Photos and Report: Extinction Rebellion’s Two Weeks of Timely and Urgent Actions Calling on Banks to End All Fossil Fuel Investments Now

“It’s Happening Now”: Highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis, Extinction Rebellion supporters hold up a banner by Lloyd’s Building on Leadenhall Street in the City of London on September 3, 2021, during their two-week long ‘Impossible Rebellion’ (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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When faced with the gravest existential threat to humanity’s future in our lifetimes — no, it’s not Covid, it’s catastrophic climate change as a result of the actions of humanity — homo sapiens, for all our vaunted ability to think and to understand complex situations, have found ourselves unable or unwilling to deal with it.

Three responses have been dominant over the many decades that this unfolding crisis has been apparent: firstly, denial, propagated by the climate change deniers in the fossil fuel industry and amplified by corrupt media; secondly, a complete lack of interest from those parts of the population (around a third in total) who have become completely disengaged from politics; and thirdly, and belatedly, a recognition of the severity of the crisis, but an acceptance that slowly-awakening politicians making promises about change that will take place decades from now is the best that we can do.

A fourth group is trying to do something about it, through non-violent direct action, to try to raise awareness of the urgent severity of the crisis, and the need for major structural changes to the way humans consume the planet’s resources, unleashing alarming quantities of greenhouse gases — primarily, carbon dioxide and methane — that are causing the earth’s atmosphere to change from one that supports an abundance of life to one that threatens it via increasingly hostile weather conditions, rising tides, melting ice and dying oceans.

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Quarterly Fundraiser for My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The latest photos posted in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

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Nine years ago, in the spring of 2012, I set out on my bike, with a small point-and-shoot Canon camera, on a mission to take photos in all 120 postcodes of the London postal district, an area of 241 square miles featuring the City and the West End (EC and WC), and the compass points that radiate out from them (E, SE, SW, W, NW and N). 

I embarked on the project after five largely sedentary years spent researching and writing about the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and an illness in 2011, in part because I wanted to get fit, but, in particular, because I wanted to get to know better the city that has been my home since I left university in 1985, and to record its multi-layered history and the significant changes that it was undergoing as it played host to the 2012 Olympic Games, and, more generally, as development money poured in to remake huge swathes of the capital for the 21st century, via an array of “regeneration” projects that largely seem to involve sidelining the genuine needs of Londoners in pursuit of profits for investors, both foreign and domestic.  

Five years in, I began posting a daily photo on Facebook from the archive I’d built up since 2012, accompanying the photos with essays intended to establish it as a photo-journalistic appraisal of the capital in all of its complexity, and I hope that, as the project has gone on, it has also improved, as I embraced better technology (upgrading to a Canon PowerShot G7X Mk. II in February 2019), became a better photographer, and increasingly devoted more time to the essays that give the photos what I regard as a necessary context.

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Covid, Ghost Cities and the Collapse of Property Prices in the West End and the City of London

An almost entirely deserted Oxford Circus on November 10, 2020, during the latest Covid lockdown in England. A previously unpublished photo from Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

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Is this how the world as we know it ends, then — not with a bang, or even a whimper, but with the slow, silent death of shops, pubs, restaurants and live culture?

England’s second Covid lockdown, introduced on November 5 in response to rising infection rates, has, in a crucial pre-Christmas month for business, shut down all shops regarded as “non-essential” — in other words, to name just a few examples, all clothes shops, gift shops and bookshops, as well as pubs and restaurants — with a sense of timing that could lead one to conclude that it was dictated by Amazon and other online retailers for whom Covid has seen their businesses reap unprecedented profits.

The cost of this, in terms of businesses shutting down, and employees laid off, is not yet known, but it seems likely that, as 2021 unfolds, the centres of our cities and towns will be wastelands, reminiscent of the early 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

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The State of London: Marking 120 Days of My London Lockdown Photos with Some Previously Unpublished Images

Old Compton Street in Soho, London W1, March 22, 2020, the day before the coronavirus lockdown began (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Check out all ‘The State of London’ photos here.

Yesterday marked 120 days straight that I’ve been cycling around London, taking photos of the coronavirus lockdown — and, in recent weeks, its partial easing — and posting a photo a day on ‘The State of London’ Facebook and Twitter pages.

I first began cycling around London on a daily basis, taking photos for a photo-journalism project that I soon named ‘The State of London’, over eight years ago, in May 2012, and on the fifth anniversary I began posting a photo a day on Facebook. Until the coronavirus hit, the photos I posted were drawn from the various years since I began the project — on that particular day, but from any of the years since the project began in 2012.

When the coronavirus hit, however — and particularly after the lockdown officially began on March 23 — the archive suddenly seemed, if not irrelevant, then relating to another, lost time, as the streets of the capital emptied, and economic activity ground almost to a halt.

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Photos: Christmas in London, 2012

Christmas masksA Christmas sceneChristmas at Leadenhall MarketLiverpool Street Christmas treeGiant SantaChristmas at Sounds Around
Christmas at Magi GiftsChristmas in an umbrellaRebecca Hossack's ChristmasChristmas at QubeRotherhithe girlReindeer in Rotherhithe
Christmas lights in GreenwichShoppers in Greenwich MarketSanta's houseSnowman behind barsSanta's house at nightLuminous Christmas house
Bright lights in Honor OakInflatable nativitySanta and the snowmanCharity SantaSanta DIYThe entrance to Greenwich Market

Christmas in London, 2012, a set on Flickr.

Best wishes for the holiday season to those following my work, or to anyone who has just stumbled across it. This is a selection of Christmas-themed photos that I’ve taken over the last month during my journeys around London, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began in May this year.

This is the 69th set of my London photos, and it was fun to go through all the photos I’ve been accumulating from my almost daily journeys, large and small, over the last month, picking out those with a Christmas theme — from locations in north London, in central London and the City, on the Isle of Dogs and at various places in south east London, where I live — including my home in Brockley, and also Blackheath, Camberwell, Deptford, Greenwich, Honor Oak, Lewisham and Rotherhithe. Read the rest of this entry »

Glass, Light and Fantasies: Photos of the City of London At Night

Phone boxes, Smithfield MarketSmithfield Market at nightThe back alleySpace age ductsLondon Wall at nightFire dancer in the City
Purple lights at the entrance to Tower 42The ghost officeThe Olympic logo on Tower 42The Heron Tower from BishopsgateThe Gherkin at nightThe back of the Lloyds Building at night
Glass, light and trees: Lloyds at nightThe glass box by Tower BridgeThe Shard and City Hall at nightThe three tunnels at night, Bermondsey

Glass, Light and Fantasies: The City of London At Night, a set on Flickr.

This latest photo set, on Flickr, from my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — the 23rd instalment in what will be at least a year-long project — follows up on a previous set, Parks, Water and Dreams: Photos of a Journey from Surrey Quays to Central London, in which I recorded a journey through Rotherhithe on the evening of July 19, 2012, when I travelled to The Arts Catalyst, on Clerkenwell Road, in London EC1, to speak at an event marking the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Talha Ahsan, a British citizen and a Londoner, who has been held without charge or trial ever since, while fighting extradition to the US — an unjust situation that I have also written about here and here. Please also see this photo of me wearing an “Extradite Me, I’m British” T-shirt, to highlight the problems with the US-UK Extradition Treaty.

After the event — shortly after 9pm — I set off for home, but took a detour through the City of London, to capture photos of the City of London at night, the morally and legally dubious powerhouse of Britain’s financial industry, which fascinates me (see the evidence here and here), as does its offshoot at Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs (see the photos here and my essay here). Read the rest of this entry »

The Wealth of Empire: Photos of the City of London in the Rain

Bikini girls in rainy London12-14 New Fetter LaneThe Guildhall and the Roman amphitheatreThe Bank of EnglandAt Moorgate and London WallPigeons in the City
The GherkinThe Gherkin from Leathersellers' HallThe Gherkin: old and newNaked sculptures in the rainThe black tower from The GherkinLloyd's Building - and the Leadenhall Building under construction
Entrance to Lloyd's BuildingDrinking in Leadenhall MarketLeadenhall MarketLeadenhall Market: The Lime Street entranceThe Shard - and 20 Fenchurch Street under constructionThe Shard and City Hall from Tower Bridge
The City viewed from Tower BridgeHMS Belfast viewed from Tower BridgeThe Shard and the Potters Fields building site

The Wealth of Empire: The City of London in the Rain, a set on Flickr.

To describe these photos of the City of London, I used the word “empire” in the title because I believe that, in many fundamental ways, it is apt, although I realise that the British Empire is not, of course, the only source of money and power in the City of London and in its modern offshoot, Canary Wharf. In many ways, the mafia would be a better reference point for what these well-connected crooks have been getting up to as a result of the financial deregulation initiated by Margaret Thatcher (which benefitted David Cameron’s father, who made a fortune through the creation of tax havens) and Ronald Reagan, the subsequent repeal, under Bill Clinton, of the crucial Glass-Steagall Act — which was introduced after the Depression in 1933, separating “domestic” banking from its potentially fatal speculative aspects — and New Labour’s enthusiasm for filthy lucre, and whatever scum happened to have loads of it. The current shower of clowns in Downing Street and the Cabinet are only different from New Labour in the sense that most of them are already rich, millionaires out of touch with the people and thoroughly unconcerned about it.

In particular, the modern money markets are international, and much of the expertise in dodgy financial engineering — of the kind that ought to be illegal, and of the kind that nearly bankrupted the world in the global crash of 2008 — came from Wall Street as much as from the robber barons of the British establishment, although, crucially, it was the long-cherished secrecy of the City that allowed Wall Street bankers to initiate policies in London that were illegal at home. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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