Environmentalists and green activists in Norwich have been coming together to discuss ways in which the city could address climate breakdown, and how, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city could ‘build back better’. Green New Deal UK’s Norwich hub is part of a nationwide network of groups hoping to combat climate breakdown. Describing a Green New Deal (GND) as ‘our map for a future worth fighting for’, they have five key goals they hope to achieve within the next decade, which they describe as ‘a fork in the road for humanity’.
By Sean Meleady
Norfolk people are rightly proud of the beautiful countryside and unique habitats which attract many tourists to the county. However, Norfolk’s environment and ecological sustainability are threatened by two planned developments located just outside Norwich: the Norwich Western Link road and a proposed new housing development near Thorpe St Andrew which threatens three local woodlands.
By Henry Webb
Higher Education institutions have the power to decide whether the fossil fuel industry lives or dies. The dominant players in the energy sector may seem unstoppable. After all, as long as the oil keeps flowing, they’ll find someone to buy it. Their lobbyists will make sure of that. But these behemoths require resources beyond those of just the raw coal, oil, and gas that we are so dependent on – they need capital. Without investment banks to finance everything from pipelines to offshore rigs, the costly infrastructure needed for fossil fuel extraction just wouldn’t exist.
By Lewis Martin
Content warning: mentions transphobia
As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.
By Olivia Hanks
Between 2013 and 2019, an era of ‘austerity’, most of us noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of our public spaces and infrastructure – existing roads and pavements not maintained, school buildings getting shabbier, public facilities closing. During that period, Norfolk County Council oversaw at least £725m of funded infrastructure projects. Incredibly, more than £650m of this was for building or widening roads.
In early July, Extinction Rebellion UK released a statement discussing their “relationship with the police.” They explained how they now recognise that their tactics of civil disobedience and mass arrests have been insensitive to and “have excluded Black people, other communities racialised as non-white, and other marginalised groups and contributed to narratives that have put those communities at risk.” They also apologise that this recognition has come so late.
By Howard Green
Since 2018, cities across the globe have had many of their Fridays dominated by the vibrancy and passion of youth climate protesters. It’s a testament to the radical attitudes of Norwich’s young population that such large crowds have flocked to the city centre to protest against the current climate regime. Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic has dried up physical activism in the city for the time being. There is a serious risk that this pandemic may lead to the voices of young people, especially those in secondary school and sixth form, being silenced within Norfolk and across the country. We must diagnose the problem if we are to move forward and continue on in protest.
“Fire, water and government know nothing of mercy.”
The climate emergency is becoming increasingly obvious, with weather events wreaking havoc both near and far. Increasingly uncontrollable and expansive fires continue to burn across many global regions. Heavy rains have brought flooding, endangering small communities. Droughts dry out forests and land, leaving livestock and livelihoods at risk. The demands of human society are taking their toll. Yet even as climate change finally takes its place at the top of the agenda for many countries, those who are the worst carbon emitters continue to fail in their duty to protect their citizens. Economy remains the priority for government domestic policies across the Western world and beyond.
by Lotty Clare
The environmental and climatic impacts of war and conflict have long been silent causalities. Environmental implications throughout the timelines of conflict are huge. From deforestation, mining for metals, use of chemical weapons, ‘scorched’ earth tactics, plunder of resources, and collapse of environmental management systems. Natural resources can cause war, fuel war, and be destroyed by war.
The only way to make the word ‘politics’, that great indicator of all manner of corruption and trickery, more contemptible is to plonk the word ‘student’ in front of it. It almost feels like you‘re not pronouncing ‘student politics’ right if you do it without a sneer, or at least a shudder. Student politics has an image problem.
Between 2013 and 2016, the Ebola virus raged through western Africa, killing over 11,000 people. A lack of preparedness, underfunding for health facilities and the stigmatization of infected individuals led to the spreading and an inability to combat the virus sooner. Nevertheless, it managed to be contained. Now, however, it risks spreading again, this time reappearing in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moving towards Uganda. Having already claimed more than 1,500 lives, the promise by world leaders that this would not happen again is ringing hollow. The actions that were supposed to speak louder than words have failed to materialise and once again, the rest of the world looks on while Africans die.
by Sean Meleady
Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.
By Lewis Martin
Over the last few weeks, UEA Students’ Union has received a number of comments from certain students on social media, complaining about it being ‘political’ and choosing to take political actions such as organising boycotts and funding students to travel to rallies. The SU is also being accused of acting undemocratically for taking these actions. Whilst these accusations are nothing new, in these recent cases the accusers are creating an obscure binary on what the SU can and can’t be seen doing, with a particular focus on only serving certain students’ needs.
by Craig Adlard
This year’s War of Words – The Progressive Media Conference welcomed a panel of four activists to discuss direct action and concerns surrounding the current activist scene. While noting that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) is in some way appreciated, one major theme of the discussion was that XR is failing to take along vulnerable and minority groups. There’s a feeling that the movement is too white and middle-class, and is unsettlingly weak on climate injustice messaging. As someone on the radical left but also actively on board with XR locally, I wanted to write this piece to largely reaffirm those criticisms, but from an insider’s viewpoint. Far from being single-minded and unreflexive, discussions within the group show that XR is very much seeking to learn and grow.
by Cristina Flores
Hugo Blanco – famously described by Latin American literary giant Eduardo Galeano as a man who was born twice. His first birth was in 1934, and he spent his early years living as a white boy in Cusco, a city where indigenous people were not allowed to walk on the pavement. Unphased by his skin colour, Hugo would play in the streets with his friends, speaking the local language of Quechua. Hugo Blanco’s second birth was at the age of ten. Upon hearing of a local landowner branding the skin of one of the peasants with his initials, Hugo Blanco, the ardent revolutionary was born. Such early consciousness of social injustice still fuels the man today, as I found out on the 27th February when I was lucky enough to attend an evening with Hugo, as part of the promotion of Derek Wall’s latest book, “Hugo Blanco – a revolutionary for life.” As a social activist myself, I was intrigued by what lessons could be learnt from a 20th century revolutionary legend.
Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.
by Jess O’Dwyer
The Earth is our nurturer, inspirer and protector, yet we are actively and consciously driving ourselves towards her (and our) oblivion. Extreme weather is the new normal: we’re chopping down trees faster than we’re planting them and we’re still burning fossil fuels despite the common knowledge that they are damaging to the atmosphere and are causing our own children to struggle to breathe.
By Sam Alston
The USA political scene is consumed by a battle between President Trump and Democrats who are desperate to recapture Congress. However, in the mountain state of Colorado a referendum – bitterly opposed by locally entrenched oil and gas firms – proposes restricting the exploitation of the state’s massive oil reserves. The campaign and its outcome stand as a test in seeing whether such restrictions could be a viable solution to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
By Laura Potts
Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to. The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. Visitors required evacuation from Yosemite National Park and wind threatens to fan flames in Sweden’s forests.
However, should we be surprised by these events?
The Norwich Radical aims to offer wide and fair coverage of both national and international politics, including elections, campaigns, and movements affecting local and wider scale policies. In light of this, we have contacted all the candidates standing in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections for The Green Party of England and Wales, asking them to explain their vision for the Party and the country. We will be publishing their responses over the week leading up to the elections.
by Leslie Rowe
I am deeply disappointed at the current state of British politics. For too long we have allowed a Tory minority to undermine our NHS, social services, local government, emergency services and indeed the full plethora of public services. The Conservative policy of forcing up the costs of services by privatisation and then cutting those services in the name of austerity, is a fraud being perpetrated on the British people, which the mass media have singularly failed to call out.
by Stu Lucy
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.
by Lewis Martin
On March 20th I had the pleasure of interviewing The Handsome Family as a part of their tour for the 20th anniversary of their album Through the Trees. I interviewed Rennie Sparks, half of the band’s duo, about the difference the band offers from the usual Americana band (and if they are even an Americana band), what it’s like releasing music under your own label, and if being in the spotlight makes their message more powerful.
by Stu Lucy
Immigration is a complex concept., Sophisticated issues such as this are often reduced to simplistic and narrow trails of thought that exclude some of the intricacies vital in understanding the true scope of the issue. In my previous article, I attempted a brief, but lengthy, outline of aspects of economic history that I believe laid a foundation for the increase in migrants choosing to leave their home behind in search of a life they perceive could potentially produce prosperity. Intrinsically entwined into this history is a mechanism of production that, since the ‘great acceleration’, significantly contributes to environmental changes within our global habitat.
It is through this lens that I wish to proceed with this second piece on immigration, as I touch on a demographic within migrant populations forced from their homes by climate change.
by Lewis Martin
This week, the government took the turn of the year as an opportunity to quietly announce the makeup of the board of the Office for Students (OfS), the new higher education ‘market regulator’ set to replace the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Naturally, it didn’t go unnoticed, and much has been said about the selection of Toby Young, infamous Tory party supporter. His appointment and the makeup of the rest of the board shows the absurdity at the heart of the body Jo Johnson has created, and why it will struggle to be taken seriously.
As the old saying goes, ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’. This week, a coalition of economics students, academics and campaigners gathered to get inside the piper-paying process – the funding of economics research – to create an economics fit for the real world.
by Lewis Martin
If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.
I can’t quite believe I’m writing this, but after 4 long years of campaigning, UEA has finally divested from fossil fuels. People and Planet UEA received the following statement from the University yesterday:
“Over the past 50 years UEA’s researchers have played a leading role globally in developing the science and understanding of climate change and links with carbon emissions. The University remains committed to reducing its own carbon emissions and is investing £6.5million to reduce our carbon footprint from 23,000 tonnes to 12,800 tonnes by 2020. We can confirm that UEA does not have any investments in fossil fuel companies.”*
by Colin Hynson and Matthew White
Four years ago, on the north side of Norwich, a new community centre came into life. Before that the Silver Rooms had been owned and run by Norfolk County Council as a drop-in centre for local older residents. In 2010 Norfolk County Council announced that it was selling off the building as a response to cuts imposed by the coalition government. A group of local people fought back determined that the building should carry on benefiting the local community. In 2012, the building became an Asset of Community Value (later used in the campaign to save the Owl Sanctuary). Norfolk County Council then abandoned the auction and said that the building could be run for the benefit of the community and the rooms were leased to the community for 25 years for a peppercorn rent of £1.00 a year.
Everywhere we turn to some sort of crisis or damage control is taking place. North Korea’s recent testing of a hydrogen bomb, the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Hurricane Harvey devastating parts of Texas, the cholera epidemic and famine in Yemen, the failure of Brexit negotiations, US President Trump’s ever divisive actions, the list goes on. Our global problems are racking up and cracks are starting to appear.
Many of these problems have been long coming, but are now gathering lethal momentum. The world seems to be constantly on edge, waiting with baited breath for the next catastrophe or attack, humanitarian or economical, to happen. New problems are being created or the foundations of future conflicts being laid. What is probably most frustrating is that many are avoidable.
Shades of Today: Picking Up The Pieces Post-Truth
24th June 2017 – 23rd July 2017
Intense political climates such as Trump’s Administration and Brexit negotiations often mobilise visual, performative and conceptual responses among artists an. In an age of the closely documented and widely circulated, consumers are often inundated with updates and headlines, discussing a breadth of facts and fiction. Centrum’s group exhibition ‘Shades of Today: Picking Up the Pieces Post Truth’ not only addresses this either/or dynamic but looks to physical and online spaces that seek to keep specific narratives hidden from public consumption. The small interactive project space, through smell, image and sound, calls into question our own understanding of agency and accountability.
By Olivia Hanks
Like many people I know, I have felt vaguely guilty about flying for several years now, on an intellectual level. I knew it was bad for the environment, but I was living away from the UK for a while, which at the time seemed to serve as a sort of justification.
Recently, though, my response to this issue has become much more emotional, more gut-level. The widely used aphorism about needing three planets to support your lifestyle has slid into focus: we are stealing. Stealing resources from the poor, stealing the future from the unborn. The view implied by our government and our individual actions – that it’s all worth it for the sake of those £25 tickets to Croatia – is sickening if you think about it for long.
Recent events have focused media attention on changes to the environment of Antarctica, brought about by both natural and anthropogenic effects. Yet the Arctic should remain higher on the list of priorities, for challenges it faces are not merely regional, but global.
The Arctic Council, which consists of the eight countries with territory within the Arctic Circle, produced a report ‘Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic’ (SWIPA), which stated the area of sea ice has decreased by over 50% over the past 30 years. The report goes on to estimate that the Arctic will be ice free by 2040 (although some other reports suggest 2037). Regardless of the exact year, the thickness of Arctic sea ice is falling dramatically. In the central Arctic ocean, the ice has declined by up to 65% between 1975 and 2012. It was in 2012 that the lowest area of was recorded, at 4.1 million square kilometres. The previous record was set in 2007 with 4.17 million square kilometres.
The calving of a 5,800 square-kilometre section of the Larsen C ice shelf has been recorded. Although it is only half the size of the largest ever recorded iceberg (B15 broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in 2000, measuring 11,007 square-kilometres), it nonetheless represents yet another loss of ice – not just in Antarctica, but globally.
By Olivia Hanks
Emmanuel Macron: enlightened, compassionate saviour of Europe, or sneering autocrat in the pocket of big business? France’s new president raised eyebrows across the political spectrum last week when he appeared to divide society into two: “successful people, and people who are nothing”. Macron was addressing entrepreneurs at the launch of Station F, a huge start-up hub based in a former railway station in Paris. Urging his audience to take nothing for granted, he observed that working in a station building would serve as a reminder, because “a station is a place where you mix with successful people, and people who are nothing.”
by Laura Potts
Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.
The Amazon contains just over half of the world’s remaining rainforest. Home to some 390 billion trees, one in ten living plant and animal species and annually absorbing approximately 1.5 gigaton of carbon dioxide, this rainforest is one of the last few significant land carbon sinks. The effects of climate change were demonstrated when the Amazon briefly lost its ability to absorb carbon dioxide during severe droughts in 2005 and 2010.
The Amazon has long been a poster-child for the environmental movement and its importance has never ceased, although other causes have taken some of the coverage and media interest away. The time has come to refocus on the Amazon before the damage becomes irreparable. The consequences of losing it would be globally catastrophic.
For the third time in a year an earthquake has rocked the political establishment, upsetting polls, pundits and precedent alike. Yet this time, unlike the division and isolation of Brexit, or the utter horror of Trump, we instead have hope. Snatching insurgence from the jaws of implosion, Labour and the broader left have risen to the edge of power. Yet whilst the election result was an excellent start, surviving the challenges our society faces will require much more. We need to build a movement which aims for nothing less than a complete transformation of our society. It is crucial now that we do not succumb to hubris or allow ourselves to be absorbed by the internal Conservative party debates – we need to use the time granted by their division to plan, organise and mobilise the movement that will transform Britain.
by Zoe Harding
Content warning: article mentions terrorism, (anti) abortion, homophobia, racism
So, the election was fun, right? Even if you didn’t vote Labour (and fair enough if you didn’t), watching Theresa May fall from an unassailable lead in the polls all the way to a humiliatingly hung Parliament, in a blizzard of vague soundbites, invasive and inadequate policies and flailing attempts to smear the opposition, was still rather viscerally satisfying in its own way. Early Friday morning saw a weird sense of relief from many who expected a Tory landslide.
Unfortunately, early Friday morning turned to mid-Friday morning, and then suddenly dove back into the bad old days, with the announcement that a desperate May government had decided to form a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to form a government.
by Laura Potts
We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.
by Joe Burns
27 km north of Blakeney Point in Norfolk there’s a wind farm called Race Bank. The project has been in development for over a decade and has just started producing electricity. After the first of 91 turbines were installed, the farm began to successfully generate electricity and will be able to support the electricity needs for almost half a million homes once all 91 turbines are finished and operating.
This is great news. Why exactly? Well the project will result in over 830,000 tonnes of annual CO2 savings and will operate for 25 years. Plus it’s good to see another addition to the UK’s already successful and world leading wind farms, and there are plans for more. It’s also encouraging to see major international energy companies fight for the biggest wind turbines possible, as when they are far out at sea, campaign groups can’t really complain about their views being ruined.
by Chris Jarvis
With Theresa May having all but called an early General Election, on June 8th, the UK will go to the polls for yet another vote that will have long-reaching consequences for the future of the nation, the third in as many years. For the people of Scotland and Wales it will be the fourth – and those living in Northern Ireland will face their fifth. Right now, our political leaders can’t seem to get enough of sending people trudging out to schools, churches and community centres to scribble little pencil crosses in printed boxes.
By Olivia Hanks
There were inspiring stories from Green parties all around the world at the Global Greens congress in Liverpool, but arguably one of the most uplifting came from Isabella Lövin. The Swedish Green Party spokesperson has been minister for international development cooperation since her party entered government in coalition with the Social Democrats in October 2014.
Lövin recounted how, despite being by far the junior partner in the coalition (25 seats in parliament to the Social Democrats’ 113), the Greens have brought about numerous changes in policy: “We have put forward a climate law obliging all future governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2045,” she told delegates. “We also have a broad cross-party agreement to have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040. And, mind you – without nuclear power!”
By Laura Potts
As spring approaches, so do the grasping hands of Easter and the shelves full of egg-shaped chocolate treats, in a hundred sizes and colours. But the main thing I notice as I walk through the supermarket is the quantity of packaging that comes with them. Each egg is sealed in plastic and stored in a cardboard box, and most come with other individually wrapped chocolates. The brightly coloured decorations upon the eggs and boxes are reminiscent of nature and the beautiful colours of spring.
The great irony, of course, is that the packaging boasting this decoration directly contributes to the destruction of that natural beauty. Through this attitude to resources, companies are investing in a ‘throw away society’, and future generations will have to carry the burden.
by Laura Potts
On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.
It seems like the world is going to hell. I look at my newsfeed and am presented with scenes that make me feel gut-wrenching desperation. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the last year has left us horrifically battered, and that we face a future where that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
By Laura Potts
More than 43 000 people come every year from overseas to study in the UK; a vast spectrum of people with differing backgrounds, cultures and interests/abilities. An international student’s experience of learning abroad goes further than just their degree. They encounter a different way of life that may enrich and enhance their own. They each bring with them a unique set of capacities, a wealth of ideas and innovative potential solutions that create a stimulating multicultural academic environment for all. But adapting in this way is often difficult, as I’ve learned recently speaking to international students at my university.
The Republican Party’s war on the environment has begun in earnest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers have . The . Republican senators have introduced a bill to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. The using the Congressional Review Act. The . The . Trump has promised to disband the Clean Power Act and the EPA website has removed all pages relating to climate change. Trump’s America First Energy Plan and, although the initial plan to has been withdrawn, proposals have been put forward to transfer federal land to state control. In the UK, the government is pushing forward with the intention to and even more. A report by the Energy and Climate Committee has predicted that the UK will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. The led to its operations being transferred to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, casting doubt of the ability to prioritise the environment over business.
by Laura Potts
Forget statistics, results and score tables – how much does the modern school system genuinely guide young minds toward a progressive and fulfilling future?
John Dewey, often called the father of modern western education, argued that raising children as obedient conformists, rather than individuals who think for themselves, is very dangerous for democratic society. In recent decades, generations of people have been brought up at a midpoint between these two extremes, raised to conform to individualism. This has provided support for dangerous social, environmental and political power structures which do not provide for the vital collectivist needs of our ever-more-globalised world.
by Tara Debra G
America’s National Park Service (NPS) has been catching a lot of attention in the press recently. After tweeting out pictures from Obama’s 2008 inauguration and Trump’s, the NPS’s twitter account was instructed to temporality stop using twitter. The account for Badlands National Park defied the gag however, tweeting out facts about climate change, leading to speculation that this was an act of criticism directed at President Trump’s past comments concerning global warming. So-called “rogue” accounts from NPS employers have since sprung up on twitter, though it should be said that the identity of the account-holders are not verified.
The election of Donald Trump and the result of the Brexit referendum have thrown the prospect of a greener future into doubt. Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and promise to boost the ailing US coal industry overshadow the current surge in renewable energy. The UK government’s decision to sell the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been attacked amid fears of asset-stripping.
Social media is full of individuals and climate groups recoiling in horror at the potential of such actions pushing back the advancement of environmental progress. Many are counting down the days until Trump’s inauguration and the eradication of environmental regulations that is predicted to follow. Yet is the future really as bleak as many would have us believe?
By Chris Jarvis
Yes, yes, we all know that 2016 has been an unmitigated cluster-fuck, with rising fascism, worsening humanitarian crises and intensifying conflict. In moments of darkness, many of us turn to the arts world – especially music – for comfort, for release, for explanation. With David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, George Martin, Phife Dawg, Erik Petersen, Leonard Cohen, Nick Menza, Greg Lake, Sharon Jones, and too many others all having passed away, many have found music to have also fallen on dark times.
That notwithstanding, 2016 has been a year of some undeniably and uniquely brilliant music too, especially music that espouses messages of a better world, of political analysis, of radical alternatives. Here are the 20 best of those radical releases from the past year.
by Olivia Hanks
Certain things are inescapable at this time of year. Overeating. Musical jumpers. Footage of the prime minister in wellies, assuring a street that’s under three feet of water that the government will do everything possible by way of assistance.
It’s high time we talked about our future. Forget about border control or the free market, they offer no insight. If we want this tumultuous, divisive year to mean something, we need to think bigger, bolder and shape our decisions around our vision. Let’s talk about an end to the draconian sweatshop conditions, imposed by the likes of Sports Direct, who have exploited free movement of labour to keep profits high and wages low. Immigration control is a quick fix and a distraction. They will always find a way to exploit and profit. What if instead we did away with these common low-skilled low-wage jobs, altogether. What if we put our faith in British industry again, but instead of labourers going down into the stuffy pits, lining their lungs with coal dust, they were breathing the cool, crisp air on the surface on a wind farm. I am talking about creating a thriving, prosperous renewable energy industry.
By Rowan Gavin
And they will run to the highest hill, consult their old books
Ask the dead mystics for wisdom they don’t trust
– Kate Tempest, Don’t Fall In
Kate Tempest’s latest album Let Them Eat Chaos is probably the most insightful and important work to be produced on this small island this year. On Monday night, Tempest and her band performed it in full, without interruption, to an enraptured crowd of strangers at the Waterfront in Norwich. Witnessing this storm of synths, bass, drums and words – words fleeting and clear as raindrops in a monsoon downpour – was an incredible experience.
by Olivia Hanks
The graph that emerged recently showing the unprecedented fall in global sea ice coverage was a chilling sight for many. Not, though, for Labour MEP David Martin, author of a European Committee on International Trade document celebrating climate change as creating new opportunities for the economic development of the Arctic”.
The comment, spotted and lambasted by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, might seem extreme in its suicidal logic: we’re burning down the house, but look, we can use the newly exposed rafters for more firewood!
by Zoe Harding
Content warning: As you’d expect, this article contains Donald Trump and all the associated bullshit that comes with him. It gets better at the end, but it’s still pretty grim. For a TL:DR, try Warren Ellis’ excellent Transmetropolitan comics, or this. Also contains strong language.
It’s not been a great year for fans of basic human decency towards people who aren’t white, straight, cis men. I’d list the crappy things that have happened on that front alone but I’ve got 800ish words and 2016 is going to get history books all of its own. Now, the self-proclaimed Land of the Free has elected a President who dog-whistled his way into power on a wave of fear, hate, intolerance and general bastardry. Well, great. All we need is a major natural disaster in December and then we’re on track for a nuclear war in January. Shitty things are already happening. Here’s a running list. (Note: The election is still recent. I hope these turn out to be sensationalist clickbait. I really hope.)
by Olivia Hanks
The green movement is a tough place to be right now. With the Conservative government announcing another environmentally disastrous policy just about every week, from Hinkley to Heathrow via fracking in Lancashire, cuts to renewables and planning deregulation, activists could be forgiven for feeling a bit despondent. But Adrian Ramsay, CEO of the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), is philosophical when I ask if morale has been hit by this wave of irresponsible policy-making.
by Chris Jarvis
Since coming to power under the coalition in 2010, the Tories have repeatedly paid lip service to the principles of democracy. David Cameron’s concept of the ‘big society’ was outlined in democratic terms, where local communities would be empowered to have control over public services and community projects. ‘Localism’ and rhetoric around extending local democracy were key components of both the 2010 and 2015 Conservative Party General Election platforms.
Ultimately though, the reality is far from the picture Conservative ministers and strategists are painting. Through Cameron to May, the Tories have repeatedly undermined democracy in Britain and we are far worse off as a result. Here are just seven of the many ways they have done this.
by Eve Lacroix
When travelling to a new place you know to anticipate that things are not the same as at home— and you will discover in which way quickly enough. This could mean hearing a new language, covering your head and shoulders when entering a place of worship, or drinking a different type of coffee. You may learn to point your feet away from the statue of the Buddha, eat with a fork and spoon, greet people with a kiss on the cheek, or even expect incoming traffic on a different side of the road. Keeping in mind all the differing customs helps to properly respect the historical, spiritual and cultural significance of landmarks, locations, or places of faith.
by Kelvin Smith
The last trip was just before the EU referendum; through France, Spain and Portugal, preoccupied with the possibility of a leave vote, but knowing somewhere deep inside that it would never, could never happen. So much for gut feelings.
by Sam Naylor
From the 8 – 24th of August I attended a Generation UK – India programme. The fortnight programme was organised between the British Council and the University of Kerala, which was founded in 1937, to engage 46 British students and graduates with a taste of Contemporary India: Culture and Society. The study placement covered a lot of ground, ranging from a lecture on Indian foreign policy to visiting their ancient manuscript library, to learning the state language of Malayalam and gendering Indian popular cinema. The course’s content was as diverse as the state we were studying in and the people who attended the study trip.
by Emmanuel Agu
Perhaps not in its inception, though undeniably, the climate change crisis is one of race. The protest today launched by the UK chapter of the Black Lives Matter (BLMUK) stands as a call to arms in opposition of worrying statistics of the UK’s Influence on both global climate change and the local effects — highlighting the disproportionate nature of these adverse affects on communities of colour in the west and world wide.
by Simon Ashley Cross
Never was it more important to have common sense for the common good in politics. The Green Party is having it’s biannual leadership contest and very much against the grain of the unscheduled bun fights of the other large parties there is no infighting, no bullying and no bricks thrown. The party will continue to respect our members and offer them a fair choice.
by Jonathan Bartley & Caroline Lucas
This week’s House of Commons vote to renew Trident and the scrapping of the Department for Energy and Climate Change are the latest reminders of the scale of the task we face together as progressives.
The future looks far more dangerous and insecure even than it did just a few weeks ago. The UN has found our welfare system seriously wanting. Over a million people still rely on food banks. And hate crime is on the rise.
By Clive Lord
I almost invented the Green Party. Well, I only re-invented it a few months after it had been founded circa Christmas 1972. I attended a meeting as an enquirer in March 1973, at which I agreed with every word of the four actual founder members: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had just published Limits to Growth, which explained that indiscriminate economic growth could not go on for ever on a finite planet. It got one important fact wrong, and missed one other, but the gist was and is correct, and according to the latest research by James Hansen, could be coming home to roost sooner than expected.
by George Laver
With the recent news that the Swedish government has backtracked on its pledges at the Paris climate agreement by selling off state-owned coal assets to private buyers EPH, now is a better time than ever to ask: when is it enough?
It should come as no surprise that governments will betray the public façade of agreement on positive terms. Such is the cycle of history. I am thinking, in particular, of the Paris Agreement that took place just last year. Not yet past its stage of infancy, and already it has been shot in the back. The selling off of a lucrative coal asset to private industrial proprietors has set a clear line for where their favour lies and where the climate — which has recently passed a dire milestone — sits in the rank of importance.
This agreement, climate scientists from Stockholm University have warned, will violate the terms of the Paris Agreement. Even so, it is not as if it can be claimed that the Swedish government has worked around loopholes in the agreement. At least if this were the case, with all technicalities applied, the government would not be violating the agreement — that is not to say that they would not be violating climate integrity. But even so, the case as it exists is one of straight up betrayal — and who else could we expect it from?
I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.
The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.
But it is not over. I will not let it be over.
Saturday. 9:30pm. I’m sitting cross-legged on the grass of Chapelfield Gardens, and all around me the Garden Party is still going strong. The Adnams Spiegeltent is a roar of chatter and noise, and beside it a large mechanical dragon — rather charmingly named Elsie — turns the air orange with the glow from her flamethrower-covered body. I’m not here for either of those events, great though they were. I’m here for Pedal-Powered Car Chase, a fifteen-minute performance involving inventive live music, a handful of plucky volunteers, and some exercise in the name of making us think.
by Benjamin Brown
On Tuesday May 3rd, there was an aberration from my normal routine. Rather than dragging myself reluctantly out of bed, I was up at dawn, tense and excited. Rather than preparing for a day of work, I was zipping myself up in a bright red jumpsuit and scrawling a contact number for legal support onto my arm with permanent marker. Today was the day I would join with over three hundred other protesters and take part in an act of mass civil disobedience against Ffos-y-Fran, the UK’s largest opencast coal mine.
Our convergence on this site, near the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil, was at the invitation of local campaigners from the United Valleys Action Group. We came to stand in solidarity with their fight against the mine whilst amplifying our call for green jobs and a future free from fossil fuels. An end to coal, and an end to the political intransigence that has delayed action on climate change for far too long.
by Olivia Hanks
The news that Royal Bank of Scotland has cut its investment in fossil fuels by 70% is only the latest in a string of decisions by high-profile investors to pull back from oil and coal. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has divested from companies that derive more than 30% of their sales from coal; and, last month, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.
The fact that both Norway and the Rockefeller family derive their wealth from oil has not been lost on commentators. Whether or not you consider it hypocritical to invest ‘dirty’ wealth in ‘clean’ projects (if so, what should be done with it instead?), the low price of oil and coal has offered a perfect PR opportunity with no financial sacrifice.
The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to be an active part within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they play an undeniably important part and to understand the political consciousness of the student movement, you need to, in part, look at the National Union of Students. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.
By Daniel Nikolla
I am a citizen of the world and I am the President of City and Islington College. Being a full time student, unpaid Student Union Officer and a non-EU International student in the UK is not easy at all! I take inspiration from the difficult things I have achieved in the past – Being an amateur to semi-PRO footballer from the age of nine, to moving to the UK aged 20. I also take inspiration from my family, who achieved so much in an oppressed society.
by Dorothee Häussermann
Last August, more than 1000 people rushed into one of Germany’s biggest open-cast lignite mines and stopped mining operations for a day. This action of civil disobedience went under the slogan ‘Ende Gelände — stop the diggers — protect the climate’; ‘Ende Gelände’ translates as ‘here and no further’. The campaign called for an immediate coal phase-out, emphasizing the urgency for DIY solutions to the climate crisis in the face of governmental inaction.
What is the problem? Isn’t Germany the paragon of energy transition? Aren’t ecologists and economists alike inspired by progressive policies such as the feed-in tariff that supported the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources? Even Naomi Klein’s film This Changes Everything depicts the German ‘Energiewende’ as a way to go forward. So what are these activists complaining about?
“The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I have never once considered giving up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total impunity I am vulnerable…when they want to kill me, they will do it.”
Berta Cáceres (2013)
In the early hours of Thursday 3rd March 2016 in La Esperanza, Honduras, an unknown number of assailants broke into the house of environmental and human rights campaigner Berta Cáceres and killed her. The only witness to the crime, Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican national, has been denied permission to leave the country with a 30-day immigration alert put in place against him. According to Global Witness, at least 109 people have been killed between 2010 and 2015 in Honduras, all with links to campaigns against a number of projects, including mining, logging and dams.
Something amazing is happening. We are finally talking about racism. And I mean really talking about it. We are asking why it is, that in the US, black people are targeted significantly more than white people in terms of police violence. We are talking about institutional racism, wherein every single year we see little to no racial diversity in the academy award nominations. We are talking about symbolic racism, in which academic institutions seem to see nothing wrong with commemorating racist historical figures. It is not a coincidence that these conversations are taking place at the same time because we are in the midst of a powerful international movement called Black Lives Matter, which is taking a battering ram to every single racist barrier you can think of. But it is also going for the ones you might not have thought of, because now it is forcing us to introspect as we examine the places we thought were free and open spaces.
by John Heathcliff
As each day passes, it becomes clearer and clearer that UEA’s relationship with sustainability is one of convenience rather than conviction. Revelations about over £10 million of losses from the failed biomass project on the campus and the recently mothballed ‘Generation Park’ in Norwich have demonstrated the fundamental ineptitude at the heart of decision making at the University. Grand, white elephant projects intended to bring significant reputational benefit to the institution as well as new revenues have become undeniable disasters. National media have run the story, highlighting the amount of public and student money spent on failed projects that could have instead been spent on education and effective research.
Looking at these errors in isolation is bad enough. If you join together the dots, it only becomes worse.
by Ella Gilbert
I’m writing this in something of a state of shock. Yesterday, following a hastily shortened trial, and alongside twelve others of the #Heathrow13, I was found guilty of aggravated trespass and being ‘unlawfully airside’ (as it’s known in the biz – whatever that biz may be) and told that it was “almost inevitable that you will all receive immediate custodial sentences”. Everyone else was evidently shocked too. There were gasps in the public gallery as this bombshell was dropped, and cries of “shame on you!” from supporters watching.
By Chris Jarvis
Hannah Clare is part of the first wave of ‘new Greens’ in the 21st century. Preceding the ‘Green surge’ of last year, these are members of the Green party, predominantly young members, who joined up some time following the Iraq war and before 2013. Many were frustrated by the drab political landscape in other parties, and by the seeming betrayal of the parties they might otherwise have supported – first the Labour Party over Iraq and subsequently the Liberal Democrats over tuition fees and the coalition government. They place political emphasis on radical social justice to compliment the strong environmental concerns of the Green Party while simultaneously acknowledging that the systematic and societal oppression of different groups of people is intrinsically linked to other political concerns. They often therefore call for an intersectional approach to tackling political issues. Over the last two years in particular, this generation of Greens has begun to have a more significant influence within the party, proposing and winning policy debates and having increased success in internal elections.
by Liam Hawkes
I haven’t read a lot of science fiction. I have only heard of a handful of authors, and probably couldn’t name many of their books. But as soon as I turned the first page of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, I was hooked. His beautiful philosophical musings – in Bill Johnston’s English translation – about the nature of consciousness, perception, and the environment struck a chord with me. Which started me thinking about how we interact with our own environment here on Earth, and how perhaps we could benefit from a revaluation of our ideals.
Were a report ever to come out claiming that the Houses of Parliament or Whitehall were at high risk of being flooded and severely damaged, you could pretty much guarantee that money would be found in a timely fashion to make sure those risks never occurred. So why are so many parts of Britain flooding despite experts providing advice on how to prevent it? Why do governments ignore experts? How often has this occurred and what effect have these decisions had? Have lives been needlessly lost?
Storms have mercilessly battered Britain, one after the other over this festive period, bringing with them severe and unrelenting floods. The scale of damage and devastation was unprecedented, but it was not unpredictable. We’ve seen these storms growing with intensity every year. And, whilst a few might naively blame El Niño for this recent bout, we know that climate change is the driving factor. The government and general public appear to have accepted this, but even so, whenever a frank discussion about the consequences of climate change is put forward, it seems to be met with some underlying scepticism. This systematic dismissal of the difficult questions leaves us wholly unprepared for what’s to come and the recent floods have served as a sobering reminder of this.
The Paris talks on climate change produced an agreement to keep global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius. Current predictions are for a rise of about five degrees Celsius.
Early in the New Year a decision will be made on whether to give planning permission for the biggest straw-burning incinerator in the world to be built in Norwich. It will be called Generation Park.
by Liam Hawkes
Most people never entertain thoughts about where their clothing has come from. The demand for fast, cheap fashion has overwhelmed the garment industry for many years now, having a devastating impact on millions who work in the confines of the industry; and similarly a devastating impact on the environment.
For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.
The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.
Steel is a primary component in infrastructure, vital to the effective functioning of modern, industrialised economies. It is used to make buses, bridges and buildings, as well as train tracks and in engineering for power generation, including wind. However it is also a core element in infrastructure and products damaging to our civilisation – oil rigs, cars, and polluting coal power plants.
We undoubtedly need steel, but what we should be using it for, whether we should be producing it in the UK, and if so how much we should be producing, is more than a question of skilled labour and production capacity.
By John Heathcliff
It’s 8.30 pm on 5th November 2015, and for the first time in over four years UEA students have gone into occupation, just outside the Vice Chancellor’s office. It’s a cold winter night, and it’s raining quite heavily, but the protesters – resplendent in orange jumpsuits – are huddled together under a blue tarpaulin, which is swaying in the wind. Banners and placards are hung across the railings of the square, with one proclaiming loudly: “DIVEST”. There aren’t many students around yet to see the occupation, but there will be more tomorrow, because the protesters are staying for 26 hours: each hour representing £5,000 of the money that UEA invests in fossil fuels. This is the UEA Fossil Free occupation.
By John Heathcliff
On Thursday October 22nd, a coalition of student run societies and campaigns are coming together to put on a debate on UEA’s investment policies, specifically in relation to the fossil fuel industry. Similar discussions are taking place all across the country as student activists organising under the banner of ‘Fossil Free’ are lobbying their institutions to end all financial links with fossil fuel companies on the grounds that such links are inextricably linked to the catastrophic effects of climate change. At UEA, students have been campaigning for over 2 years for senior managers to divest funds from the industry, and have garnered support, taken mass action and put significant pressure on the University.
“When the last tree has been cut, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught then we will find out that we can’t eat money.” Anonymous proverb
We look to politicians, policy-makers and leaders of industry for guidance and reassurance that the world we live in is being taken care of, for us to live in now and for future generations to enjoy. We shouldn’t bother. When it comes to the environment it’s hard to know where to turn to and who to trust. Donald Trump once tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” According to a Greenpeace report, the Koch brothers have invested about $79 million in anti-climate change research and like-minded groups. Last week saw the sale of National Geographic to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox whose news channel, Fox News, was found in 2013 to be only 72% accurate when reporting on science-related segments.
Here,in the UK, the Conservatives have cut support for onshore wind farms and solar installations and changed their minds about fracking on sites of scientific interest (SSSIs).to make any place fair game. New legislation ensures that the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) must change its selection process for members, potentially giving more influence to energy and fuel industry representatives and reducing the level of expertise available to the board. Meanwhile, going as far back as 2011, Florida officials within the Department of Environmental Protection were told not to use the terms ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability’.
In 2013 the UN Commission on Trade and Development released a report titled “Wake Up Before It’s Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate”. It recommended a rapid and significant shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food that depends heavily on external inputs such as nitrogen fertiliser, agro chemicals, and concentrate feed. Instead, it says that the goal should be “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development”.
US President Barack Obama recently gave an impassioned address at the US Coast Guard Academy:
‘I understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world, yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East.’
As expected, this speech was met with derision from the Republican Party and its media allies, claiming that taking further steps to help resolve the environmental issue could affect the US economy. It’s hard to see what steps Obama is taking to prevent climate catastrophe in light of recent events: the US Department of the Interior has allowed drilling in the Arctic region to go ahead, the Keystone Pipeline still remains a dangerously unresolved issue and land sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Yavapai-Apache Nation is about to be handed over to a mining corporation. While it’s business as usual for government-corporate relations, a growing threat is dismissed as scaremongering.
“The time has come for all good men to rise above principle.” Huey Long
In September 1999, the government of Bolivia relinquished control of the water of the city of Cochabamba to a business venture, Aguas del Tunari. Part of the contract required the building of a dam (a long desired vanity project of the city’s mayor, Manfred Reyes Villa) so in order to raise the capital, the price of water was raised by an average of 35%. In blissful ignorance of the workings and realism of Bolivian income and earnings, it was stated that “if people didn’t pay their water bills their water would be turned off.” Massive demonstrations began in early 2000 as the water rates took their toll on families and businesses. The Bolivian government declared a ‘state of siege’ and the demonstrators were met with brute force, warrantless arrests, limited travel and, almost inevitably, the death of protesters and soldiers. It was perhaps the televised recording of the lethal shooting of student Victor Hugo Daze that heralded the end. The business executives were no longer safe and fled the country. The government terminated the contract and demonstrators were released. While hailed as a victory for the people, half of the citizens of Cochabamba remain without water.
Last week Germany announced that 62 former military bases were to be turned into wildlife sanctuaries. While these sanctuaries aren’t going to make a huge dent in the ever-increasing IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this action is in itself representative of how some countries are taking positive steps where possible. The military bases could have been sold for real estate development. France passed new legislation that all new buildings must have solar panels and/or plants on the roofs, the Dutch government have ordered emissions to be slashed by 25% within 5 years, and in 2014, Switzerland topped the Environmental Performance Index as the world leader in challenging environmental issues. The United Kingdom came 12th, but with the forth-coming expansion at Heathrow, the cutting of subsidies to onshore wind farms and the determination to press forward with fracking, is the UK at risk of dropping further down the index?
by Indra Francesco – Earth First!
Walking into the field of my first Earth First! gathering was like coming home. At last, here were people passionate about the planet not only with a plan for how to stop its destruction but also for how to put into practice the world we want to live in.
There were around 200 people from all different backgrounds and ages, in a family friendly, low impact camping field for a week. There were workshops on everything you wanted to know about campaigning: gender politics, ecology, legal and security issues, tree climbing, using direct action as a tool, political theory – all run by intelligent, compassionate and experienced activists.
In our post-election society, the environment is no longer top of the agenda. Austerity, budget cuts, economic instability, and the public’s reactions to these things and others, flood the headlines and social media day after day. As the left continues to fragment after a brief period of unity and the many return to their various causes and movements, the environment continues to degrade. The political party manifestos that promised so much for the world around us lie abandoned in party and movement offices and usually a good few clicks away on the internet.
The Labour Party stated that tackling climate change “is an economic necessity, the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.” Maybe in 5 year time they will get to apply that statement. In the meantime, David Cameron recently commented that, “The UK is already playing its part, but we need to do more to get the private sector involved, fostering research and innovation into new clean energies, and supporting growth and jobs […] Quite simply, it’s time the market got to work on climate change.” Rather than think of the environment in terms of necessity for survival, Cameron clearly still sees the environment as a business opportunity.
by Klimacamp im Rheinland
In August, the 6th Climate Camp in the Rhineland (Germany) will take place. From the 7-17th August there will be 10 days full of workshops, networking, exploring sustainable lifestyles, and direct action.
Why a Climate Camp, anyway?
With its three open cast mines and five power plants, the Rhineland coalfield is Europe’s biggest emittant of carbon dioxide. The power plant Niederaußem alone emits about 29 million tons of CO2 per year. That is almost one ton per second — more than one person in Bangladesh causes in a whole year. While the ailing power company RWE can make a lot of profit with that, it means the loss of their livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people especially in the global south. This year’s Climate Camp will most likely take place in the immediate vicinity to the open cast mine Garzweiler, right where the destruction of the global climate begins.
Before I came to Norwich as a student and became properly involved in party politics, I grew up in Arundel & South Downs: one of the safest Tory majorities in the country. It might have been tempting to have painted my left wing politics as the product of rebelliousness or a rejection of the suffocatingly middle-class surroundings I grew up in, but the reality is something very different. My left wing views are not a rejection of a stale, middle-class, conservative environment, but a product of a very different kind of English socialism that was in abundance where I grew up. It is this countryside socialism which the Green party must tap into if the left are ever to win in Britain again.
by Dr. Hayley Pinto
About 18 months ago I had a life changing experience. I read the intergovernmental panel on climate change report. Before that I thought I was reasonably environmentally aware. I wasn’t. The more I have read, the more evident it seems that climate change is the defining issue of our age. We are on the brink of making our planet uninhabitable, for everyone — not just the poor, the vulnerable, people in Africa and Bangladesh, but also for the rich and privileged, those who have contributed to the problem and those who have not.
Climate change is not just a matter of global warming. A hotter planet means drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. These things are already happening. The 11 million people living in Brazil’s Sao Paolo are experiencing a drought so severe they are trying to drill wells through concrete in the city centre. California is in its 5th year of drought.
As we have seen throughout history direct action has been central to inspiring social change – at this year’s Mass Action Camp in Didcot, from 29th May to the 2nd June, Reclaim the Power are inviting you to get involved.
by Lindsay Alderton, Reclaim The Power
With the re-election of the first fully Conservative Cabinet in Downing Street for 18 years, many have spent the last few weeks reeling in shock, fearing what lies ahead in the oncoming months and years. The implications are severe — over the last five years we’ve had a crushing run of bitter austerity measures, job losses, scapegoating attacks on migrant rights, mass sales of social housing, over a million using food banks, and suicides over benefit sanctions.
At a time when the world’s leading scientific community are imploring us to keep fossil fuels in the ground, our environmentally hostile government is pressing ahead with plans to scrap crucial subsidies for onshore wind farms, as well as championing fracking and investment in North Sea oil.
by Liam McCafferty
Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?
by Freddie Foot
The dismal election results are not only apparently a victory for ‘blue collar conservatism’ but potentially also Blue Labour or a renewed variant of Blairism. Two of the initial favourites for the leadership of the Labour party, Chucka Ummana (who has now removed himself from the contest) and Liz Kendell, are Blairites, and the media has been a flood with Labours failure to connect with ‘aspirational’ voters and business.
Labour seems to be moving to counter what is admittedly a genuine threat of Blue Collar Conservatism driven by collapse of organised Labour and a relatively socially liberal Conservative party. This leaves a (by no means new) gaping hole fit for a truly progressive movement.
by Mike Vinti
It often seems today that everything exists in its own sphere — music in one box, politics in another, and visual art in another still. This is self-evident when you take a look at a lot of popular culture. For example, the rise of TV shows and films, such as The Interview, that use politics as backdrop for their plot, yet fail to engage in any substantial political critique.
The same thing has been taking place in music for the past twenty years, and musicians who have attempted to rectify this have either been relegated from their illustrious chart positions, or left to the underground.
This separation has made it harder for writers and artists of all stripes to experiment with the boundaries of their medium, and there’s been a death of explicitly political works of culture which make into the mainstream because of this. Of course, challenging the dominant perception of your chosen field always creates a stir. However it seems now, more than ever, musicians aren’t even being afforded the chance to do that.
by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.
Addressing Climate Change is a necessary part of social justice, not an optional extra for after the revolution, or the repayment of the national debt. It is the most grave of environmental threats, and the most vital of economic opportunities. Capitalism requires permanent growth of any kind, at any cost to anyone.
A fair world economy would concentrate on things that make life better, support the common good and don’t cost the earth.
by Sam Alston
You can probably be excused for failing to notice that commodity prices on the whole have been falling. The price of gold (19.5% fall over the year), wheat (20% fall), and oil (over 30% fall) on global markets have all dropped recently. This has left mainstream finance reporters rather excited. As with house prices rises, commodity price falls are apparently a fundamentally good thing. However it’s worth considering what this commodity price movement actually means.
Lower commodity prices means lower production costs for net importers of commodities (much of the western world), thus supposedly lower prices. The continual rise in the price of things like energy and bread that we have seen in the past few years should abate. Since it has been made clear over the last few years that society no longer guarantees the right to commodities needed to live (like food), a reduction in these prices would potentially be the best step to stop people starving.
Those of a more revolutionary bent, may be slightly disappointed. A high cost of living has helped to bring down dictatorial governments in places like Tunisia, helped prompt the occupy movement, and just last week promoted an uprising in Burkina Faso that saw the parliament burnt to the ground.
by Rowan Gavin
Climate change is the defining issue of our time. For once I’m resisting the philosopher’s urge to insert the word ‘arguably’ into that sentence, because right now I really believe it. My inspiration arose from the People’s Climate March which took place around the world on Sunday the 21st of August, and the creativity, commitment and love of the people involved.
Some months ago a coalition of climate activist groups announced their intent to organise the biggest climate change protest ever, centred around a massive march in New York. Certainly, as became apparent over the following weeks, they were creating the biggest publicity campaign for such an event that I personally had ever heard of. Inspiring videos and statements came flooding in from people all over the globe, from those whose lives were most threatened by climate change, to some of today’s most prolific and successful climate activists, and to those many compassionate individuals who simply felt they had to do something. Reasons to march, tales of previous protest actions, and reports of new additions to the movement sparked across the internet, in a slow but steady growth of solidarity and support.
Before I went to bed on Saturday night, reports and images from marches in time zones ahead of mine began to trickle in − tens of thousands were turning out in Australia, India, various pacific nations, and elsewhere. At 12.30 GMT+1 it was to be London’s turn.