Last weekend, the first in October, I was in London; but not for the protests….
I relaxed instead, sharing the unchallenging joys of Crystal Palace Park and South Norwood Lakes (& sunflowers in his small garden), with our Londoner son!
A strong part of my heart is with the protesters, however.
On Saturday, the demonstration outside King’s Cross station in Central London was one among at least 50 held in towns and cities across the UK for people to register their anger at the cost of living crisis. Organisers, Enough is Enough, describe this as the largest wave of simultaneous protests seen in Britain for years. Large crowds also attended events in Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Belfast. An eclectic mix of people took part – Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion groups joined families protesting against the government’s recent mini-budget, with some householders setting fire to their utility bills, a symbolic gesture promoted by Don’t Pay UK. The Guardian reported Jade Anderson, 25, from Taunton, Somerset saying: “It’s fantastic to see all the factions coming together.” Yes, strength in numbers, co-operation is key etc….! No longer should the majority remain silent….
Now I’m going to quote a welcome positive Guardian article:
“The shining light of climate hope is the exponential growth of ever-cheaper renewable energy, which now delivers 75% of all new power – coal has plummeted to just 4%.
“An important recent study found that a swift transition to clean energy would save trillions of dollars, even without accounting for the enormous damage continued fossil fuel use would cause. Even climate deniers should be on board with that, says study author Prof Doyne Farmer at the University of Oxford.
“Pushing important sectors more quickly towards tipping points is the aim of a little-reported but potentially very powerful initiative launched at the UN climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 – the Breakthrough Agenda, supported by 45 nations including the US, China, India and the EU.
“Simon Sharpe, director of economics for the UN’s climate champions says a global tipping point for electric vehicles could arrive years earlier if the biggest markets coordinate the date when all new car sales must be zero emission. Similar efforts could also clean up the high emission sectors of steel and cement.
“Siddiqa, a campaigner with Fridays For Future Pakistan, says: “We do have the power at our disposal. We have the ability to change popular opinion and culture – we have done it.”
I think this is a good point for me to add my personal ‘thought of the week’ – I often hear the sad, despairing expression of people wondering ‘what is the point of me doing my little contribution to reducing my carbon footprint?….’
I look at it the other way round – why would I not do as much as I can, even if it may make no significant difference? I couldn’t bear the thought that I was adding to the problem….!!
An added comfort for me, at this time of year, as well as my family, are the reality shows on television. One of my contributions to reducing my carbon footprint is not eating meat, nor dairy ideally (cheese is still a problem…); and I’ve been heartened over the last few years at how veganism is spreading. However, The Great British Bake-off this year seems to be defiantly standing against that ‘trend’ – so much meat, on pizzas, and tacos, very disappointing.
COP15 is being held in Montreal, Canada in December – this UN Biodiversity Conference is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to create targets to stem the collapse of ecosystems globally. This nature crisis or wildlife crisis has been treated as separate to the climate crisis, but of course there is huge overlap between the two.
And, as well as our current unbelievably terrible UK government planning to add to the climate crisis (fracking, what?!), it has launched an attack on nature too…..
Please join the RSPB, Soil Association and Wildlife Trusts in protesting loudly to protect what little is left of the natural world in this country.
It would be great if you read and respond to my posts/appeals on my Facebook page too, and on Twitter – Emily Thwaite and @grandmaglobal
Following rejection of various petitions seeking to slow or halt the spread of harmful plastic grass, @PlasticsRebel have set up an open letter to the Secretary of State. Please sign at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAI…pic.twitter.com/otE5I1r2UO
For all of us who are awash with empty ‘blister packs’ of used medicine tablets, these can be recycled once more. Superdrug has now partnered with “an alternative recycling partner” (other than Terracycle!). So you can dispose of them at 200 participating pharmacies. Or you can purchase a Zero Waste Box – more information on 03456 710 709 or by email at email@example.com
I’m not sure if this ‘offer’ has ended with the end of summer 2022, but it sounds interesting/rewarding – volunteering holiday opportunities in Wales can be found at VisitWales.com “Build, farm, re-wild or score a free festival ticket” is the ‘hook’ along with a beautiful photo of a puffin collecting sticks for nest-building!
And finally, I hope you might consider opening a Triodos Bank account, if you haven’t already…Most high street banks are still investing heavily in fossil fuels. Triodos Bank only provides financing for businesses that benefit both people and planet. Triodos also invests in renewable energy projects across the UK. Renewables are, of course, integral in making sure everyone has clean, affordable energy. And Triodos donates to support Friends of the Earth’s vital campaigning work.
For me personally – on a frustratingly slow journey moving away from the countryside to the city (yes, you read that right!) –
and for the world.
I’m so thankful I don’t live in Ukraine, Palestine, Afghanistan, Taiwan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Sudan or Sri Lanka, where armed conflict is ‘everyday’. We in ‘the West’\global North should, however, be becoming more aware that ‘natural disasters’ are becoming more common for us too….
The climate crisis is not natural – it is caused by us, ‘out of control’ economic growth…. We need to recognise that the flooding in Pakistan, for instance, (30 million innocent people affected…. what?….) is being exacerbated by the way we live….
And even though Britain is unlikely to experience monsoons, we will be affected by dramatic sea-rise eventually… And we care about the rest of the world too, don’t we?!
In this blog, following the last one (HOT), I was intending to focus on the drought that has been officially declared in parts of England.
But it’s so easy to forget/move on etc, isn’t it?
Even with parts of the River Thames drying up, and the Rhine, Po and Loire in Europe, and my will in principle not to waste water (more dishwasher use, less shower use), I have found myself loving the warm Bank Holiday weekend….
So, important lesson here! Espoused by young climate activist Bella Lack too (author of ‘The Children of the Anthropocene’)…. Turn sadness (even guilt…) around by action – we need to enjoy life, find the positives in changing, don’t think of it as denying ourselves…. And, equally importantly, challenge anyone who thinks the drive towards reducing our carbon footprint is actually to blame for anything….
Yes, you read that right too!
It’s convenient for people who do not want to contemplate the climate crisis to see it as secondary to immediate problems and/or look around for scapegoats.
Yes, very real immediate problems are looming – the cost of living crisis…. Inextricably linked to our reliance on fossil fuels. It’s ‘not rocket science’! Investment in green energy sources is the answer.
An article in The Guardian on Thursday (August 25th) was entitled ‘Is net zero really to blame for soaring energy bills in Great Britain?’ I could hardly believe that anyone thought this, even though I’m aware of Cameron’s desire to ‘get rid of all the green crap’ and the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, but the Daily Telegraph, Times and Wall Street Journal (plus the more predictable Daily Mail and Daily Express) have attempted to blame the gas crisis variously on Greta Thunberg, ‘the state’, ‘green regulations’, ‘net zero fanaticism’ and ‘climate alarmism’.
The Guardian, of course, disproves those assertions very clearly. The most common target, by people as influential as the Conservative leadership frontrunner Liz Truss, is the ‘green levies’. “From the frequency with which the levies are targeted, one might imagine they are playing at least some small part in rising bills. In reality, the opposite is true. Since last summer, levies have fallen to about £150 a year. This is 8% of average bills – not 25% – as recent corrections in the Daily Mail and Daily Express admitted.”
Voices of enlightenment, voices of freedom, voices of dignity MUST prevail…..surely…..
PLEASE add your voice to these if you ever come across ‘energy ignorance’ – of course a lot of people will be understandably worried, but it doesn’t help anyone if lies are allowed to circulate.
You’re not being nosey, strident, unsympathetic – just be your usual friendly self and discuss!
You might be surprised at how many of us are realising life doesn’t need to be unfair….!!
So, now to develop the title of this blog – my almost four year old grandson was watching me enjoying kicking through the ‘autumn leaves’ the other day in the park. I quickly stopped when I realised that this felt bittersweet – we could be enjoying this together, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him the seasons, as we’ve been sharing in a picture book, are changing….
As another article in The Guardian puts it (yesterday, August 28th), “We are now in a false autumn, caused by heat and drought. And it feels wrong.”
Of course, and this is a problem, it is also beautiful. And the air is still warm and summery – what could be better?!
So, the children need to be encouraged to play; but we need to (separately) remember the trees are exhibiting stress, and losing their leaves early in an attempt to conserve water.
And be even more determined to be as green as possible….
If you’re in Britain, the Green Party is holding a National Action Weekend soon – September 10th and 11th. I plan to join them in Bristol. Please contact me if you’d like more details – firstname.lastname@example.org #grandmaglobal I have a Facebook page too!
And finally, the obligatory good news (better late than never; and a small scrap, but it all adds up!…) – from 2024, bags of peat compost will no longer be available on the high street…..
It seems very appropriate that I’m writing this on the first official ‘extreme heatwave’ warning in Britain; and the day after my youngest grandchild turned one year old….
I’ll start with optimism, swiftly followed by a ‘call to arms/action’!….
Yuval Noah Harari (whose books you may have read, like ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’) and colleagues at Sapienship have been doing some calculations….
“If humanity invests just an extra 2% of Global GDP in developing eco-friendly technologies and infrastructure every year, this would be enough to prevent catastrophic climate change, while also creating lots of new jobs and economic opportunities.”
They go on to say: “Shifting 2% of the budget from here to there is what politicians do all the time. So we should pressure them to just do their job. It’s a concrete, clear and feasible target – 2%”
So there is achievable hope.
But, as Greta Thunberg said at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, hope is not enough. Hope has to be earned.
If you, my readers (maybe only my mum….?!), do not want or are not able to be involved in practical activism, I believe it’s essential that we all engage with our politicians/MPs, even if some seem completely unreachable…..
He (Mark Harper, Tory MP who was considering standing for the leadership/prime minister…!) knows ‘where I’m coming from’ so I didn’t elaborate further (probably written to him 3 times a week for 2 years!).
But it might be good if you add something personal to your letter/email, if you’re not regularly in touch with her/him….
One specific way you could engage this week is by sending a letter to your MP objecting to the government’s reckless aviation strategy, Jet Zero (copying in Robert Courts, the Aviation Minister; and Greg Clarke, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Levelling Up, ultimately responsible for airport expansion planning decisions).
Jet Zero is another example of ‘greenwashing’ – increasingly, ‘the norm’ these days.
In one way, the practice shows that the people with power realise our urgent concern about the climate crisis, but they are cynically trying to get away with plans dressed up as solutions.
We must not fall for being misled.
Jet Zero expressly supports aviation expansion. So how does the government square this with the desperate need for a drastic cut in emissions? As the group opposing expansion at Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) puts it, “Put simply, Jet Zero is a con. It’s an aviation industry wish list masquerading as government policy.”
To return to the topic of the 2022 Glastonbury Festival, my ‘Generation Y’ son and I had a discussion about how heartening it is to see the current ‘Generation Z’ young people engaging with ‘issues’.
A Guardian article on July 15th highlighted a number of inspiring young people – embracing climate optimism through Tik Tok of all places… (sounding my age there….?!)
When Zahra Biabani (from Houston, Texas – ‘of all places’….), aged 23, learned that 56% of Gen Zers believe humanity is doomed, she started posting weekly positive climate news stories, which were met with a lot of gratitude. Climate optimism, Biabani says, isn’t about discrediting the trove of science and evidence that the climate crisis threatens our future on Earth – it’s a way to cultivate hope so people continue fighting.
Hear, hear (another outdated phrase….?!).
All generations need to join together, and keep fighting.
(Sorry that looks such a convoluted link, but it takes you to the right place if you click on it!)
I’ve written about Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrah in a previous blog post. She died on February 15th, 2013, aged nine. She was the first person in England to have air pollution named as a cause of death by a coroner.
Every year, tens of thousands of people around the UK are killed by air pollution. As the Green Party is saying, “It’s time to clean up the air in our towns and cities.” (All around the world of course)
It’s time for Ella’s Law – this is the other name for Baroness Jenny Jones’ Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, which could make a huge difference to air quality.
Clean Air Day is June 16th, next Thursday (ironically, the day we look after our grandchildren in polluted Bristol….) – at 10am supporters of the Bill will meet at the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, London and proceed to the Joseph Bazelgette memorial by Hungerford Bridge (about 15 minutes walk). The event will end there at about 12 noon.
Please ask your MP to join the event.
I realise of course that you might think that spending time responding to yet another government consultation is a waste…..This damaging government/prime minister thinks it/he can do what it/he likes, after all, as we’ve seen once too often. Our ideas/appeals are so often ignored, but we must absolutely not let anything go unchallenged. We need to show that our apathy, ignorance, reluctance to change etc….can no longer be depended on.
Many more of us are no longer ‘turning a blind eye’….
Two other areas that illustrate the current government’s lack of commitment to a safe, healthy future –
Boris Johnson’s new food strategy for England contains virtually no new measures to tackle the soaring cost of food, childhood hunger, obesity or the climate emergency, a leaked version of the white paper shows.
The strategy was supposed to be a groundbreaking response to recommendations from the Henry Dimbleby (of ‘Leon’ fame….) – he made a number of high-profile suggestions, including the expansion of free school meals, increasing environment and welfare standards in farming, and a 30% reduction in meat and dairy consumption.
I had such high hopes, mentioned in a previous blog…..!!
Henry Dimbleby took the time/care to say he’d do his best for my grandchildren – he was invited by the government; and they’re ignoring him and all grandchildren…..
Just as they’re ignoring their own Climate Change Committee ….
which leads me to the second example of appalling regressive government policy.
I found out, from the countryside charity CPRE, that the government has made the absurd and bizarre decision to approve the drilling of a gas well on the edge of the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The start of the return of fracking, in other words…
Sorry to focus on all this bad news.
Somehow, I’m even more determined not to be gloomy now –
we must shout even louder the closer we get to 2030.
So, maybe consider spreading the word about the RSPB and CPRE – even these mainstream/conservative organisations are campaigning.
Complacent people in power around the world are the extremists – not us……
PS I’ve just come back from a train trip around Germany, with my husband – on our return to Gloucester station, we met a taxi driver who informed me about ‘Agenda 30’.
To my shame, I’d never heard of this: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership to end poverty and other deprivations, to go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health & education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. The Agenda was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015……
We need to remind our government – 2030 is now only 7 and a half years away…..
The Chelsea Flower Show starts soon – this year Facebook/Meta (maybe look past that detail?!) has commissioned Joe Perkins, a 45 year old landscape architect based in Sussex, to make a Chelsea garden; and he has decided to build an immersive environment that celebrates the symbiotic exchange between soil, fungi and plants.
He said: “It’s fair to say that, as gardeners, we’ve not always fully understood – and I still don’t – the importance of these systems.
“On a domestic level, our relationship and understanding of fungi in the past has very much been that it’s something about decay, it’s about disease, and it’s something that we don’t particularly want in our gardens.”
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, the place where spores are produced.
Under the soil’s surface, out of sight, networks of mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, twist through the soil and make connections between plants.
It’s now understood that more than 90% of plants depend on mycorrhizal fungi for improving their water and nutrient absorption, which has led to these networks being called the ‘Wood Wide Web’ (such a wonderful name….).
In ‘domestic’ gardening terms, Joe Perkins is encouraging people: “Don’t be too tidy… some fungi are decomposers and they will take the dead plant material back into the soil and recycle it, making it available to the other plants for nutrients.
“If you really don’t want to do that, at least leave some towards the back of the borders, so there are some opportunities for that to happen.”
‘No Mow May’ is another important initiative/opportunity for gardeners this month (and in future months?!) – the campaign group Plantlife, encouraged by the National Trust and many others, is asking people to let the flowers bloom on our lawns, helping to provide enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators.
The drastic decline in insect populations, caused by habitat loss, pesticides and the climate crisis, should concern us all. Insects are experts in pollination and pest control (and decomposing corpses…), playing a vital role in making the Earth habitable; but we often dismiss them as an annoyance.
I wonder if you noticed it was Earth Day last Friday. I only knew of its existence the year before last….
April 22nd marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’, published in 1962, raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health.
But I only became aware of that wonderful woman, through a theatre piece performed at our local arts centre in about 2005; and I suspect most of us have still never heard of her….
This year (22/4/22), Earth Day had the motto ‘invest in our planet’ , implying a partnership between business, politics and civil society to invest in a “more prosperous and equitable future”.
In other words, we all have a part to play, reducing our own carbon footprints while also pressuring destructive, unjust systems to change.
That is what the ‘disruptive’ Just Stop Oil campaigners are doing – we, everyone on this Earth, need to realise (it’s getting alarmingly late to do this) that ‘business as usual’ is bringing about catastrophe.
Ignoring the problem and, worse, condemning the people who can no longer bear to stand by and watch us destroying ourselves, is not going to make it go away.
A letter to Boris Johnson, read out by two Just Stop Oil supporters, said: “The bill for oil and gas is already being paid by millions around the world, in the global south, and can now also be seen in blood and suffering in Ukraine.”
Howard Cox, the founder of FairFuelUK, which campaigns for low fuel prices for motorists, said the blockades by Just Stop Oil were to blame for recent shortages of petrol and diesel stock, accusing the protest group of carrying out “a pointless crusade they believe will save the planet”.
Of course we/they are under no naive illusion that we alone will actually ‘save the planet’ but we have to try (you too, I’m sure…); and, as Caroline Lucas, Green MP, said, disruptive protests are the “only way that people feel they can make their voices heard”.
The Labour Party has called for ‘nationwide injunctions’ to ban the protests.
Sadly, there are no Green Party candidates standing in my area during the local UK elections next week (Thursday, May 5th), but they are by far the fairest political party striving for a humane future in this country.
I hope you can vote for a green future where you are; and of course, the current government needs replacing. We can start doing that locally – please vote.
I’m not sure that this will be a well-written blog post today, more a series of ‘headlines’…..
Make of it what you can please – bear with me, as they say!
I’ll open with a positive piece of news from Boris Johnson – yes, you read that right! He, together with Michael Gove and Kwasi Kwarteng, is ‘pushing’ for onshore wind expansion. At last…. Of course he has a battle on his hands, from petty ‘stuck in the past’ other cabinet ministers, including, unsurprisingly, terrible Jacob Rees-Mogg who want to bring back fracking. Please do everything you can to oppose this backward move.
And, also supported by Michael Gove (‘small mercies’!) is the revival of the Severn estuary tidal energy plan. Good! 12 years after the government dashed ambitious plans for a 10-mile energy-generating barrage, an independent commission has been launched to explore using the estuary. Better late than never, I suppose….
The UK’s first solar farm owned by a health board and linked directly to a hospital has exceeded expectations by, at times, providing all the electricity needed to run the site, even during the winter months. The farm in south-west Wales provided enough energy over one 50-hour period to meet 100% of Swansea’s Morriston Hospital’s demands.
Have you noticed the spread of avian flu? A clear consequence of battery farming…
I’m hoping that the current lack of free range eggs in supermarkets will encourage more people to stop eating them! But of course it’s more likely that many customers will, even if reluctantly, settle for less ethical eggs. Maybe I should start keeping chickens….?! Or at least try whipping aquafaba (the liquid from bean cans!) instead of egg whites in baking, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages… And one mashed banana or three tablespoons of nut butter can apparently replace one egg in cakes and pancakes.
We are being asked to track flowering fruit trees (to take part, you can record via FruitWatch, a Reading University initiative).
Despite many of us enjoying this current warm weather, it is probably not a good sign….It seems likely that climate change is causing trees to flower earlier than when insect pollinators are most active. Pollinators such as bees, hoverflies, wasps and moths have evolved symbiotically with the plants they pollinate.
Chris Wyver, leading the Fruitwatch project, said: “Pollinators do an incredible job for the planet, and if insects are unable to pollinate fruit trees then something else will have to – potentially humans.” What?… How?… I so hope we can save insects first. I wonder how you’re doing with not killing wasps….a start!
That links to a great article I saved from the Guardian recently (March 16th), about wild gardening (it’s not just an excuse to be lazy…!). Alys Fowler writes: “I have fundamentally shifted my position on weeds. They are welcome in my garden, because I know they do more good than harm….. “Weed” is a vague term. It comes from the Old English weod and means a plant, a grass, a herb or a tree – anything that grows abundantly around us.
“For millennia, humans gathered, tended and used these so-called weeds so that they became a resource, either as a source of food (for their animals or themselves), a medicine or a material.
Nettles, brambles and fireweeds all have a long history of being used as cordage.”
More on plants – according to research published at the beginning of March, houseplants aren’t just a way to make your home look better, some of the most popular pot plants (for example, peace lilies, corn plants and ‘super tough’ ZZ plants) can also have a positive impact on the quality of the air. Buy from houseplant shops or garden centres, where staff should be able to help you find something that will suit the conditions of your chosen location(s).
Today the Fridays for Future activists (remember Greta Thunberg?..) are holding protests in cities across the world – “We want to show the world that we are still here and that we cannot be ignored or overlooked.”
They/we are needed, now more than ever….
A new protest movement has started too – #SitforClimate. We’re all encouraged to sit (alone or in a group), somewhere, at 11am every Saturday, every week, holding a climate placard…If you see anyone doing this, please encourage and appreciate them – it’s so important to continue ‘the conversation’….
In October 2021 75% of adults in Great Britain said they were either very or somewhat worried about the impact of climate change. Now it doesn’t seem to be talked about so much – it’s getting worse, and so many injustices (including the war in Ukraine) are connected to it…..
There’s another Defra consultation to respond to – the ‘Government response to the Landscapes Review’. I know some of my readers will particularly be interested in this, in relation to green lanes in Little Langdale, Lake District National Park. (And the North York Moors ….!) We have until April 9th to respond – check out the latest Lake District Green Lanes Alliance newsletter, for guidance/details.
And finally this time, some fashion news.
Shockingly, 7,500 litres of water is used to make a single pair of jeans. So don’t buy any new denim!
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is ‘naming and shaming’ high street clothing companies.
Entire lines of clothing are being labelled ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ without the company having proof that the whole process – from manufacture to delivery, packaging and sale – is good for the environment, according to the CMA. It is investigating sector by sector, with the packaged food industry and supermarkets likely to be next.
I had a depressing experience recently, spotting a T-shirt which (with no irony) combined the eye-catching images of both the Coca Cola logo and a polar bear…..
There is news today that the entire Conger ice shelf in Antarctica has collapsed. I know polar bears live in the Arctic, but neither of the poles should be melting…
I won’t be returning to buying new clothes any time soon (an exception will probably be made for the grandchildren…!)
“Peatlands are an iconic feature of our landscapes. They are the UK’s largest stores of carbon. They also provide vital ecosystem services, such as supplying over a quarter of the UK’s drinking water, decreasing flood risk, and providing food and shelter for rare wildlife.
When peat is extracted, the carbon stored inside the bog is released as carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change.”
I’m quoting from a government consultation!
If we all knew this, when shopping at garden centres, wouldn’t we be more motivated to loudly protest that there should be a complete ban on peat sales?
Time for a spring 2022 revolution by British gardeners….!!
The more likely scenario is that we’re pointed to the ‘option’ of peat-free composts etc….
But these are more expensive….
“Two thirds of the peat sold in the UK is imported from the rest of Europe. This means that our peat use is directly contributing to carbon emissions and habitat loss outside of the UK; we are exporting the carbon footprint.”
Voluntary targets (set in 2011- the painfully slow pace of environmental change….) to end the horticultural use of peat by 2020 have not been met…..
That is why the current government consultation is out (only 2 years later…??!!).
So PLEASE contribute to it – you have until March 18th.
As the RSPB says, ‘For peat’s sake bring in a ban!’
The questions are not complicated, and I have taken every opportunity to make every year mentioned earlier, stressing the importance of a mandatory ban over voluntary targets…
One more thing I’ve learnt today that might help if you don’t know much about gardening, like me – another quote from the Defra consultation: “growing media is frequently misused by consumers, for example being used as a soil improver rather than a medium in which to propagate plants. Dedicated soil improvers that do not contain peat and widely available and are much more effective.”
There is another pertinent government consultation open at the moment – this is even more urgent: the deadline is February 28th.
This is more sinister, sadly – it’s assuming the UK must and will grant future licences for new oil and gas, beyond 2050….. doesn’t bear thinking about….
Please join Friends of the Earth (and Greenpeace are also encouraging responses – check their website) in objecting/protesting.
The government may well completely disregard our protests to this consultation, as we’re not technically answering each of their individual questions as individuals (I’d really admire you if you could… very dense stuff….) and could be seen as just the ‘usual suspects’.
But we’ve got to try, haven’t we?!
I feel I can’t really write today without a reference to the war in Ukraine.
Peace is obviously the priority above all.
And it would be so brilliant if the world’s dependence on gas and oil from Russia was now at an end;
But, it looks as if the dependence on coal could be revived instead….
Mm, what a world….
PS yesterday, when I first posted this, I forgot to add that I hope a few people might ‘follow’ (& act on!) my posts on Facebook (Emily Thwaite – send me a ‘like’ request?..) and Twitter (#grandmaglobal) – please!
This week I will mainly be talking about meat….. (to paraphrase the Fast Show?!)
I’ll start with quoting a Guardian ‘Down to Earth’ journalist, at length because he explores the ‘agriculture question’ so clearly:
“It’s unlikely we’ll end the climate crisis without tackling the vast environmental hoof print of livestock. And, according to new research, the climate benefit of cutting meat consumption could be double what we thought.
“We already knew that cattle and other livestock use 83% of the world’s farmland for pasture and fodder, while producing just 18% of protein. In rich countries, 70% of food-related emissions come from livestock.
“What the new study shows is that if people in developed nations adopted a healthy, low-meat diet, a huge amount of carbon dioxide could be sucked out of the air by letting farmland revert back to natural forests and grasslands.
Paul Behrens, from Leiden University in the Netherlands who led the study said: “It’s a remarkable opportunity for climate mitigation, but it would also have massive benefits for water quality, biodiversity, air pollution, and access to nature, to name just a few.”
There are of course many ‘habits of a lifetime’ to overcome. Diehard carnivores could be accommodated, it seems! The study did not assume everyone in the 54 nations analysed all went vegan. Instead, the ‘planetary health diet’ used allowed a beef burger and two servings of fish a week, plus some dairy products every day… Compromise does seem to be the only way to realistically change anything, perhaps….
And the other important question to address is ‘what about farmers?’
Behrens says: “It will be vital that we redirect agricultural subsidies to farmers for biodiversity protection and carbon sequestration. We must look after farming communities to enable a just food transition.”
It is an extraordinary fact that almost 90% of the $540bn in global subsidies given to farmers every year lead to ‘harmful’ outcomes, according to the UN.
At the moment in the UK I expect you’ve noticed, as I have, the increase in food being produced to ‘imitate’ meat – such as ‘No Meat Big Eat’ plant-based burgers, vegan chick’n nuggets and vegan bacon (vacon or facon!).
These are sometimes criticised as being over-processed fast food; but if that’s what so many people want/are used to, it’s probably the most likely ‘way to go’ in order to relegate the intensive livestock farming model to history.
The tension between ideals and actuality – principles and practice….
Sustain and the Soil Association in this country; and soil regeneration projects such as the Soil Food Web School in the US are doing good work towards reconnecting with farming in harmony with Nature.
And at home we can do our own farming – with worms!
A Nottingham-based social enterprise, the Urban Worm Community Interest Company (UWC) is on a mission to ‘worm up’ the UK by kickstarting an urban worm farming movement that can create high-grade fertiliser.
UWC has received a grant from the national lottery to send out packs of composting tiger worms to households.
Anna de la Vega, UWC’s managing director, said: “Using worms to manage organic household waste is happening at scale all over the world, except in the UK.
“The reality of climate change, natural resource depletion and mass urbanisation presents unprecedented threats to global food security and the survival of humanity.”
Now, an uplifting story about an individual – 73 year old park ranger from Cheshire, England, Ian Coppack is inspiring many new conservationists with his TikTok ‘channel’. He educates his viewers on everything from the 900-year life cycle of oak trees and the history of the red squirrel to the mating habits of moles. Check out @IanCoppack.
Also focussing on young people, under-30s are being urged to sign up to help preserve some of the UK’s richest landscapes, our national parks.
It emerged recently that the average age of volunteers at some national parks is 63….
Mary-Jane Alexander, youth engagement officer at the North York Moors national park authority, said: “There are many aspects of national park policy that impact directly on young people, not least how we address the escalating climate emergency, a lack of affordable housing and declining local services.” She added that it is “absolutely right that young people have a say in these matters.”
And finally, I am not keen to ‘advertise’ in my work; but I am impressed by the positive attitude of Aviva Investors – it has put the directors of 1,500 companies on notice that it is willing to seek their removal if they fail to show enough urgency in tackling issues including the climate crisis and human rights…. connected injustices, of course….
Aviva is helping build a more sustainable future too, with its Community Fund promoting climate action this year – sorry, the deadline for applications is February 1st, a bit soon…
I wonder how many people will feel motivated to become climate justice activists after watching the film (Leonardo di Caprlo and Jennifer Lawrence if you’re interested!), ‘Don’t Look Up’……
The world urgently needs more of us!
My husband fears that audiences will just not want to make the connections; and, really sadly, it could even result in ‘ordinary people’ feeling that whatever we do we will not be able to reverse the climate crisis…
I’m firmly hanging on to the idea that small ‘eco’ changes in our own lives can ‘make a difference’ – resulting in friends and family noticing and, more importantly, digging deeper to find out more about the situation we are all living in….
There is really so little time left before the irreversible tipping point, however, that ‘tiny increments of action across decades’ (to quote George Monbiot in The Guardian this week) will not be enough.
However much people hate/disapprove of ‘extreme’ actions by such campaigners as Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, changing systems is the only way ahead – we cannot rely on the world’s governments, so civil disobedience is completely justifiable.
‘Business as usual’ is not an option.
But if you don’t want to be disruptive, fair enough (!) – just join peaceful campaigning and protests please.
At least 18 peaceful protesters have been jailed in the UK this year.
I expect you know about the imminent UK government’s Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill (the Policing Bill) – we have until mid January to stop some of the worst measures that threaten to take away our democratic freedom to protest.
Protest is not a Crime!
Our government sidestepped the House of Commons by introducing 18 pages of draconian laws as amendments in the House of Lords, but that means if peers vote against them they can’t be reinserted.
Greens will vote against. Lib Dems say they will vote against. Many Crossbenchers will vote against.
But it’s imperative that the Labour Lords also vote against. As Green peers Jenny Joseph writes (launching the Green Party’s ‘Save the Right to Protest’ campaign), “Labour Lords can’t abstain. They must vote against.”
So, I hope some of you will join me in sending e-mails to a few of the (167!) Labour Peers.
Just search (using Ecosia?!) ‘Labour Peers’ for a list, click on the ones you choose and their contact details will come up.
Returning to the film ‘Don’t Look Up’, Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted that it “perfectly captures humanity’s capacity for denying the blindingly obvious, the absurdity of an economic system which puts profit above survival of life on earth & a media mostly choosing to ignore the reality of nature’s collapse”.
I admire Caroline Lucas so much – sometimes I don’t know how she carries on…..
And UN Climate Champion Dale Vince keeps his ‘cool’ in the face of ignorance and short-sightedness – it’s good that he’s on ‘mainstream’ radio and television more and more these days, not just in the ‘green bubble’.
He’s definitely worth checking out!
And finally, an inspiring child who has been ‘showing the way’ for five years – such commitment.
Elizabeth, the ‘Little Collector’ (caring for Wirral & the World), was featured on BBC’s Countryfile.
Of course, it’s depressing that the 11 year old ends up with such huge amounts of plastic waste after her litter-picks (and try not to notice the passers-by on the beach who seem to completely ignore her…).
But, she’s right – if we all work together, the impact can be massive.