This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The activists who took “climate action” against sports utility vehicles by flattening their tires in the last two weeks have been receiving solidarity and calls for information from around the world.

Tyre Extinguishers provides instructions on how to deflate SUV tires, offers guidance on who to target and collates reports of actions across the country. They have gauged the campaign’s reach by angry emails from SUV owners.

The group registered a website and started a Twitter account in July 2021. The first reports of actions came at the beginning of March. But in just the past week, activists have “disarmed” SUVs in Chiswick, Maida Vale, Wood Green and Muswell Hill in London, Brighton and Hove and Manchester.

Acting autonomously and, usually, under the cover of darkness, the activists have used lentils to deflate tires by placing one inside the tire valve, holding it open and slowly bleeding air until the tire is flat. The group calculates they’ve deflated the tires on at least a thousand vehicles in two weeks.

The response from the public has been much more welcoming than they expected. “We are getting loads of emails from SUV drivers in parts of the country where nobody has actually told us they are doing the action, so there’s probably a lot going on we don’t know about,” the group told The Guardian in an email.

“For example, the Tyre Extinguishers apparently struck somewhere in northern Colorado last weekend and we only found out about that through an SUV driver who found our website via the flyer, not through anyone who took the action.”

They’ve also received messages from activists in Italy, France and Germany asking for the leaflet to be translated into their languages.

SUVs were the second-largest contributor to the increase in global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018. Each year, SUVs belch out 700 megatonnes of CO2, about the entire output of the U.K. and Netherlands combined. If all SUV drivers banded together to form their own country, it would rank as the seventh-largest emitter in the world.

If all SUV drivers banded together to form their own country, it would rank as the seventh-largest emitter in the world. #ClimateCrisis #Emissions #TyreExtinguishers

The lentil tactic has been around for a while. In an article in the Conversation, Graeme Hayes and Oscar Berglund, two academics who study protest movements, trace reports of the “mung bean trick” for deflating tires at least as far back as 2008.

It is hard to estimate the numbers involved in the latest campaign, the Tyre Extinguishers said, adding: “Of course, that’s part of the strength of the action. Not even those of us at the centre of this know the numbers of people involved, or even who they are.”

They said actions had all gone smoothly so far, with no arrests or near misses yet reported.

“If anything, it’s easier than we thought it would be to do this and not get caught. Which is good news for anyone reading this and considering taking the action.”

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The practice of letting down tires on SUVs is ill-considered, irresponsible, counter-productive, and ultimately stupid.

It no doubt gives the participants a feeling of smugness and superiority, but how do they imagine that such antisocial behaviour is going to win any converts to their cause? It merely confirms the opinion that many people already have of those in the environmental movement as raging nutbars who are out to wreck the economy with no care about their effects on other people's lives.

Those who engage in such acts have no idea of the consequences on the individual lives of the people affected that could be far beyond inconvenience and the cost of calling out a repair service. It is an action that potentially could have dangerous consequences for those affected by such wanton mischief if it occurs at a time when they urgently need a vehicle to access medical care or to look after family members or others who are incapacitated and in vital need of personal care. There are times in all our lives when the sudden loss of transport and no ready access to an alternative could have far reaching consequences for ourselves and others who are relying on us.

I am sorry to see the National Observer publish this article as apparent admiration and endorsement of such a reckless activity. The results of deflating SUV tires are wholly negative for everybody concerned.

This activity goes beyond causing a nuisance to make a point. Because it causes not only serious inconvenience but significant costs for those affected and a high possibility of damage to sidewalls it is tantamount to vandalism. Nobody carries four spares and if a vehicle with deflated tires is moved *at all*, even to load it on a rescue truck, there is a high probability of irreparable damage to the tires.