Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leaders election debate: undemocratic if restricted to three

‘Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and the Lib Dems' Nick Clegg agreed to election debates, on the BBC, ITV and Sky.
It is the first time in British political history that the main party leaders have agreed to take part in a televised debate.’ , says the BBC website.
But these people lead the political status quo – and that is more discredited now than it has ever been!! Can any of them say that they are proud of the political system they have created and are a part of?

The truth is that there is very little difference between them in practice and it certainly suits their political agenda to exclude others. People surely have a right to see and hear a broad range of political leaders, including the Greens, Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, UKIP, Respect? After all in the recent local and European elections the interest in parties other than Labour the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was higher than ever – in Bristol the Green Euro vote was higher than Labour for instance. Why not conduct a poll and see which parties the public want represented in the leaders election debate?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Climate denial: what is the truth?

How is anyone supposed to take seriously Eddie Smith’s letter (‘Any damage done to our climate was done long ago’, Post, December 8)? In attempting to debunk human- caused climate change he is of the view that the world’s climate scientists either don’t understand or have forgotten Archimedes Principle for goodness sake! Its not hard to find many such examples* - the nature and enormity of the problem is causing many people to search around for reasons not to believe it and to wait for someone else to act rather than take their share of personal responsibility. We see angry outright denial, scapegoat seeking, deliberate boasts about wastefulness, projection of anxiety onto something more manageable, or most common of all – people shutting out all information and just not thinking about the problem.

People are being helped to find reasons not to believe by very poor leadership from politicians who for decades have talked a lot, done nothing and now failed in Copenhagen. They’ve also been helped by the poor state of communication between scientists, politicians and the public. However, none of this changes the basic bio-physical facts. Climate change is an inconvenient truth – and we all have to face up to it. We’ve gone beyond the stage of fundamental dispute about the core science and entered a phase of finding out what it takes for us all to accept both the truth of climate change and most of all - its implications.

*Eddie also: mixes up toxic smogs with climate change – they have features in common but are distinct issues; talks of a warm period in the middle ages as if the whole globe was involved – it wasn’t, medieval warming was only regional; says the temperature has not risen for ten years – but the last decade has been the warmest in human history according to organisations like the Met Office and NASA and its trends over time that are correct climate science; compares the scientific reports on climate change to the Iraq ‘dodgy dossier’ – the scientific reports are peer reviewed, are many and varied, have appeared over many years, featuring stronger and stronger evidence as time has passed.

The picture above is taken from a You Tube clip that features David Attenborough and Prof Peter Cox on natural vs human-caused climate change. The red line shows the measured temperature trend, the green line the model prediction using only natural factors and the yellow line the model prediction using human and natural factors. You can see the clip in less than 3 minutes here:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reclaim Power action today, Copenhagen summit

Here's my guest post on today's Reclaim Power action at COP15. Thanks v much, Catherine, Camp for Climate Action

Today grassroots activists from all over the world marched on the COP15 summit with the aim of taking over the conference for one day and transforming it into a People’s Assembly. The Reclaim Power action was intended to give a voice to those who are not being heard, to be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.

After mass arrests of protestors and street medics who gathered at the meeting point, over 1000 people made their way to the Bella Center, many crossing the police tape and trying to run into the conference space. After being forced back by police batons, dogs and pepper spray, some tried to sneak in over an inflatable bridge!

Indigenous delegates led the group who marched out from the Bella Centre to attempt to join the activists. Police reportedly used batons on delegates inside the centre trying to get out –
[http://indymedia.dk/action_timelines/16th-dec] However despite heavy repression, 500-600 people attended a People’s Assembly, while two activists got into the conference centre and disrupted the plenary.
[See photos -

Before the action many NGOs including Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina were barred from the talks that day while corporate lobbyists such as BMW were allowed in. However, there are billions of people globally who (unlike the NGOs) were never invited and don’t have a voice. These elitist and undemocratic talks are part of a political and economic system that puts corporate profits before the needs of people. The market based solutions being pushed in the UN Climate talks lead to ‘climate colonialism’ through land grabbing and accelerating the transfer of wealth from the exploited to an elite.

This action is about recognizing the power we have to change things when we work together. Throughout history changes have been made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, from the suffragettes to the civil rights movement to indigenous groups reclaiming their land from multinational corporations.

This economic system is driving climate change – the pursuit of infinite economic growth is an impossible dream on a planet with finite resources. The pursuit of profit at any cost is detrimental to life. We need system change, not climate change - come and join those creating and fighting for a world which is both just and sustainable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

News from campaigners in Copenhagen...

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From Catherine, Camp for Climate Action, Copenhagen: Thanks for reacting so promptly to our email earlier! Here's some of our best footage from the streets of Copenhagen for the past couple of days.

Tens of thousands marching for climate justice:
http://blip.tv/file/2967354 Contains an eyewitness account of the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators that made headlines yesterday.

And some more raw from-the-street footage from a climate camper

Here's a soundclip that traveled around Twitter today of climate camper Amelia Gregory escaping the mass arrests

An interview with a spoof carbon trader

We are also pooling pictures from the protests at
http://www.flickr.com/groups/climatecampcopenhagen2009/ Feel free to get in touch if you're looking for a specific protest-related image.

A lot of people at the first big demo hoped for a global, fair and legally binding deal... but what now, after many third world countries have walked out on the negotiations after being excluded by the rich world? We will continue going out on the streets to expose the flaws in the talks and will be in touch again soon.

I could write a guest post before the Climate Justice Action march on the 16th

Friday, December 11, 2009

20 mph areas cut road casualties by over 40%...

1 comment:
Good to see that ‘Bristol's 20mph zones move step closer’ (Post, Dec 11), at least in chunks of south and east Bristol. The council should have brought in 20 mph as the default speed in residential areas yrs ago though – and its arguable (or maybe its my impatience with slow change?) that they could be moving faster now (the proposals have gone out for consultation so no implementation yet!). Another thing is why just chunks of south and east Bristol? Why not cover the whole of residential Bristol? After all we know it saves lives – research on the effects of London’s 20 mph zones just published in the British Medical Journal, widely reported today, says ‘The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% …reduction in road casualties…’

The BMJ goes on, ‘The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fell slightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).

Conclusions 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.’

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grow some fruit trees in your garden...give a tree as a Christmas present...

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A few yrs ago I planted dwarf apple, cherry and fig trees in our back garden, to accompany the plum tree (a gift from my father in law) I planted nearly 20 yrs ago. The plum always produces loads of fruit and this yr we've had good amounts from the others too - for very little effort! Very happy to pass on this message I've received from Clare Hawtins of GROFUN:

Buy a Fruit Tree! Growing an apple, pear, plum or cherry tree is easy, requires very little work, little space and yields delicious home-grown fruit year after year. Why not treat yourself or someone else to a life long Christmas present?

Eastside Roots are taking orders now for deliveries in late January 2010. Trees are £15 and all profits go to Eastside Roots Community Garden Centre and support its ongoing work. Closing date for orders is 18/01/2010

Visit the website for easy and secure online ordering.


Eastside Roots is on a mission… to encourage everyone in Bristol to grow a fruit tree in their garden, allotment, school or community space. They aim to improve access to fresh fruit, reduce food miles, increase biodiversity and turn Bristol into a ‘virtual orchard.’

Earlier this year saw the launch of this campaign with several hundred fruit trees being distributed to local residents who have joined the scheme. Eastside Roots continue this initiative in the hope that hundreds more trees will be planted across the city and more people can enjoy the benefits of growing their own.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The '...zombie economy that inhabits a netherworld between life and death' (The Cuts Wont Work)

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I agree very strongly with the second report of the Green New Deal group entitled 'The Cuts Wont Work' (extract below from the Executive Summary) available from the New Economics Foundation when they assert that their Green New Deal will reduce the public debt, cut carbon emissions, increase energy security and reduce fuel poverty:
The notion that the most acute financial crisis since the Great Depression is now a thing of the past sounds unerringly like the politicians who, in August 1914, promised that the Great War would be all over by Christmas. Instead, it was the start of a 30-year crisis that embraced two world wars, an economic slump unrivalled since the dawn of the industrial age, and the rise of brutal totalitarian governments. Just as in 1914, the global balance of power is changing, with China threatening America’s hegemony in the way that America and Germany rivalled Britain a century ago. Just as in 1914, an established economic order has been uprooted. Then it was the Gold Standard, free trade and unrestricted capital flows. Today it is the dollar, free trade and unrestricted capital flows.

Add in the new ingredients – the battle for control over resources and global warming – and everything is in place for a prolonged period of upheaval. There will be periods, similar to that in the middle to late 1920s, when the global economy goes through a benign patch, but the respite will be brief. Even feeble economies show occasional signs of health if they are provided with enough support. But make no mistake: what we have now is a zombie economy that inhabits a netherworld between life and death.

Monday, December 07, 2009

When is a resource renewable?

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Its wrong to say that the oils extracted from palm and jatropha that would be used to power the biofuel plant proposed for Avonmouth are renewable (‘Renewable Fuel, But How Green Is it?’, Post Dec 5). Plant oils can be renewable in principle but in practice are only renewable resources if they are sustainably managed and subject to widely accepted, independently verified certification. The fact that the plan is to use imported, non-recycled oils, from plants intensively grown as a monoculture using artificial fertilisers, in very poor, increasingly deforested countries, automatically counts against them for a start!

We should be learning from our experience with other resources, such as soil, wood or fish. We’ve made some progress here. These are, in principle, renewable but certainly are not if taken from the environment at a rate greater than they are produced or if they are are managed in an irresponsible way. We know that the Soil Association organic certification means good, responsible soil management – and we have the Forestry Stewardship Council certification for sustainable wood and Marine Stewardship Council certification for more responsible fishing.

In contrast to the progress with soil, wood and fish there is no proper certification for oil from jatropha plants – and the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil has been very strongly criticized for certifying palm oil from companies responsible for deforestation and peatland destruction, for decimating biodiversity (including orangutan populations) and for violating the rights of communities, including indigenous peoples (details). Surely a city with genuine green ambitions would not permit a power station that uses these oils??

Friday, December 04, 2009

Avonmouth imported biofuel power station plan: no environmental impact assessment conducted!!

1 comment:
Been looking closely at the planning application to build a biofuel power station in Avonmouth. Seems to me that there are several flaws in the application itself let alone all the surrounding local impacts and global environmental justice and human rights issues previously outlined. Most notably there is no environmental impact statement – and no indication that any kind of environmental impact assessment procedure has been or will be conducted. Under the European Council Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment, 97/11/EC, an environmental impact assessment is mandatory for ‘Thermal power stations and other combustion installations…’ (EC EIA Directive Annex I projects).

To make matters worse, from a personal involvement viewpoint, I called the Bristol Council Case Officer dealing with this application on Monday of this week and left a message with detailed queries – and called again the following day, leaving my details on his answerphone, because although there was a promise of a return call it did not materialise. It’s the end of the week now and I’ve still not had my calls returned!! As a consequence I’ve been unable to ask why there is no environmental impact assessment and whether one will be conducted at some point soon. Yet this city claims its green credentials are good!!

The EIA Directive (EU legislation) on Environmental Impact Assessment of the effects of projects on the environment was introduced in 1985 and was amended in 1997. Member States have to transpose the amended EIA Directive by 14 March 1999 at the latest.

The EIA procedure ensures that environmental consequences of projects are identified and assessed before authorisation is given. The public can give its opinion and all results are taken into account in the authorisation procedure of the project. The public is informed of the decision afterwards.

The EIA Directive outlines which project categories shall be made subject to an EIA, which procedure shall be followed and the content of the assessment.

Following the signature of the Aarhus Convention by the Community on 25 June 1998, the Community adopted in May 2003 Directive 2003/35/EC amending amongst others the EIA Directive. This Directive intends to align the provisions on public participation in accordance with the Aarhus Convention on public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Climate change debate and action - in a nutshell

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From One Hundred Months: Dear Friend, In just seven days the world meets in Copenhagen, to do the deal for our climate.

World leaders, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President Barack Obama, are going.

OneHundredMonths friend, Dr Rajendra Pachauri - Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says we have just months to take large scale action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Unless we act now, climate scientists say we are on our way to six degrees of global warming. Disaster.

So let's take action, watch and share the information ...

Start or join a Vigil for Survival.

Make The Wave.

Deeply uncool.

Vote with The Angry Mermaid.

Tell the President of Indonesia to crack down on deforestation.

It's raining polar bears (Warning - contains gore. Not Al Gore. Just gore.)

The winners of OneMinuteToSaveTheWorld.

Al Gore rap.

In Copenhagen.

And finally, here's a vision.

Let's make this month count.

Many thanks for all you do.

The OneHundredMonths Crew

Tell your friends to come together for

Be our friend on Facebook

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Be a partner - send your logo to contact@onehundredmonths.org

Read more in our monthly blog.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tree O'Clock world record attempt

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Heard about this whilst watching Autumnwatch on the BBC: As part of national tree week, Tree O'Clock is a world record attempt to plant the most trees in one hour. Saturday, 5th December, 11am - 12 noon.

Click here to get more info on why plant a tree and other faqs.

If you want to get involved through an organisation, school or community group, or if you want to plant more than 5 trees, see the Tree O'Clock Partner page.