Civil Disobedience for Climate Action

A hunger strike is mainly used by those with no other form of protest to bring attention to a particular case or cause. This is the case of Angus, on his 30th day of hunger strike in front of the UK parliament.

Yeray Lopez
Yeray Lopez

Table of Contents

The upraise of civil disobedience

Last week, I traveled to London with podcaster Jens Raunkjaer to document the rise of the Extinction Rebellion movement and other civil disobedience initiatives calling for urgent climate action. Our mission is to understand what is needed to ignite the green revolution and how we can contribute to it. The working title for our project is "A Survival Guide for Humanity."

During our time in London, we interviewed scientists, rebels, citizens, and people from all walks of life to create an informative, engaging, and actionable podcast. I must admit that this experience has been eye-opening, filling my heart with emotion and bringing tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. We sat down with Sr. David King, Katherin Richardson, the founders of Extinction Rebellion, Dave Goulson, and numerous protesters. As we continue to seek funding, guests, and collaborators, I will keep you updated on what I believe can be a truly instrumental piece of work.

Hunger Strike

Despite our midterm mission of producing a podcast, we feel compelled to share some of the stories we've encountered along the way. One such story is that of Angus Rose, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly a month outside the U.K. Parliament. Angus is demanding that the government organize a public climate briefing led by the U.K.'s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance. We wanted to raise awareness about his fight and echo his petition for the U.K. Parliament to attend to this proportional and rational idea.

Why is Angus doing this? See the highlights of our conversations

The efficacy and science of hunger strikes

A hunger strike is often a last resort for those with no other means of protest to bring attention to a particular cause. By refusing food, protesters like Angus put their lives at risk, facing the potential for permanent health damage and even death.

The human body's response to prolonged fasting is a complex process. Initially, the body relies on stored glucose (glycogen) for energy. Once these reserves are depleted, the body begins to break down fat and muscle tissue for fuel. This process, known as ketosis, can lead to a buildup of ketones in the blood, which can cause nausea, fatigue, and confusion.

As the hunger strike progresses, the body's organs begin to deteriorate due to a lack of essential nutrients. The heart, liver, and kidneys are particularly vulnerable, and failure of these organs can result in death. Even if a hunger striker decides to eat again, they face the risk of "refeeding syndrome," which occurs due to shifts in fluids and electrolytes when food is reintroduced too quickly.

The World Medical Association has clear guidelines for dealing with hunger strikes, emphasizing the informed decision of the striker to accept or refuse medical assistance. Doctors are forbidden from participating in force-feeding, as it is considered a form of torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Angus has signed two letters regarding his medical care. The first states that, in the absence of consciousness, he should not be hospitalized and should be brought back to the entrance of Parliament. The second letter declares that he should not be resuscitated in the case of organ failure.

The success of a hunger strike relies on the moral force of the striker's actions, the publicity generated, and the accumulated public pressure to achieve their goals. While both violent and non-violent movements have employed hunger strikes, some have been more effective than others in bringing about change. Mahatma Gandhi, perhaps the most famous hunger striker, staged 17 highly-publicized protests throughout his life, with his longest lasting 21 days.

I sincerely hope that Angus' logical petition for a public climate briefing led by the U.K.'s Chief Scientific Adviser is presented to Parliament and televised soon. We would all benefit from this crucial information, and it is essential that our leaders take swift action to address the climate crisis.

Concerning medical care, Angus has signed two letters: The first one states that, in the absence of consciousness, he will not be hospitalized and should be brought back to the entrance of the ParliamentParliament. The second letter states that he should not be reanimated for organic failure.

I sincerely hope that Angus' logical petition that a public climate briefing led by the U.K.'s Chief Scientific Adviser is presented to the ParliamentParliament and televised happens soon. We all will benefit from this.

Find Angus on Instagram
Interview made in collaboration with
It's time for climate action!!

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My focus is on creating content that entertains, enlightens and sparks dialogue.