Who are Extinction Rebellion?

In your Letter of the Day, 10 September, Richard Jenkins refers to Extinction Rebellion members as "vile, disgusting little creatures" and implies that they receive benefits paid by other tax payers, block newspapers, are obsessed by their own beliefs, and "groom" children, likening them to Nazis. Whilst it is true that on one occasion (5 September) Extinction Rebellion delayed the circulation of newspapers, the other points need repudiating.

Extinction Rebellion members are amongst the many who have suffered the privations of lockdown - being unable to go to work, feeling stuck inside. We comprise professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, engineers, craftspeople, tradespeople, and many others from the working community. Whilst some members may have had to claim benefit, many are taxpayers, contributing to the national purse.

We have zero interest in converting people to our "way of thinking and belief". Many beliefs exist within Extinction Rebellion. Rather, we collectively point to the findings of over 15,000 scientists. They warn us all that unless we take urgent action, we will experience increasing weather extremes together with the suffering that those bring - flooding, food and water shortages, social unrest. We really do not want to upset anyone's Mum or Gran. But equally we don't want our grandchildren to find themselves on an increasingly uninhabitable planet where such shortages will cause huge suffering.

Comparing us to Nazis is sensationalist. Nazis set out to expunge huge swathes of humanity, believing their own Aryan race to be superior. They killed round 6 million Jews. By contrast, Extinction Rebellion is concerned with the survival of all of humanity (and indeed of all species) against the threat of extinction. We have a principle of non-violence. Some may at times be inconvenienced by our actions, but we are extremely careful not to harm people. And we have never burned books.

Young people have figured out the potential catastrophe for themselves. They have their own inspiration - Greta Thunberg. They understand the science. They are justifiably terrified for their lives. We may support and encourage them in their actions, but we do not "groom". That implies a sort of deceptive befriending for malevolent purposes. That also is sensationalist.

The anger and hatred expressed by Richard Jenkins is palpable, but his underlying assumptions are mistaken. Anyone wanting to know more about Extinction Rebellion, or who would like to change how it does things, should get in touch or come along to a meeting. We welcome everyone. We listen.

Extinction Rebellion Members

Kathy Butterworth

Lee Evans

Gilly Riddington

Marieke Guy

Neil Burston

Lizzie Cambray

Bob Irving

Tamsin Irving