Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The sad truth about politics today

Let's face it, it's no longer Left vs Right, it's open minded people who make logical & rationale decisions to influence their politics vs people who  believe the tabloids or Facebook propaganda (e.g. illegulz getin benifits, gota luk afta r own) or who generally care more about the X Factor than the government. People who believe the solution to the housing crisis in the UK is cutting down on immigration, whilst ignoring the fact there are 930,000 empty homes in Britain.

Meanwhile the government are presenting 'positive', populist policies whilst being dictated to by the tax avoiding corporations & wealthy donors. Every scandal that emerges, whether it's to with politicians, police, tabloids or the BBC, only continues to reinforce the masses' views that 'politicians are all the same' & therefore even if they did vote, it wouldn't make a difference.

Then there are the people who do vote but choose the 'protest' vote of either BNP or UKIP. UKIP wave their Union Jack flag & spout ridiculous bigoted crap suggesting if we leave the EU & cut down on immigration, Britain wouldn't have to worry about the deficit & cutting employment & environmental regulation would sort out the unemployment problem. They neglect to mention their policy of a flat rate of tax of 31% for people on £11,500 or more right up until the highest paid person in Britain. How exactly they plan to still fund schools, the NHS, emergency services & our armed forces, well they don't have to mention that because the working class who vote for them don't think like that.

I honestly don't know what the answer is- I've tried telling people time & time again that the amount we give out to foreign aid is only 10% of the amount lost to tax evasion & tax avoidance each year. I've tried telling people that the Tories promised to match Labour's spending plans right up until 2008 & actually called for less regulation of the banks in 2006, so the deficit would be just as high had they won a majority in 2005.

Meanwhile the rest of us are still preaching to the converted because we haven't the foggiest how to get the message across to this gullible square eyed majority. Indeed this blog post will probably only be read by the progressives amongst us, people who agree with most of what I say, so it's really probably not having a positive effect at all.

Britain, like the US & Canada is sick. And I don't think there's a doctor who knows what the cure is.

*The final version of this article was posted via Politics UK @ http://politicsuk.eu/archives/11745

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ed, show us your anger

Someone once said  'The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough.'

Last week I was at a protest in Victoria with 3500+ people
about the proposed plan to allow a pipeline for the oil sands through the province I live in, (British Columbia).

I heard from leaders of First Nations who are all against the pipeline, environmentalists & several politicians from the New Democrats who all oppose the pipeline. I agree with everything they said but at times it seemed like they were reading off a script, & many of them had the same script.

Then Elizabeth May, the leader of the Canadian Green Party & a local MP stepped up & blew me away. Her words weren't much different than what the others had said, but it was the way that she said it- she showed genuine anger & passion against the pipeline. Now I'm an NDP supporter but I have to say that it was Ms May that most inspired me the most. Please do take time to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1Ady8WCwvA

In an age of apathy & indifference to politicians from the general public,  I can't help thinking if more of our politicians did this, it would make a difference. In the UK, many people now consider the Tories & Labour to be offering much the same- cuts to public services, higher taxes on the poor & middle classes & nothing new. This is despite Ed Miliband outlining several new Labour policies in the last year such as  a bank bonus tax, vocational education, plans to build 100,000 new homes, a youth jobs guarantee, cutting tuition fees, restorative policing and a proper plan for jobs and growth, Of course we need more than this. 

But as well as more progressive policies, Miliband has to show he's different than Cameron & Clegg- he needs to show he's genuinely ANGRY about the cuts that are being forced on disabled people, unemployed people, people on minimum wage & other vulnerable people. Genuinely ANGRY that at a time of the biggest austerity agenda the country has ever seen, the Tory led government is cutting the top rate of tax & doing nothing to reign in the irresponsible bankers that caused this crisis. We need Ed to show he's not just another Neoliberal politician happy to carry on with the status quo, but that he is standing with the majority of the country in opposing the current government. 

So come on Ed, we need your anger. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The US ignores climate change, but climate change does not ignore the US

Only 42% of Americans believe that climate change is caused by human activities that release carbon emissions into the air. (Despite every single science academy in the world agreeing on this). And climate change wasn't mentioned once in any of the 3 presidential debates between President Obama & Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, A massive tropical cyclone, after bringing death & destruction to many parts of the Caribbean, has brought a record-breaking storm surge to New York City, with numerous streets and tunnels flooded in Lower Manhattan and other areas of the city. 50 Americans are dead & millions are without power.

An American preacher, John McTernan has claimed that Hurricane Sandy is God's way of punishing America for Obama & Romney being 'pro-homosexual' as well as Obama being in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood 'which has vowed to destroy Israel'. (http://www.ibtimes.com/hurricane-sandy-caused-homosexuals-president-obama-evangelist-preacher-john-mcternan-says-8559330

Now I don't believe in any God, be it Yahweh, Allah, Zeus or Krishna, I instead turn to science to explain where we came from (evolution) & also for why extreme climate events occur. And I believe that this 'Frankinstorm' is due in part to climate change.  

Of  course extreme weather events have happened long before man started burning fossil fuels & therefore warming the planet by 0.8°C since the industrial revolution, (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/decadaltemp.php) but scientists tell us that they will be made worse due to climate change. This is because as the Earth warms, the oceans warm & warmer oceans create stronger hurricanes. (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22382-tidal-records-expose-surge-in-hurricanes.html)

The IPCC has reported that it was “likely” that tropical cyclones would get stronger, with faster winds and heavier rainfall, as the world warms. (http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-es-13-tropical-cyclones.html)

This was also a year of record breaking temperatures in the US, record drought conditions in the country's corn belt. Drought is another example of an extreme weather event that climate change makes worse. So whilst the threat of climate change may seem distant to even those that believe in it, that is far from true- the truth it is it is negatively affecting the US economy & therefore the people now. 

My hopes go out to the people of New York, & other affected areas that Hurricane Sandy leaves in his wake. David Attenborough mentioned this week that "It would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to the dangers of global warming ." I hope too that if some good can come of this it will be that Obama, Romney & politicians in the US will start to have a serious debate about climate change- accept the fact that combating global warming now will ensure we do not leave the world in a far worse place than when we arrived in it. To paraphrase George H G Bush, "it's time for the White House Effect to stop the Greenhouse Effect."

If you wish to read more about this subject, here are some good links:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I am Political, then I am everything else I am

I believe I have always had an inquisitive, logical & rationale mind; My mum tells me my favourite word when I was younger was 'Why?' I became an atheist when I was 12 & told my parents I no longer wanted to go to church; I remember explaining to my sister that horoscopes are a load of BS, when she said 'So how come it matches me inside out then??' I said 'Read the other 11 & they do too'; I remember I had to take a survey about whether to ban smoking home from school  to ask my parents, & I thought because my Mum didn't smoke, she would want it banned. I was surprised that she didn't, & to this day, I am fascinated by peoples' political opinions & where they get them from. I used to ask my Dad who he voted for (Tory) though it never occured to me that I should vote for them just because he did.

I stayed at my mate's house almost every other weekend throughout my teens & his Dad used to talk about politics, war & religion etc. Then after school I took English Language A Level & remember enjoying the lesson where we learnt about newspapers' political stances, as well as Media where I enjoyed learning about how the media distorts the news & information. I then took Sociology A Level where I remember enjoying reading about crime & punishment, its effect on society & effective ways to combat it, as well as other issues in society. Around this time I started getting the Daily Mail on Saturdays (best tv mag & also I enjoyed reading the balance between proper news & celebrity stuff).  My Media tutor had recommended that our class read the Media Guardian so one day I bought that, read the whole Guardian, including a special section in G2 about the achievements of New Labour- I was impressed & after reading it, it occured to me that most of what I read in the Daily Mail was sensationalist bigoted bollocks & I was a New Labour supporter!!

I began reading the Independent & decided to go to university to get a Business Degree, & so started reading the Economist, which widened my knowledge of international affairs. Still a New Labourite, I learnt about climate change in an Environmental Management unit in my degree, & learnt how it's perfectly possible for a business to be profitable & sustainable at the same time. After writing an essay on corporate governance & corporate responsibility for another unit, it reinforced my views about business ethics & how a business has a responsibility to other stakeholders other than its shareholders such as its employees, the wider community, etc.

At this point I worked at the local supermarket & a lot of people would read the Sun, Star etc in the canteen, & some would rant about 'benefit scroungers', immigrants etc. Well I realised I couldn't help but argue back at them, pointing out the lies & propaganda from the tabloids. After finishing my degree, I was able to focus more on politics than business, & I joined the Labour Party & started reading politics books.

 I emigrated to Canada this year & after reading more about sustainability & climate change, it has occured to me that recycling, saving rainforests etc is vital but ultimately in order to combat climate change we have to move towards a fairer post- neoliberal economic system that doesn't damage the environment,  & isn't reliant on growth or an infinite amount of resources (such as fossil fuels) in a finite world. I am now involved with the social democratic party of Canada, the New Democrats, going to protests each month, continuing to read about how we can bring about a sustainable world & fighting for equality for women and minorities such as homosexuals, first nations & disabled people.. I am political, then I am everything else I am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stop mixing the science of climate change with the politics of climate change!!!

Are there too many immigrants in Britain? No but there are too many people in the world. Is multiculturalism a threat to British culture? No British culture is always changing & I love living in a society with a diverse range of people. Is gay marriage a threat to 'traditional marriage'? No it will just mean that people aren't discriminated against based on their sexuality. Should Britain renew Trident? No the £30 billion or so it will cost would be much better spent on reducing poverty in the UK. Should we intervene in Syria? I'm not in favour of us doing an 'Iraq' on them but I definitely think we should do something, such as a no-fly zone or put pressure on different divisional commanders in the Syrian army to flip sides. Should the top rate of income tax in the UK be higher? No but I think the government should do more to clamp down on both tax avoidance & tax evasion by corporations & wealthy individuals. Should the UK bring back the death penalty? No it's inhumane & doesn't act as a deterrent. Would a communist society work? No but I believe capitalism will evolve into a more ethical & sustainable economic system within the next century. 

Now all of the above questions are asking me of my political opinion on such matters. I answered them with my political opinion, I may well be wrong on them & my answers will stem from a mixture of my logical & emotional reasoning. I can offer evidence for my opinions if asked but I don't think any one of my above opinions stated could be considered a 'fact'. 

My belief in climate change however is taken from a scientific perspective. After learning about climate change in a unit called 'Environmental Management' during my Business degree, I have looked into the science on many scientific websites, listened to what the national scientific bodies say & I am sure that human activity is the prime reason for the recent rise in warming in the last 200 years. My belief in climate change is as certain as my belief in evolution- the vast majority of scientists in their field support both theories.

I have researched the science of climate change by using reputable scientific websites such as the Royal Society's. The Royal Society acts as the UK's academy of sciences & is many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is "to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity."

The following quote is taken from the official website of the Royal Society: "It is certain that increased greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use change lead to a warming of climate, and it is very likely that these greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of the global warming that has been taking place over the last 50 years." 

And "The Society has worked on the issue of climate change for many years to further the understanding of this issue. These activities have been informed by decades of publicly available, peer-reviewed studies by thousands of scientists across a wide range of disciplines. Climate science, like any other scientific discipline, develops through vigorous debates between experts, but there is an overwhelming consensus regarding its fundamentals. Climate science has a firm basis in physics and is supported by a wealth of evidence from real world observations."

Here's what the world's most prestigious scientific bodies put it in a joint statement signed by the heads of the national science academies in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US:

"The existence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is vital to life on Earth – in their absence average temperatures would be about 30 centigrade degrees lower than they are today. But human activities are now causing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone, and nitrous oxide – to rise well above pre-industrial levels. 

Carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 ppm in 1750 to over 375 ppm today – higher than any previous levels that can be reliably measured (i.e. in the last 420,000 years). Increasing greenhouse gases are causing temperatures to rise; the Earth’s surface warmed by approximately 0.6 centigrade degrees over the twentieth century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that the average global surface temperatures will continue to increase to between 1.4 centigrade degree." (http://www.nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf)

Now onto my political beliefs regarding climate change- I believe through a mixture of environmental legislation, consumer pressure to make organisations more environmentally friendly & ethical, greater education & awareness about climate change as it increasingly has a negative impact on people around the world, we will help to prevent climate change from  making our planet uninhabitable. I believe the solutions to climate change will come from a variety of political persuasions so the sooner all sides accept the science the sooner we can focus more on the politics & the possible solutions. 

Below are several other reputable & scientific sources on climate change:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What is happening in Syria means we need a bullet proof global arms trade treaty more than ever

For over a year the ruthless Assad dictatorship in Syria has terrorised and murdered thousands of its own people. The bodies of adults and children have been burnt and destroyed by the Assad army. A recent UN report has revealed that children have been used by Syrian troops as ‘human shields’ and as child soldiers during the conflict.

The US government has alleged that Russia is sending attack helicopters to the regime and warned that Syria’s conflict could become even deadlier. Russia has continued to insist that any arms it supplies to the country are not being used to suppress anti-government dissent. Personally I think that’s bullshit- Russia's veto of the UN security council resolution on Syria was followed by reports of continuing arms sales by Russia's state arms trader.

It is estimated that almost 10,000 civilians have been killed in Syria – the time has come for Russia to stop transferring arms to Syria. But Russia isn’t the only one responsible for the deadly but booming arms trade- $45-60 billion arms sales are agreed each year. Each year enough bullets are made to kill every person on this planet twice; At least 1500 people are killed in armed conflict & violence every single day- these deaths are not unavoidable. They are the tragic consequence of an arms trade that is out of control.

It is one of most corrupt trades in world, a lot of the arms that western governments have sold have gone into the hands of military dictatorships or corrupt governments. Tea gas grenades used by Egypt security forces to gas their own citizens in November 2011 were supplied by the US, some were even made in the UK. A recent Amnesty report  highlighted how the UK, USA, France and other countries sent weapons to Libya, Bahrain and Yemen despite clear signs that these weapons would be used by repressive governments against its own civilians.

This senseless violence could have stopped a long time ago, but for Russia and China vetoing UN Security Council resolutions, putting profit from arms sales before people.
We have treaties to regulate the global trade of many products, even Bananas, dinosaur bones, postage stamps, but not guns & bullets- there is virtually no accountability on how weapons are traded between countries, or how they are used. 

There will be a meeting at the United Nations in New York next month, where countries from around the world will gather to negotiate the first-ever international arms trade treaty.
The aim of such a treaty is to have a globally agreed set of standards to regulate the trade of all conventional arms, stopping the sale of weapons to places that pose a serious risk to human rights. 

A draft treaty has already been published, which – if adopted – would ban all weapons sales to countries that could use them to abuse human rights, or encourage corruption or armed violence. Most countries support the idea of such a treaty, but under pressure from their own arms industry, some want it watered down. China, India, Pakistan want to leave out small arms like machine guns & assault weapons. US wants to leave out bullets. Anna Macdonald, head of arms control campaigning at Oxfam, states: "Guns are useless without bullets. Bullets are what turn guns into lethal weapons. It is absolutely essential that the sale of ammunition is included in the treaty. It would be totally irrational to leave it out. The price paid in human lives for the trade in ammunition is incalculable."

The UN security council's permanent members, China, France, Russia, UK and the USA, are also (alongside Germany) the world's largest profiteers from arms sales. If this treaty is going to work, it needs to include a wide range of weapons, equipment & deals, & it must safeguard human rights.

There is a need to push for a treaty that regulates and asks states to track their sales of ammunitions. The problem is that conflict zones are already flooded with weapons. It is the continued sale of ammunition that makes those weapons far more deadly than the clubs they would be otherwise.

The UK government must take a leading role in the international talks to secure a binding and comprehensive arms trade treaty to stem the flow of weapons and ammunition to rights abusing governments. To help save those lives all you need to do is persuade Cameron to get it right. He can only do that by publically committing that the UK will not compromise on human rights during the negotiations. 

The world needs a bullet proof arms trade treaty. Please email your MP now asking them to support one

For further information on this, here’s a few links:

*A shorter version of this article was published through the UK's most popular left wing blog, Liberal Conspiracy @ http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/07/04/syria-is-proof-we-need-a-global-arms-trade-treaty/

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Our grandparents fought, died and defeated the greatest threat in their lifetime so that we could have our freedom...we should live a more sustainable life so that our grandchildren can enjoy theirs

We are very passionate about remembering our war dead, our war heroes that fought and died in the name of democracy, and rightly so. They did it because it was the right thing to do, to fight the Nazis and Hitler’s fascist agenda. If they had just sat back and said “Ah, it’ll be ok”, “I can’t be bothered today” etc then we wouldn’t be here today, we’d all be speaking German, and wouldn’t be able to enjoy the many freedoms we have in a liberal democracy. Our ancestors, including my great granddad, William Whitmarsh who fought under Field Marshall Montgomery in North Africa defeated the greatest threat in their lifetime. It would have negatively affected them had they not won and Europe, and probably the world would be a lot darker place than it is today. The Daily Mail claimed the Nazis weren’t a threat and today the same sensationalist tabloid is refusing to admit the truth about the greatest threat we face today.

Today the greatest threat to humanity is climate change, man made climate change. Some people refuse to believe it. To those that deny its existence, you are disagreeing with 97% of climate scientists, with 35,000 of the world’s scientists of the IPCC, and with science. I’m afraid that no matter how hard you argue with science, it will always win because science is based on cold hard evidence. The evidence for man made climate change is overwhelming- (here it is). Each year, human activity causes billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. As scientists have known for decades, these gases capture heat that would otherwise escape to space – the equivalent of wrapping the planet in an invisible blanket. This has caused the earth to warm by 1.4 °F in the last 100 years, threatening the habitat of many plants and animals already.

We are running out of oil and global production is likely to peak in about 10 years. Relying on this finite source of energy not only damages the environment but pushes prices up, hitting the economy. Some of the consequences include rising sea levels, an increase in the number of people exposed to devastating droughts and floods, and a potentially massive increase in extinction rates. Not to be alarmist but scientists say that we could see a 70% wipe out of all life on this planet by the end of the century. It will have grave consequences for our grandchildren. I care not because I want to have my name on a plaque but like my great grandfather, I care because it’s the right thing to do.

And yet the only war we need to fight is against the burning of fossil fuels; the only enemy we face is ourselves; our burning ambition to keep on with our addiction to oil; we need to realise that we cannot keep on with an capitalist economic system that relies on infinite growth in a world with finite resources. There is constant opposition to fighting climate change from the right wing tabloids such as the Daily Mail because of the short termism to Tory policies and many people refusing to change their unsustainable lifestyle. BP and other oil companies spend millions on PR and lobbying our government's to reduce environmental regulation.

This is all we need to do- realise the facts, and start thinking about how we can all live a more responsible, sustainable life. We need a change in culture and it won’t come unless we all come together and realise that we just need to make a few sacrifices in our lives.

If you would like any further information on climate change this is an excellent link


This is a good link for how to live a more sustainable life: http://sustainableliving.about.com/

There are other things you can do, such as tell Nick Clegg to make himself useful for once!!