The UK is apparently a leading light when it comes to paving the way for reducing our carbon footprint, recycling, and putting strategies into place which will safeguard the environment for future generations. Yet once again our Government can be accused of the worst kind of hypocrisy.
While we are being encouraged to reduce our carbon emissions, conserve energy, recycle - which we are being taxed on as well as being penalised if we don't follow the rules, the UK Government it seems, has given it's blessing to go drilling for more oil and start up open cast mines for coal. Coal is one of the 'dirtiest' energy sources we use, nor is there an infinite supply. With the UK Secretary of State, John Denham's blessing, UKCoal have been given the go-ahead to build an open cast mine on the historic beauty spot of the Wrekin in Telford,West Midlands, to also encompass Ercall Wood and the New Works Ancient Monument. They intend to use the site for just three years - our land that took millions of years to form devastated in less than three.
But in time honoured style, concerned locals, activists from all walks of life and those from the West Midlands Climate Action have descended upon the land and named themselves the Huntington Lane Protest Camp. These modern day Diggers have moved onto the land and blocked the way to the felling of any more trees which was intended to make way for the access road to the coal mine. They are literally 'digging in' and intend to make it permanent. With help from local people they are being provided with food and water supplies, as well as building materials to make temporary structures, tools etc. They still need more supplies and their website can be visited for regular updates. They are asking anyone and everyone to lend their support, help spread the word and come and visit either for a short while and have a cup of tea, or to camp one or two nights or as long as you can. The more the merrier!
My husband and I will be going along for a couple of days camping to share in the protest, lend our support and bring supplies. I am really looking forward to it, despite the mud and the rain! This is something we feel so passionate about. The next few days the Huntington Lane Protest Camp are holding an event by the name of Fossil Fools Weekend - to run from April 1st to April 4th. They hope this will bring in more people, more support and more attention to the plight of the land. To find out more visit http://wmclimateaction.wordpress.com/ or the Huntington Lane blog http://defendhuntingtonlane.wordpress.com/
The Wrekin is by no means on its own, there have been protests elsewhere around the country such as in Derbyshire and also Scotland. Yet unless the protesters make enough noise the media remain strangely silent. What isn't any secret is that we are running out of energy to burn, it won't be long before we go back in time to the era of the 70s, when electricity was limited and there were wide spread power cuts. Our industry is suffering huge losses, millions still out of work, and the roads have have become appalling - always a bad sign. The truth is we're broke. The powers that be are spouting how times are tough, with yet more cuts on the way - but things are getting better honest! Yet we look around us and our eyes tell us something completely different. The rich/poor divide has never been more obvious in our time. Yet I hear the arms trade is doing rather well, the war in Afghanistan has cost the UK £12 billion and rising and that doesn't include the war in Iraq.
So while an illegal and very unpopular war rages on, people are dying unnecessarily, people are jobless, losing their homes, going hungry and essential services are being cut. Oh, and we've been left to foot the bill for generations to come. Of course the powers that be don't really care, what matters to them is worshipping their God - the mighty dollar. It must be very satisfying to continue lying to us about the 'state of things' and impressing on us how we can be more useful, more helpful, more environmentally friendly - through mouthfuls of an 8 course dinner, wearing expensive clothes made by a trafficked child labourer in India, China, Africa or even here in our own countries. While scoffing chocolate harvested by the farmers kept deliberately in poverty and who will never taste the finished product. Perhaps they drive around in their gas guzzling cars just for one or two miles to get to work while shouting out the window to us 'You, you over there, why aren't you cycling, walking, you're ruining the planet - I shall have to tax you!'
So how about being sensible instead and investing long term in our own industries. Lets spend some of that illegal war money (which we haven't got) on looking into providing long term renewable & environmentally friendly energy sources. Not coal, not nuclear energy, not other people's oil. Oh, they might tell you now that coal is clean - they can clean it so it isn't dirty don't ya know? Rubbish! Don't believe a word of it, there is no such thing as clean coal. They forget to mention what it does to the surrounding area where it is mined.
But to imply that it is merely the Governments fault & the fat cats in their expensive business suits, is wrong. For if we did it would imply that the vast majority of us are powerless to act. This is not so. We have always had the power, but we listen to their lies, we know their threats of violence and incarceration should we dare challenge them, are possible. But most of all it's the psychological hold over us that keeps us kowtowed. We buy into the idea of Consumerism (literally and figuratively) we can't do without 'stuff' and lots of it. What fools we are, but once you're in it's not always so easy to get back out, I include myself in this. Still while a few make a stand, make a noise tell the big guys they're wrong - they can safely be ignored. When it's more than just a few of us, the big guys get twitchy and bring in their bully tactics, usually involving police truncheons and prison. However, if we all stood up and said 'No More!' they couldn't ignore us and they would have to bow to consumer pressure. We have the power to make changes happen. It just means stepping out of our comfort zone slightly, being slightly less greedy and seeing the world with new eyes.
You may not be able to join me on the protest camp on Huntington Lane (though you would be more than welcome!) but you may be able to stand up for something you feel passionately about in your local area, make small changes in your household, be more aware of where you resources come from. But whatever you do, say NO to new coal!
A thought provoking piece, Ebby. Thank you.
Sometimes I wonder if there are any aspects of our comfortable, western lifestyles that aren't somehow tainted by oppression, conflict or destruction. It is clear that we can no longer live in ignorance of the consequences of our selfish desires. As Gandhi said 'Live simply, so that others may simply live.'
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