Ridiculous, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, self-righteous, and self-important protest outfit, Plane Stupid broke into Stansted Airport today, to delay the reopening of a runway.

The group’s website quotes one of their number, 21 year old Tilly,

“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.”

Tilly might as well be 12. As might Daniel, 24.

“We fully appreciate the scale of what we’ve done here today and we know many people will struggle to understand why we’ve done it, but the Arctic ice cap is disappearing, the seas are rising and our last chance to save our future is vanishing. With people taking more flights in Britain than anywhere else on earth, we have a unique responsibility to tackle emissions from flying.”

Daniel is aware that ‘ many people will struggle to understand why [they]’ve done it’, which raises a question about what kind of protest this is. What is the point of a protest if the people you inconvenience – one of whom was a woman travelling to her father’s funeral according to a BBC Radio new item – are none the wiser as to what you’re doing?

Tilly’s reasons for the protest – ‘ to stop as many tonnes of CO2 as we can’ – are equally confused. If it’s just CO2 she’s worried about, there are a number of less irritating avenues she might have explored.

The protest is in many ways equivalent to an infantile tantrum. The protesters clearly have problems articulating their message to the generation they feel are responsible for their emotions. The sense that they have failed to get the message across results not in some self-reflection, but a loud, obnoxious and pointless remonstration. And like a small child, these protesters cannot make a sensible distinction between their failure to assert their will over the world, and the end of the world. The rhetoric of Armageddon ensues. Tilly again,

And here is something even more bizarre about the protest: they have actually got their way. Two weeks ago, Parliament committed the UK to an 80% cut in emissions by 2050, including shipping and aviation. Yet Tilly believes that the Government has failed to respond to its own climate change rhetoric. Just like a toddler, the concept of deferred gratification is beyond her.

We’ve often wondered what the difference between the Government and the environmental protest movement is. Who are the establishment, and who are the revolutionaries? They often seem to be saying exactly the same thing. Neither can claim that their actions represent the will of the general public – most people still want to fly, use cars, and so on. But both are committed to preventing people from expressing this desire. Both use the prospect of catastrophe to justify their self-importance, even though there is virtually no scientific argument that catastrophe is a possibility.

There is also more than a symbolic similarity between the way that protesting infants and the 9-11 plotters choose to make their mark on the world. So impotent are their ‘radical’ (for ‘radical’, read deeply socially conservative and retrogressive) ideas, that they impose them on the world in grand stunts. Both are indifferent to the trouble their self-righteousness causes others. In spite of their failure to generate mass support, they want to change the world, and believe that their actions are warranted by a higher purpose than the trivial concerns of mere humans.

The Government is left in a curious position. What can it really say to these spoilt children? It has indulged their every tantrum.
 

16 Responses to Plane Selfish

  • Here, word for word, is the response I’ve just posted to a similar article at http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/
    Thanks for an interesting article, as usual. It’s given me (at last), an idea for something useful I can do. I’ll be passing through Stansted twice over the holidays, and shall come armed with a few hundred leaflets to hand out to possible angry stranded passengers. It’ll explain that AGW isn’t happening, and give the addresses of sites like yours. Any suggestions for a co-ordinated campaign would be welcome

  • Plane Stupid by name, plain stupid by nature, it appears.

    There’s an article on the BBC website (yes, something reasonably objective by the BBC!) describing the reaction from stranded passengers towards the demonstrators, which seems to be overwhelmingly negative – “angry and shocked” are the words used.

    Even one who believed in Global Warming said: “Climate change is going to affect everyone and we should be doing as much as we can, but this is not the right way to get the message across. It’s made me bitter towards environmental action like this.”

    Geoff, maybe you should put the leaflets on standby for the moment; the protesters themselves appear to be doing a pretty good job of turning people against them and their cause.

    Here’s a link to the full article:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7771156.stm

  • This and other responses from “climate-change” sceptics to Plane Stupid’s protest is of the “Disgusted of Stanstead” variety.

    It’s cheap nonsense to describe the group as “ridiculous, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, self-righteous, and self-important” and claim that “Tilly believes that the Government has failed to respond to its own climate change rhetoric. Just like a toddler, the concept of deferred gratification is beyond her.”

    It almost implies that the writer believes that the government has a chance of realising its emissions “targets” and that the world’s climate can indeed be changed with windmillls.

    On the contrary, the group campaigns against a government that encourages the unbridled expansion of aviation while claiming to be fighting “climate change”. It is drawing attention to government hypocrisy.

    You may or may not agree with it (“climate change” is certainly a load of reactionary bull) and a stupid stunt like this deserves criticism but the core arguments should not be dismissed out of hand.

    I don’t recall howls of outrage from the urban middle class when activists staged stunts at Prestwick and other airports to bring “extreme rendition” to the public eye. So why the howling now?

    It’s seems it’s not so much that the group protested but that it protested on an issue with which the writer does not agree and in spluttering rage belittles its right to protest.

    There are prominent critics of AGW “science” so far to the right of the political centre that they could be categorised as lunatic-fringe.

    Does that rule their scientific arguments out of court or justify those “They’re all in the pay of the oil giants” attacks. Of course not. So, sauce for the goose and all that.

    ClimateResistance usually posts excellent material and I try to persuade as many as I can to visit it. That’s partly because it avoids debating at the level of the Daily Mail.

    Alas, not today.

  • I think the accusation that they are self-absorbed is fair, in the sense that they refuse to accept the realities of how the world works and what people and societies around the world want. These eco-protesters are absorbed in their own idealism. And as such, the world would probably move forward towards a healthier environment more quickly without eco-activists. Even the media, wishing to retain credibility with the public, has to document that people are fed up with the protesters. The BBC televised a shot of the protesters, and then cut to a shot of an old lady crying because she couldn’t attend her father’s funeral in Lithuania. Ouch.

    Personally I think the environmental movement suffers from a lack of ability to think globally. The world is far bigger and more complicated than these people can imagine, as evidenced by their simplistic notion that they achieved something by reducing some carbon emissions–arguable if they even did that, given that most of those passengers will still need to fly anyway. The lack of an ability to think globally and historically is a real failure on their part, given that they are the ones claiming to be able to solve the world’s problems.

    Take for example the ending of Apartheid–many Westerners said they wanted Apartheid brought down immediately and they would protest for that aim. They felt 100% sure about what they wanted and when they wanted it felt the absolute conviction that what they wanted was right. OK guys, now that Apartheid has been brought down, where are all the concerned activists? You know, now that downtown Johannesburg is an urban slum without sanitation and everyone carried a gun in their belt and flash mobs attack people and set them on fire with petrol? Where are the concerned activists now, now that the country’s economy is royally screwed?

    Sure Apartheid was an evil regime, but these idealistic Westerners did not ever understand enough about the world and society and economies–they didn’t understand South Africa–to actually be able to FIX the problem. And I mean FIX in the sense of actually making the country a better place. So now idealistic Western greenies want to mess with our economy, and they are quite certain in their convictions, when they tell us to tear down coal plants and tear down nuclear plants and stop driving cars and stop flying. And these things may indeed be “evil” in a number of ways, but I say let these idealistic greenies go live in a slum in Joburg for a week and see how long they survive. Then let them come back and tell us they understand the complexities of the world.

  • You are quite right to note the continuity between government and protester. Ed Milliband, a government minister, is encouraging this behaviour:

    http://tinyurl.com/6c6sjg

    “Miliband told the Guardian a “popular mobilisation” was needed to help politicians push through an agreement to limit carbon emissions in the face of concerns about the economy. “There will be some people saying ‘we can’t go ahead with an agreement on climate change, it’s not the biggest priority’. And, therefore, what you need is countervailing forces. Some of those countervailing forces come from popular mobilisation.””

    Do we need a a group of extra judicial thugs to demand the government move faster? What type of society is it that needs to encourage young pioneers to move ahead of the lumpen proletariat but in step with the government?

  • You are quite right to note the continuity between government and protester. Ed Milliband, a government minister, is encouraging this behaviour:

    http://tinyurl.com/6c6sjg

    “Miliband told the Guardian a “popular mobilisation” was needed to help politicians push through an agreement to limit carbon emissions in the face of concerns about the economy. “There will be some people saying ‘we can’t go ahead with an agreement on climate change, it’s not the biggest priority’. And, therefore, what you need is countervailing forces. Some of those countervailing forces come from popular mobilisation.””

    Do we need a a group of extra judicial thugs to demand the government move faster? What type of society is it that needs to encourage young pioneers to move ahead of the lumpen proletariat but in step with the government?

  • Apols for double post. I only filled in SPAM filter once? Odd that the first one lost the italics!

  • Will this lot also fly over Hanson to defend them in court? Now that would be amusing, although I’m not sure the irony would register with the believers.

    Climate resistance, despite my continued frustration at all things ‘green’ and the complete bollox that surrounds the green movement, I would say that on this occasion I actually think they (stupid and more stupid) have a point about government hypocrisy. In other words a government that picks CO2 reduction targets out of the thin air whilst trying to expand aiports with the knowledge that 1. they’ll never meet the targets 2. they don’t care because they won’t be in power in 12 years time and 3) when all the recrimisation do start it won’t be them who have failed.

    So although I completly disagree with the believers ’cause’ I do rather like someone, even if it is the greens themselves, to point out how riduculous this all is.

    I will never understand how we ended up in this place (global carbon hatefest) but if we are going to commit economic suicide for the Gaia then at least we should expect our governments to do it properly.

  • Rylands,

    We pointed out that the objectives of the PS protest were incoherent, and taken forward knowing that their messages wouldn’t be understood.

    If the point of the protest was to highlight ‘Government hypocrisy”, because it is giving way to the “unbridled expansion of aviation”, then why would Daniel have lacked confidence in the protest’s message being understood? Why would Tilly tell the media that the campaign intended “to stop as many tonnes of CO2 as we can”? Why isn’t there one message uniting these 50 protesters?

    It could be argued that there can be more than one objective to any single action, but they are equally ill conceived. There are other, better, and more legitimate ways of discouraging emissions than this protest, and there better ways of communicating the message of Government hypocrisy (shock, horror, the Government is full of hypocrites!). The protest fails on its own terms.

    We characterised the protest as selfish because it expressed contempt for ordinary people whilst failing to establish itself as a mass movement, or the expression of a genuine grievance.

    Demonstrations are intended to show the volume of support for the cause in question. As we explain above, demonstrations are beyond the means of the environmental movement. Climate change marches are characterised as silly, ill-attended, and unfocussed, only managing to bring together a rag bag of misanthropes, disoriented socialists, confused anti-capitalists, new age anarchists, nihilistic trustafarians, and confused middle class people, none of whom ever escape elitism – that they know better than the idiot public who remain unconvinced by the protests, the posturing of political parties, and the total dominance of the Green message in the media.

    This is not like a strike by working people who aren’t paid enough, or a protest at rising prices, or any other form of grievance that they wish to address. On the contrary, this is equivalent to surfs demanding ‘less cake’ in reply to Marie Antoinette’s indifference to their plight. Or is it just equivalent to Marie Antoinette’s indifference? It’s hard to tell, because, as we pointed out, the language of the protesters is the same as the Government’s.

    Failing the test of legitimacy that would qualify the event as either a demonstration of mass support or a genuine expression of grievance, what is the protest? It’s a bunch of people who cannot reflect on why their message isn’t getting heard, and who want to inflict their will over the rest of the population, in spite of their message not being shared. We think it is fair to characterise that as infantile. Being adult must imply the ability to negotiate your will, and accepting responsibility for its failure, and the emotions that are the consequence of your failure to realise your will. If that point is ‘cheap nonsense’, we must accept that we’ve failed to convince you according to this definition of ‘adult’. We’re not going to inconvenience anyone about it. Maybe we’ll try again if we’ve still not convinced you, and you want to reply.

    You say “On the contrary, the group campaigns against a government that encourages the unbridled expansion of aviation while claiming to be fighting “climate change”. It is drawing attention to government hypocrisy.”

    What “unbridled expansion of aviation”? The proposed extensions have been years, if not decades, in the planning. Caroline Lucas Green MEP recently quipped that ‘we might as well turn the entire country into a runway, frankly’. A sense of proportion is required. Neither the “unbridled expansion of aviation” nor the paving over of the entire country is underway. Airport planning is the subject of much bridling, not least on environmental grounds. People want to fly, and all big developments creates losers, while generally making things better. The way to negotiate the different interests in that process is to make clear arguments, not exaggerated claims.

    You say that you enjoy this site because we avoid “debating at the level of the Daily Mail”.

    Would that be the same Daily Mail who published this article last year?

    The eco-warriors of Heathrow are right to fight against expansion
    If it has taken the Swampies to bring this to a head and make us all take notice then, I say, good luck to them. – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-475634/The-eco-warriors-Heathrow-right-fight-expansion.html

    And this one.
    New flight paths will ‘threaten rural peace’ as planes are diverted from towns http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-517050/New-flight-paths-threaten-rural-peace-planes-diverted-towns.html

    And this one.

    Third runway to be built at Heathrow This will cause additional misery for about 500,000 homes across west London – who gain a degree of respite from noise when the landing paths change at 3pm – but increases the number of flights by 60,000 a year. – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-421292/Third-runway-built-Heathrow.html

    There are many articles on the subject of airport expansion at the Daily Mail website, which often reflect the argument you’ve put forward here. Be careful about characterising the DM. It has taken a decidedly anti-Heathrow-expansion line, and focussed much of its criticism on the apparent hypocrisy of the Labour Government, naturally.

  • Thank you for the courtesy of a considered reply. I would like, if I may, to respond in due course.

    However, let me make one point now. There is almost no wing of, individuals in or action of the environmental movement that I would seek to defend. Frankly, with a few honourable exceptions, now mostly ostracised by their colleagues, I hate the bastards as much as the AGW lobby.

    The two are now probably the most powerful agencies FOR the destruction of habitat in Europe, doing a job that the energy utilities would never manage on their own and both have a reactionary perspective for society.

    (A parlour game I like to play is to ask an “environmentalist” whether it thinks that the citizens of Baghdad are entitled to the same standard of living as the citizens of California and see how long it takes it to say “No”.)

    It was not the fact that you attacked the protest – I agree with that – it was the manner in which you attacked it, which I thought was nihilistic.

    Though the Daily Mail is not generally noted for a balanced approach to social issues, I accept that the quip about it was sloppy. I should have known better – to my surprise, it recently covered some research of mine.

  • I suspect that the Daily Mail’s opposition to Heathrow expansion is on the grounds of destruction of property (NIMBYism, essentially), rather than environmentalism.

    How would you respond to opponents of London airport expansion who say “The South-East is already overpopulated – we need to concentrate development on the rest of the UK instead”?

  • Brendan O’Neil at Spiked-Online has a characteristically take-no-prisoners article on the protesters, and an interesting look at their backgrounds.

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/6008/

    Well worth a look.

  • I get sick when listening to this. These are often people who fail in their studies, are not able to interprete statistics, lack basic math skills, have never thought about the thickness of the ice on Greenland and Antarctica and yet they are not ashamed to tell “the climate change is gonna be catastrophic” …

  • TDK, just so you know, the way you’re filling in the comments form means your messages are getting picked up by the spam filter. And they’re not easy to get out again.

    Please contact us if you don’t know what we mean.

  • It’s interesting to read about the person who funds the Stupids – multi-millionaire Mark Constantine. Here’s a link to an Evening Standard article (found via Tom Nelson’s blog) – I’ve tinyurled it because the link itself is a bit long: http://tinyurl.com/5ffuux

    “I’m no hypocrite,” he says. “I’ve never said I’m against airports, just airport expansion. I personally fly to the US, Japan and Europe six times a year and people from my company fly all the time. Sadly, there is no environmentally safe way to fly but I do worry about the impact, which is why we charge the company a double carbon tax for every flight we make and then donate that money – £72,000 so far – to half-a-dozen environmental organisations, one of which is Plane Stupid.”

    So let me see – the money taxed from Lush’s obviously vitally important long-haul journeys (no disruption allowed there!) is fed into an extremist organisation committed to preventing ordinary folks like us from travelling from Stansted on budget flights.

    “I’m no hypocrite,” he says.

    Oh yes you are, matey.

  • Why are environmentalists so hostile to aviation when it is responsible for only half a percent of Britain’s CO2 emissions? Depleted Cranium had a good article here on the elitism of the anti-flying lobby.

    Is the anti-aviation campaign essentially a puritan campaign?

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