Saturday, 27 September 2008


By Sarah Baldauf
From: U.S. News & World Report,

Scientists the globe over have observed changes that are impacting
individuals' health and have also created models to predict where we might be headed. Here's a sampling of what we could be discussing with our doctors in the decades to come.

** Stepped-up sniffling. Allergies -- from ragweed in the fall to tree pollen in the spring -- are predicted not only to become stronger but also to enjoy lengthened seasons because of less frost and earlier blooming. Fungal spores (those outdoors and in moist basements) will most likely thrive, tickling the throats of many.

** Algae-related complaints. Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, thrive and bloom in the rising temperatures of bodies of water, from municipal water systems to the Great Lakes and Florida's Lake Okeechobee. The algae have been linked to digestive, neurological,liver, and dermatological diseases.

** Painful kidney stones. Because of higher temps and more dehydration, the crystallized calcifications that must be passed -- often painfully -- through the urinary tract could plague an additional 2.2 million people a year by 2050, researchers estimate. The current "kidney stone belt," which includes southern states like Florida, the Carolinas, and Arkansas, could extend up into Kentucky and northern California.

** Exotic infections. Dengue fever, malaria, and encephalitis, while not exactly household names, have seen U.S. outbreaks and upticks in incidence in recent years. Mosquitoes and plankton, which flourish in warmer water temperatures, play a key role in transmitting such diseases.

** Itchier cases of poison ivy. Poison ivy appears to become more potent as carbon dioxide levels rise, research has suggested.

** Surplus of stings. Alaska's warming has heralded a sixfold rise in severe stings reported, and the buzzing bees, wasps, and yellow jackets are showing up in spots never before seen. Alaska may be a harbinger for the rest of us, as its temperature changes have been the most significant in the United States.

** Fewer fruits available. The value of crops produced in the Yakima River Valley -- more than 6,ooo square miles of orchards and farmland east of Seattle -- may drop almost a quarter as temperatures rise over the coming decades. Less water for irrigation from nearby mountain snowpack could drive down fruit availability and drive up the cost of the produce.

** Upsurge in summertime hacking and wheezing. Cool breezes coming down from Canada could diminish, driving up ozone pollution at ground level -- particularly in the Northeast and Midwest -- say some Harvard scientists. Possible result: irritated lungs, especially in people with respiratory illness.

** Deluge of heat-wave deaths. Already a risk to the very young and the very old in the summer months, strings of hot and humid days are expected to become more frequent and more severe, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In California, for example, such deaths could double by 2100.

** Bigger coastal storms. The flooding associated with the likes of Katrina and Ike and the physical and mental stresses that ensue are expected to occur more frequently as storms surge around the world. By 2050, a 1-foot rise in sea level is predicted, which could worsen flood damage by 36 to 58 percent.


From: Global Footprint Network, Sept. 23, 2008


On September 23rd this year we marked an unfortunate milestone:As of that day, humanity will have consumed all the new resources the planet will produce this year, according to Global Footprint Network calculations. For the rest of 2008, we will be in the ecological equivalent of deficit spending, drawing down our resource stocks -- in essence, borrowing from the future.

The recent bank failures in the United States have shown what happens when debt and spending get out of control. We are seeing signs of similarly disastrous consequences from our ecological overspending.

Climate change, shrinking forests, declining biodiversity and current
world food shortages are all results of the fact that we are demanding
more from nature than it can supply.

Humans now require the resources of 1.4 planets

Just like any company nature has a budget -- it can only produce so
many resources and absorb so much waste each year. Globally,we now demand the biological capacity of 1.4 planets, according to Global Footprint Network data. But of course, we only have one.

Earth Overshoot Day (also known as Ecological Debt Day) was a concept devised by Global Footprint Network partner NEF (New Economics Foundation). Each year, Global Footprint Network calculates humanity's Ecological Footprint (its demand on cropland, pasture, forests and fisheries), and compares this with the amount of resources the world's lands and seas generate. Our data shows us that in less than 10 months we consume what it takes the planet 12 months to produce.

Earth Overshoot Day creeps earlier every year Humanity has been in overshoot since the mid 1980s, when the first Earth Overshoot Day fell on December 31, 1986. By 1995 it was more than a month earlier, arriving on November 21. Ten years later it had moved another six weeks earlier, to October 2, 2005.

What contributes to our increasing demand? Part of the story is that there are simply more people on the planet requiring nature's services. In some areas of the world -- most notably in high income regions like the U.S. and Europe, as well as industrializing nations like China -- per capita resource consumption has also been

In other areas of the world, however, including India and parts of Africa, per capita Ecological Footprints have actually declined, likely as a result of there being less resources available per person.

Carbon is also a big part of the story, as it is the greatest contributor to ecological overshoot. Humanity is emitting carbon faster than the planet can re-absorb it. Our carbon Footprint has increased more than 700 percent since 1961.

United Nations business-as-usual projections show humanity requiring the equivalent of two planets by 2050. (For details see Global Footprint Network and WWF's Living Planet Report 2006). This would put Earth Overshoot Day on July 1, and means it would take two years for the planet to regenerate what we use in one year. Reaching this level of ecological deficit spending may be physically impossible.

What Can I Do to End Overshoot?

Global Footprint Network and its international partner network is focused on solving the problem of overshoot, working with businesses and government leaders around the world to make ecological limits a central part of decision-making everywhere.

Citizens can take action to get out of overshoot in their own lives:

eating less meat, driving and flying less, and using less energy in the home. They can also encourage government and business leaders to build communities with smart infrastructure planning and best-practice green technology. Use our interactive calculator to determine your own Ecological Footprint and learn what you can do to reduce it.

With international commitment to end overshoot, Earth Overshoot Day can become history instead of news.


Global Footprint Network 312 Clay Street, Suite 300 Oakland CA 94610

Friday, 26 September 2008

*Media pluralism: EU Parliament opposes regulation of blogs

Yesterday the European Parliament adopted a resolution on media concentration and pluralism, which was tabled by the Greens/EFA, PSE and ALDE political groups. Green MEP Helga TrĂ¼pel, vice-president of the media and culture committee, commented:

"Parliament has sent a clear signal that media pluralism is essential in democratic societies. Citizens must have access to a wide range of media and information. Media concentration limits this freedom.

"Parliament has expressed its support for a Charter of Media Freedom. There must be social and legal guarantees for publishers and journalists. Greens oppose any move to assign a legal status to blog authors and publishers, as well as calls for disclosure of interests and voluntary labelling. We do not want to regulate private blogs or set a legal framework that would encourage lawsuits.

"Unlawful content is already covered by national civil and criminal laws. Extending regulation would only endanger the freedom of press. Copyright in new media does pose some new questions however. Granting police powers to service providers is not the answer. New solutions must be found to pay royalties to artists."

Thursday, 25 September 2008

*Creating Millions of New "Green" Jobs

...A report released yesterday shows that a new green economy is emerging,
creating millions of jobs in the next decades that will help tackle climate
change. Whether creating clean-burning fuels, installing solar water
heaters, or improving the energy efficiency of homes and offices, new jobs
will form a key part of the market for environmental products and services,
which is expected to reach $2.7 trillion by 2020.

The landmark study, funded and commissioned by the UN Environment Programme under a joint Green Jobs Initiative with the International Labour Office,the International Trade Union Confederation, and the International Organization of Employers, was produced by the Worldwatch Institute, with technical assistance from Cornell University's Global Labor Institute.

Read: Global Economy Special Focus: Green Jobs
Read Also: Press Release: Landmark New Report Says Emerging Green Economy

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

*A Good idea!

Aimee Nathan, is an 18 years old and attends North London Collegiate School in London.

She currently involved in a campaign called ‘Battlefront’ which involves 20 young campaigners campaigning for something they feel passionately about.

Her campaign is for people to bring their own coffee mugs with them when they go to a coffee store. Currently, over 400 billion cups of coffee are sold every year world wide. The cups that coffee come in are completely non-recyclable, and although some are made from recyclable materials, they themselves cannot be disposed of in a ‘green’ way.

Her particular campaign is one of 5 within Battlefront to be filmed by channel 4 for a series which will be shown later on this year, probably around November time

Here is a message from her:

Last year I was involved in a young enterprise company called 'Original Sin' and we made environmentally friendly organic cotton bags. The aim of the bags was to stop people taking plastic bags from supermarkets, but rather use ours and make a positive difference to the environment.

I started to think about other environmental issues which add the most to the problem of waste and ruining our planet, which led me to coffee cups. Every year more than 400 billion cups of coffee are sold, meaning that billions of plastic and cardboard cups are being thrown into the environment. I realised that taking your own mug to a cafe or coffee chain is one of the simplest things to do, yet nobody does it. For those who buy one, two or even three coffees a day, they could personally save between 365-1095 cups a year just by taking their own with them when they get a coffee.

I also plan to find out which coffee chains offer lowered costs for those who bring their own mugs with them, and find out why these schemes are not more widely publicised.

Hopefully, towards the end of my campaign I will have changed the views of both the consumer and the coffee chains. People will start taking responsibility for their actions, to take a mug with them when they get a coffee, and start to think more about our environment and the planet we live on.

Aimee Nathan

Monday, 22 September 2008


Among the recent arrivals for sale in The Green Room are:

Charles Manson’s autograph.

A hair from JFK.

An ancient Egyptian Ushapti.

A Soviet Communist Party ID document.

Victorian hand-made coffin nails.

Medieval hand made shipbuilding nails.

A Flexidisk c1969 ‘Songs for swinging voters’ published by the Tories.

An LP of Dylan Thomas reciting poetry.

Book: ‘Simple meals for the working classes’

Pack of ‘Iraq Most Wanted’ playing cards.

Ancient Roman bronze ring.

Rare 1917 Conscientious Objector magazine.

Neolithic East African trading beads.

Collection of 1938 London wrestling cards.

Maggie Thatcher Spitting Image jug, to join our Maggie Thatcher flatulating doll.

Hundreds of books and records piling in nearly every day.

We are open seven days per week, 10am-6pm. However, we will be closed on Sunday next due to the London Green Party AGM.

Last week, the Daily Mirror sent down a reporter and photographer, so the Green Room will be appearing on that publication in the near future.

We also appeared in Times Online.

*Mayor challenged over estuary airport plans

London's Mayor will be asked to justify his proposal to commission a study into the feasibility of a new airport east of London.

The Mayor has agreed to Darren Johnson's request that his officers meet the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to discuss their concerns over the impacts on migratory birds and the legal protections which cover wildlife on the proposed site of the airport.

"The Mayor has committed to working to cut London’s CO2 emissions by 60% by 2025. Effectively moving Heathrow to outside of London looks like a crude attempt to export London’s CO2 emissions instead of trying to reduce them"

"Instead of pursuing madcap ideas to move Heathrow airport to an island in the middle of the Thames, the Mayor should be looking at how we can reduce the volume of air traffic at Heathrow in order to cut CO2 emissions, cut air pollution and cut noise levels."

Thursday, 18 September 2008

*Battle in Seattle

From: Mark Sanders-Barwick

About two years ago I became aware of a fantastic movie called Sharkwater that followed a young filmmaker named Rob Stewart aboard a Sea Shepherd vessel in the Galapagos Islands.

The movie records the plight of a species that is at the point of extinction and exposes the corruption behind the cause of its demise. At the time I was a volunteer for the Shark Trust and got them in touch with Rob who agreed to work with them as the official conservation partner in the UK

. On the board of Shark Trust Trustees was Steve Roest - the Twickenham Green Party candidate. Steve and I worked hard with Sharkwater Productions eventually getting the movie into sixteen cities around the UK.

The movie and the work of Sea Shepherd had such an impact on us that we "jumped ship" to Sea Shepherd and joined forces with activists in the UK that had served on Antarctica campaigns to strengthen to presence of Sea Shepherd in the UK. Steve is now UK director of Sea Shepherd and is off to Antarctica in November to join Operation Musashi against the Japanese whaling fleet.

Yesterday evening, I received an email from Sharkwater productions, the makers of Sharkwater, advising of a new movie to be released in the US based on the events of November 1999 in Seattle.

In November 1999, 50,000 people protested against the WTO summit, when free speech was taken away in favour of free trade. Despite a police crackdown, they showed their support and made history as a plan to expand the WTO's reign of corporate globalization was derailed.

On September 19 in the US, a new film, Battle in Seattle, which tells the story of what really happened, opens in select theatres. Starring Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta, Woody Harrelson and others, this is your chance to support free speech. Will you join the battle?

I'm trying to get the movie into the UK so please visit: to see a trailer and click on "Bring Film to Your City" to request the film to come to London.

I've already contacted the distributors directly. Please distribute to as many lists as possible & post to your Facebook pages to get this movie over in the UK.

It worked for Sharkwater!

Mark Sanders-Barwick
83A Langham Road
TW11 9HG
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 8274 0625
Mobile +44 (0)7973 268916


From the Sunday Times

By Naomi Oreskes and Jonathan Renouf

Today the scientific argument about the broad principles of what we
are doing to the Earth's climate is over. By releasing huge quantities
of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the
atmosphere we are warming the world.

Since the early 1990s there has been a furious debate about global
warming. So-called climate change "sceptics" have spent years
disputing almost every aspect of the scientific consensus on the
subject. Their arguments have successfully delayed significant
political action to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. Recent
research reveals how the roots of this argument stretch back to two
hugely influential reports written almost 30 years ago.

These reports involve a secret organisation of American scientists
reporting to the US Department of Defense. At the highest levels of
the American government, officials pondered whether global warming was
a significant new threat to civilisation. They turned for advice to
the elite special forces of the scientific world -- a shadowy
organisation known as Jason. Even today few people have heard of
Jason. It was established in 1960 at the height of the cold war when a
group of physicists who had helped to develop the atomic bomb proposed
a new organisation that would -- to quote one of its founders --
"inject new ideas into national defence".

So the Jasons (as they style themselves) were born; a self-selected
group of brilliant minds free to think the unthinkable in the
knowledge that their work was classified. Membership was by invitation
only and they are indeed the cream. Of the roughly 100 Jasons over the
years, 11 have won Nobel prizes and 43 have been elected to the US
National Academy of Sciences.

For years, being a Jason was just about the best job going in American
science. Every summer the Jasons all moved to San Diego in California
to devote six weeks to working together. They were paid well and
rented houses by the beach. The kids surfed while their dads saved the
world. Less James Bond, more Club Med.

Today the Jasons still meet in San Diego in a quaint postwar
construction with more than a hint of Thunderbirds about it. In 1977
they got to work on global warming. There was one potential problem.
Only a few of them knew anything about climatology. To get a better
understanding they relocated for a few days to Boulder, Colorado, the
base for NCAR -- the National Center for Atmospheric Research -- where
they heard the latest information on climate change. Then, being
physicists, they went back to first principles and decided to build a
model of the climate system. Officially it was called Features of
Energy-Budget Climate Models: An Example of Weather-Driven Climate
Stability, but it was dubbed the Jason Model of the World.

In 1979 they produced their report: coded JSR-78-07 and entitled The
Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate. Now, with
the benefit of hind-sight, it is remarkable how prescient it was.

Right on the first page, the Jasons predicted that carbon dioxide
levels in the atmosphere would double from their preindustrial levels
by about 2035. Today it's expected this will happen by about 2050.
They suggested that this doubling of carbon dioxide would lead to an
average warming across the planet of 2-3C [3.6 to 5.4 degrees
Fahrenheit]. Again, that's smack in the middle of today's predictions.
They warned that polar regions would warm by much more than the
average, perhaps by as much as 10C or 12C [18 to 21.6 degrees
Fahrenheit]. That prediction is already coming true -- last year the
Arctic sea ice melted to a new record low. This year may well set
another record.

Nor were the Jasons frightened of drawing the obvious conclusions for
civilisation: the cause for concern was clear when one noted "the
fragility of the world's crop-producing capacity, particularly in
those marginal areas where small alterations in temperature and
precipitation can bring about major changes in total productivity".

Scientific research has since added detail to the predictions but has
not changed the basic forecast. The Jason report was never officially
released but was read at the highest levels of the US government. At
the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Frank Press,
science adviser to President Jimmy Carter, asked the National Academy
of Sciences for a second opinion. This time from climate scientists.

The academy committee, headed by Jule Charney, a meteorologist from
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), backed up the Jason
conclusions. The Charney report said climate change was on the way and
was likely to have big impacts. So by the late 1970s scientists were
already confident that they knew what rising carbon dioxide levels
would mean for the future. Then politics got in the way. And with it
came the birth of climate change scepticism.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected president. He was pro-business and
pro-America. He knew the country was already in the environmental dog
house because of acid rain. If global warming turned into a big issue,
there was only going to be one bad guy. The US was by far the biggest
producer of greenhouse gases in the world. If the president wasn't
careful, global warming could become a stick to beat America with.

So Reagan commissioned a third report about global warming from Bill
Nierenberg, who had made his name working on the Manhattan Project
developing America's atom bomb. He went on to run the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography where he had built up the Climate Research
Division. And he was a Jason. Nierenberg's report was unusual in that
individual chapters were written by different authors. Many of these
chapters recorded mainstream scientific thinking similar to the
Charney and Jason reports. But the key chapter was Nierenberg's
synthesis -- which chose largely to ignore the scientific consensus.

His basic message was "calm down, everybody". He argued that while
climate change would undoubtedly pose challenges for society, this was
nothing new. He highlighted the adaptability that had made humans so
successful through the centuries. He argued that it would be many
years before climate change became a significant problem. And he
emphasised that with so much time at our disposal, there was a good
chance that technological solutions would be found. "[The] knowledge
we can gain in coming years should be more beneficial than a lack of
action will be damaging; a programme of action without a programme for
learning could be costly and ineffective. [So] our recommendations
call for 'research, monitoring, vigilance and an open mind'."

Overall, the synopsis emphasised the positive effects of climate
change over the negative, the uncertainty surrounding predictions of
future change rather than the emerging consensus and the low end of
harmful impact estimates rather than the high end. Faced with this
rather benign scenario, adaptation was the key.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. Similar arguments have been
used by global warming sceptics ever since Nierenberg first formulated
them in 1983. Global warming was duly kicked into the political long
grass -- a distant problem for another day. At a political level,
Nierenberg had won.

But this was only the beginning of his involvement in what eventually
became a movement of global warming sceptics. A year after his report
came out he became a co-founder of the George C. Marshall Institute,
one of the leading think tanks that would go on to challenge almost
every aspect of the scientific consensus on climate change. Nierenberg
hardened his position. He began to argue not just that global warming
wasn't a problem, but also that it wasn't happening at all. There was
no systematic warming trend, the climate was simply going through its
normal, natural fluctuations.

The creed that Nierenberg originated all those years ago still has its
dwindling band of followers. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-
presidential candidate, recently responded to a question about global
warming by saying: "I'm not one who would attribute it to being man-


Professor Naomi Oreskes is a historian of science, researching the
history of climate change. Dr Jonathan Renouf is producer of Earth:
The Climate Wars, 9pm tonight on BBC2

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

*National Anti Fur March and Rally

Saturday 27 September, London.

Meet at noon in Belgrave Square, SW1

For more details and a map go to

Ten days to go to the biggest anti-fur demo of the year. Please make every effort to attend this important protest and encourage your friends and colleagues to attend too.

If you're travelling from other parts of the country and can offer lifts to other campaigners, please let us know and we can put you in touch. Also, contact us if you can display or distribute flyers to advertise the march.

Following the very successful anti-fur march in London in December, we shall be marching against fur again on Saturday 27September around the Knightsbridge area, taking the anti-fur message right to the heart of the UK's retail fur trade.

As well as reaching thousands of shoppers and tourists, the march will take
us past some of the most notorious retailers and designers of fur, including Gucci, Prada, Escada, Versace, Fendi, Joseph, Armani and Burberry, as well as the notorious Harrods, the only department store in the UK still selling real fur.

For more details nearer the time keep an eye on this page, or if you have
any questions contact or 07899 775493, or 07866 879851

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

*Boris does another u-turn.

Only a few months after leaving ‘Mayor’s for Peace’, Boris Johnson has made the following statement to the London Assembly:

"I have reviewed my initial decision and decided that London will remain a member of Mayors of Peace.

"Membership of Mayors for Peace does not involve any significant use of GLA resources. I agree with the principles of Mayors for Peace, which deplore acts of violence and that cities should be spared the scourge of war. In this context, I consider my continuing involvement with the network to be efficient, reasonable and a good thing for Londoners."

*"Power to the disabled people"

Commenting on a DWP conference, 'No-one written off' at which no speaker from any disabled people's organisations had been invited to speak or even to participate, Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party Alan Wheatley today said, "I have learned that when New Labour talk about 'service user involvement' what they really mean is service user enslavement.

"As Disability Action Network said in gatecrashing the event, 'Nothing about us without us; our expertise cannot be written off.'

"While there is currently much talk about global recession, the Government's plans for welfare reform as directed by investment banker David Freud amount to state sponsored human trafficking and a drive to keep wages low." David Freud of think-tank the Portland Group believes that it is 'economically rational' to award private companies £62,000 for each disabled person on Incapacity Benefit they can get into paid work. It is not surprising that the DWP excluded disabled people from such an event as this.

At a recent RADAR debate open to disabled people's organisation, before David Freud spoke most of those present voted in favour of the motion 'This house believes that most disabled people can and should work" After two speeches for and two against that motion, the motion was heavily defeated in a U-turn.

A replacement motion, "This house believes the majority of disabled people can work — and should do so with effective support and benefits protection" received 74 votes in favour and none against.

Speaking from the floor, Mr Wheatley pointed out that disabled people on Jobseekers Allowance are not allowed to work even an hour on the national minimum wage without it affecting their Jobseekers Allowance. The £5 per week 'allowable earnings entitlement' for jobseekers on unemployment-related benefits has not changed since 1988, and Jobseekers Allowance admin call-centre lines are now in meltdown, leaving JSA claimants who do part-time, temporary paid work in danger of severe hardship. "The Government's welfare reform guru had no answer to what I said from bitter personal experience," the Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party stated. Power to the disabled people.

'Community Spirit, Sharing Skills Award' runner up 2007 with Peter Bedford Housing Association, Alan Wheatley assists as a volunteer in teaching Web Design skills to people with mental health problems, while being a Jobseekers Allowance claimant.

*The Green Room on TIMESONLINE

Post Office closures, a "green" secondhand shop, and Britt Ekland's chamberpot
By John-Paul Flintoff

Sunday, 14 September 2008

* Guerilla sunflowers spring up around London

On May 1, International Sunflower Guerilla Day, eco-warriors around Europe planted sunflowers in celebration of the first day of summer and nature's fertility.

Guerilla gardening is a slightly subversive way of making ugly, neglected bits of public space beautiful by planting seeds and plants in the dark of night and waiting for them to grow. The result of the midnight efforts of one brave group of gardeners is now in full bloom.

London's guerilla gardeners planted sunflowers across the Thames River from the Houses of Parliament. They found an abandoned rose garden, cleared away the weeds and rubble and threw hundreds of sunflower seeds there. Four months later, despite the gloomiest August in the UK since records began--105.5 hours of sunshine, against an average for the month of 165 hours--a field of splendid tall sunflowers have appeared. They bloom in defiant optimism, thanks to the tolerance or neglect of the municipal garden keepers. A great reason to participate in your neighbourhood; or start a group yourself.

Barnet Green Party has done several pieces of guerilla gardening, most notably at Tally Ho in North Finchley. This is the site of a huge monstrosity misnamed ‘The Art Centre’ In the planning application there was mention of ‘landscaping’, but when Barnet GP brought up the issue after building was completed, we were told: “There IS landscaping – several large concrete pots” Apparently ugly and empty concrete pots fulfilled Barnet Council’s idea of ‘landscaping’. Barnet GP planted shrubs and flowers over two years and now local residents are themselves tending them.

Some years ago, Barnet Council got rid of their gardeners. However, the gardeners had the last laugh. Before they left, they did some seeding outside the council offices. Some months later the leader of the council looked out of his office window and saw a very rude word growing on the lawn:-)

Saturday, 13 September 2008

*'Poverty: Just a fact of modern life?'

Guest posting from my friend Alan Wheatley, Disability Spokesperson of the London Green Party.

'Culture of Poverty' theory underpins the 'no such thing as society, only individuals and their families' administering of contemporary social work outlined in Mark Ivory's discussion, 'Poverty: Just a fact of modern life?' (Community Care, 11 September - online title 'Poverty taken for granted in modern society'). The public relations strategy of this approach works hypocritically when complaints leak to the media: "We cannot comment on individual cases," they say.

A 19th Century churchman said, "For every person who's poor because of drinking, I'll show you a person who drinks because they're poor."

In response to the gin addiction problem highlighted by Hogarth's works, 19th Century government gave cash incentives to farmers toward getting people off gin and onto beer which was thought to be more nutritious. The French poet Baudellaire cited wine, poetry and virtue as options for getting drunk on.

In the 21st Century, "The Learning & Skills Council exists to make England better skilled and more competitive." I would argue that the LSC is drunk on its own rhetoric while incidentally promoting 'Culture of Poverty' propaganda and wasting resources. "Education, education and education" is not "resources, resources and resources."

In reality, I know people in poverty and with criminal records who have learning difficulties and have been let down by lack of quality time and resources in education. Crime is a social construct — how about a maximum wage? Families with disabled children are more likely to be poor. The cut-off between adult and children's social services denies lifelong continuity. Too much of 'education' is oriented to getting individuals to attempt to 'make the grade' in a 'knowledge economy' world of diminishing resources.

I connect with people through volunteering, poetry etc as the Green Party way is toward equipping social actors to develop and implement a Manifesto for a sustainable society.

Alan Wheatley, BA Interdisciplinary Subjects (Major: Sociology)
Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party


Escalating Endangerment for North American Freshwater Fish: Nearly 40
Percent now 'At-Risk'

Nearly 40 percent of fish species in North American streams, rivers
and lakes are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed
evaluation of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the
last 20 years.

The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase
over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study
published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified
each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened
(190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed

The new report, published in Fisheries, was conducted by a U.S.
Geological Survey-led team of scientists from the United States,
Canada and Mexico, who examined the status of continental freshwater
and diadromous (those that migrate between rivers and oceans) fish.

"Freshwater fish have continued to decline since the late 1970s, with
the primary causes being habitat loss, dwindling range and
introduction of non-native species," said Mark Myers, director of the
USGS. "In addition, climate change may further affect these fish."

This is the third compilation of imperiled, freshwater and diadromous
fishes of North America prepared by the American Fisheries Society's
Endangered Species Committee. Additional information is available at

Friday, 12 September 2008


That's a headline in to-day's Daily Mirror.

It reminds me of when we were doing research for my GLA paper 'Plastic Not Fantastic' one of the supermarkets told us that they had been geared up for the plastic bag tax after Ireland brought it in. They were not terribly opposed but stated that Gordon Brown had 'thrown a wobbly' and stopped it!

17 billion plastic bags dished out each year by shops in the UK.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

*Animal rights group protests over Pope's fur

The Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment, one of Italy's leading animal rights groups, has launched an internet petition, asking Pope Benedict XVI to stop wearing fur during religious ceremonies at the Vatican.

Since his election Pope Benedict has taken to wearing a number of traditional religious garments, including a small red velvet cape with a white ermine border, which he wears in winter.

Friday, 5 September 2008


Been running the London Green Party stall at Conference as well as nipping into fringes and debates.

The most interesting session – by far- was LONDON –WHAT NEXT? A panel discussion with our London Assembly members Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson, Professor Tony Travers of the LSE and Ken Livingstone.

Ken announced the launch of a PROGRESSIVE LONDON website. He spoke strongly on green issues and recommended everybody see ‘The Age of Stupid’ showing tomorrow night at Conference. He predicted that the Green agenda would really come up the agenda in the next few years bringing home to the people that green change was essential; otherwise “there will be no human race by the end of the century”

Tony Travers mentioned that a friend, a professor in another college, had done an experiment. Before the local elections they went around and door knocked a ward. They did not purport to be from any party, just said to people ‘Do you know that there is an election coming up?’ The turnout in that ward increased by around 7%. Professor Travers added that the major parties had lost the knack of doorknocking and this was where the Green Party could increase its votes.

The other event today was the Leader election. Not unexpectedly, Caroline Lucas won by a large margin.

Rather unprofessionally, the ERO did not announce the number of ‘Reopen Nominations’ votes.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


The Green Party annual conference will take place from TOMORROW until Monday, at the prestigious venue of SOAS* in central London.

You will probably find me at the London Fed stall where we will have tons of literature as well as a sell-off of brand new t-shirts at £4 each.

I will be conducting a fun FUNDRAISING QUIZ at 8pm on Sunday night, at The Institute of Education Bar, just around the corner from the venue. It is our major fundraising effort for the Euro elections. Please come along. Why not bring a team of friends? I have tried to make the questions both funny and interesting – one round is called ‘Political Insults’ and another is ‘GP Connections’ Come along and find out who is related to a Miss World Finalist, a U.S Senator, the Shah of Persia, an early socialist, a famous call-girl, a famous canal builder, Britain’s first blogger etc.

There will also be a raffle for some great prizes and an Irish Bingo. If you do not know what that is, you will have to come along to find out :-)

Also, at 8pm on Saturday night, will be the highlight (or lowlight, in some cases) of the Conference for some of us – THE CONFERENCE REVUE, which is a mixture of music and song and comedy – some of it can be quite biting!

No booking needed for the above events, so anyone can turn up.

The conference venue is Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London,
WC1H 0XG. It's just off the north west corner of Russell Square, through
the gates and on the left. Nearest tube stations are Russell Square
(Piccadilly line) and Goodge Street (Northern line) and SOAS is approx. 10
minutes walk from Euston mainline station and a little further from King's

*Public transport users picking up cost of Mayor’s car-friendly policies

Responding to the news that London’s Mayor is expected to announce an above inflation rise in bus and tube fares, Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, commented:

"If Boris was not consulting on the scrapping the western extension of the congestion charge, or had not abolished the £25 charge on gas guzzling vehicles, I doubt that these fare rises would be necessary. His actions to protect motorists are likely to lose TfL around £110m annually and it would be grossly unfair for public transport users to be forced to meet these costs.”

Darren argues that at a time of high petrol prices we should be aiming to keep public transport fares as low as possible to convince Londoners to switch to this mode of travel. A rise in fares at this time of economic hardship could leave many Londoners struggling to meet their basic living costs.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


From the Green Party humour e-group:

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous 'yes.

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively
filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else---the small stuff. 'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

'Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children and grandchildren. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.'

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

* Gear up for the London Freewheel

– Sunday 21st September 2008, 8am, London

Not all cyclists can compete for Olympic gold, but those who haven’t made it to Beijing have still got something to look forward to.

The free, family-friendly celebration of cycling will give tens of thousands of riders a unique opportunity to cycle past the capital’s most iconic London landmarks at their leisure on roads closed to non-cycle traffic.

Building on last year’s inaugural event, which saw over 40,000 people take part, riders of all ages and all abilities will enjoy a carnival atmosphere and views of the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace among other sights along the 12 km route.

Monday, 1 September 2008

*Canadian Greens gain first MP

Blair Wilson has crossed the floor in the Canadian Parliament and becomes the first Green Party MP in North America.

The importance of his defection is that the Greens will now be allowed to take part in public televised debates in next month's General Election.