ENVIRONMENTALISTS espouse a particular or several environmental issues. There are advocates of clean air, solid waste, clean water, anti-plastics, climate change, and many more. My advocacy was focused on recycling initially, but later expanded to solid waste management as a whole.

Environmentalists use mass media and social media for creating awareness on the issue they champion. Others use creative ways like hugging trees, climbing smoke stacks and even dumping garbage on companies perceived to be polluters. Some resort to extreme methods like Greenpeace protesters blocking ships.

Recently, I read about a group that has a unique way of pushing their cause. They are leaderless, unorganized activists who call themselves “The Tyre Extinguishers.” Their advocacy is to stop the use of urban Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) which they claim are climate disasters. They currently operate in England.

These activists have a point. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that SUVs are the second-largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade. The surge in SUV sales is cancelling out all the carbon savings from people switching to electric cars.

The Tyre Extinguishers also claim that SUVs cause air pollution. Larger cars belch out more toxic fumes, worsening air pollution in town and cities. They also said that SUVs are dangerous because they are much more likely to kill compared to normal cars when striking pedestrians. For the group, SUVs are unnecessary because most of these “off-road” vehicles are sold to people living in towns and cities. They exist purely for the vanity of their owners, who see them as a status symbol.

Their method of pushing their advocacy is out of the ordinary. They look for and then deflate tires of SUV’s to cause inconvenience to the owners. In the group’s website, www.tyrextinguishers.com, there is even an instruction on how to accomplish this task. By the way, tire is spelled as tyre in the United Kingdom.

Now, why are these people doing an extreme measure? Marion Walker from The Tyre Extinguishers said: “Governments and politicians have failed to protect us from these massive unnecessary vehicles...Politely asking for climate action, clean air and safer streets has failed. It’s time for action.”

The Tyre Extinguishers want to see bans on SUVs in urban areas, pollution levies to tax SUVs out of existence, and massive investment in free, comprehensive public transport. Until politicians make this a reality, Tyre Extinguishers said that their action will continue.


E-ssue will take a temporary break from March 25 to May 6. The column will resume on May 13, 2022.