Ron West is a brave man, one of those rare individuals prepared to stand up for a principle instead of assuming others will do it for him.
Ron, 67 from Lewes is a retired environmental health officer. He took part in last month’s demonstration at the Port of Dover when he, and a group of other protesters, glued themselves to the A22 carriageway of Jubilee Way. He was arrested, but ‘treated with kindness and even humour’ by police, he asserts.
A veteran protester, (he espoused CND’s actions against US missiles on British soil 30 years ago) now his concerns reflect personal unease for the future of the UK and the planet.
He cites two reasons: “Logical, science-based reasoning but also emotion. Predicted catastrophic environmental changes are based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The emotion? I talked to a young mother at Nutley’s Byline Festival who was in tears about her daughter’s future.”
Ron believes civil disobedience ‘is the only way to make people listen.’ But in the past his journey, he says, has been ‘inward’ with activism only recently rekindled. He is now an active member of the Lewes-based Extinction Rebellion group and will join next weekend’s London demo.
He explains: “We are in a phase of irreversible climate breakdown. Disruptive weather patterns we now face are nothing compared with future catastrophic impact on our food supplies, landscape, living standards. In the 30 years since Al Gore published his ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ we’ve released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than during the previous millennia. The IPCC Report says we have 12 years to reverse it but that relies on aforestation, vast monocultures to use a carbon capture technique. I believe our capitalistic society is not sustainable. We cannot be industrially orientated if anything is going to survive at all we must go back to our roots.”
He believes we must aim for a simpler society and treat the land with respect. If, for example, we have grain shortages, and wheat provides 80 per cent of our carbohydrate intake, then the world goes hungry.
“That could be three, four or five years down the line. The consequences of what we face are impossible to ignore.”