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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Conversation between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg

July 9th 2019

Last weekend The Guardian published a long-distance conversation between AOC and GT.  It can be found here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/29/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-met-greta-thunberg-hope-contagious-climate?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTkwNzA1&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29) is the youngest ever US congresswoman and Greta Thunberg is a 16 year-old Swedish schoolgirl.  Both of them overtly campaign against climate change and, in the conversation, discuss the issues and difficulties they have experienced whilst doing so.

In February, Ocasio-Cortez submitted the Green New Deal to the US House of Representatives, calling for, among other things, the achievement of “net-zero” greenhouse gases within a decade and “a full transition off fossil fuels”, as well as retrofitting all buildings in the US to meet new energy efficient standards. Thunberg has been campaigning both in Sweden and internationally for people to recognise the urgency of doing something about global warming and climate change.

In the course of their conversation, Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg discuss what it is like to be dismissed for their age, how depressed we should be about the future, and what tactics, as an activist, really work. Ocasio-Cortez speaks with her customary snap and brilliance that, held up against the general waffle of political discourse, seems startlingly direct. Thunberg, meanwhile, is phenomenally articulate, well-informed and self-assured, holding her own in conversation with an elected official nearly twice her age and speaking in deliberate, thoughtful English. They are, in some ways, as different as two campaigners can get – the politician working the system with Washington polish, the schoolgirl working from her bedroom to reach the rest of the world. There is something very moving about the conversation between these young women, a sense of generational rise that, as we know from every precedent from the Renaissance onwards, has the power to ignite movements and change history.

Do click on the link above and read the full conversation.  It will inspire you to keep going in your own activism.

AOCGretaThunberg2

                      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez                           Greta Thunberg



 

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Woman climate protester assaulted by Government minister

Most people will have seen the footage of a Greenpeace protester being punched, grabbed by the shoulders and neck and then frog-marched out of the room by an MP, Mark Field, who was attending a dinner at the Mansion House. If you haven’t seen it, here is the link:

https://u1584542.ct.sendgrid.net/mpss/c/AwE/ni0YAA/t.2ss/jm31GoJiS6-QQgU3J2vzJA/h18/VE2atosPJwyp5yA4oN-2FSarjpZD1CtBvw8rBP8BWEgE9rbhhqx9nV4EdwjNd2D1IYjeTZuCNcLAog6dG3N-2Fc9b-2By2Yqbtd3mCkLqyjVU8hMMqoyKj2TqbZo9m5iSMV0SzyUNd25-2BmxpMXxky-2B7fHKaH67MmhBHZDDaQbTvJovQdE0trMct7mVAk0XvvXVUq-2BY7WsxuDEE-2BJ9cOzuw3Cefh4lDQ2Iv01XLCqcq8lM6D6h0llEmKQ24IbdUPMWorFmWK3Zi5dNHqwGOs6IRiSZ-2FgZJTNPbPhcrmEbdoznVh2t39M38ViXl7S-2BPdYXlKj4RDklK7a3h8JdsC8Qq1xRiBY3of3WoMOirLLSrqi2lKuoE-3D

This all happened as a result of a group of climate activists wanting to inform the Chancellor, Philip Hammond and bankers and MPs attending the dinner, about how the current economy is acting to make climate change worse.  The Greenpeace activists, mainly women, had dressed up in red evening dresses to look as if they were attendees, thus getting through security.  It was a non-violent protest, as the protesters were only carrying leaflets to hand out.  The violent action of the Tory minister was in stark contrast to this.  Other guests just sat there without intervening or trying to stop Mark Field violently assaulting her.

mansion house

Mark Field MP grabbing the non-violent protester at the Mansion House event

As a result of an outcry, Mark Field has been suspended from his post. A piece in The Guardian tells the story from the woman’s point of view:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/21/greenpeace-activist-mark-field-needs-anger-management?link_id=19&can_id=ae8fb89f0e3f1a9dcfdb9ae6492433d2&source=email-newsletter-24-they-fought-like-non-violent-scotsmen&email_referrer=email_570442&email_subject=newsletter-24-they-fought-like-non-violent-scotsmen

According to this article, Janet Barker, the protester, thinks that Mark Field needs a course in anger management.

The other interesting (or shocking) factor in all of this is the way in which it has polarised opinion, many thinking that Field was within his rights to treat her so violently. And others, like me, being appalled at the unnecessary level of violence he used. These comments can be seen below the original clip (link above).  Do we have half a generation of people who justify violence against women?  Who justify expressing contempt towards those who have a different opinion to themselves?  To me, it looked like he punched her in the breast before grabbing her shoulders but others have not commented on that.

Are we to see more of this kind of thing as protests against climate change escalate, as they must do? A polarisation of opinion on climate change and the future of the planet, just like we have become polarised over Brexit?



 


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MPs announce Citizen’s Assembly on climate change

From the BBC’s website:

Six parliamentary committees have announced plans for a citizens’ assembly to discuss how the UK should tackle climate change.

It comes after the government committed earlier this month to cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

The assembly is likely to be set up in the autumn and will meet over several weekends before producing a report.

Energy Secretary Greg Clark welcomed the move, saying public engagement was “vitally important”.

The UK is the first major nation to propose the 2050 emissions target – and it has been widely praised by green groups.

But some say the phase-out is too late to protect the climate, whilst others fear that the task is impossible.


Response from Extinction Rebellion:

Image result for extinction rebellion logo download

Today, six select committees of the House of Commons have today announced plans to hold a Citizens’ Assembly on combating the climate emergency and achieving the pathway to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is an important first step towards giving ordinary people a voice on the future of our world. We welcome this step – and on top of Parliament declaring a Climate and Environmental Emergency – things are beginning to move in the right direction.

Isn’t it amazing the power of peaceful non-violent protest?

However, we cannot pretend that this is a legitimate assembly with real or legislative power. If the judicial system can depend on juries, why can people not be trusted with policy? It is encouraging news but – let us be clear – politicians have not met our third demand today. There is a very long way to go. A half arsed attempt at a Citizens’ Assembly will doom the process and the results. Please do not make this mistake. The urgency we face needs a commensurate response, let’s work together and sort this.

Linda Doyle, from Extinction Rebellion, says: “It is encouraging to see that our third demand is now being taken seriously by Parliament. It is important that we recognise the voice of ordinary people and work towards a just transition for all – nationally and internationally. Unfortunately, there are many problems with this proposal. The suggested assembly does not have any legislative power and we are concerned its advice and conclusions will not be fully implemented.

“We are also extremely concerned by the framing of these assemblies. It is a tragedy that these assemblies are being asked to look at how to decarbonise by 2050, as opposed to determining the target date themselves, based on the latest science and expert opinion. Our demands call for a Citizens’ Assembly organised independent of government and we want to see an oversight body established to ensure that the government does not have any undue influence over the agenda, evidence, or the eventual conclusions.

“It would be a shame if the voices of ordinary people were only ever used cynically to legitimise the Government’s unambitious targets. Now is the time to think big.”

Extinction Rebellion UK’s demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.



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NATO decides that biggest long-term future threat is climate change

This report has been copied from Czech Radio website:

“Diplomats, military officers and experts gathered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May, to discuss energy security and future challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. While discussing what the alliance may be up against 70 years from now, some argued that the impacts of climate change are likely to be the main threat.

Experts agreed that forecasting anything as far in the future as 70 years is prone to be inaccurate, with some panellists joking that whatever mistakes they may make, they will not be around to see.

But some of the threats looming ahead appear to be unavoidable and need to be addressed. Among those issues stressed were the inherent challenges resulting from increased global interconnectedness and the importance of strategic communications in securing domestic support for the alliance from audiences often bombarded by disinformation campaigns.

Others highlighted the impact that strategic decisions, such as how to deal with the rise of China, will have on the future of the alliance.

However, when it comes to long-term prognoses, one of the most interesting insights was brought up by Elisabeth Braw, the Director of the Modern Deterrence programme at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

braw_elisabeth

She said that, rather than conventionally understood threats to NATO coming from state actors or even shifts in domestic politics, the onset of climate change may become the alliance’s main security concern in the future.

China may be as challenging as it is now, but the climate will definitely change and lead to conflicts that we will have to address. Food production will go down, there will be conflicts over water and that is something that may seem very futuristic today, but we are already seeing the effects of climate change even if it is not very challenging yet.

“You can imagine for a defence alliance when those issues become overwhelming not just for our countries, but for other countries as well, it will lead to large migration streams and so forth. This is something that is unlikely to happen next year or in ten years’ time, but in 70 years it is very likely.”

But how do you address an enemy as unconventional as climate change?

Mrs. Braw says some answers can be found in using parallels to hybrid threats.

These are challenging today because of their multi-faceted and often indirect attacks, whether it is internet crashes, power outages or the destabilisation of civil society.

However, she believes they can be lessened partly through preparing civil society for such events arguing that it does not really matter what the security challenge is, because the effect is the same – disruption of daily life.

“So at the level of societal resilience it does not really matter what the challenge or threat is. What we need to do is the same, we need to work together so that our society keeps functioning even when there is a very severe stress on it.”

Improving civilian preparedness for hybrid threats may seem like a sensible strategy, but is there sufficient public consent for such initiatives?

Elisabeth Braw believes there could be. She pointed to a recent survey made in Sweden, which showed that while only 55 percent of those asked would fight for their country, 84 percent answered that they would be willing to participate in a non-combat role with no threat to their life.”



 


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Forest Green Rovers football club goes green

This story is from the Financial Times:

https://www.ft.com/content/d66ba036-763a-11e9-be7d-6d846537acab?accessToken=zwAAAWrvAwJokdPWa6A2djoR6dO-fW2EZTesqw.MEUCIDcuKj_Zv-m_cQyY3cchi6pdngx7mG2VVnl0685tqNrQAiEAvhOM4ThGqbRuLj8yAFIF2M6BTgAqsVPOkDKMwewIIRQ&sharetype=gift?token=1bc4775c-e348-4f02-9c36-4c6172949925

Above the leafy Gloucestershire town of Nailsworth, is a football stadium: “The New Lawn”. It has solar panels on the stands, electric charging points in the car park, and a green Union Jack flag outside the ground. This is the home of Forest Green Rovers, the first football club certified by the United Nations as carbon neutral.

The team, in League Two, the fourth tier of English professional football, plays on an organic pitch in a stadium powered by renewable energy. And fans eat from an all-vegan menu. Dale Vince, the club’s chairman, is the founder of green energy company, Ecotricity, based in nearby Stroud, Gloucestershire. It is a business that has turned him into a multi-millionaire.

He acquired the 130-year-old football club in 2010, when it was on brink of bankruptcy, and began transforming it along environmental principles. Forest Green Rovers’ green credentials have created a unique selling point that has gained the attention of businesses. The club made half of its nearly £5m in revenues last year through sponsorship from like-minded companies, such as Quorn, the makers of vegan food, and Grundon, a waste management and recycling group.

Vince said: “Businesses are trying to get with the new agenda. They see the need to green themselves up, to green their products up, because they see that’s what people want.”  This agenda has transformed Forest Green Rovers into one of the best resourced clubs in League Two. Its cash has allowed it to fund a team representing a town with a population of 5,000 — the smallest place to host an English professional league team — that can punch far above its weight. According to the consultancy Deloitte, League Two clubs on average make £3.8m in revenue, far less than Forest Green Rovers, meaning rival teams have less to spend on players. However, this month, the club lost to Tranmere Rovers in the end-of-season playoffs, missing out on being promoted to League One for another year.

forestgreenrovers

Still, Mr Vince’s ambition is for Forest Green Rovers to steadily rise up the divisions and reach the Championship, the tier below the Premier League. As part of plans to achieve that goal, the club will learn in the coming weeks if it has received planning permission for a new 5,000-seater stadium made entirely from timber. “Wood is the most sustainable material that you can build with and concrete is possibly the least,” said Mr Vince. “It will be the lowest carbon footprint stadium anywhere in the world, probably since the Romans invented concrete.”

In the meantime, the club wants to set a green example for others to follow. Mr Vince has been advising the English Football League, and Uefa, European football’s governing body, to develop sustainability plans for clubs based on the innovations brought to Forest Green Rovers in recent years. These include renewable energy for football facilities. About 20 per cent of The New Lawn’s power is supplied by the solar panels installed on its stands, with the remainder coming from other renewable sources, such as wind power. The club’s groundsman uses an automatic, solar-powered electric lawnmower which each day cuts a pitch fed with Scottish seaweed rather than artificial fertilisers. Drains under the turf gather rainwater which is then reused around the grounds.

Mr Vince faced initial outcry from fans after he removed red meat from the club’s match-day stalls but said supporters have come to appreciate its vegan menu, which has also attracted a new breed of fans. One favourite is the Q-Pie, a Quorn and leek pastry with soya béchamel white sauce. The club chef’s latest creation is a vegan sausage roll, which Mr Vince insists is far superior to the version recently introduced by Greggs, the high street bakery.

From next season, the club will further add to its environmental credentials with a plan to “carbon offset” every fan’s travel to the ground by slightly increasing ticket prices and using the additional money to fund projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. “Everything we’ve done is really easy to do,” said Mr Vince. “Put solar panels on your roof . . . take meat and dairy out of menus, even just occasionally, it’s not hard to do. Organic pitches, low-energy lightbulbs, banning single-use plastics . . . everything we’ve done here is scalable.”



 


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The transition to a sustainable world: a call on scientists etc to work together

Transition Lab calls on scientists, engineers, data experts and volunteers of all ages to work together to address climate change and ecological collapse.

labimage

Transition Lab was created to give people the opportunity to address climate change and ecological collapse in the absence of adequate national or international government policy. With modern communication technology they will organise millions of volunteers to support the important work that must begin immediately.

Their job is to scale the response to this challenge, and support the organisations already on the front lines with much needed expertise.

Mission:

To create a voluntary project on the scale of CERN or the International Space Station

Transition Lab’s core mission is to place a range of people – willing scientists, engineers, highly skilled people and volunteers – directly with projects seeking to mitigate climate change, ecosystem collapse and climate change adaptation. We hope that highly trained experts will take paid or unpaid leave, take a sabbatical, take up fellowships or simply show up to help address this urgent crisis.

This work can happen independently with our own planned projects or with existing NGOs projects, corporations, local authorities, communities or any organisation that has declared a climate emergency. Our first task is to create models of how a major transition of energy, transportation and natural system management might significantly improve with large scale volunteer support.

Plans

Phase 1: Immediate objectives

•  Find technology partnerships to implement the placement/fellowship system.

•  Lobby Universities UK to declare climate emergency and support academics willing to join Transition Lab.

•  Form core working groups (ecological restoration, climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, renewable energy scaling, electric transport scaling, economic transition).

Build models for how our plans might impact current efforts.



Further details are on the Transition Lab website:

Contact details for those wishing to be involved or to receive a newsletter:

Mr Richard Dent: Project director, communications strategy
richard@transitionlab.earth

Dr Alison Green: Academic outreach, curriculum development
alison@transitionlab.earth



 


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UK Committee on Climate Change says we need to curb airline emissions

There has been much concern over the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow airport, by adding another runway.  The concern is not just being expressed by people living locally to the airport but also those who want the UK to reduce its carbon emissions.

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British Airways plane coming in to land over houses near Heathrow Airport

A piece in this week’s New Scientist” by Adam Vaughan sets out some of the actions the UK needs to take if it is to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A bar chart in his article shows that aviation in the UK emits more greenhouse gases than any other sector (31.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), with agriculture coming second.

See: New Scientist No. 3229, 11th May 2019.

The advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommendations have also been commented on by the BBC on their website.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48233548

They also focus on aviation and the planned Heathrow airport expansion. A senior civil servant has said that ministers may have to review their aviation strategy.  And other environmental groups have said that the decision on Heathrow expansion should be brought back to Parliament.

It is a crucial time for flying, with policy on aviation right up to 2050 currently out for consultation.

When the government first laid out proposals for increasing aviation, the UK had an overall target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. But the CCC recently raised the bar of ambition in recommending that Britain should adopt a target of net zero emissions by 2050. That will mean compensating for any greenhouse gases by either capturing the CO2 and storing it, or planting more trees.

Under the previous 80% scenario, aviation had a privileged position. Its expansion would be counter-balanced by additional CO2 cuts in other sectors, like industry.

The CCC makes it clear this is not an option any more in a zero-carbon Britain.