Wednesday, 13 August 2008

unlawful arrest

So Dirk and I went to the Climate Camp last week, to add our voice to the growing number of people who are actively seeking alternatives to fossil fuelled way of life, and who are protesting against the new planet-threatening coal powered station at Kingsnorth in Kent.

As we arrived we were greeted with a wave of police who had corralled everyone trying to go on site into a pen for searching. Dirk and Dave (who turned out to be Dave Morris of McLibel Trial fame) refused to be searched as the law being invoked – a terrorist law – required police to suspect individuals of intent to do harm. Which clearly most of us weren’t. Dirk and Dave successfully made their case, and then returned to invite the other detainees to break ranks. Two days later, when they tried again (by this time police were also searching people leaving camp, often forcibly and brutally) Dirk was arrested. That's him being bundled into the van.

He was let out on bail at midnight during the dramatic thunderstorm and since he wasn’t allowed back on camp made his way back to Lewes by dawn. He was charged, with a trial date of 3 September. He’s fine now. He lodged a complaint and lawyers will be contesting this and the many other illegal actions carried out by police (I won’t go into them here for risk of sickening you as much as I have been). Norman Baker, who was also nearly caught in pepper spray by riot police against peaceful people during his visit, has also lodged a complaint to the top brass.

The camp itself, in contrast, was stunningly organised, with its self-managed consensus decision making and very diverse culture. Compost loos, brilliant vegan food, passionate and intelligent speakers – amazing legal backup with legal observer training, and 1,500 people looking after each other, peacefully and playfully. A real celebration of human ingenuity, a little ray of hope for humanity.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

From outrage to action

I think it was listening to Malcolm Wicks, the Energy Minister, on the radio yesterday morning that made me decide to cancel my plans for this week and head towards the Climate Camp at Kingsnorth.

He said that people going to this camp are deluded, that the new coal fired station on the drawing board was a minor move, and in order to keep the lights on we need to continue to build several new coal power stations. He said though the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology isn’t yet developed, we could retrofit it later.

So much of what he said and the way he said it outraged me. Intelligent commentators have been expecting this collision of paradigms for some time. The ‘Keep the show on the road at all costs’ v the ‘learn to live lightly’ camp. The two are almost definitely incompatible. Sure, I hope we can keep the lights on with renewables, but we’re not going to be able to live the high life we’ve come to expect. In order to make the transition, we have to accept that we will be consuming less and living more simply in order for others to simply live, so to speak. Anything less than that is suicide and thoroughly immoral – if I were religious I’d even say sinful.

My feeling of outrage at our leaders’ behaviour is moving from simmering to a slow bubble – and I find myself saying, it’s all very well making a positive change in my community but if our leaders continue to bugger us all up, I’m not going to take it lying down. So I’m heading east, tagging along with George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, Caroline Lucas and many others. What else could possibly be more important?