#Howtochangetheworld

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I went to see How to Change the World, the documentary about the history of Greenpeace, on Wednesday 9th September at Brixton Ritzy.

Today seems like a good day to finally get round to writing about it because this morning I woke up to a better and greener world. I woke up, dreading the monday ahead of me, to this piece of news: Shell abandons Alaska Arctic drilling. I’ve been smiling all day.

Here’s a photo of Aurora, I went to visit the majestic beast outside Shell HQ on Friday night…

Greenpeace - Aurora outside Shell HQ

She’ll be heading home tomorrow morning after a sweet victory for the #SaveTheArctic and  #ShellNo campaign.

Although the news seems to highlight that the reason for Shell’s turn-around was economical due to the fact that it’s simply not financially viable to drill in the Arctic having not discovered sufficient amounts of oil and gas (in what Carbon Tracker has called ‘a win for common sense’), The Guardian noted that ‘Shell has made it privately clear that it is taken aback by the public protests against the drilling’. People Power has undoubtedly played a part in this victory. And it’s people power and specifically direct action that Greenpeace was built upon.

Bob Hunter, the founding father of Greenpeace, liked to say: ‘Put your body where your mouth is.’ That’s just what the first members did when first trying to get the movement off the ground. There was no Twitter or change.org to hide behind – they had to get out there and get their hands dirty.

Jerry Rothwell’s How to Change the World is not supposed to be a tribute. In fact, in the Live Q&A that followed, Rothwell mentioned that he’s never been an active supporter of Greenpeace or any sort of environmental activist. It was the internal politics of the movement that interested him over anything else. I think this non-biased approach worked to paint a three-dimensional picture of movement that might have been otherwise lost in a rose-tinted glow if the film had been left to an eco-warrior-at-heart. I had no idea about the friendship breakdowns and conflicting ideas that helped form the Greenpeace we know today and I found it fascinating.

I found the film particularly hard-hitting because it starts off in the thick of Vancouver’s hippy movement, lulling the audience into a false sense of hilarity with psychedelic visuals alluding to the experimental drug-taking which its founding members took a liking to, but then it steadily gets more and more serious and dark.

The bit about the seal campaign really got me blubbing. The film shows some really graphic original footage of seal cub clubbing and some heart-breaking images of mother seals running after their dead babies, as they’re dragged across the ice bleeding, crying in panic and terror. I went out for lunch with my sister this week, and when she asked how the film had been, I described that scene to her and then, unexpectedly and rather embarassingly, I burst into tears all over again. Her eyes welled up too (we’re both such sensitive souls).

Anyway, you should all see the film. I’m going to have a good night’s sleep hopefully full of polar bear and seal cub dreams.

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Hey Mr Cameron, if you think this ‘migrant crisis’ is bad… you’ve got another thing comin’

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Climate Change Migrant Crisis

Picture: cjournal.info

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to down-play the horrific reality of what Syrian refugees are going through/have been through, and I also don’t mean to down-play the compassion and pure humanity shown by the likes of the Germans cheering in their new habitants as comrades and as equals. But I do mean to highlight that this is only the tip of a very large iceberg. (You’ll see what I did there…)

All this talk about ‘how to accommodate’ these poor people has got me thinking. In many respects, Mr Cameron, I am tempted to call this ‘migrant crisis’ a practice run… or a warm-up exercise (another aptly-chosen description there) for British politics. I say this because, at the rate that climate change is happening, in approximately 30 years time we’ll be facing a refugee crisis on a colossal scale, and unlike any crisis humanity has had to overcome before. In choosing to ignore or put-off what we now know we must do (that is: switch to renewable energy) we are self-destructing. One of the primary and major effects we can expect from the start of this self-destruction is that large areas of our planet will soon become uninhabitable. The soils of Sudan will become too scorched to cultivate crops as the Sahara Desert expands and the low-lying Pacific islands of Tuvalu will disappear altogether. This, in turn, will result in the biggest mass migration the world has ever seen.

As Ellie Mae O’Hagan states in Mass migration is no ‘crisis’: it’s the new normal as the climate changes:

There is only one problem with calling this phenomenon of migration a crisis, and that is that it’s not temporary: it’s permanent. Thanks to global climate change, mass migration could be the new normal.

 

It seems like a good idea, with all the ‘confusion’ (in both the media and parliament) between the terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’, to state the definition of a refugee:

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

 

Quite categorically, the developed, first-world countries such as the UK and the US are largely to blame for industrialisation, over-consumption, and the speed at which we have heated up our planet, and thus when the time comes, they will need to take responsibility for our many millions of displaced brothers and sisters. There is no dispute here, these will not be ‘migrants’ these will be refugees and the developed world has a moral responsibility to provide this refuge.

Mr Cameron is currently planning how the UK will take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. Once he’s done with that, I suggest he has the foresight to either start planning the overhaul of the UK’s energy system (that’s if we’re not too late)… or start planning how the UK’s going to meet the real ‘swarm of migrants’.