Activists lose their heads at climate protest

Protestors kept their heads down in the sand for approximately one minute.

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From top, Some protestors wore business attire to show their message is for Government and big corporations, not individuals. Dr Bruce Williamson of Waitoki, left, worked as a scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and Richard McLachlan is known for protesting for climate action on subway trains in New York.

Climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion sent a very literal message to the Government on Sunday, December 8, when 18 members buried their heads in the sand on Ōrewa Beach.

The group, which included both Hibiscus Coast locals and people from wider Auckland, silently walked from Western Reserve to Moana Reserve with signs and Extinction Rebellion Flags, before digging holes and burying their heads in the sand. They kept their heads in the holes for about one minute. 

Extinction Rebellion’s North Shore spokesperson, Whangaparāoa resident Amber Perkins, says the government and big corporations have their heads in the sand about the urgency of climate change.

“Whilst we acknowledge the effort that went into the Zero Carbon Bill, it does not act quickly enough, and this action symbolises the reality of the situation in a creative way,” Amber says.

“We chose Ōrewa because it will be one of the beaches most affected by sea level rise in Tāmaki Makaurau. Unless we act now to stop climate breakdown, many of our cherished places will be lost.”

This is the first time the North Shore branch has hosted a ‘head in the sand’ event, which is inspired by an extinction rebellion protest held in Australia.

Extinction Rebellion is an international organisation that began in England just over a year ago. Dozens of countries are now involved, with more than 10 local branches set up across New Zealand.

The group demands that the Government declares a climate emergency, takes the necessary steps to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and creates a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice to lead their decision making.

Protests by the New Zealand branch have included a Halloween march through Ponsonby, where members dressed as zombies holding gravestones with a climate change-related cause of death, and pouring ‘oil’(actually molassas) on the entrance of National Party leader Simon Bridges’ Tauranga office.

Extinction Rebellion say people are unprepared for the looming effects of climate change.

“We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.”


Climate re-cap
Carbon dioxide emissions, which have been increasing since the industrial revolution due to human activity, are causing the planet to warm. The effects of this include melting icecaps, sea level rise, and extreme weather conditions. According to a 2018 report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, carbon emissions need to be significantly reduced within the next 11 years to ensure they do not surpass 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. The UN says if this rise happens, the ecosystem will be irreversibly damaged. While the NZ government signed the Paris Agreement that commits to this target, they are yet to declare a Climate Emergency – a pledge that puts global warming at the forefront of all decision making. Auckland Council declared a Climate Emergency earlier this year.

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