Climate Protesters Douse Stonehenge in Orange Powder

Two members of the Just Stop Oil climate advocacy group were arrested on Wednesday, June 19 after dousing parts of the prehistoric Stonehenge monument near the British city of Salisbury in an orange powder.

One of the activists, 73-year-old Birmingham resident Rajan Naidu, explained in a statement that the pigment used in the action is made of orange cornflour that will “soon wash away with the rain, but the urgent need for effective government action to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the climate and ecological crisis will not.”

Calling on the government of the United Kingdom to commit to ending the extraction and burning of fossil fuels by 2030, the protesters took to the megalithic structure around noon, ahead of the summer solstice to be celebrated tomorrow, June 20.

“Stonehenge at solstice is all about celebrating the natural world — but look at the state it’s in!” said 21-year-old Oxford University student Niamh Lynch, the second activists arrested, in the group’s press release.

“We all have a right to live a life free from suffering, but continued burning of oil, coal and gas is leading to death and suffering on an unparalleled scale,” Lynch said.

Hyperallergic has contacted English Heritage, the nonprofit in charge of Stonehenge, for comment on the protest action.

A World Heritage Site, the circular monument at Stonehenge is believed to date from the late Neolithic period, approximately 2500 BCE. Though experts are not sure of its exact purpose, the sun rises over one of the stones on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, suggesting that it may have been used to track the sun’s movements and had spiritual significance.

Visitors gather within the standing stones at Stonehenge for the winter solstice on December 22, 2023. (photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Last week, over 400 climate scientists in the UK released an open letter urging party leaders to commit to a more ambitious program to cut greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the July 4 general elections.

“The UK’s government in waiting has committed to enacting Just Stop Oil’s original demand of ‘no new oil and gas.’ However, we all know this is not enough,” says the group’s press statement, referring to the left-leaning Labour Party that many predict will end the conservative Tories’s longtime mandate.

Just Stop Oil wants the incoming British government to work with other nations on a legally binding Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and support other countries in making a transition to clean energy.

“Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions,” the press release reads. “We have to come together to defend humanity or we risk everything.”

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