Climate activists embrace extreme tactics, violence as deadline to ‘save the planet’ draws near
Climate change activists in the U.S. and across the world are ramping up their actions in what they say is an attempt to save the planet.
In recent months, far-left activists have glued themselves to famous paintings, disrupted new pipeline construction, scaled buildings, blocked rush-hour traffic, lit themselves on fire, threatened to disrupt the Congressional Baseball Game and slashed tires of random sport utility vehicles (SUV) in cities around the world.
The activists have argued that world governments have failed citizens by not acting aggressively enough to enact policies curbing warming.
“We cannot continue to wait around for a bunch of corporate shills in Congress to do nothing while people are dying,” Greenpeace USA senior climate campaigner Ashley Thomson said last week.
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Greenpeace, one of the oldest environmental organizations of its kind in the world, and its international affiliates have staged multiple “direct actions” this year ranging from scaling a venue hosting a major conference in France to blocking a ship from departing a Dutch port to climbing a deep sea mining vessel in the North Sea. Such actions have seemingly become more common in the face of, what activists deem, an impending global disaster.
“Climate change is the only issue where, in the worst case, it really would affect the ability of our civilization to continue. The threat there is just much higher,” climate activist Ken Ward told Fox News Digital in an interview. “If you do a bad job on clean water, then you’ve got some polluted water — you can recoup that. With the worst case in climate change, that’s not an option.”
“If you’re on track to have the southern part of our nation unlivable and also dehydrated in 20 years or less, what do you do about that?” Ward continued. “If there was agreement that was a serious threat, then we would drop other things that we are doing and pay attention to that.”
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In October 2016, Ward d the valve to a pipeline transporting crude oil from western Canada to Mount Vernon, Washington, as part of a coordinated action. That same day, fellow activists — who, along with Ward, were collectively known as the “Valve Turners” — shut off valves to similar pipelines in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Ward, who eventually pled guilty to trespassing following the incident, told Fox News Digital that such action is necessary if “there’s political gridlock and all the ordinary processes aren’t working.”
Protesters with the group "Just Stop Oil" glue their hands to the frame of John Constable’s The Hay Wain inside the National Gallery in London on July 4.
(Kirsty O’Connor/PA via AP)
Activists like Ward often cite United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and the so-called Climate Clock, an online tool developed in 2020 to highlight how long humanity has left to limit global warming, when highlighting the immediate need for action. Greenpeace, for example, said governments better act on climate change or they will be “forced to do so” following the latest IPCC report in April.
“For decades, fossil fuels corporations paid millions to confuse the public, contradict the science and falsely claim that climate change was a hoax,” Climate Clock co-founder Gan Golan told Fox News Digital. “That tactic isn’t working anymore because the results are plain for all of us to see. So, they have rolled out a new tactic: delay. Climate delay has become the new climate denial.”
“In a democracy, if citizens believe their leaders are putting corporate interests over their own lives, they’re going to exercise their first amendment rights,” he added. “Young people have been leading the way, and it’s time for everyone else who cares about their future to join them.”
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The Climate Clock algorithm currently pegs the deadline for action limiting warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius at around July 2029. Friday marked the group’s first “Climate Emergency Day” when the clock goes from seven years to six years.
Activists with the group Tyre Extinguishers slash tires of an SUV parked in New York City on Tuesday.
“Because governments and politicians have failed to protect us from this danger, we must protect ourselves,” says the website for the Tyre Extinguishers, a U.K. group whose members have deflated SUV tires in various cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
The Tyre Extinguishers have announced actions in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago in recent weeks and a spokesperson previously told Fox News Digital the group expects to “expand massively” in upcoming months.
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Just Stop Oil, another U.K.-based environmental action group, said that it was also planning further actions in light of government inaction. The group made headlines recently when its members glued themselves to famous paintings including a copy of The Last Supper at a museum in London.
“There are different kinds of actions that we’re taking at the moment,” a Just Stop Oil spokesperson told Fox News Digital in an interview. “We are basically calling for individuals and institutions to go into civil resistance against the U.K. government, stopping them from one of the biggest acts of criminality in this country’s history, in terms of going ahead with fossil fuel, oil, gas, coal projects.”
“It’s clear that new oil and gas is going to cause unimaginable suffering for the people of this country and, indeed, the people around the world who are suffering at the expense of climate change now,” the Just Stop Oil spokesperson continued.
The spokesperson said the group was planning a campaign involving thousands of people for later in the year.
Activists have also repeatedly formed blockades on busy highways to call attention to climate change and urge elected officials to do more.
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“We have a brief and rapidly closing window to address the climate crisis,” said a protester, who was part of a group calling upon President Biden to declare a climate emergency by blocking traffic on I-395 in Washington D.C. on April 14. “The government isn’t listening.”
A man whose car was blocked during the April protest pleaded with the activists to let his car through, saying he had to travel to see his wife give birth. During a similar July 4 protest advocating for a climate emergency declaration, a driver begged activists blocking a Maryland highway to let him through since he was on parole and had to show up to work on time.
The White House said Tuesday that Biden is still considering declaring a climate emergency after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., effectively killed Democrats’ hopes for sweeping climate legislation last week. However, Biden opted against making such a pronouncement this week, instead announcing a series of executive actions during a speech in Massachusetts on Wednesday.
Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the grassroots Sunrise Movement, said following the speech that Biden may forever be known as “the president who condemned my generation to an unlivable world.”
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“If we look at a world that has the number of people that we’re going to see dying and the number of people who are going to be — population shifting around because parts of the world won’t be livable anymore, we’re just going to see a lot more wars and fighting and murder, because that will be what people think is an appropriate response to the collapse of the conditions that make their nation possible,” Ward told Fox News Digital.
“So, I do think that opportunity to engage in this one tool of, not just direct action but also mass non-violent action as a means of change which we know is pretty effective — the window for doing something in that vein is getting shorter,” he said.