Category Archives: Uncategorized
Elizabeth Way writes:
In the title of her book, “Three Generations Left?” Dr Christine Parkinson sounds an urgent note – a wake-up call. She follows this with a succession of well-researched and wide-ranging facts to substantiate this warning.
She addresses those readers who are likely to remain sceptical of her predictions, piling fact upon fact, ending with the entreaty, “Look at the evidence”.
Elizabeth believes that however entrenched in scepticism the reader may be, a close consideration of the evidence set out by Dr Parkinson must surely cause such a reader to at least reconsider his or her opinion.
She indicates some steps that could be taken to ward off the coming destruction – asking: “But will they be taken? And will they be taken in time?”
Christine Parkinson’s book, “Three Generations Left? Human Activity and the Destruction of the Planet”, outlines how so-called progress has combined with a host of other factors, including free trade, a market economy, population increase and the development of a super-rich minority owning most of the wealth of the planet, to bring about global warming and climate change which could lead to a loss of many species and mass human extinction before the end of this century. It is quite constructive, despite its title. Her target audience is aged 15-18 and any adult new to the subject.
John Bunzl comments, “Christine Parkinson lists the essential pointers towards a just and sustainable global economy. Many of the policy recommendations she lists are likely to require a transnational approach because of the first-mover competitive disadvantage problem, so Simpol would potentially be one way to approach it. With the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign citizens don’t need to hope politicians will act, they can force them to do so.
“By using our votes in a completely new way that makes international cooperation in politicians’ vital best interests, Simpol offers us a useful electoral lever for achieving global solutions. To see how it works and how you can join in, go to http://uk.simpol.org”
Climate change, mass migration, unfettered corporate power, religious fanaticism, inequality, the rise of the far right . . . Individually these problems are tough enough; combined, they’re surely insurmountable. Or are they?
The Simpol Solution explains why our efforts to deal with these issues are failing and proposes new ways of thinking that can help us tackle them. Drawing on a multinational movement already gaining momentum among politicians and academics, this game-changing book proposes a solution which shows that solving global problems could be closer than we think.
‘The Simpol Solution takes a welcome fresh look at political/economic reality and clearly explains the psychology behind why we need new eyes to see how we might force politicians to change the world on our behalf.’ – Joris Luyendijk, author, journalist and talk-show host
‘I nodded until I got a crick in my neck. I haven’t read a book for years that I agreed with so deeply and so consistently – nor felt so keenly that these are messages the world needs to hear.’ – Simon Anholt, founder, the Good Country Index
‘The Simpol Solution shows the real possibilities of a worldcentric paradigm shift, transcending from a competitive to a cooperative evolution and mode of consciousness. A real pleasure to read and a potential political pathbreaker.’ – Professor Ugo Mattei, University of California
‘A courageous and urgently needed book.’ – Ervin Laszlo, author, philosopher and evolutionary systems theorist
John Bunzl – Founder & Trustee
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO)
One evening in July, under cover of the fading light, Tracy climbed over a wall to get into the grounds and corrugated iron sheds of a small farm in the English countryside. With a cameraman, she waited until dusk. They hoped the farm workers had clocked off by then, but couldn’t be sure. If caught, they faced being prosecuted for trespassing.
It was a nerve-racking mission, but one worth taking to shine a light on the sickening conditions in which pigs are being kept in Britain. Their findings were recorded in photographs which may be seen here.
Pig factories taking advantage of cheap labour and lax welfare laws are pushing British farmers to the wall
Tracy points out that much of the pressure to cut costs is driven from abroad. The fact is that bacon sold as British is often not British at all. Some 54% per cent of our pork is imported – mostly from pig factories in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – and made in conditions that would be illegal here.
In Chile, she filmed the local people’s successful battle to close the world’s biggest pig farm, housing 2.5 million animals. These cheap imports from giant corporate animal factories undermine British farmers who, with higher welfare standards and smaller farms, cannot compete. Cutting corners in animal welfare becomes the only option to avoid bankruptcy. In the past 15 years Britain has lost half of our sow population, with many small and medium-size farms being forced to close.
Increasing human resistance to antibiotics
Animal factories also pose a serious risk to human health. Keeping animals in unnatural and unhygienic conditions promotes disease, so factory pigs are routinely given doses of antibiotics. Alarmed at increasing human resistance to antibiotics, doctors and hospitals are cutting back. But at the same time their use by factory farms is increasing. In the UK, 45% of antibiotics sold are to treat animals. In the US more than 80% of all antibiotics are used by agribusiness. This is fuelling the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and making some human diseases more difficult to treat.
Buy one and half sausages from a farm where they are raised humanely for the same cost as two sausages from a factory-farmed pig
Yet we can act. By using our power as consumers, we can choose pork that carries the RSPCA Assured label, is free range, outdoor bred or organic – and change the system. The power is in our purse. Two sausages from a factory-farmed pig costs the same as one and half sausages from a farm where they are raised humanely. Surely avoiding animal cruelty and saving antibiotics is worth half a sausage?
Like networker Colin Hines, she points out that the government could impose high tariffs on cheap imports to guarantee the British farmer a fair price, but it is reluctant to do so. That leaves it up to you and me, the consumers. Buying higher-welfare meat ensures the survival of our farmers.
Tracy Worcester ends: “I grew up in the countryside near farmers who loved their animals. I know that if it were economically viable, farms like the one I visited last week would prefer to treat their animals well . . . Each time we buy pork we vote for the system that produced it. Vote for pigs raised in this country on farms where they are allowed to roam and feel the sun on their backs, and where our farmers receive a fair price for good animal husbandry.
Read more about her campaign: http://farmsnotfactories.org/
On a summer evening: a few people from the thriving community at Trelay, co-founded by Jackie. There are members of all ages, including the latest arrival born in April.
In the middle of May Roger, Jackie, Paul and Julie visited Maddy Harland, the editor of ‘Permaculture’ magazine and her husband Tim, who have a forest garden in Hampshire. During the course they admired their garden and wonderful wildflower meadow.
Danny intends to create one in the GAP area at Trelay . They look forward to developing more than one forest garden at Trelay (eventually), planting an under-layer of soft fruit and perennial vegetables in the orchard and a wildflower meadow at the bottom of Marks Meadow.
A well-deserved holiday in Norway
The building of Trelay’s Guest Accommodation is under way
The water passes through two heat pumps, a large pump, which is sited between Hendra and Chylosen (16kW ), and a smaller one sited behind Edhanneith (6kW).
These provide both hot water and heating and are run from the electricity supplied from the solar panels when available. The heating is still electric but we estimate will need only about a quarter of the amount that conventional electrical heating would use.
All Friends of Trelay receive a newsletter periodically.
It is published by SWESE Trelay Ltd, Trelay Farm, St Gennys, Bude, Cornwall, EX23 0NJ and edited by Daisy Walker. Learn more at www.trelay.org, 01840 230 482
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.
“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.