Review | Roger Hallam’s ‘Common Sense for the 21st Century’

Extinction Rebellion Co-Founder Issues Blueprint for Action

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Roger Hallam believes that governments worldwide are incapable of making the massive economic, political, and social changes that are necessary to prevent climate catastrophe. Hallam, co-founder of the U.K.-based, global environmental group Extinction Rebellion, isn’t alone. The United Nations, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has repeatedly warned governments that they are not taking the climate crisis seriously enough. Americans have watched the Trump administration take numerous actions in support of the fossil fuels industry while marginalizing the scientific community and muzzling its warnings.  

As Thomas Paine argued for revolution against Britain in 18th century colonial America, Hallam argues that only revolution can save humanity from manifest suffering. It’s too late for incremental progress and minor modifications to the status quo. Real change, Hallam believes, will come from telling the truth about the crisis, persistent acts of massive nonviolent civil disobedience, and an ethos that confronting climate change is a civic duty in the face of government inaction. Hallam writes, “The total opposition of world views between the elites and the people is going to explode.”

In fewer than 100 pages Hallam lays out a bold design, including what comes after if the rebellion succeeds in toppling recalcitrant governments. Rather than ask if Hallam’s proposal is feasible, we should ask, what’s the alternative? You don’t need scientific credentials to see the effects of climate change; it’s happening in real time. “There is simply no chance,” writes Hallam, “of getting the rapid changes which are needed through negotiations which leave the present political class in power.” 

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