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Mark Knight looks at the Extinction Rebellions and wonders what the dinosaurs would have thought

Mark Knight, October 10, 2019 6:30PM Herald Sun

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Part of Mark Knight’s cartoon on Extinction Rebellion. media_cameraPart of Mark Knight’s cartoon on Extinction Rebellion.


Reading level: orange

Extinction Rebellion is a protest movement that has spread around the world voicing the concerns of people who believe the planet is headed for an environmental catastrophe*.

First it was the greenhouse effect*, then it became global warming followed by climate change, then dangerous climate change and now we are at maximum alarm with Extinction Rebellion.

The phrase creates images of outraged* citizens* fighting back for their very existence*. Mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore!

I considered a cartoon on this topic when ER (for short) decided to block various busy intersections in Australia’s capital cities and, indeed, around the world in major cities such as London.

EXTINCTION REBELLION PROTEST media_cameraExtinction Rebellion protesters blockade the corner of Spring and Collins Streets in Melbourne before facing arrest. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

The idea was to prevent everyday workers, commuters*, tradespeople and the like from going about their daily business in an effort to gain attention to what was happening to the planet.

It was a follow-up also to the massive student marches around the world inspired by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg.

But when the blockades* started in Australia, I noticed that the publicity was highly negative towards the ER campaigners*. People trying to get to work were pretty angry at protesters lying on the roads, blocking cars and public transport. They were just trying to earn a living, feed their families and were prevented from doing so.

The ER movement was losing friends instead of winning them over to their cause!

“If we have no planet, there won’t be any jobs to go to!” said the protesters, but this message was lost on most of the public and even politicians said it was not the right way to go about gaining support.

I started to think about species through the ages that had become extinct*.

Mankind wouldn’t be the first to disappear. Here in Australia we’ve seen the Tasmanian tiger become extinct. The Dodo bird was a famous example, too.

But I think we all agree that the most documented mass extinction was the dinosaurs, which ruled the Earth for thousands of years and then vanished. I thought it would be humorous if the dinosaurs had their own “Extinction Rebellion” movement.

Imagine a protest march of Tyrannosaurus Rexes, Triceratops, Brachiosaurs and Woolly Mammoths marching down the street, crying out about the impending doom.

Mark Knight’s Extinction Rebellion cartoon. Right-click and open in a new tab for full-screen image.

Mark Knight cartoon on Extinction Rebellion media_cameraMark Knight cartoon on Extinction Rebellion

And so I started sketching. Every kid loves drawing dinosaurs and I am no different!

This would be a fun cartoon to draw.

The punchline in the cartoon, though, would reflect what was going on today — that despite the threat of extinction of the dinosaurs, their protest was stopping the everyday business of ordinary folk, which in the cartoon I have drawn as Neanderthals* (note: I have taken a little liberty* with human history as Neanderthals were not around during the age of the dinosaurs!).

And so the final cartoon has the poor old Woolly Mammoth bemoaning* that not only were they about to become extinct, but due to their annoying protests, they were now considered social outcasts*.

A double blow … life can be cruel!


  • catastrophe: disaster
  • greenhouse effect: when the Earth’s atmosphere becomes thick with gases and substances which trap the sun’s radiation, making the Earth warmer
  • outraged: angry
  • citizens: residents
  • existence: state of existing or living
  • commuters: travellers, usually going to or from work or school
  • blockades: blocking a space to prevent people entering
  • campaigners: those fighting for a cause
  • extinct: having died out
  • Neanderthals: an extinct species of human
  • liberty: not following the facts
  • bemoaning: complaining about
  • outcasts: those rejected by society or a social group


Fossilised Iron Dragon dinosaur found in outback

Meet the honourable Hugh, or is it Wolverine?

Innocent victims of the Amazon fires

Entire herd of dinosaurs found in Australia


  1. What is Extinction Rebellion?
  2. Why is the cause losing support?
  3. Similar student marches were inspired by which girl?
  4. How were protesters creating blockades?
  5. Name two animals mentioned that are now extinct.


1. Caption it!
Cartoonists such as Mark Knight are so skilled they can convey a lot of complex information in one or a series of drawings without the need for many or any words.

However, Mark’s cartoon was drawn with an adult audience in mind and he knows that most people who look at it will also have read and watched a lot of news stories about the Extinction Rebellion protests and the issue of extinction.

People look at his cartoon with the help of a lot of background knowledge.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a new caption for the cartoon or some new thought bubbles or quotes from the animals in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about. Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  1. What is my subject?
  2. What do I want to say about this issue?
  3. How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you agree or disagree with how the Extinction Rebellion campaigners are protesting? Why?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in animals