A faultless business plan

Extracts from George Monbiot’s reflections on the Camp for Climate Action next to Heathrow airport (emphasis mine):

There are plenty of people at the Heathrow climate camp who say they are campaigning on behalf of their children. But when Alf Pereira spoke on Sunday outside the church in Harmondsworth, we knew he meant it. His daughter died of bronchial problems, caused, he believes, by pollution from the airport. She was buried in the graveyard behind us. He fears that if a third runway is built, the developers will disinter her.

Until this week, Mr Pereira’s voice was drowned by the roar of jet engines. The people of the villages around the airport have been campaigning for years against the threat of expansion, but no one in power has listened. Both the government and the airports operator BAA appear determined to evict the living and raise the dead.

[…] Camping in the fields north of the airport this week, I found that I fell asleep promptly at 11, when the flights mostly cease, and woke – despite my wax ear plugs – promptly at 6, when they resume. My throat swelled and my eyes itched, and I am sure that my headache was not just the result of a few too many bottles of Pitfield’s Eco Warrior. Even if we were to put climate change to one side, who can honestly claim that new runways, for all their economic benefits, improve the quality of our lives? A pall of skull-scraping misery hangs over the catchment of every major airport. But the business plan cannot be faulted: the more hellish our lives become, the more we seek to escape from them.

[…] We haven’t prevented runaway climate change by camping beside Heathrow and surrounding the offices of BAA, nor did we expect to do so. But we have made it harder for Alf Pereira and the other unheard people to be swept aside, and harder for the government to forget that its plan for perpetual growth in corporate utopia is also a plan for the destruction of life on earth.


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