War, Peace & Sustainability

Sustainability is about everyone living well, as far into the future as possible. War is about the most brutish form of conflict resolution we know.

It’s not hard to see how these two things are at odds. War kills people, injures people, rips apart families, communities and whole societies. It destroys critical infrastructure and homes. It also damages land, causes pollution and wastes resources and insane sums of money. Basically, while sustainability aims for a shared, ecologically-feasible and lasting prosperity, war fucks everything up.

You can’t have a sustainable society that is at war. The two cancel each other out.

So, my question is, do we need to first achieve world peace before we can fully get down to sustainabilityContinue reading

Universal Citizen’s Income

Have you heard of the universal citizen’s income?

Otherwise known as universal basic income, it refers to this (so far) theoretical policy where every citizen in a country is given enough money to cover their basic needs. It doesn’t matter if they’re working or not, how much they earn, what their health status is, – as long as they’re an adult and a national citizen, they get the same amount. Everyone does.

Do you think it sounds crazy? I kind of do too. But this article by the ever knowledgeable Another Angry Voice has made me doubt my initial incredulousness.  Continue reading

Environmental Communication & Journalism

Good evening lovelies.

My latest episode of Future Focus is now online and can be listened to here. This one’s on environmental communication, and features an interview with the design coordinator of the Greenpeace field at Glastonbury Festival 2014, the wonderful and talented Tabitha Pope. The episode discusses the many forms environmental communication can take, and how important it is in a society that increasingly relies on the media. Please give it a listen, and tell me what you think. And if you like it, please get on the link-love and share, share, share!  Continue reading

New UK “Environment Secretary” Opposes Green Energy & Loves Fracking

 

In dear David Cameron’s so called “reshuffle” of his cabinet, (in preparation for next year’s general election), he appears to have done what we previously thought impossible: made his party even more of a sick joke. Why am I being so harsh? Well, his new environment and energy ministers both oppose green energy.  Continue reading

Greenpeace & Glastonbury Festival 2014

I just got home yesterday from a summer-time adventure.

I was working for Greenpeace at Glastonbury Festival. I can’t believe I haven’t written about the project sooner to be honest, but my life’s been a bit of a whirlwind since I finished the 2nd year of my degree at the beginning of last month.

Basically, me and my friend Lola won a competition, which was about designing innovative ways of communicating climate change and the plight of the Arctic. In our application we summarised three ideas, which were for igloos with sound and visual installations for various Arctic issues, a timeline of melting icebergs and a large bird’s eye view map of the Arctic. The prize was to actually come to the festival and build your designs. We didn’t hear back for ages, so I was pretty shocked when Lola rang me excitedly telling me we’d won. They wanted us to create the timeline idea, and said the igloos were cool but there wasn’t enough space for them.

Anyway, that was about two weeks before the day we were expected onsite, and we were asked to stay from 17th June to 2nd July. We had the actual festival weekend off, which was fantastic. Working on the decor team of the build crew was a lot of fun, and it was also hard work. It was baking hot all week, and I felt close to sunstroke on a couple of occasions, but somehow I managed to avoid coming home looking like a lobster.

We spent three days painting our timeline, which was very big and right at the front of the Greenpeace field, next to the giant replica of the Arctic Sunrise ship. The timeline showed two scenarios, one called ‘business as usual’ which depicted melting icebergs giving way to rising sea levels and open water filled with oil rigs and industrial fishing ships. The other was called ‘global sanctuary’ and showed ice and water levels stabilising and lots of Arctic wildlife and sealife. This was supposed to show the consequences of our collective actions, and to underline that we have a choice – the melting of the Arctic is not inevitable.

 

Our double timeline, photo by Lola Rose.

Our double timeline, photos by Lola Rose.

Continue reading

Monkeys in the trees, Peruvian rainforest. Not my image.

I Bought a Rainforest

Have you seen the new BBC documentary series called I Bought a Rainforest?

I’ve watched the first two episodes. It’s about a wildlife photographer called Charlie who spontaneously buys 100 acres of the Amazon, in Peru, in order to protect it from illegal loggers.  His patch is strategically placed next to a national park, at the end of the only road for many miles. Loggers are felling trees in the national park, despite it being a protected area. Charlie plans to stop them.

So far, so simple, right? The animal-loving camera-man is the goodie and the illegal loggers who are killing the rainforest – the lungs of the planet and one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world – are undoubtedly the baddies.

But no. It would be very naive to assume real life is like a story of good vs evil. Much to Charlie’s dismay, it turns out the nasty loggers decimating the protected forest are really just cripplingly poor locals who have no other way to feed their families. One of them has a disabled daughter who isn’t getting the care she needs and can’t go to school.  Continue reading

Skeptical of Solar Roadways?

Yesterday I excitedly posted an article waxing lyrical about a new project to turn roads into solar-panel-covered roads that could generate all the clean energy the US needs if replicated nation-wide.

Solar cycle lane. Artists rendition by Katherine Simons.

Solar cycle lane. Artist’s rendition by Katherine Simons.

Apologising for being cynical, one of my lovely environmentally-conscious friends commented that he didn’t think it was a practical idea, and directed me to this article that dismisses solar roadways as a wild fancy. Well, I think they have a couple of fair points, and a fair few not-so-valid points. Let’s walk through them.  Continue reading

Artists rendition of what the solar roadways would look like with their programmable LED lights. Art by Sam Cornett.

SOLAR ROADWAYS

This is just about the best idea I’ve heard of in a very long time.

Solar Roadways are pretty much what they say on the tin: solar panels that cover the roads, generating clean electricity. They can also cover car parks, pavements, cycle lanes and any other impenetrable surface. The solar panels are encased in modular, hexagon-shaped tiles that can be replaced individually and are topped with a special kind of glass which can withstand even the heaviest trucks driving over it. The tiles are partly made with recycled materials, and they heat up slightly so as to melt snow and ice – meaning less snow-clearing costs, safer winter roads and of course year round functionality of the solar panels.

And the best bit?
How much energy these things could actually generate. The calculations, which use conservative estimates based on one of the least sunny states, show that if all roads in the USA were solar roads,each year they would generate three times the power the whole country  used in 2009.

Let that sink in for a minute. Three times the amount.  Continue reading

European Election Results

So the results of the European election are out.

…And UKIP won. Labour came a close second, then the Tories, then the Greens, with the Lib Dems being pushed into fifth place.

Apparently this is the first time in 100 years that neither Labour nor the Conservatives have won a UK national election.

But I just can’t believe the majority of voters thought the bigoted neoliberalism-on-steroids party was a good idea. Continue reading

The coconut oil I now use.  My photo.

Coconut Makeup Remover

I’ve been wearing makeup since my early teens, and this has sadly involved wiping my eyes with harsh chemicals every night so my eyelashes don’t fall off as I toss and turn in my sleepy time.

It’s very bad for you to forgo removing your makeup at the end of the day. But I’ve also always been casually concerned about the makeup removers and how toxic they’re likely to be. One time a few weeks ago I used a new type of remover and instantly got an unpleasant rash all over my face. My mum was visiting at the time, and she offered to try making me a natural makeup remover (she’s a medical herbalist and is experimenting with making natural beauty products). I scoffed that it couldn’t be done, because the makeup itself is full of chemicals so even more are needed to remove it. I switched to a different brand and the skin rash gradually subsided.  Continue reading