Posts Tagged ‘Deserts’

Elderly Rabbi Arrested at Extinction Rebellion Protest

October 16, 2019

Yesterday’s I, for Tuesday, 15th October 2019, carried an article by Jennifer Logan reporting that an elderly rabbi had been arrested by the rozzers after praying at an Extinction Rebellion protest in London. The article ran

A rabbi who was arrested after kneeling and praying in the middle of a road during the Extinction Rebellion protests in London said yesterday that he was “standing up for his grandchildren.”

Police have now arrested 1,405 people in connection with the protests, which will continue tomorrow when activists are understood to be planning to block roads outside MI5 on what will be the seventh day of direct action over the global climate crisis.

Jeffrey Newman, the Rabbi Emeritus of Finchley Reform Synagogue in north London, was protesting alongside about 30 Jewish activists. He was arrested near the Bank of England as hundreds of people descended upon the financial centre for a second week of protests.

The 77-year-old, who was wearing a white yarmulka branded with the black Extinction Rebellion logo, said: “I see it as my religious and moral duty to stand up for what I believe in, and what I care about, for my grandchildren.

“I haven’t tried to involve the synagogue, because if you are asking for permission, you might not get it. I think it’s much more important to do what I’m doing.”

After last week’s protests, which blockaded Parliament and targeted City Airport, protesters are now focusing on the City of London over financial backing for fossil fuels. They claim that trillions of pounds are flowing through financial markets to invest in fossil fuels which damage the climate.

Extinction Rebellion said dozens of activists were due to appear in court this week, including trials connected with previous action in April.

I have to say that Extinction Rebellion aren’t exactly my favourite protest group, because their demonstrations seem to inconvenience the general public more than the politicians and the big corporations behind the fossil fuel industries and global warming. But they have a very, very good cause. Meteorologists, ecologists, along with other scientists and broadcasters like Sir David Attenborough have been warning for decades that unless something is done, our beautiful world may very well die and humanity along with it. When I was studying for my doctorate in Archaeology at Bristol Uni, one of the postgraduate seminars in the department was by an archaeologist on the impact of climate change on human cultures throughout history. He was particularly concerned about drought and desertification, which certainly has catastrophically affected human civilisations around the world. One of the most dramatic examples was the abandonment of the Amerindian pueblo cities in the Canyon de Chelly in the American southwest around the 12th century AD. The pueblo cultures had created an extensive irrigation to supply water to their crops in the southwestern desert. However, in the 12th century that part of America entered an extremely dry period during which the available water dried up. Civilisation was not destroyed, as the Amerindian peoples themselves survived by retreating to more fertile areas. Nevertheless, it resulted in those pueblos, which had survived for centuries, being abandoned.

And now we face a similar crisis in the 21st century, thanks in part to global warming and an increasingly intense demand for water. Back in the 1990s one edition of the Financial Times predicted that climate change and competition for water resources would be the major force for war in the 21st century. In West Africa one of the reasons for the conflict in the north of Nigeria, for example, between Christians and Muslims is the desertification of the traditional grazing territory of nomadic pastoralists. These are mainly Muslim, who have been forced to move south onto land belonging to mainly Christian peoples in order to feed their flocks. The result has been ethnic and religious conflict. But it’s important to realise that the roots of this conflict are primarily ecological. It is not simply about religion. Examples of desertification and global dry periods in the past have been used by the Right to argue that the current climate crisis really isn’t as acute as scientists have claimed. It’s just the world’s natural climatic cycle repeating itself. This certainly wasn’t the view of the archaeologist giving that talk at uni, who warned that there was only a finite amount of water and urged us all to use it sparingly.

It was interesting to read the good rabbi’s concern for the planet and his grandchildren. People of all faiths are now worried about climate change. One of the priests at our local church preached a very long sermon on Sunday, no doubt partly inspired by the coming Extinction Rebellion protests, on the need to save the planet. I’ve no doubt that the involvement of practising Jews in this protest, and others, will cause something of a problem for some of the propaganda used to attack Green groups. Because there was a very strong ecological aspect to Nazism, the Right tries to close off sympathy for Green politics as a whole by smearing it as a form of Nazism, even when it’s blatantly clear that they aren’t. But the IHRC definition of anti-Semitism states that it is anti-Semitic to describe a Jew as a Nazi. Which is going to make it rather difficult for the organisations and rags that follow this line to claim that Jewish Greens are somehow supporting Nazism for getting involved in protests like this.

But it seems the cops are becoming very heavy-handed in their treatment of protesters. Mike over on his blog condemned the arrest of a 91/2 year old gentleman on another climate protest. This spirited old chap used the same explanation for his actions as Rabbi Newman: he was worried for the future of his grandchildren. Or great-grandchildren. He was arrested because he was caught protesting outside the Cabinet Office, and so frightened that doughty defender of British freedom, Boris Johnson. Yeah, our current excuse for a Prime Minister, who seems to fancy himself as the heir to Julius Caesar, Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, and Winston Churchill, was ‘frit’ – to use Thatcher’s word – of a 91 or 92 year old gent. Mike concluded of this gentleman’s arrest

Conclusion: John was committing an offence against nobody but Boris Johnson. A Boris Johnson government is an offence against the very environment in which we live.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/10/09/92-year-old-man-arrested-while-supporting-extinction-rebellion-because-the-tories-dont-like-it/

As ever, Mike is correct. In a subsequent article he showed that the Tories are far more likely than Labour to vote for policies that actively harm the planet. BoJo himself ‘was also among 10 ministers who received donations or gifts from oil companies, airports, petrostates, climate sceptics or thinktanks identified as spreading information against climate action.’ Mike’s article was based on a Guardian piece, that developed a scoreboard for the parties’ and individual politicians’ voting record. The Tories on average scored 17. Labour scored 90, and Jeremy Corbyn 92. Mike’s conclusion:

if you want a government that acts against climate change and to protect the environment for you, your children and future generations, you need to vote LABOUR.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/10/12/worried-about-climate-change-then-dont-vote-tory/

And we have to stop the cops being used as BoJo’s private police force, so that no more decent people, including senior citizens and members of the clergy of this country’s diverse religious communities, are picked up because they dare to frighten BoJob and his wretched corporate backers.

Videos on Liberals Trashing Environment with Fracking Down Under

March 27, 2015

This is another video I found on Youtube, which, although it comes from a different country a continent away, nevertheless is relevant to what’s happening in Britain now.

It’s by an Ozzie bloke attacking the way Mike Baird, the Liberal premier of New South Wales, has passed legislation allowing the mining and fracking companies to operative irrespective of the immense ecological damage they cause. This includes pumping 20 different toxic chemicals into the ground. Apart from creating a mountain of salt 11 km long, it’s also threatening to poison forever Australia’s precious farmland and the Great Artesian Basin. The video’s producer, Friendlyjordies, points out that only 4 per cent of Australia’s massive landmass is farmland. So it’s obvious that polluting what little farmland the country has available is immensely stupid. As for the Great Artesian Basin, this is the massive underground lake that supplies water to much of the eastern part of the Australian landmass. Much of the water supporting Oz’s ecosystem comes from this underground lake, which last fell as rain thousands of years ago. Poisoning this immense water source is therefore not only immensely stupid, but could effectively turn much of Oz into a polluted desert.

Not counting the fact that the contracts allow frackers to drill near Sydney’s cataract falls, and are causing house prices to fall in the great metropolis itself.

Here’s the video.

It’s the same justifiable fears about the effects fracking will have over here in Britain. And some of the issues are the same – farmland being seized and polluted through fracking, contamination of groundwater through toxic chemicals, fracking near towns and affecting the property of private citizens. Even the political complexion of the government doing all this is similar. The video states that Baird is a Liberal, who has helped the Conservatives do this. Like Nick Clegg has supported the Tories here in Blighty. I don’t know if the companies involved are the same, but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if they were. I’ve no doubt that they have their supporters in the British press. Way back in the 1990s the Torygraph was complaining about how racist and unfair it was for the Ozzie government to ban uranium mining on Aboriginal land. I think press support for fracking globally is pretty much a foregone conclusion from the Murdoch press.

Even if the companies mining over there are different from those wanting to frack over here, I’ve no doubt that some of the personnel and PR people are the same, or in very close contact with each other. In the same way that Cameron’s spin doctor, Lynton Crosbie, also hails from Down Under.

Even the rhetoric of political blame to justify the fracking programme is the same. The video states that there are people trying to excuse the Liberals and Conservatives fracking, because ‘Labor started it’. The vieo shows that the present Labor opposition in NSW actually wants a moratorium on fracking. It’s similar to some of the comments Mike has had to refute over at Vox Political, that the British Labour party are just as much in favour of it as the Tories, because they insisted on legislation restricting it, but not prohibiting it. A total prohibition would probably have been the better policy, but as Mike points out, it stood no chance of getting through.

It’s now a globalised, deeply interconnected world, where what happens in one country impacts on what they do in others. And the same things are going on across the world, in America, Britain and Australia. We have to learn from and stand together in order to resist it.