'Plane Stupid' protest puts short-haul flights under the spotlight
News from last week suggests that at long last a direct action campaign against climate change is really beginning to kick off. On Sunday 24 September twenty-six 'Plane Stupid' protesters established a temporary climate camp - not in a field next to a power station this time, but on the taxi-way of East Midlands Airport. The airport - called a "climate change factory" by the demonstrators - was chosen because it specialises in mega-polluting short-haul flights, which could easily be replaced by train travel.
Whilst there they listened to a Baptist minister preach from a makeshift pulpit that, at a time when 160,000 people are dying from climate change impacts every year, "flying is a sin". The Rev. Malcolm Caroll's former parish was in nearby Nottingham. The activists managed to stick it out for 4 hours before being removed by police, and all 26 were arrested and charged with aggravated trespass. Needless to say, the real criminals - those operating the airport and the airline companies - continue with business as usual, protected by the full force of the law.
A few days later, the Met Office issues a press release: September was the warmest on record in the United Kingdom "by some margin". Is anyone listening?
I disagree that the 'real criminals' are the plane operators. Of course they are part of the problem. But surely the people to point the finger of blame at are those who actually fill the planes on their cheap package tour holidays. They don't have to do it. They can choose not to. But they don't, either because they don't know what they're doing is crazy or because they don't care. It is the task of we enlightened people who eschew flying for frivolous purposes to - somehow - get through to the 'frequent flyers' and encourage them to take their holidays locally.