Thursday, 26 April 2012

Last night at the GUARDIAN

So, my ‘guardians for future generations’ event alongside Polly Higgins last night went very interestingly. The super-jury decided, on balance, that fracking would be against the basic interests / needs of future people…


Those of you who came last night will be aware that very unfortunately we could not make workable-Skype-contact with Sandor Fulop, the Hungarian Ombudsman for future generations. This morning, he emailed me this wonderful msg:
"I would have been eager to share and discuss with you some ideas about the two intriguing and high professional quality suggestions of the yesterday evening program. 
As concerns your ideas, Rupert, I wanted to strongly second the idea of the group solution rather than nominating an individual as responsible for the protection of future generations. As concerns the veto right I would call it a last resort solution, while I would put the stress in the operation of the new organisation to deliberation, systematic and continuous networking, translating the trustable scientific findings into the language of the politicians, media and the general public (perhaps first of all through the bottom up community media). In the last 4 years in the FG Ombudsman office here in Hungary, our possibly most important lesson to learn was that a systematic clarification might change the flow of administrative decision-making and even could result in change of whole legal regimes with legislation and legal practice.
The 5th international crime idea of Polly's is brave and glamorous as well. Hearing the ideas of leading Club of Rome and Balaton Group (Dennis Meadows at al. - again the team and networking element bolstered with several decades long consequential development of their ideas!) we can be pretty sure that scarcity of energy resources, drinking water and arable lands will lead to mass migration and wars possibly much sooner that we - as a rule, deceiving ourselves in the most important but threatening subjects - can imagine and calculate with. Here in this second topic I have also an issue where I would shift the major stresses a little. I am inclined to see a continuum of the legal measures ranging from the individual criminal law responsibility, corporate criminal responsibility (that could be destroying and aiming different governing interests than the sole CEO-s which are interchangeable in many ways), to administrative measures and civil law responsibility for overusing externalias."


Polly Higgins also spoke very supportively about my idea.


Our next thought is to have a much fuller-scale ‘trial’. Taking perhaps a day or more…

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Discussing the Financial Crisis in Europe

Discussing the Financial Crisis in Europe

Tuesday 1st May

The Curve (The Forum)


(Free to attend, open to all)


This event, organized by the School of Political, Social and International Studies, is an opportunity for the general public to discuss with experts from the University of East Anglia  the economic, social and political reality of the European Financial Crisis. How did the crisis start? What are the effects in different countries? How are we going to get out of it?


Panellists include:

Dr. Marina Prentoulis (PSI-Chair)

Prof. Shaun Hargreaves-Heap (ECO)

Dr. Rupert Read (PHI)

Dr. Chris Hanretty (PSI)


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Green Party candidates "the real opposition around the region"

Here's our press release about the elections:


The Eastern Region of the Green Party has announced its candidate list for the local elections to be held in May. This year 148 candidates will be campaigning to increase the already strong group of councillors who make the region the strongest for the Party nationally.  


With rural councils in Norfolk and Suffolk not holding elections this year, it is only Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Ipswich where seats will be contested, in those counties. Norwich will be aiming to consolidate and hoping to gain on their current tally of 15 councillors and possibly take over leadership of the City Council, while Ipswich is fielding a record ten candidates, offering more people than ever the opportunity of voting Green.


There is a strong showing in Hertfordshire where three local green parties field full slates of candidates, North Hertfordshire and Watford being joined for the first time by the Welwyn and Hatfield Greens and in total 63 seats are being contested by Greens in the county. Green Councillor Simon Grover will be looking to hold his seat in St.Alban's, and to use his newly-established profile for the Green Party to push up the Green vote around the city.


In Essex, Colchester Green Party is hoping for a long-awaited breakthrough onto the Borough Council in the seat where Greens are in a strong second place and is fielding 19 candidates in all. In Epping district ten candidates contest this year, and in Rochford Green Councillor Diane Hoy hopes to secure the Hullbridge seat she won in a dramatic by-election gain last year, while Greens are also pushing hard in next door Central ward.


In Cambridge City, while Margaret Wright is bowing out in Abbey Ward due to ill-health, William Birkin hopes to hold the seat while ten other candidates aim to build on Cambridge's existing three Green councillors.


Nationally the Green Party has 943 candidates contesting local elections (a 12% increase on the last comparable year) as well as two mayoral candidates in Liverpool and Salford.


Eastern Region Green Party Co-ordinator Rupert Read said "In more and more parts of the East, it is the Greens who are offering the real opposition to tired old Labour and Conservative regimes. With the Liberal Democrats discredited in most people's eyes, it couldn't be a better time to vote Green and make your vote count."


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Syria: why I remain optimistic

I have just been reading this extremely powerful piece: . I agree with it. And yet, especially after talking with my friend the Syian democracy protester Odai Al-Zoubi, I am more optimistic for a positive outcome than is this piece.
Why? 'The image' makes one important difference from 1982; it has contributed for example to the Arab League mission, which (though ultimately a failure) pressurised the regime for a while, and it has contributed now to the UN mission, which (though under severe threat: ) promises to have a stronger effect still.
Clearly, one cannot believe a word that Assad says; they are shelling Homs even now. One cannot in any meaningful sense negotiate with such people, any more than one could with Gaddafi; and yet, the power of the image plus the power of the nationwide struggle (very different from 1982, which was sequestered to one city) mean that this revolution is harder to put down:
So I remain somewhat optimistic; I think that there is every chance that the democratic revolution will succeed, at least in getting rid of Assad. I think that, under the glare of the world's view, with UN observers, with people rising up across the nation and demonstrating, the regime will start finally to crack before too long. Some of them will look for a way out - and they may well sacrifice the venal Bashar, as their way out.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hay-on-Wye: My first time on the programme:

My debate-series with Mike Hulme is hitting the road... Goto for details of my appearance debating 'the environment' with him at the Hay Literary Festival, this June...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Wittgenstein among the Sciences

I am delighted to introduce my new book, Wittgenstein among the Sciences. "Engaging with the question of the extent to which the so-called human, economic or social sciences are actually sciences, this book moves away from the search for a criterion or definition that will allow us to sharply distinguish the scientific from the non-scientific. Instead, the book favours the pursuit of clarity with regard to the various enterprises undertaken by human beings, with a view to dissolving the felt need for such a demarcation. In other words, Read pursues a 'therapeutic' approach to the issue of the status and nature of these subjects."

Monday, 9 April 2012

Guardians event - hosted by GUARDIAN newspaper!


Radical 'super jury' proposal to be piloted



A radical new idea to charge a 'super jury' of ordinary people with powers greater than the House of Lords will be trialled in London on 25th April 2012.  Green House think tank Chair Dr. Rupert Read will demonstrate how his idea for 'Guardians for future generations' would work at a public meeting at King's Place, London: Twelve of those attending the meeting will be picked at random to form a mock-jury to 'decide' on an issue of vital importance to future people…


The event follows Dr Read's successful launch of the original 'Guardians for Future Generations' report at the House of Commons in January. The report proposes that a council of randomly-picked members of the public, like a jury, should be placed above the House of Lords to oversee all government decisions. The Guardians' central powers would be a veto over new legislation that threatens the interests of future generations, and a right to force a review of existing legislation that is already damaging their basic needs.



Notes for Editors:


-          The 'super-jury' pilot will take place at a public meeting at 6.00pm [for 6.30] on 25th April 2012, at The Scott Room, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU. The meeting will be co-hosted by Green House Think Tank and The Guardian newspaper.

-          Rupert Read, Chair of Green House, will headline the meeting along with Polly Higgins and the Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations, Sandor Fulop (via Skype). The 'mock-super-jury' session on Ap. 25 is modelled on Polly Higgins's 'mock-ecocide-trial' of last year:

-          Cameras and media welcome to attend.

-          Entrance is free and refreshments (food and drink) will be provided. Members of the public are encouraged to attend; however entry will be on a first-come first-served basis.

-          An insight into online debate sparked by the 'Guardians for Future Generations' launch in January can be viewed here:

-          Further information about Green House think tank can be found at


Where Sustainability, Public Policy, and Higher Ed meet - a guest post

The  following is a guest post by Meika Jensen of . It is worth reading among other things in relation to / , the brand new interdisciplinary Masters course (that was originally my brainchild) now starting at UEA:

Where Sustainability, Public Policy, and Higher Ed meet - a guest post by Meika Jensen

Schools Should Not be Political Battlegrounds
Students in higher education tend to worry mostly about getting papers turned in on time, finding that last necessary reference, or simple waking up. Professors, in turn, typically worry about grading said papers, finding effective methods to reach students, and simply waking up. Outside of university walls, however, politics play a major role in nearly every higher education decision, from how many students can be accepted to how much online masters degree programs can charge. Amidst the constant rhetoric from all parties, the heart of education itself is misused or forgotten entirely.
It is difficult to blame the schools. After all, public universities receive their funding from government organizations, while private institutions are forced to take a side by their major contributors. They need the money to operate and are bound by both federal and state laws. More blame falls political leaders who use schools as scapegoats for their own platforms.
Under Attack
Indoctrination is a buzzword that rightfully invokes fear, but is incorrectly use as often as it is used correctly. If you can make voters afraid that institutions are brainwashing youth – especially their own children – winning votes for your "protective" measures is far easier. Perhaps this strategy lies behind Republican nominee Rick Santorum's education comments in early 2012, where he called President Obama a snob for saying all Americans should go to college and labeled universities as indoctrination mills that would tear youth away from their religions, communities, and morals.
On one level the attacks make sense: politicians will be politicians. Santorum's comments, along with similar conservative statements, are an easy way to call attention and prove key party differences. But in the process of winning votes, these politicians are involving every higher education organization in the U.S. at a time when colleges have other things to worry about. Further, as the achievement gap in this country widens and our students fall behind at a time academic excellence is more imperative than ever, these comments could be viewed as detrimental to progress.
Academic Trends
While professors do tend to be liberal, Santorum's argument is a little disjointed. College professors rarely speak to students about what they do on Sundays. Religious voters can take quick comfort in studies that show college students shift their religious habits and political leanings no more than other American kids their age. While many are decidedly less religious than previous generations, only 22% of students would say they have no religious preference. In some cases, education even supports religious affiliations rather than, as common punditry suggests, tearing it down. Further, it is generally believed that it is their parents, not their teachers, who have the most effect on students' church attendance. After all, it is their parents who instilled the practice.
The political war, in fact, does far more damage than good to higher education through its basic misunderstandings. Universities are concerned with increasing enrollment, controlling tuition, and making programs applicable to a forever changing and frequently challenging job market. They have little time to constantly switch guidelines in favor of whatever legislative winds are currently blowing. While a hands-off policy is not practical in the U.S., politicians with true respect for the system should think about taking a step back.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Some top public-speaking moments by me, available to watch / listen:

For starters, goto and scroll down to 'Plenary Session' - the Q & A is well worth listening to too.
1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: April 2012 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.