‘Play dead’ for the climate

‘Play dead’ for the climate

The sight of the rebels on the ground surprises people who are passing by

The air-raid alarm starts blaring and people collectively fall to the ground

It’s October 4th, better known as World Animal Day. It’s also the first Monday of the month, which means that at 12 o’clock all the air-raid alarms in the Netherlands collectively go off as a test run. Throughout the country Extinction Rebellion takes this moment as a cry for attention for the environment: “Right in front of a shopping centre we catch people off guard with our action. Once you can hear the air-raid alarm we pretend to be dead. Even if it just makes one person more conscious of what’s going on in the world, we’re satisfied.”

“I’m really happy to have found an entrance into Extinction Rebellion and trying to get attention for our climate”, 19 year old Ida Ƶwets tells, who’s here to protest for the first time. “Do you want a flag too?” one of the older so called ‘rebels’ asks Ida, who takes the flag and thanks him. “I’m so happy to see such a diverse group of people here”, she smiles, “I expected to only run into the younger generation, but that’s not the case at all. It really shows that at any age people can care about our future.”

The air-raid alarm starts blaring and all the rebels fall to the ground. Some hold up flags, others have cut-out tombstones made out of cardboard in front of them. Some bystanders stop whatever they’re doing to take pictures of them, others give them a confused look and pick up their pace. After a while one of the rebels, Eva van der Helm, starts talking through a megaphone: “World Animal Day. A day to treat your beloved pets extra nice. But do you ever think of the animals that are a little further away from your own home? They are not doing well..”

In her speech Eva refers to different species of animals going extinct. According to the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) 9097 animal species are either endangered, or critically endangered. In these numbers another 14.012 species are data deficient, so this number of 9097 might be higher.

After Eva’s speech in which she asked people to please join their fight for a better environment, she shouts “Extinction”, to which all the rebels reply “Rebellion”. After this some rebels go their own ways, others hand out leaflets to people that stopped to listen. Eva, who is also one of the organizers of this protest in Utrecht is satisfied with today: “Even if we were able to just get óne person thinking, I’m more than happy. You never know what kind of positive chain reaction that could cause.”

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