I have just been released from a police station in Konin after taking part in an action today. I am back at our camp now - inside the dome - trying to make my frozen fingers move so I can tell you about it.
This morning, 22 of us (including folks from Poland, Germany, Hungary,Romania, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and the UK) launched ropes over the edge of the mine next to the Climate Rescue Station. Despite some security workers trying to pull us away we all managed to slip down into the mine on the ropes.
It was a long way down. I wasn't expecting it to be so steep and so high but before I let my nerves take a hold of me - I pushed my feet into the muddy slope - grabbed the rope and somehow managed to end up at the bottom of an almost vertical cliff that must have been at least 30 meters high.
As soon as I let go of the rope and turned around, to walk towards the middle of the mine, I immediately got both my feet stuck in thick sloppy mud up to my knees! Every time I had one foot free I coudn't find a better place to put it apart from back into another part of the deep mud. My heart began racing and I had almost resigned myself to being stuck until the security guards or the police pulled me out but luckily Mieke, an activist from Belgium - reached out with her hand and helped pull me free and onto some more stable mud. I nearly lost my rubber boots and my camera landed in a puddle (luckily in its case) but I made it out - in one piece and with a dry camera. I walked down a frozen path further into the mine with Mieke hurrying me along in a calm and gentle way. I kept looking up worriedly searching for security guards or angry workers but she reminded to me to keep looking where I put my feet and to keep moving.
When we got to the big mining machine in the middle of the mine along with the other activists I began to mark out an "O" shape with Mieke using some string. But before I had finished laying it out a mine worker came and took it away from me. But we went ahead and began to pain an "O" with chalk powder on top of the coal anyway.
Together - all of us were writing "STOP" on top of the coal because it's the single biggest threat to the climate and we think it's crazy that the Polish government is expanding this mine and also building a new one. But it's not just Poland that is killing the climate with coal - it's countries across the globe from New Zealand to Thailand... from China to the Netherlands and all over the US. New coal power plants are being built and new mines are opening up even though everyone is talking about climate change and the urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions.
Some of the activists were pushed and pulled around by the workers and I saw our photographer struggling to keep his camera. Seconds later one of the workers started driving a bulldozer towards us at quite some speed. He ploughed through our chalk letters and then began reversing into us and driving forwards again towards other activists who were just trying to hold up banners.
We were then surrounded by mine workers and security men until the police came. They let us hold up banners for the journalists who were standing on top of the hill and some of the coal workers began teaching me Polish. Once they realised that we were not protesting against them but their government they stopped being aggressive towards us. One of them even held a banner with me!
The police took us away in vans to Konin in a convoy of 9 vehicles with sirens going off. The alarm was ringing out right above my head as we drove past our Climate Rescue Station so I saw the Earth go whizzing by to the sound of sirens. Rather symbolic really since we are in a state of emergency!
I was charged with "violating the domestic peace". Ironically - it's climate change that does that rather than peaceful protests! Global warming is literally forcing people out of their homes. And it's shocking to think that the reaction to a non-violent protest against it was so dramatic - with police driving us to the police station at high speed - while politicians are asleep at the wheel - driving climate change.
Today Poland captured carbon activists instead of carbon itself. And what's the best way to capture carbon? LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND!!!
Tonight - after everyone got back from the police station. We launched sky balloons into the night sky over the coal mine. Biodegradable flame lit balloons carrying all of our personal messages drifted up and over our Climate Rescue Station. I stood shivering, watching my balloon ascend with my message "Get Serious".
It's time we got serious about the climate and quit coal!
More updates from the edge of chaos soon... including videos from today.
Top image Activists climbing down the side of the Jóźwin IIB open coal mine in Poland (I am second from the top on the rope!).
All images ©Greenpeace/ Nick Cobbing