They want action on climate change , but experts say disruptive protests aren’t achieving much — and are doing more harm than good.
as activists seek to “disrupt” people’s everyday lives to put pressure on governments.The goal is to drive action on climate change. But is it working? Or is the movementjust pissing people off?Brand, marketing and communications experts say the broader climate change cause is at risk of being damaged by the actions of Extinction Rebellion members, with people’s growing frustration turning them away.
And not only is it likely the protesters won’t achieve any real change, but they could actually delay progress.‘A MOB IS A MOB’Extinction Rebellion bills itself as a peaceful, nonviolent movement and apart from the odd scuffle with police, it has remained that.
But its unapologetic disruption tactics are giving all the appearance of an angry mob, Amanda Lacey, director of the consultancy, said.“Shouting at people doesn’t work — it puts them off,” Ms Lacey said.“Shutting down cities, blocking traffic, chaining yourself to things, halting public transport — you can say you’re nonviolent but it looks like an angry mob.”
Police arrest Extinction Rebellion protesters after they blocked a major intersection in Brisbane. Picture: AAPSource:AAPMotorists stuck in a traffic jam as Extinction Rebellion protesters block early morning peak hour traffic in Brisbane. Picture: AAP
Source:AAPExtinction Rebellion activists shut down tram services in Melbourne’s CBD. Picture: Jake NowakowskiSource:News Corp AustraliaShe believes there’s a way of getting a message across without being “a public nuisance” and alienating people who might have otherwise been open to a cause.
On Tuesday night, vision of a woman crying hysterically behind the wheel of her car while Extinction Rebellion protesters blocked her path was broadcast on Channel 9.The motorist was trying to get to her late mother’s home, after she died on Sunday, to begin packing up her belongings. It was
.“That’s the thing — it’s putting people off,” Ms Lacey said.Extinction Rebellion protesters are arrested after a blockade at the corner of Spring and Collins Streets in Melbourne. Picture: Jake NowakowskiSource:News Corp AustraliaApiro Consultingand Apiro Media, said shock and awe tactics were risky.
“A disruptive strategy plays well to a relentless news cycle, content hungry media and the viral nature of social media, so there is huge potential to get mass exposure, fast,” Mr Montesi said.“There’s also the risk of marginalising and pushing away the very people they’re trying to win over. While shock and awe may make some people think, others are simply trying to get on with their already complex, stressful lives.
“Getting in their way, or worse, sending a message that ‘we know better than you’ is only going to push them away — even if they do believe the core issue to be important.”RELATED:Police drag away protesters who laid down in the middle of traffic in Sydney on Tuesday. Picture: Richard Dobson
Source:News Corp AustraliaExtinction Rebellion protesters swarm Sydney trains as part of a disruption tactic. Picture: Damian ShawSource:News Corp AustraliaWHAT’S THE POINT?Over the past several weeks, Extinction Rebellion has made a lot of noise via its disruptive tactics — blocking roads, hanging from bridges and glueing themselves to things.
But what are their actual goals? What do they hope to achieve?Queensland University of Technology strategic communication and social impact expert Kim believes the group has failed to articulate its purpose to the public.“They’ve focused on drawing attention and they’ve done that quite well,” Dr Johnston said. “I don’t think they’ve communicated their goals very well though.”
Dr Johnston believes the group is now as a “critical junction” where they can either capitalise on the attention they’ve generated, or squander it.And the longer they wait and stick with their current methods, the more likely it is that their support will disintegrate, she said.
“When you’re threatening people’s livelihoods in the way they are, stopping people getting to work or going to pick up the kids, I think they’ll lose support for the cause,” Dr Johnston said.“What they need to do is communicate their plans, the next steps, while they’ve got the attention they desired. If they don’t do that, they’ll lose support of the masses and they can’t afford to do that.
“They risk becoming just another activist group.”There’s a chance that has already occurred, Mr Montesi said, with the tactics designed to draw attention to a polarising issue are “playing out in a divisive way”.“If the purpose for Extinction Rebellion has been to get headlines, clicks and comments, it has certainly been successful,” he said.
“But if the intention was to win over the hearts and minds of those without a clear stance on the issue, or to influence the influencers, a disruptive strategy could be doing more harm than good.”Ms Lacey agreed, saying the group is starting to look like it’s all stunt and no substance.
“They’re effective in the sense that they’re getting attention, but what are they doing with it?” she said.“They’re raising awareness of an issue that’s kind of already out there. I don’t think the majority of Australians deny climate change or at least agree that we should do something to protect the environment.
“We’re all aware of the problems. So what are they drawing attention to? What are their goals? Good marketing offers a solution to a problem.”Climate protesters block woman from reaching late mother's home (ACA)Melbourne woman Sally struggled to hold back tears as climate change protesters blocked her from getting to the home where her mum passed away on Sunday. CREDIT: A Current Affair
Francis Farrelly, marketing academic and researcher at RMIT University, said the message was without doubt “compelling”.“But the question now is whether it’ll have any kind of longevity and any real effect,” Prof Farrelly said.“There’s a danger here that this disruption-type tactic won’t gel for much longer with the middle ground of Australians.”
ALIENATING THE MIDDLEThere's no doubt that the issue of climate change is a polarising one in Australia, with passionate views on other side.On one end of the spectrum are those who accept the science, recognise an imperative and demand action. On the other are those who doubt, deny or distrust the science.
It’s that cohort in the middle who aren’t informed or haven’t been swayed to a position that Extinction Rebellion should be targeting. But are they?“I think there’s a middle ground of Australians who don’t consider themselves denialists but want a meaningful way forward that’s also sensible,” Prof Farrelly said.
Frustration levels are beginning to rise as the disruption method continues, he said. The risk Extinction Rebellion faces is that the middle will switch off.“And worse than that, I think they’ll not only switch off but they’ll be pushed away. That frustration is already there. I think the public will turn against it.”
An activist from Extinction Rebellion with his arm in a barrel of cement blocks an intersection in Brisbane. Picture: AAPSource:AAPAnother activist stuck in a drum of cement is taken away by police. Picture: AAPSource:AAPWith any divisive issue, there’s a middle that’s up for grabs — and it’s not usually a terribly difficult cohort to convince, Dr Johnston said.
“The people in the middle who aren’t strongly polarised one way or another will be more open to arguments and changing their position or perspective,” she said.“You’ll almost never get someone who’s strongly opposed to an issue to all of a sudden be in favour of it. The ones in the middle are more likely to be swayed, but in increments.
“By targeting the middle, undecided group, they can be successful. But there needs to be a plan that maintains the support.”Extinction Rebellion faces the danger of merely “preaching to the converted” rather than having any real effect, Mr Montesi said.
“This gets great vanity metrics, with plenty of clicks and comments from others within the same social media echo chambers, but I don’t think this will create any real impact.“Reasoned, respectful debate may be slow burning strategy, but it may get the desired result in the long run. Because at the end of the day when the momentum burns out, and it will, the question will be asked, ‘what has really been achieved here?’”
Extinction Rebellion protesters block traffic in Adelaide. Picture: Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp AustraliaIdeologies and track record aside, Dr Johnston believes the federal government will be “watching and listening” to the Extinction Rebellion movement.
It’s making too many waves to ignore.But if the current backlash continues as people becoming more frustrated, there’s a risk the government will be given a ‘get out of jail free’ card rather than forced to act.“I think it would be sad for that to happen,” Dr Johnston said.
“There’s an opportunity to use their influence in a constructive way. The tolerance for this disruption won’t last. I think people are getting tired of it.” Read more: news.com.au »
They only create chaos which angers ordinary Australians. The courts do nothing which angers ordinary Australians. Their real objective comes from within their own ranks So stop giving them attention. Seriously the media are responsible for half these protests because they wouldn’t happen unless you guys gave them the air time the crave 🙄
The main problem is they’re more about socialist revolution than anything else Why doesn't the government DanielAndrewsMP demand that protesters foot the bill as they did for Milo Yiannopoulos Climatenuts have caused massive disruption and been a drain on our police resources!! Extinction Rebellion? Can these psychopaths become extinct? That would definitely be good for the environment.. Reducing the population a bit. They're more painful than my hems. Fek!
They just want attention! The left, are all, just like naughty children! They stamp their little feet and scream and shout because they know that’s how they get mum and dads attention! Peaceful protest is a more civilised option. It’s doing exactly what’s it meant to do Divide us and keep us fighting each other
klimateklowns It's a form of ill-informed mass hysteria, a good political leader would take issue and call for calm. We don't appear to have any good political leaders these days. 🥺 Some people have a brain like a dropped pie... cool your jets turbo and plant a tree or 10... Correct, the don't have my respect for them, I'm not listening at all I'm too busy telling them to get the hell out of the way so I can continue on with my day.
meanwhile an inept government and Premier Dan Andrews sits back completely ignorant to the impact to Victorians daily lives by these terrorists. Police have suspended high priority policing. This government must be sacked by the Governor as law and order in Victoria has collapsed No, Extinction Rebellion or similar are not doing more harm to the climate.
💯 not everyone will sit by and have governments fail to act and leave their grand children having to share australia with a billion asia pacific climate refugees. i for one dont care if my survival inconveniences them they obviously dont care about my future ExtinctionRebeillion If they want to tackle climate change l know this suggested is not realise, cutting down on the number of cars on the road diesel petrol doesn't help the environment.
I’m gonna stop working and join the party Free Centrelink to become a protester Because doing nothing was working. Whoa re the experts, are they conflicted by fossil fuel interests by any chance?
Who are Extinction Rebellion and why are they blocking your commute to work?Workers have been getting to work late because of protesters bearing an image of an hourglass in a circle. So what's it all about? ABC Extinction sounds better. Have become the Far Lefts propagander pusher. Imagine all the ocean trash we could clean by defunding. Free plugs on the tax payer $! defund Do let us know when the climate school strikers grow into angry unemployed juveniles wont you? Short answer: They’re not.
Climate activists use bikes to block morning trafficOne commuter said the ExtinctionRebellion traffic block on Hoddle St was frustrating, even though he supported climate action. 'Does it have to be at peak hour?' he asked. 'It makes me a little against the cause in a way.' 'Preventing human extinction is important, but not important enough to inconvenience me in the slightest' You can be against Extinction Rebellion actions but still support action on climate change. I think ER are ok with that. Don’t conflate anti ER with anti action on climate change. And the world was eternally grateful, as extinction was saved due to the galant efforts of thirty priveliged unemployed white people, stopping traffic with bicycles! How did we not think of this solution before
Extinction Rebellion: London's Westminster shut down by clime protests replicated around the worldLondon's parliamentary precinct has been shut down by Extinction Rebellion protesters who are gathering in cities across Europe to demand climate change action.
Haunting pictures from mass protestsPowerful pictures have emerged of climate protesters from Extinction Rebellion (XR) blockading roads and holding mass demonstrations in London and across global cities on the first day of a two-week “rebellion” as they demand action on climate change . Water cannon and tear gas are all that is needed to curb these arseholes. I'm not fan of ICOs, some are OK but majority just take your money and run, free airdrop is the way to go, just like GetDeepOnion did $ONION
Extinction Rebellion protesters subject to bail conditions 'designed for bikie gangs'Protesters arrested as part of the Extinction Rebellion have been told not to attend any further demonstrations organised by the group and have been ordered not to go within 2.5 kilometres radius of the Sydney CBD Works for me! Booyeah! Justice prevails Have a go at the teeth on this boy
Extinction Rebellion climate activists block city streets againOrganisers of the ExtinctionRebellion protes said about 45 people were arrested in Melbourne on Tuesday, including one of the Melbourne leaders, Reem Ramadan. Instead of attending the climate change action to scream, cause unnecessary disruption & blame governments, l planted 3 trees in my backyard yesterday & swept the footpath outside my house to clear it of the rubbish and butts others throw, so it doesn't end up in the waterways. klimateklowns Finely a death cult for atheist middle class drones.