Jeremy Till

Response to Paul Finch on Extinction Rebellion

This is my very short response to Paul Finch's comments on Extinction Rebellion that he made in the Architects Journal on 14th May and 21st May 2019

It is indeed difficult to take seriously any advice on climate change from someone who revealed last week that he does not know the basic difference between mitigation and adaptation. However, Paul Finch here makes perfectly sensible arguments about the need for retrofit. He then throws it all away by continuing to make unfounded attacks on Extinction Rebellion. Can he point to one instance where XR have argued against the need to address the performance of the current building stock? Of course not. Quite the opposite, as XR spokespeople have been consistent in their criticism of the governments’ withdrawal of the Green Deal scheme for insulating homes. But Finch’s rhetoric needs to frame the activists as delusional.

For the record, I am an XR supporter. This does not make me a grandstander, zealot, puritan or hair shirt. Zealots are people whose extreme ideologies lead to sociopathic behaviour. XR is not based on ideology: it starts with a close reading of the scientific evidence, all of which points to much worse future than we are presently being told by the corporatists and politicians of the carbon state. On the basis of this evidence, XR is seeking systemic change – one that does not preclude technical innovation but sees it as part of a more radical change in values and behaviour. Yes, this would mean all of us would need to fly less, but no it does not mean a return to caves (as Jacob Rees Mogg dismissed Rupert Read of XR) or to insect eating (as Finch talked of).

These kind of scare smears are symptomatic of other forms of populist demagoguery. It is indicative here that Finch cannot resist a swipe at Caroline Lucas over Brexit. She is of course right that a no-deal Brexit would be harmful to progress on climate change. All the evidence from any credible economist, business person or analyst points to economic collapse if no-deal goes ahead, and the disaster capitalists behind Brexit are licking their lips at the swathe of deregulation, including environmental, that will inevitably follow. However, the managing editor of the Architects Journal still sees fit to stick to an ideological move that will damage the livelihoods of all his readers. That’s what I call zealotry.