Dear Sir,

Last Sunday, Extinction Rebellion Durham held the most powerful and wonderful event on Palace Green.

The event was a display – an artwork – of 750 pairs of children’s shoes. The resulting scene was apocalyptic, with the shoes-without-wearers representing the children who will be deprived of their futures (and maybe killed) by climate change … unless we do something urgently.

It was a stunning display, and vital to get the Climate Action ‘ball’ rolling again after lockdown.


After the display was laid out, three speakers had been invited to address and thank the volunteers.

MARY FOY, MP for the City of Durham, spoke of the Labour Party’s commitment to Climate Action and the need to lobby the government to put Climate Action at the forefront of the country’s post-Covid recovery.

MARTIN GANNON, Leader of Gateshead Council, warned graphically of the international disruption and damage that unrestrained Climate Change is already causing, and explained that local councils are doing all they can to implement Climate Action.


I was honoured to be the third speaker. I praised the compelling message of the display, and thanked Extinction Rebellion for starting in this way their ‘Month of Rebellion’ to re-raise awareness.

Then I spoke about the absurdity of our current economic model.

Much of our notional economic ‘wealth’ and ‘growth’ is based simply on an ever-increasing ‘velocity of transactions’ – the speed with which we buy goods and services from each other. As the lockdown has shown, we have now reached the point where, if we pause for a moment from our frantic consumer spending, the economy collapses. Our ‘economic growth’ – which the government is encouraging us to resume – has thus degenerated into going out and spending money-we-do-not-have in order to shovel it into the pockets of people who have so much they could not possibly spend it in a million lifetimes.


Our economy is consequently fragile and unstable, it creates gross inequality, and it does not make us lastingly happy … and no wonder, because after all that so-called ‘retail therapy’, we go home to money worries and a life which too easily becomes all work-and-spend, and no rest-or-reflection.

Worst of all it is destroying the earth! It is a linear economy which strips Nature of its assets – produces, along with massive pollution, ‘stuff’, much of which is ephemeral and shoddy – and then chucks it into the sea so we can rush out and buy more of what we do not actually need. And we have to do this ever faster or we all lose our jobs.

It is illogical, unsustainable, and ultimately an extinction level event in itself.

Either we take action now to adjust the model or – inevitably – it will come crashing down on our grandchildren.

And hence those poignantly empty shoes.

Cllr John D Clare

(DCC Climate Champion)