What are the most effective ways to protest?

This is important. Until recently, many environmental movements have made much of the general public AVOID supporting their causes [1]. Recently, this seems to have changed [3, 4]. Why? Here we look at Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Fridays for future (FFF) to identify some of the key aspects we need to maintain:

DEMANDS: Without clear demands, people fight for different things at the same protest. Extinction Rebellion has 3 clear demands [13] and FFF asks politicians to do what scientists recommend [19]. This allows for measuring progress.

NON-VIOLENCE: Non-Violence is crucial to the movement’s reputation [7, 8, 15]. FFF and XR may block roads [14], but no one gets hurt [14]. Despite non-violence, police may complain, so know your rights!

NO STEREOTYPES: Many people don’t want to be associated with militant stereotypes [1], causing avoidance [1]. But if people from all backgrounds participate, there is no stereotype. XR is very successful here [16, 17].

INSPIRING LEADER: Greta Thunberg gives people courage, and someone to follow. Many successful movements had leaders that went down in history, such as Martin Luther King [10] and Mahatma Gandhi [11].

COMMUNITY: XR organises itself in small sub-groups [14], allowing for a deeper connection between members [18]. This keeps people in the movement [18], and makes sure everyone is looked after, avoiding burn-out.

KIDS: Kids are not taken seriously by all [8], but several politicians thank children for their protests [9, 12]! Kids also make their parents concerned about climate change [20], potentially recruiting them.

TRUTHFUL CLAIMS: Some movements are guilty of ‘blackwashing’, whereby wrong claims are made to make the public concerned [7]. This makes movements look less serious. For example, blackwashing of palm oil led many to wrongly believe that palm oil is always bad [7], although certified palm oil is sustainable [2, 6, 21].

You are “the biggest threat” to the oil industry [5] and launched a wave of climate emergency declarations [4, 22]. Keep learning & shouting until everyone listens!

References

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