Thursday, 30 August 2007

*Plastic bag petition.

People in Britain use an average of 300 plastic bags every year. Each bag lasts up to 400 years, spending the vast majority of that time in a landfill site or strewn across the British countryside.

People are becoming increasingly aware that we need to reduce our use of plastic bags. In Ireland, a tax of 15cents per bag resulted in a 90% drop in plastic bag usage, and raised 3.5 million Euros which was spent on environmental projects. Bangladesh has banned polythene bags altogether while Taiwan and Singapore are taking steps to discourage their use.

Please take a moment to sign the petition at to introduce a similar tax (to be spent on environmental projects) of 10p per bag in Britain.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Predictions of the Year 2000
from The Ladies Home Journal of December 1900

The Ladies Home Journal from December 1900, which contained a fascinating article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years”.

Mr. Watkins wrote: “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet, they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America. To the wisest and most careful men in our greatest institutions of science and learning I have gone, asking each in his turn to forecast for me what, in his opinion, will have been wrought in his own field of investigation before the dawn of 2001 - a century from now. These opinions I have carefully transcribed.”

Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.”

Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.

Prediction #3: Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.

Prediction #4: There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits. In most cities it will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well lighted and well ventilated, or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalk” stairways leading to the top. These underground or overhead streets will teem with capacious automobile passenger coaches and freight with cushioned wheels. Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains. Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.

Prediction #5: Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. To go from New York to San Francisco will take a day and a night by fast express. There will be cigar-shaped electric locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders, because coal will neither be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with windows down.

Prediction #6: Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is today.

Prediction #7: There will be air-ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth.

I will post the rest at a later date.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

*Government starts tracking blogs

Central Office of Information develops software to find out what
bloggers are saying about government policy


***The article they didn't want you to read***

[Go to the web page to see the damning photo of the "Would you eat wormy sweet corn?" sign]

The British Food Journal's Award for Excellence for Most Outstanding
Paper in 2004 went to research that should never have been published.
What the reviewers mistook for an impressive piece of scientific enquiry was a carefully crafted propaganda exercise that could only have one outcome. Both the award and the paper now need to be retracted.
Since this article was published a leading researcher into scientific ethics has called for the paper to be retracted.
New Scientist's repo_">

It was late September 1999. The scene was a news conference outside a Loblaws grocery store in downtown Toronto. Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians were launching a public awareness campaign urging customers to ask the chain to remove all genetically modified foods from their shelves.

"The food is safe," shouted someone on the edge of the crowd. Jeff
Wilson, who farms about 250 hectares northwest of Toronto, was part of a small group of hecklers. He had come to the store with Jim Fischer, the head of a lobby group called AgCare, which supports GM foods. Doug Powell, an assistant professor at the University of Guelph, was also there.

And they had come prepared. Holding aloft a bug-ravaged cabbage, Wilson demanded, "Would you buy that?" Wilson claimed the cabbage could have been saved by genetic engineering.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, Doug Powell ended up in a
shouting match with a shopper - 71-year old Evan John Evans, who told him, "I resent you putting stuff in my food I don't want."

A year later and Powell and Wilson's street theatrics had given way to a much more carefully choreographed exercise in persuading people that GM foods were what they wanted.

The scene this time was not Loblaws but Jeff Wilson's farm store, just outside the village of Hillsburgh. Here Powell and Wilson were running an experiment that had been conceived following the Loblaws encounter.

During summer 2000 Wilson grew both GM and conventional sweet corn on his farm. And following the first harvest in late August, both types of corn were put on sale amidst much publicity. The aim was to see which type would appeal most to Wilson's customers.

According to an award winning paper published in the British Food
Journal, a sizeable majority opted to buy the GM corn. In the paper,
authored by Wilson and Powell, and Powell's two research assistants -
Katija Blaine and Shane Morris, the choice appears simple - the bins
were "fully labeled" - either "genetically engineered Bt sweet corn" or
"Regular sweet-corn". The only other written information mentioned in
the paper that might have influenced the preference of customers was
lists of the chemicals used on each type of corn, and pamphlets "with
background information on the project."

What Powell and his co-authors failed to report was that the information on the chemicals came with a variation on the bug-eaten cabbage stunt
Wilson pulled outside Loblaws. There Wilson had demanded of shoppers
"Would you buy that?" In Wilson's store the sign above the non-GM corn bin asked, "Would You Eat Wormy Sweet Corn?" Above the Bt-corn bin,
by contrast, the equivalent sign was headed: "Here's What Went into
Producing Quality Sweet Corn".

Toronto Star reporter Stuart Laidlaw, who visited Wilson's farm several times during the research, says, "It is the only time I have seen a store label its own corn 'wormy'". In his book Secret Ingredients, Laidlaw includes a photograph of the "wormy" corn sign, and dryly notes,
"when one bin was marked 'wormy corn' and another 'quality sweet corn,'it was hardly surprising which sold more."

Laidlaw also notes that any mention of the corn being labelled as
"wormy" or "quality" was omitted in presentations and writings about the experiment. This is certainly the case with the paper in the British Food Journal. Yet the paper describes in some detail the care that the researchers took to avoid biasing consumer choice - by having, for example, both corn-bins kept filled to the same level throughout theday; and by selling the two different types of corn for exactly the same amount. We are even told the precise purchase price: Cnd$3.99/dozen.

The emotively worded signs are not the only instance of glaring
experimenter bias that went unmentioned in the award winning paper.
During his visits to the store, Laidlaw noted that an information table contained, as well as press releases and pamphlets on the experiments, a number of pro-GM fact sheets - some authored by industry lobby groups, but no balancing information from critics of genetic engineering.

And the bias didn't stop there. The lead researcher, Doug Powell,
actually demonstrated to the journalist his ability to influence
customer responses to questions about Bt corn and their future
purchasing preferences. Laidlaw describes how when a customer who'd
bought non-Bt corn was walking to his truck, "Powell talked to him
about Bt corn - describing how it did not need insecticides because it produced its own and that it had been approved as safe by the federal government. Powell then told me I should talk to the man again. I did,and he said he would buy GM corn the next time he was at the store. Powell stood nearby with his arms crossed and a smile on his face."

Outside Loblaws the previous Fall, Powell had ended up in an
unsuccessful slanging match. Now Powell and his associates had
engineered a setting in which customer responses could be influenced far more successfully. Seeing Powell in action convinced Laidlaw that the only conclusion which could safely be drawn from these "experiments" was that, "fed a lot of pro-biotech sales pitches, shoppers could be convinced to buy GM products."

But none of the "pro-biotech sales pitches" made their way into the
paper for which Powell and his associates were commended. Instead,
research that was little more than pro-GM propaganda was presented as providing a meticulous scientific evaluation of consumer purchasing preferences.


Thursday, 16 August 2007


A Channel 4 documentary called Dumped has filmed participants living on a landfill site and surviving on what they can scavenge from it.

The programme, due to start in September, aims to show viewers the extent of what is thrown away and trailers for the programme are already giving a taster of what it could be like to live next to piles of rubbish. Ten people lived on the dump for three weeks, only eating, wearing, sheltering in or using other people's rubbish.

The programme makers have called it 'the ultimate TV recycling challenge' and said: "Dumped aims to highlight the huge amount of food, clothing and other goods needlessly thrown away in the UK. "Many people have never given a second thought to what they chuck out before and the project will bring them face to face with the reality of Britain's rubbish mountains."

Dumped was filmed at Viridor's Beddington Lane recycling and landfill plant near Croydon in June 2007. Participants health and safety was carefully monitored throughout the project, and they were free to leave at any point.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


Shambo the sacred bullock was taken away and slaughtered after he had tested positive for TB. A great fight had been put up by the monks of the Skanda Vale Hindu community in Wales.

After Shambo had been driven away Brother Alex said the community was satisfied it had done all it could to save the animal. "We are all very saddened by this act of desecration for which the government would not seem to understand the consequences."

Asked what he meant by that, he replied: "Karma. Every action has a cycle of reactions. When you break into a temple to kill an animal there will be a significant reaction to that at some point in the future."

Well, it seems Karma did not wait around. Days later there was the Foot & Mouth outbreak!

Sunday, 12 August 2007


Here are a few of the interesting items that have arrived in the Green Room:

· Page from an old book printed in 1478 – you won’t get much earlier than that in printed material.

· Celtic football flag.

· Roman coins of Constantine, Constantius, Constans and Tetricus 11.

· Set of Beatles plastic figures.

· Tibetan Prayer Wheel.

· Fob with Queen Victoria as a young girl.

· Silver spoons including one Georgian one – ideal for christening presents.

· Art Deco Cocktail Shaker.

· Early Daguerreotype photo.

· Collection of old Meerschaum pipes.

· Miniature of Lady Hamilton.

· A few pieces of Dinosaur Manure.

· A collection of interesting ephemera from the 1930’s.

· Early Victorian Celery Vase.

· Old crossbow.

· Album of 1920’s photos from Palestine.

· Dozens of interesting books also just in.

We open seven days per week – 10am – 6pm and sometimes later.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

*We've ignored lessons of Hiroshima.

READ THIS:"We've ignored lessons of Hiroshima"

It’s powerful stuff from The Camden New Journal’s 101 year old columinist.

ROSE Hacker is the world’s oldest correspondent.The author,
campaigner, mother, sex therapist, artist,and most recently,
journalist, was born in East London in 1906 to Jewish parents. A
clothes designer by trade, she became a radical socialist in the 1930s travelling to the Soviet Union on the same boat as Beatrice and Sydney Webb.

Later she joined the Marriage Guidance Council and became one of Britain’s first sex therapists and the author of several books on
teenage sexuality. In the 1970s she was an elected member of the
Greater London Council.

But it was the publication of Rose’s sparky, elegant column in the New Journal last September made her an overnight sensation at the age of 100. So far, she has appeared in the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, Daily Mail, the Times, the Telegraph and Woman’s Hour.


Washington (Reuters) -- Global warming is forecast to set in with a vengeance after 2009,with at least half of the five following years expected to be hotter than 1998, the warmest year on record, scientists reported on Thursday.

Climate experts have long predicted a general warming trend over the21st century spurred by the greenhouse effect, but this new study gets more specific about what is likely to happen in the decade that started in 2005.

To make this kind of prediction, researchers at Britain's Met Office - which deals with meteorology - made a computer model that takes into account such natural phenomena as the El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean and other fluctuations in ocean circulation and heat content.

A forecast of the next decade is particularly useful, because climate could be dominated over this period by these natural changes, rather than human-caused global warming, said study author Douglas Smith.

In research published in the journal Science, Smith and his
colleagues predicted that the next three or four years would show
little warming despite an overall forecast that saw warming over the decade.

The real heat will start after 2009, they said.

Until then, the natural forces will offset the expected warming caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, which releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007


A short video 'What Green Councillors Are Doing' is available to
watch at

It features short clips of Darren Johnson, Maya De Souza, John Coyne
and Jonathan Dixon, filmed at the recent Association of Green
Councillors conference

Thursday, 2 August 2007

*Beat the CO2 Monster!

For those who like playing computer games go to the website of the European Green/EFA Group, which now contains one that we could all appreciate.

The game involves controlling pollution within a short timescale.

From the initial page, you have to scroll down to choose a language; then on the next page, scroll to the right hand side and down to find Beat the CO2 Monster - its fairly obvious. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

*A bridge too far

From The Guardian:

London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, must be ruing the day he was forced by the London assembly greens into handing £50,000 to people objecting to the Thames Gateway bridge in east London. A formidable team of academics, NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and Transport 2000, community groups and local authorities spent the cash fighting against top QCs, solicitors and the might of Transport for London-and last week a government inspector sided with the underdogs. His devastating judgment that the bridge would indeed add to pollution and carbon emissions without bringing any regeneration should make central and local government think again when big business knocks on the door touting grandiose developments.

Hazel Blears, the embarrassed communities secretary, now wants the inquiry to reopen, but this leaves Livingstone in a corner. If he coughs up more money for the alliance to take on TfL again, he may be signing the scheme's death warrant. If he doesn't, he will be accused of trying to engineer a result. But there are still a couple of options, Ken.
How about a public transport-only bridge? Or even no bridge at all?,,2138434,00.html