August 15th, 2019

Hello again,

This week I’ll open with an ‘insanely optimistic’ idea put forward in The Guardian by Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the House of Lords. This combines countering both the negativity around the current Brexit no-deal threat and also countering the negativity around the climate change issue.

And part of it might even have a chance (if very slim…) of coming true – Green MP & inspirationally principled Caroline Lucas has proposed a cabinet of national unity (all female, great, though she mistakenly overlooked Black MPs), to put aside parties and fight the no-deal Brexit.

On the environmental front, Ms (Lady?..) Jones imagines: “The new parliament will be full of Greens and the Queen’s speech will include proportional representation and a zero-emission economy by 2030. There will be other big ideas, like making clean air a legal right and creating an environmental enforcement body with real teeth. 

“Heathrow, fracking and fossil-fuel subsidies will be replaced by smarter solutions. “There will be debates on a host of ideas for ending plastic pollution and dealing with the evils of low pay and in-work poverty.

“Everyone will heave a sigh of relief that the national infighting is over.”

Mm, so good!

And I’ll continue in an optimistic vein:

Ash Dykes, a 28 year old explorer from North Wales, has just become the first person to complete a 4,000 mile trek on foot along the Yangtze River in China. It took him a year.

He apparently ‘took note’ of the amount of plastics and pollution that he saw from the source to sea. But he also reported that it was inspiring to see a huge increase in knowledge and understanding within the communities, towns and cities along the way, making changes to prevent damaging water sources.

He worked with the Green Development Foundation, WWF and other environmental organisations to shine a spotlight on marine plastic, renewable energy and green finance.

Right, that’s enough quoting other people/publications…!

This week has been very rainy with strong winds and thunderstorms. Last weekend, several summer festivals were cancelled because of safety issues, including Boardmasters in Newquay, Cornwall.  Local to our family, Bristol’s International Balloon Fiesta struggled on bravely, opening for visitors despite many hot air balloon launches having to be cancelled – but even it had to admit defeat and close the site completely on Saturday. In news reports, there wasn’t a lot of mention of climate change.

As I said in one of my earlier blogs, I realise that there is a difference between weather and climate – one is the everyday short-term changes, the other is the underlying long-term pattern. 

Having another brief conversation with a friendly woman at the swimming pool/gym on Monday, we were lamenting the bad weather. She said it always seems to be like this in August – I agreed, but I also murmured something about climate change (not wanting to be ‘doom & gloom’ but also taking the chance to spread the word!). She replied ‘yes, that may well have something to do with it’ – I was heartened, somehow! Of course she may just have been saying what she thought I wanted to hear (though we don’t know each other), but at least she didn’t dismiss the subject….

I’m hoping to get some ‘not business as usual cards’ printed (old-fashioned printing press in Ledbury) soon – then I can give people my/this address in situations like that, rather than go on tediously about climate change at every opportunity…However crucial & important I think it is for everyone to take it seriously, I really don’t want to be counter-productive and put people off.

One area in the ‘battle’ which used to divide opinion and now seems to be much more accepted is wind power/farms. I think perception of this booming renewable energy source may have struggled a bit, unfortunately, after the nationwide power cuts last Friday. Wind power was mentioned as possibly being linked to these – it can now be more difficult to balance the frequency of the grid, apparently. Experts, however, are clear that there is no suggestion that wind power is an unreliable source of electricity.

I’ve written to Fintan Slye at the National Grid’s ESO, a very keen  ‘decarboniser’ whom I’ve been in touch with before. I’ll tell you if/when he gets back to me.

And, finally, another contentious area in the ‘war on climate change’ is diet – should we all be vegan? Personally, I would find it very difficult/sad to give up butter, eggs and cheese (all those delicious cakes, too!), though we buy oat milk generally now instead of cow’s; but I’ve happily been a vegetarian (absolutely no hardship or temptation involved, even from bacon!) for 41 years….

Quoting the Guardian again (a trusted & frequent source of mine…), ‘scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet have found that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact.’ All that land ‘wasted’ on raising cattle which could/should be used to grow carbon-absorbing trees and plant crops. Plus the methane produced by animals into the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse gases….

A start would be if people stopped eating/buying beef – more environmentally damaging than chicken and pork. And Goldsmiths college, part of the University of London, is encouraging students to do just that – they’re banning the sale of beef in campus food outlets. Prof Frances Corner, who took up the post as Goldsmiths’ warden this month, said the university would also switch to a clean energy supplier when its current contract ended, and will look into how all students could take curriculum options related to the climate crisis. Good for her.

Anyway, food for thought there? Sorry! More on this subject next week.

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