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  Opinion   Columnists  11 Aug 2023  Farrukh Dhondy | Just Stop Oil! Protests over fossil fuels in UK escalating

Farrukh Dhondy | Just Stop Oil! Protests over fossil fuels in UK escalating

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Aug 12, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Aug 12, 2023, 12:05 am IST

In recent months an agitational group 'Just Stop Oil' has started radically agitating to save the planet from human-initiated climate change

Just Stop Oil supporters gathered at the gates to No. 10 Downing Street to read out a public declaration of civil resistance. (Photo: Twitter)
 Just Stop Oil supporters gathered at the gates to No. 10 Downing Street to read out a public declaration of civil resistance. (Photo: Twitter)

“The clouds have parted

The thunder falls

As if heaven farted

Or an ultimatum calls

The ocean thrashes

The pebbles shift

Foam and crashes

The eternal drift”

From Whose Sari Now -- Lady Chatterji’s Cover, by Bachchoo

As a veteran demonstrator throughout my short and happy life, I have always agitated to call attention and not to annoy. When one gathered outside the American embassy in London when the United States had sent troops to fight a sort of colonial war in Vietnam, it wasn’t to stop the embassy operating -- if it did any operating at all -- but to draw attention to what we demonstrators considered an unjust invasion. Perhaps the citizenry would turn against US foreign policy.

In recent months an agitational group called Just Stop Oil has started radically agitating to save the planet from human-initiated climate change. They want the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas, faded out.

This group employs radical and annoying tactics. They block motorways by lying on them. The law allows the police to drag them off, but the motorists who use the blocked highways have suffered delays of several hours on their journeys. Obviously, the media outlets and newspapers -- some who are opposed to such agitational groups, some who are openly sceptical about the idea that burning fossil fuels has caused climate change and certainly some who are supportive of the oil magnates and capitalists who own fossil-fuel industries -- report that ambulances have been prevented from getting to hospitals, causing deaths etc.

The scare stories are scary but I’ve read several and have the distinct feeling that they lack solid evidence of such tragedies.

Other protests from JSO have consisted in disrupting nationally televised snooker tournaments by climbing on the snooker tables during them and spreading orange powder on the green velvet. This led to the arrest of agitators, but of course not to the holding up of ambulances and causing the death of the patients in them.

Needless to say, I am suitably amused by the interruption of snooker tournaments but wouldn’t want to be stalled in an ambulance on a motorway while JSO called attention to itself by sleeping on it in their hundreds. I might add that JSO are Gandhian satyagrahis -- they don’t fight the police who drag them off roads and carry them away from the sports arenas on which they spread orange powder.

Now last week Prime Minister Hedgie Sunak took his family off on a holiday to the USA and, it has been reported, to Disneyland. Fair enough -- the cartoons were destined to take selfies together.

Before he left, he announced the granting of a hundred new licences to exploit North Sea oil and gas. He said this expansion of the fossil industries was necessary to counter the effect that sanctions on Russia since its Ukraine invasion have had on gas supplies from Russia.

Hedgie proposed, at the same time, an expansion of the carbon capture enterprise in Britain. His critics, including some MPs from his own party, oppose the new licences on the grounds that they run a coach and horses through the commitments towards net zero that even Hedgie’s government has signed off on.

Just Stop Oil reacted to this new announcement by invading the Hedgie Sunoil home in Yorkshire. While the Sunoil family had departed for their holiday, four protesters brought ladders and large black drapes, climbed onto the roof the Yorkshire constituency home and unfolded Stop Oil banners. The police, calling it a serious breach of security, pulled them

down a few hours later and arrested the protesters.

By that time, the news of the protest was everywhere. It led to vociferous protests from Tory MPs who said very nasty things about it. They couldn’t see it as a non-violent demonstration of opposition to Hedgie’s licensing of massively profiteering Shell and partners for this hundred-base expansion of oil and gas. Hedgie says it will bring 50,000 jobs to Scotland and his gamble is that the environment lobby’s concerns will be fundamentally trumped by this expansion in Scottish jobs.

So, while Hedgie is shaking hands with Mickey Mouse, scientists the world over have announced last July to be the hottest recorded month in climate-recording history. On Tuesday last week, the fires that have broken out in Greece, in Northern Africa, in the United States and in India and China, hit the south of Portugal. The heating of the planet -- these fires -- costs lives and billions of whatever currency in devastation, not to mention the desecration of natural habitats.

Scientists tell us that the temperature of the oceans has risen by half a degree centigrade and that is in itself a disastrous indicator of the warming caused by the fossil fuel outputs of the main polluting countries -- the United States, China and India.

I admit, gentle reader, in the past, mocking the men and women who stood on crowded thoroughfares of the city with sandwich boards which said “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!” Now, led by unchallengeable scientific research, I confess I have, without the sandwich board though, joined them. The prediction is even now upon us, yaaron!

There are of course still headbangers who deny that human activity in burning fossil fuels is responsible for this disaster. These are the new flat-earthers, the believers in ethereal lizards controlling mankind… or are they just shareholders in oil companies?

Tags: farrukh dhondy, climate change, rishi sunak british pm