Saturday, 31 May 2008


If you want to see some scary statistics, click onto the World Clock site below. As I write. 35 species have become extinct – TODAY!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

*Leak in Westminster.

The recent heavy rainfall did not just cause a leak in the ceiling of the Green Room but also in 9 offices in Portcullis House.

In case you do not know, this is the building housing MPs that cost over £1,000,000 per MP in it’s building cost. I presume that it would have cost more if it was built to withstand the traditional English summer.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


See below for the text of the press release issued by Boris Johnson’s office on Sunday.

It is probably a sign of things to come – press releases sneaked out on Bank Holidays and attacks on the poor and vulnerable.

It is even more despicable as it tries to dress it up as “better ways of benefiting Venezuelans”

The hypocrisy of it all is breathtaking.

Press Release
Mayor brings controversial Venezuela deal to an end

25-5-2008 267

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today announced that the energy funding agreement between London and Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, which was instituted under the last mayoral administration, will not be renewed when it concludes on August 20th this year.

The office set up in Caracas to oversee the deal will be closed, saving an estimated £67,000 per year in running and staff costs, with work to shut down the operation having already begun.

The Mayor has made clear that Transport for London will honour the half price bus and tram fares scheme for Londoners on Income Support, accepting applications in the usual way until the agreement comes to an end in August, and recognising the discount beyond this date until the six month time periods on people’s cards have run out.
Under the agreement, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London provided advice and technical expertise in areas of city management, such as public transport and planning, in exchange for a financial contribution calculated towards the fuel used by London's bus fleet.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:
“I think many Londoners felt uncomfortable about the bus operation of one of the world’s financial powerhouses being funded by the people of a country where many people live in extreme poverty. I simply think there are better ways of benefiting Londoners and better ways of benefiting Venezuelans.

“We will continue to offer the half-priced travel concession to Londoners on income Support for the duration for which the deal was originally planned, and will continue to improve the capital’s transport system and ensure that it is accessible and able to meet the needs of all those who rely on it.”

Notes to Editors
Further information is available from Matt Brown a the Mayor's Press Office on 020 7983 4716. Number not for publication.
For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000.
For non-media enquiries please call the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

*Scientists confident on human cause of Climate Change

From: Financial Times


Research backs up IPCC assertions

By Fiona Harvey

Scientists have been able to say with virtual certainty for the first
time that the climate change observed over the past four decades is
not the result of natural phenomena but is man made.

The research compounds the conclusion of the biggest scientific report
on global warming to date, the fourth assessment report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year, which
asserted a strong likelihood that human action was changing the

The new study raises the likelihood of "unnatural" causes of global
warming to near certainty.

Authors of the study, published today 6 Mbyte PDF in the peer
reviewed journal Nature, examined a greater range of data than any
other study so far. "Changes in natural systems since at least 1970
are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and these
temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by
natural climate variations alone," they say.

They give warning that man-made climate change is having "a
significant impact on physical and biological systems globally". The
authors of the Nature study, including scientists from the Australia,
China, the US and several other countries, found that more than 90 per
cent of the data sets they examined showed evidence that natural
systems were responding to warming.

Spring is coming earlier, permafrost is melting and coastal erosion is
increasing under the influence of rising sea levels, while animals and
birds are changing their migration and reproductive patterns.

Barry Brook, director of climate change research at the University of
Adelaide, said: "[We should] consider that there has been only 0.75ÂșC
of temperature change so far, yet the expectation for this century is
four to nine times that amount.

"So these changes are only a minor portent of what is likely to come,
especially if we continue on our carbon-profligate pathway."

Climate scientists know they may be facing difficult times ahead in
persuading the public and politicians of the urgency of global
warming, as research published recently in Nature suggested that
global temperatures were not likely to increase in the next decade,
and could even decline.

Scientists from Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences and the
UK Met Office's Hadley Centre say natural variations in the climate
linked to the Pacific cooling system known as La Nina, and a cooling
phase of a system of Atlantic currents called the meridional
overturning circulation, may push down temperatures despite the
effects of greenhouse gases.

After those effects wear off, within about a decade, temperatures are
likely to rise much more strongly as the warming effect of carbon
emissions regains the upper hand in altering the climate.

Scientists fear that the expected lull in temperature rises might
dispel any sense of urgency in tackling global warming and provide
ammunition for climate change sceptics.

Friday, 23 May 2008

*Jack of five trades, master of none?

From that excellent blog:

1. Mayor. This full-time, high-profile, extremely powerful position brings in £137,000 a year, which most of us would be pretty happy with.

2. Chair of Transport for London. No extra money for this, and it’s sensible since he’s legally responsible for TfL’s fares. No complaints here.

3. Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, from September. The last holder of this post, Len Duvall, devoted three days a week to the job, so demanding and important a role was it. Since Boris is so keen to cut back on all crime (except his own), one can only assume he will be keen to devote at least as much time to it as Len. He obviously won’t want to give them a target and leave them to get on with it, since he refused to give any hint of a target for cutting crime during his election campaign.

4. *MP for Henley. Now the extra money starts rolling in. At a bare minimum, he must be pocketing the standard MP’s salary of £61,820. On top of this, in 06/07 he claimed £134,306 in expenses, according to a PDF on the UK Parliament web site. (Yes, I realise more than half of this is staffing costs, but staff costs don’t appear to be escaping his scrutiny at the GLA.) And of course, this is another full-time job, between attending Parliament and communicating with constituents, which he intends to fit around his duties in his other four jobs in some mysterious way.

5. Telegraph columnist. Certainly not a full-time job, but a job nonetheless, and one which used to bring in around £250,000 per year. His new salary has not been disclosed as yet, but he’s already trying to limit the damage by offering to scatter a few notes in the direction of the paupers, according to Paul Waugh’s blog - £25,000 for journalism bursaries and £25,000 for the teaching of Classics (perhaps to ensure that the capital’s schoolchildren can understand his references in Mayoral pronouncements to Hyrcanian tigers and the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot).

By my reckoning, he’ll have an income, including his MP’s expenses and the donations under no. 5 above (which are hardly set in stone), of nearly £600,000, and somehow expects to be able to fit in the work of almost three full-time jobs in total.

Either he’s developed giraffe-level stamina, or he intends to neglect some or all of the jobs he’s being handsomely rewarded for supposedly doing.

*Update: Boris has sent in a ‘resignation’ letter, but omitted to mention when he was actually leaving the job.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


Anybody interested in the goings on with the Mayor and City Hall, should always keep an eye on an excellent blog –
It’s written by a journalist who is daily, exposing the shambles that is Mayor Johnson’s ‘administration’

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

*Photos taken during the GLA elections.

With Miranda Dunn Camden/Barnet candidate, Bei Lei (General Secretary, Chinese Green Party), myself looking pretty exhausted, Shuji Imamoto (Leader, Japananese Green Party) and Miranda's mother outside The Green Room.

With our Mayor candidate Sian Berry. Later same day, having had dinner at local pub.

All go at the Green Party stall in the Love Music Hate Racism Festival.

Caroline wearing the excellent Green Party t-shirt produced by Islington Green Party

*Tell Gordon Browns' Government to Join the 21st Century

From Help the Aged:

Watch our spoof film to see why you should tell Gordon Browns' Government to join the 21st Century and ban age discrimination

and then take action

The video has already been viewed by over a thousand people in 3 days and is also being promoted on Facebook, MySpace and web sharing sites like StumbleUpon.

We need as much help as possible to spread the word, so if you like it please forward this email on to friends and family, post it on your facebook profile, your myspace.. your website, your phone.....

Saturday, 17 May 2008

*Alaskans slash electricity consumption

Alaska's capital goes green after avalanche cuts power lines
By David Usborne Saturday, 17 May 2008

Residents in Juneau have set an example to the rest of the United States, cutting energy consumption by 30 per cent.

See the full article above, but "it is a phenomenon that was seen before in Brazil, when a drought starved the power grid of hydro-electric power in 2001. On that occasion, consumers were ordered to cut their use of power by 20 per cent or face fines.

It worked. In two months, the whole country cut their demand by 20 per cent, and they never really returned to the same level of consumption after that,"

Friday, 16 May 2008


From: Environment America, May 8, 2008


America could meet all of its current electricity needs with large
central concentrating solar power plants according to a report
released May 8, 2008, "On the Rise: Solar Thermal Power and the Fight
Against Global Warming" by Environment America.

Solar thermal power plants covering an area of 100 x 100-mile area in
the Southwest (slightly more than what's already been excavated for
strip mining for coal across the country), could power the entire
nation while slashing global warming emissions.

Because solar thermal energy storage allows electric generating
capacity even when the sun is not shining, it can provide "baseload
capacity," replacing traditional energy sources like coal, natural gas
and nuclear power.

"If we are going to get serious about fighting global warming and
addressing our nation's energy woes, solar energy must be part of the
solution, said Anna Aurilio, Director of Environment America's
Washington DC office. "Tapping this abundant and clean domestic energy
source must be a centerpiece of America's energy, environmental and
economic policies," she added.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has identified the potential
for more than 7,000 gigawatts (GW) of concentrating solar power
generation on lands in the southwestern United States alone -- more
than six times current U.S. electricity consumption. Other areas of
the United States, such as the mountain West, the Great Plains and
Florida, can also generate significant power from the sun.

"This report confirms what we in the industry have known for a long
time-that utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) has the
potential to provide a clean, reliable energy choice to power America
and help us achieve national energy security in the 21st century,"
said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association
in Washington, D.C. "We agree wholeheartedly with the report's
recommendation to provide the proper incentives to encourage
development of CSP plants. Specifically, it is imperative that
Congress follows through on passing a final bill to provide a multi-
year extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC) -- a policy
with support from over 85 percent of the American public," he added.

Concentrating solar power development has accelerated dramatically
since the beginning of 2007. More than 4,000 MW of solar thermal
projects are in some phase of development nationwide and could be
completed by 2012. However, solar energy tax credits that are helping
make these projects cost-effective are set to expire at the end of the
year, putting their future in doubt.

"Federal clean energy tax incentives are spurring investment, creating
thousands of "green-collar" jobs, and helping reduce global warming
pollution," said Anna Aurilio. "If Congress lets them expire, clean
energy projects will grind to a halt," she added.

Concentrating solar power plants are increasingly cost-competitive
with other power generation technologies that do not produce carbon
dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. The cost of energy from
solar thermal power plants is estimated to be competitive in cost with
theoretical coal-fired power plants that capture and store their
carbon dioxide emissions and with new nuclear power plants.

The report concludes that with leadership at the state and federal
level and the right policies, that, putting 80 gigawatts of
concentrating solar power in place by 2030 is within reach. This would
provide electricity for 25 million homes, would generate between
75,000 and 140,000 permanent jobs, would and cut global warming
pollution from U.S. electric power plants by at least 6.6 percent by
the year 2030.

Electricity generation accounts for more than a third of America's
emissions of global warming pollution. "Concentrating solar power can
make a large contribution toward reducing global warming pollution in
the United States, and do so quickly and at a reasonable cost,"
concluded Aurilio.

Download the report, "On the Rise:Solar Thermal Power and the Fight
Against Global Warming."

Thursday, 15 May 2008

*South London Botanical Institute

Greens had a relaxing post election meet-up at the SLBI on Sunday last. It was great to meet and relax with friends and activists from the campaign.

The Institute is a hidden jewel in South and is open every Thursday.
It’s at 323 Norwood Road, SE24 just a few minutes walk from Tulse Hill Tube.
It’s said to have the most compact botanical garden in London with plants from all over the world including a section on poisonous ones like Bella Donna.

Founded by Allan Octavian Hume in 1910, to encourage south Londoners to
take an interest in botany, the SLBI remains something of a sedate
Edwardian time capsule with little change in the house or furniture since it’s founding in 1907. Mr. Hume spent most of his life in the Civil Service in India and became one of the founding members of the Indian Congress Party. Indeed India has issued a special stamp in his honour.

He was also involved in something that I had never heard of – The Great Hedge of India. This was a 12’ impenetrable hedge approx. 6’ wide that ran down the centre of India for 2,600 miles! I can’t understand why I have not heard of it before. It was erected to stop salt smuggling between different parts of India and in the middle of the 19th. Century was guarded by 20,000 troops.

Sunday, 11 May 2008


By Peter Montague

Global food prices have risen 83% in the last 3 years. This spring,
as prices rose steeply, food riots broke out in Haiti, Egypt,
Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Yemen, the
Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Italy, among other places.
Because U.S. energy policy subsidizes farmers to grow corn to make
ethanol (alcohol that can supplement gasoline), the U.S. is being
accused of feeding its sport utility vehicles (SUVs) instead of
feeding people. There is some truth to this charge, but it's more
complicated than that.[1]

The global food crisis has been created by a combination of things,
among them:

** Climate changes, perhaps related to global warming, such as the
recent large tornado in Myanmar, the epic drought going on now in
Australia, floods last year in North Korea, and years of low rainfall
in the western U.S., among other costly weather changes. Australia
used to export enough rice to feed 20 million people, but six years of
drought have cut their rice yield by 98%. Australia used to be the
world's second-largest exporter of wheat, but the drought has changed
that, too. "A big reason for higher wheat prices... is the multi-year
drought in Australia, something scientists say may become persistent
because of global warming," according to the Washington Post.

** U.S. farmers have been growing less wheat since the mid-1990s in
favor of more-reliable soybeans and better-subsidized corn. "Wheat's
biggest problem is its susceptibility to disease, which has turned
many farmers against it," explains Dan Morgan in the Washington

** Rising oil prices, caused partly by rising demand for oil in
China and India (and in U.S. SUVs), and partly by diminished supply
caused by the Iraq war. Because of rising oil prices, the cost of
transporting food has doubled in the last year alone. Furthermore,
the price of fertilizer is tightly linked to the price of oil and
has been rising for about five years. Use of fertilizer in the third
world increased 56% between 1996 and 2008.

** The demand for meat is growing in the third world as our own
meat-heavy diet is increasingly adopted world-wide. It takes about 700
calories of animal feed to produce a 100-calorie piece of red meat, so
a shift to a meat-rich diet requires large increases in grains, which
in turn requires greater use of expensive fertilizers, which in turn
raises the demand for oil.

** As the soaring price of oil has increased the cost of transporting
food, economies as diverse as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Vietnam
and the Ukraine (among others) have been feeling inflationary
pressures, and have restricted food exports in an attempt to hold
down domestic food prices. This has reduced food available on the
global market.

** So-called "free trade" policies have caused some previously
self-sufficient nations to become food importers. This occurs in
several ways. First, the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund require loan recipients to make "structural adjustments" in the
way they do business. For example, they must open their grain markets
to competition from U.S. farmers, who are subsidized by Uncle Sam to
the tune of $300 billion per year). Competition from cheap,
subsidized U.S. crops tends to drive small local farmers out of
business and off their land. Second, "structural adjustment" often
demands a reduction of social safety nets, so when a food crisis hits
the remaining infrastructure can't manage. Third, stockpiling food is
officially discouraged (a mountain of available food interferes with
the "free market"). Thus an important cushion against hunger has been
eliminated. A classic case is Haiti, which used to be
self-sufficient for its main staple crop -- rice -- but now is a rice
importer, increasingly subject to the whims of commodity speculators
and agribusiness corporations.

** Commodity speculators. Food has become "the new gold." "Investors
fleeing Wall Street's mortgage-related strife plowed hundreds of
millions of dollars into grain futures, driving prices up even more,"
the Washington Post reported April 27. Rising food prices have
attracted hedge fund speculators, who have helped create a "bubble" in
food prices. "As financial markets have tumbled, food prices have
soared," acknowledges Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank.

** And lastly, in the U.S. at least, we spend huge amounts of money
feeding our pets. I know I am touching the third rail here, but
someone has got to mention this 900-pound gorilla in the room.

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association expects Americans
to spend about $43.4 billion on their pets in 2008, up from $41.2
billion in 2007. About $16.9 billion of that will be spent on pet

Meanwhile President Bush has proposed that Congress should dedicate
$770 million for food aid to a hungry world. "The American people
are generous people, and they're compassionate people," Mr. Bush said,
announcing his new food aid plan. "We believe in a timeless truth: to
whom much is given, much is expected."

The President's gift of $770 million to the world's 100 million
hungriest people represents 4.6% of what we spend each year feeding
Fido and Kitty. (And, by the way, we are spending $770 million every
42 hours in Iraq.)

Sunday, 4 May 2008


In 2000, 180,000 votes won us three seats in the London Assembly. This time, we increased our vote to 203,465 but it was only good enough for two seats. We were just 24,409 short for my seat. Really frustrating!!

There was a huge squeeze between Labour and the Tories. The Lib Dems had a dismal night, they failed to capture the predicted constituency seats and their Assembly List vote plummeted. They dropped from five seats to three. All the other small parties got badly squeezed. The One London Party, which had two seats in the outgoing Assembly, polled only 3,430!

While I am devastated at not winning a seat, I am pleased that the Green Party, in the face of the huge onslaught, and X-Factor politics, held up so well and increased our vote.

I am proud to have been part of our best ever campaign.

Ah well, back to normal. Seeing that I will not now be a highly paid Assembly Member, I'm back to trying to earn a living. Anyone know of a job out there?

Thursday, 1 May 2008


To-day we have the elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. These are vital elections for the Green Party. In the outgoing Assembly we held two of the twenty-five seats and the balance-of-power. These elections are also important to me as I am number three for the Green Party on the Londonwide List. Expert predictions are that we will take the seat.

To those of you who can vote, please get out there and vote Green Party for Mayor, Constituency Member and Londonwide Member. There are three different ballot papers but the most important is the PEACH coloured paper - the Londonwide section which is the proportional part of the election. Every GREEN PARTY vote gets me nearer to being elected.

Please pass the word around to your friends, relations, neighbours etc.

I will be in my home patch of East Finchley all day until 10pm tonight, apart from short trips to the local internet cafe.

The count is not until tomorrow and we do not expect a result until late evening.

Tomorrow evening, many greens are meeting up at the Horniman Pub close to City Hall, near the Belfast.