An event outside St Paul's Cathedral with Occupy London and international climate campaign 350.Org on 'Climate Impacts Day' was part of a worldwide event to 'connect the dots', connecting the evidence of weather disasters with global warming.
An event outside St Paul's Cathedral with Occupy London and international climate campaign 350.org on 'Climate Impacts Day' was part of a worldwide event to 'connect the dots', connecting the evidence of weather disasters with global warming.
This was advertised as a 'fun day', but one with a deeply serious purpose, aiming to mobilise public support for the urgent action by governments around the world needed to avert climate disaster. The campaign points out the increasing prevalence of extreme climate effects we are already seeing - including perhaps our own minor problems with drought and a record rainfall last month. 350.org takes its name from what it considers as the maximum sustainable level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - 350ppm, well below the current level of 394ppmn
Around the world we have seen many much more serious events - the Russian heatwave in 2010 which killed 55,000 and cost $15 billion, the famine in the Horn of Africa when rainy seasons failed in 2010 and 2011, the same year there were unusual monsoon rains in Thailand the killed 600 and cost the country 18% of its GDP. In 2010, Pakistan both suffered from the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia - 53.5 C / 128.3 F and the floods which were the most expensive natural disaster in the nation’s history causing $9.5 billion in
damage and displacing 20 million people.
The event at St Paul's was organised by Occupy London's Energy, Equity and Environment Group together with 350.org and also included International Stop the Tar Sands Day (ISTSDay), against the excessive climate impact of newer fossil-fuel energy sources including tar sands, oil shale and fracking for gas.
The day started with playing the 'Giant Twister' game on large sheets marked with coloured circles for fire (red), flood Blue), tornado (green) and drought (yellow). A spinner was used to select a combination of limb and colour which each player had to adopt, such as putting their left hand on a red symbol, while keeping their other hand and legs on the previously selected circles, sometimes resulting in some interesting contortions. With each selection came the reading of a climate change-related fact - such as:
'In 2010, the Aceh province of Indonesia
alone lost 80% of its coral reefs.'
Next came a couple of performances, one by poet Danny Chivers with some interactive environmental poems, one about how people avoid action over climate change with a chorus ending "Don't give me the facts because I don't want to know."
After these some of those present went on a Climate Impacts Tour, visiting some places with some involvement in our failure to deal with climate change. Starting with the Nat West Bank next to St Pauls, which finances many of the highly polluting schemes, the protesters, led by Chivers and another performance poet, Pete (The Temp) along with George Barder of Occupy London the group walked across the Millennium Bridge with a portable PA system to hold short protests outside Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre, both accepting sponsorship from BP.
BP have recently abandoned all work on renewable energy except for some support for environmentally unsound biofuels. Chivers told us about the question he asked as the holder of a single share in BP at their recent AGM where he led a protest against their anti-environment policies, which include involvement in the Alberta tar sands, and, outside the Globe, where people were queuing to enter for a performance supported by BP as a Premier Partner of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, performed single-handed the ''Shakespearian' protest made at the opening of the Royal Shakespeare Company's BP sponsored World Shakespeare Festival.
Their performance was supported by many of the audience at that event as well as many leading theatre and art professionals, and some of the security staff at the Globe and much of the public seemed to appreciate today's brief protest outside their theatre.
Back at St Paul's, there were various addresses, including one on tar sands, as today was also International Stop the Tar Sands Day. Another speaker, Louise Kulbicki, outlined the plan to give a clear legal definition of the crime of man-made ecocide and to add it to the four existing international crimes currently recognised in the Rome statute. Strangely ecocide during the time of war is apparently already a crime, but not during peace. She is one of those competing to address this June's Rio Earth Summit and and has a video on the 'Win A Date With History' site. Occupy London's George Barder gave an impassioned and lucid speech dealing with the financial crisis and climate change.
This was a General Meeting of Occupy London, and there was a session with small groups of people discussing ways to take action against climate change forward with a report back to the full meeting. There was also more performance poetry from Pete (The Temp.)
At 4pm there was a short talk about 350.org and the Join the Dots campaign, before people posed for a couple of group pictures in front of St Paul's Cathedral to be uploaded to the web, joining those from the many other 'Connect the Dots' events around the world. I left after this while others were continuing to Tate Modern for a showing of films.