I WAS grateful to Brian Cooke for responding so fully to the story of Extinction Rebellion in his letter (Pay for Protest, March 6, 2019) and for quoting me so generously: “When the law is failing to protect us, we have a duty and a right to break it,” writes David Lambert.
But his statement that nobody has the right to break the law is worth thinking about.
Of course nobody has a legal right to break the law but history proves that a) laws can be bad; b) governments can be strongly resistant to changing bad laws, and c) the majority of law-abiding citizens can be alerted to bad laws by peaceful non-violent direct action against them and that they can be changed as a result.
Our history, like that of every country, is full of examples where illegal action by a minority has changed bad laws to the benefit of all.
In this case, the issue is not a law but the criminal negligence on the part of our government in failing to protect us from the catastrophic effects of the climate emergency.
The government’s obsession with Brexit – and I note Mr Cooke is a UKIP member – has been the worst example of such negligence, simply ignoring what should have been the headline news every day.
Mr Cooke’s response – ‘sheer vandalism’ – is, dare I say, a way of continuing to ignore the evidence all around us that something terrible is happening.
The fact is that forty years of quiet statements from law-abiding citizens, scientists and environmentalists have had zero effect in slowing down the runaway train we are all on board: global carbon emissions were higher than ever last year and will be still higher in 2019.
Large areas of the planet will be uninhabitable by the end of the century; on current trends there will be mass starvation within ten years.
We need to talk about this and if graffiti gets people talking seriously at last then let’s start the conversation and face the facts.