So the swoop was anti-climactic in the end. This is a good thing, when the alternative is a riot shield in the face!
My 'swoop group' gathered near the offices of Rio Tinto in central London, and there we stayed for a few hours. Then we got the word to move (slightly disorganised because for some reason the central coordinating text messages weren't coming out to everyone) and after bouncing through a couple of tube and train stations, we were walking up the hill to Blackheath.
Blackheath is a bit of common land (which makes it less easy to evict squatters from than private land and parks etc), with a certain amount of relevant history (a peasants' revolution started there once). It's in quite a posh area, but talking to some of the residents on and after arrival, they seem cautiously interested in what we were doing, rather than hostile or overly worried.
The site was already mostly in place by the time my group arrived (we were second from last out of the six groups). Fencing has been constructed around it, which although obviously necessary to claim and keep the territory, does give it an unfortunately unwelcoming look. I think they could do with hanging some random hippy crap off the fences to make it more inviting - fabric flowers or something, I dunno.
The police have kept things fairly low-key, although they have put a crane with a cherry-picker in a nearby TA base, and mounted spotlights and CCTV cameras on it - not quite the 'neighbourhood style policing' that they promised, unless your 'neighbourhood' is a prison. Some clue as to how they view us, maybe.
The camp since arrival has mostly been a construction process so far - tents, catering facilities, toilets etc, all being built in the space that's been claimed. The object, as the Climate Camp website
says, is to create a sustainable living environment - a mini-example of what could be done, I guess.
I have to be completely honest and say that personally, I'm not 100% convinced that climate change is primarily man-made - there's a lot to be said for the theories about how our solar system works - orbital proximity to the sun, sunspot activity, etc. However, if the problem isn't human-driven, and we do something to prevent it getting worse, we've only wasted time/money/effort. If it is human-driven, and we don't do something about it, we've really fucked up things for our descendants.
I don't have kids myself, but I'm not keen on screwing things up for other people's kids, or their kids' kids, whatever. I think it's probably worthwhile to make the effort for now, although I'd like to see more scientific research into ways to address the symptoms of climate change too... if we could figure out how to turn CO2 into oxygen, or how to control weather patterns, maybe it'd be less of a problem that we're quite unwilling to give up our cars and air-conditioning ;)
Plus, nuclear fusion is shiny
Anyway, the Climate Camp seems like a cool place to learn more about this stuff... once they've got it set up, they're going to be running workshops and activities all week, many of them based at training activists for direct action, but also some educational stuff about the science behind their concerns.
I didn't originally expect to get quite so involved in the Camp itself. I went along on the swoop largely because of my interest in how protest is being policed in this country recently, but once we had got there I started to be quite impressed and interested in how the Camp is coming together. I'm going to go back whenever I have time over the course of the next week, to see how it's shaping up, and what I can learn.
I don't think I'll camp though. And I'm definitely not eating any veggie burgers - I have my limits. ;)