human activity and the destruction of the planet

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Brexit: Green Guarantees from Molly Scott Cato

Molly Scott Cato MEP, is the Green MEP for the South West.  She has circulated a paper outlining the Green Party’s response to Brexit.  It can be found at the following link:

Click to access Green_guarentees-2.pdf


Brexit: moving away from globalisation towards self-reliance (extract)


Although it regrets our leaving the EU and wishes we wouldn’t, this report, written by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read, is as an alternative approach assuming we are outside the EU.

Its Executive Summary states:This report puts on to the political agenda an option for Brexit which goes with the grain of widespread worries about globalisation, and argues for greater local, regional, and national self-sufficiency, reducing international trade and boosting import substitution”.

Hines continues: “As I am aware it is the first time a report from a politician isn’t clamouring to retain membership of the open border Single Market”

It details the need for an environmentally sustainable future involving constraints to trade and the rebuilding of local economies. Indeed the report actually calls for ‘Progressive Protectionism’ rather than a race to the bottom relationship with the EU -see page14.

Also ground-breaking in Green Party literature of late is its discussion of the arguments for and against managed migration . . .

Read on:




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The Effects of Rising Sea Levels on Island Nations

Many island nations are already experiencing rising sea levels due to global warming and the increased severity of cyclones due to climate change, for example:  Maldives; Marshall Islands; Fiji; Solomon Islands, Philippines; Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati.  The following table gives some data on this, provided by the University of Hawaii:


Also available is a graph of sea level rise in the Indian Ocean over the last century, available at:


On the United Nations Climate Change website, further studies are detailed using ICT to map possible changes, with particular reference to Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.  See:

UNFCCC are using innovative ICT solutions to help Pacific Island countries prepare for and adapt to sea level rise brought about by climate change. The project provides the fundamental data, skills and tools at-risk communities need to make planning decisions. It trains government decision makers to use online tools and flood maps to understand and mitigate the risks of sea level rise.  A short piece of video posted on the above site sets out the dire situation these island nations face and the urgent need for action.

The ICT Study produced the following Key Facts:

  •  More than 10,000 buildings were identified at high risk of inundation within 80 years including schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure
  • 195 people from the governments of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were trained on how to manage and use LiDAR data
  • The Vanuatu Globe was a significant Open Data portal produced for the Vanuatu Government and set a new precedent for publically sharing sea level rise information
  • Through the Vanuatu Globe, the project was able to help the 2015 Cyclone Pam recovery by providing critical map information which was accessed by more than 1,000 people a day within days of the cyclone

I will post on this blog details of how individual island groups have been affected by sea level rise, when it becomes available, though the global media tends to ignore the problem. It will be updated from time to time. Sections for individual island groups below as follows:

  1.  Fiji
  2. Maldives
  3. Solomon Islands
  4. Marshall Islands
  5. Kiribati
  6. Tuvalu
  7. Seychelles
  8. Philippines
  9. UK Overseas territories
  10. Cape Verde
  11. Sri Lanka
  12. Cook Islands
  13. Mauritius
  14. Brunei
  15. Hawaii
  16. Torres Strait Islands
  17. Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Other island groups will be added when information becomes available about them.  At present, not all sections are of equal length.

  1. 1.  FIJI

In Fiji, several island villages have been swamped by the sea and need to relocate to higher ground. This has come at considerable cost to their government.  The following posts give further details:

From the website of OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (

 Fiji: Building resilience in the face of climate change

2014, Vanua Levu, Fiji: The village of Vunidogoloa on Vanua Levu was the first community in Fiji to relocate because of coastal erosion and flooding attributed in part to climate change. Credit: Nansen Initiative

2014, Vanua Levu, Fiji: The village of Vunidogoloa on Vanua Levu was the first community in Fiji to relocate because of coastal erosion and flooding attributed in part to climate change. Credit: Nansen Initiative

Increasingly severe weather patterns and rising sea levels have seen Fiji become the first country in the Pacific to relocate communities because of climate change.

Fiji_joana_narikoso (1)

Joana Tuisowaqa has lived in Narikoso village on Ono Island for 25 years. She says that, in the past five years, there has been a significant increase in the number of floods affecting her community.

“We asked for help from the government because water was coming right into the village and most houses were underwater during really high tides and storms,” she says. “People are scared and worried, but they can’t do much about it – they just live with it and know that moving is the only option.”

To the north of the small village of 70 people, ledges have been carved out of the hillside by army engineers. The new elevated site, a few hundred metres inland, is where the community will eventually relocate.

The Narikoso village relocation is supported by the Government of Fiji and a climate change programme run jointly by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the German group GIZ. A series of community consultations have been held to ensure all villagers understand the process.

For the villagers of Vunidogoloa on Vanua Levu, nearly 280 km north of Narikoso, relocation has loomed as a reality for more than 30 years. In February 2014 the village was the first in Fiji to relocate, shifting two kilometres inland after years of coastal erosion and flooding had made their homes inhospitable.

The head of the village, Sailosi Ramatu, says the move was the culmination of a process spanning several decades.

“It was a very emotional period for us as there was a lot of waiting, insecurity, and questioning.”

The Government confirmed the village would be relocated in 2006, but the relocation site was only selected in 2012, following years of consultation and discussion.

“It was not easy for the village community to relocate,” Sailosi explains. “This was especially true for older people that had lived in the village all their life, because the land is part of their culture and identity.”

fiji maps

Land linked to cultural heritage and identity

In Fiji there is a strong cultural connection to land that is closely tied to heritage and identity. The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has been working with villagers to help them deal with the loss of their homelands.

“Because faith is such a large part of people’s lives in the Pacific, the church is well placed to assist communities in dealing with climate change challenges,” said Julia Edwards from PCC. “We offer accompaniment to affected communities and support to church leaders in dealing with the impacts.”

With a membership of 6.5 million people across the region, the PCC is also working with governments, civil society and regional organizations to develop a regional framework to protect Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change.

Small islands most vulnerable to climate change

According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea levels are expected to rise between 28 to 61 cm by 2100, with tropical storms and cyclones to become more frequent and intense.

With no criteria for small island developing states on when to abandon homes and relocate, Fiji is leading the way in the development of relocation guidelines. Over the coming decade, the Government intends to move more affected villages and has even offered to resettle other low-lying Pacific nations.

“Relocations are a last resort and just one part of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of communities,” said Manasa Tagicakabau, Director of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office. “The lessons learnt from the first successful relocations of Vunidogoloa and Narikoso villages can be applied to other relocation projects in Fiji and the region.”

Human displacement will rise globally

In a 2014 report, IPCC said that human displacement is expected to rise globally in coming decades as a consequence of climate change. While most displacement will likely occur inside countries, some people will seek protection and refuge abroad.

At present there are no provisions under international humanitarian law for people displaced by natural disasters or the effects of climate change to legally enter another country for protection and assistance. The Swiss and Norwegian-led Nansen Initiative is looking to address this gap.

The Nansen Initiative has been holding regional consultations with island states and regional civil-society organizations in the Pacific, as well as in South-East Asia, the Horn of Africa and Central America. Hannah Entwisle Chapuisat of the Nansen Initiative says the results of the consultations will be consolidated and discussed at a global inter-governmental meeting in 2015.

“We want to develop and build consensus on a protection agenda for people displaced by disasters and the effects of climate change,” she says. “It will be an action plan of what to do next and how to address current gaps. This includes looking at gaps in international law, addressing relocation, migration as adaptation and cross-border displacement, and sharing best practices from countries already dealing with these issues.”

“To fail to plan is to plan to fail”

Pacific consultations have stressed the importance of mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions and developing adaptation measures to prevent displacement and relocation. Recommendations from a regional inter-governmental consultation in the Cook Islands in 2013 and a civil society consultation in Fiji in 2014 included integrating human mobility issues within relevant national and regional laws and policies. They also recommended developing appropriate legal frameworks to address the protection needs of displaced populations.

For Hannah, the approach is simple: “We should do our utmost to build resilience and allow people to stay in their homes, but the risk of displacement and relocation is a Pacific reality. We must also have capacity to plan for and respond when movement is unavoidable.”

She is reminded of the words of the Hon. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, who concluded the consultation in Rarotonga with: “To fail to plan is to plan to fail”.


Planning for Community Relocations Due to Climate Change in Fiji Karen E. McNamara1 • Helene Jacot Des Combes. Int J Disaster Risk Sci (2015) 6:315–319.

Abstract As a consequence of the impacts of climate change, some households and entire communities across the Pacific are making the complex and challenging decision to leave their homelands and relocate to new environments that can sustain their livelihoods. This short article charts how the residents of Vunidogoloa village in Fiji relocated in early 2014 to reduce their vulnerability to encroaching sea level and inundation events that regularly devastated the community. As a consequence of the Vunidogoloa relocation, this article also explores how the Fiji Government is planning for similar resettlement transitions, including vulnerability and adaptation assessments to develop a list of potential community relocations and the development of national relocation guidelines. This study draws from key informant interviews (n = 8) with government officials, as well as representatives from intergovernmental and local nongovernmental organizations, who are involved in the relocation issue. Given the speed at which these national, top-down initiatives are being forged and especially in light of the absence of any mention of relocation in Fiji’s 2012 climate change policy, careful and inclusive engagement across all scales and stakeholders, including communities ‘‘earmarked’’ for relocation, is paramount.


From an article in the New Scientist, 25th March 2017 by Nenad Jaric Dauenhauer:

This nation has been facing being swamped by the sea for many years and initially looked to find land on which to re-locate.  Now, with a new government, under President Abdulla Yameen, they are no longer seeking new land to buy but have devised a new strategy, using engineering.  They are renting out islands and using the money to build new ones, through the process of land reclamation.  One of these artificial islands is called Hulhumale, near the capital Male.  Sand is being pumped from surrounding atolls and deposited on shallow reefs.  It is being fortified with walls up to 3 metres above sea level – the highest natural island is just 2.5 metres above the sea.

Some think that this could do damage to the surrounding reefs and are arguing for a more sustainable approach.


Caption in New Scientist “It’s build or sink for the Maldives”


According to the Guardian (10th May 2016), five of the uninhabited islands in the Solomon archipelago have been lost to rising seas, with another six having large swathes of land and villages washed into the sea.  Over the last 20 years, sea levels in the region have risen by 10 mm.  In these, six entire villages have been destroyed and people forced to re-locate, as in Fiji.  One was Nuatambu, home to 25 families, with 11 houses lost since 2011. Other people were forced to move from the island of Nararo.

Full story on:

March 2019:  This is not to do with sea-level rise but another disaster has recently hit the Solomon Islands. An oil tanker, carrying 80 tonnes of oil, ran aground on Kongobainiu reef, spilling a large proportion of its contents into the water and onto the nearby islands.


Now dead fish float in the bay. The tide is black. A thick oily blanket of tar covers the surface of the water and coats beaches, rockpools, logs and leaves.

The coastal villages of Matanga, Vangu, Lavangu and Kangava have been the hardest hit by the oil spill.  Children had been told not to swim in the sea and fishing has been banned for the foreseeable future. With no way to find their own food, the villagers are now depending on deliveries from the capital Honiara, 150 miles away.

Steward Seuika, whose family live close to Kangava Bay, said residents had been forced to drink rainwater after fresh water collected from springs near the shore became contaminated with oil.

“The oil slick affects our corals and marine life. It also contaminates our water which comes out from the stones on the land near the beach. So now we run out of clean water to drink.”

As well as the food shortages, some locals have reported being burned after coming into contact with the oil while trying to clean it up. There were also reports that others were struggling to sleep because of the smell.

“Some people reported experiencing skin burns after the oil stuck on their body,” McQueen Bahenua, the provincial disaster officer, said.

For the full story, see:

May 2019: Another report in the Australian press describes more islands in this group going under water, with ancient trees going under water:


300-year old trees in the Solomon islands being swamped by the sea



These Pacific Islands are very low lying and five of them have already disappeared due to rising seas and erosion.  The remaining islands are regularly swamped by the sea.  The island group includes Bikini Atoll, where the US dropped bombs in their trials of the hydrogen bomb.  Many of the residents of the Marshall Islands have already been displaced, some settling in Arkansas in the US.  This is one of the clearest injustices of climate change.

A video explains the situation from the islanders point of view:

Another video, posted on Huffington post, by a Marshalls islander, about the Paris agreement and Trump’s pull-out, can be seen here:

Huffington post also gives the following quote:

“We are all global warming victims. If we islanders survive, I promise you, the whole world will survive.” Bryant Zebedee, Marshall Islands

Also, on Huffington post is part three of their documentary “End of the Earth”.

Further photographs showing seas swamping the islands can be found on a Google search: Marshall Islands and climate change.

See also, another blog on this website about radioactive leaks from concrete storage dome, which is cracking due to sea level rise.

Relocation in other parts of the world

Recent reports suggest that coastal communities on mainland Alaska are also having to relocate due to rising seas.


The following story comes from Vice News:

The tiny nation of Kiribati will soon be underwater — here’s the plan to save its people

By Arielle Duhaime-Ross

September 22, 2016 | 6:40 pm

Kiribati, a tiny nation on a chain of 33 atolls and reef islands in the South Pacific, could be the first entire country eliminated by climate change. As seas rise, the islands are increasingly inundated by high tides, and islanders believe the sea will swallow their lands in less than a generation.


That has thrust former three-term president Anote Tong into the spotlight. Facing the reality of his country’s rapid disappearance, Tong spent his presidency making practical preparations for the relocation Kiribati’s 100,000 citizens out of their homeland to ensure that when it truly becomes unlivable they won’t become refugees.

Planning for what he calls “migration with dignity”, Tong purchased 6,000 acres of land in Fiji for the I-Kiribati to move to and relocated 75 citizens a year to New Zealand. But dignity, he maintained, also means having a homeland for the diaspora to remember, so he suggested raising one of the islands to protect it for posterity.

Together with the leaders of other Small Island Developing States, Kiribati advocated for a fossil free world by 2050 and, famously, ensured a Paris Agreement that aims for no more than 1.5 degrees of warming, half a degree less than the original draft. No longer president, Tong continues to be a voice for environmental protection and marginalized communities that are most vulnerable to climate change, as Arielle Duhaime-Ross discovered in a conversation in New York.

Arielle Duhaime-Ross: Tell us a little about Kiribati, what does climate change mean for the country?

Anote Tong: Barely two meters above sea level on average is the elevation above water. Very narrow strips of land, no mountains at all. So we definitely are most vulnerable and the front line of what is happening with climate change.

ADR: What are the human consequences of climate change on the country of Kiribati?

AT: We have communities who have to leave their villages because the village is no longer there. You have this church sitting out in the middle of the sea because the tide is in but this is where the village used to be. So the church is there because I asked the villagers to put a sea wall around it so that it can stay there as clear evidence of what is happening.

I was in one of the communities when the sea wall broke into a freshwater pond. I was not there after that but I’ve been advised that the food crops have died, the water lens has been destroyed. I can see that community relocating in the very near future.

ADR: The country of Kiribati on average is about 6 and half feet above the sea level right now is that correct?

AT: It would be about that but most of the communities, the people, when the tide is in, they are just living where the water is lapping, so whenever there is a king tide or a bit of the wind, then you get this waves coming over destroying properties and homes. We’ve had flooding where we’ve not had flooding in the past. These are the things we are experiencing today.

ADR: When people think about flooding, we think about houses being destroyed and people having to relocate, but are there other consequences to flooding?

AT: So when waves top over on the land you get many things happening. One being the erosion so you get destruction of property. Second, you get the water destroying the water lens because we get our water from underground water. This is what we live on, we survive on, we don’t have rivers. So this is where we draw our potable water. So once that gets destroyed, it has implications on the health of our people because they’d be drinking bad water.

ADR: Can anything be done to save Kiribati?

AT: I think there is. I think it’s very doable, but the question is where we get the resources to do it. Give me a few billion dollars and there’s no question in my mind that there’s quite a lot that we could do. I’ve been quoted as talking about floating islands. We’d have to depend on the international community and this is what I’ve been advocating. I just come back from Europe trying to advocating possible solutions to the challenge that we face because if nothing is done, then according to the projections of the government panel on climate change, we will be gone.


ADR: How long does Kiribati have?

AT: We think in 30 to 50 years something very drastic, if not before then.

ADR: Can you talk about the concept of migration with dignity?

AT: We have to acknowledge the brutal reality that some of our people have to relocate. So knowing that, we don’t want to be just sitting there waiting for it to happen and do nothing about it. This is why I’ve been advocating this “migration with dignity” because I’ve always resented the way are being referred to as potential “climate refugees.” We don’t want to be refugees. It’s a bad term.

ADR: Why is that a bad term?

AT: It’s undignifying, very undignifying. We would have lost our homes, we don’t want to lose our dignity, we don’t want to lose our pride. If we train our people and they become skilled, then they would migrate with dignity and on merit, they would not be people running away from something. They would be migrating, relocating as people with skills as members of communities they go into, even leaders, I hope. We don’t want to be the category of people that want to go to other countries and are being resisted, being pushed away. This is happening, we can see this, we should be learning, taking lessons from what’s happening in Europe. In that part of the world and the Pacific we get people wanting to migrate to Australia they have been put into camps.

ADR: Kiribati has bought some land in Fiji, are you hoping most of your citizens will end up there?

AT: Fiji has been the only country that’s come forward, stepped forward when nobody else would. And they’ve said that if and when Kiribati and Tuvalu should need somewhere to go in the event of sea level rise, Fiji is willing to accommodate. Now that has been the kind of compassionate response that I expected of people because I believe people to be compassionate. So that is very human, very merciful, I must say.

A further report about the predicament that Kiribati is facing can be found at the following link published in November 2017:

New Zealand has become the first developed nation to offer residency to climate refugees, in an initial trial experiment of 100 Pacific islanders per year.  The PRI article gives a Kiribati response to this offer.

For countries across the Pacific, like the low-lying nation of Kiribati, New Zealand’s announcement comes as a welcome gesture of regional solidarity. Coastal erosion and freshwater contamination are already altering the lives of Kiribati’s 110,000 citizens. The altitude of the most of the country’s islands, after all, is on average just six feet above sea level.

In South Tarawa, the capital island of Kiribati, you’ll hear a strong reaction to the concept of climate migration. Many outright reject the label “climate refugee” in Kiribati. Some argue that it casts I-Kiribati citizens as victims of a foregone climate conclusion. Others believe the label doesn’t assign responsibility to high-emitting countries — and eclipses their fight to protect their homes.

“It’s the last option. And if it’s the last option, let’s do everything we can now to remain in Kiribati.”

Kiribati’s government is currently implementing various adaptation measures, including sea walls, artificial land reclamation and rainwater tanks. These efforts, along with staunch civil society campaigns, aim to avoid a scenario in which I-Kiribati citizens must be forced to use New Zealand’s proposed visa option.


The nine islands of Tuvalu are located in the middle of the Pacific. Funafuti, the main island and capital, is at 1000 km North of Fiji. Tuvalu became, notably thanks to the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, the international symbol of the consequences of climate change. Sea-level rise, one of the most known consequences, is a major threat for Tuvalu, considering that this country’s highest point is 4.5 meters above sea-level (whereas most of the land is way below that point). The consequences of climate change will have and already have considerable impacts on these islands.

In the National Adaptation Programme of Actions (NAPA), the government of Tuvalu has identified seven main and immediate threats for the livelihoods of Tuvaluans. These seven adverse effects are presented here:

Coastal: Following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea-level has already risen by 20 centimetres between 1870 and nowadays. Considering the low-lying position of Tuvalu, this trend is going to dangerously affect the islands. The objective of the government is to increase the resilience of coastal areas and settlement to climate change.

Agricultural: Due to sea-level rise, the ground of Tuvalu is prone to increasing salinization, threatening the habitats of some plants, such as pulaka and coconut trees. Considering that Pulaka traditionally is the staple food in Tuvalu, the adaptation strategy is to introduce salt-tolerant pulaka.

Water: The islands of Tuvalu have progressively lost their fresh groundwater resources, not only due to sea-level rise, but also because of human pollution. In consequence, Tuvaluans only rely on rainwater storage to meet their needs. However, the seasons on Tuvalu are getting irregular and difficult to forecast, leading to droughts and water shortage. In order to ameliorate this situation, the adaptation plan recommends improved and increased water collection and water conservation techniques.


Health: Vectors breeding grounds will have an increasing availability in the next years and decades because of higher tides, inundations and tropical cyclones. The increased availability will exacerbate the exposure of the Tuvaluans to water borne diseases and will increase the epidemic potential of the islands.

Fisheries: Climate change, heating the ocean water, impacts the corals and consequently the marine fauna. The biodiversity of the ocean, and also, in the case of Tuvalu, of the atolls will decrease. In order to prevent this irreparable lost of species due to heat, fragile ecosystems have to be protected.

Fisheries: The biodiversity of the atoll and particularly in the shallower water in the lagoon, will not be the only affected by the impacts of the rising surface water temperature. The rising temperatures will also considerably reduce the shellfish and available fish resources. Considering that the Tuvaluans, on average, eat 500 grams of fish per capita every day, a reduction of the resource will have a disastrous impact of the livelihoods and, thus, also on development.

Disaster: Tuvalu has been increasingly exposed to tropical storms and cyclones since 1990.  Between 1970 and 1990, only three tropical storms, hurricanes or cyclones struck Tuvalu. However, between 1990 and 2005, the islands experienced thirteen similar meteorological events. In order to ease the impacts of the population, the country will have to implement of disaster alert and response potential system.

The population density of Tuvalu is high, ranking 13th in the world compared with other nations. It is a small piece of land, only 26km square, with a population of 11 000 people – a population density of about 423 persons per square kilometre. However, the situation on Tuvalu is not even. On the capital island, Funafuti, more than 5,000 people live on only 2.4 square km2(as the islanders have gathered on just one of the islets, Fogafale, the real area is even smaller, about 1.4 km2). In other terms, it means that close to 2,000 persons live on each square kilometre of the atoll; and “only” 260 for the outer islands.

The plight of Tuvalu is featured in a Guardian article, which provides a series of photographs to illustrate the effects of rising sea levels.




The Seychelles are already suffering from coastal erosion and experts are saying that the entire archipelago could disappear under the sea by 2050.  Like many island groups, they are an important tourist destination.

The following video link gives a picture of how climate change is affecting the Seychelles:


A tourist beach in the Seychelles

However, recent reports suggest that this island nation is now a global leader in cutting greenhouse gases:

An African island nation known for beautiful beaches is now a global leader in cutting greenhouse gases

It is sad therefore to hear a new report from Rainforest Rescue which gives a less satisfying story of government plans for part of this island.  It is copied here:

The government of the Seychelles clearly understands the value of unspoiled nature: it recently created two vast marine protected areas, an expanse of ocean the size of Great Britain.

One protected area centers around Aldabra, an uninhabited coral atoll that is home to more than 100,000 giant tortoises and a veritable riot of marine biodiversity.

But now, the Seychelles government wants to let India build a military base for its navy on a neighboring island — within the actual protected area. Noise, pollution and oil spills would be virtually inevitable. Paradise may soon be lost.

Parliament will be voting soon on whether to give India the green light. Please tell the Seychelles not to go ahead with this crime against nature!”

Further details can be obtained from Rainforest Rescue at:


The following piece is copied from:

which concludes that Metro Manila may soon be permanently under water.

“As rains from the latest typhoon “Gener” (international name: Saola) hit Manila, waves rising out of Manila Bay left much of iconic Roxas Boulevard flooded, including the United States Embassy which was forced to close Wednesday, the 1st of August 2012. By then the death toll had already reportedly risen to 14 and more than 150,000 forced from their homes as vast shantytowns across the city were inundated.

Just less than two weeks ago, the 21st July, Manila had already been “turned into a water-world” after heavy rains pounded the metropolis for hours.

Flooding in Manila seems to be occurring more frequently nowadays — and becoming more consistently severe. The degree to which the last couple of days’ rains which led to school interruptions and impacted workers’ productivity will damage the already fragile social and economic fabric of the Philippines will be the subject of much conjecture. But the real question is, will this sort of thing be increasingly the norm?

Manila was, in fact, cited in a 2009 report featured in as being one of the big Asian “mega-cities” that will likely be the worst-affected by climate change.

Many of the island groups of the world form part of the United Kingdom’s overseas territories.  They can be found in the Caribbean, South Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.  A 67-page report (undated), from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, looked at the possible effects of climate change on all these territories. It did not just focus on sea level rise but of all the climate change effects but unfortunately gave no raw data.  The report can be found at:
The main conclusions are as follows:
Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic (South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands)
  • An increase in sea temperature could
    lead to loss of fish stocks, seabirds and marine animals.
  • Sea level rise could threaten beaches where fur seals and elephant seals breed and the tussac grass communities where the endemic South Georgia pipit lives and breeds.
  • Glacial retreat would increase the habitat of invasive species, including rats, mice and reindeer, which would endanger the pipit and lead to loss of habitat for certain burrowing petrel species.


  • Bermuda’s mangrove forests are threatened by salt water inundation due to
    rising sea levels.
  • Turtle nesting sites are subject to erosion from tropical storms and hurricanes that
    affect the island.
  • Bermuda’s coral system is distinctive for being the most northerly of its kind in the
    world and is among the more geographically isolated reefs. The fate of this reef system is linked to those of the Caribbean, which seed them.

The Caribbean – Anguilla

  • Depletion of fish stocks.
  • Beach erosion, compounded by development in the coastal zone.
  • A longer dry season and decreased availability of water could affect
  • Sea level rise will increase the risk of salt-water contamination of
    rivers and salt-water intrusion of ground water.
  • Increased hurricane and storm intensity could disrupt sanitation and
    sewerage disposal systems as well as cause damage to coastal
    communities and infrastructure.

The Caribbean – British Virgin Islands

  • Coral reefs are vulnerable to bleaching episodes from warmer seas and stress from
  • Low-lying Anegada is vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise and to storm surges and wave action during hurricanes.

The Caribbean – Cayman Islands

  • Coral bleaching.
  • Beach erosion and destruction of turtle nesting sites.
  • As low-lying islands, the Cayman islands are vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise and to storm surges and wave action during hurricanes.

The Caribbean – Montserrat

  • Changes in coastal vegetation.
  • Coral bleaching

The Caribbean – Turks and Caicos Islands

  • Sea level rise will increase the risk of coastal erosion and salt-water intrusion of ground water
  • This will jeopardise agricultural production in and around coastal communities.

South Atlantic – Ascension Island

  • Increase in sea temperature.
  • Sea level rise will adversely affect nesting beaches and could cause a drop in sea turtle nesting success to nest inundation.
  • Changes in regional seasonal rainfall patterns could advance the spread of invasive plant species and increase erosion.

South Atlantic – St. Helena

  • Fish stocks and fishing industry at high risk.
  • Increased risk of floods, droughts, and soil erosion.
  • Research points to a strong warming trend (2°C over 60 years) and a slight decrease in rainfall that could lead to a reduction in water supplies.
  • Altitudinal shifts in vegetation zones. Current ecological imbalances could become even more marked.

South Atlantic – Falkland Islands

  • Cooler, less saline water may affect distribution and abundance of the main inshore fauna and flora.
  • There is need for more research and data gathering. To date, little is known about the effects of climate change on plant communities or about what it means for whale and dolphin communities.

South Atlantic – Tristan da Cunha and Gough Islands

  • Increased threat from invasive species (e.g. rats and mice) due to warmer temperatures that allow them to thrive and displace more vulnerable native species.
  • Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena), already considered ‘critically endangered’ by mouse predation, would be further threatened.
  • Changes in oceanic circulation patterns due to warming sea temperatures could affect some fish species and marine predators (seabirds and seals)
  • An increase in storm severity puts the sole harbour on Tristan da Cunha, the only means of access, at risk.

South Pacific – Pitcairn Islands

  • Changes in rainfall and salt-water intrusion will affect agricultural production.
  • The tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific could collapse.
  • Diarrhoeal and vector borne diseases are expected to increase.
  • Climate change could also increase the incidence of ciguatera poisoning.
  • Variations in rainfall will affect water supplies in some Pacific islands.
  • Coral reefs are also likely to be affected by bleaching events.


Cape Verde, the small island archipelago nation off Africa’s northwest coast, has set itself a very bold renewable energy target. As part of its “sustainable energy for all” agenda, it has pledged to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025.
Cape Verde is made up of 10 islands, nine of which are inhabited, that lie about 600km west of Senegal. Almost all of the islands’ 550,000 residents have access to electricity, but about one-third still rely on firewood and charcoal for cooking.
Although most of its electricity is produced by generators, which run on imported petroleum products, Cape Verde has started to diversify its energy portfolio and a quarter is provided from renewable sources.
Further details can be found from the following link from Quartz media:
There are a number of reports on the dangers of sea level rise in Sri Lanka, which could displace up to a million people.
According to a 2015 report in the Daily Mirror, Sir Lanka is more at risk from climate change than it is from war:
See also:

Sri Lanka shrinks by 600 hectares a year due to rising sea levels. In the future there are likely to be 21 million climate refugees whose homes have been lost to climate change, according to a lecture shown on youtube:
Apparently, the clearing of mangrove swamps to encourage tourism has made the situation worse.
The Cook Islands comprise a group of 15 islands located in the South Pacific Ocean, with a land mass of 237 square kilometres.  They fall into two main geographical groups:
  • the southern group, which are high volcanic islands;
  • the northern group, which are mainly coral atolls made up of circular sand cays around a lagoon.

The northern islands are increasingly vulnerable to rising sea-levels. In 1997 almost half the population of the island of Manihiki was relocated to Raratonga and then to New Zealand. Standing barely four metres above sea-level, the island has become increasingly vulnerable to storm surges and coastal flooding.

With a rise of 4mm per year since 1993, the sea level around the Cook Islands is increasing more quickly than the global average of 2.8-3.6mm per year.

Local farmers have noticed changes in weather patterns over the last few years, with longer and milder winters and the rainy seasons are unpredictable.

Local fishermen such as Ngametua Tangatakino are also feeling the effects of climate change.

“I’ve really noticed the changes in the ocean currents around the island. The current patterns are unusual, they switch direction abruptly and sometimes go in circles, its hard to know where to put my line down”.

He works as a marine officer with the government and, in 2010 he spent six months recording tidal patterns around Mangaia. He found that the average low tide mark had become significantly higher. Now, it is rare that the reef surrounding the island is exposed at low tide, denying local woman the opportunity to forage for crabs and snails – a traditional mainstay of the local diet. Other fishermen agree that things are changing. Fish are not coming in season, tides are changing and ocean fauna is disappearing. It has been suggested that the absence of certain fish species is due to the increasing acidification in the waters surrounding the Cook Islands, which has led to the disappearance of seaweed in the lagoon, disrupting the food chain. A scientific survey conducted in 2010 revealed that seaweed stocks had almost disappeared from the deep ocean surrounding Mangaia.

In recent years there has also been an emerging pattern of more intense storms and higher category cyclones. Early in 2005 – the Cooks experienced five cyclones in one week and, in 2010, the island of Aitutaki experienced one of the worst cyclones in memory when 80 per cent of the houses on the island lost their roofs.

A detailed study of climate change in the Cook Islands was conducted by the Australian Government in 2011 and a comprehensive report, with data and graphs can be found at:

Click to access 9_PCCSP_Cook_Islands_8pp.pdf

The main conclusions were:

  1.  Temperatures have warmed and will continue to warm with more very hot days in the future;
  2.  Annual rainfall since 1950 has increased at Penrhyn in the Northern Cook Islands but there are no clear trends in rainfall at Rarotonga in the Southern Cook Islands.
    Rainfall patterns are projected to change over this century with more extreme rainfall days and less frequent droughts;
  3. By the end of this century projections suggest decreasing numbers of tropical cyclones but a possible shift towards more intense categories;
  4. Sea level near the Cook Islands has risen and will continue to rise throughout this century;
  5. Ocean acidification has been increasing in the Cook Islands’ waters. It will continue to increase and threaten coral reef ecosystems.

Further details of this initiative, which includes 15 Pacific Island Countries can be found at:


 This group of islands is also at risk of sea level rise.  An animated picture of this, according to the degree of global warming, can be seen at:

The nation of Brunei is located on the north west coast of the large Indonesian island of Borneo.  Here, they are also worried about sea level rise, as shown by the following data:
A news report from December 2017, on the latest situation for this group of islands can be found at:
These low-lying islands are off the northern coast of Australia. Rising oceans are beginning to flood their islands.  The islanders are very concerned about their future and have made a video to set out their needs:


These low-lying islands are located in the Indian Ocean, 2,900 kilometres north-west of Perth, Australia. Various studies carried out there have concluded that they are at risk of sea level rise, as well as increased storm intensity and frequency.  Some native species may be at risk of extinction.

The sea level surrounding North Keeling Island is expected to rise due to increases in global average sea level. Any change in mean sea level, combined with the effects of storm surge associated with large storms or cyclones, is likely to have dramatic consequences and will have a significant impact on a range of species living on the island. Any increase in sea level will result in a substantial loss of nesting beaches used by green turtles. Rises in sea levels also impact low lying areas through enhanced coastal erosion and increased vulnerability to storm surges (Maunsell 2009).

As well as sea level rise, these remote islands are also suffering as a result of plastic accumulation on the beaches.

cocos islands plastic

Plastic-covered beach in Cocos (Keeling) Island

These tiny Cocos (Keeling) Islands have a population of 600 and marine scientists found 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes as well as 414m pieces of plastic, weighing 238 tonnes.

The study, published in the journal Nature, concluded the volume of debris points to the exponential increase of global plastic polluting the world’s oceans and “highlights a worrying trend in the production and discharge of single-use products”.


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Artificial island in the North Sea to power Britain

This article was written by Graeme Paton and published in The Times on 13th March 2017.

An artificial island with an airport and harbour will be built in the North Sea under ambitious plans for a vast offshore renewable energy plant.

Proposals have been drawn up to create a 2.5 square mile island on Dogger Bank to service a network of wind turbines and solar panels.

The island 62 miles off the east coast of England would have homes, a lake, an airstrip and port and be surrounded by 7,000 wind turbines

The island would have homes for a small workforce and act as the hub for an energy supply distributed to six countries — Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium.

The European Union-backed plans have been drawn up by a consortium of energy companies from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.  They are expected to be agreed in Brussels on March 23rd.





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British Scientists face a ‘huge hit’ if the US cuts climate change research

This is a feature article in The Guardian, dated 14th March 2017 and written by Anna Fazackerley.  Much of UK climate change research relies on data from US satellite sources, which is now currently at risk due to Donald Trump’s environmental policy.


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A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party By Dr David Hookes, on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)

The paper below has been copied in its entirety, with acknowledgements to Dr David Hookes. As a strategy, I believe it takes us on further than the list of suggestions made in chapter 7 of my book, under the sub-heading Economy 6.  David’s ideas have a uniqueness and should be given serious consideration.

Who we are: SGR is an independent UK-based membership organisation of hundreds of natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. We promote science, design and technology that contribute to peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. SGR’s work is focused on four main issues: security and disarmament, climate change and energy, including nuclear power; who controls science and technology?, and emerging technologies. Introduction: Our view is that science and technology can be used to help implement the transformation of the socio-economic system on a global basis to create a cooperative, pluralist commonwealth based on fairness, mutuality and equality. In this economy humanity lives within ecological limits, now more commonly known as planetary boundaries. One key to the long-term survival of industrial society is to develop a low carbon energy supply to avoid catastrophic climate change. This will involve technologies which harness renewable energy in all its forms (including solar, wind, waves, hydro, bioenergy, tidal, geothermal). Energy storage technologies will also be essential to help deal with problems of variability and intermittency, and some contribution from digital systems, that is, computers and digital instrumentation will be important in integrating these various sources of energy into smart local and national grids. A background to this renewable energy revolution is that about 10,000 times more solar energy falls on the earth than we at present require for all our energy uses. For instance, a small patch of the Sahara, 100×100 square kilometres could supply all of Europe’s electrical energy needs. Capturing a small fraction of this energy and controlling its release are the vital scientific and engineering tasks necessary to avoid climate and environmental disaster.

2 |  An ethical science contribution to a Labour Party industrial strategy: We believe that would place at least three interrelated issues at the centre of an ethical science contribution to Labour’s industrial strategy: 1. Green New Deal-type proposals 2. Arms conversion or replacement program 3. Technology for sustainable development Science tells us that the fossil fuel era must come to end shortly in order to prevent rapid, catastrophic climate change. SGR is a strong supporter of most of the ideas contained in the Green New Deal. 1. The Green New Deal: This proposal has many aspects to it but we especially recommend the following: Low-carbon energy systems, ‘every building a power station’, maximisation of energy efficiency, with renewable and low-carbon energy sources to generate electricity. Creating a workforce for a large-scale environmental reconstruction program, including house insulation. Rapid reductions in fossil fuel subsidies to reflect environmental costs and support a transition to a sustainable and low carbon economy A range of financial innovations such as municipal green bonds and others to finance a green revolution. Low interest rates offered to kick start low carbon developments consistent with democratic aims, social justice and financial stability. The Green New Deal also proposes, with which we concur: Help developing countries by financing large-scale investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation using funds ($100Bn per annum) as first agreed under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord Support the free and unconstrained transfer of new, largely solar, renewable energy technologies to developing countries (see later) There is now talk, especially in the US, of a Global Green New Deal in which a UK Green New Deal could be integrated- a kind of eco-internationalism. Since the climate and many environmental issues are intrinsically international in their essence this seems a sensible strategy.

3 |  2. Arms conversion or replacement: There are many opportunities to carry a general program of arms conversion but we deal below with the most significant one, namely, the nuclear weapons program. For instance if a future Labour government decided to cancel the Trident renewal program it would have to find alternative employment for the several thousand workers involved in it. There have been a number of studies of alternatives, including ‘Oceans of Work’ by Steven Schofield, which was oriented to harnessing renewable energy from waves, wind, and tidal power. More recently, robust assessments of how skilled workers could be re-employed in the renewable and other industries have been published by organisations such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Campaign Against Arms Trade. There is particular potential in offshore wind and tidal lagoons projects. In addition to these proposals we sketch out some ideas below on to how to reemploy the ship-building community in Barrow as well as workers in sub-contracting firms. Solar eco-ships The government could finance, from the cancelled funding for Trident renewal, the development of solar eco-ships that could run on, say, solar-derived hydrogen, or some another renewable low carbon fuel. Some designers have suggested the use of flexible solar cells as sails, for additional propulsion and solar electricity. Such ships could replace the present oil-based merchant shipping over time by being both more energy and economically efficient as well as eco-friendly. The transformation of shipping into solar eco-ships will create many jobs for workers at shipyards such as Barrow, and elsewhere to replace the nuclear submarine work and the subcontracted employment. Hybrid solar eco-ships: We could also discuss the possibility of constructing a type of hybrid ship that has both cargo-carrying capacity, leisure facilities, workshops, and medical facilities. Such ships could provide largely self-funding retirement trips for workers, especially skilled ones. They could act as the link between communities in the developing world and the developed world exchanging goods, and services such as health and education, and skills, as well as promoting broader social and cultural interaction between the communities. Specialist ships for implementing a program of tidal and wave energy around Britain’s coasts and further into the North Atlantic: Britain used to have lead in wave energy until the Thatcher government withdrew funding, possibly under the influence of the nuclear and fossil fuel lobbies.

4. There is scope for tapping into the wave energy in the North Atlantic fetches so specialist ships could be built to implement this program. It would also create a large number of jobs in fabricating wave energy converters. The development of tidal lagoons would also create many jobs fabricating their structures as well as the turbines to generate electricity. Technology for Sustainable Development We suggest that this can be implemented in a network of R&D centres, each, perhaps, specialising in a specific area of technology for sustainable development. Such centres could incorporate the recently instituted catapult centres. Centres of Technology for Sustainable Development (CTSDs) These centres can eventually replace the many nuclear research, development and production plants such as Sellafield, Harwell, Capenhurst, Springfields, Aldermaston, etc. This will have to be a phased process since expertise in dealing with nuclear waste and dismantling of nuclear reactors and weapons will need to be retained for several decades or even longer. It is important to point out that the research program to develop nuclear weapons and nuclear power was initiated in the late 1940s when UK was effectively bankrupt from the cost of the war and was deeply in debt to the US. Nevertheless, money was found to create the institutional structure for nuclear power and nuclear weapons R&D. We must also note this program did not have any significant economic multiplier effect. The energy produced from the nuclear power plants is very expensive and the plants themselves were very dirty producing long-lived radioactive waste, and are also very dangerous. We suggest that money can be found to fund the CTSDs at a fraction of the long term costs of the Trident renewal program (£200bn). The CTSDs will work closely with University departments and private sector research labs which have existing research programs in similar or allied areas But they will also have an economic multiplier effect. For instance, if the UK were, in the first instance, to give the small farmers of Africa and India and elsewhere, solarbased technologies as proposed in the Green New Deal, to increase their productivity they will, in the future, be in a position to exchange their products, such as healthy food and other agricultural products under fair trade agreements. They will also undergo development without taking the fossil fuel route to development, as we did. The funding for the CTSDs could, therefore, also partly come from the annual $100bn fund created under Copenhagen Accord for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

5 |  The CTSDs will also create much spin-off work for SMEs throughout the country again replacing subcontracting work associated with the cancelled nuclear program. The high level technical skills possessed by the nuclear industry can be adapted to help solve the technological problems associated with the technology for sustainable development. Examples are solar- powered agroecological technology for small- and medium-size farms so that they can replace the highly polluting agribusiness monocultures. The latter have been a key contributor to the catastrophic loss of biodiversity and the poisoning of the land and the planetary water systems. Possible International Alliances? The technology developed by the CTSDs could support international alliances of precariat workers and small farmers. The precariat workers, those with insecure, temporary jobs sometimes on zero hours contracts and usually low paid, constitute at least 30% of the workers in the UK and in some countries, for example, South Korea, as much as 50% of the workforce. They are in a similar situation, in terms of security, to the small farmers especially in developing countries who are preyed upon by agribusiness corporations. Many are driven off the land, ending in the slums of cities, sometimes as a result of being unable to pay debts to these corporations who supplied them with seeds, fertilisers, and so on. In India many have committed suicide. Small farmers constitute at least 40% of humanity but there is, therefore, a possibility of international alliance of these two groups of the marginalised. With appropriate-scale renewable energy technology together with the improvements suggested by scientific understanding of agroecology, it has been shown that the small farmers could grow enough healthy food to feed the world. The development and production of this technology will provide steady income for both the farmers and previously precariously employed workers. Some examples of solar-powered technology from CTSDs Solar-powered water pumping from depth for both irrigation and for drinking. Solar-powered health and education technologies Solar powered- shipping containers can also be developed. Already there are at least two institutions in Germany; one is a social enterprise, AfricaGreenTech in Hamburg, which has engineers and scientists from Africa working with German colleagues; the other is a government-funded R&D institute, the ILK, in Dresden; they both produce solar-powered shipping containers that can be adapted for the above range of functions for small farming communities [ see attached figure below for ILK solar container] They can also be equipped as Agroecology research labs.

6 |  They can even be used for the re-charging of non-military drones, for instance, to deliver medicines to remote communities. Collaboration with German and African colleagues for promoting human and environmental well-being would also be a desirable possibility for historically resonant reasons. It is possible to develop solar-powered small scale agricultural machinery for tillage, transport, and processing of the crops. Environmental clean-up technologies CTSDs can also develop technologies to clean up the environment, for instance, extracting CO2 from the atmosphere using artificial ‘trees’ and storing it underground. Techniques can possibly be developed to reuse the CO2 by converting it to carbon monoxide using a combination of catalysts and solar thermal energy. Carbon monoxide combined with hydrogen is called ‘synthesis gas’ which can then be used to create net low carbon hydrocarbon fuels through the Fischer-Tropsch process. The damage done to the environment by pesticides, herbicides used by agribusiness can be remedied using agroecological methods combined with modern scientific input. Techniques for removal and recycling of plastic waste that at present accumulate in the centre of the oceans need to be developed. Solar-powered water distillation plants: There is an emerging water shortage on the planet caused by the logging of forests and many other reasons, such as its excess use by agribusinesses. Most current methods of desalinating water are energy intensive and can only afforded by rich countries. But there are possible ways that water desalination could be achieved using solar thermal energy. An electric storage technology: This is a key part of operating a low-carbon economy. Primarily this means improved batteries but also using hydrogen, and pumped storage for hydropower. Already there are buses operating in London, Aberdeen, and elsewhere using fuel cells operating on hydrogen Electric powered vehicles: The UK has fallen behind its competitors in developing this technology. But this is likely to be the key transport technology for a low carbon world.

7 |  Conclusion: We have suggested a number of ways in which ethical science can help provide alternatives to controversial and unsustainable industries such as the arms industry and fossil fuels industry. In a sense we have only scratched the surface of the manifold opportunities for creating a truly sustainable economy. With the increasing use of solar energy and digital technology we can anticipate that we can eventually reduce the working day if the work can be shared out fairly. That means an increase in social enterprises working with private companies to create the common good- what Gar Alperowitz has described as a ‘pluralist commonwealth’. References are available on request. Contact: Dr David Hookes, 15 February 2017

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In this section, I will download any reviews that the book has had.

The first one is from Elizabeth Way:

“In the title of her book, “Three Generations Left?” Dr Christine Parkinson sounds an urgent note – a wake-up call. She follows this with a succession of well-researched and wide-ranging facts to substantiate this warning.

She addresses those readers who are likely to remain sceptical of her predictions, piling fact upon fact, ending with the entreaty, “Look at the evidence”.

However entrenched in scepticism the reader may be, a close consideration of the evidence set out by Dr Parkinson must surely cause such a reader to at least reconsider his or her opinion.

She indicates some steps that could be taken to ward off the coming destruction – but will they be taken? And will they be taken in time? “

Next from Zerbanoo Gifford, posted on Amazon:

“Reading Dr Parkinson’s book has transformed the way I look at our modern world and teach my students their shared responsibility towards our planet and humanity. It should be on every students reading list.”

From James Robertson in his newsletter:

“This excellent book by Dr Christine Parkinson outlines how so-called progress has combined with a host of other factors, including free trade, a market economy, population increase and the development of a super-rich minority owning most of the wealth of the planet, to bring about global warming and climate change which could lead to a loss of many species and mass human extinction before the end of this century.”

From Jonathon Porritt, the following:

“Certainly enjoyed reading this, and it’s a useful summary of all the massive challenges that now lie ahead of us. And it’s not easy getting all of those connections properly tracked through!”

FEASTA – The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability has included a long and detailed review on its website (, written by Caroline Whyte, as follows:

The author of this book, Dr Christine Parkinson, was first inspired to write about climate change while visiting social missions organised by women around the world in 1994. She was very troubled by the great haze of pollution that she noticed hovering over the cities that she visited, and equally disturbed by the extreme poverty that she witnessed.

But as with so many of us, she became preoccupied with dealing with other challenges in the intervening years. Now the time has come tor her to examine the causes of these problems in more detail and to look for solutions.

The book particularly emphasises the relationships between the severe problems we’re facing. Each of the first seven chapters focusses on a different challenge, with the final two chapters looking at solutions. There’s a helpful summary at the end of every chapter, in a table format, and much evocative use of graphics and other images.

So what are these severe problems? Climate change is high on the list; the first chapter describes how we’ve severely disrupted the ‘harmony of nature’. The title of the book refers to the grave risk we now face of wiping ourselves out in the near future. Other chapters examine the role played by the industrial revolution; the concepts of progress and unrestricted freedom; trading systems, deficits and the concept of growth; world human population; conflict, weaponry and war; and the economy.

There was much useful information in these, some of which I hadn’t come across before and some of which I was happy to find in a condensed form that will make it easy to refer to. There were also good insights sprinkled in along the way.

Among the gems of information there was a discussion of the relationship between Australia and the UK, and how that has coloured the UK’s relationship with the EU right from the beginning. Apparently Australia was strongly opposed to Britain joining the EU when this was first mooted, as it believed its own trade with the UK would be affected – which is true – and the Australian-owned rightwing press in the UK has continued over the decades to push a virulently anti-EU agenda, lately with considerable success.

Of course, as Parkinson points out, all overseas trade needs to be critiqued because of the effect it has on emissions and other environmental damage it causes. Countries need to work on developing self-sufficiency in goods that are vital to survival. Trade, she points out, has had as strong an influence on the climate as industrialisation.

Another helpful section for me was the overview of the UN and its attempts to regulate climate action and other kinds of environmental protection. I was glad to see that the COP-21 got some fairly strong criticism. Parkinson suggests that, given the UN’s failings, another body may have to take on the role of climate guardian on a global level.

The global climate commons trust, which members of the Feasta climate group are promoting as part of our CapGlobalCarbon initiative, would play exactly this role. I was happy to see that CapGlobalCarbon gets a mention in the book, along with many other good initiatives, and that Richard Douthwaite, the late co-founder of Feasta and one of the earliest to examine and critique the idea that economic growth is a good in itself, gets several mentions. There’s even a lengthy citation from his book The Growth Illusion.

I thought there were a few inconsistencies here and there in the book. It makes a good case in chapter 4 that economic growth does not equate with progress, yet continues to refer here and there to growth in a way that implies that it’s inherently desirable. There’s also some ambiguity in the discussion of population and income and their relative effects on climate change. And finally, the term ‘market economy’ is often used in a spirit of criticism but I had the impression that the author isn’t against all trade, certainly not locally-based trade. It would have been helpful to tease this out more.

I also would have appreciated more exploration of the roots of human violence. Parkinson criticises the media, particularly Hollywood, for equating male sexuality with violence, but it would have been useful to discuss other forces at work here too, including a lack of conflict-resolution skills and general emotional immaturity. Similarly, the suggestion crops up here and there in the book that greed is a universal human condition which can only ever be tempered (presumably by means of some kind of obligation or force) – it can’t be got rid of altogether. But greed – and violence – can also be regarded as a type of addiction which, like other addictions, is symptomatic of mental illness and needs to be treated as such.

The book ends with a powerful quote from Devinder Sharma on the effects of climate change in India, which vividly evokes the reality which many people are already facing. It provides a helpful grounding to all of the more abstract facts discussed in the book, concentrating the mind on the need to find solutions – fast.

All in all, this book provides a very useful summing-up of the problems we’re facing and helped me to focus on how we can move on.

Three generations left: human activity and the destruction of the planet by Dr Christine Parkinson. New Generation Publishing, 2016.

Featured image: drought affected area in Karnataka, India, 2012. Source:,_Ind


 A colleague kindly purchased a number of copies of the book and has been circulating them to a large network of her contacts.  Here are some of their comments:

MH, London: “Thank you so much for sending the excellent book on climate change by Christine Parkinson. I think a book like that which brings together all the issues in a clear readable form is very much needed. I have just read the first 2 chapters, coming back from a demonstration on Westminster Bridge about climate change, and I think it is a really valuable contribution on the subject. “

AM (York): “Such a lovely surprise gift arrived on Friday lunch time….. I sat and read for the whole afternoon. All the time saying how much I agree  with this and how it should be reading matter of every sixth former in the land!  It took me less than 24 hours to complete and now …… is reading it too.  I shared the details on Facebook and it got even more take up…. It is the first time I think I have read a book and agreed with every word. I do wish Christine Parkinson was standing on June 8th.”

JN, Birmingham:  “Christine’s (book) is very good. Clearly she knows the science first hand whereas she is dependent on others for the economics. But she is frank about that and what she says is sensible. She does write very clearly and most of her illustrations are brilliant.”

SS, Scotland: “Thank you for the book – I look forward to reading it – certainly a vital issue and yet looks as if it will hardly register in the general election.”

PA, Birmingham: “I met Christine Parkinson several years ago……. I shall look forward to reading that, because I think she could be right, although maybe the planet will survive even if the human race doesn’t.”

AW, Wimbledon: “I spoke about the book at our local Green Coffee this month.”

MV: ” I think Christine’s book is great! So well referenced and illustrated, with a wealth of information. “