Wednesday, August 23, 2006

hypocrites of the world unite

Great concise piece in today's Guardian about the Camp For Climate Action by Claire Fauset. It takes several of the great punchy points made in the assorted propaganda and recent writings about the camp and issue and sets them in her fantastic straightforward, intelligent and vibrant way.

There's something of a groaner in the way they changed her original title ('Hypocrites of The World Unite') to 'Good intent can prevent climate change catastrophe'.

Er, the central point of the article and the whole point of the Camp for Climate Action is that good intent and even personal lifestyle changes can't prevent climate change catastrophe, that it requires swift radical collective action and if we're to have any chance of seeing that happen, we've got work to do, and now.

Nonetheless, the piece is a corker. No more blogging from me till next week cos, well, you know where I'll be. See you down the front.

Do you think you're doing enough about climate change? No, seriously, who genuinely believes they've managed to craft themselves a lifestyle which is sustainable? Even the most "eco" people I have ever met - people who grow their own food, generate their own energy and don't fly - harbour guilty secrets about eating out-of-season avocados or have wet dreams about SUVs. As a good friend of mine is fond of saying, if you don't break your principles every now and again then you're not setting them

But what is unquestionable is that on climate change there is always more we can do - whoever we are and wherever we live. And the longer we wait, the more our options - along with the species on which our life-support systems depend - will disappear.

We all know the problems and we know the changes that are necessary, so what exactly are we waiting for? Are we waiting for the government to force us to change? For the oil companies to stop drilling? For the airlines to stop flying? For the power stations to stop burning coal? Or are we going to make changes that we know are needed? What will it take to make us work together to live within the environmental limits of the Earth while meeting everyone's needs?

Of course, personal changes are essential, but more than that we need to act collectively to stop the climate criminals who are causing the worst emissions. That is why a group of people have come together to put on the Camp for Climate Action, which is being held in "Megawatt Valley", near Leeds, from August 26 to September 4.

Alongside workshops on every aspect of climate change and what we need to do - personally and politically - to tackle it, there will be a day of mass action to shut down Drax power station, the single largest emitter of CO2 in the UK. For one day, we want to demonstrate the kind of radical change that is needed to maintain this planet as a place where we all can live.

The operator of Drax wants to paint itself as environmentally conscious, but it is currently attempting to sue the EU over a reduction in its emissions quotas. The bottom line is that coal has no part to play in a sustainable future. That some people are willing to describe the 20m tonnes of CO2 a year emitted by Drax as clean energy production goes to show how insane PR has become.

The future embodied by the likes of Drax is one where dwindling resources will go to ever higher bidders, while everyone else fights like cats in a sack for what's left over. We can instead choose the positive low-energy future that the Camp for Climate Action is trying to create.

The science is clear: we can avoid catastrophic climate change with massive emission cuts now. The world has changed so much since I was born, but it will be transformed out of recognition before I die - climate change guarantees that. Whether that is for the better or for the worse is down to all of us, and the Camp for Climate Action is a place to start building a better world. What better than to have been one of the people who helped to turn this situation around?

It's time to accept your inner hypocrite and take action all the same. So put down your copy of the Guardian and come to the camp.

· Claire Fauset is a researcher for
Corporate Watch.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

brain bombs

I always love it when someone can take a radical fringe belief that happens to be the truth and make it sound as sensible and obviously right as it is. Those little brain-bombs that crystallise the point perfectly and in a few short words ensure you are never fooled on the particular issue again.

A favourite was the stickers that said, 'When Barclays closed all their rural branches, where were the Countryside Alliance? They don't care about rural life, they just want to hunt foxes'.

On large and seemingly unweildy topics, Jim Bliss is a master of the brain-bomb.

Asked to explain in simple and concise terms why modern capitalism is so bad, he replied that it is dependant on perpetual economic growth. 'Economic growth' is a synonym for 'accelerated consumption of mostly finite resources'. It doesn't take a particularly great mind to work out why you can't indefinitely consume finite resources at an ever increasing rate.

Isn't that just brilliant?

I certainly think so, which is why I've made myself look ever so clever by taking that line and using it again and again and again.

Jim's latest blog post is the most brilliant and clear explanation of the intrinsic injustice of freemarkets. Go, read it, and never be fooled again.

I'd nominate Jim for the post of Benevolent Dictator of The Galaxy, except he'd probably make us all listen to his Chris De Burgh albums. Even the live one with Lady In Red on.

Monday, August 14, 2006

field studies

Blog posts are going to be a bit thin on the ground here for a coupla weeks, if something as insubstantial as a website can be said to have ground.

It's the height of sit around in a field with your mates season, and August presents those of us of a greeny persuasion with a plethora of options. There's the Northern Green Gathering, the Earth First! Summer Gathering, and the previously mentioned Camp For Climate Action.

Those latter two are more action orientated, whereas the Northern Green Gathering has a larger festival bent. Larger still is festivalaciousness of the Big Green Gathering, where I pint-pulled, DJed and otherwise munted away a weekend.

I've written before about how satire is outdone by reality. At the Big Green Gathering I was repeatedly amused by things with names that sounded like Schnews had made them up to be a bit pointed about the festival.

There was a stall called the Dreamcatcher Chai Tipi. There was one called the Yurt of Empowerment. But the winner was surely the 9am workshops of Techno Yoga.

It did exactly what it said on the tin. Early 90s techno, with a guy leading a group in yoga. And an uninvited though surely predictable backdrop of assorted up-all-night munters bouncing from side to side, beer can in hand, shouting for it all to be
turned up a bit.

As the man said, this is the strangest life i have ever known.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

...and justice for all

Last September DSEi, Europe's biggest arms fair, took place in London.

A friend of mine got sentenced arrested there for trying to obstruct a train carrying delegates to it. What with the glacial pace of the legal system, the case only recently came to court. The sentence was £50 costs, a whopping 80 hours Community Service, and a lifetime ASBO banning obstruction of trains on that line or interfering with anything going on at the venue.

On the same day as my friend's arrest, I got nicked for blocking the roads leading to DSEi. My friend obstructed the train for about ten seconds; those of us in the road lasted several hours. Yet me and my co-conspirators were just given a Caution, a temporary criminal record that expires after five years.

When I was on the tree protest against Manchester Airport's second runway I was nicked under Section 10 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 (obstructing an officer of the court in execution of a warrant). I got a conditional discharge, no fine, no costs. A friend at a neighbouring camp got nicked for the same thing and sent down for three months.

If we're meant to believe it really is a justice system, how can people doing almost identical things get such wildly different sentences?

Oh, and it's not called Community Service any more, it's now Unpaid Work. They've dropped any pretence that it's to do with rehabilitation, they now basically admit it's all about punishment in a way that keeps you away from the expensive overcrowded jails.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It's like a variation on Stuck Track Syndrome. My mind is automatically and constantly taking events I see and words I hear, sifting my memory for lyrics that fit, and the tune goes round my head for the next however long.

A couple of weeks ago I was passing a waterfall in Garbh Allt on the isle of Arran and it set off Paul McCartney's Waterfalls. Never owned the thing, just know it from the radio when it was a single twenty something years ago.

Now, everyone likes the Beatles and it's not difficult to garner people's acceptance of the early McCartney solo stuff. Another Day is brilliant, Band on The Run a bloody good album, but if you try to defend anything after Live And Let Die people look at you as if you've said Frog Chorus is the equal of Helter Skelter.

And as my mind forced me to listen to Waterfalls, I did indeed find some of the lyrics were sappy disposable tosh. But there was a bit that really hit me.

And I need love, yeah I need love
Like a second needs an hour
Like a raindrop needs a shower

This is pure poetry. It's not that Twelfth of Never stance of needing love like roses need rain.

A raindrop is part of the shower, the second is part of the hour, but they are only part of it if surrounded by so much more than themselves.

It says that love cannot work in isolation, that it is a force that bends us, and that we're part of a network or cloud of it.

Both the shower and the hour are ephemeral, and yet they are also eternal; there will always be more rain and another hour. So love passes and love renews, an endless shifting cycle.

If this were by Philip Jeays it'd rank alongside his great romantic poetic best, such as When The Sun Goes In, or the superb lines from The Eyes of The Thief:

but love is a dream that frays at the edge
And the harder you pull the more it unwinds
And the more it unwinds the harder you pull
Just to try to make up for lost time

If McCartney had put his beautful lines from Waterfalls in Here There & Everywhere or Blackbird they'd be widely quoted. But consigned to the 'it's not the Beatles' stuff they're unfairly overlooked, and it took two decades and a morning's walk on a mountain for me to really see them for what they are.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

democratic mathematic

President Bush tells us

There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian Territory because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy.

Is that the same Hamas who stood in elections this year and won a clear majority of the vote?

Far larger than Bush's majority in 2004, or his minority-but-I'll-just-be-president-anyway-thankyou in 2000?

Just checking.