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In support of Climate Camp

Posted By Sunny On 20th August, 2007 @ 3:46 pm In Environmentalism | Comments Disabled

Climate Camp 2007 will finish tomorrow after a [1] flurry of activity yesterday and today. I didn’t get a chance to join in today, but I may head there tomorrow morning to get involved if I can.

All credit to the organisers and attendees of CC 2007 by participating in non-violent and good-natured protests. That should be the only way pro-environment direct action should take place.

But has CC achieved anything?

1) For a start it keeps the problem of global warming and environmental degradation at the front of news agendas.

2) Air travel is not the primary contributor to pollution. But it among the fastest growing. The aim here is not just to get people to think about their own actions, but also put pressure on businesses and the government to change their behaviour and incentives.

3) Camps like these bring people together so they can forge links, share ideas and make plans for the future.

4) It puts polluting companies on the defensive, who may otherwise have thought there is no opposition to their plans.

So yes, I think it was worthwhile.

And will people really change their lifestyle? Leo Hickman asks: [2] What’s your excuse, not to do anything?

A fair amount of recent surveys have pointed out that while global warming is rapidly going up people’s list of important issues, they are less willing to change their lifestyle to adapt.

But these surveys miss the obvious point. Before much of the noice-making of recent years, global warming was nowhere near the list of important issues for most people and their resolve to do something about it even lower. So the fact that 90% of Britain is not recycling everything is not bad news - it may not happen tomorrow but we are slowly moving towards being as green as the Germans.

More news:
[3] Climate protests target UK firms
[4] Colourful scenes at day of protest

Comments Disabled To "In support of Climate Camp"

#1 Comment By ChrisC On 20th August, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

I find this kind of evangelical certainty just as scary as the religious kind.
“Make Planes History” - very helpful.

#2 Comment By Sofia On 20th August, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

Chris I think they’re just trying to make a point. Of course plane travel is important but creating another runway and having more planes flying over London is not exactly helpful for the thousands of people it might affect, including me. Personally, I think Heathrow’s third runway and 5th terminal are ill conceived..does that make me evangelical? No, it makes me aware of how it is not only going to affect the environment but also the immediate lives of the people who have the misfortune of living near Heathrow.

#3 Comment By Sunny On 20th August, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

just as scary as the religious kind

Stop being such a wimp.

#4 Comment By Leon On 20th August, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

I find this kind of evangelical certainty just as scary as the religious kind.

You find arguements based on rationality and science scary?

#5 Comment By Nyrone On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

LOL, nice Leon..

#6 Comment By Rumbold On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

The smugness of the whole thing is overwhelming (present company excluded). I was reading a review of Richard Dawkins’ programme that was on last week and the reviewer really hit the nail on the head by saying that while most would agree with Dawkins, his sense of self-importance and smugness put people off. This ‘climate camp’ can be viewed in the same way. People may broadly agree with the protestors’ views (no third runway, less flights etc.), but it is their preachy nature that annoys. Even Johann Hari’s article, which is basically a press release for the camp, still makes the camp followers seem insufferable:

[5] http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1169

Hari vaguely comprehends this state of affairs, which is why he devotes so much space to the protest of local residents, who are a far more agreeable bunch.

Judging by the photos in Sunny’s piece, global warming does not seem to be having too much impact.

As for the police, they should not have been there in such numbers. There are plenty of crimes going on elsewhere.

A much truer reflection of the camp came from Christopher Hart’s article in the Sunday Times yesterday:

[6] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2283224.ece

“Journalists, officially, “must be accompanied at all times by two members of the Media Team, who will carry a flag to make them identifiable”. Stuff that, I thought, as I ducked under the rope in the gathering dusk, rucksack on my back. Though the protesters declaim endlessly about the media being craven employees of BP or Shell, you can be sure that if this lot ever came to power, it really would be the end of a free press. There’s much windy talk of “inclusivity” in the camp, but in place of blacks or gays, the protesters hate journalists and oilmen. We are their Other.”

” “Are you a journalist?” he asked suspiciously. I’d decided I wouldn’t lie if asked. Yes, I was a filthy, snooping, untrustworthy, lickspittle hack. It quickly became the Unwelcome tent. A girl leant over my shoulder and said my question about the wheelie bins was “disrespectful”. Another girl in steel-rimmed glasses joined us.

“I have personal issues about talking to the corporate media,” said Beanie Boy to Steely Girl, gesturing towards me fastidiously. Steely Girl fixed me with a steely gaze, and then asked me to leave the camp.

I had to struggle for a moment to get my head around this. Hang on. You’re trespassing on someone else’s land. They don’t want you here, but they’re prepared to tolerate you for a week or so. You make a lot of noise about inclusivity and communality. Yet when someone else comes along, you demand that they leave immediately? Isn’t that a bit, um – hypocritical?”

#7 Comment By Sunny On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

I’m not sure where you see the smugness? These are some of the most well meaning peopler around, who have had to endure stupidly heavy policing and (last night) unprovoked attacks from the police and they didn’t even retaliate with any violence.

You’ll have to forgive me if my sympathies lie with them Rumbold.

And yes, they’re suspicious of the mainstream media and establishment, given how they have been marginalised for so long. I think that needs to change, and I’m sure it will happen.

#8 Comment By El Cid On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:20 pm

OK, lets put a cat among the pigeons: what would you say to someone who said it was a lost cause, that it was too late, that millions of Indians and Chinese will soon also want and be able to afford a cheap hols in the sun?

#9 Comment By Rumbold On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

They may mean well Sunny- I just do not take kindly to being lectured by people, a number of whom I suspect have a bigger ‘carbon footprint’ than I. It is worse when the government starts bleating about it, and then ministers and officials jet off to exotic places. Remember that great green crusader Michael Meacher, who owned nine homes, or Al Gore, who flies everywhere and whose home uses emits twelve times the carbon of an average American’s home?

I think that some of the protestors secretly like climate change, because it gives them the chance to feel superior. I have met people who criticise me for some minor environmentally unfriendly activity, who then announce that they are flying off to Italy next week for a holiday (where David Miliband, another green lecturer, is at the moment).

As for police provocation, it seems that what usually happens (in this country at least) is that the protestors throw bricks and other dangerous objects at the police. The police then respond by trying to stop this, which involves charging the protestors with shields and batons. The protestors, forgetting their aversion to the fascist media, stroll over to the waiting reporters to tell them that the police came out of nowhere and attacked them, neglecting to mention the paving slab thrown beforehand.

#10 Comment By Gap year On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

I’m in a field before I fly to Thailand for my gap year.
Please dont laugh at my shallowness.

#11 Comment By ChrisC On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

As a slogan, “Make Planes History” doesn’t quite reek of “rationality and science” to me.

#12 Comment By Rumbold On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

If one was really pedeantic one could point out that the banner actually reads:

Make Planes! History!

Which, as El Cid puts it, would really put the feline amongst the pigeons. Are they BAA executives in disguise?

#13 Comment By Sunny On 20th August, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

a number of whom I suspect have a bigger ‘carbon footprint’ than I.

The camp was almost entirely run on sustainable technology, and I don’t know where your suspicion comes from.

Anyway, I did point out earlier I’m not entirely against plane flying, I’d just like it to reflect proper prices.

It is worse when the government starts bleating about it, and then ministers and officials jet off to exotic places

I completely agree with you. Our politicians are hypocritical beyond belief. But they also lecture us on spreading peace while dropping cluster bombs and using chemical weapons in Iraq. But I’m talking about ordinary people here, no politicians.

I think that some of the protestors secretly like climate change, because it gives them the chance to feel superior.

Yeah, because people on the right, like those who announce that ‘enviro-nazis’ are mad and should get a job are not smug or feel superior.

#14 Comment By Rumbold On 20th August, 2007 @ 6:01 pm


Perhaps they emitted little carbon in the camp but I bet that it their day-to-day lives they are not as pure. What do you think about ‘offsetting’?

I know that you did not mention the government, but they liked to portray themselves as ‘green’ so they constantly need reminding of why they are not.

“Yeah, because people on the right, like those who announce that ‘enviro-nazis’ are mad and should get a job are not smug or feel superior.”

Fair point. But I bet that there are at least a few protestors who would be sad to see ‘climate change’ conquered.

“Anyway, I did point out earlier I’m not entirely against plane flying, I’d just like it to reflect proper prices.”

I would also like to see an end to subsidies and tax breaks for airports and airliners- let them sink or swim on their own merits. Perhaps protestors should concentrate on this, and go and set up camp outside Whitehall and the House of Commons- the real culprits.

#15 Comment By El Cid On 20th August, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

Anyway Picklers, I’m off now until September.
Those bastards from Ryanair will be whisking me off to the mother country anon.
I also have three more return flights penned in before the end of the year.
I’m not proud of that fact.
But it illustrates the futility of the situation.
Long live nuclear power.
Be lucky

#16 Comment By Rohin On 20th August, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

Once again Rumbold I find myself in agreement with you (worrying for you that we agree so frequently), I am a green-minded individual without the in-your-face sermonising attitude (the religious analogy is apt) and it’s the preaching that really puts me off.

#17 Comment By Rumbold On 20th August, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

Nonsense Rohin: You are a medical doctor and thus it is you who should be worried that you find yourself agreeing with me. Normally I would agree with you, but I suspect that your posting is somewhat curtailed by the immense number of hours that you have to put in as an F2. How are the F1s coping?

Over at Harry’s Place, Brett has a good article on this preachy problem called “When Green goes Goofy”.

#18 Comment By septicisle On 20th August, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

I think the protesters were perfectly entitled to be suspicious of journalists in general. Take the Evening Standard and its complete nonsense about how they were going to leave “hoax suspect packages”; that article set the tone for the whole week. With hardly any other news to report on, the Guardian saying that at the beginning journalists outnumbered campers by 2 to 1, they did their best to turn it into something it was never going to be, and when that failed, they then decided to point out how hypocritical everyone there was. Maybe they were, but maybe also they just might have been doing something rather than just criticising and sneering from afar.

#19 Comment By Sunny On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:35 am

This is kind of amusing. We live in a society where a hypocritical media take seriously a very hypocritical political class - and you guys are more obsessed about how these greenies sound too smug?

You show me a person without contradiction and I’ll show you a robot. We all have contradictions in how we want to behave and how we end up behaving. Environmentalists are no different. But I bet you they care a lot more for social justice and positive social values than the hacks who have been cynically laying into them all week. And you guys buy into that stupid narrative. Shame.

#20 Comment By devolute On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:36 am

The way the media/police have dealt with this has been embarrassing. Still, I guess it’s easier to baby-sit a bunch of hippies rather than actually go out and chase real stories/scary criminals.

#21 Comment By justforfun On 21st August, 2007 @ 9:18 am

For the philosophers here.

Is hypocrisy morally wrong, or is it like inflation, where a little bit of inflation is good for the economy but too much ruins everthing.

Has hypocrisy anything to do with morals?

Is a little hypocrisy needed in all of us to make life work , but too much and people will never know where you stand. Is hypocrisy the flip side of integrity?

Is hypocrisy ever a virtue? Is a lot of hypocrisy required to “succeed” in life and especially in politics?


#22 Comment By Don On 21st August, 2007 @ 9:54 am

Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.


#23 Comment By Sofia On 21st August, 2007 @ 11:00 am

Hypocrisy - I didn’t recycle my cola cans or plastic bottles. But I did turn off the tv from the mains and the taps while i was brushing my teeth. I travelled to the station by car, but got on a train to go to work..
Life is full of hypocrisy as many point out, but it doesn’t make the debate less relevant..we all have aspects of our lives we’re not too happy about but does that mean we have no right to talk about the environment?? Those protestors are highlighting the issue and if they’re a bit preachy..well let them be..they’re doing it within context and not all the time which is when it would get irritating…if anything is preachy, it’s the media…

#24 Comment By Ravi Naik On 21st August, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

I agree. I am not sure why hypocrisy is an issue here. There’s your naiveness (e.g. planes history?), but the whole point here is awareness about the fact that the amount of resources each individual spends in the West cannot be scaled to every individual in the world. Obviously we will be hearing a lot more about this as India and China continue to grow economically.

#25 Comment By Rumbold On 21st August, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

Hypocrisy is only a problem when one starts to lecture others on their behaviour, which is what these protestors are doing.

If someone wishes to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ and does so in some areas, but not in others, that is not hypocrisy. That is a realistic scenario. The hypocrisy arrives when said person goes to a demo and starts yelling at others to change their ways and cut out x, y, and z, even when said person has only cut out x and y.

#26 Comment By Sunny On 21st August, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

when said person goes to a demo and starts yelling at others to change their ways and cut out x, y, and z,

… like I said, this is not similar to what the media and politicians do daily. But you still buy/listen to them?

#27 Comment By Sofia On 21st August, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

ok another example: if a doctor smokes, then he/she shouldn’t tell people to give up smoking? what if the doctor is trying to give up, would that give them more of a right to protest against smoking? I know there is the whole, people in glass houses blah blah, but none of us is perfect.

#28 Comment By justforfun On 21st August, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

Don - still trying to work out what he meant.

Rumbold @ 25 - that may be hypocrisy but why is it bad?

I want to get a feel for why it is viewed as bad, not a definition of hypocrisy.

The whole drug taking debate and how politians are forced to deny smoking cannabis is full of hypocrisy and really does skew what should be a rational debate and response. My concern is about the way “hypocrisy” is used by the media to manipulate and divert public discussion away from rational debate by appealling to our emotions and not our minds. I always think of “Hypocrisy” as a very emotional response that clouds our minds to the real debate and arguements.

Does the theme of ‘hypocrisy’ turn up in Shakespear. I ask - because I always think of ‘hypocrisy’ only being able to live in a world where things are expected to be fair. I don’t think in Shakespears era, fairness in society was a concept that existed so does he dwell on ‘hypocrisy’ - I would be interested to know.


#29 Comment By Don On 21st August, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

‘Does the theme of ‘hypocrisy’ turn up in Shakespear?’

Hell, yes. Willy covered all the bases. Try Lear:

Thou rascal beadle,hold thy bloody hand!

Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back;

Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind

For which thou whip’st her. (IV, vi 157-60)

Quite a bit of Macbeth, (’look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it’, ‘There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face) Hamlet (…smile and smile and be a villain.’) and passim.

#30 Comment By Dave S On 22nd August, 2007 @ 9:06 pm

Rumbold @ comment #9…

Your comment about ministers and officials is definitely true, and unfortunately tars all of us environmental types with the same dirty brush. Personally, I can’t stand their immense hypocrisy any more than you can, and I think they’re doing a tremendous disservice both to the environmental causes they pretend to care about, and to the taxpayers they are ripping off. They are a huge part of the problem and deserve to be shunned, which is why things like the Climate Camp are such important places to demonstrate other options for dealing with climate change away from the non-”solutions” offered (or usually not offered) by government.

Dr. Mayer Hillman’s talk at the camp was pretty contentious. He proposed some rather unpopular solutions - basically that we needed heavy government enforcement around green issues, particularly carbon rationing, and that nothing short of this would save us.

Although a few in attendance agreed with him (this was to be expected - the camp was open to anyone, and there were many different political backgrounds present), many people including myself spoke out and harshly condemned eco-authoritarianism and government-based solutions. In fact, someone even stood up at the end of the talk as people were leaving and said that they didn’t believe what had been said was in line with the spirit of the climate camp.

For the most part, people at the camp do not want an eco-fascist state! That’s why instead of calling for the government to ingrain itself in every aspect of our lives and babysit us like irresponsible children, we used the DIY approach and organised without leaders to create our own solutions.

By-and-large (with notable exceptions, who I would expect to be harshly criticised and ultimately excluded), you can expect us to continue to use this approach in future, and reject anyone who thinks they can tell others what to do. Climate Camp is not about telling people what to do - it’s about coming together to work out what we can do together.

We (including me) often get this part wrong, but instead of criticising others and telling them what not to do, we instead need to create positive alternatives and lead by example. I’m trying to do this and succeeding relatively well - though I will always aspire to do much more.

Some of the people coming to the camp would undoubtedly have been on planes recently, but it is through meeting others and learning that we realise our own hypocrisy and improve ourselves. The true mistake is to be confronted with ourselves and learn nothing from it.

Regarding the police, there is now quite a bit of video footage where the police can clearly be seen to be beating the living crap out of peaceful protesters.

In fact, one of my friends (a man in his mid-50s, who was doing nothing more than standing there) was knocked flying onto the edge of the kerb, and has broken his hip in two places. I was also speaking to an older lady (mid to late 60s) who was punched in the front and the back by riot cops.

There was no provocation by protesters, and even in the face of a serious beating by riot cops (many of whom wore no numbers, so were essentially masked up, tooled up, anonymous thugs), many did not even raise a fist back. Undoubtedly there was some pushing and shoving, but ask yourself what you would do if your peaceful protest was set upon by armed people intent on hitting you with weapons?

Not that I expect a bunch of ultraviolent cops beating up entirely peaceful protesters is going to change anybody’s minds, despite any amount of video footage.

Is it really so far beyond consideration that riot cops turning up and hitting people is what starts riots? In the face of such a vicious and unprovoked beating, I’m pleasantly surprised that there really was no violent lashback from protesters.

In any case, could any number of people deciding to protest outside an office, or chain themselves to a gate, or superglue themselves to a door ever be grounds for vanloads of armed cops using any amount of violence?

The police violence is impossible to justify, and I think in the coming months we are likely to see quite a few cops (at least those who can be identified because they weren’t illegally operating without numbers) losing their jobs and maybe even facing prosecution as a result.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that many who were the most violent were completely unidentifiable and anonymous (including those who jumped on me as I walked down a residential street, breaking their van door in the process), so will go on again to abuse their position of power to assault more non-violent, concerned members of the public.

I hope you never get to personally find out what this feels like, because it’s really unpleasant.

To answer your later point about seeing climate change conquered - nothing would make me happier, as I could finally get on with the rest of my life! But we certainly aren’t going to see it fixed by governments or corporations, and we also aren’t going to see it fixed by technology without the accompanying significant changes in society, and the way we live our lives.

Still, I don’t think this is going to be as painful as I guess you probably suspect it is going to be! There is a simple beauty in such things as growing your own food, creating your own energy or building your own energy-efficient house - and even better when done as a social activity with other people.

Ultimately, the types of social changes that are by-and-large suggested by people at the Climate Camp are the kind of things that really are going to give us more freedom, unshackle us from corporations and governments who want to profit from our dependence on them, and really will make our lives vastly more fun and rewarding.

The future - at least the one I imagine - is largely a happy place, full of excitement and creative possibilities. From adversity comes opportunity, and there’s going to be plenty of that!

OK, quantity-wise we’ll have a little bit less stuff, but the quality of our lives will be vastly improved from where we are now. We’ll finally be able to reach our full potential as humans, because we can be so much more than tiny cogs in the machines of huge companies!

This is not a cloud-cuckoo-land dream, but a very real, achievable goal. It’s certainly a far more realistic possibility than infinite consumerism in a finite world.

I really look forward to seeing you there, and finding out what you come up with yourself!

#31 Comment By Sunny On 22nd August, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

In fact, one of my friends (a man in his mid-50s, who was doing nothing more than standing there) was knocked flying onto the edge of the kerb, and has broken his hip in two places. I was also speaking to an older lady (mid to late 60s) who was punched in the front and the back by riot cops.

I hope they’re taking action against the police on this!

#32 Comment By Rumbold On 23rd August, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

On the subject of hypocrisy, people seem to be saying that those who lecture us on issues are human beings and so are fallable. I agree- the solution would be to stop lecturing others. I do not believe that doctors should try and persuade patients to change their lfestyles- they should merely provide thme with the facts if so asked. As for politians, they are there to make and amend laws- not to run people’s lives.

Dave S:

I think that I misjudged you earlier. Judging by your latest post, you sound like a decent sort of chap, and I fully support your efforts to set an example by living in a ‘green’ way. It is also good to see that you reject the sort of eco-authoritarianism that filters through to us via the media. I apologise for any rudness on my part.

As for the police vs. protestors, I think that protestors are always portrayed as the victims of police brutality, but it is often more complicated than that.

#33 Comment By Dave S On 28th August, 2007 @ 3:40 pm

Rumbold - no worries, and I think I also misjudged you before too!

That’s one thing it seems very hard to get right on the ‘net - because when posting relatively anonymously to relatively anonymous strangers, it’s far too easy to jump down people’s throats, or get all worked up and end up ranting.

I’ve finally begun to recognize this in myself - not that I’m immune to it yet - but I really want to stop being such a ranter, and try to always post in a positive, encouraging, non-preachy way.

This isn’t entirely for altruistic reasons though! I almost certainly spend too long posting in various places on the ‘net and would like to make my posting more productive, in that I wish to express myself better and without alienating people (who I’d hope to persuade to agree with me) in the process.

I have decided (as of coming back from Climate Camp) to make this a personal resolution of mine, though only time will tell.

Cheers, anyway. :-)

#34 Comment By Thunker On 1st September, 2007 @ 11:25 am

But planes are already history, a very important part of history, in fact. Do they think the whole Great War was fought by the Women’s Auxiliary Balloon Corps?

What they probably mean is “remove planes from the future!” Which is fair enough. I think they should be replaced by space elevators.

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Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1325

URLs in this post:
[1] flurry of activity: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/
[2] What’s your excuse: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/ethicalliving/2007/08/whats_your_excuse.html
[3] Climate protests target UK firms: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6954428.stm
[4] Colourful scenes at day of protest: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6954116.stm
[5] http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1169: http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1169
[6] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2283224.ece: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2283224.ece