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Plane Stupid Disrupt Flights at Stansted Airport

Protesters cut wire fences and occupy runways to protest carbon emissions.

You’d think that in a country that had already suffered terrorist attacks, it wouldn’t be easy to fool security at an international airport, break through the barriers and stop flights taking off. Yet that’s precisely what protestors from Plane Stupid managed to do today, protesting carbon emissions and preventing flights from Easyjet, Ryan Air and other companies from taking off.

One Plane Stupid activist had this to say:

‘We’re here because our parents’ generation has failed us and its now down to young people to stop climate change by whatever peaceful means we have left. We’re afraid of what the police might do to us, we’re afraid of going to jail but nothing scares us as much as the threat of runaway climate change. We’ve thought through the consequences of what we’re doing here but we’re determined to stop as many tonnes of CO2 as we can.’

So are these a bunch of deluded hippies ruining people’s holidays, business meetings and reunions with loved ones?

Or are they dedicated warriors in the war to save the planet, calling attention to our gross acts of consumption that threaten the future of us all?

Thing is, when it comes to social change, most of us are reluctant at least to give up any of our luxuries. Even fewer are ready to risk jail time or personal harm to push their agenda. But unlike issues such as animal rights or even wars abroad, carbon emissions have the potential to spell worldwide catastrophe. Fast-feedback effects could mean the widespread melting of polar ice and unimaginable increases in sea levels.

Naturally, conservative voices like the Daily Telegraph referred to the group as ‘Plane Selfish’ and asked rhetorically if protesters had walked to the airport or ‘perhaps some may have even rowed in a kayak from some distant point’. The attempt at irony missing the point that while it is impossible to avoid using up fossil fuels in today’s world, we can make a difference on how much we use.

The Guardian took a more sympathetic line, asking if we will look back in 100 years and laud ‘today’s action as a model for defeating their eras’ defining challenge’. They also cited the work of Nasa scientist James Hansen and commented that by saving a couple of thousand tons of carbon emissions today, Plane Stupid have saved a couple of hundred thousand dollars of environmental clean-up.

It was just a drop in the ocean, of course. Flights will depart from Stansted Airport tomorrow morning as usual and carbon emissions will continue. But Plane Stupid have put the issue firmly on the table and for that alone they deserve our respect.

Plane Stupid ‘bringing the aviation industry back down to earth’.