Saturday, 25 June 2011

Britain should avoid dangerous #nuclear distraction - News release from the Green Party.

Here in the Eastern Region we are on the verge of another reactor at #Sizewell, as well as one Bradwell, the technology is far from safe, with the waste generated being left for generations to come. Sadly, the Green Party is now the only political Party opposing nuclear power in this country. While public opinion here and across the world is swinging strongly against nuclear.

 East of England Green Party Co-ordinator Rupert Read said, "Nuclear power is a toxic timebomb. It is the very opposite of green. It is crazy to be contemplating building new nuclear, while the situation at Fukushima in Japan is still spiralling out of control."
  Green Party national Deputy Leader Adrian Ramsay, speaking in Norwich, has responded to the
 government's announcement that up to eight new reactor sites have been
 designated for development on behalf of the national Green Party.

 Mr Ramsay said:

 "While the Conservatives and LibDems often talk about being 'the greenest
 government ever', the Coalition partners show their real priorities with
 their policies. Reducing carbon emissions must be a top priority; this
 fixation on nuclear will divert investment away from the real solution -
 energy efficiency measures and renewable energy."

 With the recent revelation that three of the four affected reactors at
 Fukushima experienced full meltdown, and plants in America being put on
 alert or shut down as a result of flooding alongside the Missouri River
 [1], the risks involved with nuclear power are being illustrated all too
 clearly. And the public is taking notice; Italian voters have
 overwhelmingly rejected Silvio Berlusconi's plans to restart the
 country's nuclear programme [2], and Germany has committed to closing
 all of its plants by 2022 [3].

 Mr Ramsay concluded:

 "There are good reasons why countries across Europe are turning away from
 nuclear power and yet the British government is taking us in the opposite
 direction. Nuclear power creates a toxic legacy of waste and is bad value
 for money. Investing the same amount in energy efficiency and renewable
 energy would make much more difference more quickly in reducing carbon
 emissions, making our energy supply more secure and creating skilled,
 lasting jobs."


 1. See

 2. See  95% of Italians voted NO to nuclear.

 3. See

Friday, 24 June 2011

RR on the Beeb on nuclear and on equality

You can listen again to me on BBC Radio Norfolk this morning, here: 
Go 1 hour 8 minutes in. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Upcoming Seminar...Sustainability and social democracy

Sustainability and social democracy

A seminar to debate how the centre-left and the environmental movement can share goals, policies and approaches.

Progressives have been torn by how to respond in principle, in practice and politically to increased global temperatures and the rise of environmental politics. Compass has produced an e-book looking at whether and how the traditions of social democracy and sustainability might be squared. A range of authors examine exactly how social democracy should respond to the imperative of sustainability.

Compass with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung is holding a morning seminar of key Labour, union and environmental politicians, thinkers and activists to discuss the e-book and begin a more fundamental debate about whether and how the social and democratic can be reconciled with the sustainable. This UK focused seminar is a precursor to a bigger European seminar being planned for the Autumn 2012 in London as part of the Compass/FES ongoing Building the Good Society debate.

The Sustainability and Social Democracy Debate

Thursday 14th July 2011
At the London Office of the FES
66 Great Russell Street London WC1B 3BN


Speakers will introduce the topics briefly which will allow for maximum discussion time.

9.00 Welcome and Introduction
Neal Lawson (Compass)

9.05 General Principles of Red/Green politics. Where do we agree, where do we differ?
Neal Lawson (Compass) Jean Lambert (tbc) (Green MEP for London)

10.05 Coffee Break

10.15 Is Economic Growth Desirable?
Introduction by Victor Anderson (Convener of the Compass Sustainability Panel) Responses from Cllr Rupert Read (Green Party) and Howard Reed (Landman Economics)

11.30 Red/Green Politics in Practice – How to build red/green coalitions
John Hare (Green Party) and Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party)

12.30 Concluding Comments and Next Steps
Victor Anderson and Neal Lawson

12.45 End

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A reply to Bindel

What lesbians don't understand about straight men: 
See what you think!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Talk on guardians for future generations, given by me


Thursday 14th July 2011, 1300-1400

45B AZ 04

University of Surrey

Dr Rupert Read

UEA (Philosophy)

A policy proposal to take future generations seriously:

Strong guardians



Plato said that, if we are to have a just society, we should be ruled by guardians. Habermas and

other deliberative-democratic philosophers of course abhor such autocracy. But: what if the

guardians were selected democratically, by sortition? And what if their deliberations became in turn

a high-profile model of what deliberation in a democratic society could be?

Still, there seems little case for substituting guardians for normal elected representatives, for

decisions which can be made about us, by us ourselves or by people who represent us. But: what

about cases where the people who ought to be heard in or even to be making the decisions have

no voice -- even over matters which are life or death matters for them?

Future people are the most obvious case of such people. I present therefore a broadly

Habermasian case for powerful guardians for future people, not only to act so as to give future

people standing in the political system, but, and more importantly, to take the formal place

occupied in our current political system by the royal assent, and make something meaningful and

major out of it: to give future people a real veto (as our kings and queens used to have) over

legislation. This would be likely to produce outcomes a lot closer to perfect, or at least a lot further

from impending apocalypse, than those provided by our current institutions. For it would give future

people not just a proxy voice, but the closest approximation we can give them to a vote, indeed a

casting vote, that where necessary comprehensively outvotes us, the people alive today. And after

all, this is surely appropriate; for, so long as we bequeath to future people a decent and survivable

inheritance, there will over time be a lot more of them than there are of us…



Enquiries to Claire Livingston, RESOLVE Admin Assistant, 01483 686689

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Death threats against climate scientists in Oz: fascinating article, and depressing in several ways

You know that you are making an impact when they threaten to kill you...:

40Mw biomass plant using straw (and wood) under consultation... AND: Straw shortages in region... Hmmm...

From our local paper, the Eastern Daily Press:

1. Thursday June 15th :  Public to "have their say" on 40Mw Snetterton biomass plant using straw and wood chip:  See  [I will be going to a preview of this public exhibition.]

2. Friday June 16th :  Shortage of straw fears for pig farmers (as below) reported by NFU

... A need for joined up thinking about resources ?! ...

Shortage of straw fears for pig farmers

By MICHAEL POLLITT, Agricultural editor
Friday, June 17, 2011
8:16 AM

A shortage of straw from drought-stricken crops across eastern England will cause headaches for livestock farmers, the National Pig Association warned last night.

As arable farmers gathered for the industry event, Cereals 2011, the National Farmers' Union estimated that the national wheat harvest will be 15pc lower than the five-year average yield.

Barley crops grown for animal feed and for maltsters along the eastern seaboard have been hit hard by the drought and some Norfolk farmers are turning cereals into animal feed.

Arable farmers are being urged to bale all available straw this year, including from oilseed rape crops to assist livestock producers who face a serious shortage of bedding. It could also pose problems for vegetable growers, who traditionally use hundreds of tonnes of straw to protect over-wintered root crops like carrots and parsnips.

"There is going to be significant straw deficit in the eastern half of England and we need all arable farmers to go the extra mile to help keep their pig farmer customers in business," said Howard Revell, chairman of the NPA's producer group.

He said that pig farmers, who use more than 350,000 tonnes of straw, were already paying record prices for straw because they might not be enough to last the winter.

The NFU's prediction for the wheat harvest, which was announced yesterday at Cereals 2011, suggested a 14pc reduction of two million tonnes to 12m tonnes. Although the area in England planted was about the same as last year, the driest spring for a century has hit crops.

Last year, the total wheat harvest was 13.7m tonnes and an average yield of 7.82 tonnes per hectare or 3.1 tonnes an acre. The NFU's latest survey of farmers in eastern southern and central England suggests a yield of 6.5 tonnes per ha – one of the lowest figures for 20 years.

The NFU also estimated that yields of oilseed rape could be about 9pc less than the five-year average.

Many farmers in the east irrigated cereal crops in the spring against a backdrop of sharply increased cereal prices.

A tonne of feed wheat, for delivery in November, will be worth £185 against £94 per tonne last year. This northern European drought will further increase pressure on the prices of bread and food generally because of supply shortages will increase costs across every sector.

Last Friday, the government declared an official state of drought in parts of eastern England and some irrigation restrictions have already been imposed on about 100 farmers. Another 200 in Suffolk could be hit later this month.


RR comments: Distance is one big issue with this biomass plant.  They will likely say that they will vary demand based on market conditions,of course, and they will present straw as a waste stream - clearly isn't as far as pig farmers are concerned!   The wood is actually more worrying, and claims to source locally will be overtaken by events, as the UK biomass market demand starts to dwarf local/UK supply chains - local supply will go out of the window...

This biomass plant proposal does NOT, once one looks into the detail, look remotely green, to me...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Green Party wins by-election on Rochford District Council

Congratulations to Diane Hoy on last night's great result!:

>> Green - 757 - 50%
>> Tory -555 - 36%
>> Lab - 182 - 12%
>> UKIP - 26 - 2%

More news on Cllr Michael Hoy's blog

Nice comments from the local Labour Party

This takes us to 4 principle authority councillors in Essex and means we
have a group on Rochford (2) to join the group on Braintree (2).

Eastern Region now has 42 Green PA councillors on 14 authorities, compared
to 2 on 1 in 1999.

Coming soon to a bookshop near you - my latest work 'beyond the tractatus wars'

Sunday, 12 June 2011

What ecological sustainability ought to mean

Ecological sustainability require some kind of aspiration at least to genuinely respect the limits to growth. That we as a species have already breached. (See )
Here's my take on how these issues, especially the Green New Deal or its successor, should be framed:
What we actually need I think is the kind of programme envisaged in Tim Jackson's Prosperity without growth. 'Sustainable growth' by contrast is a piece of deceptive spin. I can't sign up to it; it would be like signing up to support 'clean coal'. It would be great if there were any reason at all to believe that it is an attainable objective. There isn't (see Porritt's book for the proof, btw), and there is good reason (see the work of Herman Daly, etc.) to believe that there is a principled reason why not. Because endless growth is a delusion, a fantasy. Now more than ever, with the world's ecological limits being increasingly breached, we need I believe to be clear about this.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Drought and Cuts - EXCLUSIVE

If the government are serious about ecosystem services and the benefits it brings to society then they would not be cutting staff, they would be investing in agencies like Natural England, in recognition of the longer term benefits (economic, social and environmental) that good 'ecosystem services' can bring.

But I can reveal today that they ARE cutting staff in precisely the aspects of the work of NE and other similar agencies which are responsible for - managing and preventing droughts...

Caroline Spelman MP basked in the triumph of DEFRA's UK National Ecosystems Assessment ('NEA'; an initiative, she failed to state that was conceived and started by the last Government) on the Today programme last week (June 2nd) telling listeners how: 'We have until now, I think, taken nature for granted very often and not understood that the services it provides actually do have cost and certainly if we destroy nature there is a really significant cost. So this is absolutely groundbreaking, we are the first country to do this and to actually get a full understanding of what we get free from nature and the factor that into our decision making.' She went on to praise the hard work of the 500 scientists who contributed to the assessment and told us how she had seen with her own eyes the importance of maintaining the flood preventing ecosystem services of the North Yorkshire moors just last week. At the other end of this scale, on today's (June 10th) 'Today', Spelman reacted to the East England drought by telling us that we need to build 'resilience' in the face of Manmade Climate Change, its hard not to agree with her. The UK NEA highlights the significant economic value of our ecosystem services, while noting the intangible spiritual value of nature. Cheif DEFRA scientist, Prof. Bob Watson stated at the UK NEA launch that 'There is an urgent need to better manage our ecosystems and the natural resources they provide us with.' Both he and Spelman clearly recognise the importance of protecting and enhancing the ability of the environment to do things like purify water running off from farm land, pollinate crops and flowers and provide us with spectacular views. The hypocrisy is this, DEFRA are saying all this while forcing budget cuts on the agencies responsible for protecting and enhancing these ecosystem services.

Last November, in the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review, Peter Nottage, a Regional director of Natural England, issued a response to the funding cuts being imposed on them. He said this: 'Natural England's funding allocation over the four years covered by the Spending Review has not yet been determined but, as you may be aware, we have plans in place for a cut in the region of 30%.' Nottage was falling on his sword a little bit here; he was moving sideways in the organisation as his role of Regional Director was to go immediately. The trimming of the Executive team was commensurate with this commitment: 'We are of course maintaining our focus on frontline delivery through this period of change and we will also be making sure that we retain our high levels of professional expertise across the full range of our work.' This 30% cut translates to the loss of a third of jobs at Natural England. Redundancies will come into effect in September as they seek to cut expenditure on salaries from £96.4m in 2009/10 to £70m in 2014/15. This will make it incredibly hard to do what Natural England is there to do, namely to 'protect and improve England's natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings' .

I have it on very good authority (see below) that frontline staff at Natural England will lose their jobs, some as soon as this autumn. It is massively frustrating to see Spelman and the Government getting away with this wholesale neglect of our environment. This article is intended to expose that neglect - so that they can't just get away with it...

It should have come as little surprise when an associate called a colleague of mine from the middle of a windy field in rural England to tell us that his/her job was on the line. He/she was at work, in a field; can you get any more frontline than that? It is likely that he/she will be made redundant this autumn, but he/she does not want the sack before then, so I can't name him/her. He/she is a scientist/technician working on Natural England's 'Delivering Nature's Services - The upland Ecosystem Services Pilots' ; a frontline project aiming: ''To demonstrate that investment in the natural environment can result in multiple benefits (carbon, water, biodiversity, recreational and health benefits...) for people and society in a cost effective way." These pilot projects make use of cutting edge science and expert scientists. Natural England have been successfully working with many of the UK's leading academics and commercial companies like United Utilities, Yorkshire Water and South West Water to deliver on this. They are making real strides, with benefits for business, communities, farmers and the environment -- but they are going to be stopped in their tracks thanks to the DEFRA imposed budget slash.

Making cuts in this kind of applied water-related research, at a time when (today) an unprecedented drought has just been declared across Norfolk (where I am writing from) and large parts of the East of England is the apotheosis of un-joined-up-government.

Our source told us how much of a direct link there is between the pilot projects he's been working on who are working in conjunction with the water agencies to what's going on in East Anglia and Eastern England more generally, today. Especially in terms of the likely removal of key EA staff who are there to improve ecosystem services, so that water is kept in the local ecosystems and does not just run off.

I'm told that only one of the the pilot projects will remain staffed, the others will not see it through to informed delivery. As today's drought shows us, the environment is increasingly coming under stress. Removing the experts who are capable of designing and delivering the much needed 'infrastructure', that Spelman quite rightly stressed the need for this morning, seems deeply illogical. Our associate tells us that Natural England is in total disarray, there is a tremendous loss of expertise across the organisation, staff are losing jobs left, right and centre and they have no clue which parts of their work will continue and which ones will fall by the wayside. I would not be surprised if the case is not similar in the other key government agencies that house the scientific knowledge and mechanisms needed to enhance our ecosystem services and protect our natural environment.

If the Government is serious in its proclamations about the importance of ecosystem services and protecting us against such things as today's droughts, it should be investing in more scientists for the front line, not cutting the jobs of literally hundreds of them.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Visiting Hullbridge on Tuesday 14th June in support of Green Party byelection Candidate Diane Hoy


I'm visiting Hullbridge on the afternoon of the 14th June with a small party from Norwich (including elected Councillors) to support Green Party Candidate Diane Hoy in this by-election... The by-election is being held on the 16th June and Diane stands a very good chance to become the second Green Councillor on the District Council by joining her husband Michael who was elected last year.

The key issue at this by-election is the Tory policy of building 500 houses on Green Belt land within the village.  This was opposed by over 800 residents during a consultation last year, which the Tory Administration has ignored and the Green Party will now be demanding that the Council meet to discuss this in full.

I am really looking forward to meeting the voters of Hullbridge this Tuesday. They have a great opportunity at this byelection to create a Green Party group on the local Council, by electing Diane to make up a Hoy husband-and-wife team on the Council. I think that local people are already well aware that only the Greens can be trusted to fight development on Green Belt land tooth and nail: now is the chance to strengthen that fight.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

#Lansley: a clever, ruthless liar

The lie is that there is a funding crisis threatening the N.H.S. IF his 'reforms' don't go through. The truth is simpler: that there is a funding crisis facing the NHS. Full stop. The government's cuts, the money wasted and given away to fatcats due to ongoing privatisation exercises (including of course PFI) and the lack of any serious efforts to 'green' the N.H.S. (e.g. to place more emphasis (and push more money into) on prevention, and less on mega-hospitals) mean that there is a huge funding hole looming in the N.H.S. over the next few years. Talk to anyone who understands the N.H.S. (such as those who advised the last government on it) as I have done, and they will tell you the same. The funding gap is unprecedentedly large. The wheels will come off, unless more money is injected, or unless management costs and money siphoned off to the private sector is removed, or unless the N.H.S. is 'greened' - or, preferably, all three.
What's clever of course is that, if Lansley gets away with the lie, then he wins either way. Either his ruthless, bold attempt to savage the NHS will be bought into, out of fear that, if he is right, then 'TINA'; or nevertheless the government backs off his 'reforms' under popular pressure, and he resigns, and then in 3 years' time he is 'vindicated', as the wheels come off the NHS, and he can say "I told you so". Maybe he then even gets drafted back in desperation, to go through with his 'reforms'; or maybe he then even makes a bid for the Deputy Leadership or the Leadership of the Tory Party, harnessing the discontent of right-wing true believers...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Nuclear power: STILL No Thanks!

So: the German Government is looking far enough to see sense as far as Nuclear power is concerned.
When will the UK follow Germany's lead, abandon its foolish nuclear ambitions, and invest properly in renewable energy instead? Solar, tidal, wave, wind and biomass are the energies of the future - and we are rich in all of them, here in the east of England.
I realise that there are those who will say that Bradwell and Sizewell are safe -- but the exact same thing was thought of Fukushima before the devastating consequences of the multiple meltdown that occurred. 300,000 people are going to have to end up leaving their homes - possibly forever. Is that really what we want, here in England's green and pleasant land?
These things were brought about by an inability to cool the reactors due, ironically, to an interruption in the water and energy supply to the Fukushima plant. That could happen anywhere - it doesn't need a tsunami...
Germany aims to replace its nuclear programme with a more flexible gas powered system, which is highly efficient and produces less harmful pollutants, combined of course with a much greater push towards renewables. This, they believe, will secure the energy needs of Germany for many years to come, and make the country _more_ energy secure.
The reality is that nuclear is far from safe, expensive to produce, hard to get rid of the waste the process produces, and not available now.
Let's be leaders in this forward thinking, rather than backward looking. Let's invest in clean, green, energies of the future. Not in poisonous nuclear.

Our children will thank us, if we make the right choice, this time.


1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: June 2011 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.