Category Archives: Environment

An act of incredible irresponsibility

On her first day as Prime Minister and just  days after the Committee on Climate change issued a risk assessment warning that the UK is ill prepared to meet the problems brought by climate change, Theresa May has decided to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and to transfer its responsibilities to the a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.clim_change

Climate change is too large and wide-ranging an issue to become subsidiary to business, energy and industry and this decision displays an belief based on ideology rather than evidence of the capacity of business and free trade to resolve all problems.

Business and industry can certainly have a part to play in innovating to meet our changing climate but that must be within  a policy directive that identifies action on climate change as the challenge of our times that determines which industries are developed, how we manage our land and our agriculture, what kinds of transport infrastructure we can and can’t develop. And all that calls for a co-ordinated plan – not an inconsistent mass of half-hearted afterthoughts from a range of departments that have other priorities.

Can we really believe that a business, energy and industrial strategy can really contain the actions needed to face the dangers of widespread and recurring flooding, water, food, and energy insecurity, loss of biodiversity, and risks to health from new pests and diseases that are predicted to arise as temperatures increase?

This challenge could be an opportunity to build a clean and fairer economy – a chance to bring forward new industries providing rewarding jobs, and improve health and wellbeing. But this new government looks like throwing that chance away.

climate2

Moorland Management – 27th January

Meeting on moorland management

Wednesday 27th January 2016
7:30pm Royal Hotel, Market Street, Hayfield

UPLAND HEATHLAND Upland heathland_ipcress7

Robert O’Connor, a local Green Party member and ecologist/conservationist, will lead a discussion on the subject of moorland management in the UK.

The blanket bogs and upland heaths of the UK account for something like 1.35 million hectares (lowland peat covered about 65,000 hectares in mainland Britain in 1990, now likely to be much less due to commercial extraction).  Changes in land use over human history include; strategic use of uplands for defence and transportation, animal stock grazing and low level agriculture, industrial use including quarrying, hunting and other forms of recreation, and more recently the use of uplands as freshwater catchment areas.

Other issues under consideration for discussion include:

  • Land ownership  
    Who owns what?
  • Hunting
    Killing of ‘non-preferred’ species on estates managed for game hunting, and how much money is involved in game hunting.
  • Effects on biodiversity
    Estates managed for hunting tend to have low species diversity – for example moorlands managed for red grouse are mostly dominated by heather, which is the preferred food plant of red grouse.
  • Effects on CO² storage
    Blanket bogs store significant amounts of CO² in the peat layer, accumulated over thousands of years.
  • Effects on flood attenuation
    Requires a holistic and landscape approach in implementation of ‘future-proofed’ flood alleviation schemes.
  • What is being done now to address habitat degradation?
    A quick look at some exemplar conservation projects undertaken by various NGOs, such as the RSPB.
  • Appropriate use of public funds in subsidies
    Looking at various payment schemes to landowners past and present.

For more information:

 

 

Calling all Young Greens in Derbyshire

Its 2016, a new year has begun. Derbyshire Green Party is seeking to invite all the Young Greens within Derbyshire to a meeting

Young Greens

Venue: The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU

Date:     Saturday 23rd January

Time:   1pm – 5pm

The meeting has been organized jointly by me, Matt Genn, Acting Derby Young Greens Co-ordinator and Marten Kats, Derby City Greens Co-ordinator.

We look forward to meeting you in order to decided how we should be organised and what we would like to campaign on in 2016.

Like out Facebook page – Derbyshire Young Greens Facebook group: Derbyshire Young Greens

Global warming and the ice age

Looking up at grey skies in August, I’d say many of us have flippantly said “Global warming? Bring it on!” More seriously, opponents of action on climate change have made claims of beneficial effects of warming for agriculture and the economy as a whole. Maybe the storms and flooding of the last few days, repeating and exceeding the floods of last year and the year before have provided  a more sombre idea of the effects of global warming on our weather systems. In  this post, Phil Ælse explains why global warming won’t be a pleasant experience!

What does the term global warming means to you? Do you envisage yourself  enjoying balmy days on Blackpool beach, strolling along the promenade at Llandudno in shorts and sun-glasses, and picking coconuts from the palm trees along Skegness front?

Unfortunately, whilst the general temperatures will increase in the short term, the specific effect on Britain could be less pleasant.

Think Costa Rica not Costa Brava: increased humidity; sweaty, smelly bodies; respiratory illnesses and skin disease on the increase; viruses and bacteria that flourish in dank conditions running riot; food spoiling rapidly and drinking water that needs boiling before use.

Britain’s Geography make it a damp place – even Julius Caesar commented on that: “The nights are short and the weather miserable, with frequent rain and mists.” Global warming won’t change that.  The Pennines cause water vapour to rise and that soon comes back down as rain.

phil1

In general terms the east of Britain suffers more from this effect than the west, as the colder air streams across the North Sea are more ready to dump rain than the typically warmer Atlantic and its beneficial Gulf Stream to the west.

The Gulf Stream is a continuous current of warm water that runs from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic and up the west cost of the UK. This is what gives places like North Wales and Lancashire relatively warm coastline, compared to places at the same latitude, such as Newfoundlgulfstreamand on the Canadian east coast. But whilst the sea and air temperature of the west coast is higher than the US east coast it is the welsh mountains of Snowdonia and the Pennines that then cause the cloud vapour to rise and dump rain on us.

 

Now, imagine if we warmed the ice cap at the North Pole. This will result in a stream of cold water pushing down the Atlantic and could cause a diversion of the Gulf Stream, pushing it south and away from the UK. This would remove the beneficial warming effect from our coast line and seas, and would means that we wouldn’t get the same comfortable temperatures, but we would still get the same clouds hitting the Pennines and rising to fall as rain. Except this is now more often going to be as snow and ice during the winter.

gulf2

So, yes, an initial rise in global average temperatures may give you a slightly warmer climate –  with all the problems of warm humid climates. But by 2050 we could start to see the diversion of the Gulf Stream, meaning that the climate our children will ensure will be more like that of Canada, with three metre deep snow drifts, transport chaos and frozen water pipes. The worst case result of the diverted gulf stream is that there will no longer be any warmer water streams being sent up to the Arctic Circle’s seas. The glaciers and ice caps will ultimately spread, not shrink, and northern Europe and the UK will eventually (and whilst not in our grand-children’s life time, fairly rapidly in geological terms) be brought in to the next ice age.

This has precedent. Ice core samples have been taken from the Poles and from ancient glaciers that show there is a direct correlation between rising  CO2 levels and an eventual decline in to an ice age. The last big ice age, some 11,000 years ago caused the Gulf Stream to shut down. The regional climate of the Northeast Atlantic became considerably cooler and as a result north-western Europe dropped back to ice age conditions within tens of years of this diversion.

icecore

So how is this our fault?

Humans have only been around for a few thousand years, and ice ages have happened for millions of years and multiple times. Cows and pigs haven’t just started pooping and parping. What’s changed?

The difference in this case is the speed in which carbon dioxide (the most prominent greenhouse gas) is rising during the global industrial age compared to previous pre-ice-age periods. Each ice-age has been preceded by a gradual increase in carbon dioxide over thousands of years. In the last three hundred years, the rate of carbon dioxide has increased vastly, meaning that the rate of increase of the ice core graph is not a curve as in previous occurrences, but a near vertical line as can be seen on the extreme right of the graph.

This meteoric rise is a result of our massive increase in carbon emissions from our altered way of life. Flying, driving and heating with fossil fuels means we are creating CO2 in spades.

Demanding fresh meat on our table every day means we have millions more cattle animals than we ever had before. To satisfy this demand, animals are now raised in factory conditions. Raising animals on pastures can be a means of absorbing CO2,  but these intensive methods add to the emissions that are changing the climate on which we depend.

An economy based on producing and marketing ever increasing numbers of  disposable consumer products means more and more energy is used in creating, transporting and disposing on giga-tonnes of products, many of which are used once then thrown away.

What can we do?

We need a different kind of economy. One that serves the needs of our communities rather than a continual treadmill of production for production’s sake. We need to get rid of the nonsense of long supply chains for goods that can be produced locally.  We can make a start in our own lives by buying local produce and supporting local shops, by sharing tools and equipment that aren’t needed every day –  but in the end the system must change.

We need to move a distributed modern energy system based on renewable energy with people in control of their own energy supply. The UK already has some community energy projects – other European countries, such as Germany have a lot more. If there is no community project, what about installing solar panels or switching to an  energy provider that provides equitably generated electricity, and tell the fuel guzzlers WHY you switched.

And even when it seems like talking to the wall, we need to make sure our MPs know how we feel when they vote for things like fracking.

Ultimately, it may not be enough. But what you do will affect your community and your grandchildren. Doing nothing at all, you only allow the disaster to strike and  when your grand-child looks at you and asks “Why is it so cold?” will you be able to say “Its just a cold snap, dear”, or will it be “Because my generation destroyed it all for you!”

 

Climate Change Summit – Paris 2015

Paris 2015: A Place for Hope

On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who cop21 gathered at Derby Cathedral for a public meeting on climate change,  designed to give people the opportunity to hear about and discuss the issues to be debated at the Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit.

John Selwyn Gummer – now Lord Deben –  addressed the meeting. He chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will represent the UK at the Paris 2015 conference. He began by outlining the three arguments he uses to counter climate change deniers:

  • Risk – the choice between acting on climate change and not acting. If the promoters of climate change are wrong and we act, nothing will have been lost – the atmosphere will be healthier. If the climate deniers are wrong and we do nothing, we shall face catastrophe.
  • Care – he said that as a result of centuries of astronomical exploration planet earth is the only planet to support life as we know it. That does not rule out the possibility of discovering life on another planet; it does mean that for the time being, planet earth is rare and therefore needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  • Act Responsibly – in other areas of life we do not choose to act stupidly and therefore it is wrong to go on acting stupidly by increasing CO2 emissions. The link between climate change and CO2 emissions was as true as the link between smoking and cancer. We must therefore keep our CO2 emissions down to avoid crossing the critical 2 degree rise in temperature threshold to prevent disaster happening.

Lord Deben went on to describe how we get to that target. He emphasised that the Climate Change Act 2008 was achieved by an All-party consensus in the UK and that was key to its success. He was very optimistic and positive when he talked about his hopes for Paris 2015. He pointed out that in Australia and Canada political changes had meant that both countries were now committed to taking climate change seriously. He remarked on the co-operation that now existed between China and the USA. He pointed out that there is now a scientific basis for the reality of climate change and that all the nations responsible for 85% of carbon emissions now all have climate change legislation.

Lord Deben concluded his talk by stating two key things that he saw as essential to progress being made in Paris.

  1. The need to recognise that Paris will not achieve an answer that is perfect – it may get the best answer that can be had for the time being but it will need to be improved on and modified over time.
  2. The importance of achieving a binding agreement in Paris – something to hold people and nations to, rather as the British Climate Change Act obliged the Government to take carbon emissions into account in any budgetary proposals that were put to parliament.

Apart from this, he said little about his views on the compatibility of economic growth and corporate deregulation with the need to cut net global carbon emissions to zero by mid century or whether corporate lobbying is delaying action to slow down climate change.

He spoke of the stand made by the Pope making a significant difference to worldwide awareness of climate change, not least in the USA, because it made it impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. He stressed that the encyclical also made it clear that you cannot deal with climate change in isolation from other issues such as world poverty and justice for the poor.

Q & A session:

Investment in Renewable Energy

  • Q If Britain, as he stated, is a leader in combating climate change, why have we not put more investment into renewals?
  • A It seems that renewables have been too successful.  For example,  off-shore wind farms were giving a return of 40% not the 29% forecast and this created a problem for the chancellor who presumably then decided they didn’t need investment!

Fracking

  • Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
  • He appeared to imply that Fracking is a separate issue. He believes science and the evidence of science is that it is safe.
    By the mutterings from the audience, I think many people thought he must be looking at different evidence! He talked about the need to ensure that we had our “own” supplies of gas because of the dangers of being dependent upon Putin. He didn’t respond to the heckler who said that fracked gas is a fossil fuel, the implication being that we have to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

The time for questions was limited as Lord Deben had to catch a train. There wasn’t time to go into the issue of other green-house gases, including methane, with agriculture, notably animal husbandry being currently a major emitter, coupled with the conversion of natural grassland and forest to cultivation of animal fodder or ask whether he still enjoys beef burgers!

Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party

This public meeting was organised jointly by the Derby Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) of which Donald is Chair.

Stand up for climate justice

Compassionate Derby – 28 November

Compassionate Derby

Saturday 28th November 2015
10:30am – 4:30pm St. Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street, Derby

Back by popular demand for its fifth year running, Compassionate Derby is an ethical living event that is free to attend and where everyone is welcome!

Compassionate Derby 2015There will be a range of cruelty-free food and lifestyle products, lots of free samples, charity and campaigning stalls, children’s activities, a diverse program of talks throughout the day, a generous raffle and much more.

So why not head to Derby on November 28th to do a bit of Christmas shopping and find out more about living a compassionate lifestyle.

The Green Party will have a dedicated stall, so if you can make it, we look forward to seeing you there.

A new Age of the Train?

new_mills

30 year old Class 142 train at New Mills Central station

Are we about to enter a new Age of the Train?

Green Party members from the High Peak local group have been looking at the fine print of Government policy, and doing a bit of informal research out and about in Derbyshire.

First of all, what do people actually want from the railways? Well, a good start might be that the travelling public should be able to buy a ticket to their destination and then get to the appropriate platform, and yet at many of Britain’s stations neither of these basics can be assumed.

You wouldn’t think that just buying, or trying to buy a ticket would cause huge problems, and yet we have found in this part of the country that it is the hassle of getting a ticket that exasperates people just as much as expensive ticket prices, poor station access and late trains. People put up with unmanned stations. Everyone has experienced being crammed onto an ancient, crowded train with just one guard. The last straw for travellers is when in addition to hurrying to get to work on time, they have to queue at their destination to buy a ticket before leaving the platform to avoid being fined. Try persuading a commuter to ‘think green’ and swap their comfy car for that option!

One High Peak resident who had recently lived and worked in Hong Kong commented: – “Returning to the UK, I didn’t expect the High Peak to be served by 12- car commuter trains which arrive every three minutes, but in 2015 and the age of smart phones, I was amazed to find that there are so few ticket dispensers installed on platforms, and such little use in the UK of stored value cards like the Oyster card.”

What has brought this about? Under-investment? Vanity projects? Profits before people? The current Conservative government has of course raised expectations with its talk of the Northern Powerhouse, and more recently with the announcement of its National Infrastructure Commission. In the foreword to ‘Transforming the North’s Railways’, the Secretary of State for Transport and Derbyshire Dales MP, Patrick McLoughlin  wrote in February 2015: “This government has huge ambitions for the North of England and the railway is key to those plans.”

northern_powerhouse

Northern Powerhouse – rhetoric and reality on separate tracks?

Great words – but at the Green Party we really wonder whether these ambitions can ever be achieved for the travelling public when it’s private companies bidding for franchises who are in the driver’s seat.

An issue we care about passionately at the Green Party is inclusion, providing a civilized society for everyone. Cloud-cuckoo land? Well, what about just getting to the platform?

chinley

How do I get to the platform, please? Your route to the Sheffield-bound platform at New Mills Central

One of our members spent a few hours observing conditions for travellers at Chinley, a station on the mainline between Manchester and Sheffield, where the only access to both platforms is via a footbridge with two sets of steep steps. Mums and Dads with pushchairs struggle to use the steps safely. Travellers to/from Manchester airport risk hurting themselves hauling heavy suitcases up and over the footbridge, and of course people with a mobility problem or people who use a wheelchair are nowhere to be seen. No ramp, that’s your lot, so they don’t come.

The Green Party demands an inclusive society, and we will acknowledge progress where it has been made. Representatives from the rail companies and the Department of Transport would argue that Access for All and Station Improvement programmes have delivered substantial improvements to many stations, and rail operators have a duty to help if access to a particular station is substantial. The Equality Act of 2010 does offer some protection for rail users if they feel discriminated against, but when it comes down to it, members of the public would just like to travel in safety and comfort from A to B without having to consider taking court action against the operator of the services, or tweeting yet another “dissatisfied” comment to Customer Services.

The Green party isn’t satisfied that our railways are being run for the benefit of citizens, and has committed to implementing a comprehensive plan for fully accessible transport so that public transport will be usable by all members of the public. What’s more, the Green Party feels strongly that the privatisation of the railways has created a situation where the tax payer is like a supplicant at the gate of the Lord of the Manor, begging for alms. We are not satisfied with this relationship. The needs of all of our citizens are our first priority, and only by taking proper control of our national rail network can we hope to achieve a civilized service for everyone.

We want our railways to be more accessible and attractive for everyone. Only when and if this happens will people ever be able to choose to leave the car behind and opt for more environmentally friendly means of transport which, alongside other benefits, will help provide a sustainable long–term solution to our chronic air pollution.

Interested in reading more? Have a look at the Green Party’s policies in detail at:

https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/tr.html

Paul Tattam

Public Meeting in Derby: Paris 2015 Conference

Public Meeting at Derby Cathedral

Thursday 5th November At 2.30 pm

Featuring John Selwyn Gummer, Lord Deben

An outspoken voice on climate change, Lord Deben chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will be representing the UK at the Paris 2015 conference.

This is a unique opportunity to put your questions to the UK’s leading representative on climate change.  It is free to attend, and refreshments will be available.

Lord Deben has had a long and varied career in frontbench politics. Now the chair of the Independent Committee on Climate Change, he will be visiting Derby Cathedral to debate the Paris Summit on Climate Change. Chaired by the Very Revd Dr John Davies, Dean of Derby; questions welcomed.

Green Party members may wish to use the opportunity to ask Lord Deben questions face to face.

This event has been organised by the Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice & Peace Group

 

PUBLIC MEETING – Fracking in Derbyshire

Organised by Derby Climate Coalition with support from Derby 38 Degrees.

Monday, 21 September 2015
at 7:00 PM
St Peters Church,
Saint Peter’s Churchyard, Derby

Fracking in DerbyWe will discuss
• The economic and environmental consequences of fracking
• The actual plans
• What can we do.

 

Speakers include Brian Davey, Nigel Lee and Chris Williamson.

Members from a number of other organisations are coming. Tea and coffee available. Please come along if you can.

Book a place by using this link: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/events/stop-fracking-in-derbyshire

Background

This government seems hell-bent on promoting fracking for shale gas in Derbyshire.

Fracking map DerbyshireOn August 18th the government announced it would hand out a fresh round of licences giving exclusive rights for gas and other fuel exploration in 27 areas across the country. Two of the 10km by 10km squares of land affected are in Derbyshire. The licence for land between Derby and Long Eaton will go to Warwick Energy. That company has said test drilling could start in 2019. The affected area runs across the East Midlands, as shown below:

The other area includes parts of Amber Valley, such as the countryside around Ironville, Riddings and Somercotes and the licence will be held by Ineos. It is somewhere in that square where the firm says test-drilling could start in 2016 or 2017 with the possibility of “early stages of producing commercial gas by the end of the decade”.

Green Party members are invited to attend. 

High Peak Greens Meeting

High Peak Greens Meeting

Wednesday 26 August – 7.30 pm

Royal Hotel,
Market Street, Hayfield,
High Peak
Derbyshire
SK22 2EP

Lots to talk about including:
Fracking
Anti Austerity March
Climate Sense Campaigning
Local Campaigns

 

Peter Allen – High Peak Regional Co-ordinator

Derbyshire Green Party

The Far From Glorious Twelfth

Two_grouse_'picked'_after_the_previous_day's_shoot._-_geograph.org.uk_-_547403From August 12th until a couple of weeks before Christmas Britain’s wealthy elite will be let loose on its moorland uplands. Driven grouse shooting involves beaters going in front of the people with guns “beating” the heather so that the birds fly into the air where they are then shot at. Around half a million birds can be killed during the season. If that seems barbaric, even worse is the fact that in order to maintain this so called sport, all grouse predators are being destroyed on the uplands, and the moors themselves destroyed by burning the heather in the name of “management”.

Hen Harriers are an iconic bird of the uplands, however in 2014 there were only 4 nesting pairs in England. A couple of weeks ago there was an outcry in this country when it was discovered that Cecil the Lion had been shot and killed in Zimbabwe, but where is the outcry at the loss of Hen Harriers? Five adult birds have disappeared this year, and whilst the disappearance is reported euphemistically as “mysterious” the obvious answer is that they have been shot, poisoned or trapped by game keepers to protect the grouse for shooting.

In the same vein game keepers are now systematically ridding the uplands of mountain hare because they are said to carry a parasite which infects grouse. Literally mountains of mountain hare have been killed in Scotland and the practice is spreading South.

When concern is raised about grouse shooting and the practices which support it, the argument is put that it provides employment and income to areas which would otherwise have none. However the grouse shooting season is a few months and whilst the hospitality trade might benefit slightly during that period, assuming those that shoot do frequent the restaurants and pubs of local areas, that benefit would be spread much wider, both geographically and time wise, if people were coming to look at the wildlife rather than kill it.

Not only that but grouse shooting costs us in terms of higher water bills, because of the cost of clearing water polluted by higher particulates as a result of peat burning.

And then there is the cost to the atmosphere: Peat is a carbon sink and the High Peak is one of the biggest peat uplands in England and therefore one of the biggest carbon sinks in the UK. Management for grouse shooting consists of burning areas of heather on a cycle year by year. The effect of this is to release unwanted carbon directly into the atmosphere but more long term it has been shown to severely compromise the build up of future peat. It also obviously destroys the existing vegetation, much of which such as sphagnum moss is protected (and is one of the reasons for which subsidies from the EU to the landowners exist), and as stated effects water supplies. (http://www.wateratleeds.org/ember/)

Leading conservationist Mark Avery has launched a petition calling on parliament to ban grouse shooting . You can sign it here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441.

You could also contact your MP to ask him or her to support a ban. Green Party policy is clear. The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to all blood-sports. Our manifesto includes the commitment to ban driven grouse shooting.

Charlotte Farrell

Derbyshire Greens Critical of Delays to Rail Electrification

The Green Party in Derbyshire believes the ‘pause’ in the electrification of the Midland Main Line announced by Transport Secretary and Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin is actually a humiliating full stop.

This long-heralded plan formed part of a £37.5 billion package of rail improvements announced by the Government before the general election.

Derbyshire Dales Green Party election candidate Ian Wood said:

Ian Wood‘A few weeks ago Mr McLoughlin was telling voters about the exciting new future for railway travellers in this part of the world.

‘But there is a strong whiff of suspicion that he already knew that the figures did not stand up.

‘And now he has had to tell Parliament what Network Rail must have known for months – that the railways in his own constituency are being left behind while the Cotswold railways serving the Prime Minister’s constituents are to be improved as planned.’

The Green Party’s concern is that the Government will eventually declare that the electrification upgrade in the East Midlands has been somehow superseded by their much more expensive high speed rail proposals designed to get business travellers to London more quickly.

The Green Party says Midland Main Line electrification would cut CO2 emissions by 40% and would support lighter more efficient trains which would be cheaper to run.

Meanwhile the high speed project from Birmingham to London is going ahead at a cost of around £50bn.

Ian WoodMr Wood said:
‘The whole East Midlands region needs an efficient rail network to help strengthen the regional economy and to relieve the strain on the existing network.

‘Mr McLoughlin led voters to believe their faith in the railways and their willingness to pay enormous fares on the privatised rail network would at last be rewarded with a modern railway.

‘Now that the Government has failed to secure the improvements everyone knows are essential, voters can see the brave talk of a northern powerhouse was a load of distracting public relations.’

Nationalise railways

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2015)

“Animal agriculture is responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry and causes unfathomable destruction of natural resources and habitats. Yet it flourishes, almost entirely unchallenged.”

This is the claim of the groundbreaking documentary which follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations refuse to tackle it.

Ian Wood, Green Party Activist in Derbyshire Dales writes:

I amIan Wood possibly the only Green in the county not to have heard of this film, but now I have, and indeed have watched the whole thing, and it is truly excellent.

We all have to go green, of course, but this film makes the bold and convincing claim that we cannot call ourselves environmentalists unless, and until, we are all vegan. Being vegan uses three times less water and grain resources than being merely vegetarian, and eighteen times less resources than being an omnivore. The entire human population could exist perfectly decently on the grain we feed to animals.

The film is a bit preachy at the end and finger-wags that it’s not enough just to cut down on meat on the grounds that, if you have Meat-free Mondays, for example, you are only doing the wrong things on six days of the week and not seven. My view is that it is better to do the wrong things on six days of the week rather than seven, especially if it helps more generally. If you cut down on meat and fish you are reducing your carbon footprint – that is undeniable.

The film is excellent on the lobbying power of agri-business and the corrupting power of money derived from meat-eating of all kinds.

I am a meat-eater and I shall certainly be cutting down on my consumption of meat purely on the basis of having seen this film.

I would now disown the things I have previously said about fossil fuels being far more important to climate change than eating meat. It is quite apparent that eating meat causes more climate change and water shortages and natural imblanaces than fossil fuels, and I am somewhat ashamed I ever thought differently.

Cowspiracy is a calm and brave documentary and thoroughly recommended.

http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/194765/Cowspiracy_The_Sustainability_Secret_2015/

Note: The Green Party does not require members to be vegetarian or vegan. In section (d) of its Food and Agriculture Policy http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fa.html it states:

High rates of consumption of meat and other animal products in richer countries, and rising demand elsewhere, means that the increasing requirement for animal feed competes with food production for direct human consumption. We will encourage healthy and sustainable consumption patterns, including a shift towards more plant-based foods. Such a shift would enable an increased world population to be fed sustainably and would help to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. (See FA211, FA222, FA237, FA662)

Why consider eating less meat?

Victoria Martindale, Green Party Activist writes:

Vegans are stereVictoria Martindaleotyped as freak lentil loving extremists but there is so much more to it. Eating less or no meat and dairy is not just about animal welfare concerns. Meat is associated with so many of today’s global challenges and unacceptable environmental issues that it is about far wider reaching matters such as:

• our own health – meat and dairy are high in saturated fats, the key risk factors for the leading killers in the western world like stroke, heart disease, diabetes
• meat production is the leading man-made cause of global warming
• it exacerbates world hunger and poverty
• it pollutes our water, soil and atmosphere
• it uses vast amounts of finite land and fresh water
• its linked to deforestation etc.

If someone stopped eating meat they would do far more for global warming as an individual than if they never drove a car or flew in an aeroplane again – it’s a hard realization that most people can’t face up to.

There need not be millions of starving people in this world with even more hungry mouths to feed as our population continues to burgeon, there need be no food insecurity issues if we used the finite resources of land and water more efficiently. Meat production is one of the most inefficient food production systems there is, and has high dependency on fossil fuel input. I heard somewhere that about 14 calories of input is required to produce 1 calorie of output in meat!

If you want to find out more about how we treat animals, a documentary called Earthlings has the key message – I defy anyone to watch that and not turn instantaneously veggie, its not for the faint hearted.

In fact it’s on at Belper Goes Green on Saturday 30th May at 11.00 am. Find out more about the weekend from
http://www.transitionbelper.org/belper%20goes%20green.html

Earthlings – A Film by Nation Earth

Note: If you can’t get to Belper Goes Green you can view Earthlings at home.  EARTHLINGS is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby. This multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place.  http://earthlings.com/?page_id=32

 

A Message to our Leaders, from Andy White, Derbyshire

Andy WhiteIt is argued that the middle ground of English politics has been captured by what is effectively a centre right Tory Party, and Labour has lost what was once it’s core support of ‘The Working Class’. Indeed, those on the right argue that there is no such thing as the working class, and that demographic now identifies itself as ‘Middle Class’.

The dispossessed and less fortunate, those with little or no income are portrayed as an inconvenience by the policy makers, who constantly tell us that money has to be saved on welfare – there is no alternative – conveniently forgetting the real lives that are affected by market capitalism and the chase for constant growth. No place for compassion here.

Over the years since 1979 politics has changed from being representative of, and controlled by the people, to just being controlled by big business, with the masses kept in their place by a constant stream of propaganda that reassures them and carefully defines them as ‘hard working and doing the right thing’, because if you don’t, the wrath of the system will surely grind you down. The subliminal message is ‘do as you’re told or else’ …. With the ‘or else’ being the constant fear of a life in poverty, or being targeted as a scrounger, or not being able to find money to keep up. Sound familiar? True Victorian values are returning, we even have people working for nothing on penalty of losing welfare support…..a disgrace in 21st century Britain!

Such is the power of these messages that few actually question anymore! To do so suggests that you are a doubter, that you don’t believe in the good that is being done in your name, that you are an outsider, a radical and not ‘one of us ’. You’re not doing the right thing!

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. We see daily on a global scale the damage done to our planet in the name of change and so called progress. The Green Party have a huge responsibility to educate our potential core support. That support, in a large part, is disaffected Labour and Liberal voters (and even some Tories), who are currently looking for the right alternative. They know the Tory way is wrong, but are unsure what the real alternative is. We need to construct a discourse that is legitimised by sustainability, and we need to get that message across at every opportunity. The 67% that didn’t vote Tory are a big audience waiting to hear the things that will give them stability, and that will ensure they can live life with all the comfort and support required in a civilised society.

Our priority messages should be simple and focus around security – of income (sustainable jobs, proper welfare), housing, transport and public services, – and sustainability of the planet, of the natural world, of our food and water supply. Our message needs now to be that only our policies can build that secure and sustainable world without fear, based on civility, human rights and a respect of all of life.

We need to begin that task now, and I would like the message to come from our leadership fairly quickly. Time is not on our side.

First published on 25 May, 2015 on East Midlands Green Party Blog

Charlotte Farrell – On the Front Line against Fracking

Charlotte&Peter Barton Moss Jan14The Green Party believes beyond question that climate change is happening right now and if we do not begin to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions very soon, global warming will accelerate beyond any hope of our control.

Green Party members Charlotte Farrell and Peter Alan were on the front line against Fracking at Barton Moss.

Charlotte is standing as Parliamentary Candidate in High Peak and also as Green Party candidate in Hope Valley Ward in the Local Elections.

Quick Quote from Charlotte:  “…17 leading scientists and economists have issued a warning – the ‪#‎EarthStatement‬ about climate change.  Again!?!  Yes, unfortunately, warnings seem to be falling on deaf ears – our current government have increased incentives for oil and gas exploration – including fracking – and decreased incentives for renewables.  It’s time to act.

The earth statement sets out eight essential actions – and they’re ALL Green Party policy.

It’s getting more and more urgent to get our voices heard. ‪#‎VoteGreen‬ – before it’s too late.”

Climate Change – Urgent Action Required

Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett

natalie-bennettThis year the most important climate talks in history will take place in Paris.

Leaders from around the world will come together to decide the world’s course of action in addressing the most important issue of modern times.

Yet, despite the looming threat of a climate crisis, during this election you could be forgiven for thinking that the threat had lifted.

The truth is, politicians from the other parties simply aren’t speaking about climate change. In fact I was the only party leader to raise the topic during the three and a half hours of Leaders debates.

You and I know both know that the science is unequivocal – fortunately we have the plan to tackle the crisis.

The Green Party is the only party calling for the urgent action required and at the heart of our pledge to protect the environment is our conviction that we must also reconfigure our world to work better for people.

We will cut public transport fares – because everyone should be able to afford to get to where they want to go – and because the air pollution caused by cars is a crisis that must be tackled.

We will invest in home insulation – because no one should fear family members getting ill or even dying from the cold – and because we want to cut carbon emissions.

We will generate 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 – because we know we must leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

We are using three times as many resources as our planet can sustain – we must change course, and we can.

I, like you, want to leave a better future for our children. I want the next generation to look back on what we did at this time and think ‘my parents generation did something to protect our world’. I want them to be proud of us.

To keep climate change on the agenda and to continue our fight for social justice we must elect more Green MPs.

We can do this if we have a strong Green voice in parliament – but we need your help now more than ever with a Green vote on May 7th.

Thank you,

Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

p.s. Please share this message with someone you know who shares your concerns and urge them to vote Green on May 7th.

Candidates join in April Fool’s Day Railway Actions

Return the Railways to the Public

Alice David and KimThree of our members, Alice Mason-Power, David Foster and Kim Collis joined others from Derby People’s Assembly and Derby Climate Coalition leafleting at Derby Railway Station to make links with the issue of cuts, privatizations and our railways.

There were nearly 100 such actions up and down the country on March the 31st and April the 1st, loosely organised under the Action for Rail umbrella.

Alice Mason Power with imprintAlice Mason-Power is standing in Derby North Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Darley Ward.

David Foster is standing in Derby South Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Boulton Ward.

David with imprint

The Green Party would aim to re-nationalise the railways and work to produce an integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport system.

Marten Kats – Mackworth Ward – Green Party Candidate

Marten Kats – Local Election Candidate for Mackworth writes:

Marten Kats with imprintOn 7th May there isn’t just the General Election. In Derby there are local elections as well. Regardless of who you vote for in the General Election, please consider voting Green locally. One Green councillor can make a big difference in Derby.

I live locally and feel passionately about the area where I live. The reason why I am standing is that I think this city needs a Green councillor.

Having at least one Green councillor can make a big difference. We can get our voice heard in the council, stand up against recycling cuts like the brown bin tax and the removal of blue bins, while fighting the Sinfin incinerator that will cause health problems to local people. We will fight for our green spaces and tackle housing issues, partly by making better use of empty buildings.

If I get elected, I would address local issues in Mackworth, engage with local people and be a voice for them. Mackworth needs a safe crossing for children to Markeaton Park, a place to hang out for teenagers, measures against anti-social behaviour, better public transport, activities for elderly and more attention to traffic and parking problems.

Vote Green on 7th May for a different voice on Derby City Council.

Growth – The Elephant in the Room

Charlotte Farrell, Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak and candidate for Hope Valley in the Local Elections says…

?????????????????????????????To date I’ve attended five hustings, and at each the questions about the economy and austerity come up. The other 4 parties all talk about the need for growth to get us out of austerity. They say that with better economic growth the country will once again be able to start spending and austerity will come to an end. Every time, I make the point that we cannot have infinite growth in a finite world and that we need to rethink our whole economic plan. However, it feels as if my words fall into a void and nobody quite hears them.

I am never picked up on what I say, though I would dearly like to expound on why continued growth is bad; it’s as if there is a conspiracy not to validate mine or the Green Party’s position generally by asking the serious questions that arise from it.

Of course this may be the truth. It seems so blindingly obvious that we cannot continue to grow in the manner we are doing. Whereby the world’s population (and by that I mean the population of the wealthiest countries) continues to use more each year in terms of raw materials than the planet can replace in that time, and to throw out more waste, atmospheric and real, than the planet can deal with in the same time frame.

It seems that the other parties have no answer for this conundrum; but rather than admit it (or better still work towards finding an answer) they choose to ignore it altogether. Ostrich like, they cover their ears in the hope it will go away.

I am not denying that all of the parties recognise some need to avert climate change (except UKIP who seemingly do not believe in it); and that even under the coalition there has been some increase in renewable energy consumption, but until they address the fundamental issue of growth, their attempts will not be enough to avert global economic, environmental and social disaster.

I have always struggled with maths and so never bothered with economics. I thought it was just something for those much more intelligent than I, but now I realise that most politicians also don’t understand economics. What they do is support the existing system, either because they’re devoid of ideas for anything better, or to protect their own vested interests.

Under the present system we have to keep growing. That is because if we base our economy on debt, as is the case (97% of all “money” in circulation was originally created by the high street banks as debt); to create sufficient to pay it back (not to mention the interest) we have to produce more. And so it fuels a vicious circle.

Of course it’s difficult and unpopular to challenge the status quo and that is the reason the Green Party is constantly derided by the media, but sooner or later politicians are going to have to face up to the ‘elephant in the room’ – the question of infinite growth in a finite world.

If we’re going to exist within the limits of what our one planet can give us then one of the first things we need to accept is that there needs to be a redistribution of wealth. If we don’t have growth, then that which we have has to be shared a lot more equally than it currently is, both globally and nationally.

Again, our debt-based monetary system predicates against this. In a debt based economy the poor acquire more debt simply to live, while the rich, who do not need to borrow, acquire the benefit through tangible assets such as property, stocks and shares and the other trappings of privilege.

I believe that it will be hard to reach the kind of steady state economy we need while wedded to the old monetary system. How can something as fundamental as the creation of money, be left in the hands of those who profit most from its production? The banking system has failed us, but rather than think about a better way, we simply tinker at the edges and let it continue largely unmolested.

The Green Party wants to see money creation removed from the banks and given back to state control. This in fact used to be the case until computers did away with the need for there always to be a tangible real bit of money on the other side of the debt. Under the Green Party’s plans the National Monetary Authority would control the production of money, issuing it as and when needed straight into the real economy. It would be used (amongst other things) to build houses, schools, hospitals and railways etc and as these were built the money would filter down through the workers’ pay into the local economy.

I admit its difficult looking at things from the present position to see how we would get to that state or how we would achieve this; but that in itself is no reason not to work towards finding a way.

The destruction of the planet and our economic system go hand in hand. We desperately need to change both before its too late. If nothing else, I hope that with Green Party candidates standing in 90% of parliamentary seats this message gets across loud and clear, so long as it does, I won’t mind how often the media chose to mock us because ultimately I believe we will be heard.

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