The Power of Non-violent Civil Disobedience

In a post on the Guardian website Bill McKibben reflects on civil disobedience after his stint in jail last weekend. He had thought he might be writing a blog post from jail:

“But frankly, I wasn’t up to it. The police, surprised by how many people turned out on the first day of two weeks of protests at the White House, decided to teach us a lesson. As they told our legal team, they wanted to deter anyone else from coming – and so, with our first crew, they were… kind of harsh.

“We spent three days in D.C.’s Central Cell Block, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds like it might be. You lie on a metal rack with no mattress or bedding and sweat in the high heat; the din is incessant; there’s one baloney sandwich with a cup of water every 12 hours.

“I didn’t have a pencil – they wouldn’t even let me keep my wedding ring – but, more important, I didn’t have the peace of mind to write something. It’s only now, out 12 hours and with a good night’s sleep under my belt, that I’m able to think straight.” Continue reading “The Power of Non-violent Civil Disobedience”

Scientist prepared to risk arrest

Climatologist Jason Box, interviewed earlier this year by Gareth on The Climate Show #7 (interview begins 21 minutes in), is preparing to take part in an act of civil disobedience in coming days. The purpose is to try to convince President Obama that approving the extension of a controversial oil sands pipeline — the proposed $7 billion, 1,702-mile Keystone XL from Alberta to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma and further to the Gulf Coast— would be the equivalent of what is described as lighting a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.  Box is among the 2000 so far signed up to line the fences of the White House, where peaceful arrests are not uncommon.  They’ll begin gathering on Saturday and rotate through in waves of 75 to 100 daily for two weeks.  Box is booked for a three-day stint at the tail end. Continue reading “Scientist prepared to risk arrest”

Imprisoned activist’s moving court statement.

I have been reading the impressive court statement made by American climate activist Tim DeChristopher before receiving a two-year jail sentence for making fake bids at an oil and gas lease auction of parcels of public land in Utah in December 2008. The sentence was harsh but evidently not because the offence was particularly heinous.  “The offence itself, with all apologies to people actually in the auction itself, wasn’t that bad,” said the judge. No, the serious matter was DeChristopher’s “continuing trail of statements”. The judge pointed to DeChristopher’s subsequent defiance and frequent assertions to reporters that civil disobedience is justified in fighting climate change. Previously the judge had refused to allow the trial defence that DeChristopher had been compelled to act, to prevent the greater evil of climate change. He also ruled out reference to the fact that most of the sales in the auction were later cancelled because of government doubts about the legality of the leasing plan. Continue reading “Imprisoned activist’s moving court statement.”

Time to ring some changes

Climate protestors at Aberdeen The results of the first climate trial in Scotland’s history were declared a few days ago when the court imposed modest fines ranging from £300 to £700 on each of nine activists who had broken into the Aberdeen airport in protest against the soaring carbon dioxide emissions caused by aviation.

Dan Glass, one of the nine, has commented:

“We’re not terrorists, we’re people who believe delivering our message on climate change is worth being charged and fined…We are secretaries, parents, cooks, community workers, architects and saxophonists. We are part of a growing movement of concerned citizens who are prepared to put our bodies in the way of dangerous high-carbon developments.”

He spoke of their action as “justified, proportionate and necessary” in the face of catastrophic climate change, and quoted Michael Mansfield QC, one of Britain’s best-known defence barristers, who a couple of days prior to the sentencing said:

“As I write, one fifth of Pakistan, already blighted by earthquakes, is covered with flood waters threatening the health and safety of over six million people. Without conscientious and principled protest which focuses on the undoubted factors which contribute to this decimation of the environment, the urgency of the problem will not be addressed. I trust these entirely legitimate and selfless objectives will be reflected in the way the Climate 9 are judged by the court.”

It looks as if they were.

Continue reading “Time to ring some changes”