Transition Constantine will be supporting the UK’s national Climate Week with a programme of events throughout the week. These will include:
- Activities at Constantine Primary School
- A climate-themed pub quiz at the Trengilly Wartha Inn
- A screening of the acclaimed film ‘Chasing Ice‘ at the Tolmen Centre
- A ‘Making Day’ at the Tolmen Centre
- The first Constantine Farmers’ Market of 2013, with information on the Green Deal available
For details and times of events, please see the full programme below:
Transition Constantine has set up a Facebook page as a way of keeping anyone who shares the group’s interests up to date with what’s going on in the world, locally and globally. There is now a permanent link to the TC page in the ‘Links’ list to the right, and the full address is:
Not being a habitual Radio 3 listener, it was by chance earlier in the week that I heard the presenter, Sarah Walker, talking with Satish Kumar (interspersed with his music choices) during her ‘Essential Classics’ programme. Satish Kumar has been editor of ‘Resurgence’ magazine for decades. His presence on the programme was apparently associated with the International Day of Peace on Friday 21st September. He has been appearing on all the programmes this week, talking about his life and beliefs. Those local to Constantine may already have heard him speak at the ‘Gather’ festival last autumn at Goongillings. For anyone else who would like to hear him, the programmes are available on iPlayer:
Satish appears about 1 hour 30 minutes into each programme, in a half hour slot. There’s still time to catch the live programme tomorrow!
It is in the nature of the internet that one can wander far from an initial path. I was pursuing a reported endorsement of the new Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, by Nigel Lawson (now Baron Lawson of Blaby). I was somewhat disturbed by that, given that Nigel Lawson has a reputation as a climate sceptic. He is a founder and chair of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, whose tag is “Restoring balance and trust to the climate debate”, though the organisation seems primarily engaged in sowing doubt and distrust about climate science. It was news to me, though obviously well known generally, that (a) Nigel Lawson is the father of Dominic Lawson (a columnist for The Independent and The Sunday Times) who writes from a similarly sceptical perspective, and (b) Dominic Lawson is married to Rosa, sister of Christopher Monckton (who has also become prominent as a climate change sceptic). All this is really a by-the way to the fact the these enquiries led me to the DeSmogBlog (dedicated to “clearing the pollution that clouds climate science”). This site has some interesting mini-bios of both Nigel Lawson and Christopher Monckton (amongst many others!).
I discovered on DeSmogBlog a number of articles by Chris Mooney on the question of why there is a tendency for conservatives to be anti-science and distrustful of scientific evidence. He has explored this theme in recent books: ‘The Republican War on Science‘ and ‘The Republican Brain’. These draw on recent psychological research to suggest that conservatives have different personality types and psychological needs compared with those identified as ‘liberals’. Grossly simplifying, he suggests that conservatives resist scientific evidence not because they are stupid, but rather because they are psychologically unable to accept ideas that conflict with deeply held prior beliefs. A rich vein to explore.
Another piece in the recent Resurgence & Ecologist worth noting. Charles Secrett (former Director of Friends of the Earth) feels that “the UK’s green groups have hit a new low: virtually invisible, largely ineffective and mostly ignored by both government and the electorate.” He expresses frustration that the major organisations (CPRE, FoE, Greenpeace, RSPB, WWF, etc.) have major resources in term of income, membership, skilled staff and so on, yet they operate in an uncoordinated way and seem to have lost their campaigning edge.
“Campaign staff are no longer community organisers. They sit in offices. They are expert researchers who write elegant press releases and reports that 99.99% never read. They are policy wonks, tweeters, media commentators and lobbyists, happiest in front of a computer, and only ever leave their desks for conferences, interviews or internal meetings”.
He draws attention to the impact on government plans when the National Trust mobilised its membership in opposition to plans to ease planning restrictions. He proposes that the green NGOs must forge alliances, pool skills and resources, develop a shared agenda with inspiring, convincing and practical policies for reforming the economy. All this coupled with jargon-free positive messages about how life could be different and better in a sustainable world (a recognition that doom and gloom scenarios may well be accurate but they tend to provoke fingers in the ears rather than inspire positive action). But above all, his priority is for NGOs to “Get out of the office and hit the road”. His conclusion:
“Most importantly of all, it’s time for NGOs and activists to move from the defensive to the offensive and collectively promote a compelling vision about what life can be like, with wealth created and shared, markets working for people and Nature, communities empowered, and politicians honest and capable.”
Having personally sighted only one electric vehicle charging point in Cornwall (at the Eden Project), I picked up on an article in the most recent West Briton (6/9/2012). It reported how a B&B at Penhallow (Homestead Farm) had installed a charging station for guests – and the equipment had been given to them by Zero Carbon World. This organisation is a registered charity that donates charging stations to hotels, B&Bs, and other leisure oriented businesses. Any business that takes up the offer must still pay for the installation, but all the equipment is free of charge. Zero Carbon World’s website has a searchable map giving access to a national database of charging stations. Nearest one to Constantine appears to be on the Trelowarren estate.
Zero Carbon World, founded by Kevin Sharpe, states that it aims ” …to clear the confusion, bureaucracy and profiteering surrounding decarbonisation. It is our vision to live in a sustainable and equitable decarbonised society.”
After the sober content of the last post, some good news from the latest issue of Resurgence (now Resurgence & Ecologist). In one article, Herbert Girardet describes the steps the Australian city of Adelaide has taken towards becoming a sustainable city. In 2003 he was invited by the city to be a ‘thinker in residence’ focusing on the ‘greening’ of Adelaide. He and colleagues produced a report detailing a number of recommendations. In November 2011 he returned to see what had happened as a result of the proposals made. He says that Adelaide City Council “had taken many truly remarkable initiatives in the previous nine years”. Picking a few plums from the list of achievements:
- Over 26% of electricity is produced by wind turbines and solar PV panels
- Of 600,000 houses, 120,000 have been fitted with PV panels
- Solar hot water systems are manadatory for all new buildings
- 15% reduction in CO2 emissions since 2000
- 3 million trees planted
- 20,000 hectares of land near Adelaide used for vegetable and fruit crops
The full report on his Adelaide visit can be downloaded from here.
First of all, some comments by Professor Sir Bob Watson (Chief Scientist at DEFRA) reported in a BBC News item. His view is that any hope of restricting the global average temperature rise to 2 degrees C is now “out of the window”. He urged the Chancellor, George Osborne, to back the UK’s efforts to cut CO2 emissions.
Then, George Monbiot going ballistic in his blog, putting the news about the record arctic sea ice melt in context with (a) demands for a new third runway at Heathrow, and (b) the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida being delayed a day by the severity of Hurricane Isaac.
Finally, a Comment in “Nature” by Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College London, about what to do when there is no meeting of minds despite the appearance of rational discussion. He describes a discussion with a senior UK politician in which the response to his forecasts was a dismissal of serious outcomes and a belief that unregulated markets will accomplish all that is required. He quotes the economist J.K Galbraith: ““faced with the choice of changing one’s mind and with proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” The more an individual has invested in their position, the more strongly they will seek to justify it.”. His conclusion is that scientists need to become much more sophisticated in their approaches to communication, inevitably adopting a more ‘political’ role. The article in Nature has restricted access, but a response by Roger Pielke senior throws further light on the issues raised in the article.
This on-line ‘newspaper’ recently came to my attention (thanks, Robin). It’s a collection of news items that are broadly transition themed, sourced from a variety of media. It is styled (as the title indicates) the ‘Transition Initiatives Daily‘. Quite a mixed bag, and global in scope, not just UK items. It seems worth keeping an eye on, so I have included it as a further link in the list to the right of the page.
Visiting Florence recently, I was struck by the number of electric vehicles whirring about the city – particularly in the central area. The photo shows a small parking spot solely for electric vehicles just off the Piazza della Signoria.
Electric vehicles in Florence
Also in Florence, I encountered my first filling station equipped with charging points for electric cars. Driving in, I glanced at a set of ‘pumps’ with long thin blue ‘pipes’ attached, and wondered what kind of fuel they were dispensing – and then the penny dropped…