A New Year e-message:

What a stunning year 2011 has been. Full of hope – and horror. 2012 will see the continuation of the year of revolutions in the Arab world, including probably the fall (most probably, I would guess, the death) of Assad – and I hope that real change will come to our continent, too. For, while we complacently think that we at least live in democracies, the truth is otherwise.

 

With the intensification of the financial crisis in Europe, which will I believe probably get much worse in the coming year, and with the coming to power of some ‘technocratic’ (read NOT democratic, tacitly very right-wing, pro-finance) governments, we cannot avoid now facing a defining question: _Are_ the nations of Europe really serious about becoming _democracies_ at all? I say ‘becoming’, because ‘Democracy’, etymologically, involves the people governing: Does anyone seriously believe that the people (rather than ‘the markets’) govern, today, in countries like ours? The financial crisis, and now the Euro-crisis, only make this elephant-in-the-room question all the starker, and a negative answer to it all the more obvious.
 The Occupy movement has arisen as a powerful response to this appalling undemocratic inegalitarianism: Europe‘s child, in a way, of the Arab Spring.

 So: I think it very important that we reject the widespread conservative/elitist failure to consider even for a moment the only way in which this crisis is actually likely to be solved: by a _deepening_ of democracy (rather than by its suspension, as has already pretty much explicitly happened in Greece and Italy). Here, the Occupy movement offers more than just inspiration: it offers an actual model. If our societies were actually allowed to become democratic, they would, I suggest, opt for a viable way out of the crisis, implementing the ideas offered by the likes of Steve Keen, Ann Pettifor, Caroline Lucas, Richard Murphy, and Nicholas Shaxson: a general debt jubilee, capital controls, real nationalisation or remutualisation of the banks, governments regaining control of the creation of money, a sustained assault on tax havens, a real Green New Deal, and so on. Whereas all that the technocrats will have to offer is yet more bailing out of the 1% and endlessly ruthlessly inegalitarian regimes.
  If we had more democracy, rather than less, then we might even finally have a Europe which would do right by us, the 99%. Imagine that…

  So: I think that 2012 will be a crucial year for determining whether we start to live in democracies, or whether we lose even what power and financial resource we currently have. 

 

  Meanwhile, the huge financial and political threat hanging over us can make it hard to think long-term. But that is what we must do, with regard to the even greater long term challenges facing us.

   That is why I wrote this piece, for Green House, on the attitude we need to have toward how to take care of the future: http://www.greenhousethinktank.org/page.php?pageid=gases . I hope you will find it a suitable seasonal offering…

 

 Solidarity for 2012!

                                                                                                Rupert.

Downing Street e-petition to eject Assad’s diplomats from Britain

The liberated regimes in Tunisia and Libya have closed Syria’s embassy there. It is time for Britain to follow suit…:
 
SIGN (as I have), and then spread the word! http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/25418 …To boot the war-criminal Syrian regime’s embassy out of Britain.
 
These Downing Street petitions can make a real impact – if they get thousands of signatories. Help make sure that this one does!
 
The Syrian army is killing its own people with impunity right now, in Homs: https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23homs . This is the least that we can do, to try to make sure that, before too long, the killers can ge stopped.

#Durban : The most positive part of the outcome

The beginning of the end for the Kyoto 'Annex 1' vs 'non_Annex 1' distinction is crucial. This opens the way for the starting-in-2020 climate agreement (or maybe 2017?) promised in Durban to be something modelled on Contraction and Convergence (or on GDRs, etc). This gives a crucial opening to achieve for the first time an agreement which encompasses everyone, is just, and is effective. So, although the long delay may well prove fatal, especially to AOSIS countries and LDC countries, we do now at least have a _chance_, for the first time, of achieving what we as a species need through the COP process.
So: one cheer for Durban.
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For all things Rupert, goto
www.rupertread.net

Think/Act longterm to stop #climate catastrophe: here’s how:

The dodgy deal at #Durban (essentially, nothing except promissory notes til 2020 – by which time it will be too late) sheds new light on the direness of the need for new political institutions that will robustly think and act long-term-ist. Check out my piece at http://www.greenworld.org.uk/page305/page305.html , for a concrete suggestion for what such institutions would/should/could look like…
Would guardians for future generations allow the present moment to slip by without starting to act to stop deadly climate change? I think not…

Evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, for their recent inquiry on consumption-based emissions reporting:

  

This submission:

·         Draws on the author’s political and journalistic experience to note and explore the failure of the previous Government to come clean about Britain’s rising carbon emissions, once one takes into account factors such as ’embodied’ emissions, and calls on the present Government to embrace honest full disclosure of the record, using a consumption-based emissions reporting system (and including in this air travel beginning in the UK, and some portion of sea travel);

·         Draws on the author’s philosophical research to note and explore the danger of taking ‘developing’ countries to be more economically ‘efficient’ as a reason for justifying under the banner of ‘globalization’ the ‘offshoring’ of industrial production there – because such offshoring is often carbon-inefficient, as consumption-based emissions reporting would make clear.

  

  1. For a period of years, I pursued first David Miliband and then his brother Ed, in the relevant government Departments, seeking to get them to answer the questions that I outlined at the links just below, concerning the crucial issue of embodied emissions and related reasons why Britain‘s seeming emissions reductions since 1990 have been delusive:See for instance http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=1616 & http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/05/22/the-miliband-commitment-to-climate-change-is-mostly-just-rhetoric/
  2. As I suggested in my more recent article on this at LeftFootForward (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/07/a-green-perspective-on-ed-miliband/ ), one possible way forward with this is for “emissions…to be counted where they originate, in the countries that can potentially control them.” However, I also noted that “Of course…it would…be perfectly possible to exercise significant control over them, if our country were willing, as I believe it should be, to control products’ entry into our borders partly on the basis of their emissions footprint.” (I would urge the Committee to consider this point: that it is not enough to assess emissions on a consumption basis… We should also control what products we import on the basis of those assessments.)
  3. I received no answer from the Milibands to my queries as to the misrepresentation of Britain‘s record of emissions-reduction under Labour, until finally I managed to button-hole Ed Miliband in person: as briefly outlined in the LeftFootForward piece referenced above. The Coalition government has a heavy responsibility upon it (1) To be honest in reporting Britain’s record on emissions, which is in reality one of growth, not of reductions, and (2) To change to a system of consumption-based emissions measurement. 
  4. My current philosophical work, done in part in co-operation with UEA’s environmental scientists, and in co-operation with colleagues in the Green House thinktank (see Jonathan Essex’s submission from Green House, for detail), focuses on the needful effect of our reaching and breaching the social and ecological limits to growth (notably, the limits on the carbon-absorptive capacity of the atmosphere, without dangerous temperature-rise and chaotic climate effects) on our politics and our economy (See e.g. my recent published academic papers referenced at http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=3100 .)  One crucial moral of this work of mine (and of the current work of my student, Ruth Makoff) is this: That it is disastrous for our chances of maintaining climatic ecological viability that we continue as a society to measure efficiency with reference to minimising labour costs rather than with reference to minimising material throughput (i.e. minimising ecological impact). This can be swiftly illustrated in a way that is directly relevant to the current inquiry of the Committee:
  5. Very roughly, over the past 20 years Britain has exported a very large amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to China. These emissions, produced in China and consumed in Britain, are not counted at present in Britain‘s GHG emissions figures. They are counted in China‘s. When one studies China‘s GHG emissions figures relative to China‘s GDP and other economic indicators, one finds that the energy- and emissions- intensity of production in China is far greater than that in Britain. In simple terms: Production has moved to China, because of the cheapness of Chinese labour. But, viewed in terms of the global ecological economic efficiency, this is a crazy change to have made, because, though Chinese production is ‘efficient’ relative to labour (because China is, as Tony Judt aptly phrases it, a ‘low rights’ country, where labour is treated more brutally than here), it is inefficient relative to energy and emissions. It is only because the latter are not priced in any remotely-adequate way (to reflect the damage of climate-dangerous emissions, not to mention the using up of scarce hydrocarbon resources), and not rationed or capped at all, that production has moved to China in the first place. It would have been more rational, considered from the point of view of the global ecosystem and the political economy of the world in the context of that limited ecosystem, for much of this production to have remained in Britain (and in the U.S., etc.), and only for industries which are labour-intensive but NOT energy- or emissions- intensive to have migrated to China.
  6. This massive global irrationality has been concealed from British voters and consumers because of the way in which emissions are counted (in the place of their production rather than of their consumption), because of the fact that they are barely if at all registered on products, because of the fact that they are not controlled at all at point of entry, and because it is convenient for British political elites to downplay this irrational inefficient exporting of emissions (See above for my account of the Milibands’ downplaying of this.).
  7. This must change.

Submitted by Dr. Rupert Read, Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and Co-ordinator of Eastern England Green Party. (Note: This submission is not made on behalf of UEA, though it does draw at one point on my own academic research.)

An Inconvenient Truth 2 on TV tonight – 8.30pm

This film made by a former student of mine is WELL worth watching:

Tonight ‘An Inconvenient Truth 2 – A film about the world getting better’ premieres on the Community Channel at 8.30pm, Sky 539 and Virgin 223.

The series continues next Wednesday at the same time and on Wednesday 21st.

If you don’t have Sky/Virgin you can watch the series on Freeview 87 on January 15th/16th/17th at 6am. Or watch online at www.jackguest.com from December 10th.

To watch the trailer and an interview the director did with BBC radio Gloucestershire go to www.youtube.com/agreatfilm

The follow the series and movie on Facebook go to www.facebook.com/aninconvenienttruth2

And if you want to buy the director’s cut on DVD with special features (including a 2nd film) email dvd@jackguest.com with your order – the cost is £9.99 including postage.

 

If you can’t watch tonight or the following Wednesdays the series repeats on Sky and Virgin on The Community Channel, Sky 539, Virgin Media 233:

28th December 8.30pm – An Inconvenient Truth 2 – Episode 1
4th January 2012 8.30pm – An Inconvenient Truth 2 – Episode 2
11th January 2012 8.30pm – An Inconvenient Truth 2 – Episode 3