Why a Climate Vigil?

A small group of Central England Quakers continues to hold a silent vigil in St Philip’s Square each Wednesday afternoon. Selly Oak Quaker Cyril Bezant explains why he joins this act of witness (updated with links to further action):

Why do I / we stand outside Birmingham’s Saint Philips Cathedral every Wednesday (Covid-19 restrictions allowing) come rain or sunshine for a quarter of an hour from 1:30 to 1:45?

Because responding to Climate Change has to be the number one priority for everyone. 

Unless we, Homo sapiens, the dominant species, effectively address the matter all will be lost. 

Our home, our surroundings, our wealth will be as naught. 

The planet will survive but in a manner that will not sustain humanity and similar species.

So I do it to try and get passers-by to see that somebody is concerned about climate change. Usually they just see four people as the picture displays.  We get the occasional nod, smile, thumbs up and very rarely, a conversation that presents a dilemma because we are conducting a silent vigil.

Given that our area is possibly the largest geographical concentration of Quaker meetings in the UK I am disappointed that we are so subdued about the Climate Emergency. Are we sleepwalking into extinction?

Rebecca Willis in her book Too Hot To Handle? The Democratic Challenge of Climate Change describes the situation well:

“The most common response to climate change is neither denial nor activism, but what public opinion expert Leo Barasi The Climate Majority (2017) calls ‘climate apathy’. There is a large group, the majority of UK citizens for example, who do not dispute the science, but don’t do much about it. They don’t talk about it much, they don’t try to reduce their own emissions much, and they don’t bear it in mind when voting. Further on Rebecca says, ‘I think people are just happy with their lives and they don’t want to get involved’.”

Rebecca Willis Too Hot to Handle, Bristol University Press 2020

Cyril has suggest that information about Extinction Rebellion could be published for the interest of Friends. The following contact details cover the Central England area: