Sunday, 31 August 2008


By Carl Safina

Nearly every just cause is a struggle between the good of the many and
the greed of a few. But because greed has the advertising dollars to
make selfishness fashionable, it sustains itself by turning enough
people against their own self-interest. Foremost, our interest in
hanging on to our money. Second, our health. Third, the options of our

Of all the psychopathology in the climate issue, the most
counterproductive thought is that solving the problem will require
sacrifice. As though our wastefulness of energy and money is not
sacrifice. As though war built around oil is not sacrifice. As though
losing polar bears, ice-dependent penguins, coral reefs, and thousands
of other living companions is not sacrifice. As though withered
cropland is not a sacrifice, or letting the fresh water of cities dry
up as glacier-fed rivers shrink. As though risking seawater inundation
and the displacement of hundreds of millions of coastal people is not
a sacrifice -- and reckless risk.

But don't tell me to own a more efficient car; that would be a sacrifice! We think we don't want to sacrifice, but sacrifice is exactly what we're doing by perpetuating problems that only get worse; we're sacrificing our money, and sacrificing what is big and permanent, to prolong what is small,temporary, and harmful. We're sacrificing animals, peace, and children to retain wastefulness while enriching those who disdain us.

When we stop seeing our relationship with the whole living world as a
matter of sustainability, and realize it is a matter of morality -- of
right and wrong -- we might make the moment we need.

Orion Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008

Saturday, 30 August 2008

*Green homes 'easier to sell'

Buyers said they would be willing to spend more on homes that need less energy
Half of UK householders believe energy efficient homes are easier to sell in the current market and 53% say they would be willing to pay extra for them. But research from the Energy Saving Trust has suggested that householders think estate agents could be under-selling the value of greener homes.

Although buyers are willing to pay out on average £3,350 more for a green home, almost half think estate agents do not put enough value on a home's green features, and even more believe estate agents do not know enough about energy efficiency performance.

Two-thirds of buyers said they would like more guidance from estate agents on the likely running costs of a home before they buy. Most of those surveyed said a poor energy rating on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) could lead to buyers haggling down the price of a home on the market, and two-thirds agreed that buyers are more likely to consider the EPC given soaring energy bills.

Friday, 29 August 2008

*The Urban Green Fair – Sunday 31st August 2008, Brockwell Park, Brixton

Come join thousands of enthusiastic Londoners to come and enjoy the day, learn about current environmental issues and solutions, discover practical innovations in sustainable living and reducing climate change and, of course, have fun! It will be an ideal family event featuring films, talks, workshops, kids activities, stalls, sunshine and unusual bicycles.

With no bars or big stages the emphasis is on interactive education and communication. It is a chance to share ideas, meet familiar faces and make new friends.

On a bigger scale, the Urban Green Fair highlights the approach of peak oil and the lack of governmental action on climate change. Using positive and practical examples, it’s hoped to empower people to make simple changes in their ideas and actions on urban energy use, helping create a greener, more sustainable society.

Organised by Shane Collins of the Green Party.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

* Celebrity 'talking bins' may come to London

First there were wheelie bins, now there are ‘talking bins’ - and they may be coming to London to help keep the streets clean. Finland is experimenting with public litter bins with recordings of celebrity voices to thank people for using them. A detector in the bin will activate a loudspeaker every time rubbish is deposited and the celebrity voice recording will say: “It’s great that you care about the city. Cool isn’t it?”

A spokeswoman for the Mayor of London said: “With the first meeting of the London Waste and Recycling Board taking place next month we are entering a new and positive era that will address how the capital tackles its rubbish. Boosting London's recycling rate is a key priority for the Mayor and he is pleased to see innovative schemes that will encourage Londoners to recycle their rubbish. The 'talking bins’ that are being trialled in Helsinki are a great example of the type of initiatives that could be used in London and drive-up the capital’s recycling rate.”

A London Councils spokesman said: “I think it will help encourage people to keep the streets cleaner and greener. If it proves to be successful London boroughs may take it up as well.”

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

*Mayor must protect our air

Responding to reports that London’s air quality is so bad that the capital faces unlimited European fines, Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member, has told the London Mayor that traffic reduction is unavoidable if he wants to stop the court action.

“Boris has clearly stated that traffic reduction has a role to play in improving air quality and preserving the health of Londoners. Technological change, on its own, will not deliver the improvements fast enough. With hundreds of thousands of Londoners exposed to dangerously polluted air everyday, it is time for the Mayor to act.”

“Unfortunately, of the few clear decisions that Boris has taken so far, many will worsen, not improve air quality. He has cancelled a traffic reduction scheme at Parliament Square, dropped public procurement of hydrogen cars and is consulting about reversing the western extension of the congestion charging?”

“Rather than saying one thing and doing another, London’s new Mayor must show that the health of Londoners is his priority by taking cars off the roads, replacing them with cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport.”

Saturday, 23 August 2008

*London stumbling over environmental hurdles

A pre-Beijing Olympics report on London’s preparations for the ‘greenest games ever’, highlights several environmental and social areas where the 2012 Olympics are falling down.

This report by Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly, covers both the environmental and social gains which the Olympics could bring to London.

Jenny Jones said:
“In four years time we should have a massive complex of low energy stadium, houses and sporting venues, fit for the challenges of the future. What we are likely to get, is a publicly subsidised development that is no better than the majority of new buildings springing up around it. In four years time we should have a Games which are an example to the world of environmentally friendly living. Instead, we are going to have 3,000 official cars and every likelihood that the UK government will be dragged through the courts over its failure to deal with air quality.”

Friday, 22 August 2008



In a new book, American journalist Ron Suskind has
demolished any remaining shred of credibility for the attack
on Iraq in 2003.

His book proves that both M16 and the CIA
knew there were no weapons of mass destruction before the
invasion and that both agencies made this clear to the Bush

The media in Britain has largely ignored the
story, but you can see Suskind discussing his book on the US
Daily Show, available online here:

* Olympic raids prompt cuts in sector's lottery programmes

The Big Lottery Fund has made further revisions to the amount of money it will award to the voluntary sector in the coming year.

The fund announced last week that it had reduced the value of the Young People's Fund 2 from £76m to £68m and the Research Programme, which awards grants for social and medical research, from £25m to £20m.

The combined £13m reduction follows the government's £638m raids on lottery funds last year to help pay for the rising costs of the 2012 Olympics, and comes despite vigorous campaigning by the voluntary sector to prevent further losses.

In June last year, it was reported that the BLF was going to delay the opening of these same two programmes in anticipation of the Olympic cash.

A fund spokesman said current budgets had been revised because of difficulties with forward planning, over-subscription of programmes, fluctuations in lottery income and having to "factor the loss to our income as a result of the Olympics".

Sir Clive Booth, chair of the fund, said: "We recognise the concern this measure will cause, but following a review of grant budgets it is a necessary and pragmatic step to safeguard the grants already made and to protect future funding for the sector."
From Third Sector News

Monday, 18 August 2008


THE GREEN ROOM - ‘London’s most unusual shop’ is displaying a collection of humorous Maggie Thatcher items in their shop at 192 Archway Road, London N6

Among the items on display:

Flatulating Thatcher doll.

Thatcher garden gnome.

Pair slippers of Mrs. T in bed with Neil Kinnock.

Thatcher cut-out doll with a selection of cut-out dresses, also included is a ‘knife for the back’

A Maggie Thatcher mask.

Finchley postcard.

Flexidisk record ‘Maggie’s Song’ written by George Melly.

Thatcher & Tebbit golf balls.

Poster: ‘Maggie’s Pearls of Wisdom’

Other items on sale include:

Dinosaur Egg.

Fossil Fish.


Tony Benn’s pipe.

Biblical coins including a Widow’s Mite and a Tribute Penny.

Iraq ‘Most Wanted’ playing cards.

A 1929 woman’s magazine – an early Conservative Party attempt at subliminal advertising!

Ancient Roman & Saxon rings.

Autograph of one of the founders of modern Freemasonry.

A camera previously owned by an Irish Prime Minister.

Nelson Mandela ballot paper.

Literally 1,000 of books on all subjects.

Also, thousands of records ranging from Hip Hop to a recording of Churchill, as well as an old 78 rpm record of Ramsay MacDonald speaking during the 1929 General Election.

The GREEN ROOM is owned and operated by The Barnet Green Coop Ltd

A not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee.

It’s object is to raise funds and profile for environmental causes.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

*Petition for release of Mongolian Green Leader.

I just signed a petition calling for the immediate release of Ms. Saruul
Agvaandorj, Leader of the Mongolian Green Movement, and others who were
arrested while taking part in a peaceful protest.

Please take action at: .

The background story is that gold mining companies are tearing the country
apart, using villagers as their diggers. The streams are polluted, and
the villagers are sick.

Mongolia is a cameo of that the corporations are doing on a worldwide

*Great new site to read Green Party Blogs

Gordon Hodgson has made a Green Blog aggregator (basically one web page that collects together dozens of blogs) at

If you're into that sort of thing, please have a look. He has also a
twitter feed setup that sends the headliens of those blogs to twitter

This is a very useful site as you can get nearly all the Green Party blogs in one place.
Also please suggest blogs to add, or if you're one of the authors (and happy to be up there), please send him a picture to use for your posts if he hasn't got one already. And maybe consider linking back to him...?

Saturday, 9 August 2008


A very apt post from Stuart Jeffrey, Green Party Health Spokesperson.

Spot the difference:

1. A 6 day protest that brings the country to a standstill, puts essential services into emergency measures, closes down energy supply, but results in a very low police presences, few arrests (I could only find one report of one person being arrested).

2. Eight years later in Kent when 80 lorries drove slowly to London protesting at the cost of fuel, disrupting traffic, attracted the presence of two police cars.

3. Peace activists camping in Kingsnorth on a legitimate protest before direct action to highlight the madness of a power station that will emit more CO2 than Ghana. Highlighting catastrophic climate change that will kill billions, consign our children to a life of misery and struggle. Attracts thousand of police who have been ordered to intimidate and bully legitimate protesters.

Bizarre. Who said politicians were there to serve the people? Perhaps Norman Baker should propose that MPs swear allegiance to Shell / Exxon / BP rather than the Queen.

Good luck for the direct action!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

*Who is behind climate change deniers?

* David McKnight
* August 2, 2008

When the tobacco industry was feeling the heat from scientists who showed that smoking caused cancer, it took decisive action.

It engaged in a decades-long public relations campaign to undermine the medical research and discredit the scientists. The aim was not to prove tobacco harmless but to cast doubt on the science.

In May this year, the multibillion-dollar oil giant Exxon-Mobil acknowledged that it had been doing something similar. It announced that it would cease funding nine groups that had fuelled a global campaign to deny climate change.

Exxon's decision comes after a shareholder revolt by members of the Rockefeller family and big superannuation funds to get the oil giant to take climate change more seriously. Exxon (once Standard Oil) was founded by the legendary John D. Rockefeller. Last year, the chairman of the US House of Representatives oversight committee on science and technology, Brad Miller, said Exxon's support for sceptics "appears to be an effort to distort public discussion".

The funding of an array of think tanks and institutes that house climate sceptics and deniers also worried Britain's premier scientific body, the Royal Society. It found that in 2005 Exxon distributed nearly $3 million to 39 groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence that greenhouse gases are driving climate change". It asked Exxon to stop the funding and its protests helped force Exxon's recent retreat.

The chief scientist of New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research, Dr Jim Salinger, knows all about misrepresentation. Two months ago, he was named by an Exxon-funded group, the Heartland Institute, as a scientist whose work undermined the theory that burning carbon was a cause of global warming.

The Heartland Institute - essentially a free market lobby - emphasises that "the climate is always changing". Salinger's research studied variation in climate, so his research was enrolled in the denial campaign.

Variations in the climate are normal, Salinger said, but this did not in any way weaken conclusions about the dangers of burning oil and coal. "Global warming is real," he said, and demanded reference to his work be removed. The institute refused. The Heartland Institute received almost $800,000 from Exxon, according to Greenpeace's research based on Exxon's corporate giving disclosures.

Another regular piece of evidence in the denial lobby's PR campaign is the "Oregon Petition". This urges the US Government to reject the Kyoto Protocol and claims there is "no convincing scientific evidence" for global warming. It is said to be signed by 31,000 graduates, most of whom appear to have nothing to do with climate science.

The petition originated in 1998 with a scientist, Dr Frederick Seitz, who had been president of the US National Academy of Science in the 1960s (and a tobacco consultant in the 1970s). The petition was accompanied by a purported review of the science that was co-published by the George C. Marshall Institute. This institute received at least $715,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998.

Claims about the world cooling, not warming, are common in the world of deniers. Cardinal George Pell referred to this possibility recently.

In his recent book Heat, George Monbiot gives the example of the TV presenter and botanist, David Bellamy, who is also a climate sceptic. He told the New Scientist in 2005 that most glaciers in the world are growing, not shrinking. He said his evidence came from the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland, a reputable body. When Monbiot checked the service they said that the Bellamy claim was "complete bullshit". Glaciers are retreating.

In Australia, the main group that tries to undermine the science of global warming is the Lavoisier Group. It maintains a website with links to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (over $2 million from Exxon), Science and Environmental Policy Project ($20,000) and the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide (at least $100,000).

The Lavoisier group is certainly influential in the Federal Opposition. A senior figure in the group told Guy Pearse, author of High and Dry, a study of climate policy in Australia, that there "is an understanding in cabinet that all the science is crap".

But perhaps the oil companies' PR campaign is not the main reason for the success of the climate change deniers. There are at least three others. First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed by the free market right as a political "orthodoxy" rather than objective knowledge.

The tide slowly turned on tobacco denial and the science was accepted in the end. But climate is different. There are no "smoke-free areas" on the planet. Climate denial may turn out to be the world's most deadly PR campaign.

David McKnight is an associate professor at the University of NSW. He researches media, including public relations, and is the author of Beyond Right and Left: New Politics and the Culture Wars.