Tuesday, 30 September 2008


There is no better time to be thinking about how we can make Norwich a place that doesn't suffer from the depletion of oil
The 'Transition Norwich' group will be holding its 'Great Unleashing' (launch event) at St Andrew's Hall at 7.30 pm this Wednesday evening (Oct. 1st). [See http://www.transitionnorwich.org/ for details.]

Speakers at the Unleashing will include Rob Hopkins (who founded Transition Totnes and thus the whole Transition movement, and who I debated on this blog and on his, last year) and local MPs and Councillors.

The central part of the Unleashing will be small-group discussions on particular aspects of creating a resilient Norwich. These will include food, transport, buildings, the economy, waste, government, and Heart and Soul. These groups will begin work on developing an 'Energy Descent Plan' for Norwich: working out how Norwich will practically cope with having less fossil fuel energy in the future. I will be attending the 'Transport' group.
The Norwich Green Party Councillors, naturally, fully back the 'Transition Norwich' initiative. Many Norwich Greens will be attending on Wednesday evening, and Green Party County Councillor Chris Hull has been asked to chair the event.
I am looking forward immensely to this event. With oil prices once again rocketing upwards, there is no better time to be thinking about how we can make Norwich a place that doesn't suffer from the 'peaking' and inevitable decline in our oil supplies. A green approach to dealing with this inevitability is 100% in line with what the excellent Transition movement is actively working towards.


Norwich councillor Rupert Read, prospective Green Party MEP for East Anglia, today expressed sorrow and sadness at the late night murder of Frank McGarahan in Norwich City centre (1).  But Dr. Read, a local resident of Norwich, also called for the self-examination of a society in which this vicious act could occur. 

He said

"Our thoughts today are with the family, friends and workmates of the Mr. McGarahan.  The men who perpetrated this violent act are to be condemned thoroughly and brought to justice.

"His murder is symptomatic of a society which has in some cases grown selfish and materialistic in its prosperity.  The greatest honour we could pay the courageous Mr. McGarahan is to prevent similar tragedies ever happening again. 

"To prevent incidents like this re-occurring we also need to examine just why a group of adults in a reasonably wealthy society should feel the need to beat another man to death.  This awful event makes plain how strong is the need for a change from a selfish, materialistic, Thatcherite society to one that is more caring, compassionate and peaceful, and where we treat each other as neighbours and not as a competitive threat. We surely need to look at how to change our society itself so that events like this no longer blight the towns and streets of East Anglia."


Notes to editor

 10% of the Eastern regional vote would elect Norwich Councillor Rupert Read to the European Parliament to join Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas (MEP for neighbouring SouthEast Region)


Now is not the time for timidity

Amidst the vast turmoil of today's financial markets, it is funny to see how small are the proposed solutions being put forward by any of the 'main 3' Parties. See http://rupertread.fastmail.co.uk/From%20Limehouse%20to%20Campbell,%20and%20beyond.doc for my history in one of those Parties; I left the Liberal Democrat Party when Charlie K. took over; and since then, the general thrust of LibDem policy has only been yet further to the 'Right.' The gaping hole in the political spectrum is occupied: by the Green Party.
The fundamental problem with the LibDems is that they stand for so little. Clegg is trying to get them to stand for 'liberty'. But this, unadorned, is fundamentally a right-wing idea.
The crisis convulsing our planet should make clear to us that it is time for a return to ideology. We need a bold new analysis - a Green New Deal [ http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/z_sys_publicationdetail.aspx?pid=258 ] to tackle peak oil, manmade climate change, and financial crisis. The old ideologies have failed; and the LibDems hardly have any ideology at all. The ideology for our time is ecologism. See Andrew Dobson's book, GREEN POLITICAL THOUGHT.
Now is not the time for timidity. ... Vote Green, to go green...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Tory record in the E.U.: interesting reading

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

New Dredging Threat to our Coastline: Green Party fights back!

Newly formed  AODA, the Anglian Offshore Dredging Association consisting of CEMEX UK Marine, Hanson Aggregates Marine, United Marine Dredging, Volker Dredging Ltd. and Sea Aggregates Ltd are considering a new set of dredging areas off our East Anglian coast.

A further large extension (Area 495B) is being sought offshore between Gt. Yarmouth and Lowestoft, to the east of the existing dredging area, and also another new area (Area 496) some ten times that area already being dredged at the existing site off Southwold. 
The near edge of this Area 496 is to the west of the existing dredging ground, less than half the distance from the shoreline as the existing dredge site.

AODA is holding a 'Public Information Day' on this issue at the Vice Admiral Bar at Great Yarmouth Racecourse THIS FRIDAY, open from 2.00 pm with three 15 to 20 minute presentation sessions to commence at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm. I will be there from 3pm onwards, to ask tough questions of the dredgers. So will Pat Gowen of the independent coastal research and protection group, MARINET, and probably (as happened last time) a large number of ordinary citizens and coastal campaigners.

In Holland, the world experts on coastline protection have a ban on dredging for aggregates closer than 25km to the shore. Yet here in England, we allow dredging to take place way closer than that. If this application is granted, it will be criminally irresponsible, at a time when manmade climate change is threatening in any case to raise sea levels and is already worsening winter storms.
I intend on Friday to ask a set of awkward questions of the dredgers; if they cannot adequately reply, then they owe it to the people of East Anglia to withdraw their application and take a more sensible, precautionary approach, rather than wading in and ruining our fragile coastline forever.
n.b. There is a useful briefing at http://www.marinet.org.uk/mad/madbrief.html 

I am going to Liftshare's national 10th Anniversary Conference, in Attleborough, this Friday

Liftshare is a website where conscientious commuters can easily find like-minded individuals from their local area with whom they can share lifts to and from work each day -- and save lots of money in the process!  It provides the forum in which people can build up social networks, so for those who don't know someone in their immediate social environment who wants to car share, then Liftshare is the answer.  And if for those who already car share, Liftshare can be used to find more people to share with so the costs can be split further still, and CO2 emissions further reduced.
Liftshare has proved to be a successful innovation over the past decade.  They currently have over a quarter of a million members (including me) and over a million trips are registered.  The Green Party has been encouraging more car-sharing to help counter man-made climate change caused by excessive CO2 emissions, and Liftshare provides an easy-to-use tool that helps people to do just that, as well as saving commuters money at the same time.  Liftshare encourages social networking in a practical way that will help with the problems facing our eco-system, and this is an activity that the Green Party supports unreservedly. I am delighted to be going to this event, on Friday... [by train, by the way!  :-) ].

Lib Dem Conference backed PFI - and was sponsored by Tesco

I have been asked to give more evidence of the LibDem lurch to the Right.
Well, here is a powerful piece of such evidence:
Isn't PFI by definition "cooking the books"?...
This is a LibDem sop to the interests of big finance. Isn't this an
incredibly ironic moment to choose, to trust the very people who have at the
present time brought the world's economy to its knees?!!
p.s. And how about this:
And check Scott Redding's apposite _comment_, here:
Hard to see a Party happy to have Conference sponsorship from Tesco as
anything other than sold out.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Mark Lynas defeats himself

Mark Lynas, is getting a lot of page-time and air-time at the moment with his 'iconoclastic' embrace of nuclear power. The funny thing is, Mark Lynas's  own work already shows why he is wrong to back nuclear power, yet he has somehow missed this...
Mark shot to prominence with his wonderful book 'High tide', about how incipient climate chaos is already rendering many coastlines and even entire islands less- or un- inhabitable. Where are virtually all the world's nuclear power stations? At sea level, because of their need for huge amounts of water for cooling...
It would be a vast crime, if this generation were to build yet more nuclear power capacity, in places that are in many instances likely to be inundated by rising sea levels, even if we manage to get manmade climate change under control at about 2.5 degrees of over-heat (let alone if we don't...).
Mark also fails to mention a huge part of the real solution, that lies in those same waters: Let's harvest the energy that we need from those rising and falling tides -- rather than seeing them create the mother of all eco-catastrophes, if we put our eggs into the deadly energy basket-case of nuclear...

FoE drops FSC

This is a very interesting release from the impressive new organisation, ECOLOGICAL INTERNET:
_Friends of the Earth Rejects Forest Stewardship Council_

- Major victory for Ecological Internet's campaign to end
ancient forest logging as key response to climate and
biodiversity crises

September 23, 2008
By Earth's Newsdesk, a project of Ecological Internet
Dr. Glen Barry, +1 (920) 664-1965,

(Earth) -- Friends of the Earth (FoE) is the first major
international NGO to confirm they no longer support Forest
Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which falsely
suggests primary and old-growth forest logging is desirable
and even sustainable. This is a major victory for those
including Ecological Internet (EI) and FSC-Watch[1] who have
courageously taken on large environmental interests using FSC
to greenwash ancient forest destruction.

FoE pioneered timber certification during the 1980s and was
one of FSC's founders, but FoE International in Amsterdam has
confirmed that it is now "reviewing" its membership of the
organization. FoE UK announced on their website[2] they are
"deeply concerned by the number of FSC certifications that are
now sparking controversy and threatening the credibility of
the scheme. We cannot support a scheme that fails to guarantee
high environmental and social standards. As a result we can no
longer recommend the FSC standard."

"FoE is to be commended for their courage in admitting all
forest certification schemes including FSC are failing
forests, climate and peoples globally. FSC plantation and
ancient forest logging standards have been shown to be a fraud
-- business as usual forest destruction. We welcome reports
that other European NGOs may follow FoE's lead, and demand
that Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace and WWF stop their
stonewalling and follow suit, or face escalating disruptive
protests" warns Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet's

EI has long sought protection for all the Earth's remaining
primary and old-growth forests. These efforts were stymied by
large environmental bureaucracies falsely suggesting cutting
carbon and species rich, centuries old trees is an
environmental good. It became obvious the world's forests
could only be protected, and global ecological sustainability
achieved, if groups supporting FSC were confronted. Our
protest campaign launched last year, assisted by recent
overwhelming ecological science showing old-growth forests
continue to store and remove carbon and are essential to
fighting climate change[3].
More Information:
[1] For more information see http://www.fsc-watch.org/
[2] See their statement at:
[3] See earlier EI release at:


Dr. Glen Barry is a global spokesperson on behalf of global
environmental sustainability policy. Ecological Internet
provides the world's leading climate and environment portals
at http://www.climateark.org/ and http://www.ecoearth.info/ 
Dr. Barry frequently conducts interviews on the latest
climate, forest and water policy developments and can be
reached at: glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org, +1 (920) 664-


PRESS RELEASE: Green Euro Candidate says, 'Keep Hinchingbrooke public!'

Photo call:

Rupert Read, prospective Green Party MEP for Eastern Region, will be outside Hinchingbrooke Hospital with members of the Hunts Green Party between 4pm and 4.30pm on Sunday, September 28 and will be happy to speak to journalists.




The Green Party's prospective MEP for this region has backed calls to stop Hinchingbrooke Hospital being made into a 'Foundation Trust'.


Rupert Read offered his support to the campaign ahead of a visit to Huntingdon on Sunday (28.9.08) when he will join local party members canvassing homes in Huntingdon.


He said: "Foundation Trusts are simply privatisation under a prettier name. 'New Labour' has continued and accelerated the Conservative betrayal of our National Health Service, privatising it bit by bit while pretending to support it.


"Only the Green Party can be trusted to stop this. If I am elected to the European Parliament next June, to represent this area, you can be confident that I will do all in my powers to keep our hospitals in public hands, free and open to all.


"The Greens say: Keep public services public!"


Members of the Hunts Green Party will also be joining a Keep Our NHS Public, rally and march on October 4th, called to protest against the possible privatisation of Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Green jobs!

Nuclear energy produces 75 only jobs per TWh per year; oil and gas around 250 jobs; wind produces up to 2,400 jobs. If we invest properly in renewables, then we will insure ourselves against unemployment.
Yet some nay-sayers say that all this statistic tells you is that wind power is 'inefficient' and that we should be investing in nuclear power stations instead.

But what is their definition of efficiency? It is apparently how economical in labour-power an industry is. But that is an utterly bankrupt edition of 'efficiency'. In today's world, we have no shortage of labour-power; what we have a shortage of is oil and gas and climatic space for any more carbon emissions.
Relative to those shortages, providing lots of jobs (which is what people want, and gives them an income) is efficient. [Read Herman Daly, if you want to learn more on this.]
Except, I guess, if you really want nuclear power, then it is true, you can guarantee lots of jobs: i.e. a never-ending toxic-waste clean-up...
Of course, the really big potential for renewables in this country is in water power, and especially tidal power (I mean tidal range and tidal lagoons, not tidal barrage). A mixed basket of renewables, to insure against intermittency of supply -- that is the way forward; that is how we may yet save ourselves, and prosper...

Friday, 19 September 2008

For good neighbours, live in a quiet, car-free street


This is a nice bit of joined-up thinking, a devastating rebuttal to anyone
who believes that we can keep motoring more and more and not harm ourselves
in the process.

Transcript: Jeremy Paxman asks Clegg where the £20bn of cuts will come from

If you missed Paxman's mince-meating of Clegg the other night, that I blogged on at the time, then here for added fun is the transcript...:

BBC Newsnight, Monday 15th September


JP        Where are you going to save the £20bn?

NC        Well, some of the savings we have already identified. For instance above average income families should not be part of the tax credit system, that would save around £3bn. We've said that the Child Trust Fund that gives a few hundred quid to 18 year olds is money not well spent when it is younger children that need help more. That would save about half a billion.

JP        You've already committed that to be spent on more teachers haven't you? That's a previous commitment.

NC        No, no, no, the £20bn, let me be quite clear about this, will go towards some of our spending priorities, towards the elderly, housing and teaching.  What we've said today is that the money left over won't simply be handed back to Whitehall, it will be handed back to lower and middle income families who have paid much more tax as part of their overall income than the wealthy.

JP        We've so far checked £3.5bn of the £20bn you are going to save.

NC        There are, there are, there are other items too. The road building programmes, that's almost a billion. We are looking at some defence contracts which we think aren't worthwhile. The Government wants to spend about £13bn on the NHS IT Project. I'll be announcing on Wednesday other items.

JP        You chose the figure of £20bn

NC        Correct

JP        So far we've been able to identify about £4.5bn, £5bn, £5.5bn on things you can save money on, where is the rest?

NC        Well, I'm not able to tell you the rest, because, firstly if they were a good idea the other parties would nick it and secondly, because how spending is allocated by government and therefore how we think we can save, is something we can only decide on finally at the time of the next general election. What we are committing ourselves to as a party now is that £20bn, 3% of the total government expenditure of over £600bn will be identified, it will then be reallocated, redirected to our spending priorities, on the elderly, on the young, on housing and the remainder will be handed back in tax cuts to people who need a break at a time of real economic hardship.

JP        Is it true you plan to save some of the £20bn by shutting down one government department?

NC        Yes, we think that the former DTI government, DBERR as its acronym is called, is not doing a job that really justifies a whole department. That would save us about a billion pounds.

JP        So that would be a billion pounds, and you've factored into that redundancy payments and the rest of it have you?

NC        Errrrr, we would probably need to look at the figures in a little more detail when it comes to the next general election, when we know exactly what the payroll of DBERR is then, but the rough figure is about a billion.

 JP       And Vince Cable's idea that all senior civil servants earning more than £100k a year should have to reapply for their jobs, how many civil servants is it please?

NC        I don't know. That of course is an illustration that Vince gave today about the extent to which large amounts of money are being spent to pay people very considerable amounts of money, and we don't really know if that is money well spent.

JP        We are still a long way off finding £20bn aren't we?

NC        Well, Jeremy, errrr, of course. I'm not going to present to you now on Newsnight a shopping list of what would be the £20bn.

JP        Well why not? You've given us the headline grabbing figure of £20bn, why can't you give us the proper details?

Drivers urged - leave your cars at home

Drivers are being urged to leave their motors at home as part of a car-free day.

As part of In Town Without My Car! day, an international festival of environmentally friendly transport, families are being encouraged to walk, cycle or catch the bus into Norwich city centre and local towns on Monday.

Ahead of the day, Norfolk County Council will hold a stand at the Forum tomorrow offering local travel information, maps and free travel plan advice.

People who make a sustainable travel pledge will receive a gift and be entered into a prize draw to win Park and Ride tickets, bicycle locks, bicycle lights and other goodies.

Stevie Spencer, the county council's smarter travel choices officer, said: "We will be on hand to offer advice to people who would like to reduce their car use and provide information on other ways they can get around."

As part of the scheme, drama group Stopwatch Theatre has been touring schools, putting on a production to encourage pupils to walk, cycle and use the bus wherever possible.

The idea of the scheme is to make drivers across Europe explore other means of travelling and to question what town centre streets are really for.

Ali Clabburn, managing director of Liftshare, the Attleborough-based car sharing company which also matches up cyclists and walkers, said: "In Town Without My Car! day is the perfect opportunity for people to get out of their cars."

Rupert Read, Green Party city councillor, said he hoped the initiative would have a long-lasting effect.

He said: "I have a car, but I use it as little as possible. I find that cycling as much as possible is the best way."

But he warned the day could be "a mere tokenistic gesture" unless people looked at the long term.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Peace one day

21 September 2008 is Peace One Day, and Norwich councillor and as lead Green Party candidate for MEP for the Eastern Region in the June 2009 Euro-Elections, I have been asked to speak at the big 'Peace one day' event in Norwich. I will be speaking about my long experience in the peace movement, including in peaceful direct action at nuclear weapons installations and at Westminster.
I am very pleased to have been invited to speak at this event because I am passionate about addressing the root causes of all conflicts around the world. I'm a Quaker, and a determined advocate for non-violence and peace all over the globe. I sincerely hope that some day, peace will break out around the world, and not for just one day, but a lasting peace...
Instead of fighting each other in wars over land disputes and oil dependency, we could unite and fight against the one phenomenon which will potentially wipe us all out by the end of this century.  We could line up together and fight for our lives, and for those of our children, in a war that will bring us together like never before.  Global over-heating caused by man-made climate change will defeat humankind unless we all make a concerted effort to beat it.
[The main event will start at 6 pm in the Assembly Rooms, Norwich.  Tickets are free and can be booked by telephoning 01603 424121.]
[I will also be taking part in the Quaker 'Peace One Day' events earlier that afternoon, at the Forum and around the city of Norwich.]

Beyond the Halifax

What is happening now in the City and in the States sadly vindicates all that we Greens have been saying for so long about money. You cannot trust private banks with the money supply. Allowing these parasites to run the economy is like allowing vultures to run an aviary.
The demutualisations of the 80s and 90s are now clearly visible for what they were -- stupid short-termist profit grabs, at the cost of long-term financial security.
Your money is pretty much safe in a co-op, a mutual, a state-owned bank or a credit union. But if your money is with the robber-baron private-bankers, then watch out...
I had an account with Halifax, when I was growing up. It had a very small amount of money in it. When they demutualised, they closed down my account and simply confiscated that money.
That little episode tells you all you need to know about the 'ethics' of standard money-grabbing private banks.
The financial system needs to be re-regulated, part-nationalised and put on a sound long-term footing. Greens will always favour long-term security over short-term profit. One day, learning from bitter experience, the banking system will catch up with us.


The 20 September 2008 will be a date to be remembered as a momentous occasion for the Green Party in Norfolk for years to come.  The Norfolk Green Party bi-annual General Meeting be held that day (at 10.00 am - get in touch with me if you'd like to come along); it will be the first held in the company of the new Deputy Leader of the Party, one of Norfolk's own, Adrian Ramsay.
In what will be a lively, upbeat affair, we will be building upon the Party's new solid Leadership structure, led nationally by the inspirational and charismatic Caroline Lucas.  With Adrian Ramsay as her Deputy, it is an extremely exciting time for the Green Party in general, and the Norfolk Greens in particular: the next 12 - 18 months will see Ramsay challenge Charles Clarke for the Norwich South seat in the General Election, and June 2009 will see me run for MEP in the Euro-elections here in East Anglia.
Norwich could prove pivotal to both campaigns. Norwich has proved to be a stronghold for the Green Party.  Caroline Lucas became an MEP for South-East England because she has such high support in Oxford and Brighton.  In the same way, Norwich and Norfolk could play the key role in projecting me on to the European stage.
And if the General Election is called as expected in the 12 months after the June 2009 Euro-elections, the momentum gained from my campaign may get behind Adrian's and snowball him into Westminster. 
As we Norfolk Greens convene this Saturday, the knowledge that Ramsay could win the Green Party's first ever seat in Westminster, and that I have a real chance of becoming an MEP for the Eastern region, will I believe lift the mood of the meeting like never before.    

RR on Radio 3 last night - listen again to me debating Anthony Grayling: Man is NOT the measure of all things...

Listen again here to my debate with Anthony Grayling last night on Radio 3, on 'humanism'. (It's about 34 minutes into the programme - you can just move the bar at the bottom straight along to it.)
I think the conversation was useful, and certainly fun. In retrospect, however, it seems to me that we were speaking somewhat at cross-purposes in our debate, and don't actually disagree quite as much as we thought we did. For, for Grayling, apparently, humanism is only the sum of all non-supernaturalistic religion. Take for instance the list of philosophers with which Grayling begins: this has little or no unity! This is hardly a tradition. As an alleged ideology, as an 'ism', it cannot possibly be compared with (say) Hinduism or Buddhism; for it is thin gruel indeed. As I said, on the programme: if all that humanism is is the absence of superstition, then I have no beef with it. But that hardly seems to me to match closely with the actual use of the term 'humanism', to connote some coherent, substantial and positive belief-system that is in debate with and sometimes disagreement with ecologism, with the animal rights movement, and with the great mystical religions.
(Finally, and regretfully, I feel bound to note that at one particular point last night Prof. Grayling was hardly the greatest advert for humanity or for Reason: his gratuitous rhetorical swipe against me to the effect that I allegedly am ignorant of the nature of Buddhism would sit better in the mouth of one who does not frequently praise, as Grayling does, the value and centrality of human reason... I hope that, if the debate continues in another forum, Anthony models a little more fully the intellectual virtues that he (rightly) sets such store by.)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Me on Radio 3 tonight!

I am preparing for my debate tonight with A.C.Grayling on humanism on NIGHT WAVES, Radio 3, 9.15 pm. Do tune in!

Paxman vs. Clegg: there was only ever going to be one outcome...

Blue shirt, blue tie...
Watch Clegg's new Toryism get mince-meated by Jeremy Paxman.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

More on why 20's plenty -- without need for any further 'trials'...

There are a number of reasons for setting a default speed of 20mph throughout the 'unclassified' road network in residential parts of a city such as Norwich. Most important perhaps is that of driver recognition as to what the speed limit is. If you have 20 mph as the default then you not only establish this limit clearly, but you also adjust the driver's recognition as to what is the "normal" speed in such residential areas. The most important aspect is that drivers set 20 mph as the norm with those 30 mph areas or roads being seen as 50% faster, rather than seeing 30 mph as the norm with 20 mph as 33% slower. The psychological adjustment of normal speeds in residential areas is key to the success of reducing speeds and therefore danger to pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore any trial, pilot or whatever, that only implements 20 mph in a tiny proportion of the city is not modelling 20's Plenty in any realistic manner.
When considering the value of conducting any trial we must ask ourselves some serious questions first of all.
1.      Is there a need for a trial?
If there is already ample evidence that the policy being trialled is effective, then there is no benefit from conducting a trial. In the case of 20's Plenty there is ample evidence that this works. This is both the norm for European towns and has been implemented in many UK towns in far wider local areas than those currently being planned in the "trial". One wonders whether Norwich City Council will learn anything new from a poorly designed trial that it could not learn from published material and evidence that already exists.
2.      What are we trying to understand from the trial?
If one is conducting a trial then it is necessary in advance to plan exactly what one is measuring and what actions will be taken as a result. This planned trial does not seem to have any such preparation. The idea that a monitoring strategy will establish the potential casualty reduction benefits for all road users is rather optimistic. In order for this to be beneficial one would need to plan a city wide implementation of a default 20 mph limit and then establish trial areas where one is accurately modelling the larger initiative. This should take account of the type of roads, handling of gateways and traffic calming, police enforcement and public education that had been envisaged for the city wide implementation. Hence without developing a plan for implementing 20's Plenty throughout the city and understanding how to scale this down so that the trial is realistic then no benefit will result from the trial.

20's plenty for Norwich, without further delay!

At tomorrow's meeting of the Norwich City Council Executive, ruling Labour councillors will consider a proposal from council officers to introduce pilot areas of 20mph zones in residential streets, rather than bringing in 20mph zones across all unclassified residential streets in the city at once.
Readers of this blog will be aware that in May the Norwich Highways Agency Committee approved a proposal from me for a blanket 20mph limit. Green Party Councillors including myself are very concerned that the proposal under consideration tomorrow will prove an ineffective, slow and counter-productive way of beginning the introduction of 20mph limits across all residential areas of Norwich. There already exist a number of 20mph zones in Norwich; we cannot see why further 'pilot areas' are necessary.
I have asked the following two questions of Council officers:
1) Isn't there a danger that a 'pilot areas' approach would negate the central intention of the proposed blanket 20mph scheme -- namely, that drivers will understand that on all residential (unclassified) roads, they are to expect a 20mph limit?
2) Why can't we take the implementation of similar schemes already achieved or underway in places like Portsmouth, South Lanarkshire, and on the Continent, as evidence enough that this approach can work?
Moreover, the areas that are being proposed for pilot 20mph schemes would clearly benefit from lower vehicle speeds - but so would residential streets in other parts of the city. Part of the problem at the moment is the way that speed limits vary from one residential area to another. Introducing a blanket 20mph limit would mean that drivers and residents across the city knew where they stood. It should help improve air quality and pedestrian safety and also encourage more people to walk and cycle.
Why wait?!

Monday, 15 September 2008

LibDem MEP warns they could come 5th in the European elections next June


Fascinating multiple efforts here by the sinking ship that is the Liberal Democrats to reposition themselves to appeal to 'the Daily Mail vote'...

But what I particularly like is the last lines of this article:

"Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies warned there would be a stormy debate on the issue [of the LibDems' abandonment of strong commitment to the Euro currency] among delegates tomorrow.

'This is a very good recipe for coming fifth in the European elections,' he said."

Indeed; I think that these multiple LibDem U-turns will further increase doubts in voters' minds as to whether the LibDems actually believe in anything at all (except for getting themselves elected). The Green Party actually stands for something: and it would certainly be sweet, and nothing less than just, if we were to beat the LibDems at the European elections next year...

As they say: watch this space...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Dropping Obama: My personal story

Readers of this blog will be aware that I have [reluctantly] abandoned the Obama bandwagon.

I was involved with the Dukakis campaign in 88. We could have won that election if Dukakis had capitalised on Bentsen's skewering of Quayle, and had taken the fight to the Republicans, rather than endlessly backing away from their attacks on him.

But Dukakis was too afraid: only in the last 10 days of the campaign did he stand up proud and defiant and say, "Yes I am a liberal" -- and from that point onward his poll ratings climbed steadily, but there wasn't enough time left til election day for him to catch up with Bush.

I was more peripherally involved with the Clinton-Gore campaign in 92, and worked for a 3rd Party candidate in the Congress during that election. I saw the birth of the New Democrats -- and what a horrible sight it was. The night of the election, I removed my Clinton-Gore bumper sticker, realising that now I would be going instantly into opposition -- but I had no idea just how bad it would be, just how total the sellout would be on old growth forests and healthcare reform, just how spineless would be the policy on gays in the military or HIV/AIDS victims in Guantanamo, just how vicious would be the foreign policy (most notably, the half million Iraqis that Clinton and Albright sentenced to death), and so on.

I saw the New Democrats, and wept for the future of British politics. I told all my friends in politics etc. back in Britain not to believe in New Labour at all, not to make the same mistake -- but they were too desperate to get rid of the Tories; they didn't listen. Blair came in and all that I had said to them turned out true, and years later one after the other they confessed that voting in New Labour had been a total waste of time, just a betrayal to a new Thatcherism.

I counselled Paddy Ashdown to seize the opportunity provided by the vacation of the Left by Labour, to become the Party of the Left in Britain; he didn't have the courage or will or backing to do it. So I finally left the Libdems. There is one Party in this country and in America that, small though it is, offers a real future, a future that is not just another sellout. Supporting the Green Party allows one to keep one's integrity, to make direct real political progress, and to put strong political pressure on the 'mainstream' Parties, all at the same time. Greens can get elected (in Norwich, we have 15 Councillors now!), and even when they don't or can't, they make the 'mainstream' Parties move in the direction of environmental sustainability and social justice, to avoid losing votes.

I wish Obama luck, and, in a choice between him and McCain, I hope he wins. But an Obama adminstration promises at present to be little more than warmed-up Clintonism - look how little policy difference there was between Obama and H. Clinton in the primaries. Clinton-redux is no prescription at all for the world's utterly-vast problems at present.

The very minimum we need is a new Roosevelt. A Green New Deal. If Obama called for that, he might get some real traction; he might not disappoint entirely the vast expectations that have now been inflated around him; he might not be so floored by a vacuous ultra-right fluke like Palin.

Until he does, I say: I cannot honestly campaign for this man. It was a mistake to back Blair, it was a mistake to back Clinton: there is no point right now expending energy backing Obama

Friday, 12 September 2008

Bus Shelter Faults on Dereham Road fall between the cracks...

Wensum ward Green Party Councillor Ruth Makoff has been working with local residents to get repairs carried out on broken electronic timetable displays in several bus shelters on Dereham Road. One fault – on the shelter by Marlpit – has now been repaired after two months of being out of action. Green Councillors believe that the unnecessary delays to the repairs are caused by the work having been contracted out to a private company and they are calling for the work to be brought back under the control of the council when the contract ends in 2011. The fault on the bus shelter in Marlpit that got repaired was a blown fuse that took only 10 minutes to fix, and yet it took two months for the Council to sort out who was responsible and get the problem fixed!
This kind of basic thing would be much easier to get right if Norwich had a unitary Council -- so that it was always clear who was responsible for fixing the problem -- and if Council services were brought back 'in-house' rather than some of them being dealt with in an 'outsourced' way by private companies. The Greens are pressing for a unitary Norwich and for the 'unprivatisation' of CityCare, to stop this sort of silly problem re-occuring in future!

Litter built up on Norwich street because no-one was responsible for dealing with it...

One of ward Councillor colleagues, Green Councillor Ruth Makoff has been pushing for measures to tackle the problems with litter and flytipping around the Marlpit area, in particular the large quantities of rubbish dumped in the banks between Dereham Road and Jamieson Place, some of which Green Councillors had helped residents litter-pick themselves, earlier this summer, as reported then on this blog. In investigating the issue Ruth discovered that the cleaning of this area had been left out of the CityCare contracts entirely! So that no-one was responsible for keeping it tidy! Councillor Makoff has been assured by council officers that weekly litter picks in the area will start this month.

_EDP_ profile of our new Deputy Leader, Adrian Ramsay...


Diamonds: how romantic...



Thursday, 11 September 2008

Barack Obama's changed...

To make us choose the lesser of two evils is to try to get us to forget that the lesser of two evils is still -- (an) evil...
We must learn from the superb methods and tactics of the Obama campaign, as from the Dean campaign before it -- I have consistently blogged along those lines, below. But what I have also started to blog about more recently is that, in terms of policy content, Barack Obama has changed, and is now a lot less appealing to a Green than he was before. His foreign policy, his gun policy, most crucially perhaps his oil-drilling policy -- this is hardly an agenda that I for one can embrace.
To think strategically, one has to stop the rot. One has to stop running to the Right. One has to resolutely resist the allure of being a 'New Democrat' or a 'New Labour'-supporter. One has to start to reclaim the political spectrum. One has to work to _shift_ the political agenda. One has to lead.
These are the key lessons of Westen and Lakoff. Obama is, I believe, making a big mistake in not seizing the moral high ground (literally) of setting out strong positions that will appeal in their own right to many millions of Americans on these issues. On gun control, on looking militarily 'strong' and 'realistic' in relation to Afghanistan and in his backing for Israel, on drilling for more oil, he now looks SIMPLY LIKE A PALER VERSION (SIC.) OF MCCAIN. This is fatal. He seems inauthentic -- why not just vote for the real thing?...
The Green Party, in the U.S. and in the U.K., actually believes in something. It rarely seems that the LibDems or New Labour do, any more, beyond managerialism and staying in power. It seemed like Obama did, but now one isn't so sure. If Obama wants the backing of folk like me, he needs to recapture that sense of self-belief and bold strategic agenda-setting and values-activation. The kind of leadership he exhibited on tax, and on race, last year and earlier this year.
We have a lot to learn from Obama on political organising; and I am not pretending that the Greens have yet learnt nearly as much from Lakoff and Drew Westen as we should have done. But t least we are headed in the right direction. One has to draw a line in the sand, and see that some things (e.g. not continuing to fuel the climate crisis, not caving in to gun-crazy nuts who have made it to the Supreme judicial bench under the Republicans, not being supine in one's caving to the hard-line-Zionist policy lobby) are sacred, and cannot be conceded without a fatal loss of momentum to one's opponents.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Caroline Lucas' First Leader's Speech

Green Party Blogging

Click below to explore an important new experiment in Green Party Blogging...


Wot, no windfall tax?

So, the Government has decided not to levy a windfall tax on the
energy-supply companies [http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/utilities/article4720282.ece ]. No surprise there, given that New Labour always cosies up to big
business. But even if they had gone ahead with the type of windfall tax
that they were toying with, it would not have been of much use.

 The oil companies have been making billions from the oil price rises we
have all experienced over the last 12 months. We the people
of this country have paid for this, through higher fuel prices, higher food
prices and so forth.  The Green Party is calling for us to go now to the source of the vast profits, not merely to the
middlemen who supply us in our homes.  It is, after all, the oil companies
that are making billions from the oil price rises -- so why shouldn't
they take a cut in their profits, to release the money that both we as
citizens and Government services urgently

What is really needed is then is a hefty windfall tax on the
 fossil-fuel extractors, the big oil companies themselves (i.e. on Shell, BP
etc. -- NOT on Southern Electric, Scottish Power etc.). Targetting the companies that
supply power to our homes is only tackling the symptom, not the
underlying source of the money that is being ripped off from us.

 Just two companies - BP and Shell - together made £700 profit every second
over the first 6 months of this year whilst the people of this country
have suffered higher bills across the board.  These corporations, which
are taking the black stuff out of the ground and selling it (as it now
gets rarer) at exorbitant rates, are robbing from the poor to give to the
rich -- and they know it.  It's about time they learned that in a
progressive democracy, there is no place for robber barons.  It's about
time the massive corporate profits made by these companies were taxed
accordingly and some of it given back to the people.  And it's about time
the interests of the people of this country were put before those of big

The Green Party is not bankrolled by big business interests; we will never
allow the people to suffer at the hands of corporate giants, as has so
sadly been the case under this 'New Labour' Government, and as would of
course also be the case under a Conservative Government.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Travels in Eastern Region - Witham visit

My campaigning to win a seat in the European Parliament next June takes me far and wide across this wonderful East Anglia of our's...
Along with Marcus Hemsley of Norwich and local C'llr. James Abbott I did a spot of canvassing yesterday in Witham in Essex, in a ward where there are a couple of byelections on Oct. 2. It was an exciting experience -- we met no-one intending to vote Labour or LibDem, but quite a number of people who were already intending to or soon persuaded to vote for us -- including some previous Tory voters! We met only a couple of diehard Tories.
I also met the candidates and local activists, and the whole experience was very positive (and James Abbott's Mum made me a lovely cup of rooibos tea afterward!)...

NDR cost may hit services

This story was in yesterday's _EDP_. Congratulations to my Green Party colleague Andrew Boswell for his detective-like work on this issue, work that is now paying dividends:  



Norwich bypass cost may hit services


08 September 2008 08:26

Spending on council services in Norfolk could be cut to help pay for the £116m Norwich northern bypass - if the cash cannot be found from elsewhere.

Transport chiefs have set out to the government how they would be prepared to fund the 20km road.

The county council has earmarked £69m from the east of England's regional roads funding pot, but still faces a shortfall of nearly £50m.

On July 14, the ruling cabinet agreed it would meet any shortfall by borrowing on the open markets.

But it has now emerged that, two weeks later, senior officials wrote to the government that the authority would consider reprioritising capital schemes and defer some of the schemes it would have paid for by borrowing - freeing up the cash for the road instead.

Green city and county councillors, who have unearthed the letter, accused the authority's cabinet of keeping the public in the dark over the matter and are furious that councillors have not been told about the pledge - which they say lacks any democratic mandate as councillors have not been given any chance to have a say on it.

But the ruling Tory cabinet insisted no decisions had been taken and accused the Greens of clutching at straws to see the scheme shelved.

In a letter to the Department for Transport on July 30, Paul Brittain, the council's head of corporate finance, said he was satisfied that the council had the financial capacity to fund any shortfall up to £47.5m for the northern distributor road (NDR).

"In a worst-case scenario, if the council was not successful in attracting any further funding, it could borrow, on a prudential basis, the remaining £47.5m," he wrote.

"Based on a long-term borrowing interest rate of 4.95pc, this would incur an additional revenue cost of £4.25m per annum. The county council's 2008-09 net revenue budget is £537.148m and the additional borrowing cost would represent less than 1pc of the revenue budget.

"In council tax terms, the additional revenue cost of £4.25m represents an increase of 1.33pc but, dependent upon the phasing of the scheme and the timing of payments from the [regional roads funding pot], it is possible that this tax increase could be spread over more than one financial year.

"In practice, if the county council did not attract any further funding towards the scheme, it would also consider the reprioritisation of other capital schemes within its capital programme," the letter added. "The county council could, if required, decide to defer other capital schemes that would have been funded from borrowing and, in this way, reduce the extra amount that would need to be borrowed to fund any shortfall on the NDR."

Since then, the ministers have provisionally earmarked £21m of community infrastructure cash towards a greater Norwich plan at Postwick which would help pay for the first phase of the road to be built.

And last month, Mike Jackson, head of planning and transportation, declared that ministers had a vested interest in seeing the road built because it was crucial to the success of flagship policies on housing and ecotowns.

Green Party County councillor Andrew Boswell said the funding approach would have major impacts on other council services such as schools and care for the elderly. And he accused the cabinet of telling the government one thing and the council another.

"If crucial services for Norfolk people like schools for our children and care for our elderly may have their capital budget reprioritised in the future, then the 74 county councillors who are not in the cabinet should be told, as should Norfolk residents," he said.

Blogging fringe at GP Conference

One highlight for me of Green Party Conference this year (from which I am
just now back, tired but happy) was the blogging fringe which, I think, went
very well indeed. We had a good turnout with around 40 people and a useful
discussion about campaigning, blogging to build strategic alliances,
fundraising, and so on. Some of us also shared our less happy moments of
blogging with one another, including times when we have made serious errors
with our blogs...
And it was great that the excellent Sunny Hundal of LIBERAL CONSPIRACY
(http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/ ) came along!

Conference Success for Eastern Region Greens

[From our post-Conference press release:]
The Green Party Autumn Conference concluded yesterday after a highly successful 4 days at the University Of London. Dr. Caroline Lucas MEP was elected as the first ever Green Party Leader and addressed a packed conference hall on Saturday which responded with loud and prolonged applause to her speach. Dr. Lucas set out the huge opportunities for the Greens in the years ahead - and the stark failure of the other parties to tackle the gathering environmental crisis and the growing gap between rich and poor. She also specifically praised the successes of Adrian Ramsay and of Norwich, and said of Rupert Read: "I can't think of a better people to be our new Green MEPs than Peter Cranie and Rupert Read, in our target regions of NorthWest and Eastern."
On Monday, Cllr. Adrian Ramsay, the newly elected Deputy Leader of the party gave his first address in that role. He launched an attack on privatisation and patient charging in the health service.  The 27-year-old Norwich City Council opposition leader is aiming to unseat Charles Clarke in Norwich South and challenged the vocally pro-privatisation Blairite Labour MP to fight the election on public services.

In the closing keynote speech of the conference, Cllr Ramsay celebrated the work of Green councillors across the country in defending local economies, tackling homelessness and repossessions, and cutting energy bills and fuel poverty.  He also reinforced Caroline Lucas' call for an energy windfall tax to kickstart a Green New Deal to tackle recession and the fuel crisis.

Cllr Ramsay said

"The Government is now being offered advice on public services by Charles Clarke, and if they were to take his advice we would see even
more social exclusion and even more privatisation.

"In July, Clarke called for more user-charging in the health service and the education system. He claims it would be for what he calls non-core
services - but I don't regard education for under 5s and over 16s or out of hours GP visits as optional or unimportant. And I challenge
Charles Clarke to tell any parent in Norwich South that childcare and healthcare are not core services.

"Charles Clarke has been in the news in recent days for his comments that the Labour Party is facing disaster at the next General Election.
He says the Labour Party needs to change direction. Well, the Government does need to change direction but not in the direction he
has in mind.

"Journalists have been asking me why I think Mr Clarke is so personally concerned about the next General Election. It could be because the Green Party finished in first place by some 3,000 votes across his Norwich South constituency in the May 2008 elections - and if Mr. Clarke wants to fight the election on the future of public services, that's fine with me."

Some Green Party conference media hits

Highlights among the media coverage were:
On the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7601832.stm
Independent: http://tinyurl.com/5awcgm
Press Association: http://tinyurl.com/6x4wrp
Norwich Evening News: http://tinyurl.com/5r8egr

Lib Dem turmoil latest

The report of an important dispute between Nick Clegg and Lord Rennard has been in the


Clegg's response to the piece is here, in the ironically-named 'LibDem Voice' website:


We in the Green Party have a new leadership structure; we have a Leader, are serious about power and are professionalising our Party; but we are not centralist / anti-democratic. The Lib Dems under Clegg are becoming more and more a rightwing party without serious scope for the members to engage and exercise power.
Clegg already has huge leverage over policy (whereas the Green Party Leader is quite properly subject to the will of the party in terms of policy-making which is exercised by its twice yearly conference of members). Now Clegg wants to centralise the Lib Dem organisation too.
I say to Liberal Democrats:
Come and join us, as I did nine years ago now (and have never regretted it). Come and join us, if you want to be part of a democratic party, where you can have a voice, and a party that is going somewhere - as opposed to a neoliberal centralising party that is a sinking ship, going nowhere...

Monday, 8 September 2008


Take five minutes to play East of England 'Transport Trumps'!



Sign the petition today http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/keeptradelocal/

I am of course very much hoping to win a seat in June '09 to join the other Green MEPs in Brussels, to join (that is) our other strong champions of small business, especially Caroline Lucas MEP, one of the leading advocates of the economic doctrine of 'localisation', the opposite of gigantism and 'globalisation'.

Peace One Day - Sunday, September 21st, 2:30 - 3:30 pm, Norwich Forum with guest speaker Rupert Read.

Obama vs. McKinney latest

It has been drawn to my attention by Sunny Hundal that Obama did in fact provide a kind of 'correction' to [the interpretation of] his remarks on East Jerusalem that were widely reported and that I criticised in a blogpost last week (see below).
[Goto http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/06/05/obama_backtracks_on_jerusalem.html to see the 'correction'.]
This seems to be an improvement. I remain very concerned by Obama's Mid-East policies, by the question of whether his stance on Israel (and on Afghanistan) is any improvement at all on the militarist garbage of McCain; and I remain concerned by his caving on on oil drilling, on gun control, etc. .
I am also concerned however by Cynthia McKinney's unwise highlighting of '9-11' conspiracy theories as a part of her Green Party Presidential platform. I am still very much inclined to back her, but am not as 100% as I was.
...Perhaps it is as just as well that what I think is not likely to have a huge effect on the outcome of this particular political race...

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Caroline Lucas's inaugural Leader's speech, today

Check out Caroline Lucas's interview with Peter Sissons today, after her
amazing inaugural Leader's speech that I witnessed this afternoon.

And check out her speech! (There's a nice mention of Eastern Region and
of this blogger, 5 minutes into the speech...)

It's Lucas and Ramsay!

I'll be blogging more fully on this over at Green Despatches later but, after a frantic evening of twittering (see at below left) last night, here at least also are a couple of key news links:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7601403.stm [Watch Caroline's speech here!]

[And here is a good local story on Adrian's victory:]

--    Rupert Read Green Party Councillor, Norwich, and Lead Candidate for Eastern Region for the Greens in the 2009 Euro-elections. Why not try my BLOG, 'Rupert's Read': http://rupertsread.blogspot.com  See also www.oneworldcolumn.org [for my regular op-ed journalism] I TWITTER. DO YOU? Check out my frequently-updated, mobile-phone-based MICRO-BLOG, at http://twitter.com/RupertRead 

Friday, 5 September 2008

Obama: empty of Middle Eastern promise

As I've remarked here before, but perhaps I haven't put the point strongly enough: Barack Obama has lost the good will of Muslims around the world already. He needs to keep -- now, to regain -- this good will, if he is to have a chance of not making the same mistakes as Bush has made and that McCain would make.
People who support the Palestinians (including me -- and international law!) believe of course that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are being held illegally by Israel. Barack Obama stated that he supported a Middle-East settlement that meant Israel would keep the WHOLE of Jerusalem forever ... WE WONT EVER ACCEPT THAT.

See these BBC News webpages for more:



Thursday, 4 September 2008



A meeting is being held at Lound Parish Hall today [at 7.30], Thursday 4th September for all Parish Councillors and Clerks from: Ashby, Blundeston & Flixton, Carlton Colville, Corton, Gisleham, Herringfleet, Lound, Oulton, Somerleyton and Hopton. [The purpose of the meeting is to give all the Parish Councillors the opportunity to learn about the Boundary Committee proposals and about various Parties' views of them, before returning to their respective Parishes to discuss the proposal and submit their views to the Committee.]


In my speech to the meeting I will be stressing the commitment of Norwich and Norfolk Green Parties to local government and to resisting any drive towards centralisation / toward overly large administrative areas for local government. This implies very strong reservations about the 1- or 2- or 3- unitary models currently being proposed for Norfolk (and Lowestoft).


The Green Party strongly believes that Lowestoft should have a far more local council than any of the Boundary Committee proposals would give it; that means that we would back either a 'Yartoft' Council (comprising Yarmouth and Lowestoft, a mostly-urban area with mostly urban needs, in common) or simply the status quo. Preserving the status quo would be far preferable than taking all the power away to somewhere remote in Norfolk.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The true Tory colours come out


Around the blogosphere and in the press, a number of British right-wing commentators (notably Peter Hitchens and Iain Dale) have already come out in support of McCain’s VP pick Sarah Palin.

It is good to see these Tories lining up in support of her. It makes pretty clear just how skin-deep the Cameron ‘revolution’ has been.

Let’s remind ourselves of some of what Palin stands for:

* Palin opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest. She believes, that is to say, in (for example) the right of a father who rapes his under-age daughter legally to ensure that his daughter bears his grandchild. Yes: Palin believes that rapists and incestuous predators have the right to see their babies sired, as long as they succeed in forcing conception. (Her 17 year-old unmarried daughter Bristol is pregnant); Palin would insist on the law forcing Bristol to take the baby to term, whoever its father was, whatever the circumstances of the conception.)

* Palin doesn’t believe in evolution, and thinks creationism should be taught in state schools.

* She’s doesn’t think humans are the cause of the climate chaos that is currently melting the Arctic to an unprecedented degree and that has just given New Orleans another narrow escape (such that the Republicans have had in effect to delay the start of their Convention). One would be grateful for such an act of God, were it not for the fact that Gustav is more an act of man.

* She’s solidly in line with John McCain’s “Big Oil first” energy policy: She’s pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won’t be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species - she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.

It’s good to know that many of Britain’s Tories are happy signing up to support such a person: it’s good to know where they stand.

It is also extraordinary to see the depths to which McCain has gone in his personal sell-out to buy the active support of the ‘conservative’ movement in the United States. He has placed a heartbeat away from his potential Presidency a paleo-con who disagrees with him on fundamentals (McCain himself has no sympathy with any of the first three of the four points asterisked above; for instance, he claims to be absolutely serious about stopping global over-heat — …and yet he is willing to put a climate-denier in the White House!).

This is how Obama can win: if he stops selling out, and is truer for the remainder of the campaign to his progressive instincts.

McCain should increasingly come over as the desperately-opportunistic phony that the Palin choice once again proves that he really is.

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Blogging Green Party Conference

I won't be blogging as much as usual here at R's R in the next several days: instead, you can find me over at http://greendespatches.blogspot.com/
, blogging Green Party Conference!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Caroline Lucas's new NEW STATESMAN article

On leadership, and the Green New Deal...
Do check it out!

New Orleans not out of the woods (sic.) yet...

New Orleans shouldn't breathe a sigh of relief prematurely - here come Hanna and Ike. This is a truly dreadful hurricane season. Expect more like it, in coming years...
Yes, the message is: Vote Green or the planet gets it...  And that means: the humans get it...
[Are we getting this yet? ... ]

Climate Warning Bells for East Anglia

For the second year running, melting of the sea ice in the Arctic is at record levels. Manmade climate change is causing the ice area to fall and the ice depth to thin.  
Scientists predicted just a few years ago that the North Pole would be ice free in summer - but not until 2070. The current loss of summer ice suggests it could be much sooner.
Once summer sea ice disappears, the Arctic will warm even faster - a "feedback" effect as white reflective ice is replaced by dark absorbing ocean.
Whilst melting sea ice does not raise sea levels, melting land ice does. The biggest threat is the isolation of Greenland. Surrounded by warming ice-free seas in summer, the land based ice cap will melt faster. If the Greenland ice cap were to go completely, global sea levels would rise about 20 feet.
The melting of the Greenland ice cap would place East Anglia increasingly at risk from major coastal flooding - both short term storm surges and longer term steady sea level rise. Whilst it might be possible to defend larger towns for some time, many smaller communities, and large areas of agricultural land would fall to the advancing sea more quickly.
Already, there has been some "managed retreat" in East Anglia, and reports of plans for larger retreats. But a rapid melting of Greenland would make all that has happened to date seem trivial. No-one knows how fast the a full melt of Greenland would take (it might be as much as centuries), but even a partial melting would threaten many vulnerable parts of East Anglia at or below sea level, including the coastal strip of Essex, the Fens and the Broads. Even Norwich's Carrow Road football ground is just 2 metres above current sea levels.
Increasing frequency of storms and extreme rain events are also a warning sign of climate change. As New Orleans is battered by its second hurricane in just 3 years - they haven't even had time to make all the repairs from the last one! (Is this what the future holds? An increased level of disasters such that we never get back to full normality / to where we were before the disasters hit?) - and flooding events increase worldwide, increasing numbers of people are being hit directly by dangerous climate change impacts - largely caused by accelerating carbon emissions.
These events are warning ells for East Anglia and that urgent action is needed to cut carbon emissions by moving to a green economy based on energy efficiency, renewables and local economic development, not more globalisation.
These events are nature's way of warning us that we have to radically change direction, and soon. If we don't take the measures required to deliver a stable liveable climate, then the future outlook for low-lying areas such as East Anglia is grim indeed.
Everyone knows what needs to be done and we keep hearing all the right noises from the corridors of power. But no action. Whilst the Government says it does take climate change seriously, it presses on with plans for a second runway at Stansted, more major road building, a fleet of waste incinerators, even bigger container ports, and so on. These policies are simply incompatible with the big cuts in carbon emissions required. 
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered the city emptied in the face of what he called "the storm of the century." [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-08-31-gustav-sunday_N.htm ] But there was already a 'storm of the century' in the same city, just three years ago. Climate chaos is becoming the norm.  It's important enough, so I'll say it again:
The clean-up and rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina is still not finished -- and now it is getting wrecked again... If manmade climate change is not brought under control, then this may be the new norm: that repairs from the last deadly storm never get fully-made. And over time, if global-temperature-rise is not brought under control, then we will start to get more hurricanes in Britain (We are already experiencing more tornados than was the case 50 years ago).
Thankfully, Gustav seems to be turning out a lot less catastrophic than was feared. But it has still killed, and is still immensely damaging. Right now, my thoughts are with the people of Haiti, the Dominican Republica, Cuba, Mississippi and Louisiana, who have suffered from or are suffering from this deadly storm. But if they and all of us are to be helped, then what is needed is clear: Green Party policies need to be introduced, here and worldwide (via our sister Green Parties and the broader Green movement). A seismic shift is needed in our polities. Only the Greens can be trusted to be serious and to deliver on this most important of all issues...
1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: September 2008 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.