Statement of Defence used in Exeter Magistrates Courts 29/1/19

Statement from Matthew Tehanu who on 29th January appeared at Exeter Magistrates Courts over his defacing of the Exeter branch of Barclays bank on 2nd January of this year, with the slogan ‘Frack Off’ and the ‘#XR’ hashtag.

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‘The magistrates and court officials gave me plenty of time to explain and justify my actions, for which I am grateful. I strongly hope that this information will inspire XR activists who are considering arrestable direct action. Winning the hearts and minds of magistrates and court officials could be a key element of our peaceful fight, as we increase the intensity and frequency of arrests over the coming months to address global governmental inaction on the accelerating sixth mass extinction event on Earth.
The following is a slightly adapted and extended version of the defence I gave in court. I refused legal representation:
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1) Whilst admitting the offence of criminal damage, Barclays commits the greater crime by their investment in Third Energy, the fracking company. The people of northern England have clearly stated that they do not want Third Energy fracking in their neighbourhoods. Additionally, studies in the USA have shown that fracking pollutes water supplies and creates unaccounted-for leaks in the methane infrastructure of fracking (including pipelines) which contribute to climate breakdown.
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2) Climate breakdown is accelerating globally. This month, yet more high temperature records were broken in Australia. Climate breakdown and species extinction have a relationship of mutual reinforcement as proven by scientific studies, i.e. they form a positive feedback loop. Any corporations which are invested in unnecessary industries which are democratically unpopular and polluting of water, which is essential to all life, as well as contributing to climate breakdown by methane release, must be legally enforced against immediately. Where governments fail to do this, citizens have a moral duty to use non-violent direct action and mass civil disobedience to protect their countries from the starvation that is increasingly likely from food-ecosystem collapse. By conservative estimates we have ten years to reduce carbon emissions to zero to avoid mass starvation, including in the UK, from food-ecosystem collapse.
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I received a Conditional Discharge for a period of 12 months with immediate costs of £110. The costs will be paid by XR Exeter, for which I’m very grateful.
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I publicly intend to breach these conditions in April during international XR actions, as the future of life on Earth depends on it.’
– Matthew T.

Why I sleep on a hard floor

By Matthew T-hanu

I can’t sleep, so I got up to write this. The possibilities of XR are on my mind. What will Brexit, or an absence of Brexit, throw up? Will the UK government be weakened to the point of collapse? Will an emergency general election be called, and if so, will that be the moment for XR to ramp up the civil disobedience to achieve the aim of a Citizen’s Assembly for the UK, decided by sortition?

Personally I am inspired by the historical example in this country of the monarchy gradually losing power as Parliament gained power, (aided by the beheading of a king, but we don’t need to go that far. Have mercy on Theresa May, please. It can’t be easy for her). Could the same happen again, with Parliament fading to play a role similar to that which the queen plays now? Could a Citizen’s Assembly usurp the majority of the current Parliament’s executive roles, and could the unfolding ecological catastrophe make that process swift -could it happen in 5-10 years?

I am inspired by the possibility of a fairly rapid, peaceful revolution. It may be unlikely. About as unlikely as someone like Trump becoming the president of America.

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Whatever lies ahead, we can sure there will be some hardship to endure in this country in the coming decades. With increasingly erratic weather and potentially even temperature rises enough to stop wheat germination, food shortages are not unlikely to occur.

It’s time we toughened up, physically and mentally. We can do this by conditioning ourselves gradually, in a regenerative way. It is possible to be kind to ones-self whilst also experimenting with self-imposed hardship, or on a spiritual level it could be called renunciation. This is partly why I make a regular habit of fasting. It’s also why I sleep on a hard floor, with just one layer of duvet between me and the carpet. It has got to the point where the hard ground feels like a comfort, an anchor against the potentially overwhelming light-headed fear of an impending Dark Age. Sleeping on the floor also helps assuage my Global Northerner’s guilt and helps remind me of the enslaved people’s and species on which my privileged life depends.

More than anything it is a practice which helps me feel strong for whatever is coming. After a while it doesn’t feel hard at all. I hope you will try this out for one night -to make friends with what is most solid and real. In any case, where was your mattress made, and by whom? What materials went into it? How much of the Earth’s resources would we save if we all discarded the need to sleep on a mattress?

 

Existence is Rebellion #1: Cosmic Inflation and the Big Bang

Existence is Rebellion: A Regenerative History of the Universe

by Matthew T-hanu Kalessin 

One: Cosmic Inflation and The Big Bang

The Big Bang -or rather, the cosmic inflation that is now known to have preceded the Big Bang- could have been the original act of rebellion. This was the rebellion of Existence against the Nothing that came before, or for religious people, perhaps this could be described as the rebellion of God against Nothingness or even, the rebellion of God against the unity of Theirself. In the mysterious and unlikely context of this Something, or this Creation, coming out of Nothing, criticisms that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement won’t succeed suddenly seem utterly ridiculous. If the Cosmos exists, seemingly without reason, and if ‘life’ as we know it exists, against all odds, then against lesser odds, XR can succeed.

Yet, if time began at the beginning of the cosmic inflation, then there can have been no ‘before’ the inflation…so the inflation has always existed. If this is the case, there was no rebellion against Nothing, but there was still this massive rebellion against everything that came after. Everything that came after the cosmic inflation was dependent on it, whereas the cosmic inflation was dependent on nothing. The inflation then, whatever the case, is conceptually a rebellion against the Big Bang and everything afterwards. Just as XR is a rebellion against the supposed inevitable extinction of humankind and many other species.

Am I making any sense? No? Good, then I’ll go on…

The cosmic inflation and everything that came ‘after’, in short, the whole of Existence, is also a rebellion against Non-Existence in a different way. In other words, whether there was a beginning of time or not, a starting point to the cosmic inflation or not, everything we know is a rebellion against what could have been, or what could never have been, or what we can’t imagine, or the complete absence of an everything which includes both Nothing and Something.

With me so far? No? Don’t worry, here comes a simple instruction:

Support Extinction Rebellion.

Why? Because you already do. You are already a rebellion against extinction, by your mere existence. Why not manifest that more fully, by rebelling, by existing more fully, now, while you have the life for it? Merely existing is no rebellion against the likely untimely deaths of your grandchildren and their pets.

My Rebellion

I was one of the first to be arrested

Over on Southwark the cuffs fit snugly

Into my assessment of events

We unfurled the banner, hitchless, crispy

Moments after Larch, at the fountain

Laid out a plan for a smart block –

We strode past the coppers

Staked our territory

Held the banner in unicity

With the other four bridges

The bright yellow jackets

Cameras on, batons low slung

Walked us down, we edged back

I shouted to the stragglers

To get behind us –

‘We’ve taken the bridge’

Larch said.

In the cop van with the Teign Valley crooks

About as crooked as the fact that we’re hot

As a planet, a movement -XR prevailing

Van banter, talk of favourite arrests

The Arsenal fan with the flare

(Don’t bring rockets to the stadium

Unless the stadium is television

The rocket, demand for global change)

Someone in the van with a subtle pronoun

The cop self-corrected, kindly chuckling

Before the driver stepped on it

And I enjoyed our public askance

Looking mean at us from London –

Held in a cage at Charing Cross

With a rude drunk who lost a million

Now homeless and glad to get

Bed and food from the Met –

At the custody desk I stood for

The questions, for Rising Up! stood

Gently, firm, so the other sergeant

At the next desk said ‘I agree

But getting arrested is not the way’

No time to argue, led to my cell

An interesting place, no sink for the loo

No dimmer for the light

No rest for the morally correct

But plenty of wall-tiles to while away my thoughts on

And touch with my toes in a workout routine

(This is just the bare account

But I know the hours spent there were

Strengthening in myriad subtle ways)

As for the food, ‘no comment’ –

They tried me with some books

Then pen and paper, nice of them

– Nice of me to them –

Where I wrote my thoughts for spiritual rebirth

For Extinction Rebellion unicity

The mental health nurse

Obliged to see me; my history

Said I should back-pat myself

Achieving my goal of arrest –

Walked down the corridor for release

The third cop of the day agreed with XR

And then there were cheers as I emerged

Into the foyer, disorientating, Woodstock

Had set up camp there

I headed down the stair

Some good hugs and a party declined

(I realised I had just missed it)

Walked to the Underground then

Discussing how to make The Message tight

With my temporary carer

Then in East London

Due to crossed wires

(No fault of my hosts)

Slept rough for the night

Musing on the homeless drunk

Who would also sleep rough on his release

Then in the morning took the Tube

To North Harrow where my mum grew up

Saw a house like my grandparents used to have there

Via Baker Street,  a romantic place that drew me

Into thoughts of not avoiding London afterall –

A couple of days later in my flat

In the rural Westcountry

Watching the bridge blocks on YouTube

Kicking myself that I missed the speakers and

The festival but proud I helped enable it

 

 

 

What the f*** are you waiting for?

What the fuck are you waiting for?

More golden arrows shot at Hydra’s heads?

What the fuck are you waiting for?

Trump and Bolsonaro to bring back the fleece?

Don’t let Medusa turn you to stone

Mesmerising spell of greed

The oil slick behind her eyes

With Bolsonaro elected

The Amazon will disappear

Hambach times one thousand

Arise with Kali, Brigid, Morrigan

The heroine quest is Extinction Rebellion

Arise, arise, no conclusion is foregone

The hero quest is Extinction Rebellion

 

by Matthew Tehanu who blogs at http://www.epictomorrows.com

The only answer to the latest IPCC report is mass civil disobedience.

The IPCC report of a few days ago recommends that governments follow paths to ‘keep global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels’, if we want a high chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

The quoted text below is taken from The Guardian -Bob Ward’s article of the 8th October: The IPCC global warming report spares politicians the worst details

‘the policymakers, or at least their aides, should make the effort to read the whole report. Incredibly, the stark summary is still a relatively conservative assessment of the consequences we might face if global warming does exceed 1.5C. [The summary] is written in matter-of-fact language, but it omits some of the biggest risks of climate change, which are described in the full text.

For instance, the summary indicates that warming of 2C would have very damaging impacts on many parts of the world. But it does not mention the potential for human populations to migrate and be displaced as a result, leading to the possibility of war.

The summary also leaves out important information about so-called “tipping points” in the climate system, beyond which impacts become unstoppable, irreversible or accelerate.

It is not clear why such crucial information has been left out of the summary. Perhaps the authors felt that there are too many uncertainties in our knowledge to be definitive. But the danger is that policymakers will assume the absence of these very significant risks from the summary means that researchers have assessed them to be unimportant or impossible.’

In this initial response to the IPCC report by the paleoclimatologist Paul Beckwith (more from him will follow in the coming days), Beckwith notes that current warming is given by the IPCC as ‘1 degree above pre-industrial levels’ where the period 1850-1900 is given as the pre-industrial baseline. This is misleading, he says, as the original pre-industrial baseline date used in the first ever IPCC report was 1750 -surely a more correct definition of a ‘pre-industrial’ date. The difference in warming between 1750 and 1850 is given variously as somewhere between 0 and 0.3 degrees, according to different estimates (outside this report). The implication is that it is not unlikely that we are at 1.2 to 1.3 degrees above the true pre-industrial baseline, not 1 degree. That the report is founded on misleading figures does not bode well for the rest of the report.

The second main failing of the IPCC report, defined by this initial assessment by Paul Beckwith, is that it is claimed that methane will not play any significant role in global warming at least until 2100. Beckwith draws attention to recent observed methane leakages from the permafrost thawing in the Arctic circle. He also alludes to the fracking boom in the USA, asserting that methane leakages from fracking infrastructures are significant. As America is planning on increasing fracking up till 2025, the omission of atmospheric methane releases from the IPCC report is troubling.

In the UK, Wales and Scotland have banned fracking. In England it has been left up to direct action activists to stop fracking from taking off. Thankfully this effort gained some publicity recently with the so-called Frack Free Four, whose several month sentences for obstructing fracking operations were widely condemned, and with a little luck will be overturned at appeal.

Meanwhile, after a lull of a few years, in 2017 (the year after the Paris Accord) global coal production and consumption began to increase again.

In spite of successive IPCC reports since 1990 and non-binding international agreements (the Paris Accord of which is the latest), the global economy is not kicking its addiction to fossil fuels. Without sufficient political will from governments to rapidly accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables within the next five years, as is necessary even by the IPCC’s conservative standards, there is only one sensible option left. The one sensible option for us billions of human beings who would be affected by catastrophic climate breakdown, is to practice mass civil disobedience, to force our governments to change.

It is time to rebel.

 

 

 

 

This Great Force For Change

By Matthew Tehanu

I feel despair daily. Across from my flat, a new row of flats is being built. The workmen are at it from early in the morning. I will glad when it’s done for then the lorry depot will be hidden from view. If I make millions I will buy that lorry depot and end its life in this village. On the other side, through my back windows I can see crumbling old mill buildings half overgrown with ivy. Let them be that way till Nature takes them back.

I feel despair because of the various catch-22’s and hypocrisies I find myself in. I’m too intelligent and too unqualified to find suitable regular paid work, yet too privileged for that to matter. I am very well connected online, yet lonely as soon as I turn off the computer. I am full of love yet often painfully unable to express it, or find people who can receive it without attaching to me or misunderstanding the nature of my gift.

I am sexually liberated and yet celibate, because society in general is not refined enough for my sexual fulfilment, and would sooner ‘slut-shame’ me. Those rare individuals who ‘get me’ sexually, I very rarely encounter, and then don’t have more than a couple of minutes to practice my social skills with them.

I also feel despair because there is so much ignorance in the world, especially ignorance amongst so-called authorities -authorities on mental health, the environment, politics, economics, and so little readiness or opportunity for me to offer my knowledge and healing to so many people that could do with it.

I am isolated, but there is an advantage to leading this lonely life. It gives me perspective. Perspective on myself, on this country I live in, on Earth. With this perspective, carefully supplemented by reading and studying, I have come to the same old conclusion that many others have come to: the collapse of contemporary globalised industrial capitalist civilisation is inevitable, probably this century. It is up to us whether or not we choose to make this collapse more, or less, painful.

Human-caused climate breakdown has become the linchpin issue of the collapse, or ‘The Event’ as the world’s wealthy elites call it. Climate breakdown is the linchpin issue for two reasons. Firstly, it is a matter of timescale. There are many ecological catastrophes afflicting this Earth, but in the case of the climate, we are obliged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to near zero within ten years to avoid a high probability of disastrous climate change, meaning the loss of billions of human lives within decades.

The necessary scaling back and re-designing of industrial civilisation (more is required than just the simple ‘conversion’ to renewable energies) will also have great potential to address the other ecological pressures that we are putting upon this Earth, in terms of for instance, pollution, soil exhaustion, deforestation and biodiversity loss.

The second main reason, as I see it, that climate breakdown can be seen as a linchpin issue for global civilisation collapse and / or transformation (if we’re careful and lucky), is that a change in our political and economic orders will be necessary in order to reduce carbon emissions to zero and kick our global addiction to fossil fuels. The necessity of global collapse or transition to a different form of civilisation (or more realistically, a different ‘civilisation mesh’ demonstrating various political and economic local alternatives) is driven by the finiteness of natural resources being fundamentally at odds with the perpetual economic growth that is demanded to keep the current economic system from crashing.

Economic growth is a function of the system, not just a desirable outcome for people who want to make money. The global economic-political system itself depends upon economic growth. It’s like a balloon that you can’t stop blowing up, or it will deflate entirely.

Governments have shown that they are consistently not powerful enough to challenge large fossil fuel companies. These companies have between them pledged to burn five times more fossil fuels than the planet’s atmosphere can handle. Five times more than would keep us safely below 2 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial levels. The only way to respond to this reality is to change our economic and political systems to make them more accountable to the planet and the billions of people that may otherwise die.

This means complete ‘system change’. Either this will happen in a very painful, destructive way, pressured by failing stock markets, failing crops and billions of climate refugees, or it can happen by ‘controlled revolution’, employing the mass civil disobedience, from now onwards, that leading social scientists say is vital for us to ‘save civilisation’ in any recognisable form i.e. to save the globe from runaway climate breakdown. Our governments have failed us.

This is why I have whole-heartedly joined Extinction Rebellion. Ironically enough, XR has given me a renewed passion for life. If I can survive on government benefits for now, so much the better. I am learning just as many work skills, if not more, as part of XR than I have done in any paid job. These include founding and developing a local branch of the campaign, conference calling, mentoring newcomers to the campaign, delivering the XR talk, organising and promoting talks, general marketing skills, innovating subcampaigns and subgroups, time management, and making links with others nationally and internationally who share the Extinction Rebellion campaign aims and values.

As for my loneliness, the online connections I am making with many XR members are starting to be reflected in face to face meetings and gatherings. Everyone is worthy of love, although it is not always easy to give. But in XR I may have found some people who I can show my love and friendship to more freely than the average. When catastrophe comes, as it must to some degree, if I am still alive at that point I hope I can count amongst my Tribe, many members of this great force for change that is Rising Up! and Extinction Rebellion.

All my virile energy is channelled into this great force for change.

For more of my writing, feel free to visit my blog: www.epictomorrows.com