Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Mothers’ Day March

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Apparently according to Mothers Rise Up, 95 countries celebrate Mothers’ Day on 12 May, (although in the UK we traditionally celebrate our mothers on Mothering Sunday in March, on the 4th Sunday in Lent, a rather more low key event.)

Or rather people celebrate Mother’s Day, as Anna Jarvis trademarked the event in 1912 saying it should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

Jarvis had begun campaigning for a day to honour mothers after the death of her own mother in 1905. Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832 1905) had been a community activist and had established Mother’s Day Work Clubs in several West Virginia towns to assist and educate people to improve sanitation and reduce infant mortality and disease. During the US Civil War she had controversially insisted these clubs provide food, clothing and nursing to soldiers in need on both sides.

Mother’s Day in the USA rapidly developed, much against Anna Jarvis’s wishes into a commercial jamboree; she organised boycotts against sending mass-produced cards and gifts, urging people instead to mark the day and honour their mothers by writing them letters expressing their love and gratitude.

According to Wikipedia, Jarvis protested against the commercialisation of the event at a “candy makers’ convention” in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of the American War Mothers in 1925. The War Mothers were selling white carnations for Mother’s Day to raise funds, and this so enraged Jarvis that she protested and “was pulled away screaming and arrested for disturbing the peace.”

So it was very appropriate that Mothers Rise Up had chosen Mother’s Day to protest and “stand in solidarity with the #youthclimatestrikes” emphasising the urgent action needed to avoid disastrous climate breakdown, with scientists telling us we have only a few years to act. Perhaps as long as 11 years to take really decisive measures, although it may already be to late to prevent global human extinction. Already as they pointed out, people in parts of the Global South “are already suffering and dying as a result of climate chaos.”

Their call out for the protest began:

We will come together and rise as a maternal force to be reckoned with. With pushchairs and song, we will march from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square and demand that our government take immediate, drastic action for a just transition to a sustainable way of life.

I hope my pictures capture something of this “maternal force”, though the giant pushchairs did present something of a problem photographically. For once I walked with the protest the whole distance to Parliament Square (stopping off briefly to photograph another protest at Downing St) and stayed for a part of the rally.

One of the speakers there was the leading international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin; I had arrived too late a few weeks earlier to photograph her arrest when protesting with Extinction Rebellion at Shell’s London HQ in April.

More pictures from the march: XR International Mothers’ Day March

Brixton Barclays

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Although my memories of the 1960s are far from clear, I’m fairly sure that the first protest I ever took part in, back when I was a student in Manchester was outside a Barclays Bank branch not far from the university in 1964. Then we were protesting against its support for Apartheid in South Africa, and stood outside handing out leaflets and calling on customers entering or leaving to move their accounts. At the time I think almost all banks were more ethical than Barclays.

A few years later, in 1969, students in the UK began the wider Boycott Barclays campaign, which became widespread and continued until after Barclays eventually sold their South African subsidiary in 1986. By then many people and organisations across society had withdrawn their accounts from Barclays causing them a loss of deposits estimated at around £6 billion a year and the number of new student accounts taken out each year had roughly halved.

It’s hard to understand why Barclays held out so long, allowing political and ideological positions to override a clear financial case for changing their policies, and disappointing that a business which had its roots in Quakerism was seen to become one of the dirtiest of banks. Perhaps as one of the largest transnational businesses in the world it simply decided it was not going to allow itself to be told what to do by protesters. But eventually it had to change.

Barclays is now under attack again for its support of fossil fuels and in particular of fracking, having invested more the $30bn in climate-wrecking fracking schemes, making it by far the worst bank in Europe. To have any chance of avoiding disastrous global warming we need to drastically cut the use of coal, oil, petrol and gas and other carbon-containing materials as fuel. Fracking not only produces dirty fuel, it also leads to extensive pollution of water sources and earthquakes; it has been banned in Germany, France, Ireland and Bulgaria in the EU and in other countries, provinces and states around the world, with further bans seeming likely.

After protesting on the busy main street in front of the Barclays branch for around an hour, the protesters held a short protest inside. They were asked to leave and agreed to do so after a few short speeches which made their position clear.

More at Climate Protest at Barclays Bank


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Big School Strike for the Future

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

School students can see clearly the threat that faces the planet – especially with some predictions that human life will be extinct on Earth before they reach middle age. I’ve never expected to be still alive in 2050, though it’s just about possible, but these people clearly should be – but quite likely won’t if we continue “business as usual“.

But its also good to be with them and to feel the energy they have, and the enthusiasm they show. As well as in the actions on the day it comes out too in the many placards. There are some mass produced from the usual culprits, Socialist Worker and the Socialist Party, but even the SWP have produced a decent one for the cause, with a nice Wave and the message ‘System Change Not Climate Change’. But clearly there are many schools where the art department is full of people making their placards.

We clearly are at a point where we need drastic change, and are unfortunately stuck with dinosaurs in charge, fiddling about with Brexit and internal party politics (both Tory and Labour) while the planet almost literally burns.

We won’t of course go on like this. It’s a simple choice, change or die, and one that has become far more critical since I first got up in front of a microphone almost 50 years ago and said we can’t go on like this. We now know much more in detail about what is going on.

Police tried to stop the protesters at the end of the Mall, but while a crowd gathered in front of their line, others coming up behind simply swarmed around the sides and ran across the grass to get to the Victoria Monument in front of Buckingham Palace.

The police gave up and the others came through to gather around the monument, and their were speeches from several of the protesters to a tightly packed crowd – and I managed to squeeze my way through to take photographs. Mostly I was so close that the fisheye became almost essential, though the one at the head of this post was made with the 18-35mm at 18mm.

After the speeches there was something of a lunch break, with people making their way along various routes back towards Parliament Square – I chose the shortest way – where some protests continued. The largest block made its way over Westminster Bridge and then turned to the east; I left them on Stamford St, deciding I’d walked far enough, but they were still going strong.

London Schools Climate Strike


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Busy Friday

Monday, June 10th, 2019

I didn’t expect Friday March 1st to be particularly busy in Westminster. Fridays generally aren’t a very busy day for protests not least because many MPs rush off back to their constituencies for the weekend. I’d gone up to take pictures largely because I knew that protesters from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) were protesting against Universal Credit, which is causing widespread hardship and extreme poverty, particularly for disabled people.

They are a group I admire and the treatment of the sick and disabled by the current government has been calculatedly cruel; as a small gravestone they had brought recorded, over 12,980 people have died within six weeks of being found fit for work by a deliberately ill-designed biased scheme adminstered to make a huge proportion of incorrect decisions – which if people live long enough for their appears to be heard are overturn in over two thirds of cases – though often by the time this happens it it time for another fake assessment. It is all about cutting costs and academic studies point to around 120,000 early deaths from the Tory cuts since 2010.

That protest turned out to be rather smaller than I had hoped – and then those taking part had anticipated. In part the small number reflected the difficulties of travel for disabled people that I’ve also photographed protests about.

My own travel on that morning took me on a slightly unusual route. Usually I take the train to Waterloo and walk from there to Parliament Square, but I think I was feeling lazy, and instead got off the train at Vauxhall and took a bus from there, which took me past the Home Office, now also home to DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In front of their entrance was a giant plastic bottle, made up of single use plastic bottles, drawing attention to the need to take action against the huge amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans and in landfill.

Apart from the problem of disposing of this waste, there are also the problems caused by the extraction of the petroleum and the energy required to produce the plastic from this and fabricate it into bottles. I carry a plastic bottle of water in my bag when taking pictures, which I bought on a very hot day a couple of years ago, as a single-use bottle containing a fizzy lime and lemon drink. Since then I’ve refilled it several hundred times with water, rinsing it out every day when I get home, and it is still going strong.

The first person I met on getting off the bus at Parliament Square was a lone protester with sandwich boards and a placard with plastic bottles hanging from it calling for a ban on all disposable plastic trash. This was the first time I’d met him there though I’ve seen him several times since.

I’d known that there would be other protests taking place in the square, and one was by Climate Strike, one of many weekly #FridaysForFuture events taking place in many cities and towns across the world inspired by the action of 15-year old Greta Thunberg. The weekly protests here – like this one – have not really grown much since they started, but there have been several much larger and noisier protests Friday protests involving many school children.

Another that I hadn’t really been aware of before became apparent when a large number of London’s black cabs came to a halt around Parliament Square, one of a number of protests by them demanding to be allowed to use all roads and bus lanes in London. I think it’s time to look again at taxis in London, and to replace the outdated system of ‘plying for hire’ and ‘the knowlege’ with one based on smartphone apps and professional sat-nav systems. Black cabs cause too much pollution and congestion to keep running as they now do in London. But I was pleased when a group of them came to support the DPAC protest against Universal Credit.

The final group of protesters in Parliament Square were at the start of a march to the Japanese embassy against the barbaric annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji cove. I went with them as far as Downing St before returning to Parliament Square.

More at:
Scrap Universal Credit
End Japanese dolphin slaughter
Black Cab Drivers blockade
Weekly climate protest
Plastics protests in London


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


BP out of the BM

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

‘BP or not BP’ is a bunch of activists who stage performances of one sort or another at various cultural institutions and events to protest at the way the arts are being used to promote and sanitise companies guitly of destroying the planet and other crimes, ‘greenwashing’ to hide their mucky stains.

BP are a prime example of such a company, responsible for many murky political dealings in countries around the world in search of oil, Extracting oil has destroyed valuable ecosystems though pollution, with huge oil spills threatening large areas of ocean life. Its oil feeds the plastics and artificial fabrics industries, while the use of oil products in heating, air conditioning and transport etc is the cause of the huge increase in grrenhouse gases which is causing disastrous global warming.

BP gives a relatively small financial contribution to the British Museum, for which it gets a incredible return in good publicity, its logo on posters and on labels in the museum.

The protest took place on the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, conducted as is now clear from documents from many sources largely to ensure access by US companies to Iraqi oil resources rather than anything to do with the WMDs which all knew did not exist. It also took place while the BP-sponsored show I am Ashurbanipal: King of the World, King of Assyria‘ was nearing the end of its run. It’s a show which includes a number of looted objects from the area (which stretched from Egypt to the Persian Gulf), both from historical times when the BM was itself sending archealogists to the area and apparently some more recent acquisitions sold to dealers after Iraq was left in chaos and during the current conflict in Syria, bought with the aid of BP money.

While several hundred protesters gathered at the front of the Great Court, a small performance took place in the Assyrian galleries, and was then repeated in front of the entrance to the Assyrian exhibition. Meanwhile the main protest got under way, amd after an introductory rally people were lead to from a ring all around the Great Court, with posters all round.

The Great Court is a large area around the old former BM Reading Room (where my wife once worked) and is said to be the largest covered public square in Euripe, with an area of 3,692.5 square metres. I think the chain around it holding the banners must have been around 600 feet long, though only relatively small sections were visible from any one point.

This was something of a challenge to still photographers, and I walked around it several times taking pictures. Long banners are always a challenge in terms of the aspect ratio. Even if you frame the people holdina banner from head to toe working in landscape format, this only results in a horizontal field of view of around ten foot. To frame longer banners results in the people and the banner shrinking to a narrower strip across the image.

You can improve matters by photographing the banner from one side, filling the frame height with the nearest person or going in even closer, and this is often my approach. But as the make the viewpoint more oblique, the banner text becomes less and less legible. And legible text is important with banners.

My friend taking video had a simpler task and did it well, filming as he walked around the whole circle. A similar approach using still photography would have resulted in a print with a roughly 100:1 aspect ratio, and while it might have been possible to join up the banner, as you moved from exposure to exposure the backgrounds would change.

I did take a series of pictures from the top of the stairs overlooking the area in front of the Assyrian exhibition, where the banners were brought and people sat on the ground. Possibly taken together they would show the whole string of banners (though I think some were folded before they reached the display), but more than the two on My London Diary make rather tedious viewing.

End BP sponsorship at British Museum

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images