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Climbers use Dumby for climate message

Wednesday 3rd November 2021, 3:53pm

A group of climbers have made their own voice heard while COP26 takes place in Glasgow.

Regular climbers at Dumbarton Rock, helped by climate activists from Extinction Rebellion, decided to use Glasgow’s most famous and historic climbing venue as the stage for their message to the leaders at COP26.

As the conference opened on Monday, the climbers battled strong winds on the iconic Rhapsody-Requiem face of Dumbarton Rock to unfurl a banner reading "Climate On A Cliff Edge" and raise a globe symbolically on fire, teetering off the cliff edge below. The intention was to spotlight the failure of global governments to face the climate crisis.

One of the climbers, Simon Smith (37), said: “Monday wasn’t the best day, weather-wise, as that wall is overhanging by ten degrees, but we wanted it to be up there for the opening and, as it happened, we got everything in place just before Greenpeace's boat Rainbow Warrior sailed up the Clyde and past the site - a fitting entrance to the COP26 site.”

Simon, a forest manager, said: “We didn’t want to be disruptive, but we wanted to get our message across, and I think we managed that.

"Living for the outdoors and working in environmental conservation, I've seen first hand the damage we're inflicting on the natural systems which sustain us and the biodiversity crisis we're failing to avert. But I also see Scotland's potential to lead the way forward with actions like investing in renewable power, replanting our native forests and restoring peatlands and kelp forests to help sequester atmospheric carbon.

“COP26 must act on the science, finding real solutions to work in harmony with natural systems and support countries around the world to do so too. We can't continue to pour money into the fossil fuel extraction, needless consumption and resource depletion that are costing us the earth. As climbers what better tapestry than our local crag for us to raise our banner and demand strong global leadership at COP26 instead of empty promises, insincere rhetoric and collective inaction!"

One of the other climbers, Ry McHenry, doctor and Dumbarton enthusiast, said: "I'm probably not a natural climate activist. I'm too sceptical about the power of the individual to exert meaningful change when we're faced with a crisis on this scale, and think it's the role of government and policy to lead. However, I can rig a rope and the message is one I firmly believe in, so when asked if I could help, I was more than happy to lend a hand."

Meanwhile, a hundred miles up the road, confirmation came that the once long-lived Sphinx snowpatch in the heart of the Cairngorms had once more failed to make it through to the winter. Melting only three times in the whole of the 20th century, this is already the fourth time it has melted in the 21st century.

Iain Cameron, who monitors Scottish snow, has said climate change seemed to be the logical explanation for the increasing fragility of a snow-patch which used to be referred to as ‘eternal’. Read the full story about the Sphinx’s latest disappearance here.

Dumbarton Rock banner and piper photo by Leo Bodelle