Hostage Crisis: Earth!

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This article is partly a review of a very interesting book called; ‘The Missing Times: News media complicity in the UFO coverup’ by Terry Hansen and it's also about a very strange idea that bubbled up in my brain after reading the book.

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Firstly, I'll talk about Hansen’s book. ‘The Missing Times’ focusses on how the extremely large number of compelling UFOs incidents that have occurred worldwide in the last seventy years have been covered up and ignore by the U.S. media. The book does a very good job of investigating this issue and how local news is filtered to remove such stories before it reaches the major media outlets, but the book is also a very good study of the more general matter of how any topic that is frowned on by the establishment is covered in the mainstream media (i.e. television, film, books, newspapers etc). As Hansen shows, using exhaustive and detailed references, the major U.S. televisions channels, film studios and newspapers and the ones here in the U.K. all follow a very narrow line of what is and what isn’t eligible for print/broadcast. It is a filtering mechanism that Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore would certainly agree is present. Read More...

Free speech, war crimes and money

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For several weeks now, the Guardian newspaper in the UK has been lambasting Ken Livingstone for publicly mentioning that Hitler helped Zionists in the early 1930’s. According to the comments of many Jewish commentators, they think that by talking on this matter, Livingstone is encouraging a belief that Zionism and the Nazis were somehow in cahoots. They are, as a result, asking that Red Ken be expelled from the Labour Party.

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Personally, I think those Guardian commentators need to remember a famous comment by Voltaire:

‘I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to my death your right to say it’.


In other words, we must value free speech more than eradicating unpleasant comments. Free speech doesn’t just refer to the right of people to say popular things, it is a right for people to say whatever they want to say. Some jewish and secular people in the U.K. may be offended by Livingstone’s comments but he is stating a well-documented historical fact; Hitler did do a deal in the early 1930’s that helped Zionists settle in Israel. Whatever the implications are of this event, it did happen.

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It is extremely important in this country that people are allowed to openly make comments, even if the factual basis of those comments are disputed by some, without fear of serious punishment. Noam Chomsky ended up in a scandal when he said that a Holocaust denier should be allowed to speak without being criminalized. When others told Noam of their shock that he would ally with such a view, Chomsky patiently explained that he did not agree with what the man said; he was standing up for any person’s right to free speech, whatever he or she says. When censoring become legitimised, or laws are brought in that reduce human rights, those laws are inevitably used in the wrong way. When the U.K. government recently introduced a law allowing government departments to snoop on people, they loudly stated that the law would only be used to combat terrorism. Six months later, it was found that local councils were using to it to spy on families suspected of giving the wrong home address for school placements! This is clearly a minor misuse of such powers but there are other, much darker effects. Once censorship and human rights are eroded in a country, for any reason, that society inevitably becomes a dark, oppressive place.
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'Unearthly Disclosures' by Timothy Good book review

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Unearthly Disclosures by Timothy Good is all about UFOs and visiting aliens. I liked it. Timothy Good seems to know his stuff; he writes very well and he seems to have several high-up contacts in the US military and other relevant organisations. The fact that the book has a forward from Lord Hill-Norton, ex-Chief of the UK defence staff and chairman of NATO, shows that Good is respected in some influential circles.

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The best part, I think, of ‘Unearthly Disclosures’ is that the author does not seem to be working on behalf of the establishment. In my recent review of ‘Encounter in Rendlesham Forest’ by Tim Pope, I commented that Pope, who is ex-MoD, seems earnest and thorough but also seems to be giving a filtered version of what happened. It’s interesting to note that in Good's latest(ish) book 'Earth, an alien enterprise', he reports that Pope confessed in recent years that he worked in a government unit set up deliberately to rubbish the whole subject of UFOs. Pope did say ‘sorry’ but the damage was done. In comparison, I can find no indication that Good is distorting or covering up anything in this book, which is both refreshing and encouraging. Read More...

Climate Change, humanity and a tomato

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Three months ago, I was short-listed in the New Philosopher magazine for my article about luck but I didn't win. The new issue is out of the magazine but unfortunately I didn't make the short-list this time with my offering on the subject of 'Nature'. To be honest, as far as I can tell, the odds are stacked against you if you're not Australian, as they seem to dominate the short-list every time. Never mind, it's all good practice. Rather than let the article disappear into the ether, here it is:

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The word ‘nature’ has multiple meanings. For example, it can mean as the entire natural world, earth’s ecosystem. Alternatively, it can refer to a person’s fundamental way of behaving, their nature. As a result, when someone thinks of ‘nature’, they could be thinking of our planet’s environment or human behaviour in general. What’s more, they might even be thinking of something quite mundane, something that possesses the magical property of life, like a humble tomato, a physical manifestation of the wondrous process known as ‘nature’. Read More...

George Monbiot and Logan's Run

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The election of Donald Trump in the United States has had a huge effect on global feelings about our future on this planet. The slight warm, fuzzy feeling that the Paris Climate Agreement gave people - which was an event big on holding hands but small on legally binding targets - has gone.

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A good example of such gloom is an article in the Guardian newspaper this week from George Monbiot. George’s article is headed with a still from the film ‘The Road’, based on the brilliant but extremely depressing novel by Cormac McCarthy, which describes a post-collapse USA, freezing cold and inhabited by roving bands of violent cannibals. George makes it clear that the combination of Trump and his team, plus the far right surge in Europe, combined with climate change and the dwindling life in our over-worked soils, makes for a very grim future. He ends his article by saying:

“So the key question is not how we weather them [the problems listed so far] but how – if this is possible – we avert them. Can it be done? If so what would it take?” Read More...

Alternative 3 - the current situation

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A fortnight ago, I blogged about the very interesting UK ATV 1977 pretend-fact documentary called 'Alternative 3, with its pretend-serious message that the power elite of our world have known for a long time that our planet was heading for global environmental collapse. What's more, they have been planning what to do about it. After much thought, they came up with three alternatives:

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Alternative 1: A drastic reduction in the global, human population.

Alternative 2: The relocation of a fraction of humanity into underground bases and subterranean cities.

Alternative 3: The establishment of human colonies on the Moon and Mars.

In the rest of the previous blog article, I explained that the programme makers of Alternative 3 insisted that it was meant as a fictional programme. I do believe them but in truth, that's unimportant. What's now important is the question; 'Are Alternatives 2 & 3 in that programme actually underway?' Let's investigate… Read More...

Alternative 3 - fact or fiction?

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‘Alternative 3’ was a British television programme broadcast by Anglia Television (ATV) in 1977. It was planned to be broadcast on April 1st that year but due to scheduling problems, was eventually broadcast in June. Its original broadcast date was a big clue to its actual nature. ‘Alternative 3’ was designed and written as a spoof, as a fictional story posing as a serious science documentary.

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The programme begins by investigating a British ‘brain drain’, a mysterious exodus of leading British scientists and engineers who are leaving the country, supposedly to take up lucrative new posts abroad, but are never seen again. Some send back regular postcards but when the relatives try and visit the places abroad where the persons are supposedly living, they discover that their loved one is not living there at all; their correspondence was faked.

The programme then moves into an even more sinister area. Senior scientists in the UK admit to the investigative reporters that mysterious but extremely powerful groups at the top levels of government have worked out that the Earth is heading for a climate collapse due to the greenhouse effect (note that it is in a programme broadcast in 1977). These groups have concluded that in the next century-or-so, only a small fraction of the current human population will be able to live on Earth’s surface, due to the climate collapse. Read More...

Excellent short video about exponential population growth

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Here's an excellent video explaining the perils of exponential population growth:




It might be tempting to think that human population growth isn't as extreme as the one described in the video. Unfortunately, it is. Here's a graph of human population levels in the last ten thousand years, courtesy of Wikipedia:

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Climate change Paris agreement published

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Just a quick note to say that the Paris climate change summit has published its agreed text. Here's a copy if you'd like to read it.

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I've had a read through it and unfortunately all I've spotted so far is a lot of good sounding sentiments (as in 'we've all got to try hard to keep the temperature down' and 'we'll keep checking how we're getting on every five years' and 'developing countries need help') but precious little in the way of actual numbers. The only hard numbers I saw in the document were an agreement to club together to provide a $100 billion global annual pot to finance environmental improvements. Unfortunately, the U.K.'s own Trident nuclear replacement programme will cost this much and it was also the cost of recently bailing out one small U.K. bank (Northern Rock), so as a global pot to end climate change, it's a ridiculously small figure.

Jim Hansen, the famous American climate change scientist, is highly critical of the Paris agreement. He said in a recent Guardian newspaper interview:

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”


It's worth noting that the earlier commitment in the draft agreement to phase out fossil use between 2050 and 2100 was abandoned. In other words, even an agreement to stop burning fossil fuels long after the major negative feedback mechanisms will have kicked in was abandoned. This is in the face of concerted requests by major business figures to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.

In some ways, the naive and wishful reactions to the final agreement by major charities in the last hour is worrying in itself. To quote the live feed from half-an-hour ago:

Avaaz: “a turning point in history, paving the way for the shift to 100% clean energy that the world wants and the planet needs”

WWF UK: “We have a clear vision in the strong long term goal; mechanisms to address the gap between that aspiration and the countries’ current commitments; and the foundations for financing the transition to a low-carbon future.”

Greenpeace: “The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history. There’s much in the text that has been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new imperative to limit temperature rises to 1.5C.”

Fortunately, some of the charities are a little less dewy-eyed and a little more practical:

ActionAid: “what we have been presented with doesn’t go far enough to improve the fragile existence of millions around the world”

350.org Co-founder Bill McKibben, said: “Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry. This didn’t save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”

But again, it's only the words of politicians. As I said in my earlier blog article, we can all make an effort ourselves to work towards a better planet. We can treat climate change as a personal challenge and do what we can to reduce the collective effect. It's not important how significant what we do is globally but how significant our effort is to us, so that we can be proud of ourselves, knowing we all made our own personal effort. The importance of this came home to me again this morning when I watched a short video on the BBC by the British astronaut Tim Peake, talking about the special perspective on Earth that he gained by going into orbit. I found it both emotional and meaningful. Enjoy.

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Climate change books review

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At the moment, the COP21 climate change summit is taking place in Paris. The conference is into its second week and the news reports say that the negotiators are working through the night to try and sort out a binding agreement amongst the countries taking part. As it's going on, I thought it would be a good moment to review two climate change books; ‘Storms of my Grandchildren’ by James Hansen and ‘Six Degrees’ by Mark Lynas.

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James Hanson is possibly the most well-known climate scientist in the world today. He has been conducting research and campaigning to tell people how serious is the threat of climate change to the entire planet. In his book, Hansen thoroughly and extensively explains how he and other climate scientists have gathered the evidence that shows what the huge emission of carbon dioxide is doing to our planet and the likely outcome of this act. Hansen focuses particularly on evidence from Earth’s past. By studying what happened in historic episodes of global warming (particularly the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM), Hansen shows how easily and quickly the Earth’s climate can shift to a very different state. He also draws on evidence on what’s been happening to our planet in recent, recorded history and how this matches the pattern of change from previous-era events.

Hansen’s book is excellent for anyone who wants to be convinced of the depth of research that supports the climate change reports and predictions. Unfortunately, it isn’t the easiest read and I found it sluggish at times. Hansen also, I think, makes the mistake of apportioning blame to different groups. There seems little benefit to this strategy, as one of the biggest problems of the 'humanity and climate change' situation is one shared by nearly everyone; the vast majority of people on Earth who can burn fossil fuels do burn them, and in large amounts. Also, the ecological catastrophe that is approaching will punish everyone. We’re effectively all in this together.
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New Scientist rejected letters

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So far this year, I've been writing regular letters to the New Scientist magazine. Up until May, they printed quite a few of them, on the subjects of alien contact, alien signals, VR headsets transforming public performances, killer robots, the accuracy of internet facts, home servers to create bitcoins and one or two others, which was great.
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But since late May, they haven't printed any of my letters, which is odd, but there you go. Rather than leave the letters to moulder on a shelf, I thought I'd publish my last three months' worth of new scientist letters on my blog. Here they are, in chronological order:

'Fast food hit' (13th May)

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Dear New Scientist. In your recent '60 seconds' column (issue 3020, 9th May 2015, pg7), you report that recent research shows that 'fructose appears to make our brains more responsive to images of food than glucose, and people who drink fructose-rich drinks are more likely to choose high-calorie foods over money prizes'. Since fructose, particularly in the form of high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, is a mainstay ingredient in fast food drinks, does this mean that fast food should be declared officially addictive? 
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Weird facts create great fiction

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a prediction about what would happen to us in the next thousand years. It wasn't exactly heart-warming or utopian but with climate change gathering pace, I find it hard not to be pessimistic. I could poo-poo global warming or predict that we would use our amazing technological skills to find a way to reverse the effects of climate change, but that would be bollocks, since we're currently, every year, producing billions of tonnes of CO2, along with methane (fifty times more warming than CO2) and Flourine-based chemicals (ten thousand times more warming than CO2).

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Also, the average westerner burns up 200,000 calories of energy a day (not in his or her food, but the energy he or she burns). No human machine can undo this scale of heat and chemical pollution. This human-created chemical output isn't even going down. For example, India has made it clear it plans to ramp up its coal burning in the next few decades as part of a programme to increase its GDP. Oh dear.

But rather than looking at our future from an emotional and ethical point of view and get depressed, why not look at our near future as a great opportunity for a science fiction story? We don't even need to create any weird aliens, sinister secret government groups and hidden, powerful cults for our story, we can simply make use of the aliens, sinister government groups and hidden, powerful cults that many people say already exist on Earth. If you want useful sources on these topics, try the writings of Peter Levenda, Jim Marrs, Richard Dolan and Mark McCandlish. We can even throw in some 'super-powers'. For example, in an earlier blog post, I described my experiences when I tried remote viewing. A lot of people don't believe this ability is possible, but I certainly experienced an information gathering ability that was way above chance, and RV has a highly developed history, so I'm comfortable with it. Also, scientifically, RV is fine, at least if you accept the consequences of the Influence Idea. Read More...

Our science fiction future

As promised in the previous blog entry earlier this week, here's my prediction of our science fiction future

1) We're all going to die.

This isn't much of a prediction, as no one lives forever. I'll try and be a bit more specific.

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2) Climate change is going to wreck the environment of our planet and the global population will be reduced from seven thousand bazillion people to a bus queue by the end of 2200 AD

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'The New North - the world in 2050' book review

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Climate Change is gathering pace and causing major changes to our planet, heating it up, year after year. This warming isn't uniform - some areas aren't warming at all - but the Arctic is warming the most of all. This change is not only affecting the wildlife and lives of the indigenous people of that area, it is also opening up brand new oil and gas fields that can now be economically exploited. As its permafrost melts - an effect that could release apocalyptic amounts of methane and CO2 as microbes digest the defrosted plant matter - governments, corporations and indigenous communities are frantically making plans to manage the new resources now opening up to access in this remote and relatively inaccessible region of the world.

In 'The New North - the world in 2050', Laurence C. Smith reports on this topic with a wealth of solid evidence and researched information, but in a strangely unfocused way. In places, he approaches the topic from a personal perspective, making it the book a little less dry, but he seems less concerned about the environmental effects of the burst of new mining and oil drilling and more about the economic opportunities. Read More...

Wind power is flying high

This week, my post about the Climate Change march on the 7th March started positive and then fell apart into a morass of despairing futility. Sorry! To make amends, here's a really positive article about the progress of renewable power generation.

For a long time now, wind power has been criticised as being an eyesore and an inefficient and hopeless method of power generation, but these criticisms are fast looking ridiculous. For example, wind power is Denmark is so successful that it is meeting their entire energy needs during periods of the year! They constantly monitor and display the output in the country and the net difference between energy produced and energy consumed (source: energinet.dk):

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Climate Change March - London 7th March

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Next Sunday on the 7th March, there will be another climate change march in London. I really enjoyed going to the last Climate Change march in London. It took place in September 2014 and it was attended by 40,000 people. That sounds a lot but then again, more people go to watch Arsenal play every weekend, so it's not that amazing. To be honest, it's a minuscule number when the subject of the march was stopping something that is going to transform our entire planet for the next thousand years or more into a state of existence that will support only a small fraction of our current population. If we don't do something major soon, children being born today will spend the latter part of their lives on a planet that is a cauldron of extreme weather, famine, war and pestilence. The four horseman often ride together and they will definitely be riding around our globe before the century is out if nothing major is done to halt climate change.
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If anyone is interested in a careful thorough study of what climate is going to do to our planet in the next century-or-so, both politically, geographically and environmentally, I recommend the book 'Climate Wars' by Gwynne Dyer. The book is readable, thorough and quite scary.

It's tempting to say that the worsening of the climate in recent decades has been less than expected and this indicates that perhaps the predictions are excessive and hysterical. Unfortunately, there's a very simply reason why they've been relatively mild; our oceans have been soaking up a lot of the CO2 we've been producing. According to recent measurements, they can't soak up much more, so in the next few decades, warming effects will be far worse than we've experienced up to now. If we collectively make a big effort only when we experience those effects, it will be too late. Tipping points will have already been passed (sea ice melt decreasing reflective albedo of arctic, permafrost melting causing methane release) that will produce more warming in a vicious cycle that we will not be able to stop.

In all honesty, I think climate change cannot be stopped. Fossil fuels have become the backbone of global civilisation, we have thirty-five time as many people as were living at the time of Christ and the majority of people on this planet are not change their lifestyles one iota to reduce their carbon footprint. Perhaps the best way to approach this tragic scenario is as individuals. If we individually decide to cut back our carbon footprint, by avoiding cruises and flights around the world (if possible), by having less children (a major carbon footprint decision!), buying gadgets second-hand, lowering the heating of our homes, cycling and walking more, living closer to work (if possible), sharing houses with others (if possible), repairing our clothes rather than buying new ones, then at least we'll feel at the end of our days that we personally made an effort and have nothing about which to feel ashamed. That's my hope.

Dolphins and self-delusion

The kind people at the New Scientist magazine have published another one of my letters. Here it is:

"In her article exploring whether dolphins live up to their reputation for intelligence, Caroline Williams tells of being forcefully rebuffed by a dolphin after attempting to connect with it (27th September, p46). In this era of climate change, the possibility that dolphins don't want to be friends with humans makes them seem more intelligent and emotionally developed than ever."


The mention of climate change led me to think about its connection with another recent topic,
Milgram's Experiment. For a long time, many psychologists have been deeply unhappy that Milgram's Experiment seems to show that most people would willingly cause pain and death to an unfortunate target if they were gradually coaxed into it by authority figures. Humanity isn't like that, they say, people aren't that bad!

But a form of Milgram's Experiment is going on as we speak. It started a while ago when some people were coaxed into hurting a living target in return for personal reward. The level of harm they inflicted was slowly ramped up. They willingly continued to harm the target, even though they could see how it was suffering. Now, the experiment has reached the stage where the people involved are inflicting lethal levels of harm on the living target. Yet, they are still continuing
even though they profess to be concerned about the target's welfare. The experiment I'm talking about is climate change. The living target suffering is the Earth's biosphere and the people concerned are, well, nearly every affluent individual on the planet.

Perceptive creatures, dolphins.

The Climate March was fun!

Just a quick note to say that the Climate Change March yesterday (Sunday) was lots of fun! The atmosphere was very relaxed and sociable, the sun was out and the whole event felt like a slow moving folk festival without a beer tent. There were lots of fun things to look at. The Hare Krishna electric band whose amps and drum kit were being wheeled along on a small wagon was a hit; musically I'd say they sounded like George Harrison playing good pub rock. I saw Vikings (I think), a polar bear and what looked like a wookie masquerading as an endangered species. Then again, wookies are fictitious, so does that mean they're endangered? Here are some photos:

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There would have been more but I only had my creaky old mobile phone with me and its battery life is geriatric. I was planning to carry an inflatable globe (see earlier post) and was on the point of buying one in the excellent map shop near Covent Garden on Long Acre when I noticed that it was made in China. Hmm. Buying a lump of plastic carted half-way around the world to use as a symbolic prop in a climate change demonstration didn't seem quite right, so it stayed on the shelf.

Best quote of the day comes from the actress Emma Thompson whose advice on the threat of climate change and the urgent need for serious action was both accurate, succinct and charmingly direct:

“Unless we’re carbon-free by 2030 the world is buggered.”


London Climate Change march - this Sunday

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This Sunday (21st September), there will be a climate change march in London and other cities to promote and highlight this huge and incredibly important issue. A lot of different organisations are taking part, including Friends of the Earth, Population Matters and the Campaign against Climate Change. The march is along the Embankment from Temple Place, starting at 12:30pm and will end up in Parliament Square. The whole event should wind up around 3pm. For more detailed info, check out the websites of the various charities etc that are involved or click on the picture above. I've heard talk of all sorts of fun activities during the march, including a samba band, so it might even be fun!

I'll be taking part. I'm hoping (if I can find one) to carry an inflatable Earth with me. It'll make a good symbol and if I get bored, I can bounce it up and down like a beach ball. ;-)

It'd be great if lots and lots of people come along. Although it might not end climate change overnight, or even possibly make any significant change, it's still worth doing. You could even help to reduce the effects of climate change for entirely selfish reasons, as I chatted about in this earlier blog, but you could also do it because you want to be a person who stood up and made an effort. Later on, when things get tough and people start asking questions, you'll know that you tried. That could be a really good feeling to have.

Here's a great article from Jarvis Cocker in today's Guardian newspaper, putting forward his thoughts on Sunday's march.

Here's a more general report from the Guardian, including comments from a host of celebrities.

For those of you who might be motivated by watching a programme about the forthcoming worldwide climate change march on Sunday, here's the official documentary:



For everyone else, please come. It really, really, really, really is important!

Five positive clothing brands

As the Christmas period has begun and everyone’s thinking about presents, I thought I’d recommend some ethical clothing brands. Each one in the list is either selling clothes or shoes made from ethical materials or in an ethical way or prioritises good working conditions and rights or possibly all three. Here they are:

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Think! are an Austrian company. They make very good shoes, really lovely shoes. I’m starting to worry that I’m behaving like a character from ’Sex and the City’, a female one, as I keep admiring my Think! pair of men’s shoes as though they’re a pair of Jimmy Choos or Mahnolo Blahnick (I think I put all the ‘h’s’ in the right place). Fortunately, Think! shoes are also manufactured in a good way, as they use vegetal dyes, taken from the ground bark of plantation trees, rather than toxic chemical dyes. They also manufacture their shoes in Europe, from what I’ve read, although it’s hard to dig out a lot of this info. From what I can tell, they’re doing good stuff.

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Howies! They’re based in Cardigan Bay (in Wales) and they sell organic cotton ’T’ shirts with very funny designs. I haven’t bought the ‘Labrador’ top shown above, but I’m sorely tempted. Organic cotton is easier on the environment than normal cotton, wears better and contains less chemicals. As in many other areas (food, transport, housing), it’s worth noting that a person can go down the environmental route for entirely selfish reasons, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog article.
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They don’t even need to care about the planet, as they’ll benefit personally from those choices with improved physical and mental health. I haven’t seen this view pushed by environmental charities yet, but it might work quite well. On the manufacturing front, Howies ’T’ shirts are made in Portugal, as far as I know, and their UK staff go surfing regularly and draw silly pictures of themselves, which sounds like a great way to work.

I’ve owned several Howies ’T’ shirts for many years now and they are very well made. None of the ones I’ve bought have worn out at all (so far). They show no signs of fading, don’t come apart at the seams, have a great texture, don’t shrink and are easily the best cotton tops I’ve ever bought. Howies did have a shop in Carnaby Street but their rents shot up so they had to close it down. They also do merino wool tops, which is also a great material, although I’d recommend the New Zealand merino as the Australian merino has been associated with less than friendly husbandry practices on the sheep. Hopefully, the Ozzies have stopped that now.

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Next up, Sativa bags. This company sells bags and clothing made from hemp. Hemp is an excellent alternative to cotton for heavy fabrics, as it requires far less pesticides, is naturally antibacterial, ‘breathes’, blocks 95% of UV light and is very strong. I’ve been using a sativa bag and a hat for five years or so, and they’ve done a great job. The bag is wearing a bit at the corners, which is natural I guess for a fabric bag, but it is otherwise fine. I know that a bag made from leather would have lasted longer, but leather is a heavier material and has a bigger environmental impact, so I’m very happy with the Sativa choice.

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Rohan is a UK company that makes outdoor clothing. When I looked into ethical practices in clothing manufacturing, I thought that most of the companies would be making a lot of effort, since their customers are actually out and about in that environment and would probably care a lot about what happens to it. This has been sort of true. Ayacucho clothing supports schemes to help the Ayacucho region of South America. I haven’t bought any of their clothing yet, so I can’t review it. I was hoping to say good things about Craghopper gear, as I’ve really enjoyed using their Kiwi trousers, but their ethical statement seems thin on actually commitments. To be honest, I found it to be an exercise in saying a lot but not actually doing much. The only thing they seem to make a serious effort in is complying with REACH legislation, but REACH is mainly a chemical code of practice for European manufacturers and Craghoppers use factories in China and Bangladesh. Hey ho. Perhaps they do more but haven’t put it on their website? I don’t know.

Fortunately, Rohan does actually commit to something on their website. They’re members of the Ethical Trading Initiative, set up partly by Clare Short, among others, a UK politician that I’ve admired for doing positive work during the Blair government. As with many influential and positive people in this country, you can usually tell how much good effort a person is making by the amount of stick they get from the popular press; it’s a sort of inverse-acclaim rule.

I’ve used Rohan clothing and it’s very good stuff; well made, cleverly designed and enjoyable to wear. They also have a returns policy whereby if you find a fault in an item of theirs that you bought, you can take it back and they’ll fix or replace it. Check on their site for the exact terms.

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Last but not least, BAM! Or more helpfully, bamboo clothing uk. Bamboo is a brilliant material for soft clothing, like socks, underwear, base-layers etc. It’s a superior alternative to cotton in that it wicks sweat away (like merino wool), is soft to the touch, flexible and relatively hard-wearing. It is also a material that grows easily. I’m wearing a bamboo top, bamboo underwear and bamboo socks while typing this very article and they feel great on my skin. I know I’m drifting into girly comments here - it’s like the Think! shoes all over again - but in this modern, urban world, I can say these things with impunity. I even use moisturiser! There, I’ve said it! I’m a wimpy urbanite softie and proud of it! Moving on… Bamboo clothing is more expensive than the mainstream cotton versions, but as it’s naturally anti-bacterial and wicks away sweat, you can wear it for longer before it gets smelly. You therefore need less of them and the costs kind of even out. I can’t go into more detail because I’d be revealing my laundry habits and I have been criticised by members of the fairer sex in the past for such habits so I think I’ll leave it be.

There we go; five ethical clothing brands (relatively speaking). They don’t know me and certainly haven’t paid me to say these things, but I’m saying them anyway. I think they make great stuff and they’re going in the right direction too.

Mmmm…. soft to the touch…. :-)

Evil, Shiny, Trendy, New Eco-Bag

devil-eco-bag
This week, I’ve been looking for a new laptop bag. I do have two older laptop bags but one’s too small for the new laptop. The other one is a messenger bag with fabric so heavy-duty, it rubs the bejeezuz out of my corduroy jacket when I’m carrying it over-the-shoulder. To avoid my jacket sharing the same fate as a summer shirt that died at the hands of that bag, I though it was time to buy something new.

Being an environmentally minded bloke, as well as an advocate of workers’ rights, I wanted to try and buy something that might tick at least one of those boxes. After browsing the web, I found a bag made from 100% recycled PET plastic from bottles. ‘Hooray!’ I thought, ‘this looks good and is environmentally responsible. I can buy with a sound conscience!’

But after another minute’s thought, I changed my mind. I realised that, for me in England, a recycled-plastic laptop bag made in China is about as environmentally responsible as a solar panel on an oil rig. Read More...

Save the planet for entirely selfish reasons

selfish-saving-planet
Climate Change reached a milestone this year. The atmosphere measuring station in Hawaii recorded a global CO2 value of 400 parts per million. The planet hasn’t had that much CO2 in its atmosphere for millions of years. Typhoon Haiyan has just stormed through the Philippines, the strongest storm ever recorded and recent measurements of the Pacific Ocean show that it has warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than at any time in the last ten thousand, which is a bit like sticking your aquarium on top of the radiator.

The fact that the developed world (who are doing nearly all the CO2 generation) are carrying on with their day with minimal attempt to reduce their fossil fuel use, in spite of all the evidence of climate catastrophe, is like passengers on a runaway train checking the lunch menu. People! This train is out of control and heading downhill! We’re all going to die and leave our grandchildren orphaned if we don’t do something! No, I don’t care that the steamed mullet is off this week! Neither do I think it’s spiffing that our increasing speed means you’ll get to the next stop quicker! We’re accelerating towards a hairpin bend and will soon be plunging down a mountainside in a ball of fire and twisted metal! No, I am not being negative! No, we cannot assume the railway company is going to fix the problem in the next quarter of a mile by remote bluetooth diagnostics! We have to do something ourselves! Read More...

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

December has been and gone and it’s now 2013. The world hasn’t ended (phew!) although, when you think about it, with the extensive and thorough scientific information that shows us that our climate is heading inexorably towards planetary Armageddon, the world as we know it has just ended; it’s just that the process will take a couple of centuries, rather than 24 hours. Civilization is officially kaput, there’s just a bit of reshuffling to be done in the next 200 years to get it all in place. Read More...

Climate change - methane is now bubbling up from the open ocean

I feel I have to make people aware of another ominous development in our changing climate. I reported at the beginning of the year on methane bubbling up from the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. This event had been predicted by scientists. Vast amounts of methane are trapped in the frozen ground in that region, created from decaying vegetation. As the arctic warms, the surface ice will melt, releasing that methane gas. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and so will help to increase the temperature of the region even further, causing more methane release and eventually, catastrophic heating.

A news article has appeared in this morning's Independent newspaper reporting that methane has now been discovered bubbling up from the open arctic ocean, appearing through cracks in the thinning ice. To quote: Read More...

Climate change - the canary in the coal mine has just died

I don't report on many events relating to climate change; it would get boring and depressing. I did write recently about climate sceptics and the flaws in their approach but most of the time, I try and keep the articles few in number but interesting.


Unfortunately, I read an article in the Independent at the very beginning of this year which I think is of huge significance. In the article, to quote, 'Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.'

Read More...

It's hard work listening to climate sceptics

I get annoyed with climate sceptics. I read an article recently in the Independent and the number of ranting comments from climate sceptics, based on hopeless evidence, really got my goat. I accepted that if I argued with them, I'd get nowhere. Instead, I wrote this comment: Read More...

Letter to Boris: Electric taxis in London

I thought I'd send a letter to Boris Johnson putting forward the idea of introducing electric taxis in London. Read More...

Climate Change and what trees are made from

I noticed this week that the New Scientist has a one page advert from the Spectator magazine, announcing an upcoming debate on Climate Change. It is introduced as follows:

“The number of people in the UK who do not believe in global warming has doubled in the last two years, according to a poll from the office of national statistics. Does this represent the common sense of a British public who can see the claims of the climate alarmists dissolve before their eyes?”



It’s an interesting choice of phrase, common sense. Common sense is a very important skill to have. Read More...