On November 28, in what may be the most daring act of civil disobedience committed in recent memory, an environmental activist in the UK calmly climbed two three-meter high electrified razor-wire fences, entered the main turbine hall of a coal based power plant and shut down a 500MW turbine. The result, explains the Guardian, was that "all power from the coal and oil-powered Kingsnorth station in Kent was halted for four hours, in which time it is thought the mystery saboteur's actions reduced UK climate change emissions by 2%." The anonymous activist then left a handmade sign which read "No New Coal", a reference to an ongoing environmental campaign focused on Kingsnorth, walked out of the building and disappeared. The guardian has the full story.
The Kingsnorth station coal plant, has been the target of numerous environmental campaigns since the company revealed plans to replace it with Britain's first new coal-fired power station in three decades. A plan that would result emissions of "the same amount of carbon dioxide as the 30 least polluting countries in the world combined", according to Greenpeace.
These climate change campaigners are challenging the fundamental maxims of capitalism which relies upon year-after-year growth that necessitates greater-and-greater energy production and consumption. And now a growing number of activists, the vanguard clearly being in the UK with direct-action organizations like Plane Stupid and No New Coal, are questioning our basic assumptions.
By putting their ideals into practice, these activists are giving hope that climate change can be solved and that a single act does have positive repercussions. Simply turning off a single turbine at Kingsnorth for four hours decreased the UK's emissions by 2%. What if it had stayed off for 24 hours, would anyone have noticed?
Is it possible that we can build a society that voluntarily turns off its own turbines and sets limits to its growth?
Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com