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Extinction Rebellion: We destroyed this ancient lawn to protest climate change

Imagine, for a moment, that the world’s ten biggest, richest, and most cartoon-villain evil polluters came together in a secret conference to develop a plan to discredit the Green movement and make the population think that environmentalists were all dangerous wackos. Could they conceivably come up with a better plan than to send millions of euros to a group like Extinction Rebellion, relying on them to engage in devilishly unpopular schemes like this one in order to alienate the public?

Climate activists have dug up a lawn outside a Cambridge University college over its role in a major development in the Suffolk countryside.

Extinction Rebellion members said the action at Trinity College was taken against the “destruction of nature”

Activists then took dug-up mud to a local Barclays Bank branch.

Innocence Farm in Trimley St Martin has been part of plans, involving Trinity, for a lorry park. The college said it supported work to fight climate change.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokeswoman said the force was liaising with the college and that “a crime has been recorded for criminal damage”.

Trinity College Cambridge was founded over 400 years ago. The lawn in question, according to some estimates, has been in place for about three centuries.

You can see how it happened, in fairness. Some dolt at a meeting of the local Extinction Rebellion Soviet probably put his or her hand up at a meeting and said “well, they’re destroying the natural world, let’s show them how it feels when their nice little habitat is destroyed”.

It’s the kind of thing that feels great on paper. Inflicting some of the oppressor’s pain on the oppressor, making the point that we can’t take our surroundings for granted, illustrating the ugliness of wanton destruction, all of those things. When you think about a protest like this purely conceptually, it doesn’t sound that unreasonable.

The problem of course is how it looks in practice: A bunch of weirdos digging up a 300-year old lawn with all the finesse and enthusiasm of a three year old building a sandcastle doesn’t make the public stop and reflect thoughtfully on the perils of taking the natural world for granted. It makes the public stop and gawk in anger and confusion at the wanton criminality of what has become, essentially, an eco-terrorist group.

The most pathetic thing about this story though is not extinction rebellion – it’s the fact that they got away with it. It’s that Trinity College Cambridge would look out of their half-millennium old windows, observe a part of their heritage being destroyed, and not immediately call the police. In fact, it’s taken Cambridgeshire police, not the college itself, to come forward to mention “criminal damage”.

In a normal, functioning society, the police would have been called and the vandals would have been carted off to the local police station within five minutes of the first trowel being produced.

The indulgence of this nonsense is more of a problem at this point than the nonsense itself. Extinction Rebellion are being treated, too often, as some kind of a protected class who can’t be touched by the authorities because their “intentions” are pure. This kind of thing should be punished like any other crime.

But you can be absolutely sure it won’t be.

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