Hundreds of Sheffield tree campaigners and anti-climate change activists have got together to send a digital “get well!” card to writer and environmentalist George Monbiot after he was forced to cancel a speaking engagement here due to a second prostate cancer-related operation.
The high-profile Guardian columnist was set to speak on the subject of climate change on Thursday evening to a large crowd at the Festival of Debate. But he is still in recovery from his latest operation last week and therefore had to withdraw.
So 130 local activists put their names to an email, along with 45 comments, telling Monbiot: " Recover rapidly George, you're always welcome in Sheffield." The comments alone fill six pages. They were gathered together in less than 36 hours in two Facebook groups by Extinction Rebellion Sheffield.
Mina Jaff of Leeds, Northern co-ordinator for Extinction Rebellion, will replace Monbiot and speak with climate change expert George Marshall at Thursday’s session.
Monbiot is hardly a recent arrival to the climate change issue --- he's been exposing its dangers for many years--- but he was also one of the first national journalists to probe the shameful Sheffield tree felling saga.
In a Guardian column in October 2017 after a visit to the city when he viewed hundreds of healthy trees that were threatened with felling by Amey and Sheffield City Council (SCC), he wrote a stinging critique of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme. This 25-year, £1.9 billion scheme has financed the widespread destruction of our local environmental heritage. The Spanish-owned contractor, Amey, is itself for sale.
Such PFI schemes are “a gigantic self-serving con”, wrote Monbiot, in exposing how “the public sector has become the guardian of private sector interests” under these expensive financial deals.
Some have pointed out the links between the two issues that Monbiot has written about.
“After needlessly cutting down thousands of our trees, SCC are being hypocrites to suddenly claim we face a climate emergency,” said retiring Lord Mayor Magid Magid and Green Party councillor Alison Teal in a joint statement issued last night to Extinction Rebellion Sheffield. “Mature canopy trees are one of many defences against global warming.”
There were many heart-felt comments sent to Monbiot in the lengthy e-mail.
"Get well soon George. We love you and this dear world needs you!"
“A proper journalist and someone who is unafraid to attack the deeper more uncomfortable systemic issues like free market capitalism which directly contribute to our environmental destruction.”
“You are an inspiration and I continue to share your words with my university students every chance I get."
" Stay strong, the world needs voices like yours," wrote a woman who was one of the organisers of Sunday's very well-attended “Parents Rise Up” march against climate change held in the city centre on Sunday.
“It’s great to see people out there who recognise that all of these local problems are part of the bigger issue,” wrote one tree campaigner who was arrested in 2017.
"Thanks for your support here in Sheffield."
"Get better soon, the environment need your help.”
" The Kafkaesque nightmare of intransigence you penned [ in October 2017 ] has been broken by steadfast citizens who stood, clung and shouted…Every day now we are observing the results as trees once impossible to retain are given more life by simple stone masonry,” wrote Paul Brooke, chair of the Sheffield Tree Action Groups.
In coming days and weeks, we promise that Extinction Rebellion Sheffield will be seen and heard from more and more as well.
George Monbiot’s most recent article on climate change from April 2019
His October 2017 article on Sheffield trees and PFI’s’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/24/sheffield-state-corporate-power-subvert-democracy-pfi
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Contact Details: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1188085694677545/ Twitter: @XRShef Instagram: @XRShef Notes to editors Climate Factsheet for Rebels https://rebellion.earth/the-climate-factsheet-for-rebels/ About Extinction Rebellion: Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken. Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by its Government. Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are: The Government must tell the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels A national Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose. Get involved in Extinction Rebellion’s other events: In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out Start a group where you are – locally in the UK or in your country around the world Find your local group: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=11jUqqjTHMThksd4KbvGGzb3I3Cr3PkBl&usp=sharing Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites. We are holding Collaborative Leadership Calls to help coach people to improve their leadership skills and capacities. And while your time and energy are the most important things, if you are financially able to donate money, see our Fundrazr crowdfunder. UK website: https://rebellion.earth/ International website: https://xrebellion.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExtinctionRebellion/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR hashtag #ExtinctionRebellion Declaration of Rebellion: https://rebellion.earth/declaration/ About Rising Up! Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion; whilst the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power. Website http://www.risingup.org.uk/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RisingUpUK/ Twitter https://twitter.com/RisingUpUK