Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

Woody Harrelson on feeling like an alien and other wise ponderings . . .

It’s apparently from a 2003 film named Go Further that curiously slipped my I must watch all films that have a green message radar.  Anyway, I came across it on Facebook via Occupy Love and was so awestruck I thought I’d share it.  Appropriate for Earth Day methinks.

I sometimes feel like an alien creature
for which there is no earthly explanation
Sure I have human form
walking erect and opposing digits,
but my mind is upside down.
I feel like a run-on sentence
in a punctuation crazy world.
And I see the world around me
like a mad collective dream.
An endless stream of people
move like ants from the freeway
cell phones, pc’s, and digital displays
“In Money We Trust,”
we’ll find happiness
the prevailing attitude;
like a genetically modified irradiated Big Mac
is somehow symbolic of food.
Morality is legislated
prisons over-populated
religion is incorporated
the profit-motive has permeated all activity
we pay our government to let us park on the street
And war is the biggest money-maker of all
we all know missile envy only comes from being small.
Politicians and prostitutes
are comfortable together
I wonder if they talk about the strange change in the weather.
This government was founded by, of, and for the people
but everybody feels it
like a giant open sore
they don’t represent us anymore
And blaming the President for the country’s woes
is like yelling at a puppet
for the way it sings
Who’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings?
A billion people sitting watching their TV
in the room that they call living
but as for me
I see living as loving
and since there is no loving room
I sit on the grass under a tree
dreaming of the way things used to be
Pre-Industrial Revolution
which of course is before the rivers and oceans,
and skies were polluted
before Parkinson’s, and mad cows
and all the convoluted cacophony of bad ideas
like skyscrapers, and tree paper, and earth rapers
like Monsanto and Dupont had their way
as they continue to today.
This was Pre-us
back when the buffalo roamed
and the Indian’s home
was the forest, and God was nature
and heaven was here and now
Can you imagine clean water, food, and air
living in community with animals and people who care?
Do you dare to feel responsible for every dollar you lay down
are you going to make the rich man richer
or are you going to stand your ground
You say you want a revolution
a communal evolution
to be a part of the solution
maybe I’ll be seeing you around.

Woody Harrelson

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Olympic Legacy

I used to love the Olympic  Games. Me and my dad, we loved watching the events together and cheering on the Brits . But the more I learn about the truth behind the glossy Olympic veneer, the more disillusioned I become.

We’re told that the Games leave a great legacy for the host country – that the economy will greatly benefit, that tourism will soar, that employment, investment and regeneration will thrive.  They convince us that the Games will encourage the whole nation to get active and that suddenly everyone will be transformed into healthy, keep-fit fanatics.  They sell us the idea of superb sporting facilities –  swimming pools, tennis courts and such-like that will be available for everyone to utilise post-Olympic games.

Well there is another line of thinking which argues that the golden Olympic legacies are mostly mythical, that there is a more sinister side to the Olympic movement and that beyond the hype, real lives are detrimentally and irreversibly affected.

Well let’s take a wee look:

Planning displacement/Forced evictions. How many people do you think were displaced in Beijing to make way for the games?  This report says it’s 1.5 million.  And this website goes into more detail.

Atlanta 96– what went on there?  Amongst other stuff, housing rights violations and – get this – the criminalisation of the poor and the homeless, many of whom were detained without trial for the duration of the games so they wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

London 2012 – how many evictions have taken place so far in London alone due to the building works?  What about the allotments that have been forecably taken to make way for the games?  The businesses that have lost their sites.  And the social housing estate, Clays Lane, that became subject to a compulsory purchase order, against the wishes of the tenants, to build the athlete’s village.

Ethics. London 2012 is so ethical that it’s own ethics chief resigned because of its connections, via Dow Chemicals, with the 1984 Bhopal disaster that killed thousands of its citizens.  When you consider just who the leading corporate sponsors are it’s hard not to be cynical . . .  BP, the aforementioned Dow Chemicals, Rio Tinto . . .  a trio of polluting multinationals with dire environmental records as official sponsors of the “greenest games ever”? Give me a break!

Democratic rights. Be in no doubt, preemptive arrests are very much on the cards at these London games for peaceful protesters.  Just wait and watch our PM trample on our civil liberties, empowering the police to make sweeping arrests before objectors even begin their peaceful protests at the games.  You’ll have to look hard though because it won’t be widely reported.

There’s more.

The Food. McDonald’s (hiss, spit), official partner of the games, have pledged to use only British chickens but what about the beef and the fish? And in any case, come on!  McDonald’s! The unhealthiest food in the world being ‘officially’ supplied at a major, global sports event!  Someone had a sarcastic sense of humour there.

The environmental impact.  The London games are supposed to be the greenest ever.  UK officialdom wants the London games to be an environmental showcase and wants us to believe that the environment won’t be touched at all by these games but nobody can tell me that there has been no major environmental impact.  It’s not possible.  I can’t even be bothered going into detail.  I’ve gone on enough and I’d be stating the bleeding obvious anyway.

To sum up, basically, they’ve sold us a tale of turning the nation into health and fitness fanatics but does anyone really believe that people will get off their backsides en masse and get jogging because they been so inspired by nine-minute sprinters or record-holding marathon runners?  No, we will all watch the games from the comfort of our lounges (or if we’re lucky, from a seat in the stadium) and then we’ll forget about it!  And I’m sure all those super-duper sports facilities that they say the citizens will inherit really will be fantastic – if you can afford the membership fees!

Sure, there will be economic benefits but they will be short-term and there’s little evidence to say that these benefits actually reach those most in need and much historical evidence to say that existing entrepreneurial types and wealthy stakeholders usually reap the most of the rewards.  They say that tourism will benefit and yes, if the games were to be held in Backendofnowhere I’m sure that many ordinary citizens would greatly benefit from increased tourism (or perhaps not depending on your view but you get the point).  But the games are always held in major cities, eg, London.  Tourism is London’s biggest industry and it’s booming, so where will the added value come from?  It’s so small, it’s more likely to cause greater pressure and utter turmoil.

The misrepresentation, the myths, the corporate spin, the total greenwash. Folks, the social and environmental impacts of the games are considerable.  The Olympic legacy is not all rosy but is in fact, pretty much all fallacy.  It certainly does not result in all-round sustainable urban facelifts or jobs for life or booming economies.

So, whose boycotting the games then?

Tree People – we need you now!

It seems that our unmandated government really has it in for our forests.  They have thus-far failed to slip through a bill that would allow them to sell our woodlands to private firms who would subsequently turn them into a profit-making  commodity.  So now they’re going to revise planning laws making it easier for developers to, well, develop on them.

If we are to believe our government (snigger), these proposed new planning policies will have no impact on our green and pleasant land but their promises will soon be put to the test according this article in today’s Guardian. The writer tells us that Oaken Wood in Kent is potentially at risk due to an application for a quarry extension and this highlights some serious concerns.  From the article:

At stake, under a single application for the extension of an existing quarry, is 32 hectares of ancient woodland, home to rare lady orchids, firecrests and nightingales. Under pressure from conservation groups including the Woodland Trust, and thanks to the efforts of local campaigners, Eric Pickles, local government secretary, called in the controversial application in July last year. It is scheduled to go to public inquiry in November. . . .

. . . . Today, ancient woodland covers just 2.7% of England and is home to more wildlife of conservation concern than any other terrestrial habitat. These woods are irreplaceable and require protection.

For goodness sake folks, you heard him! We don’t have much ancient woodland left in England and when it’s gone, it’s gone! Our woodlands are important on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start but to paraphrase Earl Attlee when asked what plans they had to improve ancient woodland protection in the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework, he said it’s not possible to put an economic value on ancient woodland because it is irreplaceable.

It all takes me back to a time, many moons ago, when I camped out in a beautiful ancient woodland with a bunch of tree-hugging eco-warriors in an effort to stop it from being bulldozed to make way for the M65.  Well, I say camped-out . . . taking food, drinks and blankets each day to the protesters and generally playing a supportive role would be closer to the truth but hey, I was there with the likes of  Swampy, suitably clad in wellies, camouflage trousers and an attitude.

The protesters weren’t all stereotypical tree huggers with dreadlocks and doc-martens but they became known by the locals (who mostly supported them it has to be said) as the Tree People. And these guys were fantastic.  They were radical and inventive and totally committed.  They’d lived in those self-built tree-houses for months and they were determined not to give way.  The stakes were high and their determination was downright heroic. They constructed a woodland network of ropes and tree-top walkways so that they were all connected making it very difficult for the axe-men to chop even one tree down without risking the life of a protester.  As non-violent resisters they suffered many injuries at the hands of the burly security men but they never gave up.  At one point militant-me had a very heated debate with the sheriff of somewhere-or-other (probably not Nottingham) but, being  the mardy-pants that I am, I backed off when two large, grumpy-looking policemen started to walk towards me with intent.  Yep, I was passionately proactive and I really believed in the cause but those coppers looked big and mean and there’d already been several arrests.

Anyhoo, needless to say, we were unsuccessful in our efforts. The inevitable forced eviction took place and those yellow-hats stood smugly by as the activists were dragged ruthlessly from the their tree-houses.  Subsequently, and very sadly, the beautiful woodland, where deer used to roam and wildflowers grew freely, was razed to the ground. And now a dirty, great big concrete motorway sits in its place.

I might have turned into little more than a keyboard warrior since then but I’ll tell you this folks – if our few remaining woodlands are put under serious threat of demolition because of these proposals, I WILL GET OFF MY LAZY ARSE!  I will reclaim my activism mojo!  I will tie myself to a tree and I won’t budge until those bloody useless, self-serving, arrogant set of nobs in government do something positive and permanent to protect our magnificent and vitally, vitally important woodlands.

I kid you not.

Hello!

She’s alive –  she’s beautiful.

Just thought I’d share.

Here’s to activists who, unlike myself, actually get off their arses and take real-life risks in order to try and protect our lovely, good planet.

ALUNA

It’s getting to be that every time  I switch on the news, I’m closer to believing the Mayan 2012 prediction.  We appear to have seriously evoked the wrath of the gods and it’s all starting to feel a bit doomsday. Of course I don’t really believe all that.  I mean I’ve lost count of all the Armageddons that have been prophesied thus far but there’s no denying that the news is grim and while I say I don’t believe in prophecy, I do feel strongly that, as the masters of our own destruction, it’s not really that hard to predict some of the things that may happen.  I was thus intrigued when I read about the Kogi, a lost civilisation living in the mountains close to the Colombian/Carribean coast who live in harmony with nature and believe we are heading for a disaster of our own making and, as natural guardians of Mother Earth, they are making a (second) movie to tell us how we can still prevent it.

[Thanks Ecomonkey]

From the movie website:

The People

The Kogi are the last surviving civilization from the world of the Inca and Aztec, and their cities are untouched by our world. The mountain they inhabit is an isolated triangular pyramid rising over 18,000 feet from the sea, the highest coastal mountain on earth. It is on a separate tectonic plate from the Andes, and its unique structure means that it is virtually a miniature version of the planet, with all the world’s climates represented. The mountain is quite literally a micro-cosmos, a mirror of the planet on which every ecological zone is represented and in which most of the plants and animals of the planet can find homes.

The Message

The Kogi are profoundly frightened by what we are doing to the world, but also well aware that we have no understanding of the forces which we are unleashing. They believe that the only hope of survival for mankind is if we can learn why they are so scared, and they know that we will only believe what we can see.

The Movie

The Kogi say that without thought, nothing could exist. This is a problem, because we are not just plundering the world, we are dumbing it down, destroying both the physical structure and the thought underpinning existence. The Kogi believe that they live in order to care for the world and keep its natural order functioning, but they recognized some years ago that this task was being made impossible by our mining and deforestation. In 1990 they emerged to work with Alan Ereira, making a 90-minute film for BBC1 in which they dramatically warned of our need to change course. Then they withdrew again.

But now the Kogi have summoned Alan Ereira back to say that we did not actually listen to what they said. We are incapable of being changed by being spoken to. They now understand that we learn through our eyes, not our ears. In the face of the approaching apocalypse, they have asked Ereira to make a film with them which will take the audience on a perilous journey into the mysteries of their sacred places to change our understanding of reality.

This is not a work of fiction. ARE YOU READY TO BE CHANGED?

http://vimeo.com/20644411

Erm, it’s been a while . . .

T’is rather hard to know where or how to start when one has been so ludicrously absent from blogs and the posting thereof but I shall give it a go, somewhat sheepishly but hey ho.  No. Actually.  Forget the sheep.  I think I’ll start true to form – with a rant.  Here goes . . .

Yule Tide

Another Christmas has been and gone and I made the same mistakes.  Every year, no matter how much I try to resist, I fall under the spell of consumerism.  Not obscenely so but enough to make for some serious self-berating.  I argue with myself and finger wag at my kids that we’re cutting back this year . . .  don’t expect so much because I really mean it this time!!! . . . but Captain Capitalism always manages to bewitch me at Christmas and forces me to buy all kinds of crap that no-one really needs (and probably doesn’t even want that much if truth be told).  The food wastage alone is a sin of biblical proportions but it’s the whole Xmas package (and packaging!) that gets so mental.  Well what’s done is done.  I tried to be as green and as ethical as possible but if I’m honest I failed on more levels than I care to admit.  Anyhoo, here are some UK Christmas eco-facts:

  • Every year some one billion cards are used and only a fraction of them are recycled.
  • Almost 3000 tonnes of aluminium foil is used to wrap around the 10 million turkeys we eat every Christmas.
  • Almost half of the toys given will be broken or discarded within three months and because most of them will be plastic, they will be destined straight for our delightful landfill sites.
  • Approximately 23 million jars of pickles, mincemeat and cranberry sauce will be consumed. If all these glass jars were recycled, it would save enough energy to boil water for 60 million cups of tea but alas only a small percentage are recycled.
  • Over 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey
  • [End of rant]

Winterval

The snow queen visited her lovely self upon us for the second year running (well I know we’ve had snow other years but not with any intensity worth mentioning).  T’was another beautiful Winterval with some delightful bright snowy days and our enchanting moon providing some gorgeous nights with its orange silveryness above us (I know. Just use your imagination).  I sometimes find myself wishing I had a really good camera that would do justice to some of the moons I’ve enjoyed this Autumn/Winter.  Mind you, a proper, decent camera would be wasted on the likes of me so my little Nikon will suffice for my limited technical knowledge.  I don’t even use that to it’s full capacity . . . and I dropped it once so now an elastic band keeps the battery cover closed.  I’m really rubbish sometimes. Anyway, some piccies:

Comfort and Joy

Lovely Middlie provided the joy by dancing in the local theatre panto again and of course she was brilliant.  This year it was Mother Goose and it was hilarious.  And in a rare, out-of-character moment, I was actually organised enough to book tickets early enough to get the comfy seats with optimal viewing.

And finally:

The best thing about 2011 is going to be

England lifting the rugby world cup on my rugby-mad son’s 12th birthday.  Yay!

Well that wasn’t so bad.  TTFN folks.


A Budget Response by the People’s Bloated Popular Front of Jaded Public Sector Workers Party

First of all, can I just say that I was highly, HIGHLY jubilated by Harriet Harman’s thirty minute rant at the coalition.  She tore into Osborne and roared with venom at the Lib Dems.  Call her a hypocrite but they deserved it.  Absolutely they did.

In all honesty, I’m not sure what to think about this hyped-up  “unavoidable” “Bloodbath Budget” that we’ve all been dreading.  Some are saying that it wasn’t as bad as we were led to believe.  Well I reckon all those ominous warnings were just a pyschological spin excercise anyway – you know, make us think it’s going to be really, really terrible, then when it’s out, and it is terrible, it won’t seem quite so terrible because we all thought it was going to be much, much more terrible.

Anyhoo, terrible it was ever thus and here are some thoughts from the PBPFJPSW party.

I couldn’t help noticing that the BBC appeared to be, on the day,  seeking reactions mainly from the small business community who were smiling smugly.  I’m happy for them.  Small businesses are important and I’d rather support the small independents than the huge monopolisers.  Big business types (the aforementioned monopolisers and such-like) will be sitting safe with their tax havens secure and well able to absorb any teeny, tiny inconsequential taxey things that they might have to endure.  I’m happy for them too because I’m told it’s the fat cats who create the wealth which they then redistribute amongst the . . .  erm . . . oh, themselves.   And there will be high fives and huge sighs from the bankers because they’ve been let off very lightly indeed, bank levy or not.  I’m not happy for them.

The Mail is claiming that Middle England has been clobbered the most but just who is this Middle England?  Well apparently, it’s folk who spend larger amounts of money than poorer folk on non-essential items such as white goods and conservatories and the like, thus being more affected by the rise in VAT.  According to the loony logic of the Mail, the VAT rise isn’t as unfair on poorer folk because poorer folk only spend their money on food, children’s clothing and other essentials that aren’t taxed anyway.  Oh?  Well tell me then – when you have a low income with a large family and your freezer packs in, what do you do?  And when your teenage daughter refuses to share a bed with her younger brother and sister any longer and demands her own bed, what do you do?  Lower paid workers need stuff  sometimes too.  Teenage kids from poorer families need clothes too and when it comes to clothing retailers, as parents will know too well, kids stop being kids at the age of 12 to 13 thus the ending of VAT free clothing for kids.

Well anyway, I’m sure people earning over £40,000 will cope without their tax credits at least so Middle England isn’t such a victim.  Oh, but if you’re a Middle Englander who is also a public sector worker and you lose your job, then you will be affected, badly.  It’ll be the public sector job losses (more on that later involving yours truly) that will really start to rock the boat, not least the actual services that they provide.  The job losses will have multi-level knock-on effects and the coalition seems to be the only group of people that are unable to forsee the unintended consequences, one of which being that vital services will be harmed, something which will impact all of us as users, as will the rise in benefit claims.

And while we’re talking about the bloated public sector and the bashing thereof, let’s just think about those pensions that the private sector and business community are getting their knickers all in a twist about.  Those gold-plated pensions that are making our teachers and nurses and youth workers fabulously wealthy actually aren’t all that super-fantastic, trust me, not among the front-line workers anyway.  Personally speaking, and not without some indignance I might add, like most other workers, an almighty chunk of my wage is removed every month and paid towards NI, income tax and pension so, all-in-all, those bloated public sector workers who are just rolling in money, are making a healthy contribution to the public purse and – to – their – own – pensions – thank – you – very – much.

For sure, I accept that, when times are tough, some things have to go, but it would be nice if the bloated right-wing media and the bloated coalition cabinet of bloated multi-millionaires would stop blaming the not-really bloated public sector for the collosal crisis that the bloated bankers are overwhelmingly responsible for.  Just because there are bloated fat cats in the private sector who are too stingy to contribute to their workers pensions, it doesn’t mean public sector pensions are an evil and almighty sin.  They’re not.  They’re just part of a pay deal to entice and incentivise good workers.  The contribution that the government makes towards public sector pensions is not a free handout.  It is a part of their wage which is deferred until retirement so let’s have less of this public sector bashing and myth-spreading by the jealous private sector bosses because they too will eventually feel the impact of the cuts.  Here endeth that particular rant.

Freezing Child benefit for two years is another attack on lower paid people and what with the VAT increase, a freeze on child benefit will be very hard felt by the lower paid and the token tax relief thingy they’ve sprinkled on will go pretty much unnoticed.

Cutting disability living allowance.  Harsh one, that.  We can all become complacent about our health and take it for granted that serious illness will never strike us but if and when it does, it’s so easy to spiral downwards and closer to poverty.  Sure there are those that blag their sickness but there are genuine cases – people who suffer from chronic or long-term illnesses – and to make them undergo repeated medical assessments is a Very Bad Policy Indeed.  It’s traumatic, undignified and downright bloody cruel.  It could make their condition worse and compromise their quality of life which may already be poor and deteriorating.

The Green issue got barely a mention.  It was probably the least green budget we’ve had for years and I think we can safely assume that a low carbon economy is a dream, for the duration of this parliament anyway.

To sum up, so much for sharing the pain.  This was a typical Tory budget that Thatcher would be envious of and the Lib Dems can hang their heads in shame.

Oh, one last thing . . . can those people who are screaming at the government to end the international aid please . . . . shut up!