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Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

Sisyphus, you may remember, was the mythical king whose punishment in the afterlife was to push a massive boulder up a hill. But before Sisyphus could get the boulder to the top, the damn thing would always roll back down to the bottom, forcing him to start again.

Being any sort of environmentalist is always a Sisyphean task.  Every time you think that humanity might be approaching some sort of watershed, some great awakening to the dire ecological reality that our species has created, the big stone of progress rolls back down the mountain. In my darker hours, I start to wonder what we all did to make the gods so angry.

A few months ago, we were celebrating the acquittal of the six Greenpeace activists who scaled a chimney at Kingsnorth power station and painted “Gordon” on the side, to protest the Government’s collusion with E.ON in its suicidal plan to unleash a new wave of coal-fired energy plants. The damage done to the power station, concluded the jury, seemed trivial when compared with the damage which will be done by climate change. The protestors had a ‘lawful excuse’ for their actions, and were found not guilty.

It was a verdict which smelt of change and new beginnings. The great social change theorist Bill Moyer spoke of a stage in the development of all social movements called ‘Take Off”. At this stage, the general public hear, for the first time, the activists’ side of the story. Suddenly the powerholders are no longer the sole narrators. This is exactly what happened during the Kingsnorth trial: a jury is, after all, intended to be representative of the broader public.

But perhaps the take off was a false one. Read the rest of this entry »


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nef employees blog in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the new economics foundation.