September 4th, 2020
Good afternoon, friends!
This is going to be a more personal blog post again.
This week I was part of an Extinction Rebellion protest March in Cardiff.
I didn’t realise before, but Cardiff is one of the top cities in the world to be at risk of flooding (Storm Dennis has already caused big problems this year) and the most at risk in the UK.
On my way to the protest, I was challenged by a ticket collector at Gloucester Station.
He was a climate change denier and believed he was entitled to his opinion.
A group of writers held a protest in London yesterday – Zadie Smith (sister of rapper Doc Brown!) said: “There are people whose business it is to make science look like opinion. Who aim to transform genuine feelings of climate grief and guilt into … ignorance and positive denial.
The fate of this planet cannot be decided by well-remunerated men and women in shadowy offices. This planet belongs to the people. More accurately, we all belong to it.”
Margaret Atwood, author of books including The Handmaid’s Tale, lent her support via video message: “Climate change due to human activity is not a theory, it is not an opinion, it is a fact.
“Denial of this fact in the interests of big money will lead to our extinction as a species.”
Thank goodness human extinction is still a little way off; and the skull/death message from Extinction Rebellion is probably counter-productive, resulting in onlookers ‘switching off’.
But so many animal, plant and insect species have already been extinguished; and we need to save those that are endangered – orangutans, polar bears, turtles, monarch butterflies, macaws, iguanas: the World Wildlife Fund has a huge list.
I’ve been listening to Power Out on BBC Radio 4, billed as ‘a thriller about power and protest on a dying planet’(starring Vinnie Heaven and written by Sarah Woods).
The facts listed on it about the damage that humans are doing are very thought-provoking – an example of how truth can certainly be stranger (more worrying) than fiction.
As I’ve just alluded to, I feel that sadly there is a problem with XR’s approach – pouring paint, daubing slogans, damaging property etc runs the risk of distracting us, ’ordinary people’, from the big, undeniable, frightening message.
And of course Covid rules ‘muddy the waters’… all protesters on the March I was on wore masks and we socially distanced, used hand sanitiser etc. The organisers were very careful to enforce the rules; but I can imagine onlookers and police judging that we were being irresponsible. Of course, we all want to keep safe, for ourselves, each other and the planet.
(One heartening image I’ll take away from Cardiff, at least, is a climate activist and policeman deep in conversation.)
And I agree with Jane Goodall (of Gorillas in the Mist fame) that this pandemic should be viewed as a wake-up call – we are ignoring and exploiting Nature at our peril.
Watch and share this video please – https://youtu.be/pdNjRdsq1qA
BUSINESS AS USUAL CANNOT CONTINUE – in the way we live our own lives, and in ‘big business’…..
Now, several words of wisdom from friends and celebrities:
I was sympathising with an XR friend (Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire!) about our mutual friend’s illness; and wondered if we’re not sorting out the world because we have so much in our own lives to deal with… Of course, as she said, “we’re actually not sorting out the world because ‘big business’ doesn’t want us to.” But I believe we do have a role in that – colluding with the system as it is, consuming too much and liking things staying the same…
It’s all so tricky. I want to believe in the kindness of humans (check out Humankind by Rutger Bregman) – even multinational corporations are run by humans.
That’s why I write to them – “We’re trying to save the world for all of us, even you!”
We in the older generation will not have to face the worst – what kind of world will our children and grandchildren face? More has to be done, before 2030.
People like Extinction Rebellion are trying to tell the truth.
It’s a truth that we would much rather not have to tell. And it’s frightening – but more frightening if we don’t do anything about it.
“Doing nothing is no longer an option”, as another XR friend said (also, Gloucestershire).
At the launch of the Writers Rebel campaign last week, the writer, actor and ‘TV personality’ Stephen Fry said people had a duty to “expose the lies” of climate change denial.
When I read his appeal on Twitter, I also noted the first comment/reply by someone who said Fry should concentrate on ‘engaging with the enemy’. I agree; but that clearly isn’t enough. The ugly (not just inconvenient now – why didn’t more people listen earlier…?) Truth, about vested interests & lobbyists, has to be challenged more robustly too….
The writers demonstration was organised in conjunction with a new XR ‘offshoot’ Money Rebellion, which will target the finance industry for its inaction on the climate emergency.
That’s one thing we can all do – ask our banks, building societies, pension funds etc for strong policies to divest from fossil fuel and other polluting projects.
As Jack Harries (social media influencer and XR member) said: “Climate activism is the ‘mother of all causes’”
There are no jobs on a dead planet.
Please sign/share this petition – http://chng.it/kdyR5267
The crucial message that we all need to get across now is the urgent need to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (presented to Parliament this week) – ask your MP to back it please!
It calls for:
the UK to make and enact a serious plan – dealing with our real… emissions so that we don’t go over critical global rises in temperature
our entire carbon footprint to be taken into account (in the UK and overseas)
the protection and conservation of nature here and overseas along supply chains, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume
those in power not to depend on technology to save the day, which is used as an excuse to carry on polluting as usual
ordinary people to have a real say on the way forward in a citizens’ assembly with bite
On the third point, it’s good to see that Anita Rani and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are back on television with their ‘War on Plastic’ – maybe you’ve been watching it…?
And I hope more people are listening to David Attenborough’s latest plea, made on the documentary ‘A Life on Our Planet’ – “We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. It simply can’t!”
I’m going to end with a lovely little poem written by my husband (Bill Sanderson)!
More or Less?