The great and the good….(?)

November 6th, 2019

Two pieces of good news to start with – 

there is currently a ban on fracking in the UK: this is actually due to the earthquakes caused by the drilling, the government still resisting  actually declaring that shale gas needs to stay in the ground. But hopefully, this is the start of a permanent ban…

and the other ‘positive’ is that the High Court has ruled the Metropolitan Police’s ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful. The Met actually had no power to impose a London-wide ban. As Caroline Lucas has tweeted: ‘Peaceful protest is a fundamental right in a democracy & must not be arbitrarily shut down.’ The Green Party has just launched their ‘Climate Election’ campaign in Bristol, just down the road.. I wish them well.

Please continue to check out what ‘your’ party/candidate is planning to do about the climate emergency.

Now, a huge depressing international situation – the long drought in New South Wales, Australia, has been declared the worst on record; and tourists are actually visiting to ‘see a place that’s running dry’. That sounds like morbid curiosity, and maybe it is, but apparently visitors are generally welcomed in such places. There are businesses that rely on passing trade. At this point, I’d like to mention my loyal reader in Australia, Sharon – she has recently been encouraging travellers to support such businesses, not avoid them. Water-saving efforts have to be complied with, though, of course – it certainly is uplifting to find people doing the best they can in the worst circumstances. But it does also make me even more keen to put pressure on the people in power, who let ordinary citizens cope with the problems while not stopping the polluters at source…

Talking of whom…

Have you noticed fancy new pumps at Shell petrol stations? They are offering us the chance to ‘drive carbon neutral’, with petrol…..?! Thanks to my friend Brenda for drawing my attention to them. This is obviously a greenwashing, public relations exercise, to make us feel better while Shell continues to drill for oil.

However, we are still stuck in driving petrol cars for the foreseeable future, so I’d love to think this might help, in a small way.

The new project (across 1,000 Shell UK service stations) claims that Shell will offset the carbon dioxide emissions from customers’ fuel purchases on their behalf. It plans to purchase carbon credits generated from projects in the UK and internationally that protect and regenerate forests.

Can we believe these are bona fide projects? This area can all get very murky and corrupt, particularly internationally.

The more immediate reassuring aspect is the partnership in the UK with Forestry and Land Scotland. The firm said it aims to plant up to 1 million trees. More trees, great; Shell, not great, but we may be stuck with you for the moment….

I’ll write to Shell and Land Scotland next week.

I’m going to finish with my responses to David Attenborough’s latest tv series. Oceans have even more carbon capturing capacity than trees, so we need to continue all the efforts to protect them. 

Antarctica is warming 5 degrees more than the rest of the world – penguins and elephant seals are already experiencing temperatures that are far too hot for them. Watching the people documenting all this despairing while watching the ‘innocent victims’  is horrible. And, this week, the worst bit was those walruses packed together on dry rocks that should have been covered in ice, desperately hurtling down to the sea to escape the equally stranded polar bears, to their deaths mostly….

It was a huge relief, and such a testament to human goodness, to see the project whereby whale sharks are helped to prosper by fishermen. 

I wonder if the super-rich, private jet buying celebrities watch such images…? I’ve also written to Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Honeywell Aerospace today!

Crumbs of Comfort

November 1st, 2019

I’ve been ill this week, so I aim to keep this post short, and as sweet as possible to cheer me – though of course other stuff outweighs the positive generally, in this sad subject….

Two wins have been made for bees – under pressure from SumOfUs members (including me!), the EU has banned chemical company Bayer’s toxic pesticide Thiacloprid. Bees and farm workers will now be safe from the cancer-linked insect-harming chemical.

And a huge majority of MEPs rejected weak EU plans to protect bees from harmful pesticides generally – it is hoped that new ‘Bee Guidance’ standards will now be considered.

Bees are so fundamentally important – even that cartoon film ages ago (2007 to be precise), Bee Movie, recognised that!

The number of seals living in the Thames estuary has increased – the Zoological Society of London has announced that 138 new harbour and grey seal pups have been born, suggesting the once ‘biologically dead’ river is now healthy once again.

And the population of grey seals around the Faroe Islands has also increased this year. I came across an interesting article about that place, written by Lise Lyck from Copenhagen Business School. She doesn’t mention their annual whale killing tradition/blood bath….So weird…

Back to the optimism now – British battery pioneers plane to build Europe’s largest energy storage project, using a ‘cryogenic battery’ that can store renewable energy for weeks rather than hours.

The battery will be built on the site of an old fossil fuel power plant in the north of England, to power up to 50,000 homes for five hours at a time.

It will use renewable electricity to chill air to -196C, transforming it into a liquid that can be stored inside large tanks. Then when renewable electricity levels are low the liquid can be turned back into gas, which is used to generate electricity but without burning the gas and releasing emissions.

Good luck to Javier Cavada and Highview Power – that’s what we need, imaginative initiatives.

More good news! 300 MPs have called on their pension fund to drop fossil fuel investments.

Following two and a half years of grassroots organising, MPs from every political party in the UK have backed the Divest Parliament Campaign – 

I don’t really know where Caroline Lucas, who started the campaign five years ago, gets her continued optimism and drive from – thank goodness, anyway…

By the way, Volvo did confirm they intend to do all those good things! Even if, of course, there’s an element of glossing involved, it is such a more impressive, conscientious carmaker than General Motors (headed by a woman, Mary Barra, whose office has never bothered to answer me), Toyota and Fiat Chrysler who are siding with President Trump’s disastrous moves to reverse climate protection laws… I wish we didn’t drive a Fiat (however cute it is, and individually ‘low emissions’). Don’t support these companies!

The news that electric cars will carry green number plates, meaning they are entitled to free parking, is good; but most of us still can’t afford electric cars (and some companies are clearly resisting making them…) The manageable starting point is to buy less petrol… surely…? 

Finally, check out www.ecohustler.com – ‘Vote now for the world we want’, by Howard Johns, written on my son’s birthday, October 30th. SO GOOD, EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ IT!

The Green New Deal is what we all need to strive for – delivered by whoever has vision, commitment and courage.

Now I’ve just come across a BBC series called Me vs Climate Change – young woman Swarzy Macaly covers fashion, food, phones and showers, making a difference. Interestingly, she introduces her project as a personal one (and for ‘anyone else who wants to’), rejecting the protest movement because ‘no one looked like me or my family’. Mm, work to be done….

I wonder what she thinks about voting….

Travel plans

October 21st, 2019

I’m returning to the ‘thorny issue’ of flying today…..

As many of you will know by now, a Department for Transport survey has revealed that nearly a fifth of all flights abroad are taken by only 1% of residents in England. The 10% most frequent flyers took more than half of all international flights in 2018.

So, a frequent flyer levy is being proposed (it even made the front page of The Times the other day) – at long last…! Each citizen would be allowed one tax-free flight a year but would pay progressively higher taxes on each additional flight.

So, most of us are not to blame… But I must admit I still find it difficult to hear about friends and family planning flights. Then I think about the admirable yearning of the young to explore and experience other places & cultures – should it just be us older people, as well as the ‘problem flyers’, who set an example…?

I’m very heartened anyway, by the news that Eurostar has reported its busiest August ever, with more than a million passengers demonstrating a desire for sustainable travel.

And, amazingly, KLM (honouring its pledge to ask people to ‘fly responsibly’) will reduce its daily flights between Amsterdam and Brussels from March, offering customers a high-speed train seat instead!

By contrast, unfortunately, Ryanair is unashamedly trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

In very prominent tv adverts it describes itself as Europe’s ‘greenest’ and ‘cleanest’ airline.

According to The Telegraph’s digital travel editor, 9.9 megatonnes of carbon dioxide was ‘belched into our atmosphere in 2018’ by Ryanair’s 419 aircraft collectively, making it one of the continent’s 10 biggest carbon emitters, according to a European Commission report. The other nine are all coal-fired power stations…

So, don’t fly Ryanair, if you’re going to fly at all!

Part of me despairs that there is a big group of people/us who do not care enough about the environmental disaster to make any changes to their/our lives; and, sadly, I am still depressed by the many companies/investors who put profit above anything else. BUT here’s a crumb of comfort! The International Air Transport Association’s chief economist said climate is now ‘top of the agenda’ for investors. Climate issues had apparently come up an average of seven times on calls between European airlines and investors in 2019, compared with an average of less than one per call in the four years between 2013 and 2017. Brian Pearce said: “Climate change is not just an issue for protesters or scientists…. We’re getting pressure from all quarters.”

Now, a little foray into the climate world of food & farming – I just wanted to remark that in the recent Panorama ‘experiment’ programme, the young sons of the family turned their noses/mouths up at the soya milk on their cereal. … I don’t blame them! Soya doesn’t taste nearly as nice as oat milk. Also, a proportion of the soya beans imported to this country comes from Brazil and deforested areas.. Hopefully, the oat milk manufacturers will be able to keep up with increasing demand…..

And, good news just come in a few moments ago, roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution has reduced by a third as a result of Ultra Low Emission Zones in London.

I’ve written to the Bristol Mayor to ask that things are improving locally, too (and hopefully, where you are…?).

And I’ve heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury – well, from his ‘communications’ office.

I was given a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby – “as a Christian, responding to the climate emergency is not optional – it’s essential. “We’re called to protect God’s creation and love our neighbour. It’s inspiring to see young people so passionate about protecting God’s creation and calling our attention to the climate emergency. Thank you for showing us where our priorities should be.”

The office continued by telling me that the Church of England has committed to playing a leading role in the fight against dangerous climate change, including through the Church’s ethical investment activities. The Church’s National Investing Bodies continually ensure that their investment policies are ‘aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities’ of the Church on climate change. There are many ways to demonstrate ethical investment including active engagement with companies and policy makers, and the Church continues to treat climate change as an urgent ethical issue of the utmost importance – including in its practice of ethical investment. 

No mention of Justin Welby’s past in the oil industry, but there you go….!

And he doesn’t actually say he admires XR, focussing instead on the young people/activists.

I was interested to read that one of the XR protesters in the London Underground action that got such negative response from the public was a woman from Christian Climate Action. She said she was ‘deeply sorry’ for the ordinary working people who became caught up in the protest but said the inconvenience caused ‘paled into insignificance compared with the chaos of climate breakdown’ unless immediate systemic action is taken. (They were trying to target the City)

She went on to lament that the road blocking etc was not getting heard. I wonder if there really are still people who are oblivious… I fear so…

But I’ll end on two positive notes. Well, the first will be once I’ve heard that it’s not greenwashing…. Volvo are advertising that ‘Electric is not Enough’ – starting now, they say, every new Volvo model will be electrified, but also that by 2025 all their manufacturing plants will run on renewable energy, with a vision to be climate neutral by 2040…. A Swedish company, after all, so I’m hopeful…!

And, finally, a group of young people has started a ‘Teach the Future’ campaign, determined to embed climate change education in the national curriculum ‘to avoid the mistakes of the past’.

Please support them, by signing and sharing (www.teachthefuture.uk).

Keep the oil in the soil

October 17th, 2019

This week has been a bit devastating…..

The Guardian has revealed that oil companies are planning to continue, even increase, their dirty drilling work. So cynical, unethical and everything else bad. 

Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, which monitors oil companies, said: “Rather than planning an orderly decline in production, they are doubling down and acting like there is no climate crisis.”

So depressing. But then she/he continued: “This presents us with a simple choice: shut them down or face extreme climate disruption.”

Let’s shut them down!

It will take a lot of us (and not immediately), but we can stop buying petrol. The responsibility of nations and governments, primarily, certainly; but in the meantime we individuals can all buy less.

I’ve written to Ben van Beurden at Shell (highly doubt I’ll get a reply…), and was intending to track down some investors but ran out of energy (pun there…?!).

If you know anyone involved in the oil industry, please connect with them – I remember reading a man online waxing lyrical about the joys of investing in oil…. What?…

Divestment is of course another important way of starving the fossil fuel industries – ask your banks how they invest your money. Triodos is an admirable ethical bank, but doesn’t have a ‘savings facility’….

This week the EU’s European Investment Bank (the largest public bank in the world) postponed its vote on whether to stop fossil fuel financing, after member states including Germany pushed for a delay. The decision is now promised on November 14th. I signed a petition about all this a while ago. Look out for further tweets and petition requests please!

Now, I’ll highlight some good news – renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels during the third quarter of this year. Electricity from British windfarms, solar panels and renewable biomass plants surpassed gas and coal-fired power for the first time since the UK’s first power plant fired up in 1882.

Also, there have been two good examples of the climate crisis being addressed in the ‘media’ in the last week – not without their depressing moments, but very engaging and down-to-earth (another pun, unintentional that time!).

Inside Science on Radio 4 interviewed Jim Skea from the IPCC (a United Nations climate change body). He was asked what he thought about Extinction Rebellion and he said they were important for bringing the issue of the climate change crisis to everyone’s attention. He said that in his opinion it was unlikely that the aims of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2025 would be reached, though that was possible in principle. Governments are not doing enough, and unambiguous urgent action is needed.

When asked what individuals can do, he said eat less livestock and fly less….
 

A thunderstorm is raging as I write this; and I can’t help thinking about the recent typhoon in Tokyo. The Rugby World Cup organisers apparently all pulled together to ensure the games could continue: I think we could really do with that ‘wartime’ spirit of cooperation in this time of existential crisis, not just when there is a more tangible actual disaster to deal with.

We must not continue with our easy, polluting lives – a bit of sacrifice is needed by us all.

Meat is surely the easiest thing to give up…?

The other programme, Panorama, followed a very sporting lovely family in Nottingham in their bid to reduce their collective carbon footprint. Heating a home with gas central heating, the most common system, produces a lot of emissions – the family was told what it would cost to replace their system with an electric heat pump, as well as insulating and double glazing their home: not affordable…. I’ve written to my MP (again!) – how does government plan to help people afford sustainable homes? Chris Stark from the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s advisors, says there has been virtually no progress in this area….

On a lighter note, I hadn’t imagined that eating ‘bugs’ might be a serious meat alternative for people – I think I’ll stick to vegetarianism, after watching the mealworms wriggling around. The Nottingham family was brilliant, eating their barbecued bug burger!…

Other ways that singleminded meat-eaters might have hope are that sheep are being bred to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions; and it’s being recognised that some breeds of cattle burp less methane. But maybe just don’t kill animals…? And also, more land is definitely needed for growing carbon-capturing trees and vegetable crops for us…

The Time is Now

October 10th, 2019

I’ll start, this week, with some simple facts about water….

Demand for water could outstrip supply by 2035 in parts of northern England.

London’s consumption apparently already outstrips supply in dry years, and the water companies that serve the capital are located in areas classified as seriously water stressed.

Now a report, for the think-tank IPPR North, warns that, despite its usual abundance of water, the north could also become water stressed.

Of course there’s an element of water companies not managing leakages successfully, but households and businesses also need to ‘do their bit’ to reduce water use.

We all know about how basic water is for human survival. But this is usually at such a distance from our own experience – Water Aid is for poor people in hot countries, isn’t it? At the community shop where I volunteer (in a very limited capacity…), the water was off for an hour the other day – this just meant cyclists had to provide water from their water bottles for our kettles, in order to get the coffee they wanted; and it was back on in time for me to do the washing up. We really don’t know how lucky we are. 

And now the UK should be starting to face up to water shortages of our own (someone is bound to complain when it does happen… not ‘making the link’….).

Flood water is becoming more common, too – a dramatic newspaper photo of a car underwater in Birmingham, with a brave cyclist splashing past, was headlined ‘Weather turns autumnal’. No mention of climate change again, the remnants of Hurricane Lorenzo….

Finally on water, buying North Sea cod is no longer eco-friendly – it has lost its sustainability label from the Marine Stewardship Council.

Now, public transport – I’ve had a long email from the CEO office at Stagecoach (bus and coach operator). Steven Stewart is basically despairing about road congestion caused by too many cars on our roads, undermining the sustainability of bus services. This is of course not helped by huge cuts to public sector budgets (3,000 bus routes slashed in less than a decade), with central government actively encouraging car use by pursuing real terms cuts in fuel duty for nine years in a row. I’m trying to do my bit, using the twice a week rural bus service here!

What really needs to happen is petrol rationing, I think….

And vehicle fuel tax increases, with an extra charge on diesel, according to the think 

-tank Bright Blue. A report calls for VAT on electric cars to be abolished (why was it charged in the first place – is it a luxury to drive a cleaner car?!).

And, this is interesting (I’ve just tried to appeal to people’s better natures, for ages…) – citizens should be able to report idling vehicles (and receive a share of fines levied!).

The report also suggests cutting the speed limit in all urban areas from 30mph to 20mph and allowing local authorities to profit from pollution-charging schemes to fund clean-air projects.

Most urban areas in the UK have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, mainly from vehicles. The CEO of Bright Blue said: “Evidence of the scale and impact of air pollution is growing and alarming … despite the rhetoric from the government, not enough is being done to tackle NO2.” Another subject to raise with my MP – he and I have got to the stage of first-name terms, now that I write to him so often.

And now the companies behind the dreaded petrol (I so wish I could give it up…- one day…at least I have some car-free days now, a start) – 

BP is being shunned, at last, by the RSC – the theatre company has ended its sponsorship deal with them; and the National Theatre is ending its partnership with Shell next year. 

Excellent news – cultural institutions leading the way, alongside our conscientious young people. ‘A Shell spokesman’ was quoted in Nazia Parveen’s report about the National as saying: “As we move to a lower-carbon future we are committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs – because we all have a role to play”…. What?…! Unbelievable. Just stop drilling, Shell! Simple as that. I’ll have to try to find out the spokesman’s name, I think….!

BP’s Bob Dudley is leaving after a decade as CEO. The man who’s following him sounds even more entrenched in ‘dirty energy’ : Bernard Looney, a former drilling engineer and head of its exploration and production business, ‘hardly a break from BP’s oil-hungry past’ the Guardian says (in its business pages). The company’s board has appointed him in the full knowledge of his lack of green credentials – his enthusiasm for US shale drilling is more apparent than any interest in wind farms, solar power and alternative bioenergy. Depressing – but let’s hope he’s given a very bumpy ride from the world outside the ‘oil bubble’, as soon as possible…

Another gloomy note to end on, I’m afraid – please boycott all Procter & Gamble products.

Despite their website etc declaring their sustainability pledges etc, they continue to use palm oil using slave labour; and also their Charmin toilet paper uses absolutely no recycled paper: just 100% virgin forest fibre from Canada’s Boreal Forest, one of the earth’s greatest defences against climate change, just to be flushed down the toilet. So disgusting, literally…. The trees are being destroyed, the livelihoods of hundreds of indigenous communities hurt, and caribou, billions of songbirds and other wildlife threatened.

To close, I’ll just tell you I have indeed written to Archbishop Justin Welby today; and Ben Elton!

Also, have been having an email conversation with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s office – such unnecessary force at Extinction Rebellion’s London action… My musician son ran a workshop for children there – lots of under fives singing, and enthusiastically playing percussion, about what they love in the world.

Let’s save it for them, and honour the memory of all the people who have died around the world simply protecting the environment for all of us.

PS I have a Twitter account now – @grandmaglobal    Please follow, to sign petitions & join campaigns

Storms (it’s not just autumn)

September 30th, 2019

Frustration

There is never enough time – I have so many ideas about who to contact, who to get ‘on board’ in this struggle against climate change. 

The Church seems a good place to appeal to – however divisive religion can be, there are so many ‘good works’ done, for homeless people, refugees, Fair-trade projects etc. Could the Archbishop of Canterbury please plead for Ecocide to become a crime….?

And how about Ben Elton writing a television play, to get more media engagement with the crisis? (my husband’s idea, actually) A comedy?  How is that possible about this subject? Do you remember Blackadder in the First World War trenches, though; and when Shakespeare’s son Hamnet died in Upstart Crow…? Mr Elton can ‘do’ moving, as well as funny. And there’s the small aside that I’d forgotten about – a long time ago (the ‘80s), I crossed paths with him in ‘alternative’ stand-up venues in London….! Maybe Victoria Coren-Mitchell could get involved too – I remember her rage against ‘not yet recycled’ plastic…

Whatever we do, also, seems ‘never enough’, as my sister put it recently….

When I started this campaign, climate change seemed such an abstract concept (even though you know it’s big, most people aren’t aware of it in everyday life..) – I thought that was why people seemed blinkered. Now my concern seems to have ‘morphed’ into 

Anger

At the cynical oil companies particularly, BP especially (our local garage, local shop even…with a smiling ad of a child with angelic ginger curly hair promoting its BPme rewards. ‘We’ve been listening to our customers’…..etc etc. oh, they’re such caring family people….). They’re doing more ‘greenwashing’ at the moment, launching a new advertising campaign aimed at hoodwinking us all – stressing the green biofuel initiatives etc they’re funding (they can afford whatever they feel like doing), while shamelessly continuing to drill for unsustainable, destructive oil. I’ve written to the Advertising Standards Authority today (and the Guardian!) asking for investigation into such campaigns. 

E-on has a ‘It’s Time to Clear the Air’ ad at the moment – on the face of it, it seems to ‘tick all the boxes’ for green electricity. They’ve managed to find a loophole, however, whereby they’ve been buying certification of green energy sources to supplement a shortfall.

Proof that ‘money talks’, as the saying goes, but that can apply for us as consumers too, as well as for businesses. Shop around, everyone, and switch to the genuinely 100% renewable companies to supply your electricity – there are many; and they’re getting more and more affordable.

Fear

Well, yes, for my grandson and future grandchildren (though I don’t focus on that emotion at all – we will sort a better world for them, definitely – we activists are all determined!) but they will actually be among ‘the lucky ones’, as Greta Thunberg has described herself. Tropical countries, which tend to be poorer and to have contributed less to climate change, are set to disproportionately suffer the more severe major swings in temperature. I am afraid for these people, I must admit, some of whom have left their uninhabitable countries as climate migrants – how will they be received in the rest of the world? And typhoons, tsunamis, floods and hurricanes have already killed many.

Obligation

I do feel obliged to do this campaigning work – I can’t ‘stand by’…. possibly, I’m having no impact whatsoever, but I have to believe there is a point to it all, of course. Protesting is the start of many changes – no smoking public areas, lead-free petrol (the irony?!), to name a few small examples.

Compassion

Mainly for the striking schoolchildren who are so wonderful, in their knowledge, articulacy, organising skills, passion, determination and optimism. Those in Gloucester who led the Global Climate Strike action I was on impressed me so much – and I must admit I was also relieved that they were ‘normal’ children, as well, making time for their hurried packed lunches, wondering how to spell their slogans properly and even forgetting a rucksack at one of the rally points (I picked it up for them)! I noticed one of the girls with tears in her eyes – how do you keep up enthusiasm for a cause when it is so huge and potentially overwhelming?….

Hope

On an international level, that OPEC (the oil industries organisation) has referred to Greta Thunberg and her schoolchildren followers as a big threat – the eyes of the world are on those dirty giants, like never before – and other governments are being forced to listen to/watch thousands of their citizens march for the future. Even though the UN conference in New York addressed by Greta (so movingly) predictably failed to make any major new commitments, the French president Emmanuel Macron did say ‘we cannot stand by while our children strike for their future every Friday’…. And our own Boris Johnson actually announced the UK has set up a global alliance to help protect the world’s oceans – a crumb of comfort I read in an email from Greenpeace. I don’t think it’s enough to restore his bullying reputation, though…

Elsewhere, I’ve loved Saturday’s news about organised hitchhiking being launched for commuters in Brussels, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions in the city.

And on a very immediate level, you can download a free app on your phone, Giki – Jo and James Hand, its founders, said: “However concerned about climate change, people still buy unsustainable food, fly frequently and don’t take meaningful daily actions that help to reduce their environmental impact. Barriers such as ease, availability and current lifestyle trends mean sustainable living has been more of an aspiration than reality for most of us. There is even a term for this postponing attitude – ‘virtue signalling’”.

But if not now, when? If not us, who?

Love

For all children and grandchildren everywhere (especially my immediate family of course – it’s so tricky, climate change being the backdrop to my everyday thoughts and actions while not wanting to burden them with unhelpful ‘vibes’…..).

Guilt

Not personally, but collectively – our generation and the one before (post-war) has seriously messed up. Of course I don’t want to return to any fictional ‘good old days’, but there is now too much choice (how can you decide which bread to buy in Sainsbury’s, as my hairdresser said?!) , too much convenience, too much packaging, too much driving & flying, which has ultimately led to too many carbon emissions… 

I do remember working in children’s theatre, in a play called ‘The Rainbow Warrior’ (a Greenpeace ship), promoting recycling & looking after the earth; and also doing projects about pollution while teacher training. Why didn’t we make all that ‘mainstream’, acting on the findings of environmental scientist Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) way back in 1962 too?

We’ve waited until our house is on fire…..

Duty

see entry for ‘obligation’

Grief

For the orangutans (remember not to buy palm-oil products), passenger pigeons, clouded leopards, black rhinos, monk seals that have gone extinct, or are in serious trouble, in the past decade. And this week, for the oh so English horse chestnut/conker tree – it is succumbing to disease, brought on by global warming.

I’ve been a bit more personal today (thinking of National Poetry Day on Thursday, perhaps…) – I’ve borrowed the emotion categories from Extinction Rebellion, who start a fortnight of civil disobedience on Monday (October 7th). Good luck to them. We all need each other in this fight.

The ‘morning’ after….

September 23rd, 2019

That was truly inspiring seeing the young people around the world (fired up, a sad appropriate pun, please forgive me), determined to save the planet.

Visit/support the international movement, 350.org and the UK Student Climate Network if you’d like info about future actions.

Above is my son Will/Gecko, with his home-made placard, on the Westminster Global Climate Strike march. Check out his songs, Got Science and End of the World. 

We need to keep up the pressure. 

Greta Thunberg has today launched a short film, made by Tom Mustill, called Natural Climate Solutions. We really need to get beyond the Fossil Fuels Age – leave the oil in the soil and the coal in the hole.

I’ve talked with First Direct, who we bank with, about divesting from companies that are still drilling and polluting. Waiting to hear from their CEO, 33 year old Joe Gordon!

Also contacted HSBC, loving their ‘we are not an island’ recent advert and hoping this includes responsibility towards the whole world and climate change….Barclays and Lloyds too, telling Antonio Horta-Osorio of the latter that my grandfather was a manager of Lloyds bank in Yorkshire!

Now I’m a grandmother, trying to change the world!

I’ve created (with a little help from my friend/husband) a not-business card, reflecting that we need to change from ‘business as usual’. I hope to pass it round to people I engage with, rather than lecturing them!

There are always so many details to address, aren’t there? 

I’m a vegetarian and would love it if no-one ate meat any more, therefore freeing up land for carbon-capturing trees and crops for ourselves to eat rather than for animals. But I’ve been ‘reining back’ on that ambition, realising that there are still a lot of devoted meat-eaters in the world! Maybe just encourage people to eat no beef, because of the current deforestation crisis in Brazil…. and then I notice the local pub proudly serving beef from its own local herd – surely (if you can overlook the killing, which personally I can’t …) that’s somehow more ethical…? 

But what are those cattle eating? Supermarkets and fast-food chains state their meat is from the UK and Ireland, but it is often fed on soya imported from Brazil.

I talked with a very informed, aware woman at Burger King this morning, who promised to pass on my concern to Head Office. Burger King is one of the biggest fast food companies in the world. It gets tonnes of animal feed to the UK every year to fatten up animals that are turned into burgers. Those last words are from a Greenpeace campaign (tell it like it is!) – they’re asking all of us to call Burger King HQ/Customer Services (03332074208) to request they stop sourcing meat and soya from Brazil until the Amazon and its people are protected.

I hope some of you can do that, please!

I must admit that I’ve been going round & round in circles with them (and I’m not even a Burger King customer…!) – they’ll probably send you a standard email saying they’re waiting for talks with Greenpeace’s Forest Team. If you have the energy, go straight to the CEO – Daniel Schwartz (dschwartz@whopper.com)

I opened my conversation with Burger King by congratulating them on ‘ditching’ the plastic toys they’ve been giving children (probably just wanting to get ahead of McDonalds and ‘Happy Meals’, if I was being cynical) – an environmental concern too, certainly…

Possibly not quite as urgent, but good to start positive…!

That’s quite enough of fast food stuff….!

Back to the more wholesome Guardian – earlier this month, an article had the headline ‘UK can meet climate target without beef cuts, says NFU’. The farmers union reckons British farming can become climate neutral by 2040 without cutting beef production or converting substantial areas of farmland into forest. “We don’t plan to make any cuts”, the president said. The emissions, she argues, can be offset by growing bio fuel. I wonder what Henry Dimbleby thinks of this plan – the co-founder of Leon and the Sustainable Restaurant Association is leading the first major review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years.

He’s investigating the entire food system, from field to fork, to ensure that it delivers safe, healthy, affordable food, regardless of where people live or how much they earn.

He will also look at how we can ensure the system restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation and is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies. Large aims….

A new National Food Strategy, incorporating the recommendations from the review, is due to be published next year. I wrote to Henry Dimbleby (I’ve got a cookbook of his…) and he emailed me saying they’d do their best for my grandson, signing off with 3 kisses!

And for the future unborn grandchildren, recently published research has found air pollution particles on the foetal side of placentas, indicating that unborn babies are directly exposed to the black carbon produced by motor traffic and fuel burning.

In a study in 2017, black carbon particles were also found in the urine of primary schoolchildren.

Prof Tim Nawrot said: “It is really difficult to give people practical advice, because everyone has to breathe.

“But what people can do is avoid busy roads as much as possible. There can be very high levels next to busy roads, but just a few metres away can be lower.”

Prof Jonathan Grigg, whose group presented the first report of particles in placentas, added: “We should be protecting foetuses and this is another reminder that we need to get air pollution levels down.”

He kindly said people shouldn’t be totally scared and advised us all to use lower pollution transport options (electric cars, hurry up…!) or public transport rather than cars. That reminds me – I still haven’t heard from Stagecoach: there definitely needs to be a greater ‘drive’ (?!) towards more public transport….