Fair Trade and the Green Party

Do you drink Fair Trade coffee or tea? Ever eaten a “Devine” chocolate bar? Do you always world-fair-trade-day-logomake sure that you chose the Fair Trade banana’s in the supermarket? Did you know that you can also get Fair Trade gold as well as Fair Trade toilet rolls? Fair Trade is a phenomena that is rising around the world and South Derbyshire Greens are keen to know more about the movement.

The Fair Trade movement started in 1992 when a group of charities that do considerable work in developing companies got together to form a foundation. Their premise is to provide an alternative form of international trading conditions which allow farmers and workers to financially benefit from growing crops and produce. Many of the Fair Trade producing companies are partially owned by the farmers themselves. The Fair Trade Foundation states that it is “Working to secure a better deal for workers and farmers”. It also cares for the welfare of workers, ensuring that working conditions are of a good standard. It is a global concern with 1.5 million farmers and workers involved across the planet.

The ethos of Fair Trade fits beautifully into the policies and ethos of the Green Party. We (I speak as a Green Party member) believe in social justice and greater equality, which is what Fair Trade aspires to do. Although international import of produce is not necessarily encouraged; the 2015 manifesto states that the Green Party will “work to reduce food imports and increase home and local food production where feasible” there are some produce that are very difficult to grow in our climate. Have you ever seen a chocolate plantation in the UK? However, Green Party Policy recognises that sustainable societies are vital across the globe and therefore has included the following policy:

IP122 A General Agreement on Sustainable Trade, under which fair trade rules (where producers are guaranteed a reasonable price for their products before planting, and a portion of the payment is set aside for community development) would become a requisite for international trade and local supply of goods would be preferred, should replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). A World Localisation Organisation should replace the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Fairtrade-banner

To find out more about the Fair Trade movement, Fair Trade produce and Fair Trade shops join South Derbyshire Greens

May 31st, 7pm
Fair2all,
17 Bath Street,
Ashby de la Zouch LE65 2FH

Mandy McIntosh, the founder of Fair2all, will speak. She has been involved with the Fair Trade movement for over 20 years and has written a number of magazine articles about the movement. An added bonus is that the talk will be in a Fair Trade shop, and there will be refreshments on offer.

Marianne Bamkin, South Derbyshire Greens

 

Advertisements

The NHS – Death by a thousand cuts

Today, for the first time since the NHS was founded, junior doctors have taken all-out strike action to oppose imposition of a contract that they say would make patient care unsafe by over-stretching staff who are already at breaking point. Despite attempts by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to smear the doctors, most people believe that the government has forced the doctors into taking this action.  But to what purpose?

stretchnhs

Including NHS privatisation in an election manifesto is political suicide – so the current government included a 7-day NHS, but omitted to provide extra staffing.

So, where there’s a will there’s a way and this crisis is only the latest step in a strategy of creeping privatisation that’s been going forward for some years. While publicly declaring their commitment to the NHS, the coalition government abolished the legal duty of the Secretary of State to provide health care and introduced measures to dismantle the NHS leaving you so dissatisfied that you turn to private insurance, if you can afford it.

And the demolition continues under the current government. While the government continues to claim it has maintained spending on front-line services, cuts to social care and other budget decisions have brought our NHS to the point of collapse.

Hidden away in this year’s budget was a 30% cut to the NHS capital budget – money for repairs to buildings and repair and replacement of broken or out-of-date equipment. That leaves a shortfall of more than £1 billion for current work and replacement before the year begins.

Hospitals have been fined millions of pounds that could have been spent on patients because they didn’t meet response targets. How’s that supposed to help? To be fair, the system used to have some kind of logic. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which include GPs, could withhold funds if targets weren’t reached, but it was at the discretion of the CCG. If they saw a consistent failure in a particular area, they paid the money with the condition that it be spent improving the failing area. But now, CCGs have been instructed to withhold the money, decreasing funding and driving struggling services deeper into failure.

Take this together with the dispute over doctors’ contracts and the “plan” to deliver a 7-day NHS with no increase in funding or staffing and a frightening picture emerges. With doctors and other health care staff spread ever more thinly, targets such as waiting times in A&E will inevitably be missed, triggering a vicious circle of withheld funds and deteriorating services.

We need to stand up for our health service, for the patients and for the people who work in it. As a first step, why not write to your MP about these issues? But fixing single issues isn’t enough. We need our NHS fully restored as a public service. Green MP Caroline Lucas has been at the forefront in taking the fight to parliament, introducing the NHS Reinstatement bill to reverse the creeping privatisation carried out by successive governments (http://www.carolinelucas.com/issues/health).

nhspublic

 

Every school an academy?

When Japanese Knotweed was first introduced into this country nearly two
handsoff hundred years ago as an ornamental plant, no-one would guessed what menace it would become. Likewise when Tony Blair’s government opened the first Academy in Bexley 16 years ago, the privately run, but publicly funded initiative was trumpeted as a way of trying to break a cycle of failure in areas with extremely challenging conditions. But should all state schools be forced to become Academies?

Many government initiatives over the years have been heralded as saviours of one aspect of the educational system or another. In the 1980s the Assisted Places Scheme was Mrs Thatcher’s big idea to break the mould by promote the merits of independent schools over comprehensives; more recently Free Schools are supposed to deliver parental choice and flexibility of the curriculum…..

This latest announcement on the future of Academies in the 2016 Budget is a quite extraordinary development. Perhaps even more controversial is that the proposal also includes the abolition of the right of a parent to sit on a school’s governing body, just by dint of being a parent of a child in the school. Whatever one thinks of Academies, the idea that local authorities should be simply cut out of the management of schools, a role they have had had since 1870, is almost unbelievable. Proposing to strip parents of their right to join a schools Governing Body and participate in the process of their child’s education is astonishing.

Academies may in some instances be quite small bodies, but many academies are now part of academy chains. The largest chain, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) , runs 67 academies across England. Does it perform well in this role ? In February 2016 this chain in England was accused by Ofsted of “failing too many pupils“. The inspectors described almost half of the schools in the chain as “less than good“, and warned that poorer pupils do “particularly badly“.

noacad

The plans announced in the budget would see our schools and their assets given into the control of private organisations, who are often operating for profit and always operating without local, democratic oversight.

The Derbyshire Times recently reported that “as many as half of all lessons in some Derbyshire academies are being taught by unqualified staff”.

Opposition is mounting to this policy – unannounced in the Conservative Party General Election manifesto – even among Conservative MPs and leaders of some Conservative controlled councils. So, we have a chance of stopping this privatisation of our children’s education. In our own county, parents and teachers organised in  Matlock and Derbyshire Anti-Academies have held well-attended protests. Get involved!

handsoff2

Whereas Government and politicians come and go, our children only get one chance to pass through the educational system. The Green Party believes in a well-funded, accountable school system which should have the welfare of all our children at its core, and which should not be endangered by the latest fad, or short-sighted career aspiration of Westminster politicians.

Have your say about this vital issue! Write to your MP, tweet your point of view, write to Nicky Morgan (nicky.morgan.mp@parliament.uk), Secretary of State for Education!

The forced conversion of all state schools to academy status is one insanity too far!

Paul Tattam and Jane Reynolds

A brief list of things the EU has done for our environment

Record number of Green candidates for 2016 Derby City Council election

Marten KatsFor the 2016 Derby City Council election, The Green Party will have a record number of candidates. There will be 8 candidates across the city, a big improvement from the 3 in 2015 when we stood in Darley, Mackworth and Boulton. We will again stand in these wards, but we will now also stand in Arboretum, Derwent, Abbey, Sinfin and Normanton. Campaigning has already started in Darley in January and we have good hopes to get our first Councillor elected to Derby City Council!

One Green Councillor can make a big difference in Derby. We can scrutinise the actions of the Council and ask critical questions. We do realise that Derby City Council is in a difficult position with the government cuts being unfairly harsh on Derby. However, we do believe that the current Labour administration is not getting their priorities right. They have refused to look into alternative ways to keep Moorways swimming pool and the Citizens Advice Bureau open. Both will now close, even though there are other ways to save money. Derby can cut the number of Councillors and their allowances, work with outside partners to finance them or look into other ways to raise funds, many councils in the Midlands have raised funds in inventive ways. Nottingham has for example set up their own energy company which raises important funds for the city. In Stoke-on-Trent council buildings have been sold for £ 1 under the condition that the new owner would turn them into housing (with loans available if needed) and not sell them on within 10 years. This has revitalised the city centre there. The Green Party in Derby has previously advocated looking into the possibility of apply this policy to Derby.

In Derby City Council, both Labour and the Conservatives play a lot of party politics, targeting each other. We would not play party politics. We would support the current administration where we agree with them, we would support the cross-party “fair deal for Derby” campaign, which is also supported by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. We would work with any party when there are issues that we agree on, but we will keep our own profile and challenge the council when needed.

We believe we can get our first Councillor, however we can’t do it without help. If you are able to, please donate to our campaign via http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/electing-a-green-councilor-for-derby. If you are able to help with delivering leaflets or canvassing, please contact Marten Kats, candidate for Darley ward and chair of the Derbyshire Green Party on marten.kats@greenparty.org.uk. If you live in any of the wards where we will have a candidate, please consider putting up a “Vote Green Party” poster or sign. To get these (for free), please send an email to Marten.

Marten Kats
Chair Derby City Greens

Europe – in or out by Andy White – Derbyshire Dales GP

Our future in Europe – Natalie Bennett in Derby

natalieNatalie Bennett has been in Derby to speak on our future in Europe. The event took place on Thursday, 11th February 2016, from 7pm at the University of Derby. Before this meeting started, she has taken part in various activities. This included an interview with BBC Radio Derby, an interview with student radio and canvassing in Darley ward for the 2016 Derby City Council election. The main event started with a talk of approximately 30 minutes from Natalie Bennett, followed by a short speech from Marten Kats and then a question & answer session.

Natalie Bennett talked about the position of The Green Party on the European Union. The Green Party recognises there is a lot wrong with the European Union. The democracy of the European Union will need to be improved. The non-elected European Commission has too much power and the elected MEPs don’t have enough power. The European Union is too focussed on big businesses and not on small/medium businesses, local communities and ordinary people. TTIP is a danger to our democracy as it could open up the possibility of companies suing governments for loss of profit.

So why does The Green Party advocate a vote to remain in the EU? Even though we do another europerecognise there is a lot wrong with the European Union, it also brings many advantages. Many problems can only be tackled by cross-border co-operation. Examples are climate change, water and air pollution. Also workers’ rights need to be controlled at a European level as otherwise various countries can undercut others over the backs of workers. Harmonisation of various regulations makes it easier for small and medium businesses to sell their products in other parts of the European Union and European Economic Area. At least 3 million jobs in the UK depend on Britain’s membership of the EU. Finally, The Green Party celebrates the free movement of people. There has been a lot of negative publicity about the free movement, mainly by our right wing media. However, free movement has enriched our culture. There are roughly as many UK citizens in other EU countries as there are EU nationals in the UK. EU nationals don’t come here to claim benefits, instead they contribute greatly to our economy. It is important to make this clear in our EU referendum campaign.

We need to address the faults of the EU, but we don’t do that by walking away. Just like there is a lot wrong with Westminster, with the undemocratic voting system being the worst. That doesn’t mean that we have to give up on democracy, we need to fight to change it. It works the same in the European Union. We need to stay in it and fight for a different Europe from the inside. Europe is changing, politics is changing, a different Europe is possible as long as we don’t give up on it.

Marten Kats

More information

Green politicians reinforce party’s commitment to campaigning for the UK’s continued EU membership

Another Europe is possible

Why the left should fight to stay in Europe

 

 

Derby People's Assembly week of action 8th to 13th February

derby

There are a great many activities taking place this week among them a meeting about Europe with Natalie Bennett hosted by Derby Greens- 7.00,pm at Derby University. Come along!

 

Date and Time Place Description Organised by
Monday
8 February:7.30 to 9 am
Derby Railway station  Leafleting: Why we love the  Unions  Derby Trades Council.
Wednesday
10 February:8:00 amonward
Outside all hospitals, especially Derby Royal  Support  Junior Doctors pickets  BMA and supported by Peoples Assembly
Wednesday
10 February: 11.30 -2:00 pm
St Peter Street, probably at the Spot  Street protest is support of Junior Doctors  BMA and supported by Peoples Assembly
Thursday
11  February:7:00 pm
Derby University  Talk on Europe, by Natalie Bennett  the leader of the Green Party  Derby Green Party
Thursday 11
February:7:30 pm
St Paul’s Church Hall, Seale Street, DE1 3RT Chester Green  Public Meeting FLOODS, CLIMATE CHANGE & THE CUTS at Chester Green  Derby Climate Coalition and 38 Degrees Speaker: Climatologist Ed Sears
Friday 12
February: 12 noon to 2:00 pm
The RAM, East Street.  Leafleting: Why we love the  Unions  Derby Trades Council
Saturday 13
February:11:00 to 1:00 pm
Sport Direct, St Peters Street (next to Tesco)  A fun-packed action against Sports Direct in Derby. part of a day of national protests.  Derby Unite Community branch and Peoples Assembly

Derby People’s Assembly week of action 8th to 13th February

derby

There are a great many activities taking place this week among them a meeting about Europe with Natalie Bennett hosted by Derby Greens- 7.00,pm at Derby University. Come along!

 

Date and Time Place Description Organised by
Monday
8 February:7.30 to 9 am
Derby Railway station  Leafleting: Why we love the  Unions  Derby Trades Council.
Wednesday
10 February:8:00 amonward
Outside all hospitals, especially Derby Royal  Support  Junior Doctors pickets  BMA and supported by Peoples Assembly
Wednesday
10 February: 11.30 -2:00 pm
St Peter Street, probably at the Spot  Street protest is support of Junior Doctors  BMA and supported by Peoples Assembly
Thursday
11  February:7:00 pm
Derby University  Talk on Europe, by Natalie Bennett  the leader of the Green Party  Derby Green Party
Thursday 11
February:7:30 pm
St Paul’s Church Hall, Seale Street, DE1 3RT Chester Green  Public Meeting FLOODS, CLIMATE CHANGE & THE CUTS at Chester Green  Derby Climate Coalition and 38 Degrees Speaker: Climatologist Ed Sears
Friday 12
February: 12 noon to 2:00 pm
The RAM, East Street.  Leafleting: Why we love the  Unions  Derby Trades Council
Saturday 13
February:11:00 to 1:00 pm
Sport Direct, St Peters Street (next to Tesco)  A fun-packed action against Sports Direct in Derby. part of a day of national protests.  Derby Unite Community branch and Peoples Assembly

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:

 

 

Green Party Spring Conference

SPLASH_SpringConf2016_v1

Green Party Spring Conference 2016 
Friday 26 – Sunday 28 February
Harrogate International Centre

Spring Conference – in its new shorter format – will be held at the Harrogate International Centre – the third largest conference and exhibition centre in the UK – in the lovely spa town of Harrogate on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

Booking

Bookings are now open! Get the best prices by booking online before 14 February.
We do everything we can to keep the cost of attendance down, and we hope that the shorter format will be welcome for that reason, but for those who would not be able to cover the costs of attendance themselves there is also a limited access fund.

Non-members are also very welcome to attend and can either book using the form on the website, or can pay on the door.

Timetable and agenda

Conference is a chance for members from all over the UK to get together not only to discuss and vote on policy motions, but also to network, socialise and learn. As well as nine hours of discussion time and around 12 workshops dedicated to policy, there will also be:

  • 16 training sessions on local party organisation, campaigns, media, policy, electoral activism, etc
  • 20 informative fringe sessions run by party members or staff
  • 3 topical panel debates open to the public with high level external speakers
  • Evening entertainment programme
  • Exhibition including members groups as well as external organisations and campaigns

An outline timetable is available on the website. The first agenda (list of motions accepted) and the prioritisation ballot is open on the members’ website until 25 January.

Details of how to apply to run a fringe are online.

Travel

Harrogate is 35 mins by train from Leeds.

Check the travel page of the conference website

If you are seeking or offering a seat in a car you can use our Liftshare scheme.

Accomodation

There is a huge selection of hotels and B&Bs right on the door step of the venue, and we have arranged allocations at a few local hotels. See the accommodation page on the website for more info and booking.

Creche

Children between the ages of 1 and 11 are welcome to join the Conference Creche, which is run by fully qualified, DBS checked staff. And all absolutely free of charge to Green Party members who are attending the Conference! (Refundable deposit required).

Latest news

Keep up to date with our plans for Spring Conference on social with #GPConf
and https://www.facebook.com/events/714590818675803/

If you can’t join us there, why not watch the Leader’s speech and plenary sessions live online!

How to hold a policy discussion with your local party

About the priority ballot

More information on the website. www.greenparty.org.uk

 

Derbyshire Green Party AGM – 17 January

Derbyshire Green Party

Annual General Meeting

Sunday 17th January 2016

at The Medway Community Centre, New Street, Bakewell Derbyshire DE45 1GT

Starting 12 noon to approximately 4pm

Fair is Worth Fighting For

The Agenda has been sent out to all members. If you have not received yours, please contact Charlotte
at (email) cnfarrell@hotmail.co.uk

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

No Minister, this winter's floods are not 'Unprecedented'.

East Midlands Green Party Blog

David Cameron was ill advised to brag about how much flood defence work has been done during his premiership – surrounded as he was by flood water in York. “Like much of the rest of what you have done as prime minister David, your actions on flood prevention have been demonstrably inadequate. That’s why you were surrounded by flood water!”

The line being taken by this lamentable government is that the floods of this winter were ‘unprecedented’. The impression that they want to leave with the public is that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent them and that they are a one-off event, unlikely to be repeated. “So, Environment Minister Truss” [who has repeated the ‘unprecedented’ line like well trained parrot] “were the floods of 2007 or of 2014 also ‘unprecedented’? Doesn’t ‘unprecedented’ mean ‘not happened before’?”

After the 2007 flooding in the West country, there…

View original post 962 more words

No Minister, this winter’s floods are not ‘Unprecedented’.

East Midlands Green Party Blog

David Cameron was ill advised to brag about how much flood defence work has been done during his premiership – surrounded as he was by flood water in York. “Like much of the rest of what you have done as prime minister David, your actions on flood prevention have been demonstrably inadequate. That’s why you were surrounded by flood water!”

The line being taken by this lamentable government is that the floods of this winter were ‘unprecedented’. The impression that they want to leave with the public is that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent them and that they are a one-off event, unlikely to be repeated. “So, Environment Minister Truss” [who has repeated the ‘unprecedented’ line like well trained parrot] “were the floods of 2007 or of 2014 also ‘unprecedented’? Doesn’t ‘unprecedented’ mean ‘not happened before’?”

After the 2007 flooding in the West country, there…

View original post 962 more words

Important message for Green Party Members in Amber Valley

If you are a Green Party member living within the Amber Valley Borough Council boundary then you should have received an invitation to vote in the ballot currently taking place to decide whether Amber Valley becomes an independent local party. Previous experience tells me that emails sent to a large number of addresses at once sometimes end up in junk, spam or bulk mail folders.

If you are an Amber Valley member and don’t think you have received your invitation then please check this/these folders. If you still can’t find it then it may be because we don’t have an up to date email for you. Please contact me to ensure you have the opportunity to participate in this important vote.

Peter Allen
On behalf of Derbyshire Green Party
Email     peterd.allen@btinternet.com
Tel          07793319547

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!”

 

The Curate's Egg of the Paris Agreement

The Curate’s Egg of the Paris Agreement

Don't rubbish this agreement, it's all we have.