Sunday, December 30, 2007
Voters no longer believe anything they hear from our leaders and mass apathy is the result.
I think he certainly has a point. The whole article is well worth a read. Please comment often and with great vigour if I ever spout gibberish and nonsense on this site!! I've done my best to be clear and straightforward up to now and will endeavour to continue this in the future.
A Poison Tree by William Blake
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Please have a wonderful Christmas. Drink too much. Eat too much. Dont feel guilty about the presents you give or those that you receive. Care not about your carbon footprint or the impact of your naked consumerism. Be happy. And remember, you are having a much better time than Gordon Brown because he has no friends and you've lots.
The man is, in short, talking tripe (though I would admit he can often be entertaining, and the quote gives a useful summary of issues we should give a lot of thought to!). No wonder the Wikipedia entry on him has a quote saying that he is 'Not a man given to considered opinion.' !! Many of the posts on this blog point out the contradiction inherent in the above quote - our consumer society, well illustrated by what happens at Christmas, is certainly not making people happier, it is in fact making us more prone to depression, anxiety and addictions. We should be pursuing our needs rather than our wants if we are to secure our own wellbeing and that of the world. Clarkson should read clinical psychologist Oliver James' book Affluenza.
The occurrence of life on Earth is highly improbable but the existence of a designer (God) very much more so. Even so, people like US President George W Bush favour the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ as a scientific theory competing with evolutionary theories. As with climate science Bush and his administration again cant tell what is and what is not accepted science, despite what the scientific community tell him.
Evolution by natural selection (championed very vigorously by people like Richard Dawkins) is a pretty good explanation of how complex life with the appearance of design developed stepwise from basic building blocks. Human explanation of the rest of the universe continues to develop and we are further improving our understanding of evolution.
People created God not God people. So, why have religion (it does seem to be everywhere) ? Looking at the world it does not seem to be doing a very good job of consoling people! Or of getting them to live good lives!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The countless gold of a merry heart,
The rubies and pearls of a loving eye,
The indolent can never bring to the mart,
Nor the secret hoard up in his treasury.
Auguries of Innocence (first four lines)
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
Nov 28th this year was the 250th anniversary of his birth, yet his exact grave is still not marked out properly - go to here to sign the petition in favour of erecting an appropriate monument on the exact burial spot. You can also find a lot of interesting information about Blake on this site. There is also a BBC poll about having a monument/memorial you can vote in and a useful article to read if interested.
Blake's words set to music here on this MySpace are great (I found The School Boy especially moving). More about his life and art here too (there loads out there to find - take a look!).
Thursday, December 20, 2007
They are both dead wrong. Tesco and other big supermarkets represent a very large amount of power in the hands of a very few. They should be subject to at least the following to avoid the worst injustices and to provide a much more genuine choice to shoppers (see http://www.tescopoly.org/ ).
*a legally binding code of practice
*an independent watchdog overseeing the grocery market
* a block on any new take-overs by Tesco or other major supermarkets.
*real support for local shops from local authorities and government
*internationally-recognized workers' rights throughout supermarket supply chains.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Animation and artwork by the Digital Fish Film Club: Connor, Michael, Mike, Michael & Hayleigh. Music & Voices: Mike, Chip, Michael, Connor, Leighton, Emily. Some great work too by animator Joff Winterhart and Knowle West Media Centre's Environmental Officer Emily Nicholson.
When your political opponent pressurises you in a debate...just completely fabricate a situation (ie lie!)
Gary Hopkins // December 13, 2007 at 12:49 am
Remind me and any others reading, Mr Vowles where is it you put yourself forward as a saviour of the people. I seem to remember that it was Knowle ward where you have managed to come a consistent 4th against My Colleage Chris Davies and myself. Prior to standing for the greens you were a ” helper” for the Brislington West” liberal democrats but they had to dump you because when any real work like delivering a few leaflets,as opposed to pontificating, was concerned you disapeared.Try not to get too hysterical about things, I am quite happy to trust the voters opinion are you?
VowlestheGreen // December 13, 2007 at 3:12 pm
No, Gary Hopkins. There are very few facts in what you say and you resort lying about my former link to the Lib Dems.
For the record, since you dont deal in facts much: the Green vote in Knowle has risen rapidly in recent yrs: in 2003 we got just 5.46%, but in 2007 polled 15.62% (up 10 points). Your Lib Dems got 59.58% in 2003, and 45.41% in 2007 (down 14 points) - where is ‘your’ vote going (here and in fact in other parts of Bristol)?? Greens will continue to increase their vote in Knowle.
Also for the record: I’ve never been a ‘helper’ for the Lib Dems and in fact ended a very brief membership in the early 1990’s (over ten yrs ago!), attending just a few meetings, because I found them to be very disappointing and in fact unethical in their approach to politics . The Lib Dems did not ‘dump’ me, since this would indicate that they ended my membership by throwing me out. In fact I simply ceased being a member, disillusioned greatly by the ability of Liberal democracy to be truly green, having tried it out first hand. It is a lie to say ‘they had to dump you’ and Mr Hopkins you should withdraw this comment or you will be providing direct evidence of your personal lack of ethics in your political campaigning.
By the way whatever happened to the bloke who was my local Lib Dem councillor in the early 1990’s when I flirted with you, Barry Clarke??
I’ve has a few breaks from from Green Party membership since joining them 25 yrs ago and had very brief ‘flirtations’ with both Lib Dems and Labour. I found out through these two great mistakes just how bad they are and just how much both my head and heart are Green, as it always was and always will be.
VowlestheGreen // December 14, 2007 at 5:01 pm
Sorry to post again on this now old story but I think it should be noted that Lib Dem Cllr for Knowle Gary Hopkins has failed as yet to reply to withdraw his lie. Gary…..are you there??
Just one little indication of the unethical nature of this particular beast I suppose.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
For a start it seems to begin earlier every year, with adverts galore and reminders of how many days we all have left to overspend in the shops! Any 'specialness' in the brief period that even I might find is immediately devalued.
It does not help of course that not only am I not a Christian but being a very firm sceptic I dont have any substantial belief that there is any kind of god(s) at all, including pagan ones, (the existence of he/she/it is extremely unlikely). Anyhow, its clear that a case can be made that much about the way we currently celebrate Christmas is nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity !!
Food and alcohol consumption go through the roof. Energy useage for lighting likewise. Excessive spending on goods of many sorts from all over the world too. Far from being happier people's behaviour often deteriorates. Christmas just does not seem to be about loving and giving but is all about more, more, more.
Very creative work from 18 yr old director Luke Martin, working with producer Denzil Monk, reported in todays local paper. More on peak oil here.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
When will we have real care for the elderly? Proper mandatory training for all people having contact with people who have dementia is vital.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
As for Brown apparently throwing his weight behind the campaign to get rid of plastic carrier bags doesn't the man realise he is the Prime Minister ? Why not just have them banned Gordon? Mind you I would not put the banning of these bags that high up my list of environmental action priorities would you? The media seemed to catch on to the idea, presumeably just what he wanted I suppose. Best to focus in the main on really tackling areas having the biggest impacts (thus the biggest potential for the large, rapid improvements we need in the next ten yrs according to best science) namely transport and energy.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Just for a bit of fun I quickly came up with these ideas
*Conquered much of the world
*Oi! 1966 and all that
*Could have surrendered after Dunkirk
*The dirty man of Europe
*Our green and pleasant land
*Lets build Jerusalem here now
*Two rugby world cup finals
Some are more original than others obviously. Some are more positive and closer to the truth than others. Several are in fact more about England rather than Britain/UK of course. Some perhaps reveal the patriot/nationalist in me (dont know if I should I be worried about this).
I think the Dunkirk one is my best effort.
Comments and suggestions welcomed.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Sustainability: reconciling the economy with our environment and shifting from a consumer to a conserver society. Necessary, desirable and inevitable.
Our economy clearly exists as a system within and dependent upon the natural environment, drawing its resources from it and emitting its wastes to it. As we’ve seen with floods, hurricanes, droughts and forest fires, here and around the globe, the natural world can devastate human life and activity – human power is puny in comparison. It is desirable for us to achieve sustainability because human health, wellbeing and quality of life would be greatly improved and the stability and security of our world would be much enhanced. Science is clearly telling us that it is necessary to achieve sustainability, most notably with respect to climate change at the moment, and previously with respect to ozone layer depletion. Since many of the resources we currently rely on to sustain us and grow our economy are finite it seems pretty inevitable to me that we will at some stage have to achieve sustainability, if human life as we know it is to go on and improve, and the sooner we make progress the more successful we will be in our efforts.
People often use the terms sustainability and sustainable development interchangeably. I’m not that happy with this, at least not without spelling out what I mean by development. Gro Harlem Brundtland, in her hugely important book ‘Our Common Future’, produced by the World Commission on Environment and Development following United Nations appeals, gives the most widely used definition of sustainable development:
‘… development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’. Its hard to disagree with this but it is a very broad, brief, ethically and not operationally focussed definition! Brundtland goes on to explain that by needs she meant particularly the needs of the poor, though the definition does not say how needs should be prioritised. Also the idea of environmental limits is implied in the definition rather than explicitly spelt out – you cant meet human needs, especially of the poor, on into the future if environmental limits are exceeded on an ongoing basis.
Whilst the Brundtland definition certainly involves environmental concerns, it suggests that economic growth, the way we currently develop, is not incompatible with environmental protection, a very contentious idea for Greens though not for the bigger political parties. The pursuit of economic growth as the key goal of governments - equating growth with progress - has certainly to date been a part of the problem. To become sustainable we need to achieve a set of economic and social goals that is not centred primarily on economic growth. Growth in the economy needs to meet conditions and be selective ie be of the right sort, in the right places, so that we attain and maintain economic stability and security.
Growing the economy in the way we have been, particularly its transport and energy intensive nature, is reducing our capacity to live without undermining the systems that support life (another way of defining sustainability). Why? It is: decreasing the overall natural assets stock; damaging ecosystem regenerative capacity and their ability to supply goods and services; emitting wastes and pollutants into the environment at levels beyond its ability to safely process them; causing high levels of social inequality; leaving generations to come with a build up of risks and costs; consistently undervaluing both humans and non-human species; not switching resource use from finite, non-renewable to renewable types on anything like a sufficient scale or at a sufficient rate; not efficiency focussed; consuming renewable resources like forests, soil or fish…at a faster rate than they are replenished due to poor management practices.
There is a great deal more that could be discussed. Greens have built a whole manifesto, covering all sorts of aspects of life, centred on building a sustainable society. If you are inclined to find out more the links below aren’t a bad start:
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Belt Up - front and back and ensure children are correctly restrained
Slow Up - abide by limits and only overtake if totally safe
Wake Up - never drive tired and take breaks every two hours on long journeys
Sober Up - 'just say no' to alcohol and drugs if driving
Look Up - look out for people on bikes, horses and foot
Wise Up - if it's night, bright, or bad weather, go slower
Buck Up - calm yourself before driving if stressed, angry or excited
Move Up - adjust head restraints so the top is level with the top of your head to help prevent whiplash
Sharpen Up - wear glasses or lenses if you need them
Shut Up - switch your phone to voicemail
Back Up - from the vehicle in front - it's your braking space in a crisis
Check Up - check brakes, tyres, lights mirrors and windows
Its shameful that recently both a government minister and a very senior police officer have not followed road safety charity Brake's advice. What hypocrites these individuals are. Remember these news items?
First, the speeding Chief Constable...
A senior police officer in charge of road policy for Britain's chief constables is facing prosecution for exceeding a 60mph speed limit.
Meredydd Hughes, chief constable of the South Yorkshire force, was allegedly clocked by cameras driving along the A5 near Chirk in north Wales.
He has been summoned to appear before Wrexham magistrates on 21 November. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7069289.stm
And the Chief Constable has a history of speeding...
Mr Hughes has two previous speeding offences, but they were much less serious and, because they were committed more than three years ago, the six penalty points have been removed from his licence. http://www.naffedoff.com/2007/11/01/why-sy-police-chief-constable-should-receive-a-custodial-service/
Plus the government minister who used his mobile phone whilst driving...
The Government's immigration minister, Liam Byrne, has been fined and had points put on his licence after admitting using his mobile phone while driving.Byrne, who has been a Home Office minister since 2006, was fined £100, ordered to pay £35 costs and given three points on his licence by Sutton Coldfield Magistrates' Court. http://www.whatcar.com/news-article.aspx?NA=228986
I dont think magistrates were tough enough on the government minister. I hope that the Chief Constable gets a ban if found guilty, because of his history of speeding and because he of all people should be setting an example and so has particularly badly let the side down. I'd like penalties for driving offences generally to be toughened because of numbers killed and seriously injured on a daily basis on the roads.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
'... the latest in UNEP's series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world.
It salutes the world's progress in tackling some relatively straightforward problems, with the environment now much closer to mainstream politics everywhere. But despite these advances, there remain the harder-to-manage issues, the "persistent" problems. Here, GEO-4 says: "There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable."...'
Friday, October 19, 2007
10 June 2004, Bristol Evening Post Open Lines, Soapbox: Growing obesity problem demands a full strategy -
Obesity is a growing problem and the government must have proper strategy to address it, so I have a lot of sympathy for the views of C Gay and Mrs KM Borek concerning food and supermarkets ('Government must address obesity', Open Lines, June 4).
However, I would add that obesity is not just to do with the amount and types of food we put into our bodies. There is also the level and type of activity to consider.
Take the way we move around for example. About 100 yrs ago the average distance travelled per person in the UK was approximately 1,600 miles per year. Of these 1,300 miles were travelled on foot.
In contrast today we travel 10 times further, approximately 16,000 miles per year, but of this distance only 300 miles by foot.
The healthiest, most efficient and pollution-free way of travelling is on foot - but most car journeys made are less than five miles. More kids should be walking to school and more people should be walking to work.
Also, more goods and services should be available within easy walking distance.
A national walking strategy is needed to make this happen, though no political party, the Greens aside, has taken this remotely seriously, despite the fact that it would be a highly effective health, transport and environment policy rolled into one.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
CJ114 We will introduce the principle of "restorative justice", which while denouncing the crime, deals constructively with both the victim and the offender. The primary aim will be to restore and, if necessary, improve the position of the victim and the community; the offender will be required to make amends. (Manifesto for a Sustainable Society)
I posted the question below about it on Chief Inspector Andy Bennett's blog in Sept.
What is your view on work being done by the community in Knowle West on restorative justice? Can you give us some background and rationale on it?
At the time he asked me to 'watch this space' because it would be the subject of a future blog. This blog has now been posted and responds fully to my question. The work being done and being planned on restorative justice in South Bristol, as described by Andy Bennett, sounds excellent. I'm keenly interested in justice and its adminstration and will follow this development closely - I hope money for the work is forthcoming so that next yr plans are put into practice.
Further background on restorative justice from the home office.
The focus of the lobby this year is:
- Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
- Ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Banning cluster munitions
- Combating climate change
- Implementing the responsibility to protect
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
A Green society would be much healthier - our current lifestyle is damaging both people and the environment. But obesity is not like climate change!!
There are links between the obesity and climate issues though. We drive too much, overeat and eat unbalanced, low fruit/veg, high meat diets. Its a feature of affluence it seems. Our current environmentally damaging approach to food and transport is also damaging people. A Green society would be healthier because the quality of food, air, water and the general environment would be much, much better. The opportunities for exercise would be better as open spaces would be protected properly. Walking and cycling would be much safer and far more extensively facilitated. So who says that going Green to tackle climate change involves only sacrifices??
Award winning climate change photo exhibition in Bristol soon - shows climate change happening here, now...
The International Visual Communications Association, who gave the award this yr, said of the exhibition, produced by The National Trust, with Magnum Photos and True Design:
'Beauty, sophistication, innovation and impact are what make this well conceived and implemented initiative a worthy winner. By applying the fine art of photography to illustrate how a global challenge is having a damaging local impact, the National Trust not only brings climate change to life for its own visitors and members but also to a wider arts community.'
If you cant get to the exhibition of photos there is also a poster show in many National Trust properties.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
By the law of supply and demand offering flights at very low cost means that demand for them is likely to be very high (exactly what we are seeing), unless some other powerful factor is in operation to deter people. Easy Jet's website has an environment page detailing things like being efficient on the gound, efficient in the air, carbon offsetting, aircraft design and its Corportate Social Responsibility report. The trouble is that the factors they describe are, in terms of environmental effects, completely outweighed by the company's main aim of getting vast numbers of people to fly more and more often !
Easy Jet might respond by saying that people can offset their carbon emissions but planes emit more than carbon (eg water vapour, nitrogen oxides, particulates...) and there are many problems with offsetting, as I've discussed previously. According to the easy Jet carbon calculator flying Bristol to Madeira emits, per person, 195kg of carbon dioxide and that the
offsetting cost per person is £2.54. If only tackling carbon emissions was that straightforward!!
Government advice to business and individuals is 'that carbon offsetting is not a substitute for reducing emissions at source but is: the ‘next best’ solution for mitigating remaining emissions from essential activities after all practical steps have been taken to reduce them' I tried extremely hard to find comments like this on the easy Jet site , looking at all the pages, following links to other pages and documents, but could not find anything like them at all - no surprise really.
Easy Jet want to give the impression that carbon offsetting is a better, much more environmentlly friendly and effective option than it really is of course. They simply aren't going to tell people that they should take 'all practical steps' to cut emissions before considering offsetting the rest - because this would mean not flying at all or flying fewer miles or on fewer occasions!!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Contrast the views of Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, a man who has 'proudly declared that Ryanair intended to increase its emissions of carbon dioxide' with those of former US Vice President and joint winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize for his work on raising climate change awareness and concern, Al Gore, and with those of UK primary age children, who according to a recent report are said to be 'deeply anxious' about issues such as climate change, and you get my message.
Al Gore and the IPCC were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".
The report describing children's anxieties says children themselves expressed a sense of "deep pessimism about the future", the study showed, with worries about climate change, the gap between rich and poor, and terrorism topping the list.
They were also anxious about issues closer to home such as traffic, graffiti, violence and gang culture. Some also said they were worried about 'what you hear on the news'.
The work of Al Gore and the IPCC in spreading the truth is good. The evidence says that unless we act decisively and soon the future looks bad (and our children, who obviously have a big interest in the future !, sense this). The views, behaviour and attitude of Ryanair's Michael O'Leary are rather ugly.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Ewen McCallum, Chief Meterologist at the Met Office has said that only “flat-Earthers” refused to believe that the world was in the grip of climate change and that global warming would mean more stormy weather. This is very interesting statement, indicating that science backs the Green case (which has always been my view), when in the past Greens have themselves been accused of being anti-science and technology. This accusation was always something I found both odd and not entirely fair, especially as a Green with science degrees and a higher degree, as well as a science teaching qualification, 20 yrs science teaching experience and 6yrs experience of working in laboratories in industry!
They describe the Bristol Schumacher Lectures as ‘Britain’s premier environmental gathering’. They have been taking place for some time here (29 yrs this yr) and do have a pretty impressive list of past speakers, including for example Jonathon Porritt, currently Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Government, and George Monbiot, Guardian journalist, author, academic and activist.
This weekend’s event saw lectures from: Mark Lynas; Dr Vala Ragnarsdottir; Nicky Gavron; and Herbert Giradet. The points made by Mark Lynas are particularly strong. I agree with him that ‘changing our carbon-addicted lifestyles would actually be better for ourselves, as well as the planet’.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
C.diff and an NHS unresponsive to the people it serves: massive health issues. Lets address health, properly defined, in all its dimensions.
I want an NHS that pays as much attention to social and mental needs as it does physical ones, and medical/technical capabilities (it wont actually be adressing health, properly defined, if it does not do this, since health is about having a good physical, mental, social balance). I want it to be much more focussed on prevention of health problems than it is. I want services to be available to people locally. I want funding to enable all these things to be of a high standard and am willing to pay more in taxes, as required, to get it as well as being willing to advocate this politically. My view is that if people see the tax as fair and necessary and see that the income is used well they are willing to pay it.
Mark is giving one of the Schumacher Lectures, this weekend in Bristol, so I may well post more on the topics raised and any related areas in the coming days. I've been to several Schumacher Lectures but dont really feel comfortable with some of the views and attitudes I've experienced - probably because of my strong rationalist leanings (and possibly my working class background). I dont go in for all the 'spiritual' stuff in the way some fans of the Schumacher Lectures do, though I do agree strongly with most of the economic and technological ideas and have read and been inspired by E F Schumacher's books, like 'Small is Beautiful'.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Shock poll find - people are commuting into Bristol in their cars in very large numbers!! Is the glass half empty of half full?
OK we need the data, apparently to be collected annually, to establish the current situation and then track changes over time (we should in fact have been doing this before now), but the basic transport situation in Bristol has been painfully obvious for many yrs.
The Big Commuters Count poll of 9000 people found that: about 47% travel by car (40.9% driving, 5.9% as passengers); 9.8% go by bus; 10.6% cycle; 20.4% walk; 5.1% travel by train; with less than 2% for park and ride, work from home, motorbike, moped/scooter, taxi/minicab and ferry.
One interesting aspect to this story is that the Bristol Evening Post angle on it is based on the idea that the figures show 'people were still firmly stuck to using their cars', whereas Bristol City Council's website says of the same results '...that many employees in Bristol are prepared to leave the car at home when they can, and use more sustainable ways of travel'. So, is the glass half empty or is it half full??
I long ago came to the view that the real political differences are between those who are truly green (they dont necessarily have to be Green Party people or in fact political party members at all) and those who are not - the Greens vs what are sometimes called Greys (and I'm not referring to parties set up by pensioners etc here) .
It seems to me that the Labour, Lib Dem and Tory Parties offer voters pretty much the same unsustainable neo-liberal/consumer capitalist society and basically the same pretence at being green.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
You can also click to watch the first and second videos promoting the day.
On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind. In 2007 the issue is the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.
We’re looking for bloggers of all nationalities and backgrounds, writing about all topics to join in.
Here’s what you have to do:
Publish on October 15th
Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.
For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.
Posts do not need to have any specific agenda, they simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue on the table for discussion. So write in whatever way suits your readers and your blog, just relate it back to the environment and make sure it goes up on October 15th.
Other things you can do
You can also participate in Blog Action Day by posting a banner on your site (http://blogactionday.org/promote ) or by donating your day’s blog earnings to an environmental charity of your choice.
Register your blog
We are keeping track of all the blogs that have committed to participating on BlogActionDay.org and it would be very helpful for you to register your blog at http://blogactionday.org/commit
At this time the form is only available in English, but the form fields are as follows:
1 - Blog Title
2 - Blog URL
3 - Approximate RSS Subscriber Number(This will not be published. It is used to generate an approximate ‘reach’ for Blog Action Day. Simply enter an average, recent feed count from Feedburner or similar service. If you don’t know the audience size, just enter ‘0′. )
4 - Your Email( You will ONLY receive two emails. The first will be two days prior to Blog Action Day 2007. And a second in August 2008 about next year’s day.)
5 - The final field is to test whether you are a human or spam robot. Simply type in the number written there
Thank you for participating in Blog Action Day 2007! In future years we hope to have the entire site translated in many languages
If the biodiesel put into the boat comes from large scale crop moncultures, which involves massive land, including forest, clearance and energy/chemical intensive production then its certainly not a green fuel. Far from being carbon neutral, the sums show that fuel from these origins is making climate change much worse, as well as taking land from food production and inflating food prices.
If the biodiesel comes from the recycling of used vegetable oil and fat, which some of it may do for this boat(??) (including some fat extracted from project founder Pete Bethune's own backside apparently), this is much greener.
Truly green biodiesel could be produced from all the waste veg oil and fat we produce in large amounts (its a waste disposal problem for goodness sake!!), but we aren't organising our society to do this at the moment - instead we seem to be going for the environmentally damaging production of biodiesel and other biofuels from large scale monocultures, with people wrongly still calling it green!! There are some very rich people out there getting a lot richer, making a lot of already poor people poorer, and over-exploiting the environment - and investing in bio-fuels produced by very un-green methods! So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote (and the environment does seem to be dying to give us biofuel).
Monday, October 08, 2007
All over the UK Conservatives have: supported new roads; supported aviation growth; opposed EU green schemes; advocated axing environmental regulations as "red tape"; opposed congestion charging; supported incineration of waste; supported tax cuts for super-consumers; supported low taxes for the most polluting multinational businesses; advocated unfettered global trading; supported nuclear power; supported Trident nuclear weapons over tackling climate change, even though climate change is now recognised as the biggest threat to our security.
Not really a list of green Conservative policies in action is it - but it is in reality what they are doing, so maybe its wiser to judge them not just on what they say but on what they do.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
My total 3 person household ecological footprint for 2007, was 1.04 hectares (10,400 square metres). This is 0.35 hectares (3500 square metres) per person. This amounts to approx 5 tonnes of carbon, or 1.7 tonnes per person per yr – about half the national average of 10.22 tonnes given on the direct.gov website
The 2007 footprint compares to a 1999 household score of 1.47 hectares (14,700 square metres), which is 0.49 hectares (4,900 square metres) per person. The 2007 figure is 29% lower (meaning annual cuts, from an already low base, of 4% per yr on average).
According to the Ecocal model software (http://www.bestfootforward.com/ ) a sustainable score for a UK household is 0.4 – 0.5 hectares per person.
A reasonably detailed breakdown of the score can be viewed here. I've placed a link just under About me and Biography in the right hand column of this blog site so that its conveniently available.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Most biofuels, sometimes called agrofuels, are made from large-scale monocultures of oil palms, sugar cane, soya, maize, sugar beet, oilseed rape and jatropha. They should not be considered green as they contribute substantially more to greenhouse gas emissions by nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser use and by land conversion, than are saved by burning slightly less fossil fuels. They are set to significantly accelerate climate change, something academic and green campaigner George Monbiot has written about with some passion (also see http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/).
Its not just climate impact that makes biofuels from monocultures distinctly non-green: bio-diversity losses, water and soil degradation, human rights abuses (including the impoverishment and dispossession of local populations) and the loss of food sovereignty and food security. The impacts seen today result from a less than 1% market penetration of biofuels in Europe yet the EU target is 10% by 2020 and the UK are aiming for 5% by 2010.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has called on governments to cut their subsidies for the sector, saying biofuels may "offer a cure that is worse than the disease they seek to heal."
The European demand for biofuels is pushing up commodity prices and thus encouraging multi-billion dollar investment in infrastructure and refineries linked to large-scale deforestation. The impacts of this investment could be irreversible and will open up tens of millions of hectares of virgin forest to land conversion and logging.
Greens support an immediate moratorium on agrofuels from large-scale monocultures - a period for scientists and policy makers in the EU and western nations to gain a greater understanding of the total impact on social, human and land rights plus climate and biodiversity impacts. The Green Party supports the Agrofuels Moratorium Call launched in July 2007 in Brussels (supported by over 100 organisations in its first week).
There should be no public sector incentives for agrofuels and agroenergy from large-scale monocultures. We need a moratorium on EU imports of agrofuels. All targets, incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies which benefit agrofuels from large-scale monocultures, including financing through carbon trading mechanisms, international development aid or loans from international finance organisations such as the World Bank should be suspended now.
The moratorium called for by the signatories applies only to agrofuels from large-scale monocultures (and GM biofuels) and their trade. It does not include biofuels from waste, such as waste vegetable oil or biogas from manure or sewage, or biomass grown and harvested sustainably by and for the benefit of local communities, rather than on large-scale monocultures. Such sustainable biofuels development may well be valuable - where local sources of food production and biodiversity are not endangered, soil is protected from depletion, industrial scale chemical fertilizer regimes and the use of any GM technology are banned. This means small-scale production units, eg on farms, which benefit the local communities.
See also: http://www.channel4.com/blogs/page/newsroom?entry=how_green_is_biofuel
They claim that a deep water dock would cut lorry journeys (and thus carbon emissions) by allowing goods to be delivered closer to towns/cities.
I see their point about a barrage hindering the potentially 'green development' of the port.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Just look at some of the variation in one common vegetable:
V alery (or St Valery)
All the above are varieties of carrot. Carrots are not all orange either - they can be white, yellow, red, purple or black too!
Its a great shame that the 'choice' offered in supermarkets does not reflect such variety and indeed all edible biodiversity more, where appropriate. Take apples for instance - there are 2300 varieties of apple in the National Fruit Collection, but on sale in many supermarkets are perhaps 6 varieties (though some are working on improving the number offered).
There are over 20,000 edible plant species but fewer than 20 species currently provide 90% of our food. We rely on a very narrow range of varieties within species too, including wheat. This is fundamentally bad from a food security point of view.
I will be writing to my MP about energy policy shortly.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I think the City Council should appoint a Local Food Officer to help to make these community-based events happen more often, in more parts of Bristol - and on a bigger scale and with more, related, follow-up developments too. There are few ways to become greener better than changing attitudes towards food, so much of our footprint is food-related - grow your own, cook your own, go local, go fresh and unprocessed, go organic, go high fruit and veg!!
Many elected politicians seem to prefer to associate themselves with a big, sexy civil engineering project, probably linked to an awful lot of profitable (possibly unsustainable) ancilliary development, than with the most sensible energy option.
Burma is ruled by one of the worst military dictatorships in the world. This week Buddhist monks and nuns began marching and chanting prayers to call for democracy. The protests spread and hundreds of thousands of Burmese people joined in -- they've been brutally attacked by the military regime, but still the protests are spreading.
I just signed a petition calling on Burma's powerful ally China and the UN security council to step in and pressure Burma's rulers to stop the killing. The petition has exploded to over 200,000 signatures in a few days and is being advertised in newspapers around the world, delivered to the UN secretary general, and broadcast to the Burmese people by radio. We're trying to get to 1 million signatures this week, please sign below and tell everyone!
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Inaccurate, unbalanced Evening Post story on major tidal energy report by the Sustainable Development Commission: Why??
For the record:
1. The Commission emphasise that the barrage would have to meet tough tests to be considered a sustainable, green project. Not mentioned in the story.
2. The report states that the barrage would have to comply with environmental legislation protecting the estuary. Not written about by the Post.
3. The report emphasises that very large scale compensatory habitat creation should be seen as an opportunity. Not a dicky bird in the story on this though.
4. The report says that going for tidal power should not result in ignoring the dramatic reductions in our energy consumption, increased energy efficiency and decarbonisation of our energy supplies, that are needed. No coverage of this vital point though.
The Post’s story does cover the Commissions view, challenging the government position, that any barrage project should be publicly led and owned – perhaps the key economic issue – but does not put this in what should be its proper place, at the head of the piece, instead putting it in the middle.
What’s more, the story’s main line, that tidal lagoons are considered no better than a barrage by the Commission, is not based on an accurate reading of their report. Their report in fact says that not enough is currently known about the practicalities of tidal lagoons to make firm decisions, so pilot work should be done on them to find out more.
Informed readers following this issue may be wondering why comments from barrage sceptics, like the RSPB and Green Party, accurately included in the story, broadly welcome a report apparently criticising one of their more favoured tidal energy options! This is because the RSPB and Green comments reflect the report accurately and the Post’s story does not.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Dose of realism from the Sustainable Development Commission in its tidal energy report brings us back down to earth
The SDC says that the barrage must pass tough tests to be considered sustainable. Quite right.
SDC comments should be very broadly welcomed because they bring us back to properly weighing up the alternatives, in the context of energy strategy as a whole, which should have energy efficiency as its leading concept.
‘Red Dawn’ Primarolo has pretty rapidly ‘morphed’ into her Labour predecessor in Bristol South Michael Cocks since he was controversially deselected in the 1980’s . This article documents only part of her transformation - she's moved even further to the right since 1999.
Whatever happened to her being against nuclear weapons and nuclear power for instance?
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Getting the assessment of technology right: Severn Barrage or other tidal energy extraction methods for instance
Its vital that we get the technology assessment right, to establishment the proposal with the best combination of benefits, especially renewability, security and low impact (they could do a lot worse than seeking OU advice !). The assessment should, for all alternatives, look at: cost-effectiveness now and on into the future; technical capabilities and limitations; impact on the economy and working lives now and on into the future; impact on the natural environment and other system environments now and into the future.
I'm strongly of the opinion that we are far too 'energy generation obsessed' and are seriously under-investing in far less sexy but much more sensible energy efficiency and conservation. This, as the cheapest, quickest and most effective way to fight climate change, by orders of magnitude, should really be the basis of energy policy.
A worrying story about African Horse Sickness in todays Bristol Evening Post (in a section where I dont usually find that much to read). This sickness is related to Bluetongue disease which has just arrived in the UK for the first time, and which we so far have seen 11 confirmed cases of. Horse owners are understandably concerned that we should be prepared for the imminent arrival of African Horse Sickness, which is spread by midges as Bluetongue is.
Climate change is certainly in the picture as one reason why Bluetongue has spread northwards across the globe, through Europe to the UK. The virus is transmitted by midges more effectively in warm, moist conditions. (A cold winter might drastically reduce the virus but we dont have many these days).
Its also possible that globalisation is a contributory factor, helping virus-carrying midges to spread as people and goods travel more and more across the globe more and more frequently.
The consequences for animal welfare are significant, as are the costs and stresses on farmers, particularly as we still have foot and mouth problems. The appearance and spread of African Horse Sickness could be devastating to the equine industry.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Politicians from EU member states have given public statements that the Reform Treaty would have substantially the same effects on the EU as the EU Constitution (which the EUs people rejected after referenda). Since the government previously promised a referendum on the constitution (in its manifesto at the last election) it follows that we should have a referendum on the treaty that replaced it. Greens passed a motion to this effect this month.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
We really should ask whether investing in a huge barrage is the most effective and efficient way to spend money becoming greener. How many millions of houses could be made ultra energy efficient within months with spending on this scale, massively cutting carbon emissions? Private and public money going into the barrage isn't available to spend elsewhere, on what could be better projects.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
In the end what counts is not what politicians say but the action they have taken and the outcomes they have achieved. Lets assess Gordon Brown based on his record, which includes attaining a very tight grip on his party.
The Labour Party conference should be renamed the Gordon Brown Conference because it has been so very leader dominated (and at times election obsessed). I ask - where has the Labour Party gone? Presumably it is happy to be dominated and controlled by its leader, going along with what the leader wants, like the retention of Trident, or no referendum on the EU constitutional treaty, whether it really wants it or not, because it feels this is its best hope of retaining power. Is it not better to have a more broad-based leadership though?
Gordon Brown’s conference speech to some extent imitated fellow ‘conviction politician’ Margaret Thatcher, (or even Winston Churchill). It worked at pressing the right buttons with people. He scattered key words like Britain and British tens of times throughout his speech because he wanted to create a certain sort of appeal. Opinion poll figures after the speech seem to indicate that it has upped support for the Brown government. Are we really going to be fooled like this?
On: 'green' Tories, Cameron & Thatcher (and other jokes) ; Mining impacts; Environmentalism; and Our Common Future's 20th anniversary
I'll do my best to stay calm and not rant on at great length about Tories merely talking green when it suits them, to get votes...(not that its working for them at the moment). Or in fact rant on about how there's a lot more to being green than environmentalism. Mind you my 'mate' Dave Cameron does wear a green tie a lot....
Interesting choice of film on mining those 'green' Tories have chosen to show, to say the least!! (Did you know that as well as apallingly dangerous working conditions and pittance pay: to make a single gold wedding ring takes 5-6 tonness of rock, leaving huge holes, tunnels, eroding canyons, leaving 20 tonnes of mine waste; traces of cynanide allowing miners to extract as little as half a gram of mercury from a tonne of rock; mercury used in extraction bioaccumulating in humans and the environment; huge piles of tailings laced with toxic substances; acid mine drainage polluting waterways....all thanks to major transnational companies).
Read the Newsweek article Blogger linked to with interest - not a bad piece really.
SHOCK! Mrs Thatcher and I do have something in common - no we are not both greens - we are both chemistry graduates (my specialism - rubber, Thatcher's - ice cream!!). She did understand and did pick up on climate change as an issue before quite a few other political figures, as far as I can gather. Despite having the scientific knowledge Thatcher cared not one jot about the environment though and took us not one iota in the direction of laying the foundations of a sustainable society - quite the opposite in fact. As an ardent capitalist she was even further from being green than being an environmentalist. Suffice to say I'm not about to 'do a Gordon Brown' and invite her for a photo opportunity outside my house wearing a suitably coloured dress - not that I'd want to or that she'd be the slightest bit interested!!!
There are certainly earlier, better and more lasting contributions to the climate debate from politicians, not least former Norwegian PM Gro Harlem Brundtland, a key figure, active still, in the highly influential report 'Our Common Future' - which is 20yrs old this yr, something which seems to have gone relatively unmarked! See http://www.jonathonporritt.com/pages/2007/09/our_common_future.html