Climate change protestors have warned that they will shut down London Heathrow for one day in June and 10 days in July using drones unless the airport abandons plans for a runway expansion.
Extinction Rebellion is a “socio-political movement” around the world that protests government response (or lack of response) to climate change. The group, which I will not link to, believes that air travel is “genocidal” and engages in protests aimed to shutdown major economic arteries in hopes that it will influence public policy.
Concerning London Heathrow, the group said:
Extinction Rebellion demands the Government begins to act on its declaration of a climate and environment emergency by cancelling all Heathrow expansion.
The addition of the planned third runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness.
We understand the action will cause disruption to a great number of holidaymakers, however we believe that it is necessary given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse, if we don’t act now.
Holidaymakers are being given advance notice to change travel plans.
Meanwhile, Aviation Minister and House of Lords member Baroness Charlotte Vere pledged strict punishment for anyone who breaks the law by launching a drone near Heathrow or any other UK airport.
Flying drones near an airport is a serious criminal offense and using drones to deliberately put people’s safety at risk carries a maximum life sentence.
No Government has done more to reduce carbon emissions, and Britain is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change.
Any illegal activity must be met with the full force of the law.
This is Ecoterrorism
The FBI defines eco-terrorism as:
The use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.
First, drones shut down airport precisely because they present a safety risk. Second, shutting down a major international airport during the peak summer travel season has such a devastating ripple effect across the economy. Third, ironically I might add, shutting down Heathrow forces diversions, which burns more carbon-emitting fuel. Diversions also increase the number of cars and busses on the road.
Shutting down the world’s seventh largest airport will only turn more people against the cause of careful environmental stewardship.
The sobering reality is that members of Extinction Rebellion are already planning on going to jail: they are willing to accept the consequences for their actions. Thus, the UK government is left with the arduous task of planning against a group that has no fear of the consequences of their destructive actions.
People of conscience around the world SHOULD care deeply about the environment. Every one of us should be good stewards of the earth. But air travel will not stop; the world economy would otherwise grind to a halt. It is simply untenable. And air travel unites peoples and cultures, leading to greater understanding and cooperation. Climate change does indeed pose a great risk to human welfare in some regions. But we cannot just shut down the world’s economic engine, for that will unleash a far greater calamity.
> Read More: When A Drone Strikes A 737
image: David Holt / FLICKR
Should they actually commit this act of eco-terrorism,, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This is not terrorism. In no way is this act of protest “violence”. If it is, then people protesting in a street to block traffic is also violence due to the safety issue…..not to mention, the act of flying would be violence due to the climate effect of the carbon emitted.
I don’t support these people, but your hyperbole is ridiculous.
There is a huge difference between blocking a street and illegally shutting down a major international airport, which leads to magnitudinous financial and safety risks. These are terrorists…they seek to instill fear in the public and permanently disrupt daily life, not bring about an achievable short-term policy change. I hope the UK’s millions of CCTV cameras are monitoring these jejune thugs.
Sorry, purposefully flying drones near an airport, with an aim to at best disrupt ops, or at worst, causing a crash is terrorism.
These terrorists should be put in jail or punished corporeally. To think that their extreme views on the environment justify dangerous and illegal actions infuriates me. These are terrorists who cannot be reasoned with and should not be accommodated!
I was wondering if I was the only person that thought of these people as terrorists. While I’m okay with blocking a whaling ship with your own ship or chaining yourself to a tree, those are situations where the only people who might get hurt or killed are choosing to be there. If these people do this, I hope that they will see not jail but instead many years in prison.
Yet again environmentalists pick on UK business. No mention then that expanded airports at Amsterdam Schipol, Paris CDG and Frankfurt between them have 4 times more runways than a 3 runway Heathrow! Lack of Heathrow expansion means other European airports like those will just expand instead leaving the UK behind and losing economic benefits. If you really care about the environment fix the most polluting cause – cars. Aviation makes up only around 2% of total pollution so stop nit picking numskulls.
This is genius (in an evil genius sort of way).
In creating the concept that they will do this and getting broad publicity people will respond. They don’t actually need to launch a single drone or put anyone at risk (even their member’s risk of jail) and achieve their goal of increased awareness to their issue.
I would be impressed if that was their aim.
Terrorism is a strong word. They aren’t trying to harm anyone, but to instead simply inconvenience many people to bring about a policy change. You may want to consider changing the title to “environmental activists.”
It’s wrong to suggest that this is a form of terrorism. I don’t support closing the airport but can understand the frustration and anger of groups like this one….more traditional forms of protest fall on deaf ears, as the self-serving old men controlling climate change policy remain effective deniers, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Expect to see more direct action activity in response to the do-nothings failings.
So what would it take exactly to make these people terrorists in your world? If one of their drones brought down a BA 747 full of passengers and crew, killing everyone on board? Does that qualify?
If they move forward with their plan, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Just like the idiots who point green lasers into cockpits, drunk assholes who try to open doors in flight and hijackers. Hopefully, during their time in prison, being on the receiving end of the business from the guy with the most cigarettes might change their behavior in the future.
I agree that they must be prosecuted and jailed in the event they use drones
Extinction Rebellion and most others on the left are just anti-capitalist hypocrites who don’t actually care to help the environment. Anyone who tries to impede economic activity on the basis of environmental protection should not be taken seriously unless he is already vegan. Ending or even significantly reducing fossil fuel consumption (which gives money to those who hate America) is not practical in the near term, but stopping consumption of animal products can be done by anyone immediately. Why is it that most supposed environmentalists don’t prioritize ending animal agriculture when it is the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gases after fossil fuels? Ending animal agriculture would not require creating an entirely new source of food; people can simply stop eating animals. Unfortunately, going vegan would be a personal undertaking that wouldn’t require massive state intervention as ending the fossil fuel system and creating an alternative energy system likely would, and state intervention is what the protesters really want). They would be happiest under a regime like Pol Pot’s.
Well, just imagine the reaction when restrictions are placed on meat consumption ( as is inevitable within the next decade), regardless of whether it’s through very high taxing, some form of rationing, production quotas, import restrictions or all in combination.
At the moment people are free to consume what they want, regardless of the cost to others and the planet.
In 20 or 30 years planes will be powered by low emission bio fuels or by batteries, so flying will be less of an issue; but the carnivores are on notice and would be wise to make an effort to lower their consumption, lest they find the matter is taken out of their hands.