Monday, 30 November 2009

Money matters at Copenhagen

Crucial reading here from John Vidal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/29/financial-negotiations-money-copenhagen-summit
Money matters, and is welcome.
But there are severe problems, because of the market-fetishism of the world today; e.g. : (1) REDD would be absolutely disastrous, helping monocultures, hurting indigenous people;
(2) Carbon-trading is a hopeless non-solution.
We need contraction and convergence / carbon rationing, or possibly Kyoto 2. And these aren't even on the table.
It's depressing...
Time to start thinking about 'Seattle-ising' Copenhagen...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Nigel Farage busy slurring away

Astoundingly, this is a UKIP press release sent out yesterday. They are actually proud of being in the gutter, proud of slurring someone just for them having been active in CND...:
 
UKIP Press Office
2 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AA

Nigel (sic.) reprimanded in European Parliament over Ashton speech

WATCH THE SPEECH HERE AT WWW.UKIP.ORG

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage was this morning reprimanded by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek for his questions relating to the appointment of Baroness Ashton as the EU's High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs.

Buzek insisted that Mr Farage 'restrain his language and refrain from making unacceptable comments in the chamber'. 
  
Mr Farage was questioning whether Ashton was a suitable candidate for the post because of her past associations with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), given that she will be in charge of the external security of the European Union. He had asked specifically whether Baroness Ashton had accepted cash on behalf of CND from the 'enemies of western capitalism and democracy'. 


UKIP Press Office
0207 222 9365


Proof that there are some decent Tories out there, and they aren't all climate-deniers!: Norfolk County Council (Tory-run) unanimously vote that there is a 'Climate Emergency'

The motion came to Norfolk County Council on Monday. It included this:
'This Council... urges all residents of Norfolk, including Members of Norfolk County Council, to reduce their carbon footprint, for instance, in the manner suggested by the current 10:10 campaign'
The Green Party amendment clause was:
'recognises that there is a Climate Emergency and write to the Prime Minister to call for the Government to do everything possible to each a lasting agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Summit', and was passed.
This I believe was the first instance of a Tory-run council using the words 'climate emergency' and was carried unanimously in the meeting.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Update: The UEA hack on OPEN DEMOCRACY

Plant forests across Britain to beat climate change, say scientists

This is quite encouraging. If it is done right, and sensitively to terrain, and any biomass-sourcing that comes from it is done genuinely-sustainably, then it will be just the kind of thing our country and our world needs:

 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6930091.ece
From The Times
November 25, 2009

Plant forests across Britain to beat climate change, say scientists

The New Forest in autumn

Iconic species such as the English oak and the beech could be destroyed by higher temperatures in the South of England

Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor
 
The creation of new forests and woodlands across the country will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent and protect communities at risk of flooding, according to a scientific study for the Forestry Commission.
Planting trees in 23,000 hectares a year for the next 40 years — about the size of Queen's Balmoral estate, or a town the size of Kettering, Northamptonshire — would result in just an extra 4 per cent of land for trees, bringing a total of 16 per cent forest in Britain.
In flood plains and upland areas such as Cumbria, where extreme rainfall and flooding is already a reality, there is a need for new forestry to capture rainfall and lessen the flood risk. Trees in city and town centres would help to mitigate expected higher temperatures, while new woods along rivers will provide shade and help to protect aquatic eco-systems.
Professor Sir David Read, chairman of the study, told The Times that one of the crucial findings of the report was the importance of woods in river catchment areas. "Trees intercept rainfall and retain water, and one of the problems we are seeing now in the Lake District is [that] there is nothing to stop the water running off the hills," he said. "We must look again at the contribution of forestry in the uplands and returning them in the direction they once were before we deforested them."

The professor, one of Britain's leading plant scientists, accepted that new forests would be controversial in some areas and that it was important for communities to have their say in how areas embrace the challenges of climate change. "What we need is an integrated examination of land use across the UK so that a consensus can be reached on how we tackle our changed circumstances," he said.
In order to achieve this sylvan future, however, the professor said that Britain must accept the introduction of non-native species to replace native trees. Iconic species such as the English oak and the beech could be destroyed by higher temperatures in the South of England and the Sitka spruce, the most commercial tree in Britain, is likely to be confined to the North and North West.
He said: "We have to think now what is going to replace them. It is possible that Pyrenean, downy or white oak will do better in future conditions, but we urgently need the trials now to test these species. We have got to find out now which species will be best for the environment. We can't wait until 2050. We can't be squeamish, as we have been in the past, about replacing native species with non-native species, though of course there would need to be proper safeguards and we would have to assess the potential for invasiveness."
He suggested that the Sitka spruce grown in Britain, predominantly in Scotland, were from seeds from British Columbia, but that it would be prudent now to try strains that currently grow in the warmer climate of southern Oregon. His scenario envisages many new woodlands for the South of England that would not only capture carbon emissions but that would also be used as an energy crop to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
These woods would comprise willow and poplar, and more mixed deciduous forests of sycamore, ash and birch. The Scottish landscape would continue to be dominated by conifers, he suggested, while in Wales there would be a mixture of new broadleaf and conifer plantations.
Future rainfall patterns forecast most extreme weather on the west coast of Scotland, in the North West of England and the west coast of Wales, and therefore he believed that these areas should be considered a priority for new forests.
The assessment, thought to be the first national study of this kind in the world, is intended to trigger a new debate between the Government and landowners over future land use.
Professor Read said: "By increasing our tree cover we can lock up carbon directly. By using more wood for fuel and construction materials we can make savings by using less gas, oil and coal, and by substituting sustainably produced timber for less climate-friendly materials.
"While so many emission-reduction measures have negative connotations, tree planting can be a win, win, win solution: people love trees, we benefit from them in so many different ways, and now we know they could play a significant part in reducing the UK's CO2 emissions."
Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said that the Government intended to work with communities and businesses to ensure that sufficient trees were planted to tackle climate change. He pledged to do more to increase forestry. "Forests and trees are an important part of the way we live and interact with our surroundings, and we cannot underestimate the role that trees will play in reducing our carbon emissions," he said.
Many traditional forests have been restored. A century ago there was just over 5 per cent woodland, while today it is 12 per cent. Estimates for the maximum cover since the last Ice Age suggest Britain was once 80 per cent forest. 

Cf. also  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8377744.stm

CBI backs Green Party policy shock!

 
This is quite fascinating... The CBI are basically endorsing (presumably unknowingly) OUR policy - Green Party policy - on local-business-banks!
 
See e.g. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/min.html :

'Local Initiatives - Long-Term Action

IN504 Small businesses in the UK find it difficult to get timely access to external funds and affordable interest rates. Community Banks are needed which have funds available for local activities. (see EC512)

IN505 Community Banks would give local firms and co-operatives access to funds managed locally and supplied at preferential rates. This would favour activities identified by the Local Government Local Development Plan. The allocation of funds would make use of environmental impact analysis but be simple enough to be understandable.

IN506 A pilot Community Bank scheme (in a region with high unemployment) combined with regulatory changes to divert borrowing from conventional banking methods (see EC668) would allow Community Banking to develop.'

 
And now it appears the government has swiftly responded / responded to a coincidentally-timed independent review of much the same terrain:
 
This seems good news!

Lib Dems' Spin Admitted

This quotation from a LibDem website (passed onto me by an eagle-eyed Green colleague) is so cute, it's classic; notice the tacit admission that usually these kinds of things ARE nothing more than meaningless slogans in a Focus newsletter...:

"Robin Meltzer, who ran Carol's winning campaign, said, "We won the election so handsomely because, in Carol Caruana, we had a candidate who really did work tirelessly, for four years. It wasn't just a slogan we put in a Focus." "

http://www.westminsterlibdems.org.uk/news/000194/historic_libdem_breakthrough_in_kc_points_to_victory_in_bayswater.html

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Speaking at MMU Cheshire, Crewe Campus.

On Monday November 30th, 2009 I will be delivering two talks at MMU Cheshire, Crewe Campus. The talks are free and open to all staff and students, and to outside visitors.

4pm-6pmCouzens - 0 - 17

"Swastikas and Cyborgs: Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations as a War Book
"


7pm-9pm — Crewe Lecture Theatre

"What Does a Film Need to be Like, to be About Madness?: PERSONA and FIGHT CLUB"

I hope to see you there!

Norwich Climate March and Rally, Saturday 21 November 2009

The Great Global Warm-Up

Climate Camp London and Zed books invite you to :

The Great Global Warm-Up

a day of workshops, discussion and debate.

When: Saturday 28 November, 11am—5.00pm
Where: SOAS, 10 Thornhaugh St, London,
WC1H 0XG.
Rooms: G2, FG07, FG08
Cost: Free (donations welcome)

Climate change is one of the biggest issues of our age. Copenhagen is almost upon us. But the current political response is feeble.

Whatever your level of knowledge, this is an exciting opportunity to learn more, meet others and be part of shaping the agenda in the run up to UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

Last chance to sign up for places on coaches taking activists to Copenhagen:

http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/actions/copenhagen-2009/coaches

And find out about Actions in London during Copenhagen:

http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/actions/copenhagen-2009

Contact: london@climatecamp.org.uk




Speakers will include: Ruth Davis -Head of climate change policy at the RSPB, David Fleming -Lean Economy
Connection, James Garvey The Ethics of Climate Change, Clive George The Truth about Trade, Victoria Johnson -
NEF, Sian Moore -TUC Just Transition Project, Rupert Read -Green Party, Martin Reynolds The Environmental
Responsibility Reader, Chris Rootes -Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Kent, Harry Shutt Beyond Profit Systems, Kevin Smith -Carbon Trade Watch, Oliver Tickell Kyoto2, Gerry Woolf -DESERTEC; plus activists from Camp for Climate Action, Workers' Climate Action, Plane Stupid and more.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Obama ready to offer target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions


 Encouraging news!- http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/22/obama-greenhouse-gas-cut-target

Obama is seemingly ready to offer target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions cuts. I always suspected that the 'pessimism' of the last fortnight or so was a lot to do with managing expectations...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

'Scandal' over hacked climate-science emails at UEA: Don't believe the hype

The 'scandal' of the hacked emails from Environmental Science at UEA (http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/nov/homepagenews/CRU-update - this includes a direct rebuttal of the single seemingly most-damaging email, the 'trick' email), my University, has been gotten out of all proportion in some of the right-wing media, old and new. I have now read a good number of the 'worst' of the hacked emails. I also know a few of the protagonists personally, and for human-interest value the hacked emails certainly do offer some tidbits. But: When the dust settles, I predict that the climate-deniers will be left holding onto hardly anything, here. There is so far as I can tell at this (still-admittedly-early) stage no significant scientific scandal, and most importantly absolutely no reason to doubt any of the fundamentals of the science of manmade climate change here, just a few unpleasant or silly or (at worst) unwise and bad-practice emails. Scientists aren't angels; like the rest of us, they sometimes get angry with their detractors, and even work to marginalise them, and so on.
Some good that may come out of this is:
1) For more people to realise that scientists are simply human, and that science is not holy writ, but to realise too that these facts and the poor behaviour at times of some scientists doesn't in itself cast any doubt over the central findings of their research. To doubt the greenhouse effect or to doubt manmade contributions to dangerous climate change is about as sensible as doubting manmade contributions to lung cancer (The two cases are actually quite similar - both involve pollution of a finite air-system; and both have seen long well-funded campaigns of denial... The smoking companies got away with manmade-lung-cancer-denial for a whole generation, before they were finally 'smoked out'.)
(2) There are quite a lot of calls now for the full data-sets which the best British climate scientists base their work and their predictions on to be made fully public. That would I think be welcome - it would among other things dispose of the climate-sceptics' silly accusations of there being a conspiracy here, of something big being hidden.
(3) There do seem to be a few instances in the hacked emails - if these particular ones are genuine - of clearly unethical and possibly unlawful behaviour. If this hacking episode means that there is less of that in future, then that will of course be a very positive result.

As a philosopher of science, it worries me to see the level of ignorance displayed by many of those who are jumping all over this leaked information as if it undermines the science around global over-heat. Except possibly in some literally marginal ways, it simply does not, once you understand the context of most of these emails.
But changes (1) thru (3) are nevertheless potentially good news for science and for all of us.

Friday, 20 November 2009

This is so sad. This is what we are doing to the innocent creatures of our world. This is the carcass of a baby albatross; filled with plastic junk that it was mistakenly fed as food...



You can find many more similar images, at:

http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&rlz=1C1CHMA_en-GBGB354&um=1&sa=1&q=albatross+plastic&btnG=Search+images&aq=f&oq=&start=0

This is the world we have to change...

Free Screening of 'The Age Of Stupid'

Come to a FREE screening of the seminal film "The Age of Stupid" from Midday to 2pm on Tuesday 24th November in the Thomas Paine Study Centre lecture theatre at UEA, Norwich.

The film stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

The film will be followed by a Q&A session.

Places will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Chloe Smith and the NDR...

Quite tragic, really. As unstoppable climate change slopes nearer, all that Conservative (and Labour?) politicians are obsessed by is: building more roads...

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2009-11-19a.244.0&s=chloe+smith#g247.0

A Simple Explanation of Climate Change Science

'The fossil fuel lobby repeatedly misrepresent science. One misrepresentation is the claim that the science of global warming is dependent on computer models. This is a total misrepresentation of the truth! The models are dependent on the science NOT the other way round.

The science is simple and based on measurements.
1. The global temperature is 30C higher than it should be based on radiation balance.
2. The 30C temperature rise can only be explained by the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Without those greenhouse gases most of the Earth would be covered in ice.
3. If greenhouse gases increase the temperature will rise.
4. Greenhouse gases have increased.
5. The temperature has increased.

These all involve simple measurements that have nothing to do with models. The science is so basic that most of the work was not done in the 21st century, nor even in the 20th century but in the 19th century.'

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Tobin Tax No 10 petition: sign!

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/TobinTaxThanks/

Please sign (I have!), blog, tweet and generally disseminate this petition.

Brown is going to get a huge amount of counter-lobbying from the
banksters, so he needs a positive push. Since it is one of the rare
petitions that is actually supporting what he is saying, it may get noticed.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Me with Phil Thornhill, national co-ordinator of the Campaign Against Climate Change in Norwich last week.

Friday, 13 November 2009

CHECK OUT THE LATEST MONBIOT PIECE:

Monbiot's latest GUARDIAN column, prompted by my challenge to the TODAY programme on their free-airing of climate-denial...


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Check this out if you haven't seen it yet

 
 
Watch this!

 
This is going to be an important film. The filmmaker overstates somewhat his point about poverty vis a vis global over-heat, because the latter will impoverish or eliminate all future generations, unless we stop it.  But the general point he is making is nevertheless extremely powerful, and must provoke us to action.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Think you know what Copenhagen is about? Think again...:

THE COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE ON FOOD SECURITY

http://www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/plan_b_updates/2009/update84

By Lester R. Brown

For the 193 national delegations gathering in Copenhagen for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in December, the reasons for concern about climate change vary widely. For delegations from low-lying island countries, the principal concern is rising sea level. For countries in southern Europe, climate change means less rainfall and more drought. For countries of East Asia and the Caribbean, more powerful storms and storm surges are a growing worry. This climate change conference is about all these things, and many more, but in a very fundamental sense, it is a conference about food security.

We need not go beyond ice melting to see that the world is in trouble on the food front. The melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets is raising sea level. If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt entirely, sea level would rise by 23 feet. Recent projections show that it could rise by up to 6 feet during this century.

The world rice harvest is particularly vulnerable to rising sea level. A World Bank map of Bangladesh shows that even a 3-foot rise in sea level would cover half of the riceland in this country of 160 million people. It would also inundate one third or more of the Mekong delta, which produces half of the rice in Viet Nam, the world's number two rice exporter. And it would submerge parts of the 20 or so other rice-growing river deltas in Asia.

The worldwide melting of mountain glaciers is of even greater concern. The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland has recently reported the eighteenth consecutive year of shrinking mountain glaciers. Glaciers are melting in the Andes, the Rocky Mountains, the Alps, and throughout the mountain ranges of Asia.

It is the disappearing glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau that are of most concern, because their ice melt sustains the flow of the major rivers of India and China––the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers—during the dry season. This ice melt thus also sustains the irrigation systems that depend on these rivers.

Yao Tandong, one of China's leading glaciologists, who predicts that two thirds of China's glaciers could be gone by 2050, says "the full-scale glacier shrinkage in the plateau region will eventually lead to an ecological catastrophe."

It will also lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. China is the world's leading producer of wheat. India is number two. (The United States is third.) In contrast to the United States, most wheat grown in China and India is irrigated. With rice, these two countries totally dominate the world harvest. The projected melting of these mountain glaciers in Asia represents the most massive threat to food security the world has ever seen.

The prospects for the harvests of wheat and rice, in these two countries, each with over a billion people, are of concern everywhere. We live in an integrated world food economy, one where harvest shortfalls anywhere can drive up food prices everywhere.

Rising temperature also directly affects crop yields. In a study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, an international team of scientists confirmed the rule of thumb emerging among crop ecologists that for each 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature above the norm during the growing season, we can expect a 10-percent decline in wheat and rice yields. In a world with limited grain stocks—a world that is only one poor harvest away from chaos in grain markets—a crop-shrinking heat wave in a major grain-producing region could lead to politically destabilizing food shortages.

The delegates are gathering in Copenhagen against a backdrop of spreading hunger. For much of the late 20th century, the number of hungry people was declining, but it bottomed out in the late 1990s at 825 million. It then turned upward, reaching 870 million in 2005 and passing one billion in 2009. The combination of rising seas, melting glaciers, and crop-withering heat waves could push these numbers up even faster, forcing millions more families to try and survive on one meal a day.

We are in a race between political tipping points and natural tipping points. Can we cut carbon emissions fast enough to keep the melting of the Greenland ice sheet from becoming irreversible? Can we close coal-fired power plants fast enough to save at least the larger glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau? Can we head off crop-withering heat waves of ever greater intensity? These are food security issues. This is what Copenhagen is about.

 

Google SideWiki - now it's our turn...

See the MediaGuardian: http://bit.ly/3ZIj67 'Sidewiki changes everything'.
Now _we_ can start to take back the power from the PR people...
____________________________________________________

Read what Google has to say: http://tinyurl.com/lkbxbw

And when you're done, and have set this up on your computer (it will take
you less than a minute - the privacy sacrifice is a relatively small price
to pay, in my view), go visit http://www.nestle.com and see what we've done
to Nestle's website...! See also the sidewiki started I've up on The Sun
homepage, e.g.: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/

...Let's 'get out there' and start having fun!

There are _plenty_ of webpages worth targetting... Suddenly, 'other
people's' websites are open to us as they have never been before... The web
becomes the interactive space it was supposed to be...

Monday, 9 November 2009

UPCOMING EVENTS...

COPENHAGEN CLIMATE EMERGENCY


NORWICH PUBLIC MEETING
WEDNESDAY 11 NOVEMBER 2009

7.30pm United Reformed Church, Princes St, Norwich
(near Cinema City)

Prof Kevin Anderson
Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

This internationally renowned climate scientist will outline the action needed to prevent climate disaster.

Ann Pettifor, New Economics Foundation
Former head of Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt’ campaign

Others will describe how we can change to a low-carbon economy which will create jobs and benefit us all. Discussion on how to help this and how to press politicians to do more locally, nationally and at Copenhagen.

Organised by Campaign Against Climate Change, supported by FOE, Greenpeace members, Transitions Norwich




NORWICH CLIMATE MARCH
SATURDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2009

Ahead of the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen, millions of people around the world are marching to demand a safe climate future for all

Assemble Chapelfield Gardens 12.00

A colourful, family-friendly event with music, speakers and stalls. Bring families, banners, pictures of grandchildren, rainbows, windmills … and messages to MPs! March off 12.30 prompt, to rally at Forum 1.15 to 2.30.

Organised by: Norfolk Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC), Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace supporters, Transitions Norwich and many others.




NATIONAL CLIMATE EMERGENCY MARCH , LONDON
SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 2009

Join the national rally, march and ‘The Wave’ - the UK’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change.

http://www.campaigncc.org/climatemarch2009;www.stopclimatechaos.org/the-wave;

COACHES FROM NORWICH
Tickets on sale at The Greenhouse, 42 Bethel Street (Tues-Sat) and UEA Students Union.

Information, e-mail: NorwichCACC@live.co.uk 07794 690322

The Co-operative and Oxfam are also running coaches to London for their supporters, from Norwich and Waveney valley. www.co-operative.coop/thewaveWaveney coach contact Kate 01986 897082

CRUSH your friends! RR stars in Cool-it video...

This is really kinda fun and clever...
You can make one for your friends too...click the link!

Copenhagen public meeting in Norwich!

These are brill speakers! Do come to this event! I'll be there; looking forward to it a lot:

 
On the subject of Global Warming, addressees may be interested
in an event taking place in Norwich this wk.  No climate event of
this significance has been staged in Norwich since the Climate Public
Mtg at the Assembly House in April 2001, hosted by Friends of the
Earth - this is the final push before the U.N Climate talks in Copenhagen!
 
         NORWICH  ACTION  ON  THE  CLIMATE  EMERGENCY
 
PUBLIC  MEETING     UNITED  REFORM  CHURCH,  PRINCES  STREET
 
                      7.30  WEDNESDAY  NOVEMBER  11TH
 
Speakers:
 
PROFESSOR KEVIN ANDERSON  Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate
Change Research.  This internationally renowned climate scientist will
outline the dangers - and the action needed to prevent climate disaster
 
ANN PETTIFOR  New Economics Foundation, former head of Jubilee 2000
'Drop the Debt' Campaign.  Co-author 'The Green New Deal'  Hear how we
can change to a low-carbon economy which will create jobs and benefit
us all
 
PHIL THORNHILL  National convenor of Campaign against Climate Change:
How we can press politicians to do more locally, nationally and at Copenhagen
 
Details also will be available of Norwich Climate March Sat 21st Nov and 
National March, London Sat 5th Dec
 
Doors open 7pm  Information stalls  More info: NorwichCACC@live.co.uk
 

Friday, 6 November 2009

MPs' expenses scandal is a product of economic inequality

The MPs expenses scandal is all about economic inequality. It would never have happened if MPs hadn't been trying to 'earn' as much as others such as headmasters, managers, etc.
For narrowly political reasons, MPs were reluctant to award themselves salary increases. So for years they covertly took 'pay increases' via the route of massive expenses packages.
MPs should not earn way more than the average salaried person that they represent. This is totally inappropriate, because it leads to MPs getting out of touch with their constituents.
But equally, it is dangerous for MPs to earn far less than similar or lower status professionals and private sector workers. If they do, it risks us losing some talented would-be-MPs to these other professions, and it increases the risk of MPs becoming corrupt - being easier to bribe.
So, we are in a cleft stick. But we wouldn't be, in a more equal society.
We need a society where MPs can be paid the average salary in their constituency or at least in their society without that being way less than headmasters, managers etc earn. In other words: we need a much more equal society.
There is no other way in which we can have the kind of MPs we want and need without at some point having a repeat of the expenses scandal...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Former UKIP-MEP's confession of expenses fraud an insult to Eastern region voters, says Green former Euro elections candidate [Press release]

 

Reacting to former UK Independence Party Eastern Region MEP Tom Wise's guilty plea today at his trial for false accounting and money laundering, Dr Rupert Read, Councillor for Norwich and former European election lead candidate, said:

 

"If only Tom Wise had had the basic decency to admit that he is an expenses fraudster a few months back, I surely would have been elected Green MEP for Eastern England, in June. For this admission would have destroyed the public's sense of UKIP as a Party that could potentially stand up against expenses fraud.

 

"As it is, his having held out for four years before admitting guilt, wasting huge amounts of public money on the legal process in the meantime, has meant that once again UKIP have two MEPs in Eastern England, managing to hold onto a second MEP by narrowly defeating me, by just one per cent, on June 4th.

 

"It is shameful that UKIP managed to get in on an 'expenses scandal' vote, under these circumstances.

 

"The Green Party will be back to defeat UKIP next time, now that it is becoming clearer by the day that it is simply a joke to think that you can vote for clean politics by voting for anyone other than the Green Party."


 

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Green beliefs win legal protection

Important news from the Soil Association, that I blog here because of how unprecedented it is. The only thing somewhat unsatisfactory is of course the use of the term 'belief' in this context. Environmental 'views' are in most cases simply fact-based; they are not relevantly similar to religious convictions!:
 


"Being human signifies, for each one of us, belonging to a class, a society, a country, a continent and a civilization; and for us European earth-dwellers, the adventure played out in the heart of the New World signifies in the first place that it was not our world and that we bear responsibility for the crime of its destruction."
Claude Levi-Strauss, anthropologist, born November 28, 1908, died November 1, 2009, aged 100.


Green beliefs win legal protection
Employees who raise concerns about their company's environmental practices won the right to legal redress yesterday after a judge ruled that green beliefs deserved the same protection in the workplace as religious convictions. In a landmark ruling which legal experts said could open the floodgates to thousands of claims, appeal judge Mr Justice Burton, ruled that environmental views should be protected under the employment equality laws. Workers who are victimised for strong environmental views such as how a company should deal with cutting carbon, managing waste or using aviation to travel to meetings can now bring compensation claims against employers.
The Independent (4 Nov, front page)
The Guardian (4 Nov, p.3)
The Telegraph (4 Nov, p.15)

A shared progressive agenda?

There is a real threat of Britain taking a hugely regressive step next year, and electing a Tory government at a time when our country and world desperately need something better, more suited to the times.
What I think we really ought to be talking about is what we can agree on as a progressive agenda for fighting back against the tories (in whatever party they are, not just in the Conservative Party - e.g. New Labour and the LibDem leadership are tories too!). The kind of thing that Neal Lawson, James Graham, John Harris etc have been doing.  I think that the basic minimum parameters are something like:
>A real Green New Deal http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/, and serious action on dangerous climate change (and other major environmental threats) more generally.
>Public ownership of _some_ form or another of at least some major bank(s), and re-regulation of the financial sector.
>NO to public service cuts and further privatisations.
>A thorough set of constitutional reforms, incl PR; a new political settlement to genuinely clean up politics.
Something along these lines can perhaps be accepted by green-hued LibDems, leftish Labourites, Salma Yaqoob's Respect Party, the Scots and Welsh Nats, the Green Party (of course), and independents such as Martin Bell and Richard Taylor.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The new green economics!

Industrial-growth-economics has hit the buffers. The new economics is green; its official title within the discipline is 'ecological economics'.
Obviously, don't just take my word for it. See e.g.
http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/ecologicaleconomics/Costanza20.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Daly
http://www.gaianeconomics.org/schmarket.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_economics
http://www.clubofrome.org/docs/limits.rtf
www.mnforsustain.org/meadows_limits_to_growth_30_year_update_2004.htm
It is ideas such as these that underlie Green Party economic policies. I helped draft the Green Party's manifesto for the European Elections, for example:
http://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/EU_Manifesto_2009.pdf These proposals were carefully costed, and would work. In the longer term, what will also help balance the books are things like the introduction of eco-taxes, of a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies (
http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2008/09/wot-no-windfall-tax.html ), and so on.
Green ecological economics - it's the future!

Monday, 2 November 2009

EU green sector spend poor relative to that of Asia

EU green sector spend is poor relative to that of Asia. A shameful record: http://www.euractiv.com/en/enterprise-jobs/eu-outflanked-asian-rivals-green-economy/article-186846

 

Sunday, 1 November 2009

It's the inequality, stupid

See my latest EDP newspaper column, published yesterday, on inequality: http://bit.ly/22waSi
1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: November 2009 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.