Category Archives: Media

Police Attack Copenhagen Climate Protesters

This makes me sick.

I hope everyone has “taken note of” the near blackout of accurate news about Copenhagen.   That is certainly the case in the American mainstream press- even PBS.  I’d be curious to hear whether it has been the same in the UK and elsewhere. Very few Americans are aware of the brutal police violence against peaceful, unarmed climate protesters that has taken place over the past two weeks.  For honest, non-corporate controlled reporting, Indymedia comes through again.

If there was any doubt left that our “democratic” governments are incapable of reigning in our fossil fuel use and protecting our planet’s climate, the failure of the COP 15 conference should be a sobering reminder.  Much can be gleaned between the lines in Obama’s speech at the conference.   Listen to his tone of voice and watch his body language during the speech.   This is not a man who has hope for the future.    And hope is why we voted him in.   I, for one, would like my twenty bucks and my vote back.

Let the failure of the Copenhagen conference launch a new era of DIY localization, civil disobedience, and educational outreach to new groups of people yet to be made aware of the truth of what is going on in the world.  And let’s be thankful for the brave protesters in Copenhagen who suffered through freezing conditions, police violence, and times when hope seemed far away- we stand with you!

It’s easy to be depressed at this dark time of year- even without the failure of the climate negotiations and police torture enforcing the status quo.  But sitting around and moping isn’t going to help anything.   I recommend a vigorous bike ride up some nice hills where the air is clean, hooking up with local allies and hatching a plan to cut emissions in 2010, and lots of local, seasonal, and organic greens.

If you’re sad or lonely, you should know that it’s not your fault.   Western society loves to attribute unhappiness to individual shortcomings, but more evidence surfaces every day that our society has a series of systemic flaws that actively generate loneliness and isolation. Not the least of which is the motor traffic that has made all but a few of our public spaces unpleasant and anti-social.  And of course the capitalist system is all too ready to provide false remedies that burden your health and burn a hole in your pocket.   It all leaves a bad taste in the mouth and mounting debt as the underlying problems fester.  If you don’t believe me about the historic importance of community that has been taken away from us, read the introduction to Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers.

Let’s re-imagine this dynamic.  Happy winter solstice everyone.  And do feel free to pop round for a cup of hot tea :)

ROADKILL

What is it about cars that dehumanizes us? How is it possible that someone can carelessly careen a ton of steel into an innocent man and then drive away as if nothing had happened? How can NINE drivers, one after the other, swerve around the victim– somebody’s grandfather– lying in the street bleeding to death as if he were a sack of potatos and do absolutely fucking nothing? Is this some horrible vision of the future where 4-wheeled robots have enslaved humanity and where our bodies are cheap fodder for the mechanized master race? What the fuck, people?

The disturbing scene above is repeated tens of millions of times on the Earth every year, an increasing massacre that we mostly accept without hesitation- not just a policy decision to trade the destruction of millions of lives for mass car use, but the audacity to resist measures that will begin to reduce the body count- like traffic calming, cycle, pedestrian, and public transport priority measures- because……they will add a minute or two to a driver’s journey and well, we simply cannot accept that.

We are so self-absorbed with the urgent need to get to our destinations, the groupthink that we are cool and hip while driving our death monsters so all-encompassing, the social norms propping up the motorized status quo so effective, our bloodlust so mediated by the cold scientific pursuit of traffic management and congestion reduction, that the truth of what we are actually doing remains hidden from us.

I normally decry CCTV, but in this case it has opened a window on our car culture- revealed to us in all its glaring, ugly and nightmarish detail the daily trade in traffic for heartbeats- the utter selfishness of driving, the total subjugation of the pedestrian in a world of Chryslers, Fords, and Toyotas- in short exactly what Hannah Arendt, while reporting on the Nuremberg Trials, referred to as the banality of evil.

What is is this strange drug, this intoxication of petrol and power, that makes even your virulently anti-car blogger (on the very rare occasions that he gets behind the wheel) feel frustrated at the pedestrians blocking his way and the old lady cyclist trundling down the slip road. “Get on with it you old bag!” I try to swallow and control that insatiable urge to press the accelerator- that unfulfilled potential to just go faster- to take just one more hit of that beautiful lusty gasoline g-force high.

Put down the syringe, stub out the cigarette, pour out the booze, park that car, take a deep breath, and remember what’s important in this life on this beautiful blue marble floating in space, this green oasis threatened by greed and fear. Break the chains. Refuse to participate. Sit in the front of the bus. Another world is possible.

You don’t have to be a superhero to save the planet

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXIq4VSYmsQ]

Produced by the UK’s Cyclists Touring Club (or CTC), this short has been shown to over 5 million moviegoers in Britain. Congratulations to the CTC on being the first to finally produce a sexy, well made short that finally makes the rather belated and obvious connection between cycling promotion and urgent efforts to combat climate change. Also, check out the cycle hero website.

Dead Polar Bears, Fake Shell Reps, and– The Truth– Mar Opening of Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition in Bristol

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Dead Polar Bears in Bristol Museum Lobby Represent Shell’s True Impact on Wildlife

It hasn’t been an easy week for the organisers of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award and the Bristol Museum, or their sponsor and proud wildlife destroyer— sugardaddy Shell Oil Company. All week, concerned individuals from around Bristol have been exposing the truth about Shell and the public institutions who are helping to greenwash them.

On Tuesday, activists staged a protest in the national offices of the BBC Wildlife Magazine in Broadmead, bringing work to a halt and reviving controversy within the organization about their relationship with the oil industry. See further details of this action in previous post

On Friday evening, Bristol Museum hosted a private, posh wine and cheese reception to kick off their hosting of Shell’s exhibit, with attendees including Dawn Primarola, Labour MP from South Bristol and Helen Holland, leader of the Bristol City Council, who were all patting themselves on the back for caring about wildlife. Bristol Rising Tide activists, dressed up to the nines, were admitted to the event under fake names, with one activist gaining access to the mic, and posing as the Shell public relations director. He then launched into a two minute speech (in the style of the yes men) thanking the city council and museum for helping to allow Shell’s destruction of wildlife to continue and calling the melting of the Arctic ice cap a “tremendous business opportunity” by allowing access to millions of barrels of oil. At :56 in the video, watch as the security guard walks over to tell the woman, who was heckling the speaker, to “let the man from Shell finish his speech” (!!!!!) Amazingly the mic was kept on through the whole 2 minute speech. (Full text of speech and video below)

Full text of speech read by Derrick Leavussum, “public relations director for Shell”

“Good evening my name is Derek Leavussum, public relations director for Shell. I want to welcome you all to the 2007 Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. As you can imagine- I don’t have an easy job, what with all this fuss about melting glaciers, extreme weather and wildlife extinctions. I’d like to thank the Bristol City Council, BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Natural History Museum for making my job all that much easier by allowing us to sponsor your wild lie- I mean wildlife- exhibition.

We prefer not to see the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a threat to human civilization. We see it as a business opportunity. After all, there are millions of barrels of oil under there just waiting to be extracted. And we’ll need all the energy we can get since we’ve just abandoned our solar program. When you see the Shell logo, we don’t want you to think about the whale habitat we’re destroying in Siberia and Ireland, human rights violations in Nigeria, and especially not climate change. This may all be true but the fact is that the world needs oil and this is simply the price of progress.

Some say it’s ironic that the world’s second largest oil company is sponsoring a wildlife photography exhibition- but Shell is truly committed to preservation of the polar bear and other wildlife- in photographs if not in the real world. Some say it’s the end of the oil age- but we say it’s just the beginning- we’re thrilled about digging into Canada’s oil sands and with your help we can continue to deceive the public into thinking we’re a responsible corporate citizen. Thank you all for coming tonight and we hope you enjoy viewing these amazing photographs of wildlife that Shell is destroying- I mean conserving.

Also a special thanks to Dawn Primarola and the Labour party for supporting a third runway at Heathrow and ensuring that there remains a healthy demand for our products.”

Read the full article, and take further action on the one truly free and independent internet media outlet left in Bristol- Thank you Bristol Indymedia for being the voice of the people- not corporations!!

http://bristol.indymedia.org

Confronting BBC Wildlife Hypocrisy

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Fed Up Polar Bear Disrupts National BBC Wildlife Magazine HQ-
Shell Sponsorship of Photography Exhibit at Issue

This morning, Tuesday December 11th, at 10am, two members of “Arctic Associates” (aka Bristol Rising Tide), and one grumpy refugee polar bear paid a visit to the national offices of the BBC Wildlife Magazine at the top of Tower House in Broadmead, Bristol. More than a hundred employees looked on aghast (some winking in support) as “J. Smith” from Arctic Associates, flanked by Mr. Pole R. Bear, made a long and passionate speech about the sad and dangerous irony of allowing the world’s second largest oil company- responsible for endangering thousands of species through oil spills, toxic pollution, and climate change- to sponsor their Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award Contest, which is coming to Bristol Museum this Saturday December 15th.

The visit evidently created quite a stir, as employees of BBC Wildlife gathered around to hear what the commotion was all about, and the press team, directors, and building security simultaneously converged on the protesters, who were finally asked to leave, after circulating through both the 9th and 14th floors of the building, and speaking to the entire national staff of the BBC Wildlife Magazine, who are now more aware than ever of the historic blunder than was made when Shell’s £1,500,000 two year sponsorship deal was accepted.

Ironically, the poster child of this year’s Photography Award is a polar bear stuck on a melting iceberg, the most visible symbol of the climate-damaging nature of Shell’s core business.

read whole article and see the photos at Bristol Indymedia

Carbon Detox: Time to Get Real

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It’s not easy to admit that something that forms the basis of our lives and our societies could be leading us down a path of destruction, disorder and incredible suffering. Our addiction to fossil fuels is a lot like nicotine addiction- we come up with a whole set of psychological mechanisms to justify continuing our current behaviour, even as the warnings are growing louder and the side-effects more irritating (and as someone who is struggling with giving up smoking I can relate, believe me).

How can we begin to take responsibility? Accept that our loving family flying from all around the world to meet for a reunion is causing extreme weather that is leading to the breakup of someone else’s family in the developing world? Accept that when I boil a kettle to make a cup of tea (although it is a minor impact compared with aviation) I am also part of the problem.

There are no easy answers- this is a rapidly evolving area where social norms and morality are struggling to keep up with the latest scientific findings. But it seems that a man named George Marshall, who is also behind the Climate Denial website and the Climate Outreach and Information Network has thought about this problem a hell of a lot, and has produced what I think is the most important book ever written on climate change, called Carbon Detox- Your step-by-step guide to getting real about climate change.

Important because it could actually make a difference where hundreds of others have failed. It’s like a self-help book without the dogma. A call to action without the guilt. And have you ever read a book on climate change that encourages you to drive a Ferrari Testarossa around a racetrack at 160 mph or race a speedboat off the coast of Cornwall? I didn’t think so.

I can’t find strong enough words to recommend this book– you should buy it for yourself and for everyone you know for the holidays. Request it at your local bookstore, or order it from Amazon today.

Pissed off Polar Bears Block “Oil” Bank of Scotland

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On Monday, as part of the national day of local action against the Royal Bank of Scotland, for being the UK’s primary sponsor of oil and gas projects that are heating the planet, four “refugee polar bears” locked themselves to suitcases filled with concrete and blocked the vehicle entrance to the Bank’s Bristol HQ for over 6 hours. See Bristol Indymedia for full report and pics and ITV for local news coverage. Students at UWE were so inspired by this action they are planning a protest at UWE’s Frenchay Campus next Thursday the 25th at 11am by the Natwest branch. (Natwest are owned by RBS). See calendar for details.

Rainforest Action had a similar campaign- “Grilling the banks that are heating the Earth” where they held BBQ’s with tofu dogs outside Wells Fargos to urge divestment in oil and gas.

Most banks rely on keeping their customers in the dark about what is being done with their money. If the truth got out, and people began closing their accounts, these financial institutions that are bankrolling climate change would be forced to re-invest in renewables. RBS clearly see the latest series of protests as a threat, as they recently put out a professionally greenwashed pamphlet entitled “RBS and the Environment” (click for pdf) which claims they are the largest financier of renewable energy in the world, with “over $2 billion committed in 2006 alone.” Probably true, but more importantly they remain the primary UK bank financing the extraction of new fossil fuels. The pamphlet is peppered with phrases like “doing our bit”, “our actions speak louder than words” and “reducing our own impact” And wait, listen to this- on the last page, it says:

“We are committed to working with our customers to assist in the long term transition to a low-carbon economy. (here’s the kicker) In the meantime, however, gas and oil remain a key part of everyday life and realistically can’t be abandoned overnight without widespread social and economic upheaval.

Reading between the lines:

“The Royal Bank of Scotland is committed to delaying the transition to a low carbon economy, so we can continue to make loads of money from oil and gas projects for as long as possible while keeping our customers and the general public in the dark. Even though climate change caused by our oil and gas investments will cause widespread social and economic upheaval, we care more about short term profits than the future of humanity. Now if you’ll kindly allow our greedy paws on your money…..”

Notably, RBS is one of the primary investors in Shell’s Sakhalin II project ruining the local environment in eastern Russia, more reason than ever to protest when the sHell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award comes your way.

Surfboard Direct Action Against Hawaii SuperFerry Raises Questions About Transport Choice

The recent arrival of an 850 passenger and 280+ car ferry to Kauai was not embraced as an alternative to “island hopping” flights between the islands, but actually halted and turned away at the mouth of the Lihue harbour by dozens of adults and kids on surfboards and kayaks,. and their supporters on shore in a kind of populist marine direct action.

I read this and thought, ‘what if I was in Hawaii and needed to get to another island?’  I don’t fly- without a ferry I’d have to hitch on a sailboat or something.

But this particular ferry begins to look like serious overkill the more you look at it. Too big and too fast for the Hawaiian islands, especially Kauai, the western garden isle which has an especially laid back vibe and fragile ecosystem. I doubt the superferry is any more efficient (per passenger) than a plane– it’s probably very much worse. Plus it kills whales.

Nevertheless, from reading about this, I’m left with a nagging question of why there isn’t a slower, simpler public ferry- perhaps run on solar, or wind energy, carrying bicycles and getting people off those damn island hoppers, what are essentially wasteful short haul flights.

Why the environmental groups aren’t matching their protests to halt the superferry with calls for viable, low impact water transport and an alternative to inter-island flights. Maybe by outrigger canoe?

Kauai’s brave residents aren’t yet blockading the airport in Lihue, but the damage caused increasingly by high altitude carbon emissions will soon ensure that whales (and all of us) will find ourselves inhabiting an uncertain future- even a terrifying unpredictable world rather than the mostly stable paradise we take for granted today.

Oh well let’s worry about it later. For now….pass the pina coladas and the tanning butter! OK… In all fairness, there is in fact a tide of discontent rising in Hawaii as it is in Bristol and North America and anywhere else people are paying attention to the fact that we have to move on this issue.

Like, um… yesterday people.

Camp for Climate Action Report

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Sleazyjet quickly got back into action, seducing people to take more holidays abroad and stop worrying about the future! Screw Global Warming! Let’s Fly! (and Fry…..)

What can I say about Climate Camp? It was like nothing I’ve experienced before- truly a self-organized community of diverse people with a common goal- to put a halt to this mad orgy of fossil fuel burning that is leading us to climate chaos. Five Hundred meters north of the busiest airport in the world, which excretes a massive 31 million tons of carbon a year, it meant drawing a line in the sand and acting directly to prevent the madness of a third runway and a near doubling of flights.

The camp was unique in that protest-hardened anarchists rubbed shoulders with scientists, middle class families, and students worried about the future and spurred to action.

Dozens of packed, intensive workshops led by scientists, environmentalists, and social activists added to the cultural brew. One of my favourite sessions was a session led by George Marshall of the Climate Outreach and Information Network about the psychology of climate change denial. Are you in denial? Watch this video summary of his talk and then visit his Climate Denial website.

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The low-cost airlines began their cycle ride from Bristol International and rode 134 miles to Heathrow Airport, mostly along the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, which, if improved might one day provide a high quality level cycleway between London and Bristol. Along the way, Sleazyjet, FryinAir, and company clamored for more cheap flights, more runways, and more CO2!!!- here they seduce passers-by at a travel agent in Devizes with 1p flights to Tuvalu in the South Pacific (which is being swallowed by rising seas) “See it before it’s gone!….” Apocalypse tourism gone astray…

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James from Ireland is changing a flat tire outside Pewsey, where some……well…..interesting people live. We’re about to head to Reading and its hospitable International Solidarity Centre.

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After a rather wet day riding through Windsor, the Bristol Climate Camp Cycle Convoy arrived at the Camp for Climate Action, which was stealthily built only about 500 m north of the main runways, on the site proposed for the 3rd runway. Immediately the mood was celebratory and defiant.

This video below was shot about a half hour after we arrived . About 30 police officers try to come on site against a previous agreement with the camp…. see what happens:

This video starts out with no sound but has nice photos of the camp and some great speeches toward the end:

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Trevor and Friends joined an affinity group opposed to air freighted fruits and vegetables- “Don’t Buy Flown! Grow your Own!”

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More than 1800 police officers surrounded the camp, and used terrorist law to stop and search nearly everyone. There were dozens of riot vans, intelligence gathering film and video units, a crane erected with 24 hour video surveillance, telescope microphones, and a helicopter hovering overhead- and you can see why– we were clearly a major terrorist threat! Our “secret weapon” was the “mini-dink” the baby version of the Rinky Dink human powered sound system (you can see the people furiously pedaling behind George) powering Monbiot’s speech in the photo below:

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George Monbiot , the Guardian columnist and author who camped with us in the Westside neighbourhood, speaks to a crowd in Harmondsworth, one of the villages BAA wants to raze to make way for another runway. In the process, they want to demolish a 1000 year old church and disinter the people buried there, including the daughter of villager Alf Pereira, who died from Bronchial disease brought on by Heathrow’s air pollution, which already exceeds EU law for NO2. Utter Madness….

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Chatting with the Met on a rare sunny day. This nice policewoman refuses to fly, teaches sustainable principles to her kids, and buys local, organic food. Of course, not all of them were so keen– as the clouds darkened and protests intensified later in the week, there were cases of unnecessary police brutality associated with the arrests of more than 80 people…..

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Trees were planted in Harmondsworth as a statement of defiance against British Airport Authority’s suicidal plans for airport expansion. BAA was the next target as a 24 hour occupation of its world hq commenced. Twenty-four hours later, the head of its press department had resigned.

Later in the day, I chatted with two young guys who worked at the airport for Aer Lingus, and expecting them to be pro-airport, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they opposed to the expansion, supportive of climate camp’s presence and excited about the climate justice movement in general. They bought me a pint, and said “good on ya!” I saw them cycling over to BAA HQ that evening to support the protests. Yet another reminder that some very bad corporations are often made up of good individuals (like in the film, the Corporation, when anti-Shell activists camped outside the house of one of its board members, and are brought tea and biscuits by the guy, who turned out to be really quite a nice chap…).

The truth is this: Climate Camp wasn’t just an isolated event– it is emerging everywhere. We are more numerous than the corporations, we are more powerful than the politicians, and we are going to win…. because losing– allowing ourselves to cross that 2 degrees centigrade boundary is– unthinkable.

Day by Day Indymedia UK News Coverage of the Camp and Associated Action

BBC Covers My Plane Free Journey from S F

Here’s the BBC coverage of my plane free journey from October 2006, uploaded to youtube with sound included finally…