Archive for the ‘environment’ 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

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?

Fur Coats Eco-Friendly . . . ?

Fur Coats Eco-Friendly . . . ?

An advert saying that fur is eco-friendly has been banned by an advertising watchdog because it says the ad is misleading. The fur breeders claim that because the fur is a natural product that lasts a lifetime and is biodegradable, they can promote their products as eco-friendly.

Completely misleading

For starters, the chemicals they treat the fur with to preserve and protect it cancel out any eco-benefits they claim exist. Then there’s the environmental damage caused by their farming methods that make their products far from carbon-neutral not to mention the number of animals that the’re taking out of the eco-system to kill and profit from.  But apart from that the fur farmers say that a fur coat will last up to thirty years but can you imagine how matted and manky it would be after being worn by a human for so long.

Anyway, most people who wear fur wouldn’t keep a fashion item for that long. They’d be onto the next design within a year or two and last year’s furry accessory would be discarded without another thought.

Nice try.  I’ll give them that.

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.

Of Forests and Fairytales

Before you buy it, do you FSC it?

Buy wood of course.

Sorry, I tried and tried to come up with a clever, rhyming soundbite but nothing worked and that’s why I’m a demonised, economy-crushing public-sector worker and not a high-flying, over-paid writer of cheesy soundbites.

Anyway, did you know or care that 2011 is the International Year of the Forest as declared by none other than the UN? Well it is. And we should care!

I do love forests.  I find them mystical and awesome and I can’t think of anything more fun than losing myself in one.  Well, that’s not quite true.  I’m not Snow White and there would be no Bambi or Thumper rushing to my aid if I got lost in one.  I’m more like Red Riding Hood with her bad friendship choices and dodgy hoodies.  But they are enchanting places to explore.  I spent many an idle childhood hour in the woods building imaginary tree-houses or making endless daisy chains.  Or I’d be chasing Faeries and hunting for witches.   The imagination at its unburdened best and not an XBox or iPod in sight.  Sigh.

Anyway, enough of the wistfulness, the good guys at WWF have a campaign running which asks the question . . . ‘If you knew where your wood came from: What wood you choose?’

Facts are that approximately 1.5 million cubic metres of  illegal timber and wood products are imported into the UK every year and it doesn’t need me to tell you that these statistics have a significantly detrimental impact on forests, species, habitats and wildlife.  And it threatens the livelihoods of people from some of the worlds poorest communities.

Most people are aware of the Fair Trade campaign and no-one can argue that buying our food ethically whenever we can is beneficial and good but we seem not to think as much about where our non-food items are sourced – everyday items such as paper and loo roll, not forgetting bigger things such as decking, flooring and furniture.

Basically, illegal logging is having a devastating effect on people and wildlife and is contributing to the decline of endgangered species.  While we continue to buy products that have been illegally sourced, the deforestation, destruction and exploitation will continue.

As WWF states, you don’t have to stop buying timber products.  Wood that has been harvested and managed responsibly is a renewable and sustainable resource that can help support the forests, the wildlife and the communities that depend on them. All we need to do is look for the FSC logo on the product we are buying.   Simple as that.

[Click the logos for more info]

To Kindle or not to Kindle?

I’ve been wondering recently whether to put a Kindle on my birthday wish list.  It’s not my birthday yet folks so don’t panic but you have to realise that in my house I have to start dropping the hints early-on and at regular intervals so they become fixed into the minds of all my family because that way there’s a tiny, teeny chance that I’ll get at least one thing that I want.  Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anyway, these kindle things.  They’re popping up in more and more places.  Every time I go into the rest room at work I see yet another colleague with lunch in one hand, kindle in the other.  And at swimming club, the bloke who sits next to me has one.  My friend bought one recently too because she says they’re great for taking on holiday and I have to say, that’s probably the biggest advantage.  It must be nice to read a book by the pool or on the beach without said book falling apart due to sand, beer,  salt-water, tequila’s, sun-cream, ice-cream, wine etc. getting all over it.

So Book or Kindle?  Let’s see . . .

  • Convenience – the holiday thing as mentioned above.  But at least you can share books.  I suspect that not many people would be prepared to lend out their Kindles.  You finish one book on holiday and then you lend it to your friend/sister/whoever and they lend you one back that they’ve just finished.  And there are book shelves in most hotels anyway where visitors take and leave books so you needn’t really take any books with you unless there’s a particular book you want to read.
  • Takes up less space.  Yes, but my book shelf wouldn’t look half as homely with one little kindle sat there instead of my musty collection of books.  In fact it would look really quite lonely.
  • Much easier to read in bed.  Got me there.  I find it really hard to hold my book when I’m led in bed, especially if it’s a large book or a hard-back.  I just can’t get comfy and my wrists start to ache after a while from trying to keep the book open with my thumb.
  • E-books are cheaper.  Yes but it would take a lot of e-book purchases to cancel out the initial cost of the Kindle.  In any case, there are second-hand book shops.  Used books are cheap.  And what about the little corner book shops?  Amazon, on-line Waterstones and what-not have already started to cripple the independents.  How can they ever hope to compete with a Kindle.  And there are the public libraries.  Oh, erm Gideon and Cammy-boy are getting rid of those aren’t they.  Well the central libraries will still be there (I think. Hope).  I can’t see those libraries lending out Kindles although I’m sure there will come a time when libraries are lending out e-books.
  • Kindles make great gifts.  Well that depends on how much you want to spend.  I often buy books as gifts for friends and family.  I love buying people books for their birthday.  It’s  so easy.  You just choose something that’s appropriate to their views or personality and they love that you’ve given them something so thoughtful.  And I love the ritual of writing a witty, personal message on the inside cover then dating and signing it.  How can I do that if the Kindle replaces real books?

Well, there you go.  I think I’ve just talked myself out of abandoning the lovely, pulpy book for a Kindle.  Yes, for me there’s just something about the good, old-fashioned book that can never be replaced by electronics.  It’s the smell.  The feel.  The look.  I love my books.  And I love my beloved book shelf that displays everything I’ve read over the years – each book instantly there to refer to, talk about, hold in my hand and marvel over how much I loved it.

But . . . . wait just one cotton-picking liddle minute you silly girlie.  You’ve forgotten one crucial factor.

Yes, how could I forget the most important issue?  The impact.  THE impact.  Me, who named myself after our lovely planet and consistently banged on about the protection thereof, has recklessly failed to consider the environmental impact factor of  both the Kindle and the book!

[Please turn away now while I partake of some serious self-beratement]

So I did some research and t’would appear that although the production of one single Kindle uses up tons more energy than the production of a seemingly pure and innocent book, from hereon-in it gets much worse for the poor book.  In fact, the pulped version turns into a eco-nightmare compared to the e-book. I won’t go into detail because it hurts too much but trust me, I’m mortified.

Gutted folks.  Truly gutted.  But I have to stay true to my eco-me and so, taking all things into consideration, I have come to the decision that (sob, sniff) the books are not as kind to the environment as Kindles are and it is with the greatest of sulking begrudgement that all my future book purchases will be either used books or e-books.

When I get my Kindle that is.

This and that and rather a lot more

It’s increasingly challenging for me to find the time to blog these days so it’s frustrating to say the least when there’s just so much to blog about.  For instance, George Monbiot’s nuclear-powered, shot0gun-held-to-his-head U-turn on nuclear power.  Well he must have had a shot-gun held to his head when he wrote this.  Either that or his body was taken over and possessed by an evil force from the nuclear industry.  I mean how else do you explain such an aggressive change-of-heart from someone who spent most of their life campaigning against nuclear power.  He appears to have based his newly-found affection for nuclear energy on the fact that Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and a tidal wave and didn’t cause a global catastrophe.  Oh!  He plays down his pre-Fukushima stance by describing his then views as nuclear-neutral.  Well that’s a load of tripe!  He was never nuclear-neutral.  He was blatantly anti-nuclear.  Here’s what he said a few years ago…

“…nuclear power spreads radioactive pollution, presents a target for terrorists and leaves us with waste that no government wants to handle.”

There’s loads more where that came from.  Hmph!  Bloody turn-coat.

And what about this quiet little item?  A new EU directive comes into play soon which will give more power to Big Pharma.  More power! I hear you exclaim.  I know!  Anyway, this new directive sounds ok at first glance. Indeed, but there are implications.  A EU-wide ban will be in place in a few months but from the 1st of May, hundreds of herbal remedies that have been used in the UK for decades will no longer be available to people who have been benefiting from their properties.  This of course may result in people trying to get hold of them via the Internet thus making the control of such remedies impossible . . . and there’s also the added risk that some of these Internet-acquired products will be of a much poorer quality.  It’s a big win for the pharmaceutical profiteers but let me just ask the politicians who’ve made this decision (I suspect muchly due to some sneaky hand-shaking and bribery from the drug companies) a question . . . What do you think people were doing to relieve their illnesses hundreds and hundreds of years ago?  And actually, an important thing to consider is that many herbal medicines are taken by healthy people in order to try and prevent illness.  And we all know the saying about prevention and cure.  But there’s no profit in healthy people is there.  Avaaz have a petition up here.

They’d better keep their hands off my herbal tea!!

Is there room to squeeze in a little personal message to David Cameron?  Yes?  Ooh goodie. . . .

David, do be quiet dear.  Do try to stop being such a condescending twit.  I know it’s hard to keep up the facade of nice, popular man-of-the-people but please try harder to hide your real chauvinistic, homophobic character.  We know you were only trying to be funny and clever and that, but you’re not funny and clever.  You’re witless and boring so do hush up.  Oh and David dear, please try to keep that arrogant, snot-faced, creepy little chancellor of yours under control.  His sneering, giggly, immature face is really making me want to vomit bucket-loads each and every time I see it.  Thank you dear.

Speaking of the patronising Cameron, I’m taking bets on how long after the Royal wedding will it be before Shallow Cam starts using the happiness of the event to spin his ideological visions for Britain.

And to finish, I’ll pop up a picture or two, just to keep the place alive, barely, but alive just the same.  Oh and I’ve sneaked a little video in at the end – a party political broadcast of the Green variety.  Go on – vote for the Green party.  You know you want to.

My middlie taking part in the May Pole dancing for St. George’s day.  So there, BNP.  You can stop spreading the myth that celebrating Englishness is being outlawed.

Bolton Abbey Priory.  I took that picture with my broken little Nikon Coolpix L22.  Impressed?  I am.