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Just Stop Oil - is it okay to cause chaos in the name of the environment?

Vicki Woolven

18th October 2022

The M25 Dartford Crossing has been closed for second day as members of activist group Just Stop Oil have scaled the bridge to protest against the new government oil and gas licence. But is this an effective way of getting their message across?

Over the last couple of years we have seen an increase in high profile protests from climate activism groups highlighting the climate crisis - these groups have chosen to cause maximum disruption to get their very important message across.

The latest group to hit the headlines is Just Stop Oil. According to their official website, Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to ensure that the government commits to ending all new licences for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK - you can read more about them here - https://juststopoil.org/.

TimeOut presents a concise summary of who they are and what they want - https://www.timeout.com/uk/new...

As I type this blog two members of the group are suspended from hammocks at the top of the masts of the Dartford Crossing Bridge, and have been since the early hours of Monday morning. Currently the bridge is closed for safety reasons and is causing 6 miles of stationary traffic - angering those caught up in the congestion, along with those people who like to get angry about things that are not directly affecting them (see the comments on Twitter!).

A group spokesperson said it was protesting against new government oil and gas licences stating that: "Our government has enacted suicidal laws to accelerate oil production - killing human life and destroying our environment."

Earlier in the week members of the group threw tomato soup over Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' in the National Gallery in London, asking ‘What is worth more, art or life? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?’ - https://www.timeout.com/london...

One of the group involved with the soup incident provides an extremely eloquent and compelling case...

This story makes for an interesting discussion around the effectiveness of this type of protest. Protest groups will argue that they need to be as provocative and disruptive as possible to reinforce just how serious the climate crisis is - after all we have known about the potential impacts of climate change for decades, yet we are only starting to take definitive action to slow down the effects - and many will argue that we are not doing enough.

However, while many will support the cause that these protesters are trying to promote, lots of people do not agree with the method and feel that the disruption is unacceptable. Many others will argue that these types of protests actually damage the cause they are fighting for, as they make the general public angry. Government Home Secretary Suella Braverman has described the actions of demonstrators as "self-defeating" and "completely indefensible".

It will be interesting to see what students think!

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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