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.

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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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My Dad and Motor Neurone Disease

This blog is about my Dad and his battle with Motor Neurone Disease. It is the hardest thing I have ever written and I have shared photos I find tough to look at. The reason for the blog is i want to tell you about a new campaign by The Motor Neurone Disease Association to get you and your MP to sign the Motor Neurone Disease Charter. The charter calls for those suffering with the disease and their families to be provided with the support they need.

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On the February the 6th 2011 my Dad, Keith Clarkson died from MND he was aged 56.

I have seen close up how devastating MND is; for anyone who doesn’t know MND is a muscle wasting condition which robs people of the ability to walk, talk, eat and finally breathe, there is no known cause or cure. The experience of watching my Dad trying desperately to cling onto his dignity was heart breaking for my Mum, brother and I.  On the day before he died we got him a small whiteboard to write down what he wanted to say; as we were no longer able to understand his speech. Losing that last scrap of dignity probably was why he finally gave in and never woke up.

This blog is from the heart and my honestly my Dad was a complicated person and he certainly wasn’t one of life’s natural communicators. Like many people with a high IQ he had a borderline obsessive personality and could be relentless in his pursuit to make you share his passions. This coupled with an inability to listen to your concerns at times made him difficult. And growing up I found talking to my Dad incredibly hard, he often seemed aloof and uninterested, however as we grew older we both learnt to understand each other and formed a strong relationship.

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But despite all of his complicated personality traits he was a kind and caring person who would always go miles out of his way to help his friends. He was also a perfectionist who took incredible pride in his appearance and his work. Undoubtedly partly borne out of growing up in a poor family and his short spell in the army. I can still remember him constantly commenting on dirty state of my school shoes and football boots.

I suppose what I am trying to say is my Dad was a proud person. And MND tried desperately to take away his dignity.  My Dad received a late diagnosis in October 2009, MND is notoriously hard to detect and half of people diagnosed die within 14 months of being told they have the disease; as was to be the case with my Dad. We had known that something was wrong with him for a little while. In the years leading to his diagnosis he had lots of small muscle operations in his shoulder and wrists. We believed these were the result of motorcycle accidents or RSI from working on computers.  And when he gradually started losing weight and his speech had become less clear, I started to think he may have Parkinson’s disease.

From the moment of his diagnosis my Dad was never the same person, he wore what I would describe as a veil of death. Getting him to laugh or smile became a near impossible task as he quickly became frail and weak from the disease. On our last holiday to Greece in Thassos a place my Dad visited over 10 times in the last decade of his life. He suffered terrible sickness and immediately after our return had a 6-week spell in hospital and a food tube being fitted to his stomach.

The following 6 months of his life were unbearable for us to watch, so god know how he felt. He was still working doing IT consultancy from home in a desperate attempt to make money to look after my Mum once he had gone. I remember sitting there as he repeated a word 5 times desperately trying to get the person on the other end of the phone to understand him. I sat there watching him knowing how much it was killing him inside. He refused my offer to translate for him.  It turns out that my Dad had probably been suffering with MND for perhaps as long as 10 years before he was finally diagnosed with the illness.

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My Dad regularly talked about selling up and moving to Greece, I often think what the last decade of his life could have looked like if he only knew he had MND and was dying. He could have been in Greece doing the things he loved, swimming, riding bikes and drinking Ouzo. But instead I will forever remember the last months of my Dads life in a different way, just slowly fading away.

This is why I urge you to sign the MND charter only 5000 people have so far in the whole of UK which is tiny amount. And the MNDA have created a letter you can simply email to MP urging them to support the Charter. If enough people sign the charter hopefully in the future those diagnosed with MND can get the information and support they need to ensure their last days are the best they possibly can be.

Take care Dad and wherever you are I hope the sun is shining.

Lots of love,

Damien

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Last picture taken of my Dad

Here is the five point MND Charter:

1. People with MND have the right to an early diagnosis and information

2. People with MND have the right to access quality care and treatments

3. People with MND have the right to be treated as individuals and with dignity and respect

4. People with MND have the right to maximise their quality of life

5. Carers of people with MND have the right to be valued, respected, listened to and well-supported.

Israel and the inconvenient truth

I am feeling angry and deeply saddened by the latest attack by Israel on the people of Gaza.  Let us remember Gaza is a place with no army, no heavy artillery and no airforce to command. Gaza is essentially a concentration camp surrounded by Israeli checkpoints the the people of Gaza live in poverty, constant fear and terror. Palestinians are called Terrorists but it was the Zionist movement which launched a bombing campaign against the British to force the creation of Israel and the British to abandon Palestine.

Israel is a country born in blood despite the figures being fiercely disputed, what known is that in 1948 Israel Defence Forces ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands if not millions of Palestinians. I believe Israel has never recovered from the horrific horrors of the genocide but now as they prepare for another ground invasion into Gaza they are overseeing another genocide of their own against some of the persecuted most vulnerable people in the world.

Never Ending War

“The situation in the Israel” “Israel Palestinian conflict” these are some of the terms used to describe the occupation and genocide of Palestinians by the western media. This culture of tolerance and blind support for the actions of Israel by our politicians and media needs to end. I was pleased to hear the Foreign Secretary, William Hague calling for a negotiated two state solution earlier today (20th November 2012).

But this is why I feel it will be a long time before we will ever see a two state solution come into fruition. Like in Orwell’s novel 1984 the ruling power in this case Israel wants never ending “war” with Palestine. By cultivating the illusion of being under constant threat Israel are able to justify a huge defence spend over 7% of GDP and exporting over $18.4 billion in tech exports, many of designed to aide terrorism counter surveillance. Being at constant war has become a way of life for Israel and the Palestinians are being seen as collateral damage to maintain a economically thriving country. Tonight whilst Palestinians in Gaza live in fear of their lives in blood bathed streets just the other side of the wall Israelis are living a very different existence.

This comment from the speech below by Chris Hedges the American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist pretty much sums it all up for me.

He said; ” The lesson of the holocaust is not, Jews are special, is not jews are unique, not that Jews are eternal victims, the lesson of the holocaust is that when you have the capacity to halt genocide and you do not. No matter who carries out that genocide and whom it is against; you are culpable”.

You can watch the full speech by Chris Hedges which sums up the situation in Gaza perfectly in my opinion.

Recommended related reading: http://dorkymum.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/we-need-to-talk-about-gaza/

Reactions

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After receiving an email from the wonderful Annie over at Mammasarus blog talking about linky initiatives, I decided I would join in with the Ranty Friday linky. So the following is a bit of a rant on a couple of issues I really have a bee in bonnet about at the moment.

Innocent until proven guilty

First off let me be clear; the allegations of child abuse by MP’s and media figures are disgusting. As someone who worked at the NSPCC I am fully aware of the horrors of abuse and the lasting impact the vile actions of abusers leave on survivors. But this week has seen the internet awash with the names of MP’s accused of abuse.  These people haven’t been found guilty yet and although I am really glad these allegations are being taken seriously and the people accused are being arrested or spoken to by the police. In this country we have a proud tradition of being innocent until proven guilty. The reputation of the accused will never recover even if they are found to be innocent. These accusations are of the most serious nature and I think we would be all better off if they were treated like the serious crime they are and not a tool to sell newspapers or grab TV ratings.

Disaster Politics 

Well thank god Obama got re-elected and we have been spared the crazy neo-liberal extremism and anti women policies of Romney. In his victory speech Obama said; One of his dreams is that the nation’s children would live in an America “that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

Sadly it has taken the devastating consequences of climate change in the form of Hurricane Sandy to come knocking on door of one of the richest and most powerful cities in the western world to put the issue back on the US political agenda. When hurricane Katrina destroyed the poor area of New Orleans barely a fingers was lifted, the poor were left destitute, whilst the rich rebuilt privatised towns with security guards to keep the deemed undesirable out.  The US should be leading on tackling climate change and investing in renewable technologies, such as wind, solar, carbon capture storage and introducing a carbon tax on business. Instead they continue to not commit to legally binding carbon targets and invest in the environmentally reckless practice of shale gas extraction better known as ‘fracking‘. If President Obama wants to create a future where our children don’t live with regular extreme weather events he better act fast.

Global Solutions, Local Choices

I believe tackling climate change to be the biggest crisis facing our generation. This announcement will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. But increasingly I feel the planet is sending us warning signals that we collectively as a society are failing to act fast enough upon. Recently we have seen record low ice levels in the Arctic and currently 80% of agricultural land in the US is facing drought. The Health Protection Agency reported this week that deaths in the UK from heat waves would rise from around 2000 a year currently to 11000 a year by 2080 as a result of climate change.

I recently met a very knowledgeable fellow campaigner, Kate Calvert from the Better Archway Forum. And during our group discussion she mentioned a quote by the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes, who once said; “Art and ideas should be global, everything else should be local”. Although personally I am strong supporter of a strong state and I would love to see the re-nationalisation of our transport and energy systems. However I do believe that if we’re to effectively tackle climate change, we will need people to create their own low carbon communities and people to stand up to local politicians and reclaim their environmental rights.

Over the past 30 years these rights have been slowly eroded; politicians have attempted justify this by pointing to increased GDP and shopping malls which apparently give us the freedom of choice.  Even a fortunate person living in London every day already faces the following environmental challenges:

  • Air pollution on London’s most congested roads regularly breaches EU legal limits on air quality. And over 4000 Londoner’s die prematurely every year in the London because of air pollution. This is more than from road accidents, obesity or passive smoking.
  • Our roads are dominated by cars despite the majority of people living in central London not owning cars. For example 60% of residents in the borough of Islington do not own cars.
  • Refusal by government to invest in fully electric buses and trains means many people are locked into fossil fuel dependent travel.
  • Constant noise and pollution due to excessive aviation, already we have 3 major airports serving London plus a number of satellite airports and the ludicrous City Airport serving only the richest in society.
  • Governments continue to burn fossil fuels locking future generations into a future devastated by climate change. Oxfam recently said; “Our planet is heading for average global warming of 2.5–5C this century. It is time to face up to what this means for hunger and malnutrition for millions of people on our planet.”

The fact that climate change is happening is a fact agreed upon by the majority of the world’s governments, leading scientists and increasingly the general population. It is agreed tackling climate change will require global collaboration on a scale we have never seen before. It will require business to de-carbonise their operations and find alternatives to their current fossil fuel existence. Governments will need to work closely together to create a renewable energy infrastructure built to serve the energy needs of whole continents not just individual nations. And as droughts across the world become a common occurrence, governments will have to make tough choices on how to feed a booming world population in the face of regular food famines.

This all sounds scary I know and it is easy to despair, however we can take the global solutions to tackling climate change and Keynes advice and apply them on a local level. Creating green spaces and de-carbonising our local communities should improve your health and general wellbeing as you develop a cohesive community around you.

Below are my tips for city dwellers looking to reduce their carbon footprint:

1)   Cycle/Walk: London is a fantastic city, why not soak up the views and get some exercise? Many tube journeys are actually quicker by foot and it costs nothing.

2)   Buy local food: Eating food from local farmers markets will mean you will be supporting local farmers and you food will have a lower carbon footprint.

3)   Cut back on meat: Cows and lambs are two of the main sources of methane a particular harmful gas contributing to global warming. This is without mentioning the soya and water used to raise these animals and the nitrous oxide admitted during the farming process. I’m not saying you have to become vegetarian but perhaps eat better quality meat and have it as a treat.

4)   Don’t buy bottled water: The profit margin on a bottle of water is about 99%. You may think that it is safer than tap water but you would be wrong, tap water has to be regulated much more strictly than bottled water. And in some cases bottled water comes from our main tap water system and is bottled up and sold back to us. Anyone remember Desani?

5)   Start a car pool: If you must have a car why not share a car with your friends, you could save a fortune on running costs.

6)   Train not plane: Most places in Europe are easily accessible by train and you get to soak up the beautiful scenery and relax.

7)   Food Waste: Only make what you can eat, if you think you will have too much food one evening, invite a friend around for dinner.

I hope this blog has made you consider whether your environmental rights are being infringed upon. And whether there is a way you can hold your local politicians to account and mobilise your friends and neighbours to create your own resilient low carbon community.

Note:

* I have been recently reading a book called; ‘How Bad are Bananas’, which is about making smart choices in all areas of life to reduce your carbon footprint, I have found it useful and would recommend it.

Dangerous Times Call For Radical Green Solutions


Following last week’s Green Party conference, The Guardian released the first in a series of videos focusing on the politic party conferences. Our video was called; ‘The Greens are turning into a force on the radical left‘. If I were being a bit pedantic, I would argue the choice of this title, as I believe we are turning into a broader political force not just one confined to one side of the political spectrum.

This years Green conference saw the newly appointed Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, give a powerful maiden speech. In her speech she did something you certainly wouldn’t hear David Cameron or Ed Miliband doing; she asked Green Party members to hold her to account on her promises made for her first 100 days in office. She also spoke on how Labour hasn’t changed and the coalition has picked up from where Labour left off. And I was also personally delighted to see Natalie invite dialogue with the trade union movement.

For me the Greens and unions working hand in hand feels like a natural fit, as we share the same desire to create a fairer society and strong public sector. We both wish to see efficient and affordable public services run with the interests of the general public at heart. We both believe in a fairer society whereby those who caused the financial crisis bear the brunt not the poorest in society. We both wish to see proper wages paid to those who get up every day and work for the benefit of the people not multinational corporations. I am talking about nurses, teachers, bus drivers, care home workers. These are the people who make Britain tick and these are the people the governments misguided austerity drive is failing to support. The Greens and Unions have that common bond of wanting to create a fairer society and this is a relationship I hope we continue to strengthen.

In her speech Natalie importantly also touched on how our planet is under attack. I know I am not the only green who has despaired in recent weeks at the bizarre discussions in government surrounding environmental issues. Our government are obsessed with airport expansion, cutting renewable subsidies like they have done with wind farms and pursuing fracking despite the European Commission publishing a report saying ‘drilling for shale gas poses “high risks”, worse than those posed by other fossil fuels’. All of this at a time where we recorded the lowest Arctic ice levels ever and 80% of agricultural land in the US is facing drought. And those environmental shining beacons of responsibility, Shell, head off the Arctic to drill for oil with no credible plan on how to stop leaks.

I feel excited about the potential of The Green Party under the leadership of Bennett. She wasted no time in attacking the neoliberal shock doctrine politics which binds the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems together. Yes us Greens may be seen as radical by the mainstream media, however we live in the time of an environmental crisis and we need radical solutions to the challenges we face.  If we’re to tackle climate change and create a low carbon future filled with green jobs, low carbon travel and sustainable local food solutions, it will require a radical reshaping of our economy and the ending of our obsession with growth. Recognising we live on a planet with finite resources and ecological limits is the first step to doing this. The Greens and many leading economists have recognised our growth obsession isn’t a long term strategy. The question is when will the other parties wake up and do the same?

Where is our clean energy future?

Last week it was announced that Tory led government are reducing onshore wind farm subsidies by 10%. Ed Davey the Energy Secretary reportedly lobbied hard to against the treasury who were pressing for a 25% reduction in subsidies. In the Guardian it was reported that if Mitt Romney is elected to the White House he will completely scrap all subsidies for the wind industry.

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All of this hostility against renewable energy is plainly bizarre and highlights the cosy relationship between the fossil fuel industry and leading politicians.

The real question has to be; what is driving this hostility towards renewable energy sources. In the UK it wasn’t so long ago that the Conservative party were changing their logo to a tree and telling voters; “vote blue, go green”. The Treasury continues to talk of up the green economy but actions like cutting wind subsidies contradict this rhetoric. The FT reported that George Osborne in a letter to Ed Davey revealed that the government would use “renewables trading” to hit its 2020 target for carbon emissions cuts rather than generating all the green power domestically.

It was recently revealed that Osborne’s father in law ‘Lord Howell’ a former Energy Secretary under Thatcher is the president of the British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE), which is sponsored by Shell and BP. In an article by the Independent it was also revealed that Osborne hasn’t met with a single representative from the renewable energy industry, whilst he has found time to meet with 8 representatives from the oil and gas industry. Behind Osborne’s clear scorn for environmental concerns is the Tory obsession with the un-conventential gas extraction of Shale Gas better known as ‘fracking’.

Fracking has been widely explored in parts of America leading to wide spread environmental damage and latterly partly due to Josh Fox’s film Gasland wide spread protest. Fracking has been proven to contaminate rivers and drinking water so that people can set tap water on fire. It has also been found to  cause earthquakes and will scupper any attempts to meet our carbon emission reduction targets. And the extraction of shale gas is only the start of this dangerous dash for gas, almost more worrying is the plans to burn coal bed methane.

As a member of the Green Party, I’m proud we are opposed to fracking. Back in April Caroline Lucas perfectly summed up the danger posed by fracking. Caroline said; “If carbon capture and storage technology is not in place, burning just 20% of the gas which Cuadrilla claims to have found in its licence area in Lancashire would generate 15% of UK’s total CO2 budget to 2050”.

In the summer issue of the New Statesman, Michael Brooks has written an article called: We need to talk about fracking. One of the points he makes he raises is; Do we want to be part of a generation that doesn’t even bother trying to meet carbon reduction targets? Cuadrilla the main company carrying out fracking are expecting government permission to start extraction any day now.

Personally I’m scared by the short sighted approach to our energy future the government are adopting and fracking is a dangerous carbon intensive form of energy production. So what can you do to stop fracking happening in an area near you?

I recommend getting in touch with activist group Frack Off who have been organising opposition to fracking in communities across the UK and have a comprehensive website full of facts about fracking and plans for extraction. They are really great group of people and happy to come and speak to local groups about the dangers of extreme energy extraction.

With Osborne and the government firmly in bed with the oil and gas industry; we are going to have to unite in communities across the country to oppose fossil fuel energy extraction. Creating the low carbon future we desire will be difficult and will require, local campaigns, direct action and brave politicians prepared to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Because one thing is for sure currently this government isn’t showing any signs of doing that.

Notes:

1) Watch a free online version of Gasland

2) Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono protest song ‘Don’t Frack my Mother’

Working Class Heroes

I was going to write about plastic bags and how there is no excuse for a 5% growth in plastic bag usage as reported by the Guardian today. However I just read an interesting blog by Gary Dunion of Bright Green titled; Greens can either pay their leader, or be led by the rich and I felt compelled to respond.

The blog talks about Peter Cranie’s bid to become the new leader of the Green Party and the rumours that have been circulating that he may have to withdraw from the race if their is no salary guaranteed for the new leader of the party. Although Cranie has since made it clear that he has no intention of pulling out of the race.

The blog cites a demand of the Chartists, Britain’s first modern workers’ movement. Including the below.

“PAYMENT OF MEMBERS, thus enabling an honest tradesman, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency, when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the country.”

It would be a good idea for us to pay attention to the demands of the Chartists. I think this is a real moment of truth for the Green Party; Caroline Lucas being elected as our first MP in Brighton has given us a chance to demonstrate we’re capable making a valuable contribution to parliament. In the 2015 election we should be looking to elect several more MP’s with a target of at least 10 elected MP’s by the 2020 election. As the climate change crisis worsens the first people to be affected will be the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Our policies have fairness woven throughout and these will serve to protect those in the most need when the time comes. With the Lib Dem’s in disarray, Labour not offering any real alternative to the Tories austerity measures. The Green Party should be viewing the next election as a golden opportunity to increase seats.

To have a chance of doing this we need the best leader possible.  I would hate to think we may not get the best candidate as leader because the party was scrimping on the salary. A figure of £28,000 is mentioned in Gary’s blog, which is slightly above the national average. I can say having earned a figure around this a couple of years ago living in London, money was pretty tight and that is as a single person in a shared flat, let alone with a family.

We pride ourselves on being the party of fairness, we need to live by these words and pay whoever is elected leader a salary worthy of the position of Green Party leader. I would suggest using a relatively high level civil servants salary as the benchmark.

I believe we have replaced Labour as the party truly representing workers. We have the knowledge and compassion to implement a green economy which will create jobs throughout society. And we’re committed to reversing the climate change disaster we’re currently on course for. But as someone originally from a working class background, I would be sad to see the party essentially exclude candidates who are not independently wealthy.

I hope whoever wins the leadership contest is paid a wage fitting of the great responsibility the next leader will have in building on the success of Caroline as leader.

Notes:

1) This blog is response to the blog by Gary Dunion for Bright Green and quotes his blog in parts. http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2012/08/greens-can-either-pay-their-leader-or-be-led-by-the-rich/

2) I haven’t decided who I am voting for in the upcoming leadership contests.