “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” was published in the journal BioScience on Tuesday, and was signed by 11,258 scientists from 153 countries.

In the statement, the signatories listed both economic growth and a global population increase as “among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.” The report called for “bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies.”

The Vatican has supported the Paris agreement, with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin stating last year that “climate change is an issue increasingly more moral than technical.”

The global population is increasing by 80 million people per year, the statement claims, and is a key driver of climate change. “The world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity,” the scientists said.

Tuesday’s statement calls for “proven and effective policies that strengthen human rights while lowering fertility rates and lessening the impacts of population growth on GHG emissions and biodiversity loss.”

While the global population has continued to increase, fertility rates in many Western countries have already declined to replacement level or below.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the birth rate in the United States hit an all-time low in 2018 with the total fertility rate at 1.7—well below the replacement rate of 2.1. In South Korea in 2017, there were seven births per 1,000 people; Hungary saw its birth rate fall to 1.45 children per woman.

According to demographic prospects in the 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects, for the years 2015-2020, Western Europe was estimated at 1.68 live births per woman. Latin America and the Caribbean fell just under replacement level at 2.05 live births per woman. The African continent, by contrast, was estimated at 4.44 live births per woman.

Successful population control policies, the report noted, “make family-planning services available to all people, remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity, including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women.”

Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on ecology, “Laudato Si,” paragraph 50 states that despite calls for population control as a solution to poverty, “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.

“To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues,” the encyclical states of population growth as a false answer to climate change.

Developed countries may propose population control as a means by which to continue consuming resources at an unsustainable rate, while burdening developing countries with abortion, contraception, and sterilizations as well as effects of climate change, the encyclical said.

“It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption,” the encyclical states. – Catholic Herland, Nov. 6.

Winston Stanley

7th November 2019 at 4:09 pm

It is becoming clear that demographic-economic perspectives dominate contemporary politics. Western capitalism and the British State want more ppl and more stuff, hence the mass migration of workers to keep the expansion of the capitalist system going. “Money, money, money”, as Abba put it. Sp iked want more ppl and more stuff too b/c “humanity is underrated.” XR want less ppl and less stuff b/c “we are all going to die really soon”. The Vatican wants more ppl and less stuff b/c that is the “moral” perspective, “bless are the poor for their is the kingdom of heaven” – the more poor ppl the better to fill up heaven. The one thing that is not on the table is present ppl and present stuff, b/c we live in a space-time continuum and there are economic and natural laws in play. The present is but a blink of the eye in a kaleidoscope of coming to be and passing away. More stuff sooner is likly to get the democratic vote?

*11,000 – cut and paste dropped a character. Which is why we need an EDIT function.

Winston Stanley

8th November 2019 at 10:18 pm

And some of the Birth-Strike ppl want NO ppl and NO stuff. Every possible choice has a partisan. I alreay refuted that stuff – the world has meaning only “for us” and without humans, nothing “matters”. One has to pay some attention to the origin, purpose and limits of human subjectivity. Whatever. Whatever explains stuff.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 4:40 pm

As of 2014 there were approximately 70,000 scientists with published articles and peer reviewed articles on climate change ,a large portion don’t even mention alleged AGW just good old fashioned Mother earth climate change.
When playing the numbers game a bit of perspective goes a long way!
Reducing the population of the world will be as pleasant as Russian Roulette, who goes first .

Winston Stanley

7th November 2019 at 5:35 pm

How many times have I asked you not to address me? Have some dignity. Post whatever you like but do not address it to me.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 7:05 pm

If you post something I feel needs addressing I will do so.
Get over it and don’t be so precious.

Winston Stanley

7th November 2019 at 7:35 pm

I have seen you ganging up on posters recently and I have no time for bully boys. You seem to have some OCD where you cannot accept that other ppl may disagree with you. You get to have your own opinion and nothing more. This is not a bully boy gang forum. If you want an echo chamber then go to Breitbart.

jessica christon

7th November 2019 at 8:27 pm

@Jerry Owen

Population reduction let’s say in Africa wouldn’t do much to reduce carbon emissions because they’re still only responsible for a tiny fraction of the global total. It’s a red herring in climate terms, but still poses a problem in its own right because they can’t sustain themselves in those numbers. And there’s nothing nice that will sort it out but I will say this; where a population has certain traits, democracy is the absolute worst government system they could possibly have.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 11:03 pm

How does one person gang up?
And I already read BB, I don’t comment as it happens.
Your problem is you can’t stand criticism yourself you’re quite condescending to anyone that disagrees with you.
As I say I will respond to your posts if I see fit.

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 11:08 am

Jessica Christon
I think probably most people are of the opinion that African needs to drastically curb its population growth, Africa is mostly non productive , and as a small boy I remember the begging bowl for Africa ( as it was known as then ) and we still have it in terms of ‘foreign aid’. It is a drain on the west.
I would therefore welcome a curb on African population growth.
Now I have said that here is my problem with it, my conundrum as it were.
For Africa to curb it’s population growth government will be needed to enforce it.
Now I cannot think of anything more intrusive more authoritarian and indeed frightening than government controlling the sanctity and privacy of that most human thing the nuclear family.
Imagine just what the future would hold for the ‘wrong kind of people’ if politicians had that incredible power.. make no bones about it, they would use it.
Africa needs power plants to industrialize and a massive education drive if it is to stand on its own two feet. They should have that opportunity just as China and India has.
Also if we go down the road of curbing population growth, which actually we always seem to cater for as food is more than plentiful and as you say their carbon footprint is tiny, we are actually playing into the hands of the AGW goofs. letting them control the narrative. We mustn’t give an inch to them.
‘Curbing population’ is a huge can of worms, complex with lots of far reaching tentacles and consequences.

jessica christon

8th November 2019 at 5:40 pm

Interesting, Jerry. You mentioned China – what are your thoughts on the one child policy? It was brought in at a time when China was hosting almost 1 in 4 of the global population and apparently, it wasn’t as draconian as the western media made it seem – many parents had two children and multiple births were excluded. The policy was dropped a few years ago, having achieved its purpose in less than 4 decades.

I’m not saying that this was all plain sailing and that nothing bad happened, but I don’t remember there ever being proposed an alternative that would have achieved the same results and rescued China from an overpopulation disaster (which would have resulted in far more deaths and atrocities than the one child policy) in such a relatively short amount of time. Something similiar could work in African countries too.

I think we’re so coseted in the west that we’ve lost the ability to even think about thorny issues from a pragmatic point of view, especially when it touches on something that offends our sensibilites, and we cannot accept that sometimes there are no good options and the only choices are the hard way or the really really super hard way. I always find that it’s a real eye openener to get the views of people who are from the countries experiencing these problems – I’m sure their views would be quite shocking to many people here, especially those who areliberal/left leaning.

Jerry Owen

8th November 2019 at 6:38 pm

Jessica Christon
As I said this is really a huge topic with many facets. I am adamant that I do not consent to the state interfering with the nuclear family. That is a principle I will never relinquish.
Population growth is also a result of improved health and medicine we live longer, apparently into our eighties is normal now I am told. Africans ( I don’t know about the Chinese ) have a life expectancy possibly of half, especially women cooking over fires ( see Ben Fogle in Ethiopia a great example can be seen ). So more people less years .. less people more years, there is a balance. China is beginning to clean its act up according to a bit of news i watched , this is a result of more prosperity as BON regularly states.
As for the one baby per family, no I didn’t agree.
What is a population disaster as we have an abundance of food to feed the world?
What the people of the world need is more stuff to make their lives fun and comfortable. More people more stuff would be my ideal wish.
Am I playing devils advocate, I really don’t know !!

jessica christon

8th November 2019 at 7:50 pm

JERRY OWEN: Thanks for playing ball – I really don’t know what the answers are either, but it’s good to be able to talk about stuff without derision just because you disagree with what another person says. Anyway, I start a new job near Canary Wharf on Monday, so the XR had better not make me late with their shenanigans!

Jerry Owen

9th November 2019 at 10:40 am

Jessica Christon
Canary wharf.. oh dear, I got caught up in their very first rave on my way near there, it put two hours on my journey plus all the pollutants from my car , didn’t help mother earth that day did they?
Good luck ( luck in the meaning the harder you work the luckier you get ! ) with your new job !

jessica christon

10th November 2019 at 12:18 pm

Thanks! 🙂

Michael Lynch

7th November 2019 at 10:07 pm

Hang on a minute, Winston. Are you one of the new breed of fascists trying to tell people where and when they can speak or write replies? I have not seen anything offensive in JO’s replies to you so you can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve had enough of the new self-righteous breed of authoritarians. Have you not twigged on to the fact that Spiked is all about free speech? Because that is precisely why you are allowed to come on here and question the arguments being put. In fact, we welcome it, but you must be prepared for rebuttals of all kinds.

Hersch Schneider

7th November 2019 at 2:39 pm

If nothing else amidst all this hysterical madness, the sight of XR ‘protestors’ doing yoga, expressive dance, and throwing a little rave.. these alone were enough for me to actively hope these nutters are right and the world IS going to end, just knowing these prats are going to burn

Al Scott

7th November 2019 at 12:02 pm

I think the XR thing and the language they use is symptomatic of the modern day trend of exaggerating everything. So when a top Premier League football player scores a goal, it isn’t just a good goal, it’ll probably be described as ‘one of the goals of the season’ or suchlike. Likewise if someone fails a job interview or has a bad experience, they are no longer upset but ‘devastated’. Same with throwing words like Nazis and Fascist around at people on the right wing. It’s totally hysterical language which is the Norm for the snowflake generation.

Thomas Box

7th November 2019 at 11:24 am

The news that XR will be allowed to continue their protests is actually good news for those of us who want to see them given another good kicking by the British working class

Hersch Schneider

7th November 2019 at 2:49 pm

I actually think the same.. the tide has turned now- the majority of the public are sick of them, and with more protests, the general mood against them will just get stronger. And they’re essentially cowards. They’re safe in the CBD of London but if they tried their little stunts in working class areas of town it really wouldn’t end well for them

John Millson

7th November 2019 at 10:41 am

So, to confront the misguided, selfish ‘*middle-class*’ antics of Extinction Rebellion we have this gush of spittle-flecked ignorance. The ‘Battle of Canning Town’? – ffs, come on.
You don’t have to be a Malthusian or a eugenicist, to realise now, in the early 21st century the environment is affected directly by humanity’s behaviour.
Reacting against the irritating Extinction Rebellion with denial of the problem and/or some quasi-religious-metaphysical faith in Humanity’s supposedly never-ending ingenuity, isn’t a solution.
Since when has dealing with environmental matters been a ‘Class War’ issue, i.e. the Middle Class wanting to ‘oppress’ the Working Class? Should everything should be viewed through this now moth-eaten and unhelpful schema?

Thomas Box

7th November 2019 at 11:27 am

It became a class issue when they started interfering in the lives of working class people . Hopefully Canning Town is just the start of a working class backlash against these gimps

John Millson

7th November 2019 at 11:46 am

‘…working class people’? In this case you mean people who have to use public transport to get to work/appointments? The target was public transport, to cause System malfunction/discoordination, not ‘working class people’, per se. I don’t defend it and I would be mightily p*ssed off if I missed an appointment etc. but to try and force the whole issue and the agitation into one of ‘Class warfare’ is morbidly mistaken, imo.

Ven Oods

7th November 2019 at 11:41 am

I didn’t see anything in the article that denied climate change – just the grade inflation of the terminology used.
As to the class warfare bits, to misquote that nice (not) Jon Snow, I’ve never seen so many elderly white people in one place.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 12:47 pm

John Millson
Man has an affect on the environment we know that several billion people are bound to leave a footprint. However AGW which these largely white middle class goofs espouse is unproven .. at best it is barely measurable.
You conflate the two.
We have started heating our home again .. how really funny it seems to be about the same time as last year and the year before and the year before that! How odd when our planet is ‘literally on fire like’ and the ‘North pole is on fire’ we still need to heat our home.
Give me your evidence that CO2 is a driver of heating the planet.
I remember one XR wally holding up a placard ‘beware CO2 is in the air’ .. thank God because if there wasn’t we would all be dead.
As for Canning Town what was interesting is the way no one said anything then one person said something then another then more.. it was a spontaneous uprising that indicated to me that the people on that platform realized for the first time that they were not alone and that in fact they were part of the normal majority. They had their eyes opened. So as Brendan indicates Canning Town was the start of a fightback by workers .. a true rebellion of by ordinary working people against fanatical middle class twats that believe they have some pre ordained right to trample on peoples lives.

Keith Lloyd

7th November 2019 at 10:25 am

Every week I foray into my local countryside…sometimes a multi-day trek from city to city. I have never encountered an XR or even a ‘moderate’ Green on my travels! I enjoy and care for our environment. I wish many more people would use it, appreciate it, understand it and improve it. But the XR half-wits clearly don’t. I suspect that the Canning Town Station users are far more interested in their environment than are the ‘extinction idiots’. Great article, Brendan.

Ven Oods

7th November 2019 at 11:37 am

Yes. If XR were roaming the countryside, shooting the mindless fuckwits who throw their plastics and other waste wherever they want, I’d have more sympathy with their actions.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 12:51 pm

A client of mine was travelling through a part of London that these white middle class socialist revolutionary XR students had just vacated or more hopefully been dragged out of . She could not believe the amount of rubbish they left behind she was disgusted… plastic all over the place apparently. Not a good look really.

Frank Sutton

7th November 2019 at 1:13 pm

XR followers arrogantly believe they have a monopoly on caring for the environment.


7th November 2019 at 9:51 am

A good example of unquestioning acceptance of the ‘green’ agenda (at least in the middle class media) is the promotion of organic food. While some of it may – just – have nutritional advantages over some conventional food, the production of it most assuredly has NO ‘environmental’ or ‘animal welfare’ advantages over conventional production. If anything, any such advantages lie with the conventional. But just you try getting the BBC – for example – to host a reasoned debate on the subject. (I have, albeit more than 20 years ago.)

What is truly shocking is that the under the EU’s agricultural support mechanisms organic food production has enjoyed additional support (I believe it still does but can’t be bothered to check). A plain case of taxpayers being made to pay for the luxuries of the prosperous.

cliff resnick

7th November 2019 at 10:15 am

Well the panel my out or the health benefits of organic food, but common sense, although not always an indication of truth would tell us that the “less you mess with (industrially process) food the less that can go wrong. I think organic food nearly always has a better taste and tends to have a more natural texture, whether it is more nutritious well, well these days I can afford it so I’d like to think so, but when not available or at a silly price I have little qualms about non organic food or for that matter GM if that is only what’s available. As a general rule of thumb quality tends to cost more.

Keith Lloyd

7th November 2019 at 10:17 am

I expect you will agree that the BBC (and its other media acolytes) is a major part of the problem.

A Game

7th November 2019 at 11:52 am

Yes! Trying to find humane dairy products… you keep hitting “organic”. That only means their animal welfare standards may or may not exist, and their whole focus is on the consumer’s welfare and the benefits of “happy cows”. (Not sure how their male calves are faring, or how happy they are to lose a calf, every year, for the 6 years of their productive life. Finally, hobbled, sent off to where their bobby calves ended up.)
Nice angle. Who is it that buys organic, or obsesses about organic or who can afford organic?
Oh, the EU is a fan. Well, call me shocked.

A Game

7th November 2019 at 9:28 am

I’ll second Steve Roberts’ comment, though I, alas, wasn’t there.
Its a very nice, considered, staple-gun of an argument, pinning them down nicely, in their entirety, of their hypocrisy and self indulgence.
I think you could not be any more correct: censorship has allowed this mass neurosis to grow and be legitimized. You could see how their arguments had to keep shifting about as they got more airtime. Until then, they hadn’t been exposed to critical analysis. In the communes, they all thought this stuff was pure gold.
That footage on that train station… I think it was like porn for most of us. It felt good to watch. It felt soooo good to watch. Poncey beyond belief, “we’re so sorry, but…”

A very soothing read, a salve of common sense and insight.

Hugh Bryant

7th November 2019 at 9:02 am

It’s not humanity that’s facing extinction, but the bureaucratic middle class. We don’t need most of these people any more, we have the Internet. That’s why they’re protesting. It’s no different from the machine wrecking of the 1780s.

Michael Lynch

7th November 2019 at 11:14 am

Excellent observation. I only hope it’s ultimately true. The middle classes have ruined Britain with their increasingly unhinged rhetoric.

Philip Humphrey

8th November 2019 at 7:09 am

Indeed, what I have noticed about ER is that it is the same sort of people if not the exact same people who are demonstrating to overturn the brexit vote or on various ” social justice” and identity politics issues. They do indeed largely seem to be from the middle class who are used to bossing others (particularly the working class) around and telling them what to think. So whatever the merits of the cause they see a role for themselves. Can’t help observing that their intervention is probably counterproductive, it gets people’s backs up and damages the cause. Not that that matters, they’re being seen on TV as good social justice warriors.

William Murphy

9th November 2019 at 9:34 am

That’s a fascinating and intelligent observation. Speaking as a retired member of the bureaucratic middle class, much of the work I did would be pointless today. Indeed, much of it was pointless and money wasting at the time, back in the 1970s and 1980s. As one of my Civil Service colleagues declared on passing a large office block where he worked: “Much of the work done there would have been better left undone”.

A fascinating example of the useless middle class functionary in another area is the church minister portrayed by Ethan Hawke in the low budget gem “First Reformed”. His anxiety about the ecological end of the world is probably conflated with his physical demise – he may have cancer. His sparsely attended, beautiful historic church is plainly redundant and survives only because it is propped up by a modern megachurch whose populist style he obviously finds distasteful. No surprise that similarly redundant Church of England vicars have been prominent in the various XR demonstrations, with one being photographed as he was proudly arrested. Ethan Hawkes’ character, in the grip of terror at the climatic apocalypse to come, declares: “Someone has to do something!”. No they don’t. As with other modern catastrophes like the computer Y2K meltdown (from which I made much money) and the very expensive swine flu panic, it would have been far better if everyone did nothing. The Y2K delusions look hilarious now, after billions have been poured down the toilet. My favourite was the idea that all those ancient Soviet missiles controlled by ancient computers might launch themselves in 1st Jan 2000.

His collapse of faith may have contributed to his eco zeal. One Catholic writer has suggested that the terror of climatic change arises from a collapse in faith that God controls everything. How can helpless human beings control the output of the sun or massive unpredictable movements in the atmosphere and oceans?

Mike Stallard

7th November 2019 at 8:50 am

Whenever the “End Times” are popular and threatened, there is revolution in the air. At the moment, I am studying the Abbasids who introduced Islam as we know it into the Arab world. Before the English and European wars of religion in the 17th century, it was flourishing. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were founded and flourished in the violent world of the 20th century. I believe that this is true of the Incas and Aztecs even. (No, I didn’t check that!)

William Murphy

7th November 2019 at 2:34 pm

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a particularly relevant parallel to Greta and the XR nutters. I recommend the riotously funny Wiki article which explains how the JW’s explained away all the prophecies which did not come to pass. (1878, 1881, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1975)


A recent Grauniad article explained that we understand climate modelling much better now, thus trying to avoid explaining the specific prophecies and end time warnings which have passed their catastrophe-by date (such as Al Gore claiming back in 2006 that we had ten years to save the planet).

There was a particularly interesting prophecy hysteria back n the 1950s which was subject to careful sociological study.


“The group had organized around a belief system which foretold that a majority of the Western Hemisphere would be destroyed by a cataclysmic flood on December 21, 1955”.

Obviously modern catastrophists lack the imagination to go beyond a Biblical flood type of catastrophe. But Al Gore and Obama have reportedly bought beachfront property, so are obviously not too worried about the rising floods which will drown the rest of us.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 8:44 am

Now XR have been given permission via the courts to close London at will , expect to see more rebellion from real working people. This will get nasty the elites know this, quite what their motives are I cannot fathom at the moment.

A Game

7th November 2019 at 9:14 am

What’s awful is you know anyone who dares not to be bullied, dares to challenge their right to stage a coup on a city, it will be them going to gaol. The “elites” know this, too. Curious to know how long they will enjoy this buffer from reality.
Obviously its also the time for anyone who has a beef with anything, to put their protest alongside XR. Superglue themselves to something, right next to the greeny hysterics. Good for the goose and all that.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 10:01 am

A Game
I have no doubts that those citizens that protest XR will be the first ones arrested, but ultimately as we see with much of Europe and of course the yellow vests, if you don’t listen to the people it will end badly. Extinction beckons for the EU ultimately, but will blood be shed first ?

A Game

7th November 2019 at 11:57 am

And if that blood is shed… and the UK hasn’t managed to get the f**k out of Dodge by then… and with Boris’s deal… nope, won’t be in the clear… will it be British soldiers enforcing EU code on the British rebellion?

Jim Lawrie

7th November 2019 at 8:40 am

It wasn’t really a battle. More like The kicking at Canning Town. Pity they hadn’t their steelies on.

Steve Roberts

7th November 2019 at 8:37 am

I was privileged enough to be at that session at BOI, the most illuminating session of the entire weekend for me, BON was absolutely superb. Most interesting – remembering this Festival is in Central London at the weekend and a political festival primarily – was the rapturous applause BON received, there were also brilliant contributions from the audience, there were clearly some XR types in the audience and two “greens” on the panel but make no mistake these people are not winning the hearts and minds of the public, they were effectively ridiculed and anger shown to them because of their deep misanthropy, they really do hate people. But their message is not resonating, they are becoming more exposed and reactionary.Give them more speech lets expose them more and more , they will never understand that humanity is underrated, because they believe it is a vile destructive force and the population needs reducing, they openly say this.Well done Brendan absolutely inspiring.

Ven Oods

7th November 2019 at 11:48 am

Just keep putting XR spokeswonks on the Andrew Neil Show. They’ll soon be extinct.

William Murphy

7th November 2019 at 1:59 pm

A harsh winter should also do the trick. If we have a severe winter, it may kill 40% of the rats. It will certainly kill 90% of Greta Thunberg stories. The Guardian and her other acolytes obviously adapt the old farming advice – make hysteria while the sun shines.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 8:31 am

‘The world is not coming to an end’ the voice of a faceless woman, I thought when I heard it at the time, that could be iconic, and I think rather like books with iconic photos this is an audio version. Certainly the idiots being dragged off the roof of the carriage would make and iconic photo.
The IPCC as you rightly ( and I’m glad you have touched on the science for possibly the first time ) do not back up much of what they claim and let’s not forget the duplicity of the IPCC with regards to Mann’s fake hockey stick graph.
NASA satellite information will confirm much the same that XR claims are nonsense.
It has also come to light that the Attenborough show ( I forget it’s name ) showing Walruses ‘throwing themselves off cliffs’ due to climate change was a lie. It turns out that they were being hunted by polar bears and were fleeing them hence many being pushed off the cliffs. Attenborough himself has said ‘that is probably the case’. Disgusting fake propaganda.
I disagree with BON on one thing though, XR are a ‘rebellion’ they are part of the elite ( judges found for them against the met ) .. part of the elites rebellion against the people.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 8:34 am

* I meant to add at the paragraph of Mann’s hockey stick that the IPCC is hardly anti AGW in it’s outlook, so for the IPCC to not even back up XR claims speaks volumes.*

K Tojo

7th November 2019 at 9:36 am

I don’t know if you are implying that the judges who found for XR are biased. I think they interpreted the law correctly. Unfortunately, that law was not designed to deal with the kind of protest strategy used by XR (and XR’s strategists are no fools). We need a new law to deal with this kind of disruption.

Following yesterday’s ruling there was much talk of the right to protest. If there are calls for that right to be restricted then hopefully there will be much needed public discussion of the apocalyptic claims of the eco-activists. In particular, we need the broadcast media to give serious (ie. not token) consideration of the skeptic’s arguments rather than acting as cheerleaders for the activists.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 10:09 am

I wasn’t implying anything just stating a fact that the judges saw for XR.
Yes we should have the right to demonstrate, I have worn many pairs of shoes out in the past .. but they have been worn by an activity called .. marching. You have a designated route agreed by yourselves and the police, you march making your point end up in Hyde Park and go home.
Disruption is at a minimum and it was always a Saturday as working people couldn’t afford a day off in the week and it also caused minimal disruption.
You do not have a right to block the Queens Highways or stop people going about their lawful business, XR did both indeed many were arrested, so the question has to be asked why did the courts find that it was okay for XR break the law.

Ven Oods

7th November 2019 at 11:52 am

“why did the courts find that it was okay for XR break the law.”
As I remember, those XR folk arrested weren’t vindicated by the judgement. It merely found that the Met don’t have the power to blanket ban protest because they consider it an incoveniene.

Jerry Owen

7th November 2019 at 1:12 pm

Ven Oods
You miss my point , as far as I am aware it is illegal to obstruct the Queens Highways, thus the law was broken. Also an XR wally on the tv said that they ‘would allow’ people to cross the bridge if they thought it was okay, an example of what was okay was ‘going to the hospital’.
You are nit picking somewhat. The end result of course as I originally stated is that we can now expect more of the same because the courts have allowed it.

Stephen J

7th November 2019 at 7:54 am

The main problem that these types of people suffer from is their utter credulousness.

They read something put forward as a theory, and immediately assume that it is the truth and that we must act both immediately and unthinkingly.

James O’Brien does this in regard to everything he reads in his evidence based newspaper, I am not sure whether that is the Catholic Herald or what? We saw it writ large in his attitude to the paedophilic revelations as published in Exaro.

If environmentalists were thinking straight they would be trying to make people’s lives easier, since their protests which are really irritating, increase the need for precious resources. These particular examples are either wealthy socialists (are there any other?), or even more credulous (which is natural) children, who all seem to be clad in some of the most resource hungry garments in human history, and sporting rare earth resourced electronic baubles.

They would be far more use if they addressed themselves to some of our genuine problems, like overcoming traditions which provably leave a horrible mess, but which we never seem to address, like over-production of cheap shoddy goods that just end up on the muck heap after one or two uses.

Another area where I keep waffling is agricultural land mismanagement, see Allan Savory. Do we really need to commute from our homes to a desk in an office at the end of a railway line, when we could move the desk, once, to our home, and have a company meeting at the pub once a week instead.

We could try to persuade manufacturers from over-packaging their wares. Oh and we could also ban politicians from their nudge predilections, where they decide that something is good for us and then make it difficult and deliberately expensive to continue our former practise.

Our current model ensures that the above are always in the right, whilst the people that pay them through taxation are always wrong and in need of further chastisement.

We ordinary folk need ordinary government, I think we are fed up with being forced when if anything it is the government that should be forced to comply with our genuinely (small c) conservative values.

Dominic Straiton

7th November 2019 at 6:38 am

Global warming……Climate change………Climate EMERGENCY…………nothing.

Chris Hanley

7th November 2019 at 6:17 am

Those clowns in the photo above are Extinction Rebellion protestors being doused with fake oil, presumably to increase awareness of dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.
But the use of fossil fuels isn’t compulsory, no-one is force to use them as implied by their ridiculous agitprop stunt.
Certainly life without fossil-fuelled energy would be difficult, as at least a billion people know only too well but that surely is the point, at present there is not comparable alternative.

Michael Lynch

7th November 2019 at 10:05 am

Precisely. How do they think the electricity for their future cars will be generated? My wife did some sums on how much your bill would go up by having to charge up a car every night. Extrapolating those figures showed that you probably need 3 times the current amount of power stations if everyone had one. That means even more coal!

William Murphy

7th November 2019 at 12:59 pm

Of course, there’s numerous ways that electricity could be generated apart from using fossil fuels. But so many Greens are like that brilliant graffiti in Northern Ireland during The Troubles: “We have a problem for every solution”.

Generate electricity using nuclear?? Shock horror…think of the waste to be handled.

Hydro power? Drowning beautiful valley/farmland/rotting vegetation produces methane….

Wind farms?? Kills loads of birds, may produce rain shadow behind them….

Wave power?? I’m sure there’s a problem with that.

Chris Hanley

7th November 2019 at 7:41 pm

Wind, solar and wave power are too ‘dilute’ and episodic to use for efficient utility-scale power.
Nuclear is ideal but not portable and as for batteries: “… 50–100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced …”:

Lord Anubis

8th November 2019 at 9:41 am

Life without fossil fuels would mean the end of modern agriculture as we know it. the great wheat producing regions of the world would revert to ranching, overall food production would plummet, prices soar, and global population would fall to the level it was back in the late 19th century. Possibly, in the long term, this might actually be a good thing. But the short term doesn’t really bear thinking about.

Ray Rivas

7th November 2019 at 4:29 am

“…these people have a jaundiced view of mankind as merely a user, an exploiter, a drain,…”
Classic case of projection.

Ray Rivas

7th November 2019 at 4:44 am

In case anyone misunderstands what I meant… and there will be those… it is a classic case of projection by the XR dimwits.

A Game

7th November 2019 at 9:17 am

I’m with you. I thought the same thing. They are the drains, the exploiters, the users… they don’t question the commandeering of taxypayer funds that have to be spent to “deal” with them… and why would they? The state is their benefactor. They’ve grown fat watching taxpayer money being thrown at windfarms, etc.

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