Tag Archives: climate

Young Climate Activists

At the moment sixteen child petitioners are using the UN’s conventions on the rights of children to challenge over climate change. Greta Thunberg is the only name being reliably mentioned, but there are fifteen other young people in this amazing project.

Here’s one of the other named petitioners – Alexandria Villaseñor.

 

I have a great deal of respect for Greta Thunberg and a great deal of unease about how she’s represented in the media. She’s not a lone voice, she’s one among many – and if we draw attention to the many other young activists, we strengthen their position. One lone girl is easier for old white trolls to attack. The more visible activists there are, the more names we know, the harder a time the trolls will have attacking them.

There’s also a thing going on where white people with power in the media are getting interested because there’s a white person they can point at. One of the things I’ve learned from Twitter is that there are many young POC activists who have been working for years and who deserve just as much attention. People of Colour are already disproportionately affected by climate change and we need to help amplify their stories and resist media whitewashing.

If you love what Greta is doing, if you are inspired and excited by her, then don’t make it all about her. Find out who your local activists are and what they’re working on. Find out what the local issues are. Find other young activists and give them your support. One girl is not a movement. There is a whole movement out there around the world, and we can all help make it more visible.

 

Little Miss Flint (now 11) Mari Copeny has been campaigning about the Flint Water Crisis since she was 8.

Here she is getting an activism award this year.

 

Isra Hirsi is the co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike.

 

Autumn Peltier, 13-year-old water advocate, addresses the UN

 

If you’re already supporting a young activist please do add to the comments.

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Resisting 5G

There are some wild and alarming thoughts about the latest development in mobile phones out there. I honestly don’t have the scientific know-how to make much sense of it. I can say with confidence that I’d like to see a lot more counter-content from mobile phone companies reassuring us that they’ve done loads of testing and that everything will be fine. The absence of that is not reassuring. Queries so far have simply sent me back to the pro-5G content light pages on mobile phone websites.

I also asked my phone company about the impact on urban trees and they didn’t answer, which makes me think that this technology will indeed require the cutting down of urban trees.

There are some things I am sure about, however. Putting thousands of new satellites into space will have a massive carbon impact. Encouraging people to ditch their old phones to buy new 5G ones is not an environmentally friendly action. The carbon cost of making all the new phones will be high. In our state of climate crisis, I can’t see how we can afford 5G phones.

This is what happens when business is protected by law, and the right to make money is internationally upheld, while ecocide is not a thing. We need a radical rethink, such that a new product with such a high impact can’t happen anymore. More about ecocide here – https://eradicatingecocide.com/

And in the meantime, ask your phone provider (if you have one) what the estimated carbon cost of 5G is an how many urban trees they think will need to be cut down to facilitate it.


A Druid on election day

I made the decision during this election not to campaign for a specific party. I’m Green, to the core, but aware that this is complicated. Hand on heart I believe nothing is more urgent than dealing with green issues – clean air and water, sustainable energy, food security and the long term viability of our species. I like and value the NHS, but if we can’t breathe the air, health care won’t save us.  At the same time, a Labour government would be a good deal better to press on this than a fracking-obsessed Tory outfit, and I have every sympathy for the SNP, and think independent candidates are an important part of the mix.

I’ve invested time in trying to persuade people that they should vote. I think non-voting is a massive issue. No matter why you do it, those in power will see it as apathy. They will see it as a blank cheque to do whatever they like. In all parts of the country, if non-voters  showed up, everything could change. If all previous non-voters voted Green, we’d have a Green parliament tomorrow. That’s a lot of potential power going to waste.

I want people to understand that their voting does make a difference and can change things. That even if you don’t get your candidate in, your support for them can still help shape national politics. I want people to realise that every single aspect of their lives is shaped by politics, and that not being interested means it is done to you, perhaps without your knowledge, likely not in ways that are in your interests.

There is a lot more to democracy than voting in general elections. There is a lot more to politics than newspaper headlines and dubious BBC reporting. It is not inevitable that things will stay as they are.

More than this, I want people to look around them, at the land they live on and the society they live in and vote for something better. Not the politics of fear, hate, and greed, which we’ve seen a lot of recently. Not the politics of who can give my family the best deal for the next five years. A proper look at who we want to be and how we want to live with an eye to the long term.

We have to ditch austerity. It doesn’t work on its own terms even – government borrowing is up. Austerity doesn’t deliver economic growth or prosperity for any but the very richest.

We need long term thinking so that our species can survive and thrive without wiping out everything else.

We need to care about each other, and care about our shared resources. We need to ditch the politics of the personal grab and face up to our collective responsibilities for each other. We need to be a good deal more civilized, and some enlightened self interest would go a long way. Any one of us can be knocked down by bad luck, and ill health. Most of us will be lucky enough to get old and need looking after. We have to stop pretending that the good things in our lives are earned and that our ‘hard work’ insulates us from misfortune and start recognising that anyone can get in to trouble, and build systems that are kinder, and fairer.


Is mould a climate change issue?

This recent article in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/27/damp-social-housing-residents-heating-energy-bills indicates that mould is a growing problem. Cold, damp houses are natural habitats for mould, which do not make for good air quality and add to respiratory diseases. Part of the problem here is unequivocally poverty – people cannot afford to heat their homes. But is that the whole story?

2000 was the wettest winter on record, with 2012 coming in a narrow second. There are no figures for 2013 yet, but it is moist out there. According to the Met office, “Looking at annual rainfall for the UK, we can see the country as a whole getting wetter in recent decades.” More of that here – http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/2012-weather-statistics.

We add moisture to the air in our homes every day. Breathing, washing, and cooking are the main culprits. If there is nowhere for that water to go, no amount of heating your home can keep it dry. If it is wet and humid outside, water will inevitably build up inside and no amount of heating can fight that off forever.

When I was a child, we used to air things. You’d expect to get windows open a few times during the winter, and air out rooms to combat the damp. Washing went outside often enough that you could get away with it. A tumble drier will go a long way to solving that, assuming you can afford to run one. Of course tumble driers use a lot of energy, and if the core problem is climate change, then a tumble drier is like opening the fridge door to tackle global warming.

Cold, damp homes are not healthy. We know that. If winters keep getting wetter, we cannot buy and heat our way out of the problem. We need solutions that do not add to climate change in the first place, as well. We’re brewing a real problem here, alongside all the other many real problems climate change is already causing. Politicians refuse to act, afraid of harming the economy by taking the decisions that would be needed to safeguard our future. They don’t mind ‘tough decisions’ when that means punishing the poor and cutting funds to the most vulnerable, but the economy is sacred and must not be hurt. Except apparently they haven’t figured out that climate change is going to be really bad news for economies, and countries that are not prepared for the flooding, the winds, the wet houses, and all the other technical problems, are not going to have thriving GDPs either. These things are connected.

Being a Druid, the idea that all things are connected comes very naturally to me. We are one big eco-system. What happens in one part affects all the others. It drives me mad that those in power are still clinging on to the magical beliefs of centuries past, that you can do what you like to the planet and it will all be fine. Perhaps they imagine God will put it all right for them? When are we going to let go of the collective fantasy that our actions do not have consequences, and start recognising that the rain, and the mould, and the flooding, and the high winds, the late springs and all the rest of it relate very directly to our activities as a species?

Meanwhile, there is an absolute deluge going on out there.