Occasionally some of us welcome splinters. It seems it is not ok to have a reasoned debate about any issue in the current climate: You are either far left or far right in your political leanings, ‘phobic’ when criticising any other subset of society, and woe betide anyone who is not firmly in the pro- or anti- camp of any cause from veganism to abortion. We are now forced to pin our colours to the mast and not budge an inch from our viewpoint, no matter how ludicrous our beliefs may subsequently be proven to be.

I have a serious case of the splinters courtesy of extinction rebellion. They are a group who seem to have sprung out of thin air, maybe due to the attraction of their name sounding like a Star Wars film title: ‘Extinction Rebellion: The Superglue Fights Back.

I am on the fence as I agree with the cause yet believe they have missed the point. Yes, we are continuing to screw up the planet. Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, and species are becoming extinct due, in the main, to man’s ruinous self-serving actions. However, we all, to varying degree, buy into this ruination as we consume more and more in order to make our Western existences just a tad easier with each passing year. Their problem is that any protest group really must have a defined target, a person or group of people who are being protested about for specific actions that the populace deem unacceptable, and that is where my love for extinction rebellion starts to wane. Direct protests to Boris, or to Trump, whether you agree or not, are legitimate. It is clear who the focus of the ire is aimed at, and generally the reason behind it: this is however not the case with ER.

The UK is doing more than most countries to tackle, reverse, and eventually eradicate the potentially ruinous path mankind finds itself on, yet are we collectively the criminals? We are a nation of animal lovers, are pushing electric cars into the mainstream and have targets for all types of environmental issues that businesses must strive to abide by. The UK is the first economy to pass the net zero greenhouse gas emissions law for eradication by 2050. It seems we are already making our move and doing our bit, with the real culprits seeming to be the emerging, and recently emerged economies such as China. They are responsible for 30 per cent of all pollution, yet, with their rise, is it the West's place to say ‘you can’t do that’ after centuries of us doing the same? They pollute due to lack of internal regulation and because, ultimately is it cheaper to produce goods that way. They pay peanuts, produce goods cheaply and ship them to the West for us to gorge ourselves on.

The extinction rebellion protesters will not touch them as they know it is pointless. China, still under the shadow of communism would not have a bar of it and any attempts at embarrassing them publicly in their own country would be met by undue force and a term in a labour camp. The easy option therefore is to aim your ire at those that will accept such protest. The protesters, many using generators, eating in McDonald's and wearing those cheap Chinese clothes, continue to blockade London streets, causing pollution from idling traffic. They take scarce police resources by having flashmob style protests outside institutions while using so much superglue that you wonder if they have bought shares in Uhu. One woman glued her breasts to the pavement, while another married his hand to the outside of a train.

So the question must be, who exactly are they protesting against with such actions? As with many such protests the intention is good, but the execution is lousy. Why not camp outside the Chinese embassy and glue themselves to the railings there?

Even true-blue Tories who never veer from the party line are getting in on the act. Arguably the fourth most powerful politician in the land, the paymaster general, Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, recently planted a solitary ‘extinction rebellion’ tree (while he continues to support the ruination of the green belt through the ludicrous ‘local plans’) before hastily posting it on social media. Stretched police resources are being taken up by those protesting while ‘celebrities’ such as Emma Thompson, Di Caprio and Bono, fresh from flying first class, not only jump on the bandwagon but attempt to be the preaching band leaders.

As for me, I will continue to collect splinters. I recycle, ride my bike as much as possible and am trying to educate my kids as to the importance of sustainability. I guess mine is a one-man extinction rebellion as I hypocritically crank up the heating and again consider the merits of putting some of those ugly solar panels on my roof.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney