On the 23rd September 2014 a new group of climate change activists called ‘The Future’ took to the streets of London, Berlin, NYC and Sydney to watch politicians as they attended the special UN Climate Summit. They used movement of the body as an artist form of protest against the current poor efforts by world leaders and corporations to address the climate crisis. As a member of the London group, Damien Clarkson writes about his experiences of ‘The Future’s day of protest through movement.
The Future has a symbol; a circle painted around the right eye. On first glance it does look a little bit Clockwork Orange, although we wear ‘the eye’ as a symbol of hope and resistance and to demonstrate that we are watching politicians and businesses as they continually fail to address the climate crisis.
Currently 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree that climate change is anthropologic and it is happening rapidly. We already are 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial temperature levels with even conservative organisations like the World Bank and Price Waterhouse Coopers predicting a total 4-6 degrees temperature increase on pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Put bluntly, this is really bad news for us all. It means mass famine, floods, extreme weather, millions of displaced climate refugees, degradation or air and soil quality, increased conflict over natural resources.
It is a pretty bleak vision of the future. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Naomi Klein in her new book ‘This Changes Everything’, talks about the need for a people’s movement calling for a fairer kind of economics that respect the finite resources of the planet. The end of big corporations being able to take what they want without being held to account. A re-nationalisation of our energy companies and public transport, large scale investment in creating a low carbon energy infrastructure and bringing about an end to the type of capitalism which continues to widen the gap between the poor and the rich.
‘The Future’, are a group of people who are scared about climate change. We are fairly young, I suppose we don’t look like what you think environmental activists look like. We believe in the power of grassroots social change movements to create real political change. The Future is a bit different to some of the other climate change movements out there. We believe in using our art and creativity to make our point. Our idea is to use movement and art to deliver our calls for action to those in power.
On September 23rd, world leaders met in New York for a special UN summit on climate change. This was a precursor to the next big round of climate change talks in Paris next year which will hopefully lead to a legally binding successor to the now expired Kyoto protocol. To mark this occasion The Future decided that we would take to the streets of cities across the world to dance, yoga, freerun, run, meditate. We called this day ‘beautiful mayhem’.
There were no placards, just all of us wearing ‘the eye’ to symbolise our collective protest. I joined the protest at midday to meditate outside the London Stock Exchange. By this point twice World Champion freerunner and Future activist Tim Shieff had ran across the Shell oil company building and the yoga segment-including some beautiful acrobatic yoga-had taken place.
After our meditation, we got our dancing shoes on and danced to our remix of the Beatles classic Strawberry Fields on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral.
A number of us then headed to the Tate Modern stopping on Millenium Bridge for an impromptu dance before arriving at the Turbine hall to dance in protest of the Tate’s continued relationship with the oil company BP.
We danced some more in Waterloo station, which didn’t please the police as people are only meant to stand around looking miserable when in railway stations. We then headed to Jubilee Gardens by the London Eye but we were told by the police that we could go and do our yoga on Parliament Square. So there we were, 40 climate change activists doing yoga in Parliament Square. It was amazing how quickly the noisy traffic just became background as we focused on our practice and the reasons we were there.
After our yoga finished we turned around and with ‘the eye’, collectively scrutinised Parliament. Currently, politicians are turning a blind eye to those calling for an alternative future, where our air and rivers are clean, our transport systems are affordable and clean and our energy system harnesses the power of the sun, wind and water.
We finished the day with some of us running to the pub, stopping by Shell and the National Gallery to do a bit of future watching. Then it was time for a few well deserved pints and to reflect on a day of beautiful movement and strong political protest.
It warmed my heart to know that across the world people had come together to create a day of what we coined ‘beautiful mayhem’, through performance. In the weeks and months ahead there will be plenty of struggles for those calling upon our leaders to make serious legally binding commitments to tackle climate change at the 2015 United Nations Climate Summit conference in Paris. We hope the Future will engage a new audience, keen to use creativity to call for creative solutions to this man-made climate crisis.
Take a look at how the day unfolded by watching our video and come on over to https://www.facebook.com/thisisthefuturenet and http://thefuture.net/. The Future is Rising.