Issues covered by articles in the 2016 newsletter of Scientists for Global Responsibility of which at least two networkers are members, include UK climate policy; the flaws of nuclear deterrence; climate impacts of space tourism; the risks of another Chernobyl/ Fukushima; ocean acidification; military science and technology; the Paris climate agreement; teaching science ethics.
UK climate policy unravelling The government claims that the UK is taking a leading role in tackling climate change – but support mechanisms for renewable energy and energy conservation are rapidly being cut. Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, examines what is going on.
Trident, deterrence and UK security Dr Philip Webber, SGR, summarises the flaws in the theory and practice of nuclear deterrence for the UK.
Statistically assessing of the risks of commercial nuclear energy As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Spencer Wheatley, Prof Benjamin Sovacool and Prof Didier Sornette argue that the risks of another major nuclear accident are much greater than the industry believes.
Ocean acidification: a threat to life Dr Wiebina Heesterman examines the other threat from carbon dioxide emissions: that of ocean acidification.
A new phase for ‘offensive insecurity’? Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, gives an overview of the UK’s new military and security strategies, and highlights the increasing focus on militarism.
Science4Society Week: SGR’s latest science education project Dr Jan Maskell, SGR, describes the activities for young people which our organisation undertook as part of its first Science4Society Week in 2015 – and looks at what is planned for March 2016.
The Paris Agreement: key points (no link) Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, summarises the most important aspects of the new climate treaty agreed in Paris.
The industrialisation of war: lessons from World War I Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, examines how technological innovation contributed to one of the most devastating wars in human history – and asks what lessons we should take from this.
New Economy Convergence
This one-day meeting in London will provide an opportunity to take part in the rising global-to-local movement and to discuss the strategies required to move away from a corporate-led growth economy towards diverse local economies in service of people and planet.
There will be news of inspiring initiatives worldwide aimed at resisting global trade treaties and reclaiming our communities, cultures and natural environment. Meet others who care about democracy, social justice, fulfilling and dignified livelihoods, nutritious fresh food, meaningful education and about passing on a healthy and diverse environment to our children.
Speakers include Helena Norberg-Hodge, James Skinner, Molly Scott Cato, and Rupert Read (read more about the speakers here). The short version of The Economics of Happiness will be screened, and the event will include world café brainstorming sessions.
Saturday, September 17th, 2016 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
Friends House 173-177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ (use Garden entrance)
Tickets: £20 for a standard ticket; £15 for concessions. Full scholarships also available upon application; please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an article for the Gandhi Foundation, Diana Schumacher has written about the work of her father-in-law, Ernst Friedrich (Fritz) Schumacher. This post looks at only one aspect – his foundation of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), a London-based charity concerned with technology transfer.
The aim was to give practical ‘tool aid’, skills and education to poor rural communities in developing countries rather than expensive highly mechanised equipment which was not appropriate to the understanding and needs of the illiterate majority and which put them out of work. What was needed was ‘production by the masses and not mass production’ using ‘technologies with a human face’. In 2005 ITDG changed its name to Practical Action, in order to communicate its work to a wider audience.
Ancient routes reopened
For centuries nomadic herdsman drove cattle and camels through Darfur and lived peacefully alongside farmers who lived off the land. However, during the unrest long-standing bonds between farmers and the pastoralist tribes were undermined. Read more here.
Pastoralists stopped using the migratory routes due to conflict and farmers started planting crops on them. Then when the conflict eased and the pastoralists returned to the routes crops were ruined and fighting broke out between the two groups.
The work of Practical Action is simple and reflected self-governing systems of justice traditionally used in Darfur. Project officers set up peace and stability committees which bring leading members of opposed groups together and get them to agree on where animals should be allowed to walk and feed.
2011, the charity has installed nearly 200km of migratory routes and set up 20 shared water points. So far more than 20,000 people have benefitted from the project, with more set to do so after the UNDP committed further spending in the latest phase of the project.
Abandoned markets resurrected
As part of the newest phase of the project, which started five years ago, Practical Action have been reopening markets closed down during the conflict. The markets provide the region with an economic boost and encourage a return to traditional forms of trading, which have supported the economy of the region for generations.
Importantly, markets also bring community leaders from all sides of the conflict together in one place and offer a valuable opportunity to expand the peace and stability committees, discuss matters which are still causing inter-tribal conflict and, where possible, reach new agreements. Project leader Awadalla Hamid Mohammed said: “More productive farming and the return of traditional trading routes and markets signifies a return to normality and provides a huge opportunity to rebuild trust between communities”.
The project leader added: “Markets have always provided a place to trade, but they also enable people to build friendships and alliances, swap information and generally network. When they stopped, communities became more isolated, which led to less understanding and a break-down of relationships. Now we believe they can be vital agents of change.”
His role is identifying authors and book projects in line with CG’s mission: to reverse the destruction of the natural world by challenging the beliefs and practices that are enabling this destruction, and by providing inspirational and practical alternatives that promote sustainable living.
Speaking as an author, he says that they are ‘comfortably’ the best publishers he’s worked with and looks forward to hearing from any voices/projects that could use a great publisher.
Founded in 1984, Chelsea Green Publishing is recognized as a leading publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, publishing authors who bring in-depth, practical knowledge to life, and give readers hands-on information related to organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more. Website information:
“We lead the industry both in terms of content—foundational books on renewable energy, green building, organic agriculture, eco-cuisine, and ethical business—and in terms of environmental practice, printing 95 percent of our books on recycled paper with a minimum 30 percent post-consumer waste and aiming for 100 percent whenever possible. We also print our books in North America, as opposed to overseas like many publishers, with most of our printing partners based in the United States”.
In 2012, Chelsea Green decided to become an employee-owned company, creating an ESOP in which employees control 78% of the company’s privately held stock; the remaining stock is held by the founders.
Rashneh, Helena and Richard all met in 2000 at a gathering we held near Bromsgrove.
Today we received a link to a video which we heartily recommend. In it, networker Rashneh Pardiwala, co-founder of CERE, was interviewed by Pooja Damadia of CSR Journal which seeks to publicise news of good corporate practice. It may be seen here http://thecsrjournal.in/it-is-better-to-abide-by-the-laws-than-trying-ways-to-circumvent-them-dr-rashneh-pardiwala-cere/.
One telling point made was that urban areas benefited from electricity generated in rural Dahanu, whereas Dahanu itself, ironically, is subject to frequent power cuts.
Caroline Whyte now links us with the work of our networker, the late Richard Douthwaite, co-founder of FEASTA, whose books included The Growth Illusion and recently we received the information-packed annual report for 2014 & 2015. There is even more on their website: http://www.feasta.org/.
The material on fracking, climate change, basic income and monetary reform will be of interest to many outside our network and will be recommended to them. There was reference to the work on biochar which many visitors continue to discover on this website linked with the name of James Bruges. See http://www.feasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/2014-15_annual_report_feasta.pdf
Both video presentations prompt the wish for all New Era networkers to present their case in this way and make it available on Youtube. Does anyone know what costs are involved?
In other posts on this site readers can learn more about Zerbanoo and the Asha Centre in the Forest of Dean. Amongst a host of other activities, for years she and her husband Richard, freely giving his legal services, have worked to achieve justice for the Chagos Islanders.
Zerbanoo writes about their winter visit to India, where her new book, An Uncensored Life was launched in Mumbai at the Times Literary Festival. She reports that there were many gatherings and some really good publicity for the book and for the ASHA Centre that continues to go from strength to strength, with a new auditorium, secret garden and labyrinth.
She then went to New Zealand and attended the World Youth Zoroastrian Conference and spoke as the guest of honour, receiving a standing ovation.
I had already read, in the excellent magazine Hamazor, about the 6th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress held under the auspices of Kings College, Auckland, between December 28th 2015 and January 2nd 2016.
Zerbanoo was described as an acclaimed human rights campaigner, author, political pioneer for British Asians and the founder of the beautiful ASHA Centre.
The young audience listened ‘with rapt attention’ to uncensored stories and were encouraged to make their world a kinder and more beautiful place, as their prophet Zarathustra always hoped they would, and the second day started off with the Green Initiative presentation to highlight both the initiatives carried out prior to, and during the event, to make it the first ecologically conscious Youth Congress.
Zerbanoo Gifford’s biography ‘AN UNCENSORED LIFE’ by Farida Master and published by Harper Collins is available on Amazon and bookshops – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/9351776360
“If political will were easily translated into policy the days of corporate tax avoidance would be numbered”.
As Green Party Finance Speaker and Member of the European Parliament TAXE committee she adds. “Sadly, my work on the European parliament’s special tax committee suggests otherwise”.
She sees clear proposals agreed from the European Commission and parliament being blocked by member states who – rather than co-operate on the issue of tax – are determined to race to the bottom at the behest of corporations, the commercial interests noted by economist Martin Wolf as playing a powerful role in shaping those laws.
Molly concluded: “EU finance ministers are thus not only starving the public coffers but also flouting the democratic will”.
The FT notes that “the (OECD) proposals to improve transparency, close loopholes and restrict the use of tax havens are the culmination of an international project launched by G20 governments in response to surging public anger over corporate tax avoidance”.
In Tax Haven UK, Issue 1410, however, Private Eye notes that Chancellor George Osborne, who has often claimed to be at the forefront of global efforts to stop tax abuse by multinationals, has yet to implement the changes proposed for this purpose.
Tax Haven UK ends: “A ‘consultation’ on the big tax break exploited by the companies (listed) trundles on and Britain looks set to remain the tax haven of choice for multinationals for a while yet”.
Will the Polish government back small farmers and food sovereignty?
Described as ultra-conservative, rightwing and nationalist in the FT and committed to social welfare but ‘controversial’ by the BBC, the new Polish Law and Justice government has been criticised for measures taken to control the media.
Julian Rose sent a link to his article in the Ecologist this week which is summarised here. He is the author of the ‘proximity principle’ and spent decades of lobbying on behalf of small and medium sized farmers in the UK. He is now chairman of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC), founded in 2000.
Julian sends the news that since Poland’s new government was elected last October it has moved to protect the country’s 1.3 million small farmers. First it freed, without charge, those arrested for protesting corporate land grabs, blocking the Polish Land Agency’s attempt to sell off prime farmland to foreign speculators. Now it is seeking to lighten oppressive hygiene regulations, and may well support a new Food Act that would ban GMOs, and legislate for national food security and food sovereignty . . .
Julian records, “Recent governments since Poland joined the EU in 2004 have outlawed the sale of on-farm processed foods unless farmers establish their operations as a separate business and in separate hygienically sanitised buildings. That’s completely unaffordable to the great majority of small farmers whose holdings typically range from between 3 and 10 hectares”.
He explains that the ICPPC has been campaigning to give the country’s 1.3 million small family farms the freedom to produce foods without needless, burdensome regulations, and to sell their produce locally. They are working with farmers and parliamentarians from the Kukiz’15 movement, which attracted 12% of the vote in the recent elections, to draft a new Food Act that will spell out farmer friendly’ supply and demand conditions that are critical to the survival of family farming traditions in Poland.
Julian adds: “In this, we have been fortunate to have the support of Jaroslaw Sachajko, the new Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and a prominent member of Kukiz’15 in the Seime (Polish parliament) . . . Working closely with Sachajko has also enabled us to form the wording of the new act into the necessary legal terminology to be presented to parliament”.
Poland is a big country, rich in natural resources, but Rose reports that the European Commission stated outright, back in 2001, that it is the EU’s intention to eradicate the peasant farming tradition in Poland and restructure its agriculture by merging small farms into large scale enterprises able to ‘be competitive in the world market’.
Rose comments, “We all know what that means: large scale agrichemical monocultures exporting commodities onto the highly volatile global market place”.
The battle to prevent this has been the main task undertaken by ICPPC, centring around a major anti GMO campaign which successfully kept genetically modified seeds out of the country and led to a government ban on the import and planting of GM crops in 2006 (also then by Law and Justice).
Now that Law and Justice is back in power – and with a large majority – we have the chance of moving forward on this front as well as rekindling interest in an outright ban of GM animal feed. Such a ban had been proposed by Law and Justice back in 2006, but never came to fruition.
A bottom-up renaissance of real food and real farming is a long term goal of ICPPC. If we can get a genuinely farmer friendly food act through parliament in the coming months, with the road clear of GMOs and repressive food regulations, perhaps entrepreneurial Poles living abroad will be inspired to return to their native land and become instrumental in reviving the rural economy.
Whatever emerges in 2016, we remain committed to helping ‘hold the Polish line’ made up, as it is, of small and medium sized independent family farms, forming both the bedrock and backbone of the nation’s essential food security and sovereignty.
It already has members from over 30 countries.
The Local Futures website records that Helena, who trained as a linguist with Chomsky, has delivered her message in English, Swedish, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Ladakhi.
You are asked to consider joining forces with IAL – ‘the time seems ripe’.
In the wake of the Paris climate talks, Local Futures has released a 16 page action paper entitled Climate Change or System Change? (left).
It argues that globalization – the deregulation of trade and finance through an ongoing series of “free trade” treaties – is the driving force behind climate change.
The climate problem can only be tackled effectively if governments stop subsidising globalisation, and begin pursuing a localisation agenda instead.
A recording of Local Futures’ first webinar, with community economist Michael Shuman and Helena Norberg is now uploaded on YouTube.
In this event, recognised pioneers of the localisation movement – community-economist and author, Michael Shuman and Helena – explored localisation as a systemic solution-multiplier that simultaneously lowers CO2 emissions, restores democracy and provides secure livelihoods.
The conversation identified proven strategies that strengthen local economies including the need for an international movement for localization.
Climate Change or System Change? will be the focus of the second international webinar in January, as part of the Global to Local webinar series. More information will follow soon.
Contact via http://www.localfutures.org/contact-us/
See in more detail: https://britain2020.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/localisation-a-systemic-solution-multiplier-simultaneously-lowering-co2-emissions-restoring-democracy-and-providing-secure-livelihoods-part-1/
Brief extracts from the 16 page action paper entitled Climate Change or System Change? – may be seen here: https://britain2020.wordpress.com/localisation-systemic-solution-multiplier-part-2/