"We have 30,000 days!" "100 months!" "5 years left!" "Copenhagen (now Mexico) is our last chance!" In the face of consensus on the reality of climate change scientists, policy makers and campaigners are increasingly in the habit of issuing deadlines, ultimatums and points of no return.
But what impact does this language have on the decisions taken by activists, campaigners, and policymakers?
A provocative new film, Beyond the Tipping Point?, produced and directed by Dr. Stefan Skrimshire from The University of Manchester launched on a fortnight ago at the Manchester Museum.
Now it's publishers have made it freely available as an educational tool for campaign and community groups, schools and universities, to encourage people to discuss and reflect on the actions and decisions they take in relation to climate change.
The film features interviews with a Met Office international climate expert, a Bangladeshi social justice campaigner; members from direct action group Plane Stupid, Buddhist leaders and leading academics, alongside footage from the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
A rich diversity of perspectives emerge from these interviews. Whilst some of the contributors argue that ‘shock and awe’ will force the public to take action, others say activists must be more careful in the way they communicate. One interviewee argues that we should focus our attention on adapting our neighbourhoods to combat the unavoidable effects of rising temperatures.
Our own Leo Murray, the creator of Wake up, Freak out, said, "This film offers insight into the implications of an imminent point of no return in the climate system, and should be seen by everyone involved in the struggle to prevent us from reaching that point. This type of critical reflection will be invaluable to our understanding of our own actions and what we seek to achieve by them."
Last year the Climate 9 stopped tonnes of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions by disrupting operations at Aberdeen Airport. After deliberating for 4 hours, the majority of the jury in Aberdeen- the 'oil capital of Europe', found them guilty of breach of the peace. They will be sentenced in August.
The court of international opinion has come to a slightly different verdict, with messages of support flooding in from those on the frontline of climate change and commentators like John Pilger and Mike Mansfield QC.
This is the first time since the failure of the Copenhagen process that evidence of the dangers of climate change and aviation emissions have been presented by climate experts to a jury.
Speaking during the trial, expert witnesses Dr Alice Bows and Dr Geoff Meaden shocked many by explaining that the UK governements emissions targets are not radical enough to prevent future generations from experiencing catastrophic events. Like the flooding in Brazil this week, where 100,000 people have been made homeless, 1,000 peoplle are missing and at least 42 people sadly lost their lives.
These horrific events are why we must continue to take action to stop greenhouse gas emmissions, especially when the response from the government is woefully inadequate.
As one of the defendants, Jimmy, explained outside the court:
"While they talk, and nothing changes, people all over the world are starting to act. Even if it means standing up against the states use of legal intimidation. This verdict shows that the mechanisms of the establishment won't stop run away climate change. The expert witnessess have shown that we must take effective action, the protest at Aberdeen has shown that we can."
We all know that the real cost of cheap flights is paid for by the planet. Aviation fuel is not taxed, and so flying gets a free ride. This means more people fly, increasing demand for high-emission transport and undermining low-carbon alternatives. The combination of cheap flights and gung-ho advertising campaigns creates a mindset that we need to be constantly travelling, which leads, inevitably, to catastrophic climate change and the end of the world.
We're seeing the impact of our oil addiction every day as the Gulf of Mexico disappears under brown gunge. Oil is costing us, and the planet, dearly. It's not about taxing it - we need to get off it all together! Trains and buses can be electric, which can be renewable. Planes can't, hence the need to reduce demand for flying.
Problem is, oil companies rule the roost, making sure that we don't get the change we need to save the future. But BP's scandalous cost-cutting, which led to this latest disaster, means that all that could be changing. The tide is turning against Big Oil, and now is the time to rise up agains the oil giants! Time to gatecrash their party.
The World National Oil Companies Congress at Grange St Pauls Hotel in London 21st – 24th June invites you to: “debate and decide the future of the oil business . . . Don’t forget to pack your tuxedos and gowns. Fine wine, exquisite food and the company of some of the greatest minds in the energy business guarantee you fun and networking at the highest level.”
Delegates will be arriving on Monday evening, 21 June at the Hotel at 10 Goodliman Street EC4. They "kick off with welcome drinks on a spectacular roof terrace overlooking St. Pauls Cathedral." Plane Stupid is joining the Camp for Climate Action and the UK Tar Sands Network to ruin their evening.
Gather at 6 pm at BP-sponsored Tate Modern, near the bridge across the Thames. Bring your own percussion, banners, slogans and energy.
Join the People’s Court at 7 pm outside the conference venue, where, in co-ordination with ADIEYIEMANFO Movement of Positive Action Networks who are fighting oil exploitation in Ghana, we will put the oil executives on trial for:
wholesale wanton destruction by pollution, leaks, and flaring, of land and sea, fish and fowl, human lives and livelihoods, present and future;
waging wars for oil;
changing the climate to create an uninhabitable planet; And, as oil runs out,
pursuing ever more costly and dangerous deposits from the depths of the ocean or from tar sands, instead of developing clean, sustainable forms of energy.
The Ghanese organisers for this event say:
"Oil drilling is being violently forced upon us in West Afrika with huge blood spilling. Our only defence is grassroots community self-empowerment . ... Let us therefore all rise up to the solidarity beat of our unifying peoples’ power across borders and drum out the plundering criminals! ... Neocolonialist and imperialist States and vampire capitalist transnational corporations must never be trusted with control over dangerous fossil fuels such as Oil."
Bring your own experience, and give and hear testimonies from the oil workers and communities who have for decades resisted the curse of black gold in the Tar Sands region of Canada, in the Niger Delta, in Ghana, Iraq, Colombia, Venezuela . . . and from people at the sharp end of the changing climate.
In a ceremony pre-empting Tuesday’s gala dinner and awards ceremony, companies will fight it out for the prestigious Dead Fish Award. BP? Shell? Chevron? Who will walk away with the prize?
Come help reward your favourite oil giant. Meeting at Tate Modern, 6pm, then off to Grange St Pauls Hotel, Goodliman St, London EC4
The trial of the Climate 9 protesters in Aberdeen heard yesterday from an air ambulance witness that the protesters were not responsible for delaying an air ambulance, as had previously been suggested during yesterday's evidence for the prosecution.
The written statement from Stephen Wright of GAMA Aviation – the firm in charge of air ambulances out of Aberdeen Airport – given to police on Tuesday 3rd March 2009 shortly after the protest ended stated:
"I became aware that there was some form of protest on Aberdeen Airport this morning, I picked up this through the media prior to attending our site. I have contacted my Operations manager, who works out of Farnborough Airport, regarding this matter and he informed me that he in turn had contacted the Aberdeen Airport Duty Manager and he in turn informed us (GAMA Aviation) that due to our flight type, was not going to be interfered with and our flight slot was guaranteed.
"Our flight was scheduled to take off at 8.00am this morning, but in fact took off about 8.35am, but this was due to our operational delay by the medics and not the protestors.
"This incident has had no financial or life threatening or operational impact on our operation.I have no complaint regarding this matter. I was seen later by the police and gave this statement."
During cross-examination Wright confirmed that this was the case, countering prior claims, both during and immediately after the action and yesterday in court, that the defendants were not at fault for endangering lives during the air side action.
Juliana Napier, from the Climate 9 defence committee said:
"This evidence is incredibly important in establishing what happened during the action. The Climate 9 freely assembled inside Aberdeen airport to stop the harmful emissions causing runaway climate change and raise awareness of the issue. They did this to ensure that our own and future generations can enjoy good health in a healthy environment not to endanger the lives or health of anyone."
The prosecution will present witnesses for the next few days and the trial is set to continue until the end of next week.
Time for a blatant plug: this very cool film, starring some disreputable types (i.e. us), is building momentum behind it. Just Do It is an exciting new feature documentary film that follows the mischievous and risky world of UK climate activists.
In early 2009, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Emily James began filming the clandestine activities of several groups of environmental civil disobedient activists in the UK. Allowed unprecedented access, her footage shows us the people behind the politics, providing the often overlooked human element to their story as we watch them take on the combined forces of global capitalism, run-away climate change and those pesky metropolitan police!
Their adventures will entertain, illuminate and inspire, whilst inciting you to get off your arse and change the world.
Currently in post-production and set for release in early 2011, Just Do It is a film pushing boundaries. It is an experiment in crowd-funding, group production and community-engaged documentary filmmaking. Check it out!
The first major climate trial since the failure of the Copenhagen talks has begun in Aberdeen Sheriff's court this morning. Nine defendants from Plane Stupid Scotland will face charges of Breach of the Peace and vandalism after closing down Aberdeen Airport in March 2009.
The group intend to take the battle for climate justice from the court of public opinion to the court of law in Scotland. They plan to highlight the social and environmental impacts of expanding the airport which they argue will mainly benefit a proposed luxury hotel and golf complex owned by business tycoon Donald Trump.
Interest has been building around the case since Climate 9 public campaigns were launched in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London, which have drawn global and local support for the group and helped forge alliances with social justice campaigners and racial justice movements.
The defendants are pleading not guilty on the grounds that their actions were to prevent the larger crime of runaway climate change and have assembled a witness list of world-renowned experts in climate related fields including public health consultant Jenny Griffiths and Geoff Meaden, who contributed to the successful Kingsnorth 6 defence as a flooding and mapping expert.
The defendants were joined outside court by around 50 friends, families and supporters.
For more information, statements of support and how you can help the Climate 9 see climate9.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also ring 077655 01687.