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Tyres on over 1000 SUVs deflated in Sweden

You may recall a post here a while ago about a group in Sweden who call themselves The Indians of the Concrete Jungle. Their campaign involves deflating tyres on 4-wheel drive vehicles and is spreading across Sweden like wildfire, stirring up a national debate and bringing out the worst in 4×4 drivers.

Here is a message from The Indians of the Concrete Jungle to the rest of the world:

Everyone knows it: action on climate change is a matter of utter urgency. Nonetheless, carbon emissions continue to accelerate, powered by the uncontrollable machines of the world economy. One eminent sign of this rush to disaster is the trend of SUVs, clogging the streets in our Western cities, emitting up to three times more carbon than cars of average size on the market. SUVs have become a symbol of the irrational destruction of the most basic conditions of life. Attached to no human need whatsoever – only to the conspicuous consumption of an affluent class, feeling the ”need” to flaunt monster vehicles – they constitute perhaps the most insane source of unnecessary carbon emissions. Everyone should know it: if we can’t deal with SUVs swiftly, we can’t deal with any other emissions either. And nothing less than our survival is at stake.

Armed with this analysis, and with mung beans or grains of gravel, a group called The Indians of the Concrete Jungle has struck against hundreds of SUVs in Sweden in recent months. The first action occured in the poshest part of innercity Stockholm in June. Tyres on 60 SUVs in Östermalm were deflated. A weblog was posted on the internet, and since then, the campaign for disarmament of SUVs in Sweden has spread like wildfire. To this date, approximately 1000 SUVs have been temporarily disarmed in at least nine Swedish cities, including the three largest (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö) as well as several smaller cities; new tribes are popping up by the week. The Indians of the Concrete Jungle have appeared in virtually every major media outlet in the country – from a prime time debate on national television, to a very sympathetic report in the company of Indians in action published in the biggest morning newspaper, to an op-ed piece in the biggest evening paper and countless news reports in local media. Thus, in a matter of months, the issue of unnecessary carbon emissions in general and SUVs in particular have risen to the top of the agenda in Sweden – something that never happened before – and ownership of the vehicle has become all the less convenient.

Sweden is unique in Europe in its addiction to SUVs. Carbon emissions from new cars on Swedish roads are some 20 percent above the European average; no males in the EU emit as much by driving cars as Swedish males do. This is largely due to the success of Volvo’s SUV model XC90, as well as other cars from the consistently climate destructive company. The Indians of the Concrete Jungle have decided to change this situation.

The action performed by the Indians is simple. The cap of the tyre’s valve is unscrewed, a bean or a grain of gravel is inserted, and the valve is screwed back on the tyre. The little thing will push down the peg in the middle of the valve, making sure the air is gently released. The whole manoeuvre takes about 10 seconds, after which follows the long sound of the air petering out. A letter to the owner is left on the widescreen, wherein the action is explained. Instructions and the letter are available on the weblog, for all like-minded activists to use and spread lavishly. The Indians refrain from targeting SUVs used by handicapped drivers, health care institutions and company workers.

Though the response has, in general, been positive among the public, considerable fury and aggression have arisen among SUV-owners. A counterforce calling itself ”The Cowboys of the Concrete Jungle” has appeared, threatening to deflate the lungs of the Indians, presumably with knifes. On various internet communities run by motorists and soldiers, plans are made to guard SUVs and beat or even kill Indians; public supporters of the cause have been subject to threats of attacks on their homes. Undaunted, the Indians of the Concrete Jungle have continued and escalated the campaign, and so far, no one has been hurt. Only one Indian has been nabbed by Swedish police, though it has not even decided what kind of criminal offense deflating tyres actually constitutes – if indeed it is a crime at all.

The conflict surrounding the actions is considered a success in itself. There are real, social contradictions in the field of climate change between those who emit carbon relentlessly and those who suffer the heaviest losses, and bringing these to light is crucial for any progress. Not everyone will fight climate change. Not everyone will give up their lethal privileges voluntarily.

The Indians of the Concrete Jungle are determined to continue their campaign of disarmament. If it is done repeatedly and on a massive scale, deflating tyres will develop from a slight annoyance in the eyes of the owners into a real obstacle for driving SUVs. Imagine waking up to a car without air in the tyres every morning, or even once a week! The campaign is poised to spread further in Sweden, and now the Indians are looking forward to tribes taking up the cause in other countries as well. In the pursuit of spreading the word, all declarations of recent actions will hereafter be posted in English as well as Swedish.

If you’d like to read more, or are considering starting your own tribe, visit the official website of The Indians of the Concrete Jungle.