Image from the petition linked above, not mine.

Leader’s Debates: Invite the Greens!

Two days ago the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 announced they have invited UKIP’s Nigel Farage to the televised leader’s debates in the run up to the UK’s 2015 general election. They’ve have not invited Green Party leader Natalie Bennet, nor the leaders of other non-establishment parties.

The TV station’s plan is to have a 4-3-2 set-up where the first round has David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage, the second has Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, and the final round has just Cameron and Miliband. All these debates will take place throughout April, 2015.

As you can imagine, I’m outraged by this proposal.

If UKIP are being included, the Greens have every right to be included as well. You can read a pretty comprehensive list of reasons why this is so with one of my favourite bloggers, Another Angry Voice. However my top arguments in a nutshell are:  Continue reading

Orangutans in the trees! Photo from projectorangutan.com

Blading For Borneo

Today I want to give a little shout out for a close friend of mine, who’s been doing something amazing.

My friend Aleesha recently spent eight days skating solo across the whole South coast of England, raising money for The Orangutan Project in Borneo.

Between the 14th and 23rd of September 2014 she in-line skated from Hastings to Plymouth, a distance of 310 miles, averaging roughly 40 miles per day. You can read about her adventure on her blog, Blading For Borneo, which she updated each night while staying with generous coach-surfing hosts.  Continue reading

Note My Vote!

The other day I found out about this really cool new website called Note My Vote, which basically lets you vote on potential new laws before they’re debated in parliament, and tells your MP what you (and your fellow constituents) think.

The website, which has no political affiliation, basically conducts lots of opinion polls, and sends each MP their constituent’s results. It also shows your MP’s voting records and has some demystifying information on how the UK legislative process works.

The site's logo. Image from notemyvote.co.uk

The site’s logo. Image from notemyvote.co.uk

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UN Climate Summit – What Happened?

So on Tuesday, 23rd September 2014, the UN held a Climate Summit in New York, which was attended by over 100 heads of state and over 800 leaders from business, finance and civil society.

Not my image.

Not my image.

I wrote about the aims of the Summit a couple of weeks ago, but basically it was meant to galvanise political momentum towards the all-important COP-21 meeting in Paris 2015, where a global legally binding climate deal will finally be signed.
These world leaders descended on the UN headquarters just two days after over 600,000 people took part in the largest climate mobilisation in history – hailing from 155 different countries, but with an amazing 300,000 marching in New York.

The New York march. Not my image.

The New York march. Not my image.

The Summit didn’t produce an agreement or decision. But that’s okay, because it wasn’t planning to. It wasn’t a negotiating session. It consisted of all the leaders giving small speeches, offering pledges and commitments for their country, or at least promising to do so before Paris 2015. Some of the pledges are exciting, but most of it appears to have been simple lip-service. However, the key thing is that the Summit (and the global People’s Climate March) has put climate change firmly back on the agenda. That seems to be what UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon had in mind, which explains why he described it on the website as a resounding success despite many of the national pledges being very vague. Continue reading

Not-for-profit enterprise: A talk

So last week I was waxing lyrical about this talk I was about to go to, called “Is the post-growth economy already here?” by Donnie Maclurcan, from the Post Growth Institute. It was part of a UK-wide speaking tour, in promotion for a new book (How, On Earth?) by Donnie and one of the co-directors of the Institute, Jennifer Hinton.

The cover of How, on Earth?

The cover of ‘How, on Earth?’

So I went to the talk, and I really enjoyed it. Let me walk you through some of the key points, and the bits I thought were most exciting. You can also read the blurb for the talk, for some background, here.

Near the start of the talk, Donnie Maclurcan stated that we have two major global crises, which are completely interconnected.

One is the ecological crisis. The fact that each year we’re now using more resources than can be replenished, and creating more waste than can be assimilated. This is leading to widespread species loss, dangerous climate change, land degradation and the rest. As he’s the executive director of the Post Growth Institute it’s not surprising he doesn’t believe in the fantasy story of infinite economic growth.

The other crisis is spiralling financial inequality. He quoted the well-publicised but ever sickening statistic from Oxfam, that the world’s richest 85 people have the same combined wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion*.

The two are connected because rising inequality leads to over-consumption, through status envy and competition. And in a neoliberal economy where growth is prioritized above all else, consumption will be tightly culturally linked with the idea of success.  Because that’s what’s needed to keep the growth engine going.

Anyway, Maclurcan thinks the solution to the two problems is not loads of regulation, nor flashy brands of ‘creative capitalism’, but not-for-profit enterpriseContinue reading

People’s Climate March!

Today I went to London for the People’s Climate March, a global mobilisation of people demanding bold climate action, ahead of the UN Climate Summit in New York on Tuesday. Over 2,600 events took place around the world today, in 156 different countries.

Even just in terms of organisation and phenomenal use of social media and logistics, that’s a huge achievement. The fact that so many people, from all walks of life and all around the world, could be bothered to spend their Sunday marching and rallying for action on climate change is incredible.

It’s easy to think people don’t care much about this stuff. Apathy is evident everywhere. But today while I was marching in solidarity with thousands of strangers, waving placards and chanting our demand for clean energy, I felt such a sense of shared passion, energy and determination that it was almost overwhelming.  Continue reading

Door-knocking with the Green Party

Today I spontaneously decided to spend the evening volunteer  door-knocking with the Green Party, on their mission to re-elect Caroline Lucas, the UK’s one and only Green MP.

I’ve been wanting to do it for ages, but they always do it on Saturday mornings, when I’m busy carrying dishes of spaghetti around in a tiny Italian restaurant. However now it’s getting closer to election time (well, still 7 months) they’ve started doing it like, everyday. I wasn’t working tonight and my boyfriend was out, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.

I was expecting canvassing to be more than a little soul-destroying, to be honest. I wanted to do it because I admire Caroline so much and desperately want her to be re-elected, but I thought it would be highly unpleasant.
I’m happy to report it was actually painless, verging on fun.

The other volunteers were really lovely people. The team leader had this amazing charisma and energy about her that was just completely contagious. Don’t you just love people like that? And there was another student too, who was the same age as me. It was really nice to meet someone my age who’s as passionate about green politics as me.

Excitingly, and surprisingly for me, Caroline Lucas herself came with us as well. I think it’s so great that she spends her own evenings door-knocking. She’s such a down-to-earth and real person, not like other politicians. And I was really excited to meet her properly because I’ve admired her for ages and really look up to her. I can’t believe she now follows Earth Baby on Twitter!

Here’s a photo of me, Caroline and the other volunteers after our canvassing session.

 

Me on the far left. Caroline Lucas is the lady in the middle with the white tshirt.

Me on the far left. Caroline Lucas is the lady in the middle with the white t-shirt.

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How, on Earth?

I’m very much looking forward to attending a talk this Thursday, entitled Is the Post Growth economy already here? By Donnie Maclurcan, executive director of the Post Growth Institute. He’s coming to my city as part of a UK-wide tour promoting a new book he’s co-writing with Jennifer Hinton, co-director of the same Institute.

Cover of the forthcoming book

Cover of the forthcoming book

This book is called How, on Earth? Flourishing in a not-for-profit world by 2050, and will be published in April next year. You can pre-order it here. The book centres around the concept of the not-for-profit enterprise, which earns money to pay for its resources and to pay all employees a fair wage, but reinvests any profits straight back into its social cause, or into improving the enterprise, rather than letting them accrue to shareholders.

If you fail to see how a profit-less model could possibly be a good thing, you might need a bit of background. Continue reading

Climate Summit 2014!

Did you know there’s a UN Climate Summit in exactly one month?

I have to admit it slipped my mind, and I like to think of myself as in the environmental loop.

I’m not sure what the news coverage has been like in other countries, but in the UK it’s definitely been nowhere near the top of the agenda. I know this because preparations for my dissertation have seen me rifling through the top four serious newspapers of the land for the last couple of weeks. I was looking for articles on sustainable development, in order to analyse how the concept is construed in the news print media. And yet I barely found any.

I wasn’t too surprised. I though to myself, “oh well, what do you expect. Sustainability only comes into the news in a major way when there’s some big event, like the run-up to a UN summit or the aftermath of a natural disaster”.

Only the other night I realised it was the run-up to a big UN summit.

Not my image.

Not my image.

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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