ONEWORLD NEWS: Welcome to 2012!

[For more, goto oneworldcolumn.org ]
As the struggle for global resources – energy, minerals, agricultural land, water – increases we’ll look at the the widespread pressure for social justice and protection of the earth. As the corporate control of the world tightens (1%), we’ll reflect on the collective people’s movement for democratic change, that began in 2011, with the (99%) protesters of the Arab Spring, continued with the indignados of Spain and Greece, and the Occupiers of Zuccotti Park in New York and hundred of cities around the world.

As the government continues its austerity drive and support of the City of London and the banks, we’ll keep supporting those involved with land rights, community ownership, and defence of our public services. As well as facing the hard and difficult issues, we will include the positive moves that are changing the restrictive patterns within our social fabric. We’ll be looking at the grassroots movements that create an alternative infrastructure as the global economic systems falter, a “downshift” culture of sharing resources and skills: neighbourhood energy schemes, community kitchens and CSAs.

We will looking at the bigger picture set within a local framework and highlighting subjects that are often ignored or minimised in mainstream culture, from climate change to nuclear energy. We will be making links between all these subjects in order to further strengthen our common intent to bring about a fair, sustainable and connected OneWorld. Hope you will join us!

Writing on the Edge, 2011

In 2011 we relaunched ourselves as a blog with a party at the EPIC Media Centre in Norwich and decided we would keep posting our columns each Saturday and also invite guest writers to contribute and include occasional news and events posts.

We started the year reporting from the front line of the cuts, as February demonstration in Norwich rallied on the steps of of County Hall. Guest writer, Andrew Boswell wrote about the closure of essential child protection services, Jan Ainsley about the threatened NHS and Mark Watson about the Lowestoft Against the Cuts Public Workers Strike Rally later in November.

2011 was an activist year, in which progressive groups came together as never before. and though we continued to write on traditional OWC issues, such as military and nuclear power, there were unexpected events started to appearing in the world and in our columns – most strikingly the people’s movements in the Arab nations and the Occupy movement in the West. Trevor Philips wrote from the squares in Athens, Charlotte Du Cann from Hay Hill about Occupy Norwich. It was a year where the word capitalism no longer belonged to the rhetoric of the left. Everyone started to look at the economic system by which we have lived our lives, about systemic collapse. about ethical responsibility and solidarity. Mark Crutchley reflected on financial tipping points and peak oil, Rupert Read asked: Are we a consumerist or a producerist society?

None of us had any anwers.

But one thing we knew: like all civilisations. who have risen and fallen, our future will be determined in terms of our relationship with food and energy. As land grabs increase in Indonesia, Africa and China and climate change destabilises the growing patterns of many of of world’s staple crops, we looked at the depletion of fish in the oceans, the diminishing water tables. protests against the proposed introduction of GM farming into Britain and the agricultural lobbying that goes on behind the scenes. We looked at the way food is considered as a commodity and speculated on in the global markets and the warning signs of collapse in the decline of bees and the negative effects of factory farming on our collective health and well being.

Some of our 2011 posts concerned peak oil and looked at the accountability of the companies still making huge profits from fossil fuels the cost of the environment, the climate and local people. At the same time we celebrated the resistance to this, such as the KEYSTONE XL Pipeline campaign. This protest against the unconventional tar sands oil had its first success last year as 10,000 people surrounded the White House and the proposal for a pipeline from Canada-Texas was delayed, awaiting further research. This was the biggest environmental protest in the United States since the 1970s and over a thousand people were arrested including 350.0rg organiser Bill McKibben and James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist.

There was also widespread protest mounted against “unconventional” shale gas extraction using a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, which halted excavations in many places in the US and also in Britain where the process is being trialled in Lancashire. There were several national campaigns launched, as the countryside came under further threat for housing and road development (not least in the local NDR proposals) and bio-mass and biofuel power stations planned to be built around the British coastline. Increasingly it became clear that these moves were sparking a popular re-engagement with politics and ethics, that had almost disappeared from contemporary culture. Reflecting on these shifts, we considered putting ourselves on the line and creating an alternative to the mainstream media that insists that the world will thrive when economic growth returns in a business-as-usual paradigm. We know it won’t.

But it might just thrive for other reasons.

If you would like to contribute news or features to the OneWorld Column please get in touch at oneworldcolumn AT gmail.com

Occupy Earth poster at Keystone Pipeline protest outside the White House; the ST Valentine’s Unneccesary Massacre; Chevron lawsuit in Ecuadar, Amazon Watch; at Lowestoft Fair Pensiions rally; the AIRPLOT at Heathrow, reclaiming the field by Grow Heathrow
.

Saudi’s Hidden Energy Crisis

Now it gets interesting/terrifying…:

 
Chatham House, Independent thinking on international affairs
Middle East and North Africa Programme Analysis
MENAP banner
The Energy, Environment and Development Programme at Chatham House has published a new report on energy security in Saudi Arabia:  
 

Burning Oil to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia

Programme Report by Glada Lahn and Paul Stevens, December 2011.

Key points:

  • Domestic energy demand growth in Saudi Arabia is cause for international concern. If it continues at the current rate, it could jeopardize the country’s ability to stabilize world oil markets.
  • Given Saudi Arabia’s level of dependence on oil revenues, excessive consumption will cause economic and social pressures long before oil exports end – within a decade if nothing changes.
  • Current policies are not enough. Planned additions of renewable power supply would help maintain the fiscal balance for an additional two to three years; given the lead times nuclear power would have little or no impact.
  • Huge economic, social and environmental gains from energy conservation are possible in Saudi Arabia but the long period of low prices and the bureaucratic structure of the state present several challenges to implementing effective pricing policy and regulatory measures.
  • Fear of confronting these challenges has deterred meaningful government action in the past. However, some immediate, targeted investments could produce effective results even in the absence of price reforms.
  • Raising prices is politically difficult but international experience can help in preparing society through a range of efficiency, educational and infrastructure adaptation measures to smooth the transition. This must be done within a package of measures that increase private-sector employment for Saudi nationals.
Read the full report >>
Further Resources
     
Future Trends in the GCC Countries | MENA Programme Project
We are starting a new stream of work focusing on future scenarios for the political and economic development of the GCC states, and this webpage brings together our most recent analysis and reports on the region.
     
Keeping it in the family | Article for Foreign Policy by Jane Kinninmont | November 2011
Senior Research Fellow Jane Kinninmont explores the dynamics of the Saudi royal succession.

Investing in Renewable Energy in the MENA Region: Financier Perspectives | Energy, Environment and Development Programme Working Paper by Kirsty Hamilton | June 2011
This paper finds that there is significant interest in investing in renewable energy in the MENA region, but financiers would like more clarity on policy from regional governments.
The Political Outlook for Saudi Arabia | MENA Programme Workshop Report | May 2011
This report summarises discussions which covered both Saudi domestic politics and Saudi Arabia’s position in a changing Middle East.
About the Middle East and North Africa Programme

The Middle East and North Africa Programme carries out in-depth research and convenes discussions on the politics, societies, economics and security of the region.

View more information on:

For further information about the MENA Programme, please feel free to contact Kate Nevens on knevens@chathamhouse.org or +44 (0)20 7314 3624.

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Film of the last major sea surge

The East Anglian Film Archive has just released on the web a thirteen minute film of the 1953 East Anglian Sea Flood. It can be viewed by going to  http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/205529  Check out the first couple of minutes of it!
 
This will bring back memories of fifty-nine years ago to many mature people, and hopefully act as a stark warning to those who are now aiding and abetting the loss of our sea defences…
 
[H.T. Pat Gowen.]
 
 

My ‘Guardians’ proposal in the GUARDIAN

My new ‘guardians for future people’ proposal [that Caroline Lucas will be hosting a meeting on next week with me in the House of Commons] is in The _Guardian_!: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/jan/04/climate-politics-future-generation-justice?intcmp=122
[‘Guardians’ in The Guardian ; makes sense, I guess…!]
Do comment below the story there, if you have a comment. (Especially a nice one! 😉

My report launching at ‘Green House’ Parliamentary event next week

   Radical thinktank report calls for institution of ‘guardians’ for future generations

 

In a new report to be launched at the House of Commons on 10th January 2012, Green House think tank Chair Dr. Rupert Read (that’s me! 😉 will propose radical constitutional reform to Parliament in order to create strong ‘guardians’ to protect future generations’ basic needs. In order to actualise this, the ‘Guardians for future generations’ report suggests creating a ‘super-jury’, picked by chance (as juries are) from the population at large, charged with preserving the basic needs of future generations, to be placed above the upper house.

 

The Guardians’ central powers would be a veto over new legislation that would damage / compromise the basic needs of future people, and a right to force a review of existing legislation that is already damaging their basic needs.

 

·         The ‘Guardians for future generations’ report will be launched at 5pm [for 5.30]on January 10th 2012, in Committee Room 5, House of Commons. The meeting will be hosted by Dr. Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party, and will also be addressed by Jon Cruddas MP of Labour and by Government Minister Norman Baker MP. Representatives of the ‘Alliance for future generations’ and the ‘Intergenerational Foundation’ will also be on hand to offer backing to the issuing of the report.

·         The guardians report can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/guardians-of-the-future/18743272 . By Jan. 10, it will be available for free download online at the Green House website.

·         Further information about Green House think tank can be found at http://www.greenhousethinktank.org

 

Summary of report findings:

 

‘Democracy’ means ‘government by the people’; but who are ‘the people’?

Society exists over time and decisions taken today can have significant consequences for people yet to be born. This report argues that the interests of future generations should be formally represented within our existing parliamentary democracy. In other words: Future people should be included among ‘the people’.

Building on the precedent of Hungary‘s innovative office of Ombudsman for Future Generations, the report proposes the creation of a new legislative structure – Guardians of Future Generations. The members of this body would be selected by sortition, as is current practice for jury service, in order to ensure independence from present-day party political interests.

The Guardians would have a power of veto over legislation that was likely to have substantial negative effects for society in the future, and perhaps also the right to review major administrative decisions which substantially affected future people and the power to initiate legislation to preserve the basic needs and interests of future people.

[The report argues that two facts make the proposal especially timely; first, the government’s intention to become ‘the greenest government ever’, contrasted with its closure of institutions designed to maintain our ecosystems for the future; second, the current process of radical constitutional reform (most notably, potential democratisation of the House of Lords).]