Category Archives: Social

Trump: Appeasement or Resistance?

Climate Science takes to the streets

Climate Science takes to the streets

Today Theresa May will be meeting Donald Trump in Washington. In 1938 Chamberlain went to Munich to appease Hitler. There are parallels. Trump is emerging as a real and present danger to world peace and good governance and must be resisted and not appeased.

Donald Trump’s insane plan to build a wall along the Mexican border and get the Mexicans to pay for it is not surprisingly causing outrage in Mexico. The Mexican senator Javier Lozano summed it up: “The uncertainty is over. It is confirmed that we will have to deal with an arrogant and ignorant despot in the USA”.

It is humiliating that the British Prime Minister is going to grovel at Trump’s feet. Britain needs friends in North America, but Theresa May would be better employed meeting Mexico’s President Pena Nieto and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rather than wasting her time trying to influence Trump. It is at a time like this that we should be deepening and strengthening our membership of the European Union, not blindly blundering into Brexit.

Naomi Klein provides insightful analysis of Trump’s cabinet and the corporate capture of American political power. It is clear that the resistance of ordinary citizens will be crucial to uphold human rights, climate science and much else. As Trump tries to silence scientists they are increasingly resorting to publishing facts on social media. For Twitter users I strongly recommend following ClimateReality. As they tweeted this morning “It’s a sad day for democracy when stating scientific truths becomes a rebellious act”. Again very similar to 1930’s Germany. We must not appease Trump and stifle scientific debate.

The recent Women’s March was the largest single day protest in US history. Worldwide about 4.8 million people participated in over 500 marches in eighty-one countries. Marching is important, but it is only a small token gesture. We will need to organise globally online and face to face in our communities to have any chance of success, and get politically engaged. Globally most people want the same things: peace, cooperation, clean air and water, economic and physical security. The UN Global Goals are all easily achievable if we can unite and cooperate together to build a better future. To overcome the forces of ignorant and despotic nationalism civil society will have to get organised on a scale it has never before achieved. That is the challenge. Join in. Connect. Be a part of the change you want to see.

Uruguay: Well done!

Ramon Mendez

Ramon Mendez, until recently climate and energy minister of Uruguay and responsible for excellent policies.

Last week I blogged about who was showing leadership in reducing carbon emissions and mentioned that several small countries were well ahead of any of the larger countries. This week let’s just look one of them: Uruguay. Uruguay has a small population of only 3.4 million people whose per capita carbon emissions are a very modest 2.3 tonnes. Uruguay can hardly be said to be responsible for much in the way of climate change yet is certainly leading the world in helping solve it.

In Paris this week the Uruguayan minister of energy and climate, Ramon Mendez, pledged Uruguay would reduce its emissions by 88% by 2017 compared with a baseline average for 2009-13. An 88% reduction is something a few countries are contemplating by 2050 or thereabouts. To achieve it by 2017 will be an extraordinary achievement. However Uruguay is well on track to achieve this and to do so while reducing power cuts, bringing down the cost of energy and creating many economic and employment benefits. How are they doing it?

Uruguay has long had hydropower providing about half of its electricity, more in wet years, less in dry years. Formally the rest came from coal, oil and gas. About 7 years ago they brought in auction contracts, rather than feed-in-tariffs, for renewables and are getting very good value for money, meaning both carbon emissions and energy bills can fall simultaneously. The speed and scale of wind deployment has been dramatic, rising from 50 to 500MW installed capacity during 2014 alone. By early 2016 they expect to have 1.4GW installed: enough that during windy weather 100% of their electricity will come from the wind and that the hydro can be just used in less windy weather. Together the wind and hydro combination will provide the vast bulk of Uruguay’s electricity. They are also adding significant solar and biomass to the mix. Uruguay used to be a net electricity importer from both Brazil and Argentina: now they earn good money from exporting renewable electricity to their neighbours. As Uruguay decarbonises and modernises its energy system it is not surprising that it has hired in expertise from the Danish grid company Energinet, as the Danes have long been pioneering efficient, reliable, renewables based energy infrastructure.

It is extraordinary to think that just over 30 years ago Uruguay was a military dictatorship. Now it is one of the best governed countries on Earth. It scores very well on all the indexes of corruption, equality, literacy, social progress and tolerance. Under the sensible yet inspirational political leadership of Tabare Vazquez and Jose Mujica it is setting the standard for other countries to aspire to.





Lack of corruption

Per capita Co2 emissions

Carnage, Compassion & Community

Not in My Name, Rome.

Not in My Name, Rome.

Our hearts are with the people of Paris, Mali and countless other places, in the aftermath of the recent and ongoing carnage. ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram are currently the very embodiment of intolerance, yet Islam, for much of its history has been a force for tolerance and pluralism. It still is in many ways and the huge grassroots outcry against terrorism from the global Muslim community is a very hopeful sign, best seen in the ‘Not in My Name’ images and videos currently going viral on the internet.

Any religion or ideology can be usurped by the forces of violence and intolerance. Robespierre and the Terror had its origins in ‘Liberty, equality and fraternity’, Stalin’s terror in Marx’s ideas about social justice, the 30 Years War in rival interpretations of Christianity, current violence against the Burmese Rohingya is fuelled by hate speeches of Buddhist monks!

Love, compassion, tolerance and community are where hope lies. In a globalised World a global community is emerging which is ethnically, religiously, culturally and politically pluralistic, which seeks to embody the politics of hope, of tolerance and of love. No one organisation can represent such a huge and diverse process of historical change, but if I was to try and name one organisation that represented this mega-movement it would probably be the online and global community of Avaaz, tirelessly campaigning for a better future. In communities all over the World millions of grassroots organisations are seeking to improve things locally by applying these values of peace and pluralism, democracy and sustainability. The huge global rise and acceptance of inter-racial and same sex marriage is another manifestation of growing trend toward tolerance and pluralism.

The terrorists of ISIS have managed to unite the widest possible number of people against themselves. The UN Security Council unanimously condemned them, as did the Muslim Council of Britain and just about every other organisation one can think of. The hacker collective Anonymous has declared war on them, as has everyone from the USA to Iran, the Kurdish Pershmerga to Bashar al-Assad and Russia, the EU and USA are all dropping bombs on their strongholds in Iraq and Syria. I doubt if bombs will be very effective. This is a battle of hearts and minds. However if we all, the vast majority of humanity, can grasp the moment and recognise our collective solidarity, then and only then, will we build a better future. Let us all stand up together, for peace, for pluralism and for an inclusive and sustainable prosperity for everyone.

Not in my name and—the-solution-will-come-from-us-165741864.html