At 3:20 pm on Wednesday, September 13th, activists from Extinction Rebellion disrupted private helicopter takeoffs at JRA West 30th Street Heliport Airport, disrupting flights “the same way severe storms would”.
Protestors warned that there are “no luxury emissions on a dead planet”, and demanded an end to fossil fuels.
The group, with baby strollers and soft toys, blocked the main entrance using lock-ons, and held banners with the words “LUXURY EMISSIONS DESTROY FUTURES”.
The main entrance was blocked for over an 90 minutes and 6 people were arrested.
This action follows a long history of nonviolent civil disobedience as a tool for societal change, such as sit-ins during the civil rights movement and traffic obstruction by women suffragettes.
Today’s action and precursors, such as the shut down last November of private aviation at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, are a response to the refusal of governments to stop the burning of fossil fuels that are accelerating the global climate emergency.
All conventional means of effecting change appropriate to the scale of the catastrophe – including voting, petitioning, lobbying, etc. – have failed and continue to fail. Yet the science makes clear that we have only a very small window of time in which to end fossil fuels and stop carbon emissions.
Recently, Professor Sir Bob Watson, a prominent British climate scientist and former head of the United Nations climate body, voiced his belief that the target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be missed.
Despite such predictions, President Joe Biden has failed to live up to the climate pledges made during the 2020 election campaign.
Even those failed promises, if kept, would be considered by many ineffective and weak: policies such as electrifying transportation, carbon capture, or expanded renewables do not adequately resolve the looming catastrophe.
Extinction Rebellion demands “the government tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025”.