Spoilsports or realists?

Oil protesters target summer games

Graphic and catastrophic evidence of global warming comes to our screens daily – people clinging to their cars as they’re swept through city streets on flash floods of filthy water, once-lush grasslands scorched by the relentless sun into arid deserts, raging fires decimating precious forests and woodlands. The stark proof is all there. And while governments worldwide, singly and collectively, pledge urgent action before dithering or backtracking on their promises, the crisis deepens and hurtles towards the ultimate tipping point. The evidence is unarguable, though many continue to argue. Delay presages disaster, though governments continue to delay, to add billions to their national coffers. The UK has committed to granting new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, claiming they won’t be incompatible with “Net zero by 2050” global fossil-fuel emission targets. This commitment comes despite the International Energy Agency’s request for no such new projects if the target is to be met. While environmental academics and scientists are voicing increased concern, the activist group Just Stop Oil has been taking direct, if peaceful, action. They’ve been hitting the British public where, for many, it hurts most – in their sport. Targets have included some of the most revered events and hallowed venues, including the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield, the Ashes test match at Lords, where England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow dragged one protester away from the wicket, and even onto the manicured grass courts of Wimbledon. The stunts have gained wide media coverage but little sympathy from politicians, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman describing the actions as “unacceptable”. Even Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, called the protests “tedious” and “pathetic”. But with sporting personalities like Gary Lineker and Andy Murray offering qualified support to the protesters’ cause, there’ll be more pitched battles to come.

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August / September 2023, Surveys

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