Arts and Science, in harmony

January 13th, 2020

At last, popular, mainstream entertainment is referring to the climate change crisis…..

I switched on the television last night, in the middle of a very baffling Dr Who episode – it turned out that ‘the doctor’ and fellow space travellers had inadvertently arrived on Earth, in a horrendously bleak future ‘peopled’ by drooling, diabolical Dregs…. Safely back in the Tardis, she gave a passionate speech about people having the power to choose our future: we need to ‘step up’, we can either save or destroy our planet….. I hope a lot of people heard that, people who might not otherwise think about the destruction we’re all contributing to….

In a more immediate and ‘down to earth’ (?!) bid to save/help the planet, the first London Climate Change festival is being held, running from March to May. It will feature standup, dance, music and cabaret, as well as talks from visiting speakers, such as Natalie Fee, an environmental campaigner from Bristol. Actor Janie Dee, the festival’s organiser, apparently said she felt uncomfortable about ignoring the problem of climate change while starring in her current hit play – “in this country, we are all using three times the resources we should be”….

The festival will include the food critic Jay Rayner – it would be so amazing to hear him on Masterchef promoting meat-free meals! I’ve stopped watching that show, sadly – too much emphasis on meat. It’s frustrating not to have a straightforward way of contacting the programme’s makers (I posted a message on their Facebook page, with no response…): please tell me if you know how.

Quorn is to become the first major brand to introduce carbon labelling on its products. The labels are aimed at helping consumers understand the environmental impact of their/our shopping. Hopefully, this will result in more manufacturers stepping up efforts, in a bid for ‘second time lucky’ action – a while ago, Tesco (the UK’s largest retailer) dropped its plan to label all its products with their carbon footprint, blaming the work involved and other supermarkets for failing to follow its lead. I’ve written to the CEO of Tesco.

Proceeds from the Climate Change festival’s events will be split between the campaigning groups City to Sea (founded by Natalie Fee), Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, also helping to fund future activities of the London CC festival group.

The National Trust is planning to plant 20 million trees over the next decade as part of efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. It says the new trees and natural regeneration of woods will cover more than 44,500 acres (an area one-and-a-half times the size of Manchester). It also says a similar level of tree cover is needed nationwide to meet government targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions – I hope they’re passing this message on to government themselves too….!

Opposition to the HS2 high-speed railway continues – contractors have, appallingly, sealed off public footpaths and removed trees inside Calvert Jubilee reserve in Buckinghamshire without notifying the landowners, a wildlife trust.

Lord Berkeley, not a name I’d usually associate with environmentalism (is he connected with the Berkeley Castle, Berkeley Hunt people…?), has said HS2 is not good for the environment and is the wrong solution to improving the rail network – he recommended spending half of HS2’s budget on upgrading existing commuter lines. Let’s hope his report to government is listened to…

Still on the government theme, its chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, is lamenting the dearth of scientists and engineers in its departments. The threats of climate change, an ageing population and tightened national security will all be impacted adversely by this shortage, he says. In order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 (a target that needs to be earlier, anyway – my comment), he has warned: “We will have to remove domestic heating from the gas grid, find ways of designing carbon-free transport systems in towns, and – at the same time – find ways to understand the reams of data…..to inform and improve future actions to combat climate change.

“We will need scientists and engineers to help us do that.”

Now, two positive pieces of news –

BlackRock, the world’s largest investor, has joined an influential pressure group calling for the biggest polluters to reduce their emissions. It has signed up to Climate Action 100+. Other financial firms are likely to follow suit.

And a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, has been banned in Europe. Even after the European Food Safety Authority warned that this neurotoxic chemical was a serious danger to human health, and especially children, its makers Dow lobbied hard to keep it legal. More than 220,000 SumofUs members (including me!), together with other environmental pressure groups, signed a petition which resulted in legislation.

And finally, I noticed a great letter in Sunday’s Observer – Nigel Long, from Keynsham, pointed out that the current cheap air fares depend on aircraft being filled to near capacity. “Therefore”, he said, “only a relatively small number of people avoiding flying and leaving empty seats can make a route unprofitable and subject to withdrawal.” So we ‘flygskam’-ers can feel we’re making a difference – especially my daughter and son-in-law who are substituting a birthday trip to Portugal with a holiday in Wales. Good for them!

We can all be warriors (in a good way!)

January 9th, 2020

Before the end of 2019, I noticed news of a programme scheduled on the National Geographic channel – ‘with a population of 1.4 billion people, China is one of the world’s largest polluters. After generations of oil-fuelled expansion, the Chinese are now exploring new green ways to sustain their megacities, such as the vertical forests and wind farms explored in this insightful documentary.’

I mention this, to show there is hope in the most unexpected places – and also for the sake of my niece who is currently living in China.

Now, energy news – a ‘tiny spark’, according to the BBC’s online news, in the UK’s hydrogen revolution has been lit. Hydrogen fuel is a relatively green alternative to many fuels that produce greenhouse gases. The natural gas supply at Keele University is being blended with 20% hydrogen. Adding the hydrogen will reduce the amount of CO2 that’s being produced through heating and cooking.

Using natural gas for heating generates about a third of the UK emissions that are driving global warming. But the only product of burning hydrogen is water.

Critics fear hydrogen will prove too expensive for mass usage, but supporters of the technology have high hopes. And the big positive, it seems, is the practical conversion/interim application. The fact is that so many households have gas boilers in this country.

About 85% of homes have gas central heating, and some experts believe it will prove more cost-effective to switch boilers to hydrogen, rather than to install heat pumps which would require the UK’s ageing housing stock to be highly insulated.

A recent study for the government raised the possibility that homes could be warmed by a hybrid system using electric heat pumps, then topping up with hydrogen on cold days.

I’ll just add here that I have had a very encouraging, positive personal response from Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change. He is ‘genuinely optimistic that we will turn things around’ – ‘we’ll get there’, ‘keep pushing’ he said.

That certainly has given me a boost; and I hope it helps others too to keep striving…..

Continuing the hydrogen theme, a young team of scientists led by inspiring woman Dr Enass Abo-Hamed has built what it believes is the future of air travel. They have come up with a revolutionary structure which could store hydrogen as a stable solid without compression. They are currently testing flying drones powered by hydrogen (to deliver medicine, or scan disaster areas to send information back); but Dr Abo-Hamed’s dream is to ultimately de-carbonise air travel – in the next twenty or thirty years….?

Now an immediate decision about air travel – Australian actor Yael Stone has vowed to give up her green card, which allows her to live and work in the US, as a ‘personal sacrifice’ in the ‘climate war’. She has decided it’s unethical for her to set up a life in two countries, calling such frequent travelling ‘environmentally unjust’.

This is interesting timing – it coincides with the announcement from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that they intend to now live their lives between the US and the UK. I thought they made speeches against climate change, recently…?!

On my own personal note, I do have two friends who move regularly between Australia and here – impossible not to, if your family is split on both sides of the world…..

To finish this week, I’ll touch on a subject where we can all make a difference – what we eat.

Changes in land use are vital for the recovery of the earth. And it is definitely a heartening sign that more and more people (and crucially, more ‘mainstream’ companies) are reducing their meat consumption. Meat-free Mondays is ‘a thing’ (I’ve only just discovered, actually), particularly promoted by Paul McCartney. And Burger King has launched its first plant-based burger – I just hope the soya is ethically sourced….Subway has added a vegan marinara meatball sandwich to its menu too, after launching a vegan patty last year. ‘Flexitarian’ seems to be a new dietary category, describing people who still eat meat but are reducing their intake of animal products. Long may it all continue.

And eventually lab-grown food will end farming and save the planet! Check out Solar Foods, a company making very radical changes in Helsinki.

As Yael Stone says: “We have to step up because this is war.. And our enemy is not wearing a uniform that we’ll be able to recognise. Our enemy is our own behaviour.”

The dawn of a decade

January 1st, 2020

Happy New Year!

Greta Thunberg is happy, and I am determined to be too! I’ve been listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that was guest edited by her this week.

She is pleased to be home with her family and has such a positive outlook. Her message continues to be all about the science of climate change. Once people discover the truth through reading the scientific facts, she believes, they/we will change our behaviour – it’s so amazing that she doesn’t judge individuals, just hopes that we will all reach the right conclusions….

I find it harder not to despair that the world’s not changing fast enough, I must admit.

The CEO of Shell, Ben van Buerden, was on the programme too. He was smugly pleased with the progress the company’s making with developing ‘low-carbon alternative’ fuels (only a tenth of their overall business, by the way…), but also seemed to put the responsibility at the door of us as consumers. If the world stops demanding petrol (‘high carbon fuel’) in as high quantities, the proportion of their business can switch round – less oil drilling, more eco friendliness….?! He even praised climate activists, saying their/our message is important. It all sounded like smooth public relations speak really, but it does show how much power people actually have – we can change things with how we spend….

Mark Carney, who will step down as Bank of England governor at the end of this month (taking up an unpaid position as the UN’s special envoy for climate action and finance), talked about both this potential market-driven change together with regulation as being vital in addressing climate change. He is advocating for all companies to make disclosures about their carbon footprints, with clear plans about how they will meet the zero carbon target. And he suggested we all ask the question: how is my money being invested?

He said the UK must have put its house in order by November 9th, 2020, when COP26 (the UN’s Conference of Parties) takes place in Glasgow – Greta Thunberg underlined that this is such an important event. We need a ‘tipping point’ for slowing the global heating path we’re on….

I know it’s important to let you all make your own decisions about your behaviour, dear readers, but I really urge you to all write to your MPs (and companies, banks etc too if possible) ahead of November, asking about their contribution to making an environmental difference in 2020.

How can there be joyful firework displays welcoming this year when the damage caused by climate change is so evident around the world….? Unsurprisingly, Australia’s Scott Morrison ignored the 250,000+ people who signed a petition calling for the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks to be cancelled in order to spend the money on fighting the bushfires instead. Despite the Australian government at last admitting that climate change is a contributing factor to the soaring temperatures, Morrison reckons there is no urgency about changing policies (‘everyone should keep calm like the firefighters…’). Of course he doesn’t want to risk people’s jobs etc, but this is a classic example of politicians simply concentrating on today and tomorrow, rather than preparing for the future.

That was how David Attenborough summarised politics – he was also on Greta Thunberg’s Today programme. He said there needs to be a world movement, such as we have never seen before, where there is a consensus to fight climate change – an electric shock to bring people to their senses….

Another example of global heating is in Russia – the government has resorted to sending trucks filled with artificial snow to decorate a new year display in Moscow. Real snow usually begins blanketing Russia in October or November. This year light flurries have fallen in Moscow and its parks are dusted white, but most of the snow in the city centre has melted.

I’m going to end this first blog of the decade with some good news.

Ethical consumer spending has hit record levels in the UK – food, drink, clothing, energy and eco-travel. The Co-op is due to announce that it has banned black plastic packaging from all of its products. By summer this year it will also have phased out all non-recyclable plastics and replaced them with those that can be reused or easily recycled. I had a chat with a member of Sainsbury’s staff before Christmas, trying to understand why some parsnips were sold in plastic packaging and others were loose….couldn’t they all be loose? He said that changes can’t happen overnight….Tied into supply chain contracts etc, I guess, and I didn’t want to get into an un-festive argument, but the oceans are so full of our plastic rubbish.. Maybe we’ll switch to shopping at the Co-op….

Finally, I hope you share my pleasure with the latest Vauxhall Corsa television advert…?! Very strange for me to like anything to do with cars, but these are electric; and, the bit that appeals to me, a graveyard for petrol…..Just marketing, of course, but right ‘up my street’….!

The Night is always darkest before the Dawn

December 16th, 2019

Oh, what a horrible/weird time – I somehow had hopes for that election being a turning point….

Well, I’m taking heart from Caroline Lucas – she was ‘returned’ with an even greater Green majority in Brighton; and she gave an inspiring speech on Twitter. The night is always darkest before the dawn….

I’ve just written a letter to my MP (with our Christmas card – back cover in pic above); and I’ll send one about plastic to the Prime Minister’s partner, Carrie Symonds – she’s an environmentalist with Oceana, surprisingly enough… Liz Bonnin gave a frightening presentation on Friday in London about the damaging situation with plastic waste in the seas.

Dear Mark Harper,

First, congratulations on becoming our MP, again….! Second, there is no way I want to be rude or disrespectful, but I do want to burst the bubble of victory a little I’m afraid… I wonder if you’re aware of what people outside the Conservative ‘home’ are feeling….?

I think about climate change nearly all the time (as you might have guessed from my previous ‘grandmother’ letters…). I feel a deep sense of despair and hopelessness (tears in my eyes as I write this…) at the moment, along with millions of other people in the country I think….

This election felt as if it might rise above politics and be a collective human decision to address the emergency at long last. The world is clearly not working as it is – other countries are already paying the devastating price. So, we need radical change.

How influential is the Conservative Environment Network? (I wrote them/you and Richard Graham a letter a while ago, with no reply…) Is there any chance of a Conservative version of the Green New Deal?

I understand of course that there is pressing urgency to address the problems in the NHS, Social Care and employment in post-industrial areas, but all these (in fact, every policy) should be approached in tandem with an environmental agenda. 

There will be no future for anything if we do not tackle the climate crisis. 

On a positive note, we should view some of the challenges as opportunities. 

A green industrial revolution is definitely possible – there has been wonderful work done on preparing for it, providing jobs for people and establishing a better relationship with the environment. I was interested to read about Heather Mills’ vegan factories in the North East.

2020 should be the start of real change.

As the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid: “Climate change is no longer a long-term problem. We are confronted now with a global climate crisis. The point of no-return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling towards us. Our war against nature must stop.”

Tens of millions of homes must be insulated soon; and large-scale road and airport building are not compatible with cutting emissions.

Trade with Brazil must cease, until the large-scale Amazon deforestation stops. And trade with the USA must include many caveats – how can a ‘civilised’ country, our special relations, be determined to leave climate change out of any trade deals….?

Please meet with Chris Stark from the Committee on Climate Change urgently. What has happened since the report in October clearly instructing the UK government to tell the public we need to make big lifestyle changes to cut the country’s carbon footprint?

This year, and no later, there need to be highly visible public information messages, on television, radio and posters.

As I write my campaigning letters etc I feel myself getting increasingly calmer. I’m realising that, thank goodness, there are determined people around striving for change, which gives me hope.

BUT this awareness has not trickled through to the general public, I fear. The roads are as busy, BP dominates, meat counters are thriving, adverts for cars and holidays abound…With a terrorist threat, it’s important to carry on as ‘normal’, so the perpetrators don’t win. This climate threat/reality is going to get worse if we carry on as normal. 

Our behaviour must change.

And we need big legislative changes – we can’t turn things around on our own.

Will the radical environment bill, setting firm targets for conservation, published by the government in October be re-introduced into Parliament in this new term? I hope so. I note, in a BBC online report, that it was published ‘against the wish of the Treasury’. Bad news, as is the Treasury’s unhealthy links with oil companies…

Existentialist grief is never far away (a state I hope you can relate to, from your philosophy studies). The most poignant part is that, since the election, I can see it affecting my children – despite the fact they’re now grownups, I still have the instinct to protect them. They should not be worrying about the future like this. 

I noted, in a Guardian study about the attitude towards climate change of all the parties, that the Conservatives understand the passion of the young school strikers but do not condone them missing their education. Where can people with no power take their passion?

I really hope your party will arrange to meet the UKStudentClimateNetwork please. Instead of despairing that no-one seems to be listening to them, they are continuing to organise themselves, with imagination and articulacy (and very little funds…). Joe Brindle, aged 17, is planning a youth-led parliamentary reception in the new year – I’d be grateful if you could find out more about this by researching the UKSCN.

And primary school age children deserve to be given hope (not platitudes) about their futures. I am so impressed with, and moved by, their young determination – I hope environmental doors won’t be closed in their faces….

Now, I can’t avoid the controversial subject of Extinction Rebellion. Their methods are unpopular, I know (and illegal, sometimes), but again, what are they/we all supposed to do if our concerns are not taken seriously….? They are giving us a taste of global disruption – an inconvenient truth.

I’m sure all environmental activists would agree with me – we’re only ‘agitating’ because we can see no other way….

Time is running out now – please be pro-active and urge our government at all possible occasions to start emergency actions urgently, underpinning every aspect of our lives.

We’re all relying on you. You have the power! Please use it wisely!

Best wishes,

Emily Thwaite

Happy Christmas everyone, especially Sharon in Australia!

Daring to be different….

December 9th, 2019

I’m returning to the subject I started this blog with – the joy of train travel.

We had such a brilliant holiday in May travelling by train around a number of European cities (7 in 15 days… possibly a bit excessive/ambitious for most people, but that’s us…!).

I’ve just caught up with a Radio 4 feature about train travel – on December 2nd’s You & Yours edition, if you’d like to find it.

Apparently, Britons take more flights than anyone else, according to the International Air Transport Association. We flew 126 million times, which means that every 12th flyer in the world is British… a bit shocking…

The guest on the radio programme was someone who runs the website ‘Man in Seat 61’. He’s urging holidaymakers to see train journeys as an integral part of the holiday. We certainly saw wonderful countryside, particularly in the Czech Republic. Czech Railways apparently offer amazingly cheap trips. It’s all about planning ahead and doing research. thetrainline.com and raileurope.com were mentioned. It needn’t be more expensive than flying – the train enthusiast said ‘like most things in life, putting in effort is rewarded…’. And airports aren’t life-affirming places, are they…?

International travel is more of a problem, of course – and long-haul flights produce more carbon emissions. This wasn’t covered in the programme. Let’s start somewhere, though…

On a UK general election level, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party are the only ones committed to absolutely no more airport expansion – this seems an environmental requirement to me, a ‘no brainer’ as they say these days….

In the middle of all the political upheaval and uncertainty, The Guardian today is focussing on 10 topics that unite us – a welcome change from ‘divided Britain’ reporting….

As many as 95% of Britons think climate change is at least partly due to human activity, according to the 2018 European Social Survey. That’s a hopeful statistic (climate deniers at last are nearly a thing of the past, in this country anyway). But does it translate to us thinking we need to do anything about it? Are we willing to accept massive changes in our way of life?

Pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment is no longer an option, according to a major new report from the European Environment Agency.

Its director, Hans Bruyninckx, said: “We already have the knowledge, technologies and tools to make key production and consumption systems such as food, mobility and energy sustainable.”

In this country, the Labour Party told the Guardian (again! such a good paper…!): ‘this election is our last chance to tackle the climate crisis. We’re already off course to meet our targets and radical and urgent action over the next five years is essential.’

Not sure how this statement is reconciled with the party’s reluctance to stop airport expansion; but anyway I was cheered to read that the green industrial revolution (Green New Deal) has been going down well while Labour has been canvassing in post-industrial areas (where ‘nobody has talked about reseeding with high-skilled work for decades’).

A topic that is not covered by this online survey of political parties’ plans is waste.

One of the EEA’s huge ambitions is to stipulate that products must be made to create no waste.

People have definitely embraced the need to turn our backs on plastic – many bring their own shopping bags (as in the good old days when I was a child!) and metal water bottles & coffee cups. 

Apparently, soda streams are experiencing a surge in popularity, as people want to add fizz to tap water rather than buy (& bin) bottled water.

The cleanliness of oceans is on the agenda again – a report published by Greenpeace International is aiming to create new sanctuaries and forge a new treaty to protect the oceans.

‘The ocean’s biology is one of our best allies in the fight against climate change’, said Louisa Casson from Greenpeace.

Supermarkets still package far too many products in unnecessary plastic. Sainsbury’s have introduced ‘action on plastic’ , but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I think Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Anita Rani will be on television again with a follow-up to their ‘War on Plastic’ series – watch out for it…

The Eve of 2020

December 3rd, 2019

An update on the Shell initiative, ‘Drive Carbon Neutral’ – Forestry and Land Scotland has replied to me. They are definitely helping Shell offset drivers’ carbon emissions by planting trees on their behalf – this does not, I am told, mean they endorse Shell….

Well, another dilemma… This is better than nothing, I suppose, while we are still using petrol;

but will it just make us all happily carry on as usual…?

I really don’t know how we’re going to get past the queues of cars (metaphorically as well as physically…!) – happily, being retired, I don’t have to have my mind rubbed in the problem every day… could more people share cars, until we get better public transport…?

I’m keen on petrol rationing, but of course I’m told by voices of sense and reason that we ‘have to take people with us’ in any radical system changes.

One of the demands of Extinction Rebellion is that government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

Invitations have now been sent out to 30,000 households across the UK and of those who reply, 110 people will be selected as a representative sample to sit on a citizens’ assembly in Birmingham next year, over four weekends between late January to the middle of March.

I’ve imagined what I would do if invited on to this assembly! Sadly, I can just imagine discussions getting bogged down in personal stuff, money talk and negativity….

And I think XR intends that there should be a permanent (for as long as it’s needed – wouldn’t it be great if that wasn’t long…?!) group of people guiding/putting pressure on government.

A few people in a conference centre, having frequent breaks for coffee & lunch, during 4 weekends will not come up with anything radical….

There are so many brilliant groups of people, particularly the Green Party, who have researched and are ready to put a Green New Deal in place.

That is what is needed (the end of my election appeal!).

Now, good news and bad news, flip sides of the same coin really – the coin of finance….(not the chocolate coin of Christmas…)

The number of insurers withdrawing cover for coal projects more than doubled this year, and for the first time US companies (Chubb and Axis Capital) have taken action. Also, Australian firms QBE and Suncorp have pledged to stop or restrict insurance for coal projects. I wonder where that leaves the high-profile Adani mine project… Lloyd’s of London and Asian insurers are still apparently the ‘last resort’ for fossil fuels.. We need to continue to lobby such irresponsible companies. Lobbying from ‘people power’ is so important here.

The reverse of the coin is the fossil fuel lobbyists – a report from watchdog InfluenceMap has found that although some investors support ‘green labelling’ rules, 98% of Europe’s 50 largest investors are members of lobby groups trying to weaken EU rules to stop ‘investment greenwashing’.

Ed Collins, the report’s lead author, said: “Our research shows how vested interests have risked moving the critical EU green taxonomy process away from being science-driven and focused on real-world impacts to one which supports narrow vested interests and the status quo in finance and sustainability.”

Still on finance, Mark Carney (stepping down from the Bank of England at the end of January) has been appointed as the UN special envoy for climate action and finance. He seems a good man. He said the new role, for which he will be paid a token 1 dollar (77p) a year, would provide “a platform to bring the risks from climate change and the opportunities from the transition to a net-zero economy into the heart of financial decision-making.”

COP25, the UN Climate Change Conference, began yesterday in Madrid. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday: “Climate change is no longer a long-term problem. We are confronted now with a global climate crisis. The point of no-return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling towards us.

“Our war against nature must stop.”

Hopefully, this will make more of us determined to fight for Nature.

Food for Thought

November 28th, 2019

Did you see the television programme ‘Meat: a Threat to our Planet?’ It was on BBC 1, so I hope many people will have seen it (though it was after Panorama, not Eastenders!).

I thought I knew a bit about the Amazon rainforest destruction, particularly in Brazil, but I had no idea of the vast scale of land waste and contamination in the USA and such shameful ‘dead zones’ in the sea around the UK.

I’ll be writing (a ‘fan letter’?!) to Liz Bonnin who presented the documentary – as she said, the scale of the problem of industrialised meat production is made sharply visible because we see her  taken up in small aircraft to fly over these places (someone like Jeremy Clarkson is bound to say that is environmentally hypocritical…).

I haven’t quite got the strength yet to write that letter; and also I feel I want to address the woman scientist she interviewed in Texas. It is not for us to tell people what they can eat, she said – science will sort everything out… But why should ‘science’ take on the massive problem of greedy people’s addiction to steak?! That’s a bit flippant of me, of course; and hopefully blinkered devoted carnivores are a minority. Surely if the majority of people thought more about what they’re eating, they would avoid meat…? 

The programme ended with the question, should we simply stop eating meat?

Having seen the trailer a few times, as well as the actual programme, I’ve often shouted at the television, ‘yes’! I would, wouldn’t I? I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life!

Environmentally conscious UK farmers, and environmentally conscious UK consumers (including some of my friends and family) will say that methods in this country are dramatically different from in the Americas. But there is still the issue of some land here being wasted to grow crops to feed the animals; and also imported feed, such as soya, may be grown on deforested land or may involve fishmeal….that was a ‘first’ for me, finding out that masses of sardines are ground up for animal feed (depriving African penguins of their natural food)….

And less than scrupulous supermarkets in this country, such as Morrisons, continue to stock beef from JBS, a huge industrial meat company, including in their own brands. Morrisons CEO, David Potts, is declining to respond to letters/appeals….

I suppose my feeling is that if fewer people here bought meat, it might help to send a message to the wider world that the time has come for huge change.

My fantasy is that during the next 10 years meat-eating will become a marginal activity, just as smoking is now – well, maybe that still happens a lot, but at least it is now understood to be unhealthy. Meat eating is unhealthy for the planet.

I’ve not addressed the natural conclusion of this statement, in my campaign so far – veganism.

Partly because I would personally find it difficult (we’ve almost given up ‘ordinary’ milk, though, and butter, but not cheese yet), but probably mainly because converting the minds of most people to live like that seems such a distant dream….?!

I’m just very grateful that there are so many people investigating these issues. I caught the end of a Radio Four programme yesterday evening (in the car!) about various farming initiatives. There is an ‘experiment farm’, North Wyke Farm Platform in Devon, studying the complete flow of nutrients from soil to food, with the clear and distinct aim (quoting their website) of making farming more sustainable. One Welsh farmer/scientist was saying that some sheep grazing is necessary for biodiversity of plants…

Back, briefly, to the subject of Jeremy Clarkson…. After being so vile about Greta Thunberg, he has now accepted the existence of the climate crisis – he and his Grand Tour jet boats had to slow to a crawl in the usually vast Mekong river system, which has been affected by water shortages.

But it doesn’t look as if he thinks we should take any responsibility for the crisis, (“I hope people are working out what to do about it”), let alone alter any of his ‘petrol-head’ activities….Selfish, opinionated man! 

How amazing it would be if his ‘handbrake turn’ could be used to positively influence people and prove that opinion of mine wrong….!

Also on the subject of water shortages, I’ve started watching a new series of the American drama ‘Goliath’ (available on Amazon, I think) – a drought has frightening consequences: as well as the physical problems, human greed and homicide are highlighted.

The way the world ‘works’ needs to change – it’s so clearly not working.

In the financial pages of The Guardian on Monday, there was such a positive article – Green Capitalism, the businesses putting purpose before profits.

This is the opening paragraph – ‘In a volatile world jolted by protest, revolt and environmental alarm, capitalism is showing signs of twitchiness. For decades, business has been all about maximising profits and keeping owners happy. Now, thousand of companies and organisations (that is the excellent part – my words!) are experimenting with broader values – purpose over profit, staff and communities ahead of shareholders – to meet the mood of the times.’

Well, this evening I’ll be watching the climate debate on Channel 4; and tomorrow I plan to join the  second Global Climate Strike, organised by schoolchildren (who want & deserve adult support too) – fair-weather activists might be put off by the weather, though, ironically….

Finally, I’d really appreciate it if anyone reading this could follow my twitter feed please (#grandmaglobal) – I post/re-tweet lots of appeals on it that I’d like people to support. Thank you!