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GRANDPARENTS FOR A SAFE EARTH. Newsletter NO.9 (TEMPORARY FORMAT) : May 2019 Bristol Airport 18th January 2019: Another sign of global warming? “We are a network of grandparents and elders who care about the world our descendants will inherit. Current plans of energy companies and governments will, if not radically changed, put our grandchildren’s future at risk. We seek to cooperate and enter into dialogue with others. Where other actions fail, we are prepared to take direct action, in a spirit of non-violence and respect.”
Our group is currently not involved in climate-change protests or actions; some of us have put our energy into the activities of Extinction Rebellion (https://rebellion.earth), which also has a Facebook page Extinction Rebellion Elders. However, we still want to promote the particular angle that elders can provide in promoting change. Our senior status is viewed variously as self-indulgent, pathetic, irrelevant, curious or even wise! So, rather than report on what we have been doing, this newsletter will now try to reflect how this particular status provides us with an opportunity to influence climate policy, while at the same time making links with other generations and environmental causes related to climate change. We hope that our readers will contribute to this process by getting in touch with us via our website or Facebook page.
News of direct actions: March 2019. Phil Kingston reports: “Fi and I took part in the ‘Blood of our children’ Extinction Rebellion Protest in London. Hearing the impassioned and knowledgeable statements of the fifteen or so speakers aged between 10 and 20, moved and inspired me. This event had been arranged in liaison with the police. They knew that we would be pouring artificial blood on the road and whilst they agreed to that as being within our right of public protest, they said that if we carried it out we would be arrested for criminal damage. The police closed Whitehall to traffic, and people dressed in black walked in silence along Whitehall to the entrance to Downing Street. A single ring of a bell marked the slow pace. The young people led the way, followed by about forty-five of us who carried buckets of artificial blood. When we reached Downing Street we stood in an arc facing it, with the young people and many supporters behind. Still in silence, we poured the ‘blood’ down the camber of the road towards Downing Street and sat down behind the empty buckets. The young people each then spoke for up to two minutes and the words of some of them are on this 4-minute video”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW02kNbpAmU
In April over a thousand people, some of them elderly, were arrested during the massive XR 10-day protests in London. One grandparent, who spent most of a night in a police cell, spoke for many when she said how peacefully the protestors had behaved and how well the police had handled her, even being concerned about her safety when she was released in the middle of the night. However, some critics have reminded us that being white, middle-class and elderly can be an advantage. During that period links were made across the generations, as seen in the speech by a grandparent and the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in London (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56Ic16P31FA ). Concern was also expressed about the pursuit of endless economic growth and consumption. The good-natured occupation of Waterloo Bridge (above right) contrasted with the ever-present guardians of our economy in the City of London and Canary Wharf, which were never out of sight. Left: Some senior protestors went to great lengths to slow down the police in their efforts to clear bridges and streets, by locking themselves together underneath a lorry being used as a stage.
……and “indirect” actions: Many elders are not able, and may not want, to join in actions, particularly if this involves civil disobedience. Good quality education around climate collapse is not just a matter for the National [schools] Curriculum: it is also essential for elders. The University of the Third Age (www.u3a.org.uk) has nearly half a million members and over a thousand groups nationwide, but relatively few that focus on climate change.
Barbara reports: “We had our 6th Climate Change Group meeting on Friday. Our speaker’s topic was ‘Climate Change & the collapse of Empires.’ He explored the impact of Climate Change on ancient civilisations, there being evidence of desertification and mega-drought in ancient times. His message: ‘adapt or die!’ Much of migration across the ancient world coincided with the evidence for climate change, which lead to the collapse of empires and mass migrations.” A warning for our times.
Comments from our readers: * ‘A very concerned grandparent’ writes: “Becoming a first time grandparent October last year I feel there are so many threats to our grandchildren and we should also be looking at the 5G roll out too as this is also a serious threat to the safety of us all. They will be cutting trees down, which will also add to the environmental catastrophe we are all facing. Thanks for reading this”.
* Mary got in touch with our website about her local XR protests: “I was not there for the whole thing, as I have to travel from M, by bus, and I am not too nimble nowadays…..sciatica, so use a walking aid, and cannot stand for very long. But will think about this, as I will go to the next one, if I can.”
* So, what do the younger generation make of us? Sue writes: “The other day I saw three angry men get out of their car and started shouting at school children who were protesting about the climate on a roundabout. An elderly woman raised a crutch at them, and they mildly got back in their car and drove off.”
Reviews in the media: As expected, the XR occupations in London did not always receive a positive response from the media. Filmstar Emma Thompson, who flew in to speak to the protestors, was widely criticized for saying that she was going to plant trees to offset her air miles. Somehow it was an old person, in the shape of David Attenborough, who received the same paper’s approval, after having produced the devastating recent BBC TV programme Climate Change; The Facts (https://youtu.be/CZ4k54z4xJI).
News from abroad: During the elections to the European Union Parliament, we in the UK were still suffering from Brexit paralysis. Meanwhile, in France the Grandparent Climate Group (www.grandsparentsclimatfrance.fr) provided people with a guide to how to bring an awareness of climate change into how they vote.
“You so fear those future possible misfortunes for your children-very distant and doubtful ones…but what are you doing now in the present conditions of your life to secure your children from the unfortunate occurrences of present-day life?” Leo Tolstoy (1886): What then Must we Do? Visit us at https://network23.org/gfase/ Follow us on Facebook: grandparents for a safe earth uk. Text us: 07729 303594. Our actions are on www.youtube.com: “Grandparents for a Safe Earth” LATEST: Simon Armitage has just been appointed the new Poet Laureate. Read his climate-change poems GfaSE – for the generations to come edited by Sigurd Reimers 15.05.19
“You so fear those future possible misfortunes for your children-very distant and doubtful ones…but what are you doing now in the present conditions of your life to secure your children from the unfortunate occurrences of present-day life?” Leo Tolstoy (1886): What then Must we Do? Visit us at https://network23.org/gfase/ Follow us on Facebook: grandparents for a safe earth uk. Text us: 07729 303594. Our actions are on www.youtube.com: “Grandparents for a Safe Earth”
LATEST: Simon Armitage has just been appointed the new Poet Laureate. Read his climate-change poems GfaSE – for the generations to come edited 15.05.19