Claire Black: Hard to quibble about the Shard climbers

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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I don’t know what it would take to convince me to climb 1,016ft to the top of The Shard. It would have to be a lot more than a slap up dinner, or a cold pint of lager waiting for me at the summit.

Or even the unstinting admiration of all those people who get annoyed about bad things happening in the world but never quite get it together to actually do anything about them. And yet, I find myself humbly, gratefully amongst the ranks of that latter group when I consider the feat of the six women who last week scaled Europe’s tallest building to raise awareness of the perils of Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Ali Garrigan, 27, from Nottinghamshire, Wiola Smul, 23, from Poland, Sabine Huyghe, 33, from Belgium, Sandra Lamborn, 29, from Sweden, Victoria Henry, 32, from Canada and Liesbeth Deddens, 31, from the Netherlands, after months of preparation and training, snuck up on the unsuspecting, 72-storey building that sits in the middle of Shell’s three London headquarters. In front of gawping commuters, enthralled admirers – the lead climbers amongst the women were free climbing, scaling without assistance before fixing ropes for the others – and, least surprisingly, at least one male commentator who decided that the fact the six are women was sexist, they set about their mission. When they reached the summit, 15 hours after starting, they were arrested for aggravated trespass but not before unfurling a banner stating “Save the Arctic”.

You might think what they did was irresponsible or you might be full of admiration. What’s harder to quibble about is their aim. In the past 30 years, 80 per cent of the Arctic sea ice has disappeared. While many fear that its complete disappearance – something that hasn’t happened for 800,000 years – will have devastating effects on our climate, others see it as a business opportunity. Melting ice means access to previously inaccessible reserves of oil. On their blog, the climbers make clear their view on the oil prospectors “…we are not those people. We have a responsibility to think bigger than that.”

Shell released a statement saying that it respected the right of Greenpeace to engage in an “exchange of views” about their operations, but maintained that “if responsibly developed, Arctic energy resources can help offset supply constraints and maintain energy security…” An argument that would be more persuasive had they not had to suspend all drilling activity this year after a litany of problems.

After the Deep Water Horizon disaster of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico (206 million gallons of oil spilled) are we really ready to see offshore drilling in one of the earth’s most pristine natural environments? I know of six women who aren’t, and I don’t think they’re alone.

DANGER! Danger! I am relieved that at long last some good citizen with plainly not nearly enough time on his or her hands has finally understood the danger of the rampant, risk-taking behaviour glamourised in a British cinematic classic. It’s only taken 42 years. The British Board of Film Classification has revealed that “concerned from Kidderminster” (I’m not breaching data protection, I made that up) took the time to pick up the telephone to explain that watching The Railway Children may encourage children to play on train tracks. Certainly, after watching Bedknobs And Broomsticks I was tempted to lob myself and my brass bed to the bottom of the sea in order that we might bob along on the ocean floor. However, the BBFC judged that it was “very unlikely” that Jenny Agutter and friends would promote such a dangerous activity and so rejected the complaint. But still, worth checking, I’d say.

MOTHER Nature has a strange way of righting insidious wrongs. How else can we explain the behaviour of that cheetah that pounced on Adam Sandler? The Hollywood actor was only trying to feed the big cat while on holiday in Africa when instead of nibbling the kitty kibble, it decided to nibble him. Now, you might think that a cheetah roaming the vast plains of Africa, notching up speeds of 70 mph might not have had much of a chance to see Big Daddy or You Don’t Mess With The Zohan or Jack And Jill (the first movie to win every category in the Golden Raspberry Awards), but I choose to interpret the cat’s rather hostile response as payback for all Sandler’s egregious cinematic crimes. Miaow. «

Twitter: @Scottiesays