Golfers in September 2017 enjoying a spherical at the Beacon Rock Golf Course in North Bonneville, Washington State, while a devastating wildfire raged in the tree-lined hills behind them (Photograph: Beacon Rock Golf Course on Fb).
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It’s a number of weeks now since Extinction Riot (XR) occupied 4 websites in central London — Parliament Sq., Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch — bringing visitors largely to a halt and noticeably decreasing pollution, and raising local weather change as an urgent matter more persuasively than at another time that I can recall.
In the first of three calls for, they — we — urged politicians and the media to “Tell the Truth” — no more lies or spin or denial. Tell the fact about the environmental catastrophe we face. When XR formally launched at the end of October, the timing was proper: the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just revealed a landmark report, by which, as the Guardian described it, “The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.” The authors of the report added that “urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target”, which they referred to as “affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the  Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.”
The identical week that Extinction Revolt shut down much of central London, the BBC broadcast ‘Climate Change: The Facts’, an unambiguous documentary by David Attenborough, more hard-hitting than something he has ever achieved earlier than, which made clear to tens of millions of people the scale of the environmental catastrophe that we’re dealing with.
And then, at the end of XR’s week of actions, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year previous Swedish campaigner whose Faculty Strike for Climate motion (also referred to as FridaysForFuture, Youth For Climate and Youth Strike four Climate) impressed large numbers of schoolchildren worldwide to comply with her example, and to take day without work faculty (or to cease going altogether) to campaign for urgent action on local weather change, spoke to campaigners at Marble Arch, gave a strong speech to Parliament, and met political leaders (though Theresa Might was a no-show), the upshot of which was MPs approving a motion to declare an surroundings and local weather emergency on Might 1.
Phrases, in fact, particularly from the mouths of politicians, are usually unreliable, as Greta Thunberg has famous. In her speech to the British Parliament she identified that “nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises”, and she or he has achieved a terrific job of repeatedly stating that politicians have been uttering high-quality words but doing nothing since earlier than she was born.
In reality, confirming how weaselly and untrustworthy politicians are, on the similar day that a non-binding declaration of a local weather emergency was introduced by MPs, the High Courtroom authorised the creation of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, an act of environmental madness that had been backed by 415 MPs to 119 again in June 2018. As the wonderful Zad Perpetually website explained in a current publish, “Local residents, Greenpeace and London’s Mayor had tried to block the building of the third runway, but the court ruled against them. The third runway could destroy 950 homes, acres of agricultural land and produce more CO2 each year than the entire country of Kenya.”
The trail to change
I’m no stranger to environmental consciousness. I was solely seven when US activists declared the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, however I grew up at a time of nice worry about nuclear annihilation and the perils of nuclear waste, and Greenpeace and Buddies of the Earth have been both outstanding in my youth.
Instinctively counter-cultural, I took an curiosity in the ladies’s peace camp at Greenham Widespread, and was impressed by the ecological facet of the new age traveller and free pageant scene.
In 1989, I read Invoice McKibben’s bleak, black-bound e-book The End of Nature, which awoke me to the perils of what was then referred to as “global warming”, but in addition threw me into what, with hindsight, was some type of existential melancholy.
The ‘90s focused environmental awareness even more sharply. In the countryside (and occasionally the cities), anti-roads campaigners occupied trees to prevent pointless roads from being built, with a reverence for ‘Mother Nature’ that was inspiring, while, in the cities, ‘Reclaim the Streets‘ took again the streets from automobiles and lorries, reclaiming the land as traffic-free public area.
These movements, in flip, fed into the anti-globalisation movement of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, and, finally — after the West had become obsessed with terrorism and war on Muslim countries — XR’s predecessor, the Occupy movement, which additionally seized public area to provoke a dialog about our future.
Nevertheless, while the anti-globalisation and Occupy movements had largely targeted on the perils of capitalism, it has taken until now for the environmental disaster to be the focus bringing all our struggles collectively.
Warfare is environmental disaster, the west’s main corporations are environmental rapists, driving life to the level of extinction round the world, and our shallow, self-obsessed materialism — for new garments every time we would like them, for whatever meals we would like every time we would like it, for our telephones and computers, for limitless journey by automotive and by aircraft — additionally spells environmental catastrophe.
To be blunt, capitalism is environmental disaster, as one other long-term campaigner, George Monbiot, spelled out two weeks ago in the Guardian, in an article entitled, ‘Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it.’
In January, a key moment for me was when I was asked by Chris Hedges to seem on his ‘On Contact‘ show on RT to discuss Guantánamo — one of the great focal points of the west’s post-9/11 warmongering, with its unsubtle warning about the suppression of dissent by way of lifelong imprisonment without cost or trial.
At the studio, I met up with an previous pal, Dahr Jamail, who was discussing with Chris his revelatory new e-book The End of Ice. I watched from the Green Room as the interview was recorded, and Dahr spelled out the alarming modifications happening, and I then watched him and Chris — two grown males with a deep reverence for nature — speak about the velocity of our planet’s environmental collapse, and the necessity of coming to phrases with an unprecedented disaster that’s already occurring, and whose worst effects we will only hope to mitigate if we immediately change the approach our complete international capitalist system operates. Afterwards, I informed Chris, as we prepared to document our interview, that abruptly every little thing besides this wrestle appeared irrelevant.
That transformative event paved the method for glimpsing the risk of mass collective motion during the XR/Attenborough/Greta Thunberg week, and, in consequence, I needed to be sure that I made a really public pledge about committing myself to what, it seems to me, and, more and more, to hundreds of thousands of other individuals in the UK and round the world, is the one nice wrestle of our occasions — to forestall the worst effects of a man-made environmental disaster that’s already unfolding.
This can be a wrestle that can’t be postpone even till tomorrow, and that requires nothing lower than an entire overhaul of the approach our whole capitalist system operates.
So what now? Nicely, it’s clearly good that governments are beginning to get up to the scale of the disaster, but there’s nonetheless no sign that any government is prepared to do what is required. In the UK, for example, the authorities, at present, is just dedicated to decreasing carbon emissions by 80% compared to 1990 ranges by 2050. Introducing the movement for a climate emergency, the Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn referred to as on the government to commit to attaining internet zero emissions before 2050, however that’s an impossibly lengthy timescale, and we merely don’t have time, as Extinction Rebel recognise. Their second demand is for internet zero emissions by 2025.
Or, as Greta Thunberg defined to MPs:
However maybe the most harmful false impression about the climate crisis is that we’ve got to “lower” our emissions. As a result of that’s removed from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to keep under 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is in fact essential but it is just the starting of a quick course of that must lead to a cease within a few many years, or much less. And by “stop” I mean internet zero – and then shortly on to unfavourable figures. That guidelines out most of at present’s politics.
So whereas we’ve made a begin, we’re still nowhere near where we’d like to be, which is to instantly stop “business as usual”, and to rethink every thing. There will want to be more schooling, and more direct motion, however, in the meantime, conversations have started that are not going to stop, and alliances are growing.
Shutting down central London was inspiring, as all of a sudden the air pollution was reduce, and we regained public area, which we might run autonomously — the joke on Waterloo Bridge was that it was the “Garden Bridge“, but it hadn’t cost anything. As a result of the occupations,, everyone realised how much we need to cut traffic, and it also became obvious that most journeys aren’t necessary; that, as I saw it, for example, an entire “food logistics” business is shifting billions of pre-prepared sandwiches and canned drinks to corporate retailers, or shifting insane quantities of unnecessary “fast fashion” to corporate garments outlets.
It might all cease — and it should, because the whole lot about it — the plastics, the packaging, the large journeys undertaken — is environmentally deranged, and we’d like to start factoring the environmental value into each facet of how enterprise operates.
Because I’ve been involved in housing activism for a number of years, another facet of the shutdown that notably impressed me was the sudden lack of lorries involved in all elements of the building business, which normally choke up roads throughout the capital regularly. This was a welcome aid, but a much bigger environmental image for me includes stopping the orgy of cynical council property demolitions (which are environmental ruinous, in addition to socially unjust) and the reckless creation of countless speculative towers for personal consumers, on the basis that the whole business wants to turn out to be carbon neutral.
If this is something that pursuits you, then please get in contact. Ultimately, perhaps, XR’s third goal shall be taken critically — for individuals’s assemblies to be set up to impact change — but for now we’d like to discover extra methods to get the word out to people who want weaning off the materialism and sense of entitlement which are so central to our current debased tradition, and more dedication to direct action, whether by way of XR’s arrest and disruption model, or by means of the faculty strikes — or, certainly, via different means.
The primary thing, nevertheless, in the wake of yet one more apocalyptic report —the UN’s first International Assessment research since 2005, featuring the work of 400 specialists from at the very least 50 nations, coordinated by the Bonn-based Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Providers (IPBES), which warns that around one million species “already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss” — is for increasingly individuals to grasp the urgency of the state of affairs by which we discover ourselves, and to realise that the disaster we face is so immense that we will not postpone taking motion and demanding an pressing and unprecedented system change.
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Andy Worthington is a contract investigative journalist, activist, writer, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and primary songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is on the market by way of Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Shut Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photograph marketing campaign right here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the writer of The Guantánamo Information: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Unlawful Jail (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is additionally the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (obtainable on DVD right here — or right here for the US), and for his photograph undertaking ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of motorcycle rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.
In 2017, Andy turned very involved in housing issues. He’s the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a track ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the completely preventable hearth in June 2017 that killed over 70 individuals, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the lack of group area in his residence borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Previous Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to forestall its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Though the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the timber have been reduce down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.
To obtain new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he may also be found on Fb (and right here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Additionally see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner listing, The Full Guantánamo Information, the definitive Guantánamo habeas record, the full army commissions record, and the chronological record of all Andy’s articles.
Please also think about becoming a member of the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, in the event you recognize Andy’s work, be happy to make a donation.