It seems to me we are at some kind of tipping point with the climate change debate. I don’t know about you, but the issues around this topic have been niggling away at me for a while. It seems you can’t switch on the TV or read a newspaper these days without coming across photos of some sort of demonstration, protest march or publicity stunt that highlights the issues. Okay, I am trying to do my bit but by nature, I am lazy and prefer to leave the protesting and activism to other folk. However, something about the worldwide protests on the 20th of September prompted me to actually get out and join the organisers of ‘A Line in the Sand’ on St Andrews’ West Sands.
The first thing that struck me when we arrived at the beach was the sheer number of people there. The total was, I believe, over a thousand. I’m not sure what I’d expected but it did come as a bit of a surprise that so many locals showed up. I was also interested to note that there was a wide age range attending. The Friday climate change protests had initially been aimed at schoolchildren and, although there were pupils visible in their respective school uniforms, it looked like every generation was represented.
Also, it was good to see our local politicians taking part. Our MSP and MP were present at the event and I felt it was important they saw first-hand the level of concern amongst the community. We are, after all, still in a democracy and making our lawmakers accountable is crucial to any decisions over climate. After a few brief speeches we were invited to stand in one big line on the sand and observe 5 minutes silence, to be broken by the sound of a piper. I found it creative and symbolic and after the event, looking at the drone footage, it was, I think, visually, a powerful statement.
I enjoyed chatting to some of the school kids taking part and was impressed with their inventive slogans. My favourite was: ‘Greta for President’. I enjoyed the art work on the sand and tried the peace labyrinth someone had made.
All in all, it was a memorable day for me but what did it achieve? Honestly, I’m not sure. Solidarity with all the other world protests being held on that day? Being part of a bigger whole by sending a clear message to governments; companies; banks; world leaders? Was it perhaps a reminder to ourselves? We are all in this together and that old cliché: be the change you want to see.
Are these protests and demonstrations worth the effort? Peaceful activism or let’s get tougher because there’s so much at stake? And are we at saturation point with it now? In a few months will the zeitgeist change and our attention be on something else? Somehow, I feel climate change is not going away anytime soon. I would be interested to hear from anyone who went along to the ‘Line in the Sand’ event or any of the other climate change protests.