I have just been listening to a rather disturbing Hard Talk interview on BBC World Service radio, in which BBC man Stephen Sackur interviewed the co-founder and (?) de facto leader of “Extinction Rebellion”, Roger Hallam.
I have blogged previously about Extinction Rebellion:
As to Roger Hallam, this is what Wikipedia has to say about him:
The Wikipedia entry is not very detailed, saying nothing about Hallam’s life before 2017 (he is, at time of writing, 53, having been born in 1966) except that:
” Hallam was previously an organic farmer in Wales; he attributes the destruction of his business to a series of extreme weather events.” [Wikipedia]
Strange. When I was about 25, I worked for a couple of weeks (unpaid) on an organic farm in West Wales. That farm, Blaencamel Farm, in 1982 a rather pathetic though beautiful 24 acres (now, I notice, 50 acres) in Ceredigion, has become (as I heard on BBC Radio 4 Farming Today a couple of years ago), a highly-successful business which is also the hub of the organic movement in that part of the world:
Apropos of nothing, I notice that the farmer at Blaencamel Farm, Peter Segger (who had previously, that is before he bought that farm in 1979, been a mainstream food industry executive, buying shiploads of Arctic fish etc), seems to have mellowed considerably and, though still recognizable, has aged considerably (haven’t we all?) in the past 37 years!
I suppose that the point is that there are numerous successful or at least sustainable organic farms in West Wales. I have no idea whether Hallam farmed 500 acres, 50, or lived on a 5-acre smallholding. I suspect nearer 5 than 500, which if so would make his farming inherently unsustainable from a strictly business viewpoint. In fact, when questioned by the Daily Mail in April 2019, Hallam said that ” ‘No-one wants to get arrested. I want to get back to my farm. I’m just a poor farmer, nothing special.” So he still has a farm? I thought that he was supposed to have lost it? Does it mean that he still owns a farm but does not farm it? We do not know.
[Update, 17 September 2020: Hallam’s Wikipedia entry now reads “Hallam was previously an organic farmer on a 10-acre (4-hectare) farm near Llandeilo in South Wales.” So it seems that my guess that Hallam’s farm was “nearer 5 acres than 500” was pretty close to the mark.]
In any event, he first came to public attention in 2017: “Between at least 2017 and early 2019 he was studying for a PhD in civil disobedience at King’s College London, researching how to achieve social change through radical movements. In January 2017, in an action to urge King’s College London to divest from fossil fuels, Hallam and another person, using water-soluble chalk-based spray paint, painted “Divest from oil and gas”, “Now!” and “Out of time” on the university’s Strand campus entrance.They were arrested in February when they again spray painted the university’s Great Hall, charged by the state with criminal damage and fined £500. In May 2019, after a three day trial at Southwark Crown Court, they were cleared by a jury of all charges, having argued in their defence that their actions were a proportionate response to the climate crisis. In March 2017, Hallam went on hunger strike to demand the university divest from fossil fuels—the institution had millions of pounds invested in fossil fuels but no investment in renewable energy. Five weeks after the first protest, the university removed £14m worth of investments from fossil fuel companies and pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025.”
Now I have no objection to older people studying, though I am surprised that King’s College London offers a Ph.D. in Civil Disobedience (is this 2019 or 1969?), but for someone in his fifties to spraypaint the interior and exterior of his college with activist graffiti seems not so much youthful as puerile.
In the Hard Talk interview, Hallam sounded fanatical and inflexible. He kept referring to “the Science” (with a capital “S”), repeating it like a religious mantra, yet he himself is not even a scientist. He referred to himself as “a sociologist” at one point. So…here we have someone who got a sociology degree from somewhere (either in recent years or perhaps in the 1980s), and is now an almost perennial student aged 53 who has taken 2 years, it seems, to get a “doctorate” in “Civil Disobedience”, and yet (in the radio interview) lectures the interviewer on the need to believe The Science (which Hallam may or may not understand and —at least judging from his rather unintelligent radio persona— probably does not). He certainly does not think that there can be any doubt about what he says that The Science tells us about “climate change” (formerly “global warming”), despite there being a degree of scientific debate on the subject.
I have to say that I found Hallam’s style disturbing. Did the Levellers of Cromwell’s time sound like that? Or the true believers in Trotsky, Lenin or Stalin, circa 1920 or 1930?
Hallam referred, in the interview, to his belief (he said “fact”) that 6 billion people would die if the UK (and the rest of the world?) did not reduce “carbon emissions” to zero by 2025. When challenged by Stephen Sackur about how that would mean that, within 6 years, the UK would have to have no (or very few) cars, planes, trains, or centrally heated (by gas) houses, Hallam just retreated into his bubble of unreality and said that it was a matter of political will! I suppose that the last country to try that was mid-1970s Cambodia, sub nom “Democratic Kampuchea”, the Year Zero society of The Killing Fields etc.
Hallam claimed that the UK produces 10% of “emissions”. That is plain wrong if he meant 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. The real figure is about 1% (he may, however, if I take the role of Devil’s advocate, have meant 10% of all EU emissions). In other words, even if the UK disappeared into a black hole tomorrow, the other 99% of “emissions” in the world would still be there. That is taking “The Science” at face value, as Hallam obviously does.
What Hallam and his fellow Extinction Rebellion types fail to see is that in fact only the removal of 90% (maybe 80%) of the world population will “save” the planet now. Man-made climate change (taking it as Extinction Rebellion believe it to be) is not caused, at root, by cars, planes etc as such, but by the billions of people in the world, as well as their farmed animals, cars, planes, central heating etc. Numbers.
I agree that there is an environmental crisis, though “global warming”/”climate change” is only part of it. I have blogged about it, as well as the need to create what would be seen as a “super-race”, i.e, evolution of the species combined with evolution of consciousness:
Who are they? What are they?
It is as plain as day that Hallam and many of his fellow leading Extinction Rebellion zealots are basically fanatical drop-outs and misfits, most of whom have and have had no profession or occupation (or much academic background) to speak of (see the Daily Mail report in Notes, below):
- Hallam himself, ex-farmer and now a superannuated “student” aged 53: “Mr Hallam has also claimed paralysing traffic will eventually cause food shortages and trigger uprisings” [Daily Mail];
- Simon Bramwell, 46-47, a former builder, now “bushcraft instructor”;
- Gail Bradbrook, 47-48, a mother of two teenage children, who divorced her husband and became an “activist” after an hallucinogenic-drug trip to Costa Rica;
- Tasmin Osmond, 34-35, “a veteran of ‘direct actions’ such as Occupy London, the poverty protest which set up a camp outside St Paul’s cathedral in 2011. The granddaughter of Dorset baronet Sir Thomas Lees, Omond [sic] went to Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where she read English.” [Daily Mail] (no actual profession or occupation ever, apparently; presumably a trustafarian);
- George Barda, 43-44: “He is a post-graduate student at King’s College in London and the son of classical music and stage photographer Clive Barda…Mr Barda is also a dedicated revolutionary who camped outside St Paul’s cathedral in the Occupy London campaign. Today, he is a director of XR parent company Compassionate Revolution and regularly appears on Russia Today.” [Daily Mail]. So again no profession or occupation, another “eternal student”…;
The XR “strategy”
I see that none of those noted above, or the others reported on by the Daily Mail, are climate scientists or anything similar (Gail Bradbrook apparently has a Ph.D. in molecular biology).
They have no programme either: see https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/about-us/
More accurately, they have a “programme” for protest action, or how to create a kind of anarchic situation, but no programme for what to do if, in some parallel reality, they were to attain to political power. They say that they want 3.5% of the population to create a momentum for change. 3.5%? From where does that come? Popular “philosophy”? Some paperback sci-fi novel? A brainwave by someone such as Hallam? Or a vision seen by the lady noted in the Daily Mail report below, in Notes, Gail Bradbrook, while on ibogaine, ayahuasca, peyote or magic mushrooms? We are not told.
I do not mistake labelling for understanding, but what do we call Extinction Rebellion, ideologically? Perhaps the closest is “anarcho-syndicalism meets treehugging” (and I favour treehugging far more than I do anarcho-syndicalism).
Were Extinction Rebellion actually able to stop government, society and economy from operating in the UK, the result would indeed be the deaths of millions, not from “climate change” but from disruption of supplies of food, water, medicine, not to mention huge lawlessness. That in turn would certainly lead to political dictatorship if not tyranny, as the “huddled masses” start to cry out for, not freedom, and most certainly not for “zero emissions” (!) but for safety, security, food, water, heat etc.
Maybe these Extinction Rebellion cranks think that they and their “3.5%” of (?) “woke” “activists” will become that dictatorship (once they understand that popular mass meetings cannot run a society of more than a couple of hundred people). More likely, they would be among the first to be put up against a wall and shot.
As I said earlier, I am very much an environmentalist and very concerned about the state of the planet in that way and in other ways, but this silly “reduce emissions to zero” idea will get nowhere in itself (even if it were to be put somehow into effect worldwide). In six years? Fantasy politics. As for “Extinction Rebellion” leading some mass movement, that is also complete fantasy:
as in… “ALL TOGETHER NOW!— “WHAT DO WE WANT?”; “NO CARS, PLANES, TRAINS, DECENT FOOD, ELECTRICITY OR HEATING!”; “WHEN DO WE WANT [TO LIVE LIKE STONE AGE PEOPLE]?”— “NOW!”
I cannot see many begging for that. Certainly not Emma Thompson, achingly politically-correct actress and “XR” supporter. She would not want that (at least not for herself and her contrived multikulti “family”). My God, it might mean that she would not be able to fly First Class from LA to London to speak at the, er, Extinction Rebellion protests! She might even have to give up some of her half-dozen luxury homes around the world!
Roger Hallam, in interview, bravely opined that “young people” support XR, but quite a few of the XR activists are over 60 and most seem to be over 40 anyway, though I do not have statistics to support that provisional view. Hallam stood as an Independent for the London constituency, during the EU elections. His vote? 924 votes (out of 2,241,681), a vote-share of 0.04%, so not even a half of a tenth of one per cent… Seems that only 4 in 10,000 voted for Mr. Hallam. Statistical zero. Eloquent testimony.
The Extinction Rebellion protesters were (belatedly) cracked down on by the Metropolitan Police. Not for several days, though. Why? Was the fix in, as with so-called “activist” on climate change, the weird 16 year old Swedish autistic, Greta Thunberg, who has had a remarkably smooth ride, meeting leading politicians, receiving respectful attention, despite her obvious mental problems and what seems to me to be scarcely-concealed malice. [I shall blog separately about her].
Previous claims that “we have x-years to save the planet”
Silly people ranging from Ed Miliband and Al Gore to Prince Charles all said, back in or around 2009, that “we have 3/5/7/etc years in which to save the planet”. Then the planet yawned and the silly people went away again. There is too much of an attempt, a repeated attempt, to panic us (white Northern Europeans) into accepting lives that are not worth living. Yes there are too many people on this Earth at present. My view is that the advanced peoples should live, procreate and evolve higher. The backward peoples and races (who are by far the more numerous) are not required.
Accusations of “terrorism”; analogy with Greenham Common
One senior policeman said, after the London protests, that XR was, or was close to being, “terrorist”. I think that he was right. Look at these people. Listen to the Stephen Sackur interview. These people are willing to do anything to achieve their ends, even though their ends (insofar as they have “ends”) are in fact unachievable, certainly via protests etc.
The Greenham Common women in the early 1980s thought that they were stopping cruise missiles being based in the UK, whereas their protests (which were hell for the local people— much the lesbians and/or feminists cared…) actually achieved nothing. The missiles were removed by reason of NATO-Warsaw Pact negotiations. The “Women’s Peace Camp” was a complete waste of time and effort.
“A series of meetings held during August and September 1986 culminated in a summit between United States President Ronald Reaganand the General Secretary of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavík, Iceland, on 11 October 1986. To the surprise of both men’s advisers, the two agreed in principle to removing INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads.
The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which led to the removal of all nuclear missiles from the base. The last GLCMs at RAF Greenham Common were removed in March 1991, and the 501st TMW inactivated on 4 June 1991.” [Wikipedia]
Incidentally and incredibly, even though the last missiles left Greenham Common in 1991, even though the Americans left Greenham in 1992 and even though the UK Ministry of Defence closed the base in 1993, putting it up for sale (the area being almost all designated by 1997 as public parkland), the “Greenham Women” stayed, some of them, until 2000! To me that proves that without their having “political activism” to do, some of them had nothing to do with their time or their lives. They were unable to accept that their protests (for 19 years!) had actually achieved nothing and in any case had been superseded by large-scale international events. Like the Japanese soldier in the 1970s, fighting a lone war in the jungle, 30 years after the Pacific War had ended.
Extinction Rebellion protesters are obviously not entirely peaceful. Some are willing to use violence or force to achieve their immediate aims, eg to shut down London. Hallam has, it seems, mooted the shutting down of Heathrow Airport using drones. This is not Gandhi’s “non-violence”. If 10,000 protesters are willing to shut down London by obstruction or inertia, if 1,000 are willing to be even more disruptive, then it may be that 100 are willing to use drones or other means to attack airports, electrical supplies etc. Is it not at least possible that, out of the 10,000, 10 might be willing to use violence of a directly and unambiguously terroristic kind “to save the planet”? I would not bet against it.
We shall soon know. The big “XR” protests are scheduled for October 2019.
Update, 22 August 2019
Update, 7 September 2019
Well, seems that Mr. Hallam will not have to get a job any time soon…
Update, 3 October 2019
…and once again the police tolerate Extinction Rebellion’s “protest” (they did make a few pretend arrests at the end):
Update, 7 October 2019
Extinction Rebellion is playing hardball:
“The Metropolitan Police have described the protests as “unprecedented” in their scale and length and warned that they will arrest those breaking the law.
However, Extinction Rebellion has told its protesters not to co-operate with so that they have to hold them in the cells and cannot arrest another activist.
The group wrote on their website: “There are roughly 1,000 jail cells in London – we filled many of them in April.
“Police could often only arrest 100-200 people a day because the cells were full. If we fill them every day – the streets will remain ours. That it is why we refuse bail, to fill up the cells and to show our open defiance of the system that is killing us.”” [Daily Telegraph]
My solution? If the arrested refuse bail, then stuff them ten to a cell like they do in Egypt. And if that is not enough, stuff them twenty to a cell. This is war.
Update, 8 October 2019
For once, I agree with Boris-Idiot…and while we are on the subject of idiots, what about the one featured in the report below? Pathetic does not even start to cover it. He must have mental problems.
Update, 15 November 2019
Extinction Rebellion’s Queen Bee, Gail Bradbury, has been committed for trial:
She has elected Crown Court trial (jury trial) despite the risk of a heavier sentence on conviction. She obviously hopes for a sympathetic jury. I see that the Daily Mail, itself ever-sympathetic to the middle classes, calls her a “molecular biologist” because she has a degree in the subject (though I doubt whether she has ever worked in that field or any other).
Update, 20 January 2020
Hallam now wants “a World War 2 mobilization of society”, with rationing and “confiscation of private property”. He says that “Nuremberg” trials should be set up for anyone “guilty” re. climate change, and that some people should “get a bullet in the head”.
What about people who just own a car, or central heating? Do they get a bullet too, or just deportation to re-education camps? In short, this Hallam character is not only an idiot, he is a dangerous idiot.
Update, 27 August 2020
Update, 24 September 2020