Monthly Archives: July 2012

The God Species

God Species By Mark Lynas

© Mark Lynas

Some thoughts on Mark Lynas’s book ‘The God Species: How Humans Really Can Save the Planet’

This is an important book and one I’d recommend: thoughtful, provocative and full of challenging insights and observations. He is very good at defining what are the real challenges facing humanity and rightly focuses on the Planetary Boundaries, which he (and the Planetary Boundaries Group) divides into 9 categories: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Nitrogen, Land Use, Freshwater, Toxins, Aerosols, Ocean Acidification and the Ozone Layer.

He makes a strong critique of the green movement and where it has gone wrong over the years. While much of his analysis is excellent he sometimes comes up with policy recommendations that I see as not the best. Two big issues illustrate this; nuclear power and economic growth.

Mark Lynas and a number of other former anti nuclear Greens are now avid pro-nuclear advocates. I think that they are right to stress that closing down dirty coal must be our top priority energy policy due to Climate Change. They are also right that many environmentalist groups and individuals have over-hyped the dangers of nuclear power. As regular readers of this blog will be aware I think 100% of humanities energy requirements can best be met via renewables. Oliver Tickell responds to Lynas and argues the case as to why the UK should invest in renewables and not in more nuclear power in the latest edition of the Resurgence/Ecologist magazine.

In relation to the dominant paradigm of maximum economic growth at whatever cost Lyans stresses that the Green movement has too often gone with the opposing paradigm of zero growth initiated in 1972-3 by Herman Daley in his Toward a Steady-State Economy. The pro versus anti growth dialectic I find exhausted. The intelligent versus suicidal growth distinction (first proposed by Stephen Harding in 2008) I find more useful. Arguing against growth makes no sense to those many millions struggling to get by and to improve their lot in the world. Defining exactly what is the most intelligent way to invest money that will help humanity move back within the Planetary Boundaries while also providing a good quality of life for the 9 billion or so of us humans soon to be sharing this unique planet of ours: that is the question facing humanity and one which I’d love to debate with Mark Lynas, Oliver Tickell, George Monbiot, Stephen Harding and others.

Oliver Tickell renewable_revolution_or_nuclear_nightmare.html

Stephen Harding and Growth

Putting our money in what we believe in

The banking crisis has been rumbling on for years, and trillions have gone into a global system that is no longer fit for purpose. The manipulation of the Libor rate is just the latest of many examples of unacceptable behaviour. Vince Cable, writing in last weeks Observer condemned the “incompetence, corruption and greed…endemic in British banking”. Adair Turner, chair of the Financial Services Authority has said that “The public are justifiably angry.” Too right we are! Ever since the beginning of this crisis I’ve been arguing that failing banks should be allowed to collapse: propping them up just creates ‘moral hazard’ and the encouragement of more reckless, stupid and greedy behaviour.

The top echelons of government, corporations and the banks often act to protect their collective self-interest, as the Occupy protest movement said; it is the 1% against the 99%. They have the power, but we have the numbers. It is up to us to get organised. It is time to put our money where our mouth is. It is time to disinvest from all those banks, corporations and political parties that we find most vexatious and to seek-out better alternatives.

The ethical banking sector is growing. Many of us have transferred funds to the Coop and Triodos banks, the Ecology Building Society, and others. Last week we had the AGM of the Leominster Solar Coop where we raised £150,000 from 94 investors to build the region’s first community owned renewable energy project. If we can get many thousand more such projects built over the coming years it’ll reduce carbon emissions while providing a meaningful alternative for those of us with a bit of money to invest. It will also get us into the habit of getting organised and using our resources in the ways that we believe to be right. All of which will help strengthen community cohesion and resilience. It will also help in some small way to redistribute political and economic power. Good news all round.