Helen Pankhurst’s article (My suffragette grandmothers are now seen as heroes. Today’s climate protesters will be too, 15 November) struck a chord with me as it expressed the same mix of emotions I have experienced as a climate activist. As a 76-year-old man who grew up in a privileged and conservative environment, I have found it difficult enough marching, holding up placards, and speaking publicly against climate vandalism and the greenwashing of fossil fuel firms.
At the same time, I feel guilt at not joining with the Knitting Nannas or Extinction Rebellion, who give their time and risk the opprobrium that comes with protest, let alone the increasingly heavy-handed reaction of law enforcement against protest now prevailing in Australia. I am full of admiration for their courage and steadfast spirit.
Climate protesters, who are predominantly women, are heroes, and they are on the right side of history, with the world hurtling towards a climate cliff.
Dr Graeme McLeay
The question that Helen Pankhurst highlights so succinctly is of proportionality when it comes to concerned citizens’ response to the climate crisis. On the one hand, little outrage is voiced about the fact that “in east Africa, one person dies of climate-induced hunger every 36 seconds”; on the other, there was worldwide condemnation of the throwing of two cans of soup at a work of art.
We are hurtling towards increased food shortages, drought and floods leading to death and mass migration, yet the focus is so often on whether holding a banner or blocking a motorway is an appropriate response.
I once witnessed a mother in an overcrowded lift, desperately trying to prevent her child from being crushed. Her composed demeanour vanished, her voice rose to a scream, she fought to rescue her child. Watching the videos sent by those in Just Stop Oil on gantries or after spray-painting elite car showrooms, I see the same desperation and determination. Maybe we should think of the enormity of the situation we are in before criticising those sounding the alarm.
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