Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Conning the public

August 9, 2017

DSCN1003

 

Iain Conn is the Chief Executive of Centrica, the parent company of British Gas. Before joining the company, he was the Chief Executive of British Petroleum. In 2017, his salary increased by 40% to just over £4m a year. He also received a £1.4m recruitment award when he was head-hunted from BP in 2015. British Gas recently announced they are putting electricity prices up by 12.5%.

The £4m Conn receives each year matches the number of households in Britain who are deemed to be in fuel poverty (where more than 10% of income is spent on fuel costs). Recently the government changed the official definition of fuel poverty, to include only families who have fuel costs that are above average, and whose fuel consumption would take them below the poverty line. However, in the real world, over 4m households (15% of the country) cannot afford to heat their homes. Whatever statistical method used, it is safe to assume that Iain Conn is not in fuel poverty.

The glaringly obvious message from all of this (well, to this blogger at least) is that the energy companies need to be taken back into public ownership. We have an illusion of choice – the idea that we can simply switch energy providers, when there is a cartel operating against our interests which hike up prices in response to each other. Better to have democratic control over energy, and for everyone to afford to heat their homes.

Nationalisation need not cost us anything. Why should fat cats like Iain Conn get any compensation – they have already robbed the British public of millions of pounds? Compensation should only be on the basis of need, not greed.

Nationalising energy companies would also allow the government to plan based on long-term needs, and to help save our environment. New Scientist recently estimated that the growth in renewables has, unfortunately stalled, as the ending of government subsidies is “strangling investment”. We may struggle to even meet 10% of energy consumption with renewables, under the so-called “free market”.

Capitalism is only interested in the bottom line, short-term profits at the expense of our futures. In order to prevent climate change going over 2°C, which could potentially be catastrophic, we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground, stop fracking and invest all our energy and resources in making renewable energy work. To do this, the energy companies would need to forget about profits for shareholders. Under this grossly unfair and unequal economic system, that isn’t realistic. We need socialism.

I am a member of the Socialist Party in Britain, which is part of a growing, worldwide movement for socialist ideas, the Committee for a Workers’ International. If you agree, please join us. Together we can change the world.

 

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For fox’s sake, get the Tories out.

May 13, 2017

mayends2

Rural communities have been hit hard by the Tories – dairy farmers get almost no return for their milk, as supermarket chains have squeezed their profits. Price controls and nationalisation of big business would give them a fair standard of living.

By offering MPs a free vote on repealing the hunting ban, Theresa May has shown her priorities for the forthcoming election. With austerity hitting millions, and forcing families to resort to food banks to make ends meet, with the NHS at crisis point, with the ‘gig’ economy and zero hours contracts providing at best low-income, unstable employment, with working-class children unable to afford to go to university – you might think she would consider stopping some of the cuts, invest in the NHS, make a promise to halt privatisation of our public services. But no, she appeals to the UKIP / Tory core rural vote, by promising to bring back hunting. By contrast, drag hunting is a safe and effective way of providing dogs with a chase and horses with exercise. It can preserve rural jobs and livelihoods, without the actual kill itself.

Rural communities have also seen public transport services decimated, as subsidised bus services are cut and rail extortionately expensive. Corbyn would bring back the rail companies under public ownership (albeit as the franchises run out – better to forcibly take back control of our railways now, without compensation for fat-cat shareholders). He also promises investment and green jobs in the energy sector, by nationalising the Big Six energy companies – these could be run in the public interest, providing more environmentally friendly energy at a reasonable price, so that old people, the poor and the vulnerable can afford to heat their homes in winter.

For the sake of our economy, our wildlife and our environment, we need to vote the Tories out on the 8th June. I am a member of the Socialist Party, which is part of TUSC (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. We oppose Blairite cuts to services and Labour MPs who have stabbed Corbyn in the back. However, we are not standing against Labour in this vital general election, as it is imperative to put a politician with socialist policies back in charge.

You can register to vote here. There has never been more at stake. For the first time, I will be voting Labour, having been put off previously by its failed, feeble, centre-right Blairism. But the Labour party is changing radically for the better. Hopefully millions of other people will be convinced to do the same on June 8th.

 

 

 

Orangutan’s Song

May 24, 2016

We still remember the joyous canopy
a verdant green blanket
smothering – sunlight struggled
down to the dank forest floor.

We still remember the tamarind’s hoot,
the faintest placement of the tiger’s paw,
the chattering of cicadas.
tree frogs flashed vivid; danger.

We had no such warning,
no scent or sound, until
it was too late.
few of us escaped.

A new sound came –
the rasping death rattle
of alien machinery;
great trees felled in moments.

We grew hungry, stressed, scared.
resorted to eating bark:
the rainforest clamour gone
amidst acrid stench of smoke.

We remember a time when
this fragile dream was shattered
into chaos and suffering.
hundreds of lifetimes gone.

For what? Palm oil: cheap bulking agent
from distant tropics, where labour costs are minimal
where the old people of the forest
do nothing for profit margins.

Goods line supermarket shelves:
capitalism captures, constricts, commodifies;
brainwashes humans. soothing adverts
mask the suffering.

If we could only communicate in your alien tongue:
“Find your inner ape.
play together, co-operate
discover life’s true value”.

 

Orangutans cannot speak.

They cannot voice their displeasure at supermarket chains raking in £billions, while destroying fragile ecosystems in distant rainforests, which may have held the cure to cancer, or are home to millions of undiscovered species, or are the last sacred home of an indigenous culture, who have had little contact with the outside world.

They cannot use keyboards to send indignant emails, explaining the injustice and suffering associated with palm oil.

They cannot point out that it is perfectly possible for supermarkets to use palm oil substitutes, or sustainably grown palm oil, neither of  which harm precious and irreplaceable habitats.

They cannot organise to overthrow this system of capitalism which sacrifices all in the name of profit.

But you can!

The worst offenders can be found here:
http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/shoppingethically/palmoilfreelist.aspx#supermarkets

For a political alternative, and a better livelihood for people in poor countries, so that they do not have to do backbreaking work, which is destructive to our environment:
http://www.socialistworld.net You can also buy my poetry pamphlet ‘Little Green Poetry’ – http://www.lulu.com/gb/en/shop/andrew-walton/little-green-poetry/ebook/product-21745906.html – all profits go to help build a movement to change this rotten system.

 

Whaling

December 29, 2015

Computers can’t read handwriting
They’re no good at that at all.
A five year old can outsmart the brainiest chip
When it comes to deciphering a simple slip
Of paper. For all its technological prowess
Squiggles and scrawls do not process.
A Pentium wouldn’t know a sonnet from a sestina
If it slapped it in its face (metaphorically speaking).

Satellites collect data, from all ahttp://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/18681/20151209/mariner.htmcross the globe.
Model our climate, predict weather
But we don’t know what happened before,
In previous centuries, of yore.
But in museums, there moulders forgotten lore.

Mariners kept logs to tell them, if they were heading nor-nor-west.
Latitude and longitude, in the days before GPS.
So that’s where human brains and eyes come in
To decipher a ship’s scribe’s scribblings
As their boat listed violently in an Arctic storm.
They didn’t know they too were recording precious data
To unravel El Nino’s mysteries, to save future polar bears.

We can use the computers we have in our heads
To understand where we come from
To right wrongs we have done to this planethttp://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/18681/20151209/mariner.htmhttp://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/18681/20151209/mariner.htm
Maybe some good will come of whaling after all.
Co-operation, not profit must be our goal
To stop global warming from swallowing us whole.

 

To participate in the project to extrapolate our data about the world’s climate back 150 years – click on this link: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/18681/20151209/mariner.htm

TTIP? Nein danke. No thanks. Non merci. No, gracias.

September 2, 2014

Rub the lamp,

Say the magic words, “T T I P” . . .

Kazaam! A muscled, bouffanted behemoth,

A Tory-blue genie

To do the bidding of big business.

 

Billions in tax breaks,

But only for the rich.

We’ll have to survive

On zero hour contracts

And a minimum wage.

 

Gaze in horror

As democracy melts away

Before your very eyes,

And the NHS crashes and burns

In a bonfire of private finance initiatives

Taking us with it.

 

Look on, dumbfounded

As health and safety

Vanishes in a puff

Of asbestos dust.

 

Fancy a bit of fracking?

Worried about pesky red-tape?

Planning legislation?

TTIP makes it all too easy.

Obstructions obliterated.

 

Join the protestors.

Those fighting back

Defending hard-won rights.

Clean water, decent healthcare

A planet worth living on.

 

When we have no say,

We need to take back our voice.

Poor, weak as individuals,

But together

We can stop their supply at source,

Shudder the world to a halt.

 

 
little red little green

 

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu –  – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

June 8, 2014

The title of this book refers to a saying which is a piece of literal advice, on how to survive during a night in the Amazonian rainforest without being bitten by poisonous reptiles. The book itself is a complex, multi-layered and personal account of Daniel Everett’s and his family’s time, over 30 years, with the Pirahã, a little-known tribe in the Amazonian jungle.

Initially, as a devout Christian missionary, Daniel Everett is sent to translate the Bible into the local language, one which very few outsiders at the time had any knowledge of. He describes his own journey of self-transformation, the bravery to question cultural and scientific assumptions and an investigation into language and culture, all of which are revolutionary.

The Pirahã regard their own way of life and the place where they live as the best of all possible worlds. “This is a beautiful place, the water is pretty. There are good things to eat here. The Pirahãs are nice people”. Everything they need is to hand; the jungle provides a sustainable existence. They are extremely independent and self-sufficient, but also compassionate, sharing resources and caring for each other. Friedrich Engels, in his masterpiece “Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State”, which was based on anthropological studies of the Iroquois Native-American Indians, would recognise Pirahã culture as primitive communism.

The  Pirahãs live in a simple hunter-gatherer society, with few material possessions. They eschew technological advances, even when these would make their life ‘easier’ – they neglect even important, labour-saving tools such as machetes, and allow their children to play with them. However, they are expertly adapted to life in the rainforest. Pirahã ideas of morality, of discipline, and the way they look at life are completely different to Western “civilised” values, and are in many ways quite unique. Everett argues that this is in no small part to their unusual language. At the same time this makes the Pirahãs vulnerable to exploitation by traders, but they have no conception of war or conflict.

Everett’s thesis is that the language of the Pirahãs, defies Chomskyan linguistic analysis and his concept of a Universal Grammar. The tribe have no concepts other than those they have immediately experienced, or that they have heard through the first-hand testimony of other people. Dreams for the Pirahãs are as real as everyday experiences. The tribe only has eleven different sounds in its speech, so, Dennett argues, their culture also plays a part in eliminating outside influences to their language. They have no counting system, idea of personal property, and no idea of the past. The only thing which matters to them is the here and now.

It may be tempting to denounce such hunter-gatherer cultures as “primitive” – yet Western observers, ironically, are the ones who have lost all trace of a deep knowledge of the natural work around them and any idea of how to live sustainably. We have become removed from Nature, and are in the process of destroying our environment. As to the eternal question of where we came from, it is assumed generally that “primitive” tribes have superstitious beliefs, ironically ignoring our own dominant set of superstitious beliefs, which we call organised religion. This is completely absent from Pirahã culture, and provides the key with which Daniel Everett re-evaluates his own belief system.

This is an eye-opening, and surprising book, which tells a story of human courage – the courage to cast aside preconceptions about the world, and to evaluate situations according to the evidence we are presented. It makes bold, controversial assertions, but is at the same time accessible to the lay-reader. It forces us to re-examine our relationship with different cultures, punctures any ideas of Western cultural supremacy and makes a forceful argument that preserving indigenous cultures and languages is of crucial importance, if we are ever to be able to live sustainably as a species.

As the people of Brazil, protesting against capitalism, make their way on to the world stage amidst the whitewashing of the continent’s problems in the name of football, at a time when when native languages and cultures are at risk the world over, and when we are exploiting our natural resources in the relentless pursuit of profit at the expense of whole ecosystems, whole tribes and cultures of indigenous peoples, this book is vital and important reading.

Lines Written on the Occasion of the Queen’s Speech to Parliament

June 3, 2014

In the UK, the Queen’s speech is apolitical – she merely gives royal assent to Parliament’s wishes. This year, the Queen’s speech includes legislation removing the right of landowners to object to underground pipelines traversing their property. Should this right then not extend to fracking beneath Buckingham Palace, Balmoral Castle or across the Duchy of Cornwall?

Companies such as Cuadrilla have bullied and strong-armed our government, corrupt and spineless as it is, into allowing the spread of fracking and underground coal gasification, to the extent that local authorities are being given money to continue with these insane and inefficient practices. Large swathes of Britain, including National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest have been given over to exploration of underground reserves of shale oil.

Fracking and extreme energy present huge risks to underground aquifers. We are continuing to fuel the greenhouse effect by burning our remaining sources of fossil fuels, releasing CO2 and methane in the process. Moreover, each fracking well uses up millions of gallons of water, which requires thousands of lorry miles to transport it, in order to pump the shale oil from beneath the surface. The whole process is therefore an extremely inefficient way of obtaining energy.

The only sustainable solution is for massive investment in renewable energy and to take energy out of the hands of private companies, greedy for profit at the expense of our environment. We need a socialist solution to unfettered capitalism, and we need to move towards a sustainable economy.

Oil may bring wealth to a tiny elite, but we cannot drink the stuff!

 

The Queen’s Speech

 

Anachronistic, antagonistic. Angry activists

Bellow, “Bury beneath Balmoral, Buckingham Palace!”

Campaigners contend controversial

Decision. Delving deep,

Earthworks excavate energy.

The futile failure of fracking’s

Grip on government. Greenhouse gases given go-ahead.

Halliburton harvests heinous haul.

Idiotic, ill-conceived idea.

Judgement jettisoned, unjustified

Knackered, kaput.

Loot and lucre

Make maleficence mellifluous.

Nullify necessary, natural,

Overwhelming objections. Obeisance to oil,

Petrochemical pollutants proliferate.

Queen quells queries. Aquifers

Ruined. Removes right to refuse.

“Shovel under Sandringham. See how she suffers.

Transport tragic teratogens ‘twixt tubes

Underfoot, underground.”

Vehement, vociferous, vexatious, vengeful,

Wondrously wilful. We won’t wait to

Extinguish extreme exploitation.

Won’t yield to yellow-bellied, oily political yes-men.

Zero tolerance. Zero fracking. Zero royal assent.

 


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’ (£4 pbk, £2.50 pdf e-book).

All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

Energy crisis

April 19, 2014

The oil wells are running dry,

Companies are going fracking-

Water pollution, risks to health,

Earthquakes they are a-cracking.

 

Billions spent on holy grail

Of laser-powered fusion.

To recreate the Sun on Earth,

So expensive the delusion!

 

Nuclear’s the way to go,

All we need is fission.

Handy for bombs as well,

Absurd, deluded mission.

 

Our giant ball of hydrogen

Gives more energy than we need.

93 million miles away,

Solar power – at light speed.

 

All we need is lots of glass,

Heliostatic mirrors.

To concentrate the rays

From sun which always shimmers.

 

Salter had a bright idea,

He hit upon the duck.

But ‘cos of cuts to funding

It was never tried – worse luck.

 

Blades powering turbines

Can get energy from the wind.

Oil rigs will lie dormant

As off-shore windmills spin.

 

But where’s the profit  in that?

The chairman shrewdly asks

Selling wind, waves or the Sun,

It’s an impossible task.

 

So the PR operation starts;

Renewables won’t work.

Stick to oil, nuclear, coal or gas,

Much more bang for my buck.

 

Meanwhile the Earth is warming up,

CO2, it keeps the heat in.

Floods, tsunamis, tidal waves,

And hypocrites from Eton

 

All too eager to receive

Lobbyists from Cuadrilla.

They would happily do a deal

With Satan or Godzilla.

 

We need to rebuild anew,

End this corrupt, vicious farce.

Nationalise, strike, occupy

Get up off our collective arse!

 

 


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

 

Water and oil do not mix

March 4, 2014

Seed,

Life-giver.

Slaker of thirst.

Clear, fresh spring.

Without you, we are nothing.

On tap. A right for all humanity.

Not a packaged commodity

Bottled and marketed,

Stock to be floated,

Sold out

Down

The

River

Of Oil,

Black gold.

Harbinger of doom.

We can ill-afford our chemical

Romance. We cannot stomach toxic

Petrochemical soup, polluting aquifers.

Heating our homes, but heating the planet.

We must get control over our addiction,

Take our power from the sun, not

Wage wars over pipelines.

We need to take

Control.

————————————————————————————
You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

Lies, damn lies, greenwash and statistics

January 28, 2014

David Cameron commented on the recent British floods by saying that “he thought they were probably due to global warming”. While a single incidence of flooding is not in itself evidence of climate change, extreme weather events are becoming more and more common – the flooding in the UK has been linked to a cold snap across the Atlantic and a shift in the jet-stream, which has brought the stormiest month to Britain since 1969. It seems that meteorological records are being broken routinely, and there is evidence that the planet’s climate is changing.

While Cameron’s remarks are infinitely more helpful than the homophobia and ignorance of the UKIP councillor David Silvester, who blamed the floods on homosexuality, this rhetoric is not matched in terms of Conservative party policy. Why are the Tories pursuing fracking and nuclear power so aggressively? Why can’t the money being used to buy more nuclear power stations and give tax breaks to companies pursuing fracking instead be invested in developing renewable energy?

Of course, the reason is lobbying of politicians by energy companies with vested interests in keeping the status quo, of making as much profit as possible from the remaining fossil fuel resources, without regard for the long-term necessity to stop global warming. We need to get rid of career politicians and elect people who will stand up for our interests. In Britain, Labour, Lib Dems and Tories are all wedded to the system of capitalism. New Labour are no different; papers have been released showing collusion between Blair and Thatcher to keep the Conservative’s neo-liberal, privatisation agenda alive and well throughout Blair’s tenure. There is no sign that Milliband offers anything different.

The evidence for human-induced global warming is overwhelming. We have known of the principle behind global warming since 1896, when the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first put forward the science behind the theory. The warning from our own solar system, of the danger of runaway global warming is stark – look at the uninhabitable surface of Venus. Capitalism has had 100 years to do something about this, yet in the face of the over-riding desire to create profit for a few, the result has been over-exploitation of the world’s natural resources. What little is being done, is far too late to make any difference now. The best case scenario, if we managed to convert to a 100% carbon neutral economy, is a 2°C rise in global temperatures by 2100. This would still be catastrophic, displacing millions of people and destroying ecosystems.

A more likely scenario, put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which represents the scientific consensus, is that our world will warm by 4°C by the turn of the next century. However, this still entails a sea-change in policy and a willingness for global co-operation which is unprecedented. With every international conference – Kyoto, Copenhagen, Rio – the result has been a fudge, with countries seeking to shift the blame onto others and mitigate their own responsibility, rather then looking to actually address the problem.

So what is the solution? We need co-operation on an international scale. We need to put the control of the economy in the hands of workers, not politicians. We need to end the rule of profit, and replace this with democratic decision making worldwide, so that decisions can be made in the interests of the many, not the few. We need to elect leaders who are accountable to us, not big business.

The CWI (Committee for a Workers International) has organisations in around 50 countries worldwide. We have just recently elected representatives in the Canary Islands, Spain, as part of the United Left, and Kshama Sawant as Socialist Alternative in Seattle. We are standing Donal O’Cofaigh as a candidate on an anti-fracking position in Ireland. We are offering an alternative to corruption, sleaze and politicians squabbling and dithering over vital issues like the environment. We are growing as a political force and around the world, protesters are calling for change. However, leadership from traditional parties and right-wing trade unions is woefully lacking and time is short – we must build the socialist alternative.

In Britain, we are looking to stand as TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) in as many seats across the country in the forthcoming local elections to offer voters a democratic, socialist alternative to this market-driven madness. If you agree with us, please support our campaign, and consider standing yourself as a candidate.