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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Greenpeace activists cleared of charges


    by Sunny on 10th September, 2008 at 6:34 pm    

    Hah!

    Six Greenpeace climate change activists have been cleared of causing criminal damage at a coal-fired power station in a verdict that is expected to embarrass the government and strengthen the anti-coal movement. The jury of nine men and three women at Maidstone crown court cleared the six, five of whom had scaled a 200m tall chimney at Kingsnorth power station at Hoo, Kent in October 2007.

    The activists admitted trying to shut down the station by occupying the smokestack and painting the world “Gordon” down the chimney, but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world. It was the first case where preventing property damage caused by climate change has been used as part of a “lawful excuse” defence in court. It is now expected to be used widely by environment groups.

    Sweeeet!
    *Disclosure: I’m a monthly contributor to Greenpeace. I may increase my donations now)



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    66 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Nyrone — on 11th September, 2008 at 12:48 am  

      Brilliant! Congrats to them!
      and I would advise anyone interested in a similar legal precedent regarding the ‘rights’ of protesters to read up on the case of the Anti-war Raytheon 9.

    2. cjcjc — on 11th September, 2008 at 9:58 am  

      Oh how excellent - vandalism is OK when it’s in a cause with which you agree.

    3. Rajesh — on 11th September, 2008 at 10:39 am  

      This is outrageous.
      They clearly caused criminal damage. The fact that they had a ’cause’ does not mean they did not break the law.
      In fact I would have more sympathy for greenpeace if they were to say openly that they knew they were breaking the law but felt it neccessary.

    4. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 10:52 am  

      Good Grief. Its cases like this that bring the Jury system into disrepute. Least more people now know where Greenpeace (Green Fascists actually) stand. “We reserve the right to come vandalise your property because we disagree with you”.

      Can I come round and demolish your house then, Sunny? After all, your emissions (ooherr) are causing harmful climate change. Can I go and turn Greenpeace members into compost? Their emissions are causing harmful climate change!

    5. Trofim — on 11th September, 2008 at 12:01 pm  

      Is there any chance that London could switch off the electricity for all but a few hours a day so people in our esteemed capital, particularly MP’s, can get in regular practice for the future?
      Greenpeace folks might be happy to live in a macrobiotic wigwam and read by a candle, but I’m not. By the way, I notice that most vegetarians are keen on foods which have to be imported, courtesy of oil, such as soy-bean products, rice and lentils. They should stick to locally-grown produce, spuds, cabbage and turnips, if they have any principles.

    6. QuestionThat — on 11th September, 2008 at 12:21 pm  

      What cjcjc, Rajesh and Darth said. What a travesty.

    7. marvin — on 11th September, 2008 at 12:44 pm  

      Just goes to show the average gullibility, swayability, and general thickness of joe public! Like cjcjc said vandalism is OK when it’s in a cause with which you agree

      The jury should have found them guilty of causing criminal damage. If the judge felt particularly moved by the climate change industrialists hired by Greenpeace then well hey, he could give them a light ticking off and a public acknowledgement of a noble cause, with a denunciation of breaking the law.

      But they still caused criminal damage. God, I hate joe public at times.

      This is worth a read (not that I entirely agree with all the sentiments) Greenwashing a jury

    8. marvin — on 11th September, 2008 at 12:49 pm  

      Well, here’s something to cheer us up after this silly (and irresponsible) decision by the jury: The Greenpeace guide to Sex! Fancy a hot, steamy, romantic session AND save the world? Follow these steps!
      http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/eco-sex-guide

      1. Turn off the lights. We all have to do our part to stop climate change, energy reduction and energy efficiency are an important part of changing our energy culture. If you want to see your partner, or what you are doing, have sex during the day.

      I hope you’re taking note Sunny :D

    9. Bishop Hill — on 11th September, 2008 at 2:08 pm  

      Could one beat up a climate change denier and use the same excuse?

    10. marvin — on 11th September, 2008 at 2:53 pm  

      Depends on how thick the jury is. But thanks Bishop Hill, you’ve shown us exactly the sort of mentality that this decision will encourage ;)

    11. Dave S — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

      Wow, what a lovely bunch of intelligent commentors we have visiting Pickled Politics these days… not!

      All of you “business as usual” folks simply don’t get it, and apparently aren’t ever likely to, even as the floodwaters lap at your door, or you end up going hungry because there isn’t going to be enough food to go around, or as resource wars wipe out the last vestiges of human society.

      Never mind the 150,000 people a year already dying because of climate change (WHO figure from 2000)… as long as it’s not your own fat arses falling into an early grave, right?

      Well, it IS going to be your own fat arses soon enough, and personally, I am fucked if I’m letting your idiocy drag me along for the ride.

      “Business as usual” is not going to continue, and it’s especially not going to stand even the remotest chance of continuing unless we take some drastic action now, such as closing down coal power plants and not building new ones.

      That is a very modest proposal - probably far too modest. Chances are we are probably already too late - but that’s no excuse for not trying to salvage as much as possible for those who will be left.

      Still, you can sit there and protest from the comfort of your armchairs for as long as you want. Climate change doesn’t give a shit what you think, or what kind of lifestyle you mistakenly believe the Earth owes you.

      Since you’re all so disparaging of the people who are getting out there and actually trying to do something (however small and symbolic) about the problem, I don’t suppose those of us who are prepared to take action actually need to worry about you ever doing anything yourselves.

      So carry on moaning away, but the wakeup call for action has been and gone - we have about 100 months left to do something about it, before we reach the point of no return.

      The law is an ass when it protects private profits and the interests of a minority of corporations against the future of the entire of humanity.

      On the one time (out of hundreds of similar cases) it actually comes down in support of the protesters, you waste-of-space bunch of twats (because really, that is what you are) are still more concerned about corporate property damage than you are about the future of your own fucking existence!?!?

      Future generations (assuming they live long enough) are going to rightly ask why we didn’t act while we still could, and why we’ve sentenced them (and ourselves) to such a dire existence.

      They are going to wonder why the hell we didn’t engage in a million times more corporate property damage - and more effective than painting words on the side of things.

      Wake up!

    12. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:18 pm  

      Dave S, you should change your name to “Watermelon”. Since you’re Green on the outside, Red on the inside.

    13. Dave S — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:24 pm  

      Darth Morgoth: I’m equal parts black and green all the way through, thanks.

    14. Leon — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:30 pm  

      Great news! And even better given it’s hitting the nerve of the Daily Mail luvvies (as demonstrated by their outrage on here), love it! :D

    15. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:34 pm  

      So, Leon, to paraphrase cjcjc’s excellent point:

      vandalism is OK when it’s in a cause with which you agree?

      If you agree with this absurd verdict, I think we can safely say you’re not a democrat. Proto-Fascist might be a more accurate term!

    16. Dave S — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:41 pm  

      Darth Morgoth @ 15:

      It is democracy in action when society stands up to protect itself from corporate interests, and especially when a jury picked from random members of that same society find those who took the action innocent of any crime.

      I’m sorry (but not surprised) that you can’t see that.

      If you want to see proto-fascism, look in the mirror.

      Alternatively, if you want to see real fascism in action, look at what usually happens to environmental activists when they get tried by magistrates, without a jury of their peers to protect them against the authoritarian state.

    17. cjcjc — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:47 pm  

      we have about 100 months left to do something about it, before we reach the point of no return

      Wasn’t that last month?
      Surely about 99 now?

      It’s this kind of millenarian nonsense which gives “environmentalists” a bad name.

    18. Sunny — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:51 pm  

      Dave S - what can I say? we get the libertarian climate change denialists nutjobs from time to time. Can’t stop them from commenting here can I?

    19. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 3:54 pm  

      It is democracy in action when society stands up to protect itself from corporate interests,

      No, you’re justifying law-breaking on the basis of your political views. If you’re going to go down that road, we might as well say there’s a few French DGSE agents who should have been left off any charges resulting from their fishing expeditions to Auckland Harbour.

    20. Dave S — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:03 pm  

      cjcjc: Yes, time is ticking.

      Dismissing the approximate time we have to avert climate change disaster as “nonsense” gives “nonsense” a bad name.

      But don’t let reality (or the largest scientific consensus in history - even in it’s de-clawed undoubtedly not radical enough, toned down so as not to upset the middle classes form) stand in the way of your delusions.

      I’ve already done my best to come to terms with it, and am well on the way to maximising my own chances of survival. The longer flippant idiots like you twiddle your thumbs, the more likely you are to be the ones who perish first.

      Our survival infrastructure is going to have had a good decade or so headstart on yours (that is, if you ever wake up to reality, and I’m not really holding my breath that you will).

      There may well come a time when those of us who give a shit about the future will stop giving a shit about trying to ensure a future for people like you, and just leave you to stew in your own idiocy.

      In fact, chances are we’d probably do it already, if it wasn’t for the fact that your idiocy is causing a landslide which is dragging along us with you.

      At some point, it’s going to be a better use of our resources to say “fuck you” and just try to save what’s left of ourselves.

      I am rapidly approaching that point.

    21. Dave S — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:07 pm  

      Darth Moron @ 19:

      The jury established that no laws had been broken.

      That is democracy, so deal with it, or don’t.

      (Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the currently fashionable thing we pretend is “democracy” - it’s a pathetic substitute for having a real say in how our lives are run, and can barely be called democracy by any stretch of the imagination.)

    22. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:15 pm  

      I am rapidly approaching that point.

      Good luck in your cave! Don’t forget to roll the boulder over the cave entrance behind you.

    23. marvin — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:16 pm  

      Dave S - The short version: The End is Nigh!

      Let’s not conflate the issues her. I’m all for protecting the environment and reducing pollution, but I think this case sets an irresponsible precedent.

      Dave S, obviously you’re very passionate about the issue; fair enough. But, just an observation here mate, you really do sound like a real frothing fanatic.

      And the that turns people off from what you’re trying to say. Also when it becomes fanatical, facts are the first casualties.

      “largest scientific consensus in history”

      Around 9/10 scientists. It’s bizarre you are calling it the largest scientific consensus. I think you’ll find a larger consensus for the theory of general relativity. Hyperbole does not aide your arguments!

    24. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:25 pm  

      Its quite funny to see trial by jury coming under attack from Libertarians. They’ll be shooting Bambi next.

    25. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:38 pm  

      Its quite funny to see trial by jury coming under attack from Libertarians. They’ll be shooting Bambi next.

      That reminds me Douglas, I have a few venison steaks in the freezer I need to defrost and use. Perhaps some sort of Bambi Stew is in order.

    26. shariq — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

      Dave S, if you really cared about climate change you would be advocating nuclear power.

      Instead you are actually anti-progress and want to drastically reduce emissions and economic growth.

    27. Sunny — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:41 pm  

      Morgoth - what are you doing back here anyway? you’re banned mate. fuck off.

    28. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:46 pm  

      Morgoth - what are you doing back here anyway? you’re banned mate. fuck off.

      The true voice of liberalism speaks, eh?

      Can’t shoot the message so you shoot the messenger.

      Have fun in your hysterical echo chamber, old bean. And remember, Sunny, the H in Jesus H Christ doesn’t actually stand for “Hundal”.

    29. Sid — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:46 pm  

      It is 1933 and Churchill was Morgoth!!

    30. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:47 pm  

      Morgoth,

      Sure it ain’t Moose? Apparently it’s de rigueur these days.

    31. Darth Morgoth — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:54 pm  

      Sure it ain’t Moose? Apparently it’s de rigueur these days.

      Douglas, venison with a lipstick, err, redcurrant dressing. :-)

      Dave S, don’t worry about global warming. Just position Sunny’s ego in front of the Sun and we’ll have global cooling within a few days. Heck, with the current size of it you could probably cool and terraform Venus as well…

      Anyway, the Ayatollah has spoken. I’m off. Have fun all!

    32. cjcjc — on 11th September, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

      Dave S - Douglas wouldn’t take me up on it, even though he described it as “roping a dope”, but perhaps you will.

      I will offer you an even bet - great odds from your perspective given your obvious certainty - that in 100 months the scientific consensus will have shifted away from AGW.

      I would also be interested to know what practical steps you have taken to maximise your chances of survival, as you put it.

    33. Bishop Hill — on 11th September, 2008 at 5:13 pm  

      I don’t know if the point about “libertarians attacking trial by jury” was directed at me, but I very carefully didn’t attack it. I’m a very big fan of trial by jury, even when eccentric decisions like this are reached. What I was trying to do was to follow through the logic of the jury’s decision.

    34. Sunny — on 11th September, 2008 at 5:58 pm  

      The true voice of liberalism speaks, eh?

      Can’t shoot the message so you shoot the messenger.

      No doubt if someone came to your house uninvited and took a crap in the middle of your room, you’d say the same.

    35. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2008 at 6:40 pm  

      Bishop Hill,

      Not you in particular, I hadn’t even realised you were one of them.

      I’d have thought the point of trial by jury was that ordinary folk get to hear the evidence, the legal arguements and the forensics. And then, if they think the laws’ an ass, they have complete freedom to decide in what the prosecution invariably says is a ‘perverse’ manner.

      We have had decisions like that over the Official Secrets Act, and just this week over the prosecution of the ‘liquid bombers’.

      It is a fundamental part of ‘due process’ and the fact that politicians haven’t yet got their grubby little paws on it is a good thing, IMHO.

      It is frankly something else that this government plays fast and loose with. And why I’m a member of Liberty.

      But, as you will appreciate, no Libertarian.

    36. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2008 at 7:00 pm  

      cjcjc,

      Hi again. I’d forgotten about that.

      Just hand me the money right now! Whilst I’m not quite as apocalyptic as Dave S, the retreat of the Artic Ice Sheet is a given, glacial retreat worldwide is a given, and AGW is the accepted cause. As you are clearly going to drown whilst chanting your Libertarian mantra, I’d be doing you a favour by taking your loose change.

      Do you think, for one moment, that folk who disbelieve the Libertarian mantra are going to take you lot at face value? If we were to, and shit, you were wrong, then we really could be into Dave S’s end times, where a man is only a man if he escapes from the coming end times and goes, err..? Where exactly?

      We all sink or swim, heh, together.

      Libertarians are so up themselves with their rights and their freedoms which in this partiular case are at the expense of the rest of us. They view any collective action as though it were a plot by the Illuminati to take over their brains. It is really a sterile and juvenile political position.

    37. Bishop Hill — on 11th September, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

      Douglas

      I agree with you. Like I say, the verdict sounds perverse to me, but I haven’t heard the evidence, and the odd silly decision is a small price to pay for the protection of trial by jury. I am intrigued though as to what it means in terms of other offences.

    38. MaidMarian — on 11th September, 2008 at 7:34 pm  

      douglas clark - ‘I’d have thought the point of trial by jury was that ordinary folk get to hear the evidence, the legal arguements and the forensics. And then, if they think the laws’ an ass, they have complete freedom to decide in what the prosecution invariably says is a ‘perverse’ manner.’

      Well, yes, but that is not somehow an excuse for jury activism. Being fair to Sunny, I suspect that in putting this article on here he fully recognises that he is holding out a massive hostage to fortune. One somehow struggles to see Sunny being quite so sanguine over, say, a pro-BNP jury indulging in a little activism! And, Sunny I say that with all respect.

      There is, of course, a very fine line between jury activism and a conscious decision that, in the circumstances of the case, the law is an ass.

      I think that the point you miss is that there is a world of difference between a ‘political jury’ (as the jury in this case appears to be politicised, at least on the face of it) and one that is performing its role in protecting the little guy. I have no idea what was going through this jury’s mind, but whatever the ins and outs there are aspects here that leave a bad taste in the mouth to say the least.

      Are juries there to balance and determine what is a ‘lawful excuse?’ It is a view of them you may be broadly content with, but to me that sounds suspiciously close to a justice lottery.

      With only lawyers winning.

    39. Sunny — on 11th September, 2008 at 7:48 pm  

      One somehow struggles to see Sunny being quite so sanguine over, say, a pro-BNP jury indulging in a little activism! And, Sunny I say that with all respect.

      Sure, but I do like the look of libertarians, who usually scream that we should obey the law etc, start criticising juries when the decisions go against something they fervently believe in.

      Shows how precarious their principles are really. I accept pro-BNP decisions by the court. I didn’t rail (AFAIK) when Nick Griffin was cleared by the courts…

    40. MaidMarian — on 11th September, 2008 at 8:03 pm  

      Sunny - ‘I accept pro-BNP decisions by the court.’ And every credit to you for it.’

      But whether you accept them or not is nor per se a reflection of the quality of those verdicts. It’s certainly not a reflection of whether the jury’s motives were sound.

      As ever, judging motivation is treacherous and as I mentioned earlier I regognise that in writing this you left yourself open to the flip-side of the coin.

      I respect your principles Sunny, but this is a hornet’s nest. While I realise that you probably don’t disagree I really struggle to see anything to be proud of in this verdict and I see a lot that makes me uncomfortable.

    41. Rumbold — on 11th September, 2008 at 8:43 pm  

      It will be interesting to see the practical implications of this case:

      To what extent is it now legal to damage property, if that property is considered harmful? Is it okay for instance to damage personal motor vechicles, since people have the option of taking the train, buses, car-pooling or walking?

      What is considered acceptable vandalism?

      What causes are exempt from normal laws?

      Should ministers be prosecuted for not curbing carbon emissions in their departments?

    42. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

      MaidMarian,

      I’m not advocating anarchy here. What I am saying is that the decision of the jury ought to be treated with a lot more respect than it actually seems to be.

      You say:

      I have no idea what was going through this jury’s mind, but whatever the ins and outs there are aspects here that leave a bad taste in the mouth to say the least.

      and I’d agree with the first part of that and not the latter.

      My point is merely that juries ought to be given respect, rather than be second guessed by the prosecution and others with a vested interest in achieving a conviction. I’m willing to assume that they acted responsibly rather than radically, especially as they are not allowed to defend their deliberations. Whereas talking heads on 24 hour news channels can pretend to have sat through the evidence that the jury saw and heard, when the aforesaid talking heads clearly didn’t.

      On the liquid bomb plot, you already have the Prosecution assuming that the jury got it wrong. See here:

      http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/09/10/liquid-trial.html

      Without additional, substantive evidence, that is a step too far…

    43. Dave S — on 11th September, 2008 at 9:31 pm  

      Darth Morgoth @ 22:
      Given the option of a comfortable “cave” (or in reality away from reactionary posturing, a low-impact ecologically sound dwelling, where you work to meet your and your community’s own food and energy requirements as far as is possible), you’ve just chosen floods, starvation and war in order that you don’t have to make a single change to your life now.

      In the future you are heading for, there won’t be enough caves to go around, so you, your children and everybody you know will probably wind up dead from something that would have been quite easily preventable.

      It’s as simple as that, really.

      We still (even now, and for a bit longer) have the chance to make a genuine choice to enjoy a future with a relatively good quality of life for all. But no, you choose death for billions of people.

      shariq @ 26:
      If you knew anything about nuclear power, you would realise that it doesn’t stand a hope in hell of meeting our energy needs, because we are fast approaching peak uranium. Nor is it carbon neutral. Nor can the waste be safely stored.

      Nor are the newer generations of fast breeder reactors (which wouldn’t need U-235 and could instead use U-238, Thorium, or other fuels which there are plenty of) anywhere near ready to operate safely on a commercial scale. In fact, most of them have been abandoned, or are not running as true fast breeder reactors.

      Increased dependence on nuclear power means that peak U-235 is going to come around within a couple of decades, and then we’re back to square one.

      Despite my revulsion at the prospect of sentencing future generations (who will already be struggling with resources) to have to look after mountains of our toxic, radioactive waste, that is not my fundamental reason for opposing nuclear.

      I oppose nuclear as it is at the moment, because short of a miracle occuring, it doesn’t have a hope in hell of bailing us out. It’s pure fantasy to believe otherwise.

      Then you go on to say:

      Instead you are actually anti-progress and want to drastically reduce emissions and economic growth.

      Economic growth is going to drastically reduce because of climate change.

      If you gave a shit about preserving any sort of economy (disclosure: personally, I don’t, other than on a very small, localised scale), then you’d recognise that the current course or action is insane, and doomed to obliterate itself in fantastic style.

      Somehow, it becomes me who is “anti-progress”, because I am actually interested in progressing beyond a point in time where the only direction we are going is towards global ecocide.

      Well, let’s see you define “progress” in terms of most of humanity being dead because of problems we could easily have avoided, but instead chose short-term economic growth. Some progress that offers us!

      cjcjc @ 32:
      Certainly I’ll take you up on your wager.

      But I’m not expecting money to be worth much in 99 months, because the global economy will probably have collapsed before then (though I’m not betting on that one being a certainty, just quite likely).

      If you thought climate change was going to make the shit hit the fan (and you don’t, evidently), then wait until you combine it with peak oil, whose problems seem to be approaching far quicker than climate change.

      It would be incredibly ironic if peak oil somehow saved us from climate change, but I’m not expecting it to (though it may buy us a little bit of time, not that I expect the vast majority of people to do anything useful with that time other than bitch at anyone who is trying to do anything about the problem).

      Practical steps I am taking to maximise my chances of survival:

      Learning how to grow food sustainably using organic and permaculture principles, and practising it now while I can afford to make mistakes.

      Learning how to grow our own fuel, and how to generate and store electricity from renewables which we can construct and bodge-repair out of many of the types of things that are likely to be around (eg. parts of disused cars).

      Forming networks of trust with like minded people who will cooperate together to ensure our survival, and who are also taking steps to learn the necessary skills now.

      Working out strategies for a variety of different possible scenarios, so that we have flexible (and decentralised) plans to accommodate many different dire situations.

      Working on our combat skills and fitness, including individual and group tactics. Unfortunately.

      Learning to live on less - a lot less.

      Working less, so that we can take the time to learn and practise and perfect new skills now.

      Learning to build houses out of simple, readily available materials, using nothing but people-power.

      First aid, medicine (including herbal), midwifery, mental health care… you name it.

      Education.

      Mediation skills (which I’m not exercising particularly well today, because on the Internet there’s no need to suffer fools gladly).

      Methods of decentralised organisation.

      There’s more, but I think you get the point.

      The only people we can rely on are ourselves - and I include “the wider community” in that meaning of “ourselves”. We should not rely on government or corporations, because they will not help us.

      You can laugh at how crazy I am if you like, but to be honest, most of these are useful things to know anyway, and things I would quite likely be pursuing (though not with such urgency) out of interest anyway.

      I plan to have a good five years or more (a decade would be better) of this under my belt before I need it.

      That’s what I’m brushing up on while you are working 9-5 to buy stuff you don’t even need. (Though don’t get me wrong, I actually have two jobs; self employed and part time one day a week, but I only work enough to pay the bills.)

      That’s enough from me for today.

    44. Fiona Bruce — on 11th September, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

      I’m dead chuffed about the verdict it was great to support them all in court!

    45. Sunny — on 12th September, 2008 at 12:19 am  

      While I realise that you probably don’t disagree I really struggle to see anything to be proud of in this verdict and I see a lot that makes me uncomfortable.

      Here’s the problem. The left has a long tradition of sometimes breaking the law when push comes to shove. The trade unionists did it, the sufragettes did it. Rosa Parks did it.

      You know, I wouldn’t even be surprised if, if blogging was around at the time, that bloggers berated Rosa Parks for breaking the law and then sparking up a period of civil obedience just so they could fight for equality.

      I wouldn’t have been surprised if people were tutting when the Sikhs beat the crap out of the NF thugs who came to Southall during the 80s. But you know what - it had be done. Sometimes you have to take a stand and if the law is broken - then that’s the way it goes.

      The point here is, these people were let off by the jury. And that still annoys the arm-chair activists. I find that more delicious.

    46. persephone — on 12th September, 2008 at 1:43 pm  

      Dave S @ 43 ” Learning to live on less - a lot less.”

      Are you using a PC & electricity when writing this?

    47. Fascism Rising « Ten Percent — on 13th September, 2008 at 9:58 pm  

      [...] him at his trial check the SU post or go to respectnigerians.com , here’s hoping like the Greenpeace and Raytheon 9 acquittals this allows a jury of peers to show the state we are not as tyrannical as [...]

    48. Dave S — on 13th September, 2008 at 10:59 pm  

      persephone @ 46:

      Are you using a PC & electricity when writing this?

      Certainly. What makes you think those kind of things aren’t going to be available in a low-impact future?

      I have maintained for quite some time that we will retain the use of a certain amount of high-technology devices in a totally sustainable future. It’s very possible to get to the required 1 tonne per year CO2 emissions and minimal energy use and still have devices such as washing machines and computers in your life - in fact, my girlfriend interviewed a guy who has done exactly that.

      I’m using a second hand computer, running on electricity from a 100% renewable energy company. In the future, I will be using a second hand computer running off 100% self-generated electricity. In fact, this is already easy to do with a laptop and a wind turbine.

      There are millions of perfectly usable computers sitting around not being used, because of designed obsolescence, or because people don’t understand how easy it is to fix them up.

      I use Linux. It run it on machines that are ~10 years old with no problems whatsoever, and those machines will do the vast majority of what your average user needs to do - email, web, office apps, music, photo editing.

      Linux also has a habit of staying working just fine, “forever”. Very little crap tends to get installed without you wanting it. Almost no viruses or malware. It just works, forever. Once it’s set up and running to your satisfaction, you just get on and use it, for as long as you want to. There is no need to upgrade anything (especially hardware) until it blows up.

      Almost nobody needs to get a new computer any more. We should be fixing and making use of the millions of perfectly good computers we have lying around, not fulfilling the agendas of companies who’s entire business model is based around always selling us the next “new” thing.

      On the other hand, despite having a degree in computer science, I don’t think it would take me very long to get over never being able to use a computer ever again. I’d just get on and enjoy myself doing all the other things I love to do - playing musical instruments (zero carbon entertainment), growing veg (fun, and free food), riding my bike, making stuff, hanging out with friends… whatever.

      We don’t need computers, and we’d cope just fine without them.

      In reality, I expect it to be somewhere in between all that. We’ll probably still have plenty of computers (it’s not like all the ones we have now are just going to vanish), but they’re more likely to be collectively owned. I think they’ll also be bodge-repaired until they physically stop working, at which point, the parts will be recycled.

      There will be plenty of computers (and other technology) in a zero-carbon sustainable future. At least, there will be if we act now to make sure that there actually, is a future.

    49. Ravi Naik — on 13th September, 2008 at 11:26 pm  

      Almost nobody needs to get a new computer any more.

      New PCs (+ monitors) these days are dramatically more energy efficient than older ones - and the next generation will be even more.

    50. Dave S — on 14th September, 2008 at 12:32 am  

      OK Ravi, I’m not disagreeing with that.

      But put it in the context of dwindling resources and, dwindling energy supplies. Can those new generations of computers continue to be manufactured forever? Probably not.

      Let’s not beat around the bush here. The companies making those machines are doing it to make money selling new hardware.

    51. Indrak — on 14th September, 2008 at 12:33 am  

      #50: “dramatically more .. efficient” at using energy from the grid where half is wasted as a matter of course in gen. + transmission losses.

      Moreover, with the total energy required to produce them, including about the same mass of toxic matter generated as a by-product…:
      -well, it’s acutely stupid as a general rule for any thing to be manufactured with a life less than 50 years.

    52. douglas clark — on 14th September, 2008 at 12:47 am  

      Dave S,

      Well, another couple of questions for you, if I may?

      What’s your view on collaborative research like, say ITER?

      It seems to me, right enough ’cause I’m an optomist, that fusion could be an answer. But, if that is to be discovered, we’d have to give up on notions that scavenging around old engine blocks is a sensible long term strategy. What do you think?

      Or what’s your opinion on finding a cure for cancer?

      How do you do that in, and I’ll quote you:

      Learning how to grow our own fuel, and how to generate and store electricity from renewables which we can construct and bodge-repair out of many of the types of things that are likely to be around (eg. parts of disused cars).

      How, exactly, does that find us a cure? Frankly, it doesn’t.

      Lets downscale it a bit.

      Let’s say I agreed to your philosophy, and lived to a ripe old age. Whereby I needed a hip replacement operation. Do you have the faintest idea how complicated it is to provide the sterile environment, the technology, hopefully the pain killers, the surgeons, the support team, or the aftercare?

      No sir, you don’t. Reject capitalism if you will. But don’t assume for one moment that an anarchist society would be anything less than cruel and brutal. And, frankly ignorant. My hip, sir, would go untreated.

      I’d hazard that you are an idealist with no notion of the benefits of the society you actually live in. It has, perhaps half educated you. Have you thought perchance of joining the Libertarian Party? You’ll find lots of fellow travellers there. They are even dafter than you.

    53. douglas clark — on 14th September, 2008 at 12:55 am  

      Dave S @ 51,

      What is this dwindling of which you speak? Look up into the sky my son and you will see the scource of almost all the energy that there has ever been on this planet. It is called the Sun. It is up to us to learn to harvest it.

    54. MaidMarian — on 14th September, 2008 at 1:09 am  

      Dave S (49) - ‘It’s very possible to get to the required 1 tonne per year CO2 emissions and minimal energy use and still have devices such as washing machines and computers in your life - in fact, my girlfriend interviewed a guy who has done exactly that.’

      Can you give a reference for that interview please, I would certainly be interested to have a butcher’s.

      ‘Almost nobody needs to get a new computer any more.’

      My friend who’se computer has just been kicked extremely hard in the crotch by a monster virus begs to differ with you.

      But that that will teach him not to open attachments on strange e-mails I suppose.

    55. Rajesh — on 14th September, 2008 at 11:12 am  

      Sunny, you state that the left has a long tradition of civil disobedience and breaking of laws they consider unjust.
      The main point here is that I’m sure that Greenpeace do not consider laws on criminal damage to be wrong in principle.
      They think they should be allowed to ignore them if their cause is just (in their minds).

      Their is a big difference between Rosa Parks breaking a law she considers unjust to sit where she wants in a bus and Greenpeace causing criminal damage because they think their cause is just.

    56. cjcjc — on 14th September, 2008 at 12:57 pm  

      Rajesh - you have put your finger on the point perfectly.

    57. Dave S — on 14th September, 2008 at 2:49 pm  

      douglas clark @ 53:

      What’s your view on collaborative research like, say ITER?
      It seems to me, right enough ’cause I’m an optomist, that fusion could be an answer. But, if that is to be discovered, we’d have to give up on notions that scavenging around old engine blocks is a sensible long term strategy. What do you think?

      Fusion may be an answer.

      To me, it is not “anti-progress” to take a small breather and a few steps back from the current path we are taking. It’s anti-capitalist, but not anti-progress.

      So I think fusion may well one day (in at least 50+ years time, which is longer than we have available to sort this mess out) provide our energy needs.

      But we need to make sure we don’t wipe ourselves out before we get that far. If that means taking a breather and readjusting our approach (eg. stopping raping the natural world in the name of “endless” profit) then I am all for it.

      Once we’re no longer heading towards imminent global ecocide, we can (sustainably) work on such projects.

      Or what’s your opinion on finding a cure for cancer?
      How do you do that in, and I’ll quote you: [...]
      How, exactly, does that find us a cure? Frankly, it doesn’t.

      My opinion on finding a cure for cancer is that cancer is mostly caused by aspects of our modern life.

      Eg. toxins in the air, in water, in our food, in our homes (particularly carpets and paints), bad diet, a sedentary lifestyle and so on.

      We probably can’t eliminate all cancer, but for far less than the cost of “curing” it, we could own up to the reality that it is largely our modern world and lifestyle which causes us to get cancer.

      Less cars, less meat eating, less hormones in animal produce, less pesticides and chemical fertilisers in our food, less pollutants in our air, less toxins coating every surface of our homes, and a more active, more outdoors lifestyle will go much further towards eradicating cancer than any amount of trying to cure it will.

      The problem is, we want to have our cake (modern life) and eat it (medical treatment required to deal with the problems of modern life).

      I feel it’s largely the same with depression. In my opinion, much of the depression epidemic is caused by a society that does not care, and does not have the time to care.

      The reason it doesn’t care is because anybody who isn’t generating profit for the economy is seen as a waste of space. So in order to continually chase something really unimportant (profits), millions of people suffer with something that could so easily be avoided, if only society cared enough about what is really important - people.

      Then profits might actually go up, with considerably less work involved in sorting out the casualties of the profit system.

      The solution is to adopt a different way to the working life - a LOT less employment, and a bit more working directly to meet our actual needs.

      But of course, that doesn’t make money in the short term, so it’s out of the question.

      Lets downscale it a bit.
      Let’s say I agreed to your philosophy, and lived to a ripe old age. Whereby I needed a hip replacement operation. Do you have the faintest idea how complicated it is to provide the sterile environment, the technology, hopefully the pain killers, the surgeons, the support team, or the aftercare?

      What I do know, is that people living to a ripe old age in far more “primitive” cultures than ours do not require such things as hip replacements. It is absolutely due to a far more active, outdoor, healthy lifestyle. Families where several generations live together and actually care for each other, rather than our stupid notions of individuality.

      We are individuals only in the context of a community - not in spite of one. But that’s not what happens in the West.

      Instead of adopting a healthy, community-based lifestyle, we do the most counterintuitive thing imagineable, by breaking ourselves and then demanding to be fixed. Well, how about we just stop breaking ourselves instead?

      No sir, you don’t. Reject capitalism if you will. But don’t assume for one moment that an anarchist society would be anything less than cruel and brutal. And, frankly ignorant. My hip, sir, would go untreated.

      Get active and stay active, and you won’t need a hip replacement in old age.

      I’d hazard that you are an idealist with no notion of the benefits of the society you actually live in. It has, perhaps half educated you. Have you thought perchance of joining the Libertarian Party? You’ll find lots of fellow travellers there. They are even dafter than you.

      My main problems with the Libertarian party: it’s libertarian (which in that context generally means “libertarian right”, otherwise it would be anarchist), and it’s a political party.

      To give you a better idea of my politics (although only in two dimensions), if I go to http://www.politicalcompass.org and take the test there, I fall very far into both the libertarian and left ends of the spectrum.

      Which means I’m probably as opposite to the Socialist Workers Party as I am to the Libertarian Party, and diagonally opposite to the (US) Republican party.

      Where I sit (on at least that 2D axis, though I think there are far more dimensions and 2D involves quite a lot of simplification), it is basically impossible (and certainly undesirable) to have a political party. At that point, everybody would be the political party, and thus nobody would be.

      douglas clark @ 54:

      What is this dwindling of which you speak? Look up into the sky my son and you will see the scource of almost all the energy that there has ever been on this planet. It is called the Sun. It is up to us to learn to harvest it.

      I agree! Plants are incredibly effective at harnessing the power of the sun and turning it into virtually all the energy supplies we actually need, and what’s more, they’re often very tasty too.

      Look, seriously, if modern society wasn’t likely to wipe us all out, then I’d be all in favour of it continuing. I have much more exciting things to do with my life than worry about the future, or worry about where we’re going to get food and energy from.

      My point is: it cannot continue. It is on a path to self-destruction, or rather, WE are on a path to self destruction. I am saying what I believe needs to be said to avert that, having examined as many alternatives as I can, and found them severely lacking.

      What is your alternative suggestion of a way forward? Because goodness knows, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to come up with better ones, and I’m afraid I can’t think of one.

      I’m a natural optimist - I really am - but I’m not able to delude myself now at the expense of my own future.

      I don’t think most people are bastards, but I do think most people are seriously deluded about the realistic chances of our survival if we continue on our current path. Not only that, but I believe most people will ferociously attack anybody who challenges their delusions, because the reality of just how fucked we are is far too scary for most people to comprehend.

      I don’t enjoy doing this, you know!!

      It took me a long time to come around to the idea of seeking a simpler life, because I like my gadgets as much as the next geek. But I don’t want to be killed by my addiction to gadgets, simply because I didn’t recognise that it couldn’t last forever. I’m trying to choose life above all else.

      Where does your preference lead the future of humanity? Seriously, I’m interested to hear how far you’ve thought it through, especially if you can persuade me it’s likely to be doable and doesn’t have any dire consequences.

      (Thanks for reading this far, anybody who made it!)

    58. Dave S — on 14th September, 2008 at 3:15 pm  

      MaidMarian @ 55:

      Can you give a reference for that interview please, I would certainly be interested to have a butcher’s.

      It was a phone interview with Donnachadh McCarthy for a small local radio station she was working at. I don’t know much about him, but he seems like an interesting guy.

      Offhand, what I can remember (from what I’ve been told) is that he has reduced his personal CO2 emissions to 1 tonne per year, and still uses a computer and a washing machine. I think he possibly doesn’t have a microwave - can’t rememeber. I also am aware that that 1 tonne per year probably doesn’t include the emissions that resulted from producing the computer and the washing machine in the first place.

      Still, I believe the recording is still kicking around on a MiniDisc somewhere, but unfortunately our house is in a right state at the moment, as we are about to become parents (probably tomorrow, if last night’s indications were anything to go by).

      My friend who’se computer has just been kicked extremely hard in the crotch by a monster virus begs to differ with you.
      But that that will teach him not to open attachments on strange e-mails I suppose.

      As a geek (OK, less of a hardcore geek these days, but I have the appropriate qualifications), I get asked to fix quite a lot of people’s computers.

      You would not believe the number of times I have had to talk people out of purchasing new machines, simply because they didn’t understand that there wasn’t much wrong with their old one apart from software issues, usually caused by the crap security of a Windows system, coupled with naivety about opening email attachments, or by them using that web browser you shouldn’t use if you don’t want your machine to end up filled with crap.

      I have lost count of how many times, but as much as I don’t like Windows, I’ve tried to do my part by fixing people’s machines for them, and changing their setup just enough to prevent themselves ending up in the same muddle again.

      I believe Microsoft intends for (or at least don’t care about) Windows machines to get slower and slower over time, and for as many naive customers as possible to decide that “the old machine is too slow nowadays” and just buy a new one, when all they’re actually doing is word processing, web and email.

      This is not necessary with a Linux machine, because it simply does not happen. You set it up once and it works - “forever”.

      Ironically, with the various software package managers out there for Linux, you can even update all the software on your machine to the latest versions of everything in about 4 mouse clicks. So keeping Linux (and all software on board) bang up to date is piss easy compared to the drudgery of updating software on a Windows machine.

      Beats me why anybody uses Windows if they don’t have to - almost certainly habit and not a lot more. Games too, I guess.

      Disclaimer: I still use Windows for a few tasks where the Linux software is lagging behind - music writing mostly - but it’s really not so far lagging behind. One day in the very near future, I’m sure I’ll be only too happy to ditch Windows completely. For now, my music writing time is limited enough, and I don’t currently want to spend too long trying to learn new bits of software that don’t quite play well together. But this is gradually improving, and will only get better and better. I am 100% confident I will never own a machine with Windows Vista on it, and that my time as a Windows user is quite nearly over.

    59. douglas clark — on 14th September, 2008 at 5:39 pm  

      Dave S,

      Interesting, well argued replies. Best wishes to you and yours.

    60. MaidMarian — on 14th September, 2008 at 7:44 pm  

      Dave S - Thank you for the reply. Good luck with everything else you have going on.

      For what it’s worth by the way I still use a quite slow, old desk top that does just about everything like Word-processing just fine. The only time I have bought a new computer recently is a lap top which I needed to use on the move.

      I imagine that most people could quite happliy make do with a relatively old machine.

    61. sonia — on 14th September, 2008 at 10:01 pm  

      im confused, why should painting something down a chimney stack be criminal damage in the first place. how silly.

    62. persephone — on 14th September, 2008 at 10:11 pm  

      Hey Dave S

      Good on you.

      Recently I did not replace my broken mobile - its been 2 months now. I’m quite happy - in fact its quite mellow not having a mobile. Its other people who want to be able to contact you that get exasperated (& not because they had any dire emergencies)

    63. Sunny — on 14th September, 2008 at 10:44 pm  

      Their is a big difference between Rosa Parks breaking a law she considers unjust to sit where she wants in a bus and Greenpeace causing criminal damage because they think their cause is just.

      Huh? In both cases, they are breaking the law because they think the cause is just. Greenpeace are doing it with the same principle because they think govt policy are the problem because they favour coal over renewable energy. The principle is the same I’m afraid.

    64. cjcjc — on 15th September, 2008 at 8:55 am  

      Get active and stay active, and you won’t need a hip replacement in old age.

      And even if you do need one…tough!

      (They didn’t have them in the middle ages you know.)

    65. Ravi Naik — on 15th September, 2008 at 9:49 am  

      Huh? In both cases, they are breaking the law because they think the cause is just.

      Yes. And BNP thugs break the law because they think their cause is just. And so on.

      I think you are stretching it. I don’t see how Rosa Parks struggle for equality can be compared to acts of vandalism and publicity stunts. In case of Rosa Parks, the law of the land was trumping over her universal human rights and the US constitution.

    66. Dave S — on 18th September, 2008 at 5:13 pm  

      cjcjc @ 64:

      And even if you do need one…tough!
      (They didn’t have them in the middle ages you know.)

      Perhaps if you’d remove your head from your ass for just one second (I realise that’s quite a lot to ask in your case), you’d notice that what I am aiming for is the prolonged existence of the human race.

      I’m not quite sure what it is you’re aiming for? Perhaps the ability to still get a hip-replacement after climate change and peak oil have brought about some kind of apocalypse?

      We will arrive back in “the middle ages” a whooooole lot quicker if your back-asswards unsustainable approach to “living” (aka. “killing everything, including yourself”) carries on much longer.

      So my suggestions aren’t perfect? I don’t see you having any better ones, other than we just carry on over the cliff edge and to hell with the consequences.

      I don’t want this to happen any more than you do. I wish, I really really wish, that we could all just do whatever the hell we want to.

      But even I, as an anarchist (which as a political viewpoint is way more libertarian than any so-called “libertarian”, because we believe in genuine liberty for all in co-operation with each other, not in spite of each other, and not dependent on whether you can afford it or not), realise that we simply cannot all do whatever the hell we like.

      Only a fundamentalist individualist could hold such a fundamentally impossible point of view.

      My way lies sustainability, and the objective of creating a good quality of life for everybody, free from authoritarianism, which can be continued indefinitely. Your way lies environmental meltdown within one, maybe two more generations, just so you can have what you want, now.

      Incidentally, fundamentalist “free market” capitalism (as favoured by most “libertarians” I’ve encountered) is hugely authoritarian. The true costs are just externalised elsewhere - usually onto the environment, or onto those lower down the food chain. Making everybody suffer for your so-called “freedom” is authoritarianism of the highest order. There can be no true liberty without economic freedom too.

      A hip replacement doesn’t mean jack shit when you can’t breathe the air, drink the water, or grow enough food to eat. A hip replacement isn’t going to restore dwindling bee populations, or protect your community from floods and increasingly unpredictable weather.

      Incidentally, I don’t know if brain replacements are available on the NHS, but there’d be no harm in you asking your GP.



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