On 14th December 2008 it felt like we were winning. Sunday Times Style magazine had given me my very own article – blonde-locked and energetically leaping over a bollard. The headline? Eco-starlet.
And it wasn’t just fashuned-up Tamsin banging the drum of environmental activism that made that edition of the Sunday Times. The expansion of Heathrow Airport was major news (2 articles) and Plane Stupid had just shut down Stansted Airport. For one Sunday, in mid-December, familiar faces (even my flat-mate’s) filled the news section, the News Review and Style.
Two years ago and grabbing media for climate change was easy. It was on the news agenda and journalists strove to be our friends and confidants.
Things are different now. It’s much harder than it used to be and if you believe ex-BBC journalist Mark Brayne, then climate change will never be ‘news’ again. They covered it in 2009.
I’ve experienced what this means in practice: stunts that would have reached front page are now covered by online activist forums and no-one else. Commentators who can still clasp onto column inches with their fingernails bemoan the end of the environmental enlightenment.
Last week I stood outside the National Theatre with my red Climate Rush sash and a handful of fliers for the audience of Earthquakes in London. By the time the theatre had emptied every flier had been taken. People do care about climate change even though the media has moved on. But it’s a minority of people and the majority will not be convinced until the facts of climate change are the frame through which every news outlet reports all natural disasters and all public policy.
The Climate Rush campaign is inspired by the example of the Suffragettes. They built a national movement which included people at every level and allowed them to know that hope against hope, there was something they could do. If climate change is to be news without millions having to first die or be displaced then we must remember Emmeline Pankhurst’s words:
“You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under, if you are really going to get your reform realised.”
On 13th October at 7pm Climate Rush will meet in Toynbee Hall. There will be big names whose speeches you will not want to miss. There will be stories of the successes of women-led campaigns.
Political activity, with a passion that is difficult to imagine today, has been inspired when a fight for future justice has seemed worth joining. Actions and ideas have captivated newspaper editors and persuaded entire populations that there is a better way to live life.
Come along on 13th October. Please come along. Because without you stickers will not appear across London. Without you stunts and events and protests and rushes and subvertising and street theatre will not happen. Without you there is no movement worth joining, no public to persuade and no Rush to experience in action.
Cross-posted from Tamsin’s blog