Tar sands activism today and next month!

I was up early this morning to walk the dog before heading off to smash the Piggy Pinata (link to photos) outside the International Banking Conference this morning. Video here. We handed out a big stack of Never Mind The Bankers newspapers, and copies of the booklet about RBS’ investment in the tar sands, to people going into the conference and to interested passers-by. The conference was looking at ‘reforming the banks’. What they mean is “how do we avoid the criticism (environmental and financial) whilst maintaining business as usual”. What we want is to stop investment into environmental disasters like the various tar sands projects and Deepwater Horizon — which are only the most obvious of the problems that fossil fuel investment causes.

Elsewhere, in the British Museum there was another BP sponsorship protest, with non-toxic ‘oil’ being poured around the Easter Island statue. This is after the Liberate Tate ‘oil’ spill at Tate Britain outside and inside the Tate Summer Party (celebrating BP’s sponsorship). (BBC report here.)

And, of course, Climate Camp 2010 is targetting RBS, the ‘oil and gas’ bank (currently investing in projects including tar sands) that is 84% owned by the public. Come up to Edinburgh in August to join in with the actions!

For more information, visit the Tar Sands In Focus blog or the No Tar Sands website.


COP15: more links

If you’re in London, come down to Trafalgar Square to visit the Climate Camp COP OUT CAMP OUT activists. We’ll be there until the end of the COP15 talks! I was down there yesterday and there’s tea and biscuits. Extra sleeping bags, food, things to sit on, & so on would be appreciated by the campers. In particular, if anyone has a source of some kind of marquee or market stall that would stand up on its own (can’t use pegs on Trafalgar Square…) that would be really, really useful as the kitchen marquee was only hired for the weekend & has gone away now.

COP OUT CAMP OUT protestors blockade the European Climate Exchange yesterday.

Climate Refugee Santas sing climate carols to those catching the last flight to Copenhagen before the talks start. Their photographer was arrested.

Download the Climate Justice Chronicle, being published every other day during the Copenhagen talks.

The article’s not in English, but I think the picture says it all. ‘Reception centre’ for climate activists arrested over the next couple of weeks.


More carbon trading, and dodgy US subpoena

The Story of Cap & Trade. A short (just shy of 10 min), well-written and well-produced video explaining clearly why cap & trade isn’t a solution to the carbon crisis. From the “Story of Stuff” people.

On a slightly different note, EFF discuss the subpoena issued by the US government to, which included an illegally-broad information-fishing expedition and a bogus gag order. Good work by Indymedia & the EFF in standing up to this.

And finally, another reminder to come along to COP OUT CAMP OUT this weekend, where you will very probably be able to see The Story of Cap & Trade on a bicycle-powered projector.


Land grabs in the developing world

An interesting (and infuriating) post on The Angry Black Woman about land grabs. Executive summary: ‘investors’, initially officials from richer countries apparently concerned about food security, latterly all sorts of other people just interested in the financial value, have been buying up land in the developing world, especially in Africa.

There’s lots of useful resources and links from that post, but it doesn’t really take a genius to recognise that this is unlikely to end well for the people living in those countries. It’s the same as the biofuels issue: the rich buy up the land at the expense of those who live off it.

Even if you think that local people where the land is being bought are actually getting the money (which is, frankly, pretty monumentally unlikely), the economics of the situation (on an assumption of food scarcity, which is after all why the ‘investment’ is considered valuable) means that it’s a bad deal. The money can’t make up for the loss of the food — because the cost of the food is going to be greater than the cost of the land (otherwise no money is made). Not only that, but the food is going to go first to richer countries who can afford to pay more.

Yet another way in which climate change and capitalism are screwing the poor of the world over first. Unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be business as usual in Copenhagen; continuing to put financial interests over global wellbeing. If you’re in the UK, the Wave march is this Saturday; after that there’s the more radically-inclined Climate Camp COP OUT CAMP OUT event. Come along to push the idea that Copenhagen needs to produce radical results.


What counts as work?

At the Anarchist Bookfair at the weekend I picked up a book called Making Stuff and Doing Things.  Among the collection of useful bits and pieces was an article by CrimethInc about getting active.  Point 2 — spend less to work less! — really spoke to me.  That’s what I’m trying to do at the moment: reduce my costs so I don’t have to work full-time and have more time to do the things that I want to do.

This raises questions about what counts as ‘work’.  I don’t get paid for the time I put in at the allotment (which at least in theory frees up cash as I don’t have to spend so much on food), and I enjoy it; but it’s physically tough (especially today as I spent yet another hour hacking away at the Blackberry Tangle).  I’ve just started a (paid) part-time job teaching cycling; something which I enjoy enough and think is important enough that in the past I’ve done it for free.  I do various volunteer things that don’t attract payment but are certainly ‘work’ in another sense (I do some sysadmin work, which in the past I’ve been paid for, for free at the moment). 

Feeding into this is perhaps the idea that ‘women’s work’ tends to be undervalued.  Growing things, making things, handcrafts, helping others, teaching… often, these things are not defined as ‘work’.  Unless you make money at it, anyway, in which case it may qualify as work.  Of course, it’s still more likely to be taken seriously if you’re male.

I find myself wanting to broaden the idea of ‘work’, and to blur the boundaries between that and ‘play’.  The CrimethInc article above is fundamentally saying something a lot like that: take yourself out of the traditional paid-labour market (as far as is possible), and support yourself by doing other sorts of work.  Support yourself directly rather than with paid labour.  Work out how to make that sustainable.  Create an alternative that doesn’t fit into that old joke about work being the unpleasant things you’re paid to do.  

That’s my sort of anarchism.


Climate Change – take action this weekend!

At a loose end this weekend?  Based in the UK? 

Come on down to Nottingham and close down a power station for the weekend!  There’s something for everyone, whatever your direct action comfort level, from the Footsteps to the Future march to the Bike Bloc Critical Mass and the Take Back The Power bloc’s get-to-the-control-room mission. 

And to prove that this sort of direct action does work: we’ve already stopped Kingsnorth, and BAA have shelved plans for the third runway at Heathrow.  Come and help make a difference!