Friends of the Earth will be having a Day of Action for the Climate on Saturday 14th October, and Eastbourne Friends of the Earth will be joining in with hundreds of local groups from around the world to raise awareness about the urgent need to deal with climate change. We thought we would do something different this time and join in with a big protest already arranged in London by a group that we have built strong links with over the past few months: Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE) London. That group has a unique approach to protest, using silent meditation – in public – as its main means of drawing attention to an environmental issue. Makes a change from making as much noise as possible!
In this case the protest will be outside a branch of Barclays Bank in London, linking up with other groups such as People and Planet. DANCE London is one of the groups that is active within the emerging Dharma Friends of the Earth network, which our Co-ordinator, Andrew Durling helped to set up. Dharma is a difficult word to explain, but it is a concept central to the philosophies of India and East Asia and perhaps the greatest contribution of dharma has been the introduction of mindfulness techniques to the West. Mindfulness is at the very heart of most forms of meditation, but it is also something that can be practised outside of formal meditation. Indeed, mindfulness – in a wholly secularised form – is now very much accepted as a technique that works in many clinical settings to help treat psychological issues or just to increase/maintain mental health. Incidentally, Ruby Wax will be bringing her Frazzled tour to Eastbourne’s Royal Hippodrome Theatre on November 10th to talk primarily about mindfulness as way of dealing with stress and anxiety. But mindfulness is also useful in helping environmental campaigners to sustain their activism without ending up with burn-out, indeed to increase their level of calmness and contentment whilst involved in the hurly-burly of campaigning against activities and policies that are distressingly harmful to nature and the environment generally.
So, some members of our group will be travelling together to London on 14th October for this protest against Barclays. Why Barclays? Because the bank is one of the worst offenders in the financial community for providing financial support to companies involved in dirty energy expansion, including those engaged in fracking activities within the UK. And fracking only worsens climate change because of the methane emissions from extracting and distributing the gas, and because exploiting a new source of fossil fuels makes no sense when over 80% of existing fossil fuel reserves already need to remain unextracted and unburnt if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change!
The fracking scene in the UK is now a huge battlefield with community protests erupting everywhere, making life for the fracking companies increasingly difficult, if not hopeless. The big news in the last week is that the Scottish government has extended its ban on frackingindefinitely, effectively bringing attempts to frack in Scotland to an end. This followed an intense wave of public protests across Scotland. The Welsh government has already enforced a moratorium on fracking since 2015, so it looks as if England is now the only place where fracking stands a chance in mainland Britain. Yet the scale of the protests in England continues to grow, especially in Lancashire, where Cuadrilla is trying to frack at several sites. Even Lancashire County Council rejected fracking, bit the council was overridden by the government, showing a disregard for the democratic process that has only intensified opposition to fracking. But fracking is a threat in many parts of England, including even here in Sussex at places like Broadford Bridge. The Weald is a special target for fracking companies, who, if successful, would drill hundreds of wells across Wealden Sussex, in a new and extensive industrialisation of the countryside, most of which is categorised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and which is, of course, in Eastbourne’s back yard.
Perhaps the last and most powerful objection to fracking is the recent completion of the new Rampion offshore wind farm near Newhaven, where the 116 turbines will provide power for 350,000 homes, equivalent to about half the homes in Sussex. With this kind of renewable energy coming on stream, and now – according to the latest research – cheaper than gas or nuclear, it is clear that fracking for new sources of gas is simply not necessary. The clean energy revolution is here, is winning, and will help prevent our green and pleasant land from being mined for dirty energy ever again!
If you wish to know more about the trip by Eastbourne Friends of the Earth to London on October 14th, or wish to join in with the trip, please email our Co-ordinator, Andrew Durling on firstname.lastname@example.org