Extinction Rebellion, an activist group whose primary goal is to raise awareness of global climate and ecological issues, began to make its mark on the Tampa Bay area in December 2018.
With its roots in London, the organization demands the government to be truthful about the environmental issues and calls for more government action to address these issues.
According to Heidi Mattson, an organizer for the group in Tampa Bay, Extinction Rebellion hopes that people become aware of the urgency of issues like Nestle trying to bottle water from the Santa Fe River.
“Tampa Bay is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, so one of our main goals is to tell the truth about what people can expect as environmental breakdown accelerates, as well as what individuals and governments must do to prepare,” Mattson said.
According to an Eckerd College Profile brochure, as of fall 2019, 29% of students at Eckerd are studying natural sciences. Many of Eckerd’s students and faculty are concerned about these same environmental issues.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Marine Science Eron Higgins marched alongside Extinction Rebellion in September 2019 through St. Petersburg. Higgins said that the march began at city hall, then continued down to the waterfront, eventually leading to the Williams Park area. The marchers shut down an intersection in town, protesting and raising awareness of the state of the environment.
Higgins believes that environmental activist groups are necessary in the world to bring awareness to these issues.
“I think it’s great in terms of just sparking some action, just some involvement,” Higgins said. “I think sometimes you need the more extreme groups to get other people to just notice and do anything.”
Extinction Rebellion has plans for what they call the “Spring Rebellion” in the Tampa Bay area, which includes some local events and campaigns.
“We’re also continuing in solidarity actions around the state,” Mattson said. “Including opposing Nestle’s theft of the aquifer, a new toll road project that would add over 300 miles of new toll roads through environmentally sensitive areas and putting pressure on financial corporations to divest from fossil fuels.”
Extinction Rebellion has meetings every other week that are open to the public, and are posted, along with all other events, on their Facebook page.