I think this has been brewing since Christmas, however a few things have happened today which made me really want to write it. If you don’t want to read this in its entirety then please skip to the end, there are a couple of call-to-actions I implore you to consider. And when I say you, I mean all my friends in Norwich and around the country, my family, people I’ve met on my travels; please consider taking some sort of action to get us out of the mess we’re in. There will probably be some swearing in this post, and it’s quite raw. I might forget to include asterisks.
Here’s a picture of Gideon being judgemental, to ease things in. But we will be judged by future generations for not doing enough, of that I have no doubt. We’re being judged by the current younger generation. Gideon reminds me that we are very much a part of nature, not apart from it or above it. When nature dies, we do too. He is wise (but sometimes quite stupid like when he thinks the weather will be better through the back door compared to the front door).
I was in an online meeting earlier which included several young supporters of Just Stop Oil, people who have also taken action with Extinction Rebellion and other environmental campaign groups. I was listening to their personal stories, what they are feeling, what they’ve gone through, what motivates them to take action. Some of them have only just turned 20 and are terrified about the future, about what is happening right now. These are extraordinary individuals, they are my friends, I love them all. I was immensely moved by some of the accounts they shared, I could feel my eyes tearing up and that big lump in my stomach and heart I get when I feel emotional and anxious.
Why the f*ck have we allowed this to happen? What are we doing to ourselves? Why are these young adults so afraid for their futures? Why am I worrying about asterisks in swear words when the situation is so awful? My friends don’t dare consider having children, and long term plans are a luxury they don’t risk dreaming about.
I take action on the spokesperson team for Just Stop Oil, as well as Extinction Rebellion sometimes. I watched this interview on Good Morning Britain again earlier. I’m sorry, Richard Madeley is a bastard. He treated Miranda with utter contempt, and was a patronising fool. Miranda was excellent, intelligent, thoughtful, passionate (although I hate that word), and clearly understands how dire a situation we’re in far better than anyone else there. How dare they and other journalists accuse young people of taking action to boost their egos? How fucking dare they sit there being anything but journalists telling the truth and going after the real criminals, when ordinary people are suffering and dying all around the world whilst they sit in their comfortable, privileged seats paid for in the most part by historical colonialism. It fills me with rage, grief and a fair amount of despair, but I can use that. I can definitely use that; hope may be lost but love and rage drives action.
Here is the interview on GMB, watch it and tell me you think Madeley or the other guest they have on should be given any more airtime?
I am not doing enough. I take action with Just Stop Oil (JSO) and Extinction Rebellion. I have joined the Green Party and am going to stand as a district councillor to try to make things better for local people. I still sign petitions although I don’t know why, they don’t seem to do anything. I still write to my MP, I did so earlier this week about the abhorrent profits Shell and now BP have made off the back of the energy crisis, whilst we’re in a cost of living crisis. I’ve stood and sat in roads with placards, filmed and live-streamed countless actions, banged drums, put up posters, handed out fliers, helped with talks, been to picket lines, spray painted protest artwork. Not been arrested but that seems inevitable now the Government have brought in, and are trying to bring in more draconian anti protest and anti freedom of speech laws. It’s like the V for Vendetta film but this isn’t a fantasy, it’s actually happening; ordinary people are being arrested in their homes for doing nothing but exercising their democratic right to freedom of speech and freedom to protest. The police have arrested journalists for fucks sake. Do we actually live in a democracy, I don’t think so, although it’s still just about ahead of the likes of Russia and Syria. It’s getting very like 1930’s Germany, have politicians, media and business not studied history? Have we learned nothing?
I’m not doing enough though. And this isn’t ego talking. I wake up every day, and often during the night, thinking I’ve got to do more. Why am I bothering thinking about a pension, my job, about saving to buy stuff I don’t actually need when the world might be unliveable in many places within the next 50 years; it’s already starting to happen now with 1 person dying every 36 seconds from climate induced drought/famine in parts of Africa.
I have a niece who is 9, a nephew 11, god children who range from 5 to 12. I am terribly afraid they won’t live to my age. I’m 47. How can I protect them from what’s coming? Food and water shortages, extreme weather, war caused by mass migration and battle for remaining resources, I could go on but it makes me want to cry, again. I wish I was being sensationalist but scientists are telling us, via peer reviewed studies, just how bad things are and how much worse they’re going to get. But the Government and media just seem to ignore it, and as a consequence the general public seem to mostly ignore it too.
Okay, photo break. Well done and gratitude if you got this far. I wish I could describe better the emotional state I’m in; guilt, sadness, grief for sure, and massive amounts of rage. It doesn’t have to bloody be this way but the system we’re in seems incapable of realising where we’re at and what we need to do.
Consulting notes I made earlier. I don’t want to write an essay on this, so I’m going to summarise why I’m really scared, sad, depressed, anxious, fucked off, desperate, angry, so concerned for people that are being utterly mislead or suffering right now. Here goes (list not exhaustive and if I was more talented I’d turn it into a poem).
Bee killing pesticides the Government keep licensing, plus Glyphosate use. Dumping sewage in rivers – Government voted to say that’s fine. HS2 – costing billions and report out today says it’s destroying nature. Licensing new oil and gas fields, and opening new coal mines – Tories are doing it when every other political party, climate scientists (other scientists too), Antonio Guterres etc say no. Building new roads – we don’t have the carbon budget for them and they destroy ancient woodland/habitat – local Western Link Road plans for example. Fucking grouse shooting and moorlands – urgh. Fixation on growth and GDP – it’s killing us, other models of existence are available and more promising in terms of the existence bit. Freedom of speech. Freedom to Protest. Actual democracy. Media ineptitude (although a few local journo’s have been great) and failure to tell the truth. Refugee crisis and our failure to take responsibility and be welcoming. Intolerance. Racism. Sexism. Transphobia – extreme right wing in Norwich have been at it recently. Insect numbers plummeting (this is really serious, think windscreens and bugs). Artic/Antarctic ice melt. Glacier ice melt. Greenland ice sheets disappearing. Amazon rainforest tipping point. Electric vehicles being hailed as the solution. Ocean acidification. Ocean over-fishing. Global North just keep on consuming (buying stuff). Global South just keep on dying as a result. Institutional police racism, misogyny, sexism – no wonder a lot of people don’t feel safe to protest – sort your own house out before you arrest anyone. Hurricanes. Rain bombs. Drought. Famine. Air pollution. Flooding. Wildfires. People striking for fair pay, terms and support – NHS, teachers, railway workers, ambulance drivers etc
These things are all happening right now. And are going to get worse. I need to do more.
It feels like we’re going backwards with the current Government, and big businesses. The BP boss Bernard Looney has said he’s gonna invest more in oil and less in renewables for Christ’s sake (other gods are available to profane). Shell and BP have announced record profits, billions of pounds, profiteering off the back of a war and putting us into a cost of living crisis.
Why on Earth do we think this is all acceptable? There are other ways of living that would bring us closer together as people, communities, faiths. We could be happier and healthier, yet the current system is driving us into an existential crisis; repeat, young ones today won’t live to my age if this continues, and thousands are dying right now because of our greed, ineptitude, ignorance and unwillingness to change. It’s so frustrating because it could all be so much better.
Please help. I and many others are sick, quite literally, of trying to change things. And I count us lucky as we’re not the ones suffering and dying from drought, famine, or fighting for resources. My home isn’t being flooded or burnt as many people’s are round the world, or even here in the UK.
Join Just Stop Oil. Join Extinction Rebellion. Join Friends of the Earth. Join Greenpeace – checkout their current oil rig occupation. Join Stand Up to Racism, ACORN, a Union, anything that makes a difference. Take some sort of action; yeah, write some letters, sign petitions, join digital storms on Twitter, Insta and Facebook. Just do something whilst we still have time (1.5C target is blown by the way).
And don’t let the Government and Oil/Gas companies get away with Greenwashing or blaming individuals. We can only do so much with recycling, stopping flying, stopping buying, or moving to a vegetable diet. We need SYSTEM CHANGE, otherwise we’re trapped.
As promised. Links to stuff you can do.
Join Extinction Rebellion and many other organisations in London on 21 April. Thousands will be gathering. Police won’t arrest you. Peaceful protest that won’t disrupt the public. Find out more and sign up here – I’m gonna repeat my plea to friends, family and colleagues at this point – https://extinctionrebellion.uk/ – IF YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ELSE THEN PLEASE JUST COME TO THIS (sorry for shouting)
Come to a Just Stop Oil talk about Our Responsibilities At This Time. Learn that it’s totally possible for you to make a difference, and meet like-minded people that stop you feeling so alone – https://juststopoil.org/events/
Stay safe my friends. Stay in contact. Hug your loved ones. Keep learning, reading, communicating, organising and taking action ✊
Oh, and vote Green, we can win, and it’ll make a hell of a difference.
😕 I totally feel your pain. Everything you say is 100% correct.
We are being ignored for the sake of profits and too many people have become dumbed down on big brother TV and sad to say, social media.
Unfortunately many people in the ‘western ‘ culture are too comfortable with their current lifestyle to change. They’re just getting by and not too greatly inconvenienced. Therefore no real inclination to do anything more.
I’m sorry you’re so tired. It is exhausting
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I agree that many people are too comfortable. And too brainwashed by the media and advertising. Sadly millions of people around the world don’t have that luxury.
I’m tired, but very grateful for the friends and fellow campaigners I have around me. They keep me going!
Thank you so much for writing this and for having the courage to still take positive actions for a better world despite the overwhelm. It gives me hope. Something else that I have found really inspiring is Active Hope. https://activehope.training/
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Ah yes, Active Hope, I’ve got the book somewhere. Think I need to read it again 💚
I’m finding it’s people my age(65), that are judging. Most people I know don’t want to read or talk about the climate crisis. I don’t care, I will still bring it up as often as I can just to remind people and stir them out of complacency. As you say, for fucks sake, just take it on board, do things, treat it as real, nobodies going to avoid what’s coming. Think of your bloody children and grandchildren.
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Thank you for having the courage to keep bringing it up. I agree, we need to have these difficult conversations.
Hi James, we were in touch recently about possibly doing Critical Mass in March and April. Thanks for writing this and I couldn’t agree more with everything you say. Sometimes it feels unutterably depressing and it is so, so hard to have these important conversations with people when most don’t give a shit and are living in comfortable ostrich land. It’s interesting one of your commenters mentioned Active Hope as that book has helped me hugely recently. Definitely dig it out again. Bex
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