Tag Archives: climate

Heatwave exposes failures of Tory UK to cope with climate change

Heat death: the far north has experienced its hottest temperatures ever, with fires breaking out across the world. But the Tories see no need to adapt to climate change and Keir Starmer has abandoned Labour’s policies to deal with it.

This Site received a strange response to the article on Tory class war yesterday (August 14), to the effect that I should be writing about climate change instead. In fact, the two are intertwined.

The Conservatives don’t accept climate change because the changes that acceptance would require would bite into the profits of their donors – and therefore into their own funds.

The recent/current heatwave has brought the issue into sharp focus. This Writer has been stewing, every day – and the nightly thunderstorms, while entertaining, didn’t make up for the fact that it has been hard to concentrate.

It seems I am not alone.

Our buildings are unsuited to hot weather; they were made to keep heat in during the winter. There is still no legal requirement to ensure homes, hospitals, schools or care homes are designed for the current or future climate – and under the Tories I do not believe there every will be.

It costs too much.

Parts of England are set to run out of water soon, because the Tories privatised water provision and the new companies fell into the hands of foreign government-owned franchises that have taken huge profits but invested nothing.

Our transport and energy networks are also facing crisis – look at the Stonehaven derailment which has been blamed on a landslip after heavy rain.

What is the government doing? It’s making matters worse.

Rishi Sunak has announced a £2 billion fund to make homes more energy efficient, with the cash going towards insulation – but the wrong insulation can turn a house into a heat trap.

And Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is no help with Keir Starmer at the helm. He has abandoned Jeremy Corbyn’s ambitious plans to combat climate change because he thinks they’re unpopular with the voters.

We’re facing a wholesale failure in thought and deed by our leaders.

And when the fabric of the nation falls (even further) apart as a result, who do you think will get the blame?

We will.

Source: UK infrastructure inadequate for climate emergency, experts warn | Environment | The Guardian

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How we can use measures to tackle COVID-19 to beat climate change

A guest article by Harry Fenton.

While governments across the world have responded swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic with unprecedented lockdowns and restrictions, there has been no urgency by them or the global community to address climate change – which is a huge threat we have known about since the 1980s and have had plenty of time to do something about it.

While COVID-19 is a short-term crisis causing many illnesses and deaths as well as temporary economic damage, climate change is a long-term threat to humanity and the planet which could cause lasting damage to both if we don’t get a grip.

Prince Charles rightly called for the same level of response to climate change as coronavirus at a WaterAid event in March but this doesn’t mean we need lockdowns, social distancing or travel restrictions to tackle climate change.

With most of us being told to work from home for social distancing, air pollution around the world has plummeted with far fewer people travelling every day – so we should encourage home working after the lockdown.

Now that many larger employers have adapted their IT systems to make home working possible in response to the virus, they could be required to let people work from home if their job allows them to.

Governments would be able to invest more in super-fast broadband, funded by cancelling environmentally destructive transport infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Not only would this permanently reduce air pollution, people would have more free time and save money from not commuting twice a day and they would have more control over their working conditions so this will improve quality of life for millions of people.

To reduce the need for personal travel even more, public and private services could offer virtual appointments to service users through video calling applications such as Skype, which are being relied upon as we follow social distancing guidelines.

They could be used for many professional appointments including medical consultations, financial and legal appointments and job interviews but we could go as far as using them for juries and witnesses in court and for people who want to see their close friends and family who are in hospital or prison but can’t be there in person.

If this becomes widespread, people would save even more of their precious free time and this would be less stressful for people going through difficult times as they could discuss sensitive matters from the comfort of their own home.

Another key measure many governments have used to enforce social distancing has been to shut down ‘non-essential’ businesses at short notice so, if they have the will to do this, in response to a serious threat, why can’t they shut down parts of non-essential industries that are major contributors to climate change?

On my list would be the “fast fashion” industry, worth 10 per cent of global emissions, where clothes are only made to last a season, single use plastics manufacturers and intensive animal farming which, apart from being inhumane, is the most polluting part of the agricultural sector, worth nearly 20 per cent of global emissions.

The shutdown of these industries would need to be done in a controlled way over a period of time to mitigate the effect on the economy, give those workers time to find employment elsewhere and give them the financial support and retraining to help them do that.

Closing those three sub-industries alone would significantly reduce global emissions and our environmental impact without affecting the needs of the vast majority of people.

Travel restrictions have also been a major part of Coronavirus measures across the world and though we will need some travel restrictions to fight climate change, they wouldn’t be anywhere near as strict and they would focus on the usage of certain modes of transport, not on people’s movements.

The main restriction ought to be banning cars in large towns and cities once public transport provision is significantly improved, as most people live in major urban areas and most transport emissions come from cars. Last year, almost 30 per cent of the EU’s emissions came from transport, 60 per cent of which come from cars.

We could also ban flights of less than 400 miles and ration the number of flights for personal travel to two return flights a year and the same for business travel. That way, we can cut the majority of transport emissions while ensuring that people in major urban areas can travel around, people can carry out occasional business flights if necessary and people can still go on foreign holidays each year.

Clearly, we can swiftly implement measures to combat climate change that are much more radical than those that have been implemented to date – without destroying the global economy and without a significant change in most people’s quality of life.

Not doing enough to combat climate change will, in the long term, damage the global economy and the quality of life of billions of people throughout the world.

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Trump’s ‘prophets of doom’ speech suggests the UK should NOT enter trade deal with him

Doom: While Donald Trump tells Davos nothing is wrong, the habitat of Australian species – like kangaroos – has been destroyed in fire. Do the flames have to be spreading up Pennsylvania Avenue before he’ll admit the facts?

If the UK enters a trade deal with Donald Trump, won’t it be joining an ‘axis of doom’ with one of the world’s principle climate crisis deniers?

That’s the message from his speech at Davos, where the US president made clear that he was not planning to change his country’s high-carbon economy.

The man who has absolute power to dominate, transform and control the lives of most people in the world decried climate protesters for demanding “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.”

That’s a bit hypocritical, isn’t it?

Oh, he said he’d sign up to an initiative to plant, restore and conserve a trillion trees – but hasn’t he noticed how all the trees seem to be catching fire, in the Amazon and Australia?

Climate crisis icon Greta Thunberg has – and she was at Davos where Mr Trump’s speech failed to impress her.

“Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour, and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else,” she said.

“You say: ‘We won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic.’ And then, silence.”

And she asked: “What will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing… climate chaos that you knowingly brought upon them? That it seemed so bad for the economy that we decided to resign the idea of securing future living conditions without even trying?”

The trouble is, she has been saying this for more than a year and those in power haven’t lifted a finger; in other words, she’s right about them.

And history may view such people with extreme prejudice – as UK TV presenter Chris Packham made clear in a speech to TV executives at the annual Bafta television lecture.

He wasn’t afraid to name names, either. He said future generations may come to regard Mr Trump, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro and Scott Morrison in a similar way as current generations see Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, because by then they could have caused the deaths of millions of people.

But while the leaders pay nothing more than lip-service to action on climate change, UK prime minister Boris Johnson is inching closer to a trade deal with Mr Trump – one that, we’re told, will bind him into policies that deny the danger.

Already he has failed to seize opportunities to make a real difference.

Will he bottle it again – and sell us all down the river just so he can have a few American dollars?

Source: Davos: Trump decries climate ‘prophets of doom’ with Thunberg in audience – BBC News

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This leading Tory just made a mockery of his party’s claims about the climate crisis

Climate denier: Matt Hancock.

So much for green Conservatism.

Matt Hancock has said he’s happy for the entire planet to burn, as long as businesspeople get to their meetings a bit quicker.

Oh, and he’s the Health Secretary, by the way.

Do you think that might be the reason the Tories have helped save the airline Flybe, when they couldn’t give a damn about retail firms like Mothercare (for example)?

This Conservative government is a sick joke – and the laugh is on everybody who voted for it.

The Tory Health Secretary has declared Brits should carry on taking short-haul internal flights despite the climate crisis.

Matt Hancock said people shouldn’t cut down on domestic air travel – because it’s quicker than taking the train.

It comes despite Chancellor Sajid Javid saying Tory plans for government were “the most green manifesto any party has ever published”.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: “Either Matt Hancock thinks airplanes run on fairy dust, or he does know they’re a major source of planet-heating emissions but simply doesn’t care.

“Whichever it is, his comments fly in the face of the Conservative manifesto commitment to tackling the climate emergency.”

Source: Top Tory says we should all carry on taking short flights despite climate crisis – Mirror Online

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Tory candidates banned from pledges on NHS or climate – so BOTH are in danger

Doesn’t this say everything about the two-faced Tories?

While they tell us they will protect our National Health Service and fight climate change, the Conservative Party leadership has told its candidates not to make any promises about either of them.

The message is clear: The Tories will sell our NHS. And they will pursue policies that will harm the environment beyond the point of no return.

There is only one way to stop this insanity:

A Labour government.

Conservative candidates in the general election will be told not to sign up to specific pledges on protecting the NHS from privatisation and trade deals or tackling climate change, according to a leaked internal document from party headquarters.

The issues on which candidates have been told to avoid signing up to pledges include:

  • Trade deals with the NHS. The memo warns candidates to avoid signing any pledges to “protect our NHS from trade deals with new legislation which ends privatisation”. It says this kind of pledge would “give credence to factually inaccurate smears … The NHS is not for sale.” It says candidates should focus instead on “Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to override the British people on Brexit”.
  • Climate change. Tory candidates are told that many campaigns to tackle climate change “contain unrealistic targets that would be impossible to achieve” and that it would be better to focus on “practical, reasonable steps to protect our planet while keeping bills down”. The memo claims Labour does not have a credible approach to the problem
  • Women’s state pension age. This highly charged issue could be a significant factor for women in the general election as the age for receiving a state pension rises from 60 to 65. Boris Johnson has promised to review the change, but the memo urges candidates not to engage on the issue. “Avoid signing [pledges],” it says. “Changes to the state pension age are part of a long overdue move towards gender equality and will put the pensions system on a more sustainable footing for future generations.”
  • Standing up for Brexit. The memo says it is unnecessary to pledge to stand up for Brexit because “a Conservative government with a functioning majority will immediately get Brexit done”.

Source: Don’t sign pledges on NHS or climate, Tory HQ tells candidates | Politics | The Guardian

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Activists fighting climate change have won cast-iron support – from the Terminator himself

Star support: Arnold Schwarzenegger with Greta Thunberg.

Even the Terminator can see that Greta Thunberg and the activism against climate change that she promotes deserve support – or at least the actor and former politician playing him can.

Arnold Schwartzenegger, former Republican governor of California, has spoken out in support of Ms Thunberg’s environmental activism.

It’s good to see the movement getting such high-profile support.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed his support for environmental activist Greta Thunberg, after he offered to lend her an electric car so she could get around the US.

The actor is currently doing the press rounds for the latest Terminator film, Dark Fate, alongside co-star Linda Hamilton, who reprises her role as Sarah Connor.

Speaking to Sky News, Schwarzenegger said that politics “gets in the way of good policy”, which he cited as the reason he now tends to steer clear of political commentary,

However, he made it clear he was a fan of Thunberg, calling her “fantastic” and adding: “She’s a child and here’s children saying ‘when you screw this up with the environment, it’s our generation that’s going to suffer’, and I think that’s a very compelling message and I think politicians are listening.”

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger praises climate activist Greta Thunberg: ‘I think politicians are listening’ | The Independent

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Worried about climate change? Then DON’T VOTE TORY!

Conservative MPs are more likely to vote for damage to the environment that causes climate change than against it, despite what they may say, according to this analysis by The Guardian.

They also take gifts from polluters, it claims.

Among the worst offenders was Tory prime minister Boris Johnson, who was among several dozen MPs – mostly Conservatives – to record the worst possible score of zero.

He was also among 10 ministers who received donations or gifts from oil companies, airports, petrostates, climate sceptics or thinktanks identified as spreading information against climate action.

The average voting score of Johnson’s cabinet was 17 per cent, compared with the Labour shadow cabinet score of 90 per cent – although the paper charitably stated that this could be because they are in opposition and unable to influence government decisions..

The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, scored 92 per cent.

The conclusion is clear: if you want a government that acts against climate change and to protect the environment for you, your children and future generations, you need to vote LABOUR.

To find out how your MP scores, visit this web page.

Conservative MPs are almost five times more likely to vote against climate action than legislators from other parties, a Guardian analysis of 16 indicative parliamentary divisions over the past decade has revealed.

The Tories also registered many more donations, shares, salaries, gifts and tickets to sporting events from fossil fuel companies, petrostates, aviation companies and climate sceptics, according to declarations made in the parliamentary record of MPs’ interests between 2008 and 2019.

The Guardian, in collaboration with the investigative environmental journalism group DeSmog UK, rated MPs from 0% to 100% based on 16 parliamentary votes since 2008. The selection sought to cover a range of measures that would affect the UK’s carbon emissions, with an emphasis on votes where MPs were willing to break ranks and put the climate before their party.

Source: Tory MPs five times as likely to vote against climate action | Environment | The Guardian

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Messages cut into grass for Donald Trump show everything that’s WRONG with political discourse

How do you explain to the world’s most powerful man that he’s making a mistake?

You don’t do it like this:

Not helpful: This image probably put a smile on many faces during the first day of Donald Trump’s UK visit – but you can guarantee that the President’s wasn’t one of them.

But it is a symptom of the extreme levels to which political discourse has been pushed that people think it appropriate to carve an image of a penis into the landscape on Donald Trump’s approach to the UK as a message to him.

It’s the same thinking that has people labelling supporters of the Brexit Party in the recent European Parliament elections as “fascists”.

Or, indeed, labelling critics of the current Likud-headed Israeli government as “anti-Semites”.

I hope Mr Trump didn’t see it, although I fear media coverage means he’ll be unable to avoid it.

It can’t do any good at all.

I mean, if somebody took issue with your work by leaving dick pics with your name attached all over the environment, would it make you feel inclined to be sympathetic?

I’m guessing no.

I’m aware that Mr Trump is a man of – let’s say – strong views, but every such man can still fall prey to friendly persuasion.

You simply have to find out what will persuade him. What will put pressure on him.

And you have to be in a position to apply that pressure.

For people in the UK after 40 years of progressive weakening by neoliberal governments that have sold off pretty much everything that made this nation strong, that’s a pretty tall order.

For members of an international movement dedicated to the survival of our species – and many others – in the face of determined efforts towards extinction by a highly-privileged few…

Well, it’s harder work than carving a penis into the grass on the flight path to Stansted Airport, but it could be far more rewarding.

Let’s try to be a little more intelligent about this, please.

Source: Messages cut into grass for Donald Trump to see as he lands for UK state visit | Metro News

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Dismal Euro election result hides underlying causes for hope

Take heart, Britain! All is not as bad as the European election results make it seem!

Yes, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party won 28 of the UK’s 73 seats, indicating an alarming shift to the political hard-right. But that doesn’t mean a hard-right election win. The Brexit Party didn’t even get a majority in the UK.

Also, the simple fact is that anti-EU parties led by Nigel Farage don’t actually do anything in the European Parliament, other than fart around making speeches that annoy the serious politicians. They certainly don’t take part in any democratic votes because it is a pillar of their beliefs that the EU cannot be a democratic organisation.

Just take a look at Mr Farage’s own voting record for the evidence. You’ll see the word “absent” a lot.

People who voted for the Brexit Party won’t make a difference in the EU because the Brexit Party won’t turn up.

In fact, the only reason the Brexit Party even campaigned was so Mr Farage could deliver an ultimatum on Brexit negotiations: He wants a place at the table so he can push for a “no deal” Brexit.

No deal means no NHS (he’d sell it to the Americans), no human or workers’ rights, chlorinated chicken for dinner and a massive increase in the cost of groceries and other goods. He would pauperise everybody who voted for him.

Best thing to do would be to give him the place he wants at the table – and then ignore him in the national interest.

Yes, the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a surge of support as UK citizens who want to remain in the European Union protest-voted for them.

How they expect to push their promise that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for remaining in the EU, when the European Parliament won’t be voting on that subject, is a mystery.

But those votes won’t be wasted. They’ll be used to promote right-wing Liberal Democrat policies – the same kind of policies they supported when in Coalition with the Conservatives, here in the UK, between 2010 and 2015.

Socialist remainers who voted Liberal Democrat should monitor the result very carefully – and probably with dismay.

But there was also a surge of support – across the EU – for Green parties and policies that address the growing climate change and environmental crises caused by a human race whose policies have been controlled by people like the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats for far too long.

The UK’s Green Party now has seven MEPs – an increase of four – who will help boost the total number of Greens in the European Parliament to a projected 71. This could give the Greens the balance of power in the European Parliament.

Any parliamentary group that wanted Green support would have to deliver on three key principles: climate action, civil liberties and social justice.

The party will exert maximum pressure on climate policy, but will also push for more social justice when it comes to who winds up footing the bill for the green transition.

And Labour will learn the lesson of its losses. The party as a whole will continue to express dismay at the polarisation of politics around a Leave/Remain conflict but will say there is no political solution coming from Westminster or Brussels so the question must go back to the people – directly.

That means either a general election or another referendum – the “people’s vote” that so many MPs, of many parties, have been demanding.

Labour has always said it will abide by the results of plebiscites on our membership of the European Union, and while a “people’s vote” referendum has been framed as a way of establishing support for remaining in the Union, the European election result (although not representative of the entire electorate as only a little more than one-third of the UK electorate took part) suggests otherwise.

It would be a way of silencing this divisive debate, once and for all.

So in the end, Labour’s policy may prove to be the winner.

 

 

Typical: After the Extinction Rebellion protests, Jeremy Corbyn is the only leader who listened

“Tell the truth”: The ‘pink boat’ at Oxford Circus became a symbol of the Extinction Rebellion protest.

It turns out Michael Gove didn’t “get the message” after all.

The nation’s Environment Secretary has done nothing to respond to the environmental catastrophe highlighted by the Extinction Rebellion protests in London over the last two weeks.

Instead it has fallen to Jeremy Corbyn – much-maligned by dimwits – to bring the matter to Parliament for a vote.

I was talking about this issue with a friend last week, and he said that people here in the United Kingdom think they are insulated from climate crisis – that we live in a society that is well-enough ordered that it can survive an emergency. That they didn’t “get the message” either.

Because if the climate emergency goes much further, supplies of food will break down. Crops will fail; even more animals will die (half of the world’s species have already gone, within This Writer’s lifetime).

Even here in the UK, my friend said, people will be fighting each other on the streets for the last precious morsels of food.

That’s if this goes too far.

The message to humanity is simple: Change or die.

But people like Mr Gove, and the big business interests he prefers to represent instead of the people who elected him, still need to “get the message”.

Perhaps it is time to put the “rebellion” into the name of Extinction Rebellion.

Perhaps it is time to make a list of the people who are perpetuating the climate catastrophe; the people responsible for the planet’s sixth extinction event (which is what we’re going through right now). They are the worst mass-murderers in history so we really do need to record their names in our history books.

And perhaps it is time to put them up against a wall and put the message to them in the bluntest, most immediate terms: “Change or die.”

I know. It’s an unusual comment for This Writer. Usually I am the strongest advocate of peaceful methods. But “Change or die” – right?

Perhaps we could start with Mr Gove.

Labour will force a vote on Wednesday to try to make the UK the world’s first country to declare a climate emergency.

Senior party figures confirmed they will use their opposition day in the Commons to move the environment to the top of the agenda.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Extinction Rebellion protests in London and other cities, in which 1,100 were arrested, had been a “wake up call” and he would urge the Government to act.

He said: “Only concerted government intervention through a Green Industrial Revolution can deliver this scale of change. We can and will harness the power of new technologies for social and environmental justice.”

Extra: Here are a few more names to add to the list – the leaders of the company that has been given oil-drilling rights in the Golan Heights by Israel, which has been illegally occupying this part of Syria for decades.

Here they are:

That’s Genie Energy: Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch, James Woolsey, Bill Richardson, Larry Summers, Michael Steinhardt and Jacob Rothschild.

Hmm. A Rothschild – the name that has become synonymous with the anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews being in control of the world’s money, or some such nonsense.

Do you think he’s on that board so its critics can be accused of anti-Semitism?

Source: Labour wants UK to be first country in the world to declare climate emergency – Mirror Online


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