Ever since lite-Right nostalgia merchants UKIP goosestepped onto the national stage in the 2014 European Elections, it seems like a day hasn’t gone by without a new controversy making the headlines. When a bunch of actual, professional politicians are as
bigoted fascinating as this, it can be hard to keep up with all the gossip – which is why, every Sunday, we’re going to be bringing you The Week in UKIP, your one-stop shop for everything Nigel Farage and associates managed to do wrong in just a single week.
2015 Gates Annual Letter
It is fair to ask whether the progress we’re predicting will be stifled by climate change. The most dramatic problems caused by climate change are more than 15 years away, but the long-term threat is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively — right now — to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand, and emit zero carbon dioxide. The next 15 years are a pivotal time when these energy sources need to be developed so they’ll be ready to deploy before the effects of climate change become severe. Bill is investing time in this work personally (not through our foundation) and will continue to speak out about it.
I love the positivity of his messages and the work he is doing to improve the lives of those that need it most. His call for us to become global citizens is greatly needed to tackle many of the problems we face and stop thinking, acting and voting just for ourselves.
However, global warming is such a big and immediate issue — we have until 2017 to start reducing carbon dioxide output, after that we lock in >2ºC dangerous, irreversible warming — that despite all the progress being made in developing countries today, the effects of climate change are likely to negate much of that work in the future.
In addition, this text demonstrates a lack of understanding about how the climate works. The carbon dioxide we emit today can take as long as 40 years to have its full effect, which means Gates’ plan of finding and deploying an energy source before the effects become severe in the next 15 years is redundant. While we can’t link specific weather events directly to global warming, we are seeing a trend of more extreme events and temperatures already — 2014 was the warmest year on record, indeed every year of the 21st century so far is in the top 15 warmest years on record.
Gates is bound by capitalist ideology, his emphasis on the need to develop a ‘miracle cure’ source of energy is evidence of that. He is a major investor in TerraPower, a nuclear startup (centralised energy sources fit into our current energy generation economic model, where large profit can still be extracted from the masses — existing low carbon energy sources are largely distributed) and climate engineering ideas such as sucking Carbon Dioxide out the air (an idea that is very controversial and will take more time than we have). Oh, and the Gates Foundation has at least $1bn invested in BP and ExxonMobil along with other investments in oil and gas exploration, production, services and engineering firms.
We have the technology we need to start solving the problem today, but it will require a fundamental shift of focus and wealth. We are putting profit before the place we live. We are betting big on the miracle cure in the future. What if that miracle never happens?
While Shamocracy is not affiliated with any specific political party, we find that although Labour and the Lib Dems have some progressive policies, on the whole their policies are not very cohesive or strong. They’re also increasingly right leaning, without either party taking a firm stance on the real issues.
The Green Party, on the other hand, has relatively distinct policies that are particularly forward thinking and would represent a real change to society and the environment. Global warming is pushing the earth into a danger zone and we are currently in “decade zero”; we have until 2017 to start reducing carbon dioxide output if we are to prevent irreversible climate change, so the environment is a much bigger priority than most parties will admit. But it’s the Greens’s social policies which most people find compelling — they promise an end to austerity through greater tax on the most wealthy and corporations. They would seek to close tax loopholes and improve social services. They would introduce a citizen’s income replacing all benefits and state pensions (and the associated administration overhead) to provide everyone with a fixed, continuous income funded by current welfare spending and income tax. The Greens are also the only party of the ‘big five’ that promise a basic wage that matches living costs, as opposed to the now-unworkable minimum wage which means 60% of people below the poverty line are in work. Continue reading
The attacks in Paris last week were abhorrent and inexcusable. The response of solidarity and need to protect our freedom of speech is very encouraging, as that is the only reaction we can have to events like this that doesn’t further incite violence. It is important not to react in anger.
The first attack on Charlie Hebdo, a french satirical magazine, was a direct response to cartoons they had published which mocked Islam, attacking one of our most closely held human rights, the right to freedom of speech. In a video filmed after the first attacks, Amedy Coulibaly, the person responsible for killing a police woman and four civilians at the Jewish convenience store, spoke about the west attacking the ‘Caliphate’ (a form of Islamic government) and Islamic State, and asserting the West believes it ‘decides what happens on Earth’.
To understand why events like this occur and perhaps deduce how they can be prevented we have to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the attackers as we step through history to find what might have led them to the violent conclusion we saw this week. Continue reading
I’m currently reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, a really enlightening read which stresses the urgency of the global warming problem, the reasons for the political stagnation we are experiencing and the potential solutions and opportunites. In part of the book Klein spells out what a bad idea hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is. Coupled with the news that a recent report on fracking has been censored, I felt the need to write to my MP Jane Ellison, the Conservative MP for Battersea, to express my concerns. Here’s the letter I wrote in full. If you want to write to your own MP, WriteToThem makes it easy.
Because censorship should be reserved for indecency, not for the parody of ideas.
Because the assumption that you can appease a small portion of fanatics whose hatred is already fundamental through censorship is severely misguided.
Because everyone has a right to choose a religion, and with choosing comes the understanding that not everyone will share the same views.
Because assuming that the Charlie Hebdo killers represent other followers of the Islamic faith is to forget that one of the 12 killed at the magazine’s offices was a Muslim police officer.
Because the suggestion otherwise that a small group of extremists represents 1.6 billion believers in Mohammed is not just absurd, but offensive to the sane majority.
Things today seem to be pretty negative, and the solutions seem to be distant or even unreachable. Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, so here are a few suggestions for things you could do to enact change in your own life. If everyone took action on these ideas we would be a lot closer to the society we all want. Continue reading
Much of world’s fossil fuel reserve must stay buried to prevent climate change
New research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands
The environment must take precedence over profits. After four decades of trade liberalisation, it’s going to be a tough fight.