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Just Stop Oil’s Stonehenge stunt is the last straw

This nihilistic cult holds nothing sacred, except for Gaia.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

Topics Science & Tech UK

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Just about everyone now agrees that Just Stop Oil has got to stop. Yesterday’s defacing of Stonehenge, one of mankind’s oldest surviving monuments, seems to have united the UK in condemnation. Even some former cheerleaders of JSO and its offshoots recognise that the orange-spraying eco-loons have gone too far this time.

Predictably, the spray-painting antics at Stonehenge have restarted that interminable debate about JSO’s tactics and targets. ‘We agree with your cause, just not your methods’, our climate-alarmist media sing in unison whenever some event gets disrupted or a national treasure gets defiled. But this is wishful thinking. You cannot separate what JSO thinks and wants from this destructive, nihilistic vandalism.

It’s worth dwelling on how quickly JSO’s tactics have escalated since it first burst on to the scene in early 2022. It was bad enough when JSO activists would content themselves with blocking roads and motorways, disrupting the lives and journeys of thousands of ordinary people (costing British motorists a cumulative 14 additional years in traffic). Then they came for our entertainment. West End musicals were ruined. The sporting calendar – from the snooker, the cricket and Wimbledon to the Grand Prix and the Premier League – was constantly disrupted by the shrieking Ambers, Lydias and Poppys that make up this impossibly posh eco-outfit.

Those acts of criminal damage, disruption, trespass were all very irritating and wrongheaded, but they were still just about within the bounds of civil disobedience. But from the summer of 2022, some of JSO’s antics revealed the depths of darkness that lurk behind that bright-orange branding. Activists started attacking priceless works of art and precious historical artefacts. They threw soup on van Gogh’s Sunflowers and smashed the protective glass on Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus. Last month, two octogenarian JSO members used a chisel and hammer to smash the case around Magna Carta, the 800-year-old foundation stone of English liberty. Yesterday, we witnessed the defiling of a 5,000-year-old monument that connects us to some of the earliest traces of human civilisation. This has to be the last straw.

These stunts are not common-or-garden civil disobedience. This is not disruption in an attempt to ‘raise awareness’ or get some politician’s attention. These are attacks on human civilisation itself – on some of humanity’s most significant artistic, architectural and political achievements. And there is a very good reason why the cult of Just Stop Oil thinks nothing of vandalising them.

After all, these eco-irritants are not merely ‘concerned’ about climate change – they are gripped with apocalyptic terror by climate change. The group’s mastermind, Roger Hallam, likes to tell his acolytes that in the coming decades, climate change is going to kill as many as six billion people – the vast majority of human beings, in other words. In the eyes of this millenarian eco-cult, climate change is not a problem to be managed or overcome, but a near inevitable catastrophe that will bring destruction on the scale of a global nuclear Holocaust. (There is, needless to say, absolutely zero scientific evidence that climate change could possibly lead to such an outcome.)

This is how JSO tries to justify its ever-escalating vandalism. Nothing on this Earth, the cultists say, is as important as halting the coming armageddon. Certainly not your trip to work, or your favourite sports fixture. Not even a priceless artwork, or a unique historical monument. Nothing that normal human beings value matters as much as JSO’s mission to prevent the alleged end of the world. You can’t enjoy Stonehenge on a dead planet, as the activists themselves might say.

This alarmist outlook is also what drives JSO’s incredibly deranged demands. Just stop using oil, gas and fossil fuels? The human suffering that would result from eliminating 80 per cent of the world’s energy use is frankly unimaginable. One of JSO’s other key asks, rarely discussed in our overly sympathetic media, is to put Rishi Sunak on trial for genocide. These are not reasonable requests, or proposals to fix genuine social problems. They are the mad missives of an insular, reactionary and apocalyptic cult.

So no, it’s not enough to decry the ‘tactics’ of Just Stop Oil. Rational and reasonable people need to start taking on its arguments, too. We need to say loud and clear that climate change is not the end of the world. That stopping the use of fossil fuels would be an unspeakable catastrophe. That our great monuments, artworks and civilisational achievements are not fair game for these destructive and nihilistic stunts. Just Stop Oil has got to be stopped – and so does the climate alarmism that’s fuelling it.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on X: @FraserMyers.

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Topics Science & Tech UK

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