Sun, Sea, Sand, and Sewage

  • 389,000 discharges of raw sewage into UK waterways in 2022 alone
  • 75% of UK rivers pose a serious risk to human health
  • 39% reports of sickness after bathing linked with a sewage discharge in the area

(source: Surfers Against Sewage)

Showing the shocking state of our rivers across the country, even the designated bathing area at Wolvercote has a “Poor” status and an advisement against bathing, with E. Coli and Intestinal Enterococci regularly found at the site. XR Oxford has been drawing attention to the situation along with groups such as Windrush Against Sewage Pollution over the past years, and this month we joined Dirty Water Wave 4 for the latest action.

Dates for your diary

  • Wednesday 30th August, 7:30-9pm: Talks, Training and Engagement Working Group meeting. New members welcome – email xroxford.tte@gmail.com for details (Zoom)
  • Saturday 9th September, 2:30-4:30pm: XR Oxford Singers rehearsal (Gill Garrett Room, South Oxford Community Centre, Lake Street, OX1 4RP)
  • Saturday 16th September, 3:30pm: Of Walking on Thin Ice – movie, panel & walk (Phoenix Picturehouse)
  • Saturday 16th September, 12pm: End Fossil Fuels March (Grosvenor Gardens, London)
  • Monday 18th September, 7:30-9pm: South Oxford Geese Affinity Group Meeting. New members welcome – email soxgeese@gmail.com for venue details.
  • Wednesday 20th September, 7-9pm: Introduction to Extinction Rebellion Workshop (The Community Works, 21 Park End Street OX1 1HU)
  • Saturday 30th September: South East Rising – day of connecting and learning as we Unite To Survive. (Brighton)
  • Tuesday 21st November, 7-9pm: Introduction to Extinction Rebellion Workshop (The Community Works, 21 Park End Street OX1 1HU)

News

Dirty Water Wave 4

Our first attempt at Dirty Water actions this month was thwarted by Storm Antoni (itself both a harbinger of the climate chaos to come and an exacerbating event for sewage pollution), which brought a month’s rainfall in a single day. We regrouped and returned the next weekend, bringing banner drops to the Medley Bridge on Port Meadow and Donnington Bridge. Passers-by expressed their support for our campaign, some having swum in the area since they were children, and others were shocked that the sewage problem was just as bad in the so-called designated bathing area as in other parts of the country.

The Canaries brought their excellent satirical face-in-hole board so people could take #DirtyWater selfies – look out for it at future actions!

Introduction to Extinction Rebellion Oxford

Times like these – when climate crises are escalating and pressure from a number of climate action groups is mounting – force us to dig deeper into our foundational motivations. At Extinction Rebellion in Oxford, we want to facilitate spaces where we can go back to basics and re-align ourselves with why we do what we do. Irrespective of whether you are new to XR or have been involved for a long time, we invite you all to the ‘Introduction to Extinction Rebellion’ workshops that we have organised. These workshops aim to provide a relaxed and engaging atmosphere, where you can familiarise yourself with the guiding principles and values of Extinction Rebellion.

The first time this workshop was held was in July at The Community Works. We experienced a lively buzz of engagement, as participants asked questions, shared their concerns, and proposed creative ideas for actions. One of the participants described the evening as having `exceeded expectations’ – a sentiment we too shared. It was heartening to see fresh enthusiasm as we watched the participants brainstorm imaginative ideas and strategies.

We have two more workshops planned for 20th September and 21st November, from 7-9pm. We hope to see many of you there. If you have been curious about XR, this is the no-strings-attached workshop you do not want to miss.

Venue: The Community Works, 21 Park End Street OX1 1HU (entrance via Becket Street)

Please share this poster with your friends and encourage them to come along!

Our Leaders Fiddle while Rhodes Burns

Photo: Suzanne Williams

Several hundred people – mostly women and children – gathered outside Downing Street in early August, to show their outrage and horror at the granting by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of more than 100 new oil and gas exploration licences in the North Sea.

Behind a banner reading “Our Leaders Fiddle While Rhodes Burns’ adults and children held bright flames in the air, and signs saying “100 New Oil & Gas Licences=licence to kill’, ‘New Oil and Gas Betrays Our Kids’, ‘Carbon Capture Fantasy’, ‘Shame on You Rishi’, ‘Only Tidal Power from the North Sea’. And in front a figure with a large Rishi Sunak head played the fiddle and danced.

Photo: Suzanne Williams

Oxford residents Carolyn Dodd and Suzanne Williams (pictured) joined the demonstration, organised by Mothers Rise Up. Carolyn Dodd said: ‘It was only last year that Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, said that it would be a moral failure and economic disaster to extract any more oil and gas – and yet here we have Rishi Sunak’s government saying they want to ‘max out’ North Sea fossil fuels. Guterres called governments like this the real ‘radical extremists’, not the ordinary people who are desperately protesting and trying to get governments to act for the sake of all our futures.’

Suzanne Williams said: ‘The government is also misleading us – North sea Oil will make more huge profits for multinational companies, and will not bring our energy prices down nor help with the cost of living for ordinary British people. Sunak also claims that we need oil and gas to achieve energy security – which is nonsense! It’s the opposite – only renewable, sustainable and inexpensive green energy from tidal, wind and solar will bring energy security, not more dependence on fossil fuels. It seems that Rishi Sunak is hooked on oil and gas, which is a disaster not just for us in the UK but people all over the world, because the climate emergency is global.’

Photo: Feng Ho

A young mother, who wished not to be named, said that she is terrified for her children’s futures, and the children themselves are suffering from anxiety and fear of what the world will be like as they grow up. As recent reports have shown, the world has just had the hottest July since records began, and just this week the ocean temperature has reached the highest level ever – which means it will absorb less CO2 from the atmosphere, melt ice which will lead to higher sea level rises, and affect all marine life and the marine ecosystem. As the UN Secretary-General said last month, we are no longer in the era of global warming, we have entered the era of global boiling.

Steve Dawe, media coordinator, has provided raw materials, including references to materials you may wish to use, to encourage MPs to make efforts to saturate Rishi Sunak in protests about his extraordinary commitments to fossil fuel industries, flying, motoring and bad transport policy changes. Do personalise and localise your letter to your own MP, using whatever references you see fit. To help, see a release on the topic with a lot of references here.

Of Walking on Thin Ice

Screening at the Phoenix Picturehouse on September 16th at 3:30pm: tickets here.

The Camino to COP26 was a people’s walk carrying a message of love, hope, grief, fear and connection with the natural world to leaders deciding the future of our climate. More than a thousand walkers, aged from 8 to 80+, joined the Camino, with a core of 30 walking the entire route, in a pilgrimage for the plant. After the screening, we will have some great speakers joining us to reflect together and see what we can learn. Werner Herzog described the physical act of walking as ‘dreaming on foot’, and we will be walking across Port Meadow after the movie, to continue our conversations in nature, and then in the pub.

Getting coverage

Early notification about Dirty Water 4 to media outlets in Oxfordshire led to Hazel Dawe getting interviews on the topic with Thats TV, Heart FM and Jack FM. This demonstrates the importance of getting media releases out well in advance of events. If assistance is needed to do this, contact Steve Dawe, Media coordinator, XR Oxford at stevedawe@gn.apc.org or 07747 036192.

In love and rage,

The XR Oxford Crew