Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Radical action is now necessary

What a title for a blog post. It sounds like I want to radicalize the world into action. Well I do.

Monday's report on the Hothouse Earth effect clearly demonstrates that humanity cannot be allowed to continue on our suicidal trajectory. It was so clear that even the BBC managed to report on it without "balancing it" with a climate denier.

There are some startling phased in the report but this is the one that should send shivers down our spines: "Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and dangerous to many, particularly if we transition into it in only a century or two, and it poses severe risks for health, economies, political stability (especially for the most climate vulnerable), and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans."

Within our lifetime and certainly within the lifetime of those born now, our current trajectory is for the 2 degrees "safer" level to be breached in a few decades and for the tipping points of feedback mechanisms to start to push temperatures towards 5 degrees. In a couple of hundred years we are looking at 60m sea level rises.

The report is basically saying that we are not doing nearly enough to stop climate change and that the impacts are coming far harder and far faster than we thought.

Discussions about anti-semetism in the Labour Party, Islamophobia in the Tories, gender politics, even Trump's antics on the world stage, pale into insignificance against this threat. This should be permanently headline news.

But as yet there is no political will. There continues to be severe resistance from the corporate and media world and there is little engagement by the people as a result. If terrorism were threatening us this way there would be a concerted global action to rectify it.

It would be easy to think that governments across the world could take some immediate steps. Grounding non-essential flights. Banning fracking. Investment in public transport and insulation. A Green Marshal Plan for the world. But they are not and they are failing humanity and the Earth.

It is time to up our game.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Dear Labour Party

Dear Labour Party

The latest opinion poll puts you neck and neck with the Conservatives, both of you on 38%. While this is a reasonable vote share, you have known for many years that you need a significantly higher total vote than the Tories to gain a majority in the Commons and with the SNP now controlling Scotland an overall victory is even harder.

However, the impact of the proposed boundary changes, as calculated by Political Betting, would give the Tories 40 more seats that you for the same number of votes.

This is a perfect example of the failed electoral system that we have to currently endure. Seats in the Commons do not represent the votes of the people you claim to serve.

Proportional systems rectify this. The additional member system is widely used in our regional assemblies, a list system is used for our EU elections and other proportional systems are used in neighbouring countries.

So why do you continue to refuse to back electoral reform? Not only is it bad for the people, bad for democracy but it is bad for the Labour Party's prospects. I don't usually suggest politicians should campaign on their self interest but perhaps this is appropriate.

Kind regards

Stuart Jeffery

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Earth Overshoot Day

Letter to the Kent Messenger:

Dear Editor,
August 1st this year marks Earth Overshoot Day, the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from the rest of nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. We are currently using 1.7 Earths a year, a 70% overshoot. Every year this date moves a few days earlier. With our unsustainable levels of consumption and increasing population we use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate. A short video publicising this can be found here: https://www.overshootday.org/
The dangerous realities of the situation were summed up in “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice" In November 2017, over 15,000 scientists in 184 countries signed up in support of this.
Since then, a further 5,000 + scientists have backed the call. The sign-up to this warning has now been opened to the wider public and organisations, including environmentally concerned NGO’s. We would encourage political parties and public organisations of all kinds in the area to give their support: http://www.scientistswarning.org/please-sign/
The Green Party is happy to work with others to promote public policies and private actions that will help us escape what is an existential crisis. To be blunt, it will put problems caused by Brexit, hard or soft, in the shade.
Yours

Stuart Jeffery
Secretary, Maidstone Green Party

Lies, damn lies and Brexit campaigning

The emerging news that the leave campaigners lied, cheated and were funded by Russia, is a
welcome exposé of what many of us knew already. 76 million people in Turkey are not being granted visa free travel to the UK (but so what if they were?). The racist overtones in that advert alone should have had the Advertising Standards Agency and the Electoral Commission throthing at the mouth.

The UK's 65 million people have been granted travel free access to Spain, France, etc. just as Spainish, French, etc. people have access to the UK. But so what? It is a benefit of living in the EU.

But saying that Middle Eastern people are a problem is racist. While the right wingers are bashing Labour for antisemitism (and there are a possibly a few antisemitic people in that party - a Labour councillor is under investigation), the racism of the right is far more widespread and palpable.

And news that the retired British migrants (we call the ex-pats as we like to reserve the term migrant for foreigners...) might lose their pensions under a hard Brexit doesn't seem to have made waves yet. It will be interesting to see what happens when hundreds of thousands of older people migrate back to the UK - older people with health needs and who won't be entitled to free NHS care for 6 months as they have not lived here for a while!

And while the £350m a week to the NHS was an obvious lie and while some claim that it was so obvious that everyone saw through it, I can assure you that some people believed it. The government's announcement of an extra £20bn for the NHS over the next few years was designed to perpetuate that lie as it broadly equates to the £350m p.w. promised. The rise in funding is in line with the rising need driven by an ageing and frail population - it would have had to be funded anyway if the NHS was to stand a chance of surviving.

All this is a crying shame as there is a real debate about the environment, rights, the economy and jobs. Our economy is destroying the planet yet society wants free trade and economic growth. Whether the EU is a positive or negative force for our environment should have been the focus of debate.





Friday, 27 July 2018

YOUR PLANET NEEDS YOU


Caroline's recent comments during the heatwave are well placed but it shouldn't take such an event to trigger people's awareness, especially as that once the event has passed they will forget it. But climate change is starting to bite and we must not only not forget it once the heat breaks but we must redouble our efforts to prevent it getting worse.

But there is an increasing sense of hopelessness, triggered for example by pictures of the northern hemisphere heatwave and the news that crops are struggling after 7 weeks without rain (coupled with the need to stockpile for April 2019 post Brexit). The sense of impending collapse grows with every tragic climate story in the media.

While there is a fairly solid likelihood of climate / ecological collapse, I suspect collapse in some way, shape or form is exactly what we need. There is little else that will jolt the likes of some into grasping the reality that humanity has spent the past 150 years burning millions of years of stored sunlight and pumping the resultant CO2 into the atmosphere. The ecological collapse will prompt an economic collapse too, just as parts of Africa has seen but much wider. We urgently need degrowth, i.e. some form of economic retreat rather than a collapse which would be painful.

Remember that currently our global economy currently needs 1.7 planets to support it.

Dear Reader, we only have one...

The key is how to rapidly reduce our collective footprints so that the collapse is a orderly retreat rather than a full scale cataclysm. My favourite (albeit a bit right wing at times) writer, John Michael Greer, uses the phrase: "Collapse now and avoid the rush". We need to be building communities that are in rapid retreat and that will be resilient in the turmoil ahead. Of course if the majority of people across the planet collapse early enough then the climate chaos might just be less as result.

But to do this we need climate leaders - Greens like us.

While I obviously have a bit of a problem with WW1 propaganda generally, this does send a message and our planet really does need us to act.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Assault on democracy: time to rescind Article 50

At what point will we realise that the EU referendum result is invalid, undemocratic and corrupt? It has been 5 days since Vote Leave were reported to the police by the Electoral Commission for cheating in the referendum.

If the Remain camp had won and been found to have done so by breaking the law, then I would expect Brexiteers to be going insane. Why are we silent? Why are we letting this assault on democracy be ignored?

The government seems intent on continuing to fail to come up with even a vague plan for Brexit rather than saying to us that this week's news invalidates the result. They are buying into the continued false rhetoric that the country has voted to leave. We haven't. Just as we criticise other countries for undemocratic elections we should be nullifying the result and telling the EU that we are staying.

Not only that, we need to be saying to the Brexiteers there should be no further referenda. You've had your chance and you decided to cheat. No more chances.

I'm not a fan of the EU. I hate free trade. I have been appalled by many of its decisions. But I am more appalled by the actions of successive UK governments. A recent twitter rant about the appalling treatment of refugees, one who was told that it was fine for her daughter to be deported and to face Female Genital Mutilation because that's what the country she escaped from does is just the latest example in a stream of reasons to hate the UK government more than the EU.

I also think we must listen harder to those people who voted for Brexit. It was government's failure to address their concerns that has led to the mess we are in. Failing to allow leavers a voice is just another failure of government. There are some very disadvantaged places that are ignored. This must change.

So we must rescind Article 50 and we must do it now. Sign the gov petition here, currently over 160k people have. Let's hope there is a shred of decent democratic thought left in the government. I'm not holding my breath though.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

House of Lords visit

Had a lovely afternoon with Baroness Jones of Mousecombe (our Green Peer, Jenny). Tea on the
terrace, watched questions in the chamber, tour of the building etc. Huge thanks to Jenny for doing this - certainly learnt lots about how the Lords works.

There's no speaker for example. Generally the Peers debate collegiately, allowing the debate to alternate across the chamber. Apparently it occasionally goes wrong!

Five of my fellow Kent Greens were with me as you can see.

Even though the behaviour is better than the Commons, the Lords needs urgent reform. We pretend that we are a democratic country yet 800+ unelected peers have seats in the upper chamber. The upper chamber needs to be fully elected by proportional representation and not maintaining its 18th century approach.

Of course other tiers are nearly as bad. First past the post might be a little better, i.e. 19th century, but it still means that most people are not represented by someone they voted for. Hardly a democracy.

Roll on 21st century democracy.