Rebellion of One for Life on Earth May 1st

Lone protestors halt traffic, spark debate and gather support in Exeter and Topsham 

As part of a co-ordinated UK wide event, lone protestors sat down in roads and halted Saturday traffic in Exeter and Topsham to share their fears and urge the action the climate crisis requires if we are to avoid present and future catastrophe. 

As Marilyn Spurr sat down in Mary Arches St, Exeter at 11 am to protest government’s lack of action on the climate emergency, the ex-teacher of Maths and economics was unexpectedly joined by two supporters who had cycled from Beer to assist, her friend Jane Habermehl and another passer by to entirely block the road.  Pedestrians also hurled insults, thanked the protestors, said ‘Respect’, and horns were hooted by traffic turning left down Fore St.  

Marilyn Spurr said ‘I’ve tried everything…I am scared every day.  I am scared for the future of all the world’s children.  There is a climate and ecological emergency.  Aren’t we all scared?.’ 

Marilyn said “More spending on roads, a coal mine in Cumbria, the axing of spending on home insulations.  These are the actions we have seen this year.   

In December last year, the National Audit Office found that the UK Government is predicted to fail to meet its existing climate targets”  

The group sat from 11 until 12 pm.  Magdalen Road, Exeter was also blocked by Margaret Turner, 81, gardener, grandmother, cyclist and mental health volunteer.   

Margaret said “I am sitting here to call attention to the Earth’s plight and to what is needed of us all. I am an 81 year old retired social worker concerned equally for social and environmental justice – which are bound together. As my placard says, I am terrified at what is becoming of this Earth and all its creatures – because of us! Despite declaring a climate and ecological emergency in 2019, and despite recent pledges, we are not being told the truth. The truth is that on present trajectories we are heading for a temperature increase of 3 degrees and a sixth mass extinction. 

“When I was a girl Spring brought the return of swallows and the sound of the cuckoo; sadly my grandchildren have never heard the cuckoo!  Last Sunday I sat by the river to watch for swallows and sand martens: nothing. It hurts. 

“But a flickering hope keeps despair at bay. I’m hopeful that a growing awareness of the carbon, mineral extraction, land use, transport and human costs will make for less but better production of goods and food. And I am hopeful that ‘built-in obsolescence’ will become a thing of the past, as we move to make things to last, to repair what is broken, and to share what we only occasionally need – and so fewer cars! I am hopeful our travels will be fewer and shorter, more by bike, on foot or public transport. I am hopeful the government will focus less on expensive refurbishments and more on real help for ordinary homes to be insulated and sustainably heated. If we can seriously reduce our carbon emissions we should not need expensive and untried techno-fixes but rather embrace natural climate solutions – “we can defend ourselves from disaster by enhancing our world of wonders.”    George Monbiot.  

She went on “Crisis has two faces: one looks to danger, the other to opportunity. 

COP 26 is in the balance, can we push it over a tipping point, to grasp the nettle of real change? 

It’s incumbent on us all to step away from the most terrible of dangers and grasp the opportunity to bring about a safer, simpler, greener more harmonious world.  We all have this possibility through making our voices heard by those with power as well as throughtaking care in our choices and actions, and finding joy just in what is around us – it’s International Dawn Chorus Day tomorrow, still wonderful! “                                                        

Patti Summerville undertook a similar protest in Topsham High Street. 

She said “This is a personal act of expressing my opinion.  It may resonate with others who are going about their lives and also feel similar despair; feeling at a loss to know how to get the message across to our leaders that their lack of action is seriously harmful to the future of the planet and our lives and all who come after us.  Until such action is demonstrated I feel it is a just action for ordinary people to continue to step up (or sit down!) to demand change.  

Two years ago the UK Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency. Yet in February this year Chief Executive of the Environment Agency,  Sir James Bevan said that the UK is hitting worst case environmental scenarios that if left unchecked would collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society. The Committee on Climate Change and the National Audit Office who are tasked with monitoring Government progress are warning the public that their climate plans are failing to materialise. [1]  

It is clear therefore our leaders are still not taking this seriously. So it’s critical ordinary people step into the collective power we have to hold governments accountable to their words and promises.” 

There has been a fantastic response to the Ro1 protests on social media so far.  Please share our posts about them on our Facebook page and Twitter @XRExeter