New Internationalist

Anonymous activist comes clean about fighting dirty coal

I didn’t write this post – I am publishing it here on behalf of an activist who, for reasons that will become clear, prefers to stay anonymous at this time:


Whose world is it anyway?

You did WHAT?’ The words rang down the telephone line after I told my Mum what I’d been caught doing last weekend.

WHY were you found dancing round a shovel on top of a train full of coal?!’

A smile tugs at each end of my determinedly serious mouth as I realize how much more efficient mothers are at interrogation than police officers. They carry more authority in a single intonation of the voice than ‘PC Plod’ ever did in his funny-shaped hat!

I’ll come clean.

It is alleged that last Friday myself, 27 friends and 1 canary were arrested for shovelling coal out of a train destined for the now infamous Drax power station – Britain’s largest single source of CO2 emissions. It is alleged that we stopped the train on a bridge and climbed aboard to set up camp, dropping a banner that read ‘Leave it in the Ground!’ It is also alleged that we had a lot of fun doing it!

Mum doesn’t seem to understand. I listen to her brow furrow; wrinkled with a consternation that grips her eyes and mine. As the gap between our minds widens, her silence is replaced with ‘Well, what a silly thing to do!’

Her reaction doesn’t bother me. I expected no more from her, nor from many of the voices that have criticized what took place last Friday; from those who suggest that the method was a step too far*, to those with heads still buried in dogged denial of the unpleasant realities that climate change poses for both the planet and its people. The arguments surrounding climate change and climate justice have been fought and won and shall not be repeated here. Even the most callous of corporations and consumptive of governments are now doing all they can to appear ‘green’. The question now lies in actually doing something about it. But whose job is that exactly?

The answer isn’t ‘everyone’s’, but ‘anyone’s’. Direct action is not about raising awareness, shouting chants or waving placards. It is not about the battle for hearts and headlines. Rather, it is a resolute and definitive statement of an individual’s empowerment in society, one which can only arise from taking an active ownership of the world both inside and outside of one’s self; of grasping it with both hands and sculpting its form: its laws, values, discourses and ideals, instead of letting these things sculpt you.

If Da Vinci was correct in his belief that a work of art is never finished, only abandoned, then the world is anyone’s to pick up, including yours.

* See:

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  1. #1 Dulcie Morris 25 Jul 08

    Thank you

    Thank you for taking action.
    Thank you for being willing to be arrested for it.

    If your Mum can't say it, then I will:
    I'm darn proud to share the planet with compassionate, dedicated, peaceful people such as yourself.

    Seeing photos in the paper of people shoveling coal off a stopped train, with a dancing canary, made me feel hopeful that humanity can avoid climate chaos. There is the technology to reduce our carbon emissions, and with protest actions such as this, I hope that it inspires the social and political will to change.

    So, I'm gonna go to climate camp next month.
    Thanks again for your inspiring action.

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