Our house is on fire

Our house is on fire - Paul Turner

By Paul Turner, Head of Geography

Our house is on fire and Extinction Rebellion is the fire alarm warning us of climate and ecological breakdown. On 24 April, I gave a Jaw about the inspiring and emotional experience of taking my family to participate in the week of International Rebellion.

Across 80 countries, citizens took part in non-violent direct action, which in London saw the arrest of over 1000 people and the blocking of five sites. It was a challenge to explain to a three-year-old why people were being carried away and arrested and who the ‘good guys’ were. Waterloo Bridge was turned into a garden bridge covered in plants and trees and the experience as a whole was deeply uplifting and reinvigorating.

Over the days I bumped into many students, parents and Old Bedalians who also felt they’d reached a point where they could no longer stand by and not act against government inaction on climate change.

Extinction Rebellion has three demands: the Government must a) tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change; b) act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and c) create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

To tell the truth, in coming weeks Bedales will host a screening of David Attenborough’s Climate Change – The Facts. On 15 May we will be visited by a prominent climate lawyer, and on 22 May we’re holding a whole school symposium to debate the school’s position on climate change. Please do email me (pturner@bedales.org.uk) if you’d like to get involved.

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Bedales students join thousands for climate march

Dan Hall - 6-1

By Milun Syms, 6.1

Last Friday, roughly 60 Bedales pupils – led by Aggie Levingston and Bella Evershed – joined the masses of students in London taking a stand on the imminent issue regarding their future.

As we departed from Waterloo and advanced to Parliament Square, the bold and energetic chorus of various chants and slogans began to pick up and would continue for the entirety of the march. Once the seemingly large group of Bedalians reached Parliament Square, it became clear just how many people were involved, all forming a monumental pack.

Instantly immersed in the crowd, everyone was surrounded by brightly designed pickets with various slogans regarding climate justice, with the occasional humorous comment about Teresa May. As the exponential growth of the assembly began to slow, the thousands of people embarked on the slow but steady march to Buckingham Palace, passing Downing Street on the way. Along the way, tourists, construction workers and even police officers showed their support as we progressed.

The front gate to Buckingham Palace was eventually reached, and from here, one could see countless heads, flags, signs and the fluorescent glow of the police jackets that lined the sides of the road leading up to the palace. After some time, the front of the group reached the end of the road, met by a wave of police officers attempting to prevent them from entering. As expected, this did not last very long, and soon people were flowing in, quickly inundating the Queen Victoria Memorial. A few daring individuals even began to scale the colossal statue (who were very quickly brought down by police), climbing above Victoria’s head, causing the droning chants to rapidly increase in volume. After an hour or so, the crowds begin to leave, and the march is more or less over.

Before attending the march, I believed, along with many others, that protesting in this form was not going to achieve anything big enough to make a difference. However, once immersing myself, I can now see that non-violent protest could be successful. The overall disruption it caused could not possibly be ignored. Furthermore, blocking roads, bridges and flooding the streets most definitely caused an inconvenience, and this was just one day.

On 15 April, Extinction Rebellion is planning a week-long strike in London. With persistence, composure, and vast support, change is definitely up for discussion. However, I must say that it was far from a perfect demonstration. The numerous empty bottles, trampled signs, and various other rubbish that had mostly been left behind by protesters highlighted the irony of the event. Although in all fairness, faith was restored as various people began to walk around picking up litter left by others.

Overall, it was an interesting event to attend and I’m glad that our students are opinionated and interested in controversial topics such as climate change. It’s important that as a school we show an interest, and Friday’s strike was an excellent example of that.

Pictured: Bedales student Dan Hall, 6.1