The Limits of Polite Dissent: The Massive But Largely Ignored ‘Restore Nature Now’ March in London, June 22, 2024

1.7.24

The ‘Restore Nature Now’ march on Piccadilly in London on June 22, 2024, with Chris Packham on the edge of the photo. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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They came in their tens of thousands, on Saturday June 22, to send a message to an uncaring government and a largely indifferent mainstream media: ‘Restore Nature Now.’

The march and rally, attended by at least 60,000 people, was, essentially, a follow-up to ‘The Big One’, last year’s massive, family-friendly, non-confrontational three-day event in central London, which I wrote about here (with numerous photos), and which mixed targeted environmental protest (outside government departments and the far-right think-tanks in Tufton Street) with education and celebration.

For ‘The Big One’, for the first time, Extinction Rebellion, which had renounced “public disruption as a primary tactic”, at least temporarily, at the start of 2023, created an extraordinary alliance of over 200 organisations, under the slogan ’Unite to Survive’, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Avaaz, Earthday, the influential youth movement Green New Deal Rising, the environmentally conscious clothing firm Patagonia, the Fairtrade Foundation, the PCS union, Don’t Pay UK, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), CND, Global Justice Now, NHS workers, War on Want, Stop Ecocide and CAFOD.

For ‘Restore Nature Now’, conceived of by the beloved environmentalist Chris Packham, over 350 organisations — mostly focused on the threat posed to nature by climate collapse rather than its impact on human viability — took part, with Packham’s organisation Love & Rage, Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion joined by an array of organisations who are not fundamentally known for their involvement in protest, including the National Trust, the RSPB, the WWF, the Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust, as well as smaller organisations covering pretty much every aspect of threatened bio-diversity in the UK and elsewhere.

In a stirring statement of intent on their website, Love & Rage declares that it “has a vision of a world where we don’t just survive, we thrive. A world where our climate is stable, biodiversity is flourishing, animal suffering and wildlife persecution have ended and humans are healthy and happy.” As they add, “We can only tackle the urgency of biodiversity loss and climate breakdown if we collectively shout above the noise. A noise of inaction, misinformation, corruption and illegality from government departments and powerful industries, to the polluting elite and billionaire press.”

The collapse of nature is a huge but generally ignored aspect of climate collapse — even though, in October 2022, the WWF/ZSL’s biennial Living Planet Report established that, as the Guardian described it, “Earth’s wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% in just under 50 years … as humans continue to clear forests, consume beyond the limits of the planet and pollute on an industrial scale.”

The lack of attention given to bio-diversity loss is especially alarming because it is not as though politicians and the mainstream media devote anything like the amount of time and energy they should to even the most evident examples of catastrophic climate collapse, which those of us who are not brainwashed by the huge and influential climate change denial industry can see with our own eyes — unprecedented heatwaves, wildfires, floods and droughts that, as predicted, are all increasing in their savagery, and are all taking place for one reason and one reason alone: our collective refusal to stop burning fossil fuels and pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with such reckless and unbridled enthusiasm that we are permanently destroying the conditions to support human life that have existed for the last 10-12,000 years, encompassing the whole of human civilisation.

There were numerous clever handmade placards on the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march in London in June 22, 2024, like this one, contrasting endangered swifts with Taylor Swift, the single individual most responsible for the threat they face through the pollution caused by her use of private jets. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

The ‘Restore Nature Now’ march

A week last Saturday, I cycled into central London and encountered the march as it was making its way down Piccadilly, from its starting point on Park Lane, and it was genuinely inspiring to see so many groups highlighting their many concerns.

Because of the deliberate focus on making the event family-friendly and non-confrontational, it was reasonable to assume that some of those on the march had never been on a protest march before, and this was clearly commendable, because anything that gets people out on the streets in vast numbers is a riposte to the carefully managed mainstream insistence that, although peaceful protest is to be tolerated, the only truly credible means of expressing discontent is through the ballot box, dutifully voting every five years.

Perhaps because of the demographic, what struck me about the march was how polite and often quiet it was, how white and middle class it was, and how most of those attending were either elderly, or parents with young children. It also struck me that many of those attending were not from London, and were representing the rural world that is often so fundamentally alien to city-dwellers, who are frequently so cut off from nature that it means nothing to them.

While the average city dweller can enjoy parks and street trees, most of the built environment is conspicuously nature-free, there is almost no urban agriculture to speak of, and the only wild animals that anyone sees on a daily basis are birds and foxes.

This, of course, is profoundly alarming, because, as the event made clear, we are intrinsically part of nature, and not separate from it, and whatever we do to the natural world, as we’ve been doing with increasing savagery, particularly over the last 40 years, has profound impacts that are not lessened by our indifference.

In many ways, the relative absence of a key demographic — let’s say, generally those in their 20s to 50s — is because of the success, over the last 40 years, of the capitalist system — the one that is entirely responsible for killing us — in persuading us that environmental concerns are a kind of fringe nonsense that undermines our alleged “right” to be the most recklessly materialistic society in human history.

A powerful complaint against the disastrous effects of water privatisation in England and Wales, undertaken by Margaret Thatcher in 1989, on the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march in London on June 22, 2024. Over 35 years, the almost entirely unregulated private water monopolies have accrued £64 billion of debt, while paying £78 billions to shareholders, all while presiding over such neglect of the water and sewage systems that our rivers are full of sewage, and in some places even the drinking water in unsafe. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

In contrast, those attending the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march all had compelling reasons to be there, from the parents of small children, who fear from their future, and whose children are often, as small children are wont to do, immersed in and fascinated by the natural world, to those my age (61) and above, whose coming of age either preceded or ran counter to the almost entirely all-consuming propaganda of the last 40 years, which has relentlessly hammered home the false message that we are cleverer than ever before, that we deserve more than ever before, and that we should drive as much as we want, fly as much as we want, and consume as much as we want without thinking for a moment about the environmental impact of our consumption.

For those my age and above, crucially, the world of our youth was startlingly different to the world of today. As a teenager in the ‘70s, most of the food we ate was locally produced, almost no one flew, the roads were not choked with cars and lorries, and throwaway culture and the domination of plastic in all walks of life had not yet become dominant.

At its most dispiriting, the march made me think how nothing substantial has changed throughout the last 40 years of environmental protest. It reminded me of the kinds of colourful environmental events that took place in the early ‘80s, which have, over the years, persisted through a variety of means, involving both creative protest and, on occasion, direct action.

And the blunt truth from all these years? Fundamentally, although colourful processions can sometimes awaken debate, direct action is by far the best way to get noticed — and also, historically, to effect change.

A poignant message on the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march in London on June 22, 2024. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Protest from the 1990s to the 2010s

In the early ‘90s, a massive road protest movement gripped the UK, as campaigners who saw the earth as sacred disrupted numerous road expansion projects, beginning in 1992 at Twyford Down, where an extension to the M3 was planned, and continuing until 1996, with the opposition to the Newbury bypass in Berkshire.

Campaigners undertook site invasions, locking on to diggers and other industrial equipment, dug and lived in tunnels, and also took to the trees, building and living in extraordinary treehouses. With one exception, at Oxleas Wood in south London, all these protests failed to prevent the roads being built, but the cumulative effects was to persuade the government to put the brakes on further reckless road expansion plans.

In the cities, meanwhile, concerted action against another road expansion plan, the M11 Link Road in east London, which had involved streets of condemned buildings being occupied in 1993, led to the emergence in 1995 of Reclaim the Streets, another challenge to the dominance of car culture, which began when two cars were crashed together on Camden High Street and a huge street party took over the main road, and which, in 1996, memorably involved the occupation of the M41 motorway in Shepherds Bush.

Much of the energy of these movements fed into the anti-globalisation movement, which emerged in 1999 and involved huge protests in the City of London and 40 other cities worldwide in June 1999 and in Seattle (against the WTO) in November 1999, Prague in September 2000 (against the IMF and the World Bank) and Genoa in July 2001 (against the G8). Although not specifically addressing environmental issues, the campaigners’ focus on the unregulated transnational power of corporations clearly involved an environmental component.

These were huge events. At least 40,000 people gathered in Seattle, and by the time of the Genoa protest 200,000 people came together to try to disrupt the neoliberal consensus. Alarmingly, the police responded with extreme violence, which, eventually, led to one protestor being shot dead by a policeman.

The violence in Genoa obviously had a chilling impact on the globalisation movement, although arguably it was the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that was the biggest dampener on further direct action throughout the rest of the decade. However, efforts to revive mass protest continued, flaring up most noticeably in 2009, when the G20 Summit was held in London, and massive protests (at which a passing newspaper vendor, Ian Tomlinson, was killed by a blow to the head by a policeman) included a climate camp on Bishopsgate, which was shut down by police violently kettling the 1,000 or more peaceful protestors.

In September 2011, another bold protest movement began in New York, when Occupy Wall Street changed the rules by reclaiming public space — in Zuccotti Park, in New York’s financial district — and, unlike most protests to date, refusing to go home again. The movement spread like wildfire globally, with an encampment in London springing to life outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, and, although all the camps were eventually shut down, the notion of occupation eventually fed into the thinking behind Extinction Rebellion’s protests in 2018 (when seven bridges in central London were simultaneously occupied) and 2019 (when five locations were occupied, including, most notably, Waterloo Bridge, which was closed to traffic for several days, becoming a vibrant focus for activists from across the country), and Oxford Circus, where a pink yacht emblazoned with the message ‘Tell the Truth’, aimed at politicians and the media, was parked up at London’s busiest shopping interchange.

The emergence of Extinction Rebellion (XR) — as well as the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s influential School Strike for Climate project (also known as Fridays For Future) — coincided with a warning by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we had just 12 years left to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% (by 2030) to stand a chance of maintaining a liveable planet.

That was a wake-up call for many, myself included, even though I was already well aware of the severity of climate change, but, although the protest movements succeeded in driving climate change up the political agenda, leading to numerous governments declaring climate emergencies, it was, sadly, mostly hot air that was not followed by any meaningful action.

Since the IPCC first began reporting in 1992 — its sober, understated reporting nevertheless becoming more and more urgent about the need for action, and accompanied by various agreements (at Kyoto in 1999 and Paris in 2015) that were meant to involve meaningful commitments on the part of governments to tackle climate change — governments had been promising action but failing to deliver it.

In the last few years, the inevitable outcome of these persistent, decades-long failures to cut greenhouse gas emissions has been truly alarming. Catastrophic climate collapse, involving unprecedented heatwaves and accompanied by ferocious droughts, flooding caused by unprecedented rainfall, and perilous increases in melting ice and the temperatures of the oceans threaten our food and water supplies globally, and are showing us a reality of an increasingly unliveable earth right now, and not, as it seemed just six years ago in 2018, in a future that still seemed remote — in the 2030s or the 2040s.

And yet, even as the crisis becomes ever more severe, politicians and the media, and far too many of the earth’s inhabitants, particularly in the Global North, have retreated into silence or denial. The promises we all made to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 now seem to have been forgotten, as we continue to pump more, not less CO2 into an already choked atmosphere, and, instead of tolerating dissent, politicians have specifically introduced draconian anti-protest laws that deliberately target climate protestors.

An uncompromising message on the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march in London on June 22, 2024. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

The 2020s: government clampdowns, even as the climate emergency intensifies

In 2020, as campaigners were trying to work out how to capitalise on the successes of 2019, the arrival of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns effectively suspended mass protests, and while the empty streets and skies provided us with a collective opportunity to reflect on the many benefits offered by this sudden pause in our hectic and destructive materialism, it was all forgotten as soon as it was regarded as “safe” to resume “business as usual.”

In the spring of 2022, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, stepped up protest in response, taking direct action to the heart of the murderous fossil fuel regime by blockading ten oil facilities in April. This was direct action taken to the heart of the problem, although the response was harsh and unambiguous — sweeping civil injunctions imposed by the oil companies, promising punitive prison sentences for anyone who refused to comply.

In response, JSO largely began focusing on interventions at sporting events, and, most memorably, via protests in art galleries, of which the most notorious example involved two young activists throwing soup at Van Gogh’s ’Sunflowers’ in the National Gallery. The protest met with an extraordinarily vituperative response, even though the painting was protected by glass and was completely undamaged, but it gained global coverage that no climate protest had ever managed before, and was followed by numerous other protests in galleries, as well as further interventions at sporting events and disruption to the M25, when two supporters scaled and occupied the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, part of the Dartford Crossing.

While the antipathy towards these protests was shockingly disproportionate, given the urgency of the climate crisis, it has persisted in demonstrating the vast gulf that exists between those who feel compelled to take direct action and those who simply will not tolerate it — either because they are climate change deniers (preyed upon by the fossil fuel companies via the deliberate pumping out of misinformation on social media and in the right-wing mainstream media), or because they find that disruption to everyday life, and attacks on “culture” are crimes of such magnitude that they overwhelm the message.

Shamefully, the government’s response, as noted above, was to implement a series of punitive anti-protest laws aimed specifically at climate protestors, which are so draconian that JSO protestors, who had undertaken numerous successful actions aimed at blocking traffic, by slow marching on busy roads, can now be arrested the moment they step off a kerb, as has happened on numerous occasions, while the latest legislation, an updating of the Public Order Act, led, just days ago, to police pre-emptively arresting campaigners at a public meeting, and at their homes, on suspicion of “conspiring to disrupt national infrastructure”, through an alleged plot to cause disruption at airports.

This is a clear demonstration, it must be said, of an emerging police state, based on the absurd rationale of seeking to portray, as terrorists, people whose disruptive tactics are not aimed at doing anything more than getting the government to fulfil promises it has already made, and is supposedly committed to, regarding a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but this is the absurd world in which we now find ourselves.

A powerful, undiluted message on the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march on June 22, 2024. (photo: Andy Worthington).

For Chris Packham and the organisers of ‘Restore Nature Now’, their hope, 12 days before the General Election, had been to highlight the shameful political indifference towards the desecration of nature in the UK, but the response, from both politicians and the mainstream media, seems only to have confirmed the painful limits on the power of peaceful dissent. Politicians from the two major parties are still conducting their campaigns as though the climate crisis doesn’t exist, while the media largely ignored the protest, because there is, apparently, nothing newsworthy about a family-friendly, non-confrontational protest march.

Instead, the media and politicians confirmed that only direct action is newsworthy, when two Just Stop Oil protestors sprayed Stonehenge with harmless cornstarch-based orange paint on the day before the summer solstice, and gained phenomenal global coverage.

The problem, however, was that much of the coverage was hysterically negative, with Shelagh Fogarty, a radio presenter on LBC, exemplifying the truly absurd world of hyperbolic outrage in which we currently live, when she wrote on X, “Just Stop Oil just stopped millions listening to their arguments because they stopped arguing and became ISIS thugs destroying our Palmyra. Idiots. Brutes.”

As I explained in response, “This is a radio presenter on LBC, comparing Just Stop Oil to ISIS’s actions at Palmyra, where 400 people were murdered and the chief archaeologist beheaded, because, at Stonehenge, two activists threw some cornstarch on the stones, which will wash away in the rain. Humanity is lost.”

If peaceful protest is ignored, and direct action is vilified and subject to prison sentences, it’s genuinely difficult to see a way forward that fulfils the obligation of all decent people with functioning brains to persuade our political leaders and our media to recognise not only that catastrophic climate collapse is already happening, but also that we need to take unprecedented action now, immediately curtailing fossil fuel use worldwide.

This is, uniquely, a problem that we cannot duck, or hide from. Every day of inaction makes the future worse, and yet here we are, stuck with punitive politicians, sick fossil fuel company executives and shareholders, blind climate change deniers, and a sea of homicidal outrage at even the mildest of efforts to disrupt our globally suicidal “business as usual.”

Another powerful message on the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march on June 22, 2024. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Obviously, protest won’t stop, and in fact new groups continue to arise that are even more uncompromising. In the UK, Youth Demand (who are also focused on Israel’s genocide in Gaza) are worth looking at, although the most powerful group currently operating appears to be Climate Defiance in the US, who are fearless and ferocious in their pursuit of corrupt fossil fuel company executives, their vile lobbyists and their prostituted supporters in Congress.

Check out this video of protestors confronting Senator Joe Manchin, the most environmentally corrupt of all of Congress’s easily corruptible lawmakers, for a sign of how, I suspect, direct action needs to evolve to increase pressure on the climate criminals who, for decades, have suppressed research findings about the damage their products cause, and who, one day, presumably as the earth becomes uninhabitable, will be recognized as the most genocidal monsters who ever lived.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (see the ongoing photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and, in 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to try to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody.

Since 2019, Andy has become increasingly involved in environmental activism, recognizing that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to life on earth, and that the window for change — requiring a severe reduction in the emission of all greenhouse gases, and the dismantling of our suicidal global capitalist system — is rapidly shrinking, as tipping points are reached that are occurring much quicker than even pessimistic climate scientists expected. You can read his articles about the climate crisis here.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

22 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    My report – with photos – about ‘Restore Nature Now’, a massive march and rally in London on June 22 calling for the urgent protection of bio-diversity, which was initiated by the beloved environmentalist Chris Packham, but which, because it was family-friendly and non-confrontational, was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media, unlike the global coverage days before, when two Just Stop Oil activists sprayed harmless cornstarch-based orange paint on Stonehenge, and were compared to ISIS.

    Although catastrophic climate collapse is already happening — and much earlier than the warnings made by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018, when we were warned that we had until 2030 to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 to keep alive the prospect of a liveable planet — climate protest is in a parlous state, either sidelined or ignored when it is peaceful, like ‘Restore Nature Now’, or subject to hysteria and hyperbolic outrage when it involves even the mildest disruptive forms of direct action, along with the almost certain prospect of arrest, and possibly prison sentences, because of draconian laws passed in recent years aimed solely at climate protestors.

    Reviewing the last three decades of climate protest, I conclude that direct action remains the best way to try to effect change, but I struggle to understand how it can be undertaken when it faces increasingly draconian responses from government, and continued indifference or psychopathic hostility from the media and from the bitter and twisted ‘armchair warriors’ of social media.

    We truly seem to be living in the most demented end times imaginable, just a few years away from major collapse, and yet still encouraged to consume like never before, not to question the insanity of our leaders’ inaction, nor to question their psychically broken response — not dealing with the threat, but instead transferring all our energies into hideous proxy wars, in Ukraine and in Gaza, while our leaders prop up a neoliberal model that is so broken that ordinary people, confused and angry, are everywhere retreating into the false comforting arms of fascists with their dangerous explanations that the blame lies entirely with “the other”: immigrants, Muslims, and, increasingly I fear, everyone on the left.

    This is not a comforting time to be alive, and those of us with functioning brains, and with empathy, need to start working together like never before to create genuine solidarity as our civilisations collapse and the far-right become ever more empowered.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    I don’t know what to say anymore.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m finding it hard too, Damien. It’s getting darker and darker. A clown election in three days’ time, under a woefully broken system, in which the two main parties have nothing to offer, pretending that climate collapse isn’t real, and isn’t happening right now, still fully supportive of Israel’s elimination of the Palestinian people and of the debacle that is the war in Ukraine, still playing relentlessly to anti-immigrant sentiment, and still fully wedded to the neoliberal order that, unless it’s dismantled and replaced with redistributive eco-socialism, is only going to further empower the far-right on an ongoing basis.

    As I discuss in the article, the Tories have managed to muzzle direct action to a disturbing extent through their draconian laws over the last few years, and I very much doubt that the disturbingly authoritarian Keir Starmer will repeal any of these laws, but what we desperately need – everywhere – is some kind of trigger for popular uprisings that don’t involve fascists.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    Andy, we can’t depend on the vile Starmer to do anything … the climate is collapsing … Now … right now … and the world is being run by lunatics … society has become the biggest death cult in history.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    All sadly true, Damien. Obviously we’ve both been banging on about this for years, but the collapse is now so swift – as I note, what we were told six years ago might happen in 2040 or later is actually happening now – and our leaders are all so clearly deranged, all obsessed with war and slaughter because they can’t handle reality and because their masks have slipped, that I’d be surprised if some kind of unexpected unrest doesn’t somehow materialise to everyone’s surprise – perhaps quite soon, as everyone realises how hopeless Starmer and Reeves will be when they’re in charge.

    The only positive sign right now is that I’m seeing numerous climate commentators accept that it’s too late to keep trying to change people’s minds, because the collapse is already happening, and only urgent collective mitigation is now feasible. I think it’s something of a relief for many of us to be, more or less simultaneously, giving up on trying to change the minds of people who are fanatically resistant to doing so.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Ed Calipel wrote:

    I often ask myself whether social media really illustrates the views of humanity and I’ve come to the sad conclusion that it does, albeit in an exaggerated or diluted form depending on one’s point of view.

    I think I’d be less concerned if other species weren’t subjected to the inevitable outcome of human stupidity and greed; obviously nothing has any real value or meaning but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Ed. I fear that it’s our atomisation, rather than social media, that has caused all the derangement. We’re not meant to be so fundamentally disconnected from nature, and to believe that ever moment of every day is about our self-gratification and entitlement. The entire western world has been infantilised.

    I suppose that, unless we succeed in destroying the climate so thoroughly that we turn Earth into Venus via ever more aggressive feedback loops, the planet will shrug us off and other lifeforms will survive and adapt. It makes me feel a bit sad that we couldn’t align our big brains with the realities of nature without our incessant need to dominate and destroy, especially as our kindness and creativity and intellects have sometimes been extraordinary, but in these end times, as I’m assaulted by the ceaseless demands to watch sporting events and cultural events, I find it harder and harder to see us as much more than deranged primates.

    I hope we find a way to survive the collapse of capitalism before it’s too late. We can be so much more.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Ed Calipel wrote:

    Andy, deranged is a fitting word for what now passes as civilisation.

    Civilisation seems now just a worn veneer with climate collapse being denied when it’s clear to anyone who lives closer to nature.

    I’d rather watch dragonfly emerge than watch a sporting event and that seemingly makes me a bit strange in today’s world.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    You have retained your connection to life, Ed, not to artificial human constructs. On the march, as I noted, it was why I saw so many parents with small children – because they’re still part of nature. By the time they become teenagers, many of them have replaced reality with XBoxes and the whole monstrous edifice of self-esteem through consumption awaits.

    Those of us who are still in touch with nature have the best chance of adapting, but I think what’s troubling so many people in the cities is how to protect ourselves from the entitled, when they realise that their entitlement has come to an end, and was built on lies.

    It’s why we so desperately need responsible voices in politics and the media to be allowed to speak – about how letting go of the last 40 years isn’t just survival; it will also be better for us. So many people glimpsed this during the peace of the Covid lockdowns, but then immediately forgot it as soon as the whole giddy insanity of consumption started up again.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote, in response to 5, above:

    Andy, if we give up we die.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    I didn’t mean giving up the fight, Damien. I meant that I’ve noticed that many climate scientists and activists are giving up on trying to persuade people that there’s still a safe buffer zone between us and collapse. Catastrophic climate collapse is here already, so now we have to go out and say it, as the ‘doomers’ have been doing for years. There’s a certain raw energy to that.

    As Peter Kalmus, the prominent NASA climate scientist, who has been sounding the alarm for years, keeps saying, the message we need to insist on now, at every opportunity, is “Fossil fuels are killing us. Can’t you see this yet?! The only way out is to dismantle the fossil fuel industry.” https://x.com/ClimateHuman/status/1804249966929694779

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    Andy, Starmer has been bought off … he and his Labour aren’t worth shit he’s a grubby little … sir … he lies more than Johnson … is there actually a world … Leader?? … who is worth a shit … NO … they are all as corrupt as each other … people are still in denial over climate change … it’s a hoax … if only it was … when people get desperate and frightened they will and do become violent and if they lose hope then it will be anarchy … is this how everything goes out … what a pity … I find myself turning more and more to images, films of the past in the 60/70s wishing I could time travel (though there was still horror … when absent there have been man made horrors) … I don’t want this future who does?

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s the big fear, Damien. That the new breed of Brit, with their entitled arrogance and lack of concern for others, which you’ve noted so well over the years, will swiftly turn on others as their self-image collapses and the age of plenty ends. It’s why I think we need to start seriously organising support groups in our neighbourhoods of like-minded people to build solidarity and to try and win people over a collectivist mentality as in WW2.

    We could, for example, start calling for as much land as possible to be given over to growing food, as it’s going to become necessary as vulnerable supply chains collapse. I keep thinking this is something the Allotment Society should recognise, but they’re probably too wedded to the idea that allotments are extensions of people’s autonomy rather than well-placed sources of collectivist survival.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    For anyone in England concerned about climate collapse, it obviously makes sense to vote on Thursday, if possible, for the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. My ideal outcome, along with the erasure of the Tories, would be for a hung Parliament, as Starmer and his shadow cabinet are so deeply untrustworthy – neoliberals opposed to the necessity of socialist redistribution to stop the otherwise inexorable rise of the far-right, disturbingly authoritarian in intent, and, as they’ve shown, willing to jettison robust environmental policies whenever the wind blows in the opposite direction.

    I see that Starmer has finally allowed Ed Miliband to speak, after gagging him to date, presumably because they’re having a last cynical push against the Greens and the LibDems. In general, though, he’s been as stifled as the only two decent Tories were – Alok Sharma and Chris Skidmore – because when politicians charged with environmental issues pay attention, they realise that everything else is either secondary or irrelevant or, in so many cases, actually runs counter to environmental necessity (broadly speaking, the obsession with “growth” that still obsesses neoliberals, Starmer’s Labour included).

    Anyway, have a look at what Miliband has to say here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/jul/01/labour-will-take-global-lead-on-climate-action-ed-miliband-vows

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    Andy – sharing your comments as some friends who are sticking with Starmer refuse to see what we do … it’s the most dispiriting election ever to me, as we have a broken 2 party system, led by Tories. No choice.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s profoundly dispiriting to see people still buying into the lie that ‘First Past the Post’, and the two-party duopoly that it protects, is anything other than a profound democratic failure, Ruth. As the Electoral Reform Society has explained, FPTP actually means that almost half of all the votes cast are wasted, because every single vote cast for anyone but the winner goes straight in the bin, completely irrelevant except for those totting up the total numbers of votes cast, which only demonstrates how much of an uphill struggle it is for any parties apart from the Tories and Labour to actually win seats. https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/the-2019-general-election-voters-left-voiceless/

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    As the Electoral Reform Society also explained after the 2019 election, Ruth, while the Tories required only 38,264 votes per seat, the Greens got only one seat in total despite securing 865,697 voters in total. The whole system is an unrepresentative disgrace. https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/westminsters-voting-system-is-bankrupt-its-time-for-proportional-representation/

    Image here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10162036021133804&set=p.10162036021133804&type=3

  18. Andy Worthington says...

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anita. As well as being a damning indictment of the Tories’ failures, this is an excellent analysis of how useless Labour are too, compared to the Greens and the LibDems.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Anita Tuesley wrote:

    Andy, it is telling – in that they felt they had to go backwards on climate and biodiversity action in order to be more electable to a public that’s been fed disinformation about our existential crises by our print, broadcast and social media. And this at a time when we’ve only a year or two left to avoid utter catastrophe.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, all Starmer has demonstrated is his desire for power, Anita, not any adherence to values. He’s U-turned and flip-flopped so much that it’s hard to know what he stands for – only his cosiness with big business and his authoritarianism seem never to have wavered.

    The Uxbridge by-election was a depressing example of flip-flopping on environmental issues. As soon as it became apparent that opposition to ULEZ had played a part in the Tories’ victory, he turned on Sadiq Khan for his implementation of ULEZ, and, if I recall correctly, this was also the time when Labour abandoned, or watered down their pledge to invest £28bn in green policies.

    All those people hoping that Starmer and his team will suddenly become more radical if they win on Thursday seem to be forgetting how little evidence there is to indicate that they are anything other than a centre-right party, much more enthusiastic about authoritarianism than the environment.

    There is no sign whatsoever that they recognise that, as you say, “we’ve only a year or two left to avoid utter catastrophe”, and at this point anyone who doesn’t understand that is useless.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    An important thread on X by climate scientist Dr. Aaron Thierry about the climate change-denying MPs who need to lose their seats on Thursday. They’re all listed, as are the tactical vote options to get them out: https://x.com/ThierryAaron/status/1808194982945149046

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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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