Posts Tagged ‘ecological disaster’

Marching with a yacht

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Although police had put up with Extinction Rebellion blocking the Strand for their protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice calling for an Ecocide Lay, by late afternoon they were beginning to demand that people move or be arrested for blocking the highway.

XR had already identified a site where they were hoping to camp for the next few days, close to Waterloo, so in late afternoon they formed up to march the relatively short distance to their new home at Waterloo Millennium Green.

As well as around a thousand marchers there was also a giant pink dodo and a rather large blue yacht, the Polly Higgins, named for┬áthe environmental lawyer who fought for years for a law against ecocide and died this April. I hadn’t seen them moving a yacht through the streets before and was interested to see exactly how that would be done.

Another attraction of the march for me was that it would take me to Waterloo Station, where I could catch a train home. I had intended to march all the way, but actually gave up when the march was held up for some minutes on the Waterloo Road.

Earlier we had crossed Waterloo Bridge, where police had made many arrests of XR protesters during theirGarden Bridge’ occupaton of the bridge in April. Although the protesters were peaceful and not resisting arrest, following XR’s policy of non-violence, there had been considerable and entirely uncalled for violence from the police during some of these arrests, and the procession halted and sat down on the road for a few minutes for speeches condeming the earlier police action.

More at XR Summer Uprising procession.


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

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


We need an Ecocide Law

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Though I fully support the aims of Extinction Rebellion I do have some issues about the way they go about things. I’ve mentioned before some of the odder ‘New Age’ baggage, and that was very much to the fore when I arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice with some kind of druid presiding over a ceremony with people bringing water from rivers around the country (and some overseas) to tip into a large cauldron.

And then there’s the yachts. I just don’t inhabit the kind of milieu where people have yachts, though I did once own a canoe, or rather a kayak. I built it myself as a teenager in the pre-glass fibre era, a wooden framework over which some kind of rubberised canvas was fixed. It’s construction took several years,mainly because I had to save up the cash to buy every next step of the construction, first the plans, then the wood and ply and the canvas.

I was proud when I had it finished, built in my father’s large shed – where he and his father had made carts and other horse-drawn vehicles. But I’d run out of money and couldn’t afford a paddle and it was a long way to any water and I had no means to transport the canoe even to the nearest stream where it could be floated.

It was I think around 18 months later that a relative kindly strapped it to the roof of his car and we made our way the the Thames at Runnymede, along with single paddle handmade from a couple of pieces of wood (again from my father’s shed.) Although I’d been in rowing boats and possibly larger Canadian canoes as a Sea Scout, I’d never been in a kayak before, and it wasn’t longer before I wasn’t in it any more, but looking up at it through perhaps ten feet of murky Thames water from the bottom of the river. I think that was the end of my canoeing project, and after that I stayed on dry land and rode my bike.

So my relationship to water was not perhaps the most sympathetic as I watched those people coming towards the cauldron to add their half pint, and things got worse when people were invited to stir the water and make wishes and then to add flowers and other stuff before the cauldron was carried towards the court and then a token libation poured on the ground.

Of course there were other things going on, including speeches (some very sensible and to the point), music etc. But when a man came to speak about how uplifting his experience of being arrested had been and to encourage us all to do it, again I was rather turned off. Too many of my friends over the years have been harassed by police, fitted up and assaulted; arrest isn’t generally a very positive experience, particularly if you are poor and or from an ethnic minority. Like much about XR I think it is very much a class thing.

But of course we should have strong laws that protect the environment – including the Ecocide Law that Polly Higgins, after whom the pink yacht here was name, fought to get accepted for many years. More generally we need laws that get away from the idea of the land as private property and recognise it as a community resource with which we are entrusted rather than we own.

XR call for Ecocide Law


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

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


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 : Flickr

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – 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 : Flickr

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – 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.