On March 1st XR Oxford hosted a Community Talk as part of our mobilisation efforts for The Big One on 21st – 24th April.
We were joined by Roman Krznaric, philosopher and author of The Good Ancestor, who spoke about the importance of leaving good legacies for future generations. He pointed to the “fierce urgency of the now”, marked by the slow violence of rising temperatures and sea levels and declining water tables. At this time of social and economic injustice, so strongly linked to the climate and ecological emergency, we need to understand what our relationship to the future is. And while acknowledging that millions struggle today with the immediate consequences of climate devastation, particularly in the global south, we must also grasp the scale of the injustice that faces the tens of billions of people who are yet to be born.
Roman outlined the enormity of the challenges we face. If we are to stay below 1.5ºC of warming, we will need to reduce carbon emissions by 10% every year until 2040. In 2020, when Covid struck and global economies stood still, emissions declined by 6.4%. He urged us to be good ancestors, good citizens, by showing up with him on 21st April to demand better from our short-termist government.
There were two disturbances during Roman’s talk, when the flow was interrupted by climate deniers and conspiracy theorists claiming that climate change is not real. Abha, a local activist, expressed her regret that they were not there to hear her about how climate change is already destroying communities across the global South. In the Hasdeo Arand forest in the Indian state of Chattisgarh, indigenous communities are fighting the coal mining giants that have been licenced unlawfully, without their consent, and destroying their lands and livelihoods. In October last year, floods resulting from heavy monsoon rains and an intense heatwave in Pakistan submerged over 1/3rd of the land, killing over a thousand people and displacing millions.
Christian, another local activist, also spoke movingly about his own realisation that we are failing our children if we do not leave them a planet to thrive on.
For all three of the speakers, hope comes from our ability to act together in the face of the climate and ecological emergency. We can all be good ancestors and now is a moment in history when we need to step up to that responsibility.
The talk was very well attended: about 90 people came; a good mix of experienced activists and new ones, many of whom signed up to come to London in April.
Watch the whole talk here: