April 25, 2022

Deflate The Rich

It’s so obvious it barely needs stating. Gas-guzzling cars are death machines driving us to the brink of extinction.

And it’s overwhelmingly rich people who drive them. Since 2010, luxury SUVs (think Escalades and Yukons) have proved the second-biggest contributors to increasing CO2 emissions worldwide.

In the words of climate activist Andreas Malm, these emissions are “preposterously unnecessary.” There is no conscionable reason they shouldn't — or couldn’t — be cut back immediately to help avoid total ecological collapse. As the IPCC recently said, it’s “now or never” for this kind of urgent action.

For this reason, British activist group Tyre Extinguishers has been waging a campaign to let the air out of thousands of SUV tires throughout the UK. And it has caught on across Europe.

The method? Simply pop a lentil in the tire valve, slap a leaflet on the windshield, and walk away. Oh, and make sure you go for cars in “posh” neighborhoods. (No disabled or working vehicles.)

It’s a tactical escalation, albeit a mild one. The “damage,” if it can be called that, is completely reversible. And by warning drivers of targeted vehicles with leaflets, it avoids the potential for bodily harm.

The strange thing is, it hasn’t gained any noticeable traction yet in North America.

When we put out a similar call to action, we caught the attention of Fox, Newt Gengrich and a bunch of bloodthirsty trolls. But no one on our side actually took the plunge.

Have we lost the will to fight? Are we going to let our comrades across the Atlantic do all the heavy lifting?

Sure, this type of action doesn’t go after the deep-down baddies, like oil companies and crisis-fueling governments. But it’s a start, and it has already proved effective. After Malm and a cohort of activists practiced it in Sweden, in 2007, demand for big cars plummeted and investment in public transit saw a massive boost.

The same is happening right now in Merry England. And if we can get our shit together, it could happen here — it could happen everywhere.

For now, though, reality in North America reads like some Mad Max–meets–Waterworld crossover script. “Hell-bent on burning rubber, the 1% watch from tinted windows as the 99% drown under rising seas …”

This reality is intolerable. Yet the path forward is undeniable. As a first step toward a sane sustainable future, we’ve got to #DeflateTheRich.

Find out how here and here.