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.