Posts Tagged ‘climate disaster’

More from the XR Garden Bridge

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

On my next visit to London two days after XR had occupied Waterloo Bridge to make it into a ‘garden bridge’ I found myself needing to cross the Thames to get to an event I wanted to photograph, and the obvious way to get there was to walk through the garden.

There had been reports of arrests by police trying to clear the bridge, but things were still happening there, and for the half hour or so I had given myself to cross it the police were simply standing and watching.

The protesters seemed well settled in, though there were still new people arriving, with an induction session taking place. People were drumming and others simply sitting and chatting around, with a small library being pushed around to offer books to those who wanted to read.

And there was singing, poetry and story-telling on the lorry that was there as a stage, though there were also people locked on underneath it to prevent it being moved, with others sitting on the roof, probably just to get a good view and so that they caught a little more of the breeze coming up the river, as it was a hot morning.

Some people were keeping busy keeping the site running and others were enjoying the sun and a rest. It seemed a very calm place and it was good to be away from traffic and fumes, and I was sorry I had to leave.


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.

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.


Shell Out

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

If we are to survive as a species we need to stop the climate destroyers, companies like Shell who are still pushing fossil fuels. So it wasn’t surprising that Extinction Rebellion had planned a protest at the Shell offices in London.

Also not surprising that as those taking part were intending to be arrested for taking illegal action and causing damage to the property that they didn’t advertise their protest beforehand. I only heard about it a short while after it happened, when a colleague who had been filming it told me what had happened and said it might still be worth a visit.

I do sometimes get advance information on illegal actions – and have at times been asked to cover them for the organisations taking them, but I usually pass up the opportunities. Sometimes it’s because they are taking place at inconvenient times, often early in the mornings. I’m afraid I don’t like getting up early and living a short journey outside London makes me reluctant to cover anything that starts before around 10.30am.

I also like to keep a certain distance between myself and groups of protesters. It’s a matter of objectivity and of editorial independence. I may support the aims of a protest, but as a photographer and a journalist I want to see and photograph it from my own viewpoint. So while I’m happy to cover events when I can, I don’t normally want to be a part of them.

Sometimes groups who approach me would be happy to pay for my services, though more often there isn’t any money involved. I’ve long been a supporter of trade unions and the idea that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and am opposed to my work being used without payment by anyone else who is making money out of it. I don’t actually need the money any more but there are plenty of younger photographers out there who struggle to make a living, and I’d rather any paid job went to one of them.

While I understand that many organisations want to improve the chances of hasing their protest or other event features in publications by providing free high-quality images, this is something I don’t like to support. If an event is newsworthy, then the media should be prepared to pay for decent pictures – otherwise no news photographers can make a living.

I have two simple rules when I’m asked for permission to use any of my images without payment:
Firstly – and this applies also when people approach me offering to pay – do I approve of the way they want to use the image. Some organisations get a straight refusal, though agencies with whom I place most images are less discerning.
Secondly if any organisation wants to use my work without payment my second question is to ask if the organisation has paid staff. If it can afford to pay workers it can also afford to pay photographers like me. It’s a simple test.

There are of course exceptions. One long-established is for the occasional exhibitions I take part in, where images are provided for free use in publicising and reviewing the show. And there is one or perhaps two magazines worldwide I would allow to use my work without payment in the unlikely event they would want to do so. And my work is made freely available to you all to view on my various web sites, particularly My London Diary, London Photographs, Hull Photos and the River Lea, links to which appear at the bottom of most posts on this site, a total of around 200,000 pictures and still growing.

As well as their general role in promoting climate disaster and ecocide, the protest at the London Shell HQ also highlighted their crimes against the people of the countries of the global south in which they operate, particularly in Nigeria where the company has been responsible for the killing of opponents to its activities, including Nigerian writer, television producer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed by the military government there in 1995. 

I arrived far too late to see the activists daubing slogans on the Shell building and deliberately causing criminal damage so that they would be able to demand a trial before a jury, enabling them to argue their justification for the action. But there were still two activists occupying the glass porch above the entrance, as well as a group of supporters protesting on the road outside.

You can see a few more pictures at Extinction Rebellion at Shell. I didn’t stay long as I’d missed the main action and little now seemed ot be happening – and I had another protest to visit on my way home.


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.

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.


XR’s Garden Bridge

Monday, July 29th, 2019

While Boris Johnson wasted many millions of public money as London Mayor on a crazy project for a garden bridge across the Thames where no-one wanted it and it fortunately came to nothing, Extinction Rebellion provided one for free for a few days .

It helped that they didn’t actually have to build a bridge, but just took over an existing one, Waterloo Bridge, closing it to traffic. This did cause a certain amount of disruption, and doubtless inconvenienced some people, but it, together with their other actions around London, did serve to put the issue of climate catastrophe – and the very real threat of human extinction unless people across the world take radical action – into public consciousness.

It was a minor inconvenience for me, as found myself having to walk around London rather than sit on a bus rather often during the week, though fortunately the tube was still working. But were I a transport planner for London, I think that at least one of London’s bridges – though probably not this one – would be permanently pedestrianised. We have far too much traffic in central London, causing far too much pollution – and thousands of early deaths – and the congestion charge hasn’t solved the problem.

It was very pleasant to be able to walk across the bridge past the trees and plants, or to sit for a few minutes in the sun and listen and watch the activities taking place on the bridge. And the air there certainly felt cleaner, once you were on the bridge and away from the traffic jam south of the river.

Many of those on the bridge had travelled up from the country, and had brought a little of it with them. Some had even walked all the way from Cornwall. Extinction Rebellion has certainly gained a great deal of support, if largely from the kind of people who will go to public meetings and listen to their speakers. Most could be labelled middle class, though not mainly the comfortable and affluent high-consuming middle class, but largely those in low-paid occupations; teachers, social workers, health workers were I’m sure all over-represented.

XR has developed from the activities of groups like ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ whose protests against air pollution in the city I’ve photographed from their start, working on the ideas of Roger Hallam on non-violent protests and people being prepared to be arrested (as I photographed him being arrested at the LSE in a protest for the cleaners there.)

There were arrests at the ‘garden bridge’ but on the couple of occasions I visited police just watched and occasionally took notes. XR’s attitude to the police and their policy of encouraging people to be arrested has been much criticised by others, and they appear to have little regard for the problems it may cause and have under-estimated the support needed. But these are desperate times and rather than carping perhaps the critics should be showing an example by launching their own, more effective actions – but there is little sign of that happening. XR certainly isn’t a perfect game, but it has little competition.

More at Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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

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.

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.