My first 5k race

Damien Clarkson

Last night I took part in my first ever timed 5k race. It was as part of the GoodGym Race Series, which combined 45 mins of volunteering helping out a fantastic new social enterprise called Makeversity who are going to be offering affordable working spaces to people who ‘make things’, both digital and physical things with the hope of matching the talents within their building with teaching programmes for young people.

The 5k race was my first target on my recovery from injury. In fact I have pretty much exclusively been running 5k(ish) 3/4 times a week since the first week of August. The race took place in the evening and started on the Embankment outside Somerset House and the route would see us run along the embankment over Westminster bridge then down to Lambeth bridge before running back to Somerset House.

I decided to run in the sub 24 min group, my practice runs had been around 24 to 25 mins. But I thought despite constant dodging the tourists and steps we had to walk and down I could make it under 24 mins, because after all it was a race and I have always enjoyed competition.

I have to say I really enjoyed the race, I just went at my steady running pace until what I thought was a mile from the finish (it turns out it was 0.7 miles) then I decided to run hard to the finish. I came through at a respectable 23.35 which given the conditions, steps, tourists etc was respectable. It placed me 3rd overall which I was really happy with.  A youth spent playing cricket and football meant I was used to competing on a regular basis and it is something I think I have missed.

I have written a blog for GoodGym about my injury and my recovery was published, I think anyone who has ever had an injury will take something from reading it.

I would also recommend reading this blog by Nikki who has had a similar experience with injury and her recovery.

So, if anyone wants to do a park run or a 5k in the near future let me know. Running feels really exciting to me at the moment.


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Life

Well life has been busy and we have had an actual British Summer, these factors combined has led to me not blogging for far too long. However the past month has been packed full of some amazing experiences, life changes, struggles and exciting challenges. But have no fear, I am back on the blogging bandwagon 🙂 undoubtedly this will probably mean a flurry of blogs followed by my usual month of silence. But I promise I will try to be more consistent and anyway it is raining now.

At the end of June, I took my first holiday in 2 years and went to Berlin. I stayed in the district of Kreuzberg at a great backpackers for people under 40 called Jetpack Alternative.

On the day I arrived in Berlin the weather was 35 degrees and immediately I settled into the hostel and had a night out with a bunch of other backpackers. Althrough throughout the break I spent most of my time hanging out with Diana, who I met through CouchSurfing. She and her friends made me feel incredibly welcome and we checked out lots of bands, ate great vegan food and generally just had a great time relaxing.

Me and Diana

I was struck by how many people were vegan in Berlin, they have a huge vegan supermarket in Friedrichshain although it was deemed to be stupidly over priced by my new friends. Berlin really felt like a city I could see myself living in one day, I think Berlin has a culture which makes it easy to be an artist. Because of state support for education, and affordable housing and strong laws protecting tenants mean that creative young people can live in the most amazing accommodation for prices Londoners would only dream of.

So, on my return from Berlin, I decided I would go vegan, this is something I have been thinking of doing for quite awhile. I was already vegetarian and had been phasing out dairy for awhile.  Going vegan has been surprisingly easy, the only times it has been difficult has been when out of London and eating out. This has resulted in a few items being sent back.

Vegan times

As a result of going vegan, I feel full of energy and happy about how I am reducing my carbon footprint and not participating in a system which is cruel to animals. I have also read ultramarathon champion Scott Jurek’s new book ‘Eat and Run’, he believes a vegan diet is one of the key components which turned him into a champion. So vegan ultramarathon greatness here I come :-). Ok well perhaps I will crawl round a marathon next year before I turn 30.

Speaking of running, I have been receiving physio from Helen at Fix, which is a new sports physio practice near me in Hackney. I have learnt so much about how I run, what I need to change and my overall body and how it behaves. I have discovered that  I have been shielding the left hand side of my body for the last 8 years. This has led to me regularly getting injured as a result of putting too much pressure through my right hand side. My lazy left side is now shaping up and I am redeveloping my running to run in an increasingly front foot running style better known as ‘barefoot running’. So far the early signs are good, I haven’t had any side affects and after 3 months of injury I can run for 20 mins of a 30 min (10 mins rest for my ankle).

I have just recently returned from 4 days in Cambridge with some of my wonderful friends. My friend Tamsin took us to Trinity College,  at Cambridge University where I saw one of only 4 remaining copies of Shakespeare’s first folio and went punting. which turns out is loads of fun if not slightly hard work.

Punting in Cambridge

Tamsin and me at Trinity

We did plenty of cycling, walking and I led the cooking for 12 people, which was fun but exhausting. We did lots of discussing our future plans and the world we live in. I feel really blessed to know these amazing people who care so much about everything happening around them. All in all, beautiful people and beautiful times.

Walking with friends
So that was kinda the last month; I also saw ‘The Breeders’ and ‘Dinosaur Pile Up’, play which were amazing, I am trying to see more gigs, so if people fancy checking out bands let me know. I have tickets for Drenge in September, hopefully I won’t bump into Ed Miliband there after Tom Watson’s resignation letter suggestion.

Dinosaur Pileup

Next month I turn 29 (I can’t believe it) and the social enterprise ‘CookHoods’ I am trying to set up with my friend Bex is gathering momentum. I will update everyone on this soon but if you like good homemade food and supporting local communities, I think you will love it.

Until the next time. Big Love, Damien xx

Food Not Fuel

Halima

Yesterday I was invited along to the Action Aid blogger meetup to hear about their work as part of the IF campaign coalition. Having previously done a bit of work for an international development charity working in Africa, I was acutely aware about the issue of hunger. And being a climate change campaigner I have spent a lot of time reading about how climate change will worsen the global food crisis and the poorest people will suffer first, so I went along keen to learn more about the issue.

For those who don’t know already, Enough Food IF is a campaign in the style of ‘Make Poverty History’ and is asking the G8 (the worlds most wealthy countries) to implement a series of measures to help tackle world hunger. This year David Cameron is president of the G8 and therefore has the opportunity to drive real change if he so wishes.

The campaign has set out of big IF’s for world leaders to tackle:

Throughout the evening we heard from a number of speakers including the actress and cook Fay Ripley, Joy an inspirational young Action Aid campaigner from Kenya. And Rachel Beer, who I have known for several years and is a thought leader in charity fundraising and digital.

Fay spoke passionately about the extravagant culture of present giving at children’s parties and how she and her 6 year old decided to ask that parents just donated into a bucket and then with that money through Action Aid they sponsored children and saw what a wonderful difference that money made.

I asked Fay about food waste at the parties and she confirmed that it is terrible and that most parents in her North London circle care very little for it. Being a keen cook Fay assured me that isn’t the case with her parties but it was disheartening to hear that there was such blatant waste of good food. This at time when in the UK food banks are opening at the rate of 3 per week. Further afield the situation is much worse as Joy was about to tell us.

Joy is a 29 year old campaigner from Kenya, she spoke with such raw passion and gave us her first hand account of what it was like growing up when their was literally not enough food to go around. She spoke about how her bigger brothers would eat all of the food and how in her family if someone hesitated with their food another family member would take the food of their plate. She also talked about how people would “bump” round and if your family had food, you would share it with them, I liked that people were willing to share the very little they had with their neighbour.

Joy

She then went on to talk about Biofuels, one of the key focuses of the IF campaign and how this has impacted upon communities in Kenya. But first a little bit of background about biofuels:

  • Around 10 years ago biofuels were being touted as a renewable energy source.
  • Biofuels harvest crops which could be used to feed people, once these lands have been used for biofuels, it can take as long as 25 years to be able to grow food on this land again
  • Big oil companies like BP and Shell have invested heavily in Biofuels and lobbied governments to include biofuels as part of the renewable energy mix.
  • There is now scientific consensus that biofuels don’t reduce carbon emissions, in-fact they actually release higher carbon emissions than the fossil fuels they were created to replace.
  • The EU instated a target of having 5% of transport fuels come from Biofuels by 2010, this has helped drive the industry and land grabs.
  • In 2009, the oil company Shell stopped investing in wind and solar power choosing Biofuels as its “renewable” energy investment because it has the potential to generate profits.
  • BP are another big oil company who have invested heavily in biofuels, they are determined to see it succeed.

So in short biofuels a bit of a problem, big oil have invested in developing it and 10 years of intense lobbying has led to laws supporting its use. However in 2011, 10 of the world’s most powerful organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank all recommended that G20 governments should  scrap biofuel policies.

Back to Joy, she told us about the extent of the hunger crisis in Kenya, currently 11 million people are going hungry everyday, this doesn’t include people who are partially hungry i.e. they may have one meal a day. She told us about biofuels and how recently a french company displaced 20,000 people through a land grab in order to start producing biofuels. If these people are offered jobs at the plants they are lowest possible roles, paying very poor wages.

Biofuels Infographic

The issue of land grabs is a frightening reality for the whole of Africa not just to fuel biofuels production but to feed the populations of the gulf region and China. Large corporations and governments have been buying up vast regions of land. The people in these areas are not consulted, compensated, simply displaced.

You maybe aware that recently we passed 400ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Putting it very simply this is seriously bad news in the bid to tackle world hunger. Dr James Hansen one of the leading climate scientists said this in 2008: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted … CO2 will need to be reduced … to at most 350ppm.”

The continued use of biofuels will see an increase in the carbon emitted into the atmosphere leading to an increase in extreme weather patterns. Floods, droughts, hurricanes will become more common and in arid regions of the world already struggling with poverty. The tougher climate will make water more scarce and farming in difficult conditions even more challenging. It is predicted in the next 50 years climate change will result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and millions of climate refugees.

Last year extreme weather events caused £170 billion in damages, this isn’t taken to into account the emotional trauma and death these ever increasing weather events caused.

Tackling world hunger isn’t easy, even if biofuels are scrapped and the IF campaigns demands are met there will be an unbelievable amount of work to do. But this is a good starting point, and as a country we shouldn’t be supporting an industry which has been found to be bad for the environment, displaces innocent and pulls communities into starvation. With the world population due to expand to 9 billion in by 2050, we need to use land for food no fuel, we need to invest in renewable energy sources and we need to eat less meat to reduce carbon emissions and ensure their is more food to go around.

For too long these corporations, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil et al, have taken advantage of the people with no voice. They have taken their land, polluted their environment and made huge profits whilst in places like in Kenya 11 million people can will starve everyday. They should feel ashamed. And if the G8 don’t stop the use of biofuels they will be responsible for the continued misery of untold millions.

I will leave you with the words of Joy who I felt was channeling some of the energy of the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davision, 100 years to the day that she stepped in front of the Kings horse to demand votes for women.

Joy was pretty fierce through out and said: “Lets join hands and fight together for the hungry people”.  Well I couldn’t agree more, please share this blog and spread the word about the IF campaign. Or join Action Aid and other NGO’s in Hyde Park this Saturday for an IF campaign rally.

The courage of Emily Wilding Davison

Emily Wilding Davison

Just over 3 years ago, David Cameron and Nick Clegg stood outside Downing Street smugly smiling in the May sunshine promising us a “new kind of politics”. Looking back it seems laughable that anyone even half contemplated this working given who we were hearing it from.

Today Nick Clegg, constantly looks as if someone has hollowed out his insides and force fed them to him, whilst David Cameron looks more ridiculously red every time he speaks. To be honest if I had to lie that much I would go pretty red as well.

Today, MP’s vote on the Energy Bill, an amendment has been re-introduced to the bill calling for the UK to decarbonisation our energy sector but 2030. Makes sense right?. We burn less fossil fuels, bring down our carbon emissions, reduce reliance of a finite resource, reduce bills and invest in green renewable technology one of the UK’s only growth sectors.

Well… Not in George Osborne and the Treasury’s eyes, our Georgie boy is addicted to fossil fuels and obsessed with fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane. It is no secret that 51% of Tory party funding comes from financial institutions in the city whose hedge funds are tied up in funds linked to the fossil fuel industry. The decision to delay a decarbonisation target until 2016 (after the election) is purely political and shows blatant cowardice from the Lib Dem’s and the Tories.

It is business as usual politics and it sucks…

The vote on the decarbonisation target is expected to be tight and the parliamentarians of 2013 would do well to remember an inspirational women in the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who threw herself in front of the Kings horse on an race day 100 years ago today.

There is much conjecture about whether Emily Wilding Davison meant to die when she stepped in front of the Kings horse on that fateful race day. What is beyond doubt is that Ms Davison was ready for death it that should be her destiny. Her bravery and dedication in the fight for suffrage should be reflected upon by those MP’s wondering whether to rebel against the government and back the amendment.

Ms Davison died so that we all can participate in a democracy however in-perfect it may still be. Today when politicians go to place their vote they should ask themselves. What would Emily Wilding Davison said? Would she have voted for what to right or what was politically convenient?

I think they will know the answer…

GoodGym and super healthy

Running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2010

For past month or so I have been slowly embarking on a health kick. Historically I have always been a pretty fit person, my childhood was filled with back to back games of football, cricket, tennis. Then in my late teens/ early twenties I developed a pretty full on gym habit. All of which came to a sudden end when I went travelling in January 2008 and realised I didn’t miss spending half my life in the gym.

Then like most people when they move to London I invariably became busy making lots of new friends and enjoying this amazing city. Recognising that I hadn’t been doing any exercise I decided to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2010 and ended up stumbling around in a pretty slow 2.17 (I was injured). The aftermath of not quite enough pre training and some poor trainers which ripped my feet to shreds meant that I found it really hard to pick the running back up. There have been a few abortive attempts in the couple of years since but during this time I have increased my cycling and this has kept me in some sort of reasonable condition.

However as I approach my 29th birthday (August) I have started to feel like I need to look after myself a bit better. I have always found that when I exercise regularly I have increased energy levels, feel more confident and I have a better work productivity level. Probably as a result of participating in team games like football and cricket I have always found running on my own incredibly hard which leads to me cutting corners.

Since starting on my health kick I have been on a couple of runs with my friend Lauren and these have really helped. Lauren recently ran the Brighton marathon for a great charity called GoodGym which essentially is a running club with volunteering on a community project sandwiched in the middle. I went to my first GoodGym run on Tuesday, I was actually pretty nervous that I wouldn’t be able to run the 8km and that I would be slower than everyone else. I was really pleased to discover that I actually wasn’t that bad and the other running volunteers were lovely. Our volunteering task was to help shift pallets and scaffolding planks to a new community permaculture garden in Shoreditch, which being me I was thrilled to discover. Then before we knew it we were on the way back to our meeting point in London Fields.

I think GoodGym might be the social running solution for me, next week we’re running 10km (gulp) and if I am last in the group, I will have to swallow my pride and deal with it. But the great thing with GoodGym is that someone will always run with you. GoodGym currently operate in East London, Camden and Liverpool. If you’re looking to get fit and do good you should definitely check it out.

I have also been inspired by a number of my friends have recently ran the marathon or have been living healthy lives and look great as a result. A number of these people are vegan and  have lots of energy to achieve impressive fitness feats.  Vegan fitness inspirations include, Laura Scott, Milly Banana Anselmo- Oldfield, Cat Turner, James Proctor. Non vegan inspirations are totally Hannah McQuarrie and Juliet Chard, Natasha Lees, Lauren Garland, Ree Ree, Amy Cooper and Tom Mustill and Luke Chaput– ‘ Luke- my knees aren’t springy anymore mate’. P.S: If you don’t already follow each other you should start 🙂

All of the people above are incredibly smart and motivating people to be around, I don’t think it is a coincidence that they all exercise regularly.

My getting fitter strategy will include:

  • Running more often and going to GoodGym when possible
  • Eating more vegan meals
  • No milk in coffee
  • Press-ups and sit-ups most days
  • Swimming
  • Getting a new bike for long cycle rides
  • More raw food

I am thinking that perhaps I will run a half marathon at the end of the summer. I did always say I wanted to do an marathon by the time I am 30 and the clock is ticking.

Did the left win the 20th century?

Another plane

Last week I received a complimentary 100th year anniversary copy of the New Statesman. I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the archived essay from John Maynard Keynes on the case for intervention and Will Self talking about his pessimistic outlook.  However the one feature which really caught my eye was politicians and political commentators discussing ‘Did the left win the 20th century?’

Having got over the shock of not being asked for my opinion directly by the New Statesman I decided I would quite like to write about this. I am quite unashamedly left wing in my politics, I believe in nationalised public services, government intervention in business, tax and spend fiscal policy and ending all fossil fuel subsidies and the need for a rapid transition to a clean energy system.

However I recognise that to tackle the biggest challenge our generation faces in my eyes ‘climate change’, we will need both sides the left and the right to work together to have any chance of seriously curbing our carbon emissions.

To date I would be correct in suggesting big business are standing in the way of tackling climate change at every turn. If capitalism is going to survive as the dominant politically ideology for the next 100 years, I believe it will have to evolve, retract, become a more local. We live on a planet with finite resources and a rapidly changing climate.

The businesses which help us becoming smarter and more efficient in the way we lead our daily lives, paying a fair wage to employees will be the ones which thrive. Those who continue to put profit before the wellbeing of their employers and those who currently buy their products will perish.

Did the left win the 20th century?

Oh, how I would love to answer ‘yes’ and say how in 2013 we live in a socialist paradise where everyone cycles and poverty in non existent. The truth is that as I type this I can hear the planes on route to City Airport and we stand on the verge of a triple dip recession. To boot we have a government who want to de-regulate and privatise and outsource everything, even through irresponsible unfettered capitalism was a root cause of the financial crisis. The neoliberal economics of Milton Friedman adopted by Thatcher then Blair and almost every western government since the 1970’s and has led to the current sad state of affairs, so it could be said the economic doctrine of the right sadly had more support at the end of the 20th century.

However the social ideals of the left certainly gained universal acceptance by the end of the 20th century. Things like for example an national health service, state pensions, acceptance of gay relationships, end to apathied, employment law, human rights act. These only came about because of the left.

So on reflection perhaps it was a score draw. What is clear the politics of the 20th century failed, the gap between the richest and the poorest grew wider. And although there were huge advancements in providing help for the most needy food banks are opening at a rate of 3 a week in the UK.

The next 10o years will need a different kind of people politics with ideas for change from business and government coming our communities not out of touch privileged politicians.

Regardless of who “wins” the 21st century political battle, lets hope it is the side which fights for social justice and wealth distribution and tackles climate change. That is the side I will be on.

Boston and the freedom to tweet

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

I am going to be controversial in the wake of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon and talk about social network freedom. Whilst watching the events unfold on TV and social media, I was amazed at the sophistication of scammers trying to promote their cause or just gain followers by posting misleading information.

This was followed by lots of tweeters’ warning others of these scams and rightly shaming those trying to benefit from the immense suffering. It is only natural that when tragedy strikes many people will panic. In exactly the same way people can panic in dangerous real life situations.

Communicating through social media has for many people and I would probably include myself become a task as natural as talking to a friend in the pub. Social media enables real friendships and social bonds to form between people who have never met in real life. People really do have a sense of connection with people on the other side of the globe.

So, when something as awful as the Boston bombing happens, people will panic and the social media tools that provide for many people a sense of community and belonging can be taken advantage of by dishonest people. These fraudulent accounts will invariable be closed down and if fraud has been committed the police will get involved.

Fraudulent Tweet

Since the tragedy I have seen a few blogs telling people off for not showing common sense when tweeting. As anyone who has been a victim of fraud will tell you; they didn’t know what was happening to them at the time of the fraud. This is exactly the same with Twitter fraud; the people who retweeted the @_BostonMarathon account were innocent people trying to do good through social media in the belief their tweet would raise money for those tragically hurt.

Communications professionals often genuinely use mechanics like that one used by the @_BostonMarathon account to raise money for charity causes. I would hate to see people on social networks become so skeptical they were scared to click on a tweet because of fear of being berating by other community users.

I also believe charities have a role to play in offering sympathy to those effected by events such as those in Boston. Promoting your next fundraising event or asking for donations isn’t probably appropriate but genuine engagement and kindness always has a place in my eyes.  Even if a few people misused Twitter, overall it was used to inform people at the event and around the world of what was happening to people they were worried about and Google created this wonderful person finder for those worried about someone in Boston.

We live in crazy times, as a member of a non-violent, peaceful environmental action group we know the police monitor our social media communications. They email us often asking if we want to meet with them and discuss our protests that we organise on social media.

Teresa May, The Home Secretary speaking in parliament earlier this year made a Freudian slip saying; “ Police officer regularly use Twitter to access, sorry, I mean send messages”. The point being Twitter and other social media channels are already a heavily policed already by governments and law enforcing authorities.  Freedom to say what you want, click what you want, connect with who you want, is what I believe makes Twitter great.

Lets encourage more people use these tools to build connections, these relationships often lead to virtual and real life collaborations which benefit wider society.

Lets not make Twitter or other social networks elitist places ruled by strict rules where people are scared to join in.

The freedom to connect, create and click that button on whatever you want, is what makes it beautiful.

Further Reading:

For a full overview on social media at the Boston Marathon try reading @holmesdm blog: Boston marathon: Has social media coverage finally matured? 

For an alternative view to me on this issue read the very lovely @LondonKirsty blog: Why, when tragedy strikes, does common sense goes out the window?

Big oil schools

Get BP out of schools
Let me start with an obvious but true statement: “young people are impressionable”. If you think back to your own childhood, I am sure a whole wave of questionable life choices come flooding back to you. Luckily for most of us we managed to get over the bad girlfriend or boyfriend and realised Kickers shoes aren’t the coolest thing in the world. However some choices we make at that age are not so easy to forget, especially when it comes career choices and education.

Therefore I was incredibly alarmed to learn about BP’s extensive work in schools in the UK. In particularly one project whereby BP have been going into schools and conducting interactive sessions teaching children to be oil traders. I watched the promotional video which has now been removed by BP, where one BP employees was telling students: ” The trick is to buy oil low and sell it high”. And although their main schools roadshow which has already visited 700 schools has finished they are still operating their similar ‘Enterprise Trading Challenge

Let us remember BP are leaders in an industry that has ruthlessly exploited the worlds natural resources and people in the pursuit of huge profits over the past 100 years. BP irresponsible attitude towards our energy future has contributed to the climate change crisis facing us and future generations. And it was only 2 years ago that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill poured 200m gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico sea. This caused huge environmental damage which has led to BP already paying out $7.8 billion in compensation for the damage caused.

So to me it feels ludicrous to give BP the chance to greenwash their brand in the eyes of children. Is financial speculation with one of the worlds most precious but destructive resources something we want our kids to think is a future career? We need to remember the financial crisis was caused in part by reckless speculation by traders.

Companies like BP who exploit the planets resource in order to make huge profits with no regard for future generations have no place in our schools trying to make a career in destroying the planet seem glamourous.

However worryingly the oil industry in schools isn’t just limited to BP. Cuadrilla the company pursuing the highly controversial form of extreme energy extraction known as Fracking in Blackpool have started running competitions and giving away money to schools in the local area they are trying to destroy. Fracking has been highly condemned by most of the EU with the exception of Poland. In the US Fracking has been shown to cause water contamination, air pollution, cancer and is carbon intensive form of energy production. For a lowdown on Fracking and whether it is planned in your area check out ‘Frack Off‘.

I have heard stories from parents about Exxon Mobil sponsoring kids school bags and books. It appears the fossil fuel industry is following the example of Coca Cola, Mcdonalds and other ethically dubious brands in funding community based activities in order to encourage parents and children to turn a blind eye to the destructive activities of their industry.

If you’re a parent do you want your child to grow up to be an oil trader? Do you want them to live in a world with no summer Arctic Ice, where flooding and extreme weather are the norm and millions of climate refugees roam the globe? Well this is the future we have in store if oil companies like BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil continue in their ruthless pursuit of fossil fuels and profit with no regard for the future generations.

No matter what financial pressures are facing our schools, we need to stand up and say no to these dangerous organisations infiltrating our education system. Fossil fuel companies would have us believe their is no alternative to drilling in the Arctic or fracking for coal bed methane or exploiting tar sands. Allowing them into schools to promote this ideology to children is dangerous. Our generation has a great responsibility but also a great opportunity to harness the natural assets our planet is blessed with. Hydro, wind, solar and Carbon Capture Storage all offer great hope if we invest in the technologies instead of continuing to subsidise the fossil fuel industry. As the CBI reported last year green growth is  creating jobs and offers viable alternative future for the UK.

I would be really interested to hear from parents especially about whether oil companies have been to your children’s schools? If so, what did they do in the school? Do they sponsor sports teams, competitions, or are they teaching kids to trade oil? Please leave a comment or tweet me with your stories. Also there is a fledgling petition on 38 degrees which I urge you to sign to get oil companies out of our schools.

Boris Johnson- no fracking clue

“Who’s bad?” in the British political scene of 2012 it has to be Boris Johnson. The publicity-loving Mayor has been showing his dangerous neo-liberal tendencies again; this time by using his column in the Telegraph to support of the pursuit of shale gas, better known as Fracking.

This article was lazy even by his slap dash standards, throughout he manages to ignore any empirical evidence about fracking and uses what I would describe as cold war style rhetoric to make his points. This little snippet used when talking about the Kyoto treaty stopping us building new coal stations sums the language used throughout the article perfectly: “We are therefore increasingly and humiliatingly dependent on Vladimir Putin’s gas or on the atomic power of the French state”.

We all know Boris isn’t one to follow rules, however it would appear this extends to following scientific reports. Although Boris did correctly identify that gas omits less CO2 than burning coal. Well-done Boris. Although studies commissioned by the EC have found Shale gas is likely to have higher emission levels than conventional gas extraction methods. So not much, much, cleaner Boris but still probably the second most destructive form of fossil fuel consumption available to us at the moment in Europe.

Boris also claims there hasn’t been one single complaint the Environmental Protection Agency in the US where fracking has been widespread. Sadly it appears Boris hasn’t heard of the infamous ‘Hallburton Loophole’. In 2005 Congress passed the Energy Policy Act. This act included a clause which exempted nearly everything used in fracking from being regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So if you live in the United States and your drinking water now has shale gas mixed in with it because of leaking fracking wells, you can’t complain. If the fracking rigs cause poisonous air quality, you can’t complain about that either. Instead artists led by Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono have united against fracking to stop it happening in the New York area.

This kind of de-regulation and reckless pursuit of fossil fuels to benefit the already rich fossil fuel industry is ludicrous. Boris should really be careful as he is already responsible for over 4000 early deaths in London due to poor air quality. So yes Boris, I am a green campaigner and I take the further poisoning of our air, water and increased carbon emission’s very seriously.  And my next point is where I find him incredibly frustrating; whenever I see him on TV he endlessly talks about the need for investment. Renewable energy is an area where we have the expertise and the opportunity to be word leaders however Boris continues to call for investment in dangerous fossil fuel technology.

And I am not alone in calling for this urgent investment in green growth the CBI (The UK’s top business lobbying organisation) recently released figures showing that one third of British growth last year came from the green economy. The figures are stacking up in favour of investment in the ‘green ecomony’. The CBI believes if we get the right level of investment from the government and investors the ‘green economy’ could deliver £20 billion in 2014/2015. I certainly wouldn’t call that ‘chicken feed’.

Again in regards to employment he really misses the point. In sectors such as wind power and energy efficiency close to one million people are already employed in the UK. Expertise in energy efficency and renewable technologies are things we can export. We can’t sell the toxic carbon emissions created by fracking that is for sure.

Boris Johnson is now widely viewed to be the future leader of the Conservative party. Members of his party would do well to remember the bumbling backbencher that couldn’t punch his way out of a political paper bag. Essentially Boris hasn’t changed he still spouts the pro business, anti environment, de-regulation nonsense, which led to the financial crisis. His ideology of neo-liberalism has been discredited; it’s heroes, Thatcher, Bush, Cheney, Blair, are widely derided figures. This article reaffirmed Boris desire to destroy our countryside and ignore the climate change crisis in the favour of short-term profits for the fossil fuel companies.

This is the man who in the wake of the Libor scandal told us “Barclays is and remains a great British brand,” a “proud” and an “historic” one no less. And he remains a champion of Rupert Murdoch despite the phone hacking scandal. The question is; do you really trust Boris on the environment? I know I don’t.

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