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  • The BBC loses its perch

    Posted on October 10th, 2013 Jo No comments


    Image Credit : Sea Angling Staithes

    In the matter of the BBC and balance in the reporting of Climate Change, I believe they might have lost their perch. Admittedly, it wasn’t a very large perch – and some were swaying in any breeze that came along. But to invite one of the fringiest of the fringe of science “sceptics” onto a Radio 4 broadcast on the day of the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report Working Group 1 demonstrates that the BBC policy on achieving a suitable, accurate and appropriate fulcrum in the balance of science reporting is an ex-policy, a former policy, gone and pushing up the Cleeseian daisies.

    Citizens have been piqued, annoyed, needled, frustrated, despairing and, frankly, appalled, and some measures have been taken to remonstrate with the BBC. One such is below. Dear Reader, your comments on the subject of media balance are welcome, unless of course you haven’t read any Climate Change science and think it’s all a hoax, that the scientists are lying, and the Earth’s climate has always gone in similar cycles to the current warming, think that Global Warming is undergoing a “pause” etc etc – because you’re wrong. Plain and simple. If you don’t accept Climate Change science, if you haven’t read any of the relevant research papers, if you haven’t taken the trouble to understand what it’s all about, you are likely to be a clanging gong, a thorn in the side, and your views may well signify nothing, and certainly shouldn’t be aired in a public broadcast without challenge.

    It is time for the BBC to stop inviting Climate Change science “sceptics” – no, “deniers” onto their programmes. Once and for all. I mean, to go all Godwin on you, the BBC wouldn’t invite Adolf Hitler onto their shows to comment about the contribution that Judaism has brought to humanity, or to deny the Holocaust ? And they wouldn’t invite the CEO of a cigarette manufacture company on to insist that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer, would they ? There is a bar, a standard, to which the BBC should aspire, on science reporting, and I feel that in this case they slid disgracefully under it and landed in a stinky puddle of failure on the studio floor. The programme editors should be ashamed, in my honest opinion.




    Open letter to Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead and Director General of the BBC, on the platform given to Prof Bob Carter on the World at One programme (Fri 27th Sept 2013)

    Dear Lord Hall,

    We, the undersigned scientists and engineers, write to condemn the appearance of Prof Bob Carter on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, and to urge the BBC to seriously rethink the treatment given to climate change in its factual programming, and particularly its coverage of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report.

    The BBC, uniquely amongst broadcasters, has a public duty to provide a balanced coverage of news across its media channels, yet when it comes to its coverage of climate change it has frequently failed to do so. Furthermore, the BBC’s status as a trusted source of news means that damage done by its biased reporting of the overwhelming evidence of the certainty and significance of man-made climate change is inexorably greater. Not only does this damage public trust in climate science, but it also damages public trust in scientific evidence in general. This assertion is even supported by the BBC’s own surveys on public attitudes to climate change.

    The IPPC’s Assessment Reports represent the consensus of evidence and opinion from thousands of scientists and engineers around the world, working in all of the many fields encompassed by climate change. That consensus is overwhelmingly of the view that the evidence that human activities are driving changes in our climate at an unprecedented rate and scale – there is no ‘climate debate’ in the scientific community.

    The appearance of Prof Carter on the World at One, and that of climate change deniers on other BBC programmes, is the equivalent of giving a stork the right to reply on every appearance by Prof Robert Winston. Prof Carter is a geologist who speaks for the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change”, or NIPCC, a name which non-experts could be forgiven for confusing with the IPCC, however Prof Carter is not a climate scientist and the NIPCC is not the IPCC.

    Indeed, had the editors of the World at One bothered to check the credentials of the NIPCC they would have realised that far from being an independent organisation, it is backed by the Heartland Institute, a US-based free-market thinktank that opposes urgent action on climate change, which is itself opaquely funded by ‘family foundations’ suspected of having significant vested interests in undermining climate science. To return to the analogy, that stork would be funded by the Discovery Institute.

    For climate scientists, and those of us working in related fields, it is hard enough to accept that the BBC is required to give a platform to politicians whose lack of knowledge of climate science is matched only by their unwillingness to ‘use sound science responsibly’. When the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson describes climate change as “not all bad” he may be committing an abuse of the evidence and his position, but he at least does so with the rights and responsibilities of a democratically elected Member of Parliament. However when deniers such as Prof Carter use the media to argue that the scientific consensus on climate change is anything but overwhelming, the evidence on which they claim to be basing their arguments, and their sources of funding, are frequently left unrevealed and unquestioned.

    It is therefore hardly surprising that the BBC and other media outlets sometimes struggle to find climate scientists willing to speak to them, and by providing a platform for Prof Cater and other deniers the BBC is also complicit in engendering the environment in which climate scientists are often reluctant to speak to the media.

    The BBC should now issue an explanation for the appearance of Prof Carter and the treatment given to his opinions on a flagship news programme. Furthermore, it should urgently review the treatment of climate change across all of its outputs, and require full disclosures of any and all vested interests held by commentators on the subject. Finally, it should also ensure that the editorial boards covering all its scientific outputs include members with appropriate scientific backgrounds who are able to give independent advice on the subject matter, and that their advice is recorded and adhered to.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr Keith Baker, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University

    Herbert Eppel CEng CEnv, HE Translations

    Ms J. Abbess MSc, Independent Energy Research

    Chris Jones CEnv IEng FEI MCIBSE MIET

    Mark Boulton OBE

    David Hirst, Hirst Solutions Ltd

    David Andrews, Chair, Claverton Energy Research Group

    Ruth Jarman MA (Oxon) Chemistry, Member of the Board of Christian Ecology Link

    Gordon Blair, Distinguished Professor, School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University

    Susan Chapman

    David Weight, Associate Director, Aecom

    Sam Chapman, En-Count

    Camilla Thomson, PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh

    Dr Rachel Dunk

    Prof Susan Roaf, Heriot-Watt University

    Helen Woodall

    Ian Stannage

    Andy Chyba, BSc

    Isabel Carter, Chair, Operation Noah

    Ben Samuel, BSc

    Dr Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow, MIET

    Almuth Ernsting

    Simon O’Connor

    Martin Quick MA CEng MIMechE

    Hugh Walding, MA PhD

  • Carbon Bubble : Unburnable Assets

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 Jo No comments



    [ Image Credit : anonymous ]


    Yet again, the fossil fuel companies think they can get away with uncommented public relations in my London neighbourhood. Previously, it was BP, touting its green credentials in selling biofuels, at the train station, ahead of the Olympic Games. For some reason, after I made some scathing remarks about it, the advertisement disappeared, and there was a white blank board there for weeks.

    This time, it’s Esso, and they probably think they have more spine, as they’ve taken multiple billboard spots. In fact, the place is saturated with this advertisement. And my answer is – yes, fuel economy is important to me – that’s why I don’t have a car.

    And if this district is anything to go by, Esso must be pouring money into this advertising campaign, and so my question is : why ? Why aren’t they pouring this money into biofuels research ? Answer : because that’s not working. So, why aren’t they putting this public relations money into renewable gas fuels instead, sustainable above-surface gas fuels that can be used in compressed gas cars or fuel cell vehicles ?

    Are Esso retreating into their “core business” like BP, and Shell, concentrating on petroleum oil and Natural Gas, and thereby exposing all their shareholders to the risk of an implosion of the Carbon Bubble ? Or another Deepwater Horizon, Macondo-style blowout ?

    Meanwhile, the movement for portfolio investors to divest from fossil fuel assets continues apace…

  • George Monbiot : Peak Agitation

    Posted on July 7th, 2012 Jo 1 comment

    My electronic mail inbox and Twitter “social media” timeline are full of people sparking and foaming about George Monbiot’s latest kow-tow to American academia. Apparently, he has discarded the evidence of many, many researchers, energy engineers and market players and poured luke-warm, regurgitated scorn on the evidence and inevitability of “Peak Oil”.

    The level of agitation contradicting his stance has reached a new peak – in fact, I think I might claim this as “Peak Agitation”.

    Here is just one example from Paul Mobbs, author of “Energy Beyond Oil”, and a multi-talented, multi-sectoral educator and researcher.

    I initially read it in my inbox and nearly fell of my chair gobsmacked. When I had recovered from being astonished, and asked Mobbsey if I could quote him, perhaps anonymously, he wrote back :-

    “No, you can quite clearly and boldly attach my name and email address to it ! And perhaps ask George for a response ?”

    Sadly, George Monbiot appears to have jammed his thumbs in his ears as regards my commentary, so he is very unlikely to read this or become aware of the strength of opposition to his new positioning. But anyway – here’s for what’s it’s worth (and when it comes from Paul Mobbs, it’s worth a great deal) :-


    Re: Peak oil – we were wrong. When the facts change we must change.

    Hi all,

    I’ve sat patiently through the various emails between you all — mainly to
    take soundings of where you’re all at on this matter. In addition, over the
    last few days I’ve separately received four dozen or so emails all asking
    to “take on” Monbiot. I wasn’t going to reply because I’ve so many more
    pressing matters to take care of, but given the weight of demands I can’t
    avoid it.

    I don’t see any point in “taking on” Monbiot; the points he raises, and the
    debate that he has initiated, are so off beam compared to the basis of the
    issues involved that it there’s no point proceeding along that line of
    thought. You can’t answer a question if the question itself is not
    understood!!

    Let’s get one thing straight — present economic difficulties are not simply
    to do with “oil”, but with the more general issue of “limits to growth”.
    That’s a complex interaction of resource production, thermodynamics,
    technology, and relating all of these together, economic theory. Reducing
    this just to an issue of oil or carbon will fail to answer why the trends
    we see emerging today are taking place. Instead we have to look towards a
    process which sees energy, resources, technology and human economics as a
    single system.

    The problem with this whole debate is that those involved — Monbiot
    included — only have the vaguest understanding of how resource depletion
    interacts with the human economy. And in a similar way, the wider
    environment movement has been wholly compromised by its failure to engage
    with the debate over ecological limits as part of their promotion of
    alternative lifestyles. Unless you are prepared to adapt to the reality of
    what the “limits” issues portends for the human economy, you’re not going
    to make any progress on this matter.

    Monbiot’s greatest mistake is to try and associate peak oil and climate
    change. They are wholly different issues. In fact, over the last few years,
    one of the greatest mistakes by the environment movement generally (and
    Monbiot is an exemplar of this) has been to reduce all issues to one
    metric/indicator — carbon. This “carbonism” has distorted the nature of
    the debate over human development/progress, and in the process the
    “business as usual” fossil-fuelled supertanker has been allowed to thunder
    on regardless because solving carbon emissions is a fundamentally different
    type of problem to solving the issue of resource/energy depletion.

    Carbon emissions are a secondary effect of economic activity. It is
    incidental to the economic process, even when measures such as carbon
    markets are applied. Provided we’re not worried about the cost, we can use
    technological measures to abate emissions — and government/industry have
    used this as a filibuster to market a technological agenda in response and
    thus ignore the basic incompatibility of economic growth with the
    ecological limits of the Earth’s biosphere. As far as I am concerned, many
    in mainstream environmentalism have been complicit in that process; and
    have failed to provide the example and leadership necessary to initiate a
    debate on the true alternatives to yet more intense/complex
    industrialisation and globalisation.

    In contrast, physical energy supply is different because it’s a prerequisite
    of economic growth — you can’t have economic activity without a
    qualitatively sufficient energy supply (yes, the “quality” of the energy is
    just as important as the physical scale of supply). About half of all
    growth is the value of new energy supply added to the economy, and another
    fifth is the result of energy efficiency — the traditional measures of
    capital and labour respectively make up a tenth and fifth of growth. As yet
    mainstream economic theory refuses to internalise the issue of energy
    quality, and the effect of falling energy/resource returns, even though this
    is demonstrably one of the failing aspects of our current economic model
    (debt is the other, and that’s an even more complex matter to explore if
    we’re looking at inter-generational effects).

    The fact that all commodity prices have been rising along with growth for
    the past decade — a phenomena directly related to the human system hitting
    the “limits to growth” — is one of the major factors driving current
    economic difficulties. Arguably we’ve been hitting the “limits” since the
    late 70s. The difficulty in explaining that on a political stage is that
    we’re talking about processes which operate over decades and centuries, not
    over campaign cycles or political terms of office. As a result, due to the
    impatience of the modern political/media agenda, the political debate over
    limits has suffered because commentators always take too short-term a
    viewpoint. Monbiot’s recent conversion on nuclear and peak oil is such an
    example, and is at the heart of the report Monbiot cites in justification of
    his views — a report, not coincidentally, written by a long-term opponent
    of peak oil theory, working for lobby groups who promote business-as-usual
    solutions to ecological issues.

    Likewise, because the neo-classical economists who advise governments and
    corporations don’t believe in the concept of “limits”, the measures they’ve
    adopted to try and solve the problem (e.g. quantitative easing) are not
    helping the problem, but merely forestall the inevitable collapse. For
    example, we can’t borrow money today to spur a recovery if there will be
    insufficient growth in the future to pay for that debt. Basically, whilst you
    may theoretically borrow money from your grandchildren, you can’t borrow
    the energy that future economic growth requires to generate that money if
    it doesn’t exist to be used at that future date. Perhaps more perversely, a
    large proportion of the economic actors who have expressed support for
    limits are not advocating ecological solutions to the problem, they’re
    cashing-in by trying to advise people how to make money out of economic
    catastrophe.

    Carbon emissions and resource depletion are a function of economic growth.
    There is an absolute correlation between growth and carbon emissions. I
    don’t just mean that emissions and the rate of depletion fall during
    recessions — and thus “recessions are good for the environment”. If you
    look at the rate of growth in emissions over the last 50 years, the change
    in energy prices has a correlation to changes in carbon emissions as the
    price of fuel influences economic activity. That’s why carbon emissions
    broke with their historic trend, halving their previous growth rate, after
    the oil crisis of the 1970s; and why they then rebounded as energy prices
    fell during the 90s.

    The idea that we can “decarbonise” the economy and continue just as before
    is fundamentally flawed. I know some of you will scream and howl at this
    idea, but if you look at the research on the interaction between energy and
    economic productivity there is no other conclusion. Due to their high
    energy density and relative ease of use, all fossil fuels have an economic
    advantage over all the alternatives. That said, as conventional oil and gas
    deplete, and “unconventional” sources with far lower energy returns are
    brought into the market, that differential is decreasing — but we won’t
    reach general parity with renewables for another decade or two.

    Note also this has nothing to do with subsidies, or industrial power –
    it’s a basic physical fact that the energy density of renewables is lower
    than the historic value of fossil fuels. On a level playing field, renewable
    energy costs more and has a lower return on investment than fossil fuels.

    We do have the technology to develop a predominantly renewable human
    economy, but the economic basis of such a system will be wholly different to
    that we live within today. Unless you are prepared to reform the economic
    process alongside changing the resource base of society, we’ll never
    see any realistic change because all such “ecological” viewpoints are
    inconsistent with the values at the heart of modern capitalism (that’s not
    a political point either, it’s just a fact based upon how these systems
    must operate). E.g., when the Mail/Telegraph trumpet that more wind power
    will cost more and lower growth/competitiveness, they’re right — but the
    issue here is not the facts about wind, it’s that the theory/expectation of
    continued growth, which they are measuring the performance of wind against,
    is itself no longer supported by the physical fundamentals of the human
    economy.

    The present problem is not simply “peak oil”. Even if volumetric production
    remained constant, due to the falling level of energy return on investment
    of all fossil fuels the effects of rising prices and falling systemic
    efficiency will still disrupt the economic cycle (albeit at a slower rate
    than when it is tied to a simultaneous volumetric reduction). Allied to the
    problems with the supply of many industrial minerals, especially the
    minerals which are key to the latest energy and industrial process/energy
    technologies (e.g. rare earths, indium, gallium, etc.), what we have is a
    recipe for a general systems failure in the operation of the human system.
    And again, that’s not related to climate change, or simple lack of energy,
    but because of the systemic complexity of modern human society, and what
    happens to any complex system when it is perturbed by external factors.

    The worst thing which can happen right now — even if it were possible,
    which is entirely doubtful — would be a “return to growth”. The idea of
    “green growth”, within the norms of neo-classical economics, is even more
    fallacious due to the differing thermodynamic factors driving that system.
    Instead what we have to concentrate upon is changing the political economy
    of the human system to internalise the issue of limits. At present, apart
    from a few scientists and green economists on the sidelines, no one is
    seriously putting that point of view — not even the Green Party. And as I
    perceive it from talking to people about this for the last 12 years, that’s
    for a very simple reason… it’s not what people, especially the political
    establishment, want to hear.

    Rio+20 was an absolute failure. In fact what annoyed me the most was that
    the media kept talking about the “second” Rio conference, when in fact it
    was the third UNCED conference in the Stockholm conference in ’72. If you
    contrast 1972 with 2012, the results of this years deliberations were worse
    than the policies sketched out in the 70s ! Seriously, the environment
    movement is being trounced, and as I see it that’s because they have lost
    the intellectual and theoretical rigour that it possessed in the 70s and
    80s. Rather than having a clear alternative vision, what they promote is
    “the same but different”. Once environmentalism became a media campaign
    about differing consumption options, rather than an absolute framework for
    evaluating the effects of consumption, it lost its ability to dictate the
    agenda — because its the ability to look forward and observe/anticipate
    trends unfolding, however unwelcome those truths might be, which gives
    groups political power.

    Politicians have lost control of the economy because their materialist
    ambitions no longer fit to the extant reality of the economic process. This
    outcome was foreseen over 40 years ago by economists like Georgescu-Roegen
    and Boulding but ignored, even amongst many liberals and especially the
    left, for political reasons. These same principles, based around the issue
    of limits, were also the founding reality of the modern environment
    movement — but over the last 20 years the movement has lost this basic
    grounding in physics and economics as it has moved towards an
    aspirationally materialist agenda (green consumerism/sustainable
    consumption, etc.).

    Unless you’re prepared to talk about limits to growth, and the fact that
    the economic theories developed over two centuries of unconstrained
    expansion now have no relevance to a system constrained by physical limits,
    then you will not solve this problem. Just as with Monbiot’s “change” on
    the issue of nuclear, his failure is a matter of basic theory and
    methodological frameworks, not of facts or data. Unfortunately people keep
    throwing data at each other without considering that the framework within
    which those facts are considered and understood has changed, and that
    consequently their conclusions may not be correct; and until the movement
    accepts that the rules governing the system have changed we’ll not make
    progress in advancing viable solutions.

    To conclude then, Monbiot’s mistake isn’t about peak oil, or climate
    change, it’s a failure to internalise the physical realities of the
    “limits” now driving the human system. Unless you consider the interaction
    of energy, economics and pollution, any abstractions you draw about each of
    those factors individually will fail to tell you how the system as a whole
    is functioning. Those limits might dictate the end of “growth economics”,
    but they DO NOT dictate the end of “human development”. There are many ways
    we can address our present economic and environmental difficulties, but that
    cannot take place unless we accept that changing our material ambitions is
    a prerequisite of that process.

    Let’s be clear here. The principles which drive the economy today would be
    wholly alien to Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and others who first laid down
    the rules of the system two centuries ago. Likewise Marxism and similarly
    derived ideas have no validity either because they were generated during an
    era when there were no constraining limits. There is no “going back” to
    previous theories/ideologies on this issue because we face a scenario today
    which humans society — with the exception of those ancient societies who
    experienced ecological overshoot (Rome, Mayans, Easter Islanders, etc.) –
    have never had to face before.

    We have to move forward, to evaluate and understand is the role of
    ecological limits within the future human economic process and how this
    changes our advocacy of “solutions”. That debate should be at the heart of
    the environment movement, and the issue of limits should lead all
    discussions about all environmental issues — not green/sustainable
    consumerism and other measures which seek to reassure and pacify affluent
    consumers. That said, especially given the demographic skew within
    membership of the environment movement, we have to begin by being honest
    with ourselves in accepting the “limits agenda” and what it means for the
    make-up of our own lives.

    In the final analysis, you cannot be an environmentalist unless you accept
    and promote the idea of limits. That was at the heart of the movement from
    the early 70s, and if we want to present a viable alternative to disaster
    capitalism then that is once again what we must develop and promote as an
    alternative.

    Peace ‘n love ‘n’ home made hummus,

    P.

    .

    “We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
    nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
    for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
    that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
    righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
    God, and with one another, that these things may abound.”
    (Edward Burrough, 1659 – from ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’)

    Paul’s book, “Energy Beyond Oil”, is out now!
    For details see http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ebo/

    Read my ‘essay’ weblog, “Ecolonomics”, at:
    http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ecolonomics/

    Paul Mobbs, Mobbs’ Environmental Investigations
    email – mobbsey@gn.apc.org
    website – http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml

  • Will the Green Deal Deliver ? (2)

    Posted on July 4th, 2012 Jo 1 comment

    Here is the second part of the transcription from the notes I took this morning in a seminar in the UK House of Commons. The meeting was convened by PRASEG, the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group.

    This transcription is based on an unverified long-hand paper-based recording of the words spoken. Items in quotation marks are fairly accurate verbatim quotations. Items in square brackets are interpolation, or explanation, and not the exact language the person used to present their thoughts.

    Here are the papers supplied at the start of the meeting :  A B C D E F

    CONTINUED…

    [AW] How it [the Green Deal] hits the ground matters…

    [Joanne Wade, Independent Consultant, UKERC]
    The Green Deal is a very useful framework – a move to encourage people to pay for their own energy efficiency. The finance offering may be interesting to some. The quality [of the workmanship ? Guarantees under the Green Deal ?] is “utterly vital”. I don’t think it’s quite there. Outlining four areas (1) How the Green Deal engages (2) The low cost finance (3) Generally mainstreaming energy efficiency in peoples’ minds and (4) Fuel Poverty.

    (1) Most people don’t care if they have energy efficiency [in their homes]. If we were really serious about this [our appeal would be along the lines of] you can’t sell a car with brakes that don’t work, but you can sell a house that kills you. [I just wanted to get that in up-front]. Nobody’s really cracked this yet [the messaging] is [still only] “reaching the usual suspects”. Trust is vital. Salience is key. We want people to understand this is not an add-on to all the other things they do. Community-based organisations fit the bill [we tend to trust these groups as members]. [We need to be asking] how does the Green Deal work with that ? The Green Deal providers – small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) want to use their own brand – they are very good at marketing [and will be good at marketing the Green Deal as well]. But will that be enough to convince people ? The Assessments [that people will get at the start of the Green Deal process] will be detailed on what they can do. Some people are concerned about how much energy they use. Is that enough to go from a standing start to [...] ? Are enough people going to be committed enough by the time [Green Deal is available] ? What I think we need – to prime people to be ready to accept [the Green Deal]. [The message would be] appropriate to come from local community groups. The Government is hoping for it – but no real drivers. There are examples – but how are they going to be copied ? The CERT / CES(P) results show that Local Authorities are key. Now that National Indicators 186 and 187 [From the Performance Framework - annual reporting requirements of direct and indirect emissions as a result of Local Authority operations] have been cut – there is no driver. The amount of attention has dropped. [Local Authorities are facing other problems] reducing staff and budgets.

    (2) Access to low-cost finance. [The work to make this available from the Green Investment Bank is going ahead but] what about other soruces – for example mortgage providers ? In Switzerland for example, they are lending 114 billion euro every year to homeowners at low interest rates. We need to look at how to convince people. In Switzerland, people will pay more for energy efficient homes. The Green Deal needs to accept alternative forms of finance. Need to be able to access ECO [Energy Company Obligation - part of the Energy Bill - obligation energy suppliers to supply not only energy, but energy services such as energy efficiency and energy conservation] providers. We don’t know if the market will deliver [there are already grants/finance in this sector that people are not using].

    (3) Can’t see the Green Deal mainstreaming. My builder – I did an [extension] and asked for 50% extra insulation and LED [Light Emitting Diodes - a very energy efficient form of lighting] – he thought I was slightly mad but now recommends LED lighting on all builds. Here’s the Green Deal. He would say – “Why should I tell people about that ?” Typical small builder. It should be that whenever anyone is doing a refurbishment they should just do it [extra insulation etc] – and so we’re back to [the big R] – regulation. [But look at the public outcry when the media considered] consequential improvements [the "Conservatory Tax"]. [Energy efficiency] “We need to make it the thing that people do.”

    (4) Fuel Poverty. The money that can be coming through the ECO is £ 350 million per year (before VAT). Let’s not kid ourselves – the householders in fuel poverty are not going to take Green Deal finance. [The Climate Change Committee says] £4 billion a year is what we need to tackle fuel poverty. The Government needs to make sure that Green Deal finance is available the fuel poor (in an appropriate form) (overcoming the small potential).

    [Alan Whitehead MP] How to address the LED enthusiast who isn’t a Green Deal enthusiast ? Helping “Jeff” [representative small builder in a sketch by the Secretary of State ?] getting sorted out – taking him from a sceptic to an advocate.

    [Nigel Banks, Head of Energy and Sustainable Solutions, Keepmoat]

    There are glass half empty people and glass half full. How can we be filling the glass ? Retrofitting communities via the Green Deal ? We do a lot of community regeneration – we’ve build [some of the] Zero Carbon homes. We renovate rather than demolish and rebuild. We get through to RP [registered providers of social housing] and Local Authorities. There has been the “boom and bust” of FiT [solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff] – Local Authorities are reticent to get involved [with the Green Deal].

    With solid wall insulation [SW] we need to take up a gap. Currently, 80,000 per year are being driven by CES(P) – 94% of these are external wall. Under the Green Deal only 10,000 are projected next year – major concern.

    How many measures meet the Green Deal ? The Golden Rule [the rule o Green Deal finance that the loans should come at no extra cost to the householder because the repayments are balanced by energy savings] ? [With some solid wall insulation, meeting the Golden Rule is easy, but...]

    Problems with the Green Deal include : [no Green Deal finance generally available ?]. The cooling off period of 20 – 28 days. People now expect their insulation for free. How many [of the institutions of surveyors including] RICS [will value] properties with Green Deal ?

    ECO is a big target – at least £540 million per year for affordable warmth. [However, this does not compare with what we have been able to offer up to now] – entire streets – entire communities [upgraded] for free at the moment – easier than under the Green Deal.

    The £200 million cashback [is welcome]. Some of the Green Deal pilot schemes have been positive. It should be able to unlock private landlords [to making energy efficiency retrofits].

    The Green Deal [is currently appropriate only to] a small proportion of society – it is vital to apply through communities – churches and so on – and it can tackle long-term unemployment problems.

    The Green Deal [is not going to achieve major change] on its own.

    [David Robson, Managing Director, InstaGroup] We do insulation, represent over 100 SMEs. How can we make the Green Deal work ? Provide employment in local communities ? 15 years of history of energy efficiency : in the early 1990s – no funding – we were doing 300,000 installs a year. Now we are doing 500,000 this year. “If anyone says subsidies haven’t worked, it’s not true.” It has got money out onto the ground quickly. The Green Deal has huge potential – removes capital barriers pre- energy efficiency [measures] – ome of the more expensive things are covered – anyone can access low cost finance – as long as it [the Green Deal] is given an opportunity to work. It also creates a framework to cover the non-domestic sector – and [landlord-owned] private domestic sector also. The Government…. [the Green Deal is] not ready. “Whatever any politician says, the legal framework is not in place until January next year.” The insulation installers and other companies are feeling they are being told “if you want to lead on the Green Deal, take it on your [own] balance sheet.” Everyone wants the Green Deal to work. We’ve invested. Our system is in place. The work we put into Green Deal finance – low cost – we think it’s important – the lower we can keep the costs of it. “If we can’t keep it [the Green Deal finance loan interest rate] below 6% we as an industry have failed.” The Green Deal is going to take time to build. Solid wall insulation – takes time to develop this industry. Hugely innovative concept. The man on the street will take some convincing “Will I be able to sell my house ?” [But] we can’t even give away insulation at the moment – then convincing people to borrow… 2013 is a real issue – how you bridge that cliff edge. Could [limit] the Green Deal getting off the ground. “For the Green Deal to be effective it needs to take the [energy efficiency] industry with it.” Small businesses are looking to us to guide them through the Green Deal. They can’t survive 6 months of losing money. Need to have some more continuity. The Green Deal does need something to help it through the transition process. How is the Green Deal good ? A robust framework. Belief in the Golden Rule – sacrosanct. Trying to sell the Green Deal will be a challenge for all of us. The Green Deal is very much underpinned by the ECO – but if the ECO is the only thing pushing, the Green Deal won’t work – constrained by the amount of money available. Regulation is key. If consumers are given sufficient time to do things it’s OK. Low cost finance is key. Access to low rates has to be competitive or the biggest players will take all the low cost finance. I’m concerned about a continuing level of political will. Generally the media are coming on-side over the Green Deal – but you only need to look at the media coverage of “consequential improvements”… It’s important that the Government recognise concerns about the Green Deal – [coming] from people who do want it to work.

    [Alan Whitehead MP] Nice chance – ought to look at carbon taxes for the future – declaring part of that “tax foregone” and use that for the Carbon Reduction Commitment [CRC] : taking from the EU ETS [European Union Emissions Trading Scheme revenue] and the carbon floor price and using that to underpin the Green Deal – get that finance interest level down – a proper green tax – taxing bads and rewarding goods. “There can be no more good than making sure that everyone’s house is energy efficient” That’s all solved.

    QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

    [Terry ? David Hunt, Eco Environments] Concerned that microgeneration is not to benefit. Concerned about companies self-marketing – as there have been misleading advertising (such as solar photovoltaic [PV] installers advertising old FiT rates). They should not mislead the public. Regulation – compared to the MCS scheme [all solar PV installers have to be registered for MCS] but still seen some awful installs. As soon as things get sold and are bad – this leads to media stories and a loss of confidence.

    [Tim ? Tony Smith, Pilkington Glass] The statutory instrument that relates to double glazing and other measures – I’m looking for sunshine on a very gloomy day – double glazing in [some cases] will get no help from the Golden Rule [some discussion about the ratings of windows and replacement windows] – reduces the attraction to our industry in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

    [ X from "London Doctoral Training Centre"] Homeowners… [The success of the Green Deal is] down to how people use their homes. No-one’s talked about education and how installers talk to householders…

    [ X from Association for the Conservation of Energy] I’d like to hear the panel’s views on DG TAX [the European Commission Directorate Generale on Tax matters for the European Union] that the 5% VAT rate under the Green Deal is not compliant.

    [Tracy Vegro] For the 5% VAT rate, “we are ready to defend that” – as it impacts on our ability to offer other options. It’s weird since we’ve just signed a very strong [European Community] Energy Efficiency Directive. Behaviour change – that’s vital. The [Green Deal loan] Assessment will require heating controls turned down and relevant behaviour. Effectively, you’re not going to pay the interest on the loan if you change your behaviour and you will see the savings increase over time. The “conversion rate” [from Green Deal pilot schemes] was 98% “saved more than I thought” – community projects. The Ombudsman will be able to strike off poor installers. “The Consumer Protection on the Green Deal is the highest in the market.” Stringent. “If it’s proved we’re too draconian, it will come down.” [Re the question from Pilkington] You are slightly misinterpreting – this is not a barrier to that [kind of upgrade to windows] – it depends on the state of the property [for example the carbon saved is less if going from an F to and E than...] It may just be your interpretation – happy to go over that with you.

    [David Robson] The MCS based accreditation is only checked once a year – a real issue. The hardest thing about MCS is – is your paperwork in order ? Not if you can do the job…

    [Joanne Wade] The conversation about energy use – how to get people involved. We need more messaging – this is what this really is. If all levels of government [do the messaging] more effective.

    [John Sinfield] The Minister mentioned turning up the heating and hoovering [vacuuming] in your underpants. The industry is responsible to [address that in the] owner’s manual. This is how you need to treat your house differently. The tax issue – madness. If the HMRC can’t do it [convince the EC/EU] then ignore them.

    [Nigel Banks] Behaviour change is vital. The Green Deal providers who don’t put that in their package will come unstuck. Not as confident about carding [system of accreditation based on individual trades persons by trade] [not relevant to your particular skill] [skill specific ?]

    [Alan Whitehead] I assume the Minister meant thermal underwear.

    [Colin Hines, Green New Deal Group] Trust [is important] when the finance people are having fits over FiTs. What [are you] trying to do to the market ? Is the Green Investment Bank going to kick up some money for the Green Deal ? What about the drop in the Impact Assessment from £10 billion to £ 5 billion for the Green Deal [some confusion about what this refers to]

    [Roger Webb, The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council] How do we bring “Jeff” to the party ? We are keen to see heating as part of the Green Deal. There are 90,000 small tradesmen working for 60,000 small companies. Will they think the Green Deal is rubbish ? They are the leads for the Green Deal – they need training. We need to incentivise them. A voucher scheme ? Use a little of the £200 million… I really welcome the work and [interest in] bringing microgeneration [?] business into the scheme.

    [Neil Marshall, National Insulation Association] Regarding solid wall insulation – the IWI / CWI confusion [Internal Wall Insulation, Cavity Wall Insulation] – what solution is proposed for hard-to-treat cavities ? The hard-to-treats we are not able to do for another year. Need to drive more cavities and lofts. The Committee on Climate Change [CCC] have reported on a need for additional incentives outside the Green Deal – driving the uptake of the Green Deal – talk of incentives and fiscals. Gap-filling. The Green Deal [should be able to cover] able-to-pay loft insulation installations, able-to-pay cavity wall insulation, hard-to-treat cavities and solid wall insulation. If we are doing 1 million in 2012 under CERT / CES(P)…if there is no Green Deal finance we can’t sell anything [after 2012]. “There is a critical need for a transitional arrangement.” We have had high level discussions with DECC that have been very useful…

    [ X from Honeywell ? ] The in-situ factors. [For example, father [in law] isn’t going to replace his boiler because the payback will be after he’s dead]. Multiple length of payback [period] for any measure that’s put in – old antiquated evaluation tool. The householder asks what’s in it for them [what they can put some energy into doing] – is the longer payback [period] less attractive ?

    [ X from "Shah" ? ] Not much on solar / microgeneration. [Will the Green Deal become certified ?]

    [Nigel Banks] How do we do Green Deal for a boiler ? On 3rd January [2013] will the big energy companies do it themselves ? Some measures won’t perform as predicted.

    [John Sinfield] “If the Green Investment Bank doesn’t provide finance for the Green Deal we are in a world of hurt”. We need to engage with “Jeff” the trusted installed. The Government needs to drive consequential improvements through – if you have a new boiler, you will have wall insulation [crazy otherwise, as all that heat will be lost through the walls]. Not seeing where my £ 1 million invested in solid wall solutions is going now. The job is not done [cavities and lofts].

    [Tracy Vegro] A lot of Local Authorities don’t distinguish between good debt and bad – money is there for them – but they aren’t borrowing to invest. We are retaining HECA [Home Energy Conservation Act]. [Mentions poor opinion about the Green Investment Bank] – talking the “jib” [GIB] down. The biggest risk is the lack of confidence in the Green Deal. [Working on the terms of the] Green Deal Finance Companies [GDFC] – still see if…. [Important to take the attitude of] not talking it down. If another equity slice [is added...] We are a broad church – open to new entrants. Most work will be done [under the Green Deal] – most retrofits. [With the ActonCO2 and other Government paid communications campaigns on climate change and energy efficiency] We didn’t really get the message across – our millions spent [on advertising and public relations]. [We will] do better – more and more things will meet the Golden Rule. Come and meet our scientists.

    [David Robson] Heating – a huge opportunity – not a loan with British Gas – the boiler you want – add on solar [with a Green Deal loan] linking creatively.

    [ X from ? ] [Brings up the thorny problem of which technologies and measures are possible under the Green Deal's Golden Rule] 45 points [of requirements] to meet criteria. In the future, what technologies will be viable ?

    [Tracy Vegro] The RHI [Renewable Heat Incentive] is not eligible – does not meet the [Golden] Rule.

    [Further exchanges - becoming somewhat stressed]

    [Alan Whitehead MP] Just as things were getting exciting…[we have to close] an interesting period over the next 18 months.

  • Somebody Else’s Problem

    Posted on March 26th, 2012 Jo No comments

    Image Credit : Thames Water

    Some people appear to be incensed that Thames Water have declared a drought in the South East of England and called for a hosepipe ban.

    Others, more pragmatic.

    There are still commentators who are convinced that the drought problem should be addressed by Thames Water – that the problem would be solved if Thames Water fixed leaking mains water pipes.

    Most people, however, appear to accept that the low water availability is being caused by factors beyond the control of Thames Water.

    Thames Water appear to be acting, and they are asking their consumers to act as well.

    This is a situation that appears to be in deep contrast to the climate change issue. All the public information leads to calls for action directed towards the ordinary citizen householder, and there is no call for a word of commitment from the major energy producers.

    When governments and campaigners call on ordinary energy billpayers to “cut the carbon”, the energy industry just made climate change Somebody Else’s Problem.

    Let’s try to gauge the emotional reaction to this evasion of responsibility by looking at a couple of advertisements from London Transport.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Apocalyptic Apoptosis

    Posted on March 26th, 2012 Jo No comments

    Image Credit : Carl-A. Fechner, fechnerMedia

    The Evangelist : “Climate change is so serious, we need to tell everybody about it. Everybody needs to wake up about it.” The Audience “We have heard this all before. Do pipe down.”

    The Social Engineer : “Everybody should be playing their part in acting on climate change.” The Audience : “This story is too heavy – you’re trying to make us feel guilty. You’re damaging your message by accusing people of being responsible for causing climate change.”

    The Social Psychologist : “By making such a big deal out of climate change, by using Apocalyptic language, audiences feel there is no hope.” The Audience : “Climate change is clearly not a big deal, otherwise the newspapers and TV would be full of it all the time.”

    The Post-Economist : “Climate change is caused by consumption. We need to reduce our consumption.” The Audience : “We don’t want to be told to live in cold caves, eating raw vegetables by candlelight, thanks.”

    The Defeatist : “It’s already too late. There’s nothing we can do about it. All I can do is sit back and watch it happen.” The Audience : “Isn’t that being a little too negative ? If you think there’s nothing that can be done, what hope have we got ?”

    The late, great Hermann Scheer said that “Today’s primary energy business will vanish – but it won’t give up without a fight…the greatest and the worst environmental pollution of all is when countless so-called energy experts keep on trying to talk society out of even contemplating this scenario [of 100% renewable energy] as a possibility for the near future – because that is what makes society apathetic and unmotivated…”

    So who or what is making us passive and unmoved ?

    Is climate change really our fault ? Or is it something we’ve inherited because of the irresponsible energy companies ?

    Are we responsible for responding to climate change or is it somebody else’s responsibility ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Energy Independence : Scheer Truth

    Posted on March 26th, 2012 Jo No comments

    Image Credit : Carl-A. Fechner, fechnerMedia

    Renewable energy pessimists are everywhere.

    Some commentators, government leaders, energy companies and representatives of international institutions are keen to show that not only is the renewable energy deployment glass half empty, the water hasn’t even wet the bottom of the glass yet.

    Yet there are renewable energy architects – developers, promoters, politicians, scientists, engineers and academics – who document the evidence of the rapid growth in zero carbon energy – who show us that the sustainable energy glass could be brimming over.

    What do experts say ? Here’s the belated Hermann Scheer from the film “The 4th Revolution : Energy Autonomy” :-

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Advancing Africa, Advertise Freely, Assets not Liabilities, Bait & Switch, Be Prepared, Big Number, Big Picture, Big Society, Carbon Commodities, Climate Change, Conflict of Interest, Contraction & Convergence, Corporate Pressure, Deal Breakers, Delay and Deny, Demoticratica, Direction of Travel, Disturbing Trends, Divide & Rule, Dreamworld Economics, Economic Implosion, Emissions Impossible, Energy Autonomy, Energy Denial, Energy Disenfranchisement, Energy Insecurity, Energy Revival, Energy Socialism, Engineering Marvel, Evil Opposition, Feed the World, Foreign Interference, Foreign Investment, Fossilised Fuels, Freemarketeering, Global Warming, Green Investment, Green Power, Growth Paradigm, Hide the Incline, Hydrocarbon Hegemony, Low Carbon Life, Major Shift, Marvellous Wonderful, Mass Propaganda, Media, Military Invention, National Energy, National Power, National Socialism, No Blood For Oil, Not In My Name, Nuclear Nuisance, Nuclear Shambles, Obamawatch, Oil Change, Optimistic Generation, Paradigm Shapeshifter, Peace not War, Peak Coal, Peak Emissions, Peak Energy, Peak Natural Gas, Peak Oil, Petrolheads, Policy Warfare, Political Nightmare, Public Relations, Pure Hollywood, Regulatory Ultimatum, Renewable Gas, Renewable Resource, Resource Curse, Resource Wards, Revolving Door, Social Capital, Social Change, Social Democracy, Solar Sunrise, Solution City, Stirring Stuff, Stop War, Sustainable Deferment, Technofix, Technological Fallacy, Technological Sideshow, Technomess, The Myth of Innovation, The Power of Intention, The War on Error, Ungreen Development, Voluntary Behaviour Change, Wasted Resource, Western Hedge, Wind of Fortune, Zero Net
  • Living Life and LOAFing It

    Posted on February 5th, 2012 Jo No comments
    CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY LINK
    PRESS RELEASE

    Living Life and LOAFing It – Green Christians ask churches to “Use your LOAF !” on sourcing sustainable food

    In the run up to Easter, Christian Ecology Link is asking supporters to think and act on how they source food for their church communities, with the aim of reducing the impact of unsustainable agriculture on their local area, and the wider world.

    CEL have launched a new colour leaflet on the LOAF programme principles in time for Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), or Pancake Day, on 21st February 2012.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Carbon Detox 2012

    Posted on January 19th, 2012 Jo 1 comment

    PRESS RELEASE

    Carbon Detox 2012 : Shed Unwanted Pounds With Our Unique Formulation

    George Marshall, well-known sustainable living guru, will be asking us to challenge ourselves, our routines and bad habits, and make a 2012 all-year resolution to shed the excess carbon from our lives.

    On 21st January 2012 at a convenient central London location, he will ask us to take action to get control of our personal energy, and add vitality to our lives with new aims and goals.

    The aim of the event is to help us acquire the psychological tools we need to lead slimmer, healthier and more ethically satisfying lifestyles.

    Speaking from the experience gained from his decades of research and practice in the field, and giving tips and tricks from his bestseller “Carbon Detox“, George will be guiding us expertly through the carbon counting maze.

    One of our leaner life activities group said : “Cutting down has been hard work, but has become much more fun now I am involved in my local group. I am looking forward to meeting my buddies on Saturday.”

    Tony Emerson, the coordinator for the ecocell 2 programme said : “In three years our household has managed to halve the amount of greenhouse gases we produce – by topping up loft insulation, converting to double glazing, installing a wood stove and learning how to best use it, new heavier curtains, wall insulation, changing to a green electricity supplier, continued monitoring of timings and temperature of the central heating – and of course taking part in the ecocell 2 programme. However we still have further to go and I am looking forward to hear what George Marshall has to say. One way we are encouraging people in ecocell 2 is to have a buddy system, whereby people pair up, or group up, by phone, so that people with similar houses can support each other.”

    To register for this free, all day event, including a selection of facilitated workshops and to receive your take-home worksheet pack, please email Tony at ecocell@christian-ecology.org.uk

    For photographs of the day’s events, and feedback from the workshops, please contact Jo on 0845 45 98 46 0

    ENDS


    NOTES FOR EDITORS

    a. Climate change activist and author George Marshall will be addressing green Christians during an all-day conference on Saturday 21st January 2012 in Central London.

    b. The Christian Ecology Link ecocell project team will facilitate workshops on “living the truly sustainable life” at the Magdalen Centre, St Mary’s Church, Eversholt Street near Euston train station between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm [1]

    c. George Marshall, author of the easy-to-read book “Carbon Detox : Your step-by-step guide to getting real about climate change” will be offering his fact-packed and lighthearted insights into action on climate change, drawn from his experience of over a decade of community and policy work. [2]

    d. The event will be suitable for anybody already taking part in the ecocell project, or anybody interested in starting. The workshops on the day will be pitched at several levels.

    e. The ecocell-1 workshop group will look at the introductory programme to help your family or church group take their first steps to reducing their impact on the environment. [3]

    f. The ecocell-2 workshop will look at the more in-depth project, to provide mutual support for those who want to reduce their carbon emissions to sustainable levels within five years. [4]

    REFERENCES

    [1] The Magdalen Centre, St Mary’s Church, Eversholt Street, London NW1 1BN is located about 7 minutes’ walk north of Euston train station.

    [2] http://www.carbondetox.org/

    [3] http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell
    http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell/ecocell-1

    [4] http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell
    http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell/ecocell-2
    http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell/ecocell2-materials

    [5] http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/archives/1537
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/ecocell-day-21-jan-2012.htm

    CONTACT

    For details of Christian Ecology Link, please phone Jo on 0845 45 98 46 0 or email info@christian-ecology.org.uk

  • Clicking with Climate

    Posted on December 5th, 2011 Jo 3 comments

    Image Credit : University of California at Berkeley

    Human beings have two brains. The first is a self-centred workhorse of pragmatic decision-making, interested in social engagement in order to further individual interests – whether those interests are purely for personal enrichment or for the reward of the social group more widely.

    The second human brain is a relativistic engine, constantly comparing, reflecting, analysing. We are concerned about other peoples’ emotional response, wondering what other people think about us, responding to peer group pressure.

    Are we more successful, popular than others ? Do people listen to us more than others ? We know we’re right, but do they ? We need to pitch ourselves in the right way. We jostle for pole position, for a place on the platform, hoping not to make too many opponents, whilst making more converts to our point of view.

    Personally, I don’t listen to my second brain very often. As a social animal, I hope I’m tolerant, and my priorities in interpersonal engagement are mutual empowerment, transparent collaboration and inclusion. In my public projection, I’m not trying to vaunt myself over others, or massage my image for approval, or put up a fake facade. You get me, you get direct.

    But I can’t avoid the second human brain entirely – as it is the reason for a lot of fuzziness in our view of the world around us. It’s too easy to stir doubt, falsehoods and bad ideas into the collective cake mix of society, where it fizzes into a bubbling mess. In matters of climate change science and energy engineering, there are no grey areas for me. But for a number of people I know, these are subjects of much confusion, denial and disinformation.

    People hold on to the totem of what other people think. And so you have even very intelligent social commentators reciting from paid-for public relations by companies and business pressure groups. Journalists often do not appear to understand the difference between pseudo-science and real live science. There are too many people selling unrealistic, unworkable technological “solutions”, particularly in energy, so it’s hard to know what to accept and what to dismiss.

    Yet it is critical to know what rock, what branch to keep a hold of in the flood of information that could sweep us away. The social construction of climate change is an important edifice, a safe house in an information world at war with itself. What high wind can sweep away the grubby pages of non-science from the Daily Mail ? What rising sea can cleanse the Daily Telegraph of its climate change denial columnists ? What can stop the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation from infecting the Internet with their contrarian position ? What can make us accept the reality and urgency of global warming ? How can we learn to click with climate change ?

    Three significant academic thinkers on the social significance of climate change are launching new works at the British Library in London, on 16th January 2012. The British Sociological Association have invited Mike Hulme, John Urry and Gordon Walker to discuss chapters from their recent books which address the question – where next for society and climate change ?

    In the words of Chris Shaw at the University of Sussex, “they pull no punches in their analyses, and their approach is based on years of research into the social dimensions of the climate change debate. This is an essential opportunity for all those interested in bringing climate change into the democratic sphere, to help understand the issues involved in such a transition. It is also a chance to discuss the ideas with the authors and other delegates.”

    For more information, see here and here.

  • Sage Against The Machine

    Posted on February 13th, 2011 Jo No comments


    Image Copyright : Christian Ecology Link

    PRESS RELEASE : TV ECO CHAPLAIN TUMBLES HOUSE OF CREDIT CARDS

    The Revd Peter Owen-Jones, the whole nation’s media chaplain, will be sharing from the heart at a Green Christian London conference ‘End of the Age of Thorns’ on 5th March 2011.

    He will be opening up about a new relationship with money, and how we can survive the credit, jobs and services crunch by digging for our spiritual roots.

    In his BBC TV odyssey, Britain’s favourite vicar tried living without his cheque book in the series ‘How to live a simple life’, and travelled the world to peer into the human soul in the fascinating ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’.

    Now he comes back down to Earth in central London, bringing his unique, accessible style of presentation, to share the good news of life after moneymaking, in an all-day conference organised by Christian Ecology Link.

    The programme for the ‘End of the Age of Thorns’ features a wide range of talks and workshops asking questions about the ecology of money and life after mass marketing. What are the green shoots nurturing a new economics? Is there prosperity without growth? And can society grow up and leave consumerism behind?

    “Christians ought to be distinctive as consumers. Our shopping bags should reflect our values.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

    Sustainability expert Professor Tim Cooper will lead a group learning the fundamentals of Green Economics; Ashley Ralston will guide a process looking at shopping as if the planet mattered; and Ruth Jarman will host a workshop on greening up the day-to-day life of church communities.

    “The church needs to consider why its members so readily succumb to high street temptations despite clear Biblical warnings about materialism. We cannot expect Christians to be immune from the psychological and socio-cultural pressures that lead to excessive consumption.” (Professor Tim Cooper)
    ___________________________________________________________

    END OF THE AGE OF THORNS : SURVIVING CONSUMERISM

    Christian Ecology Link Conference: Saturday 5 March 2011, 11am to 5pm, St John’s Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY (opposite the entrance to Waterloo station)

    Come and explore spiritual roots for a new economics, for our own humanity and all life on Earth. Engage with Peter Owen-Jones on a new relationship with money and how we can challenge the consumerist age we live in.

    “Christians are not prepared to tolerate economic injustice, and work hard to make the system better. But there is an elephant in the room. We take endless economic growth of the system for granted. And we wonder why we are failing to stem the extinction of fifty species every day, greenhouse gas emissions are out of control, and our children have becomes pawns of the market. Economic growth has become a cancer on the earth, and an abuse of the image of God in us.” (CEL Chairman, Paul Bodenham)

    “God did not create a world with infinite resources for humankind to plunder. He created a world with finite resources for us to nurture. Some people argue that technological advance will enable consumerism to persist. We would do well to note that God also created people with finite minds. Perhaps people will not work out solutions in time. What then? We must address people’s values, not just their minds.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

    More information
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns.pdf
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns-booking.pdf

    Ticket prices vary
    Non-CEL members £20
    CEL members £15
    £5 for the first 20 students aged under 25

    Booking forms
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns-booking.pdf

    Telephone
    0845 45 98 46 0

    E-mail
    bookings@christian-ecology.org.uk
    info@christian-ecology.org.uk

    Speaker biographies

    Peter Owen-Jones is a long-time supporter of CEL and a popular speaker. You will probably have seen at least one of his fascinating BBC TV series: ‘How to live a simple life’, ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’, and ‘Extreme Pilgrim’.

    He is a Church of England vicar in a parish near Lewes in East Sussex; writer of several books including Letters from an Extreme Pilgrim (2010) and Psalm: The World’s Finest Soul Poetry in a Contemporary Idiom (2009); and founder of the Arbory Trust, the first Christian woodland burial site.

    Tim Cooper is Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University, a founder member of CEL and former CEL Chairman. He is author of “Longer lasting products; alternatives to the throwaway society” (2010) and “Green Christianity” (1990).

    Workshop details

    “Green Economics” : Tim Cooper will run two different sessions combining input and discussion. Both sessions will be self-contained so you can go to both, or just one.

    “Shopping as if the planet mattered” : Bring your own ideas to share, led by Ashley Ralston, CEL trustee and a director of Better Tomorrows.

    “Greening the church in daily life” : Eco-congregations are not just for Sundays. They should give every member the chance to change their life. Come and discuss ideas and experiences that can help people start on a journey of a lifetime, including CEL’s ecocell programme, led by Ruth Jarman, CEL trustee and climate change campaigner.

    “We should be no less distinctive in our consumption ethics as in our sexual ethics. Christianity is as much about showing distinctive love to third world suppliers by insisting on ‘fair trade’ goods as it is about showing distinctive love to our husbands and wives by being faithful.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

    “Jesus was forthright about the ‘deceit of wealth’, and yet we’ve fallen for this one big time. There is an alternative, but like any therapy, the treatment will be painful. A lot of people want to be the place where that healing makes a start, but don’t know how. That is why we have launched ‘ecocell’, to bring people together to make a journey in discipleship to find freedom, for themselves, for society and, we hope, for the earth.” (CEL Chairman, Paul Bodenham)

  • Smart Grids : American Cheese

    Posted on February 11th, 2011 Jo No comments

    ULTRA-BRIGHT CHEESE WARNING !

    (a tip of the hat to Peter Sinclair)

  • Britain’s Favourite TV Vicar Spills Happy News

    Posted on January 25th, 2011 Jo No comments

    Image Copyright : Christian Ecology Link

    Intimate and life-changing revelations are anticipated with baited breath at the Green Christian London conference “End of the Age of Thorns” on 5th March 2011.

    The Revd Peter Owen-Jones, the whole nation’s media chaplain, will be sharing from the heart, opening up about a new relationship with money, and how we can survive the credit, jobs and services crunch by digging for our spiritual roots.

    In his BBC TV odyssey, Britain’s favourite vicar tried living without his cheque book in the series “How to live a simple life”, and travelled the world to peer into the human soul in the fascinating “Around the World in 80 Faiths”.

    Now he comes back down to Earth in central London, bringing his unique, accessible style of presentation, to share the good news of life after moneymaking, in an all-day conference organised by Christian Ecology Link.

    The programme for the “End of the Age of Thorns” features a wide range of talks and workshops asking questions about the ecology of money and life after mass marketing. What are the green shoots nurturing a new economics ? Is there prosperity without growth ? And can society grow up and leave consumerism behind ?

    Sustainability expert Professor Tim Cooper will lead a group learning the fundamentals of Green Economics; Ashley Ralston will guide a process looking at shopping as if the planet mattered; and Ruth Jarman will host a workshop on greening up the day-to-day life of church communities.

    ___________________________________________________________

    PRESS RELEASE

    END OF THE AGE OF THORNS: SURVIVING CONSUMERISM

    Christian Ecology Link Conference: Saturday 5 March 2011, 11am to 5pm, St John’s Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY (opposite the entrance to Waterloo station)

    More information
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns.pdf
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns-booking.pdf

    Come and explore spiritual roots for a new economics, for our own humanity and all life on Earth. Engage with Peter Owen-Jones on a new relationship with money and how we can challenge the consumerist age we live in.

    Ticket prices vary
    Non-CEL members £20
    CEL members £15
    £5 for the first 20 students aged under 25

    Booking forms
    http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns-booking.pdf

    Telephone
    0845 45 98 46 0

    E-mail
    bookings@christian-ecology.org.uk
    info@christian-ecology.org.uk

    Speaker biographies

    Peter Owen-Jones is a long-time supporter of CEL and a popular speaker. You will probably have seen at least one of his fascinating BBC series: ‘How to live a simple life’, ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’, and ‘Extreme Pilgrim’.

    He is a Church of England vicar in a parish near Lewes in East Sussex; writer of several books including Letters from an Extreme Pilgrim (2010) and Psalm: The World’s Finest Soul Poetry in a Contemporary Idiom (2009); and founder of the Arbory Trust, the first Christian woodland burial site.

    Tim Cooper is Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University, a founder member of CEL and former CEL Chair. He is author of “Longer lasting products; alternative to the throwaway society” (2010) and “Green Christianity” (1990).

    Workshop details

    “Green Economics” : Tim Cooper will run two different sessions combining input and discussion. Both sessions will be self-contained so you can go to both, or just one.

    “Shopping as if the planet mattered” : Bring your own ideas to share, led by Ashley Ralston, CEL trustee and a director of Better Tomorrows.

    “Greening the church in daily life” : Eco-congregations are not just for Sundays. They should give every member the chance to change their life. Come and discuss ideas and experiences that can help people start on a journey of a lifetime, including CEL’s ecocell programme, led by Ruth Jarman, CEL trustee and climate change campaigner.

  • Homo Disruptus

    Posted on October 28th, 2010 Jo No comments

    Image Credit : FerdiEgb

    Some straight-talking in the New Zealand Parliament (see below). But just what does he mean by “…[a]fter 10 millennia, especially the past two centuries, it is the moment of truth” ?

    Our species is not “Home Sapiens”, it is “Homo Disruptus” and we’ve been interfering with the Climate for about 10,000 years.

    This speech was made by [Green] Dr Kennedy Graham in the New Zealand
    Parliament within in the last few hours.

    To send him some appreciation his address is: -
    kennedy.graham [at] parliament.govt.nz

    C&C on the growing record: -
    http://www.gci.org.uk/endorsements.html


    “As the Minister made clear recently in question time, the state of play
    is the Copenhagen Accord, with voluntary commitments to national cuts.
    These are demonstrably inadequate to the science-based judgment of what
    is required to avert failure, but we pretend that it is a useful start
    to greater things. We are told that global emissions must peak within
    about 7 years, and we know that the Accord is way short of achieving
    that, so we mumble about bigger cuts later and avoid looking into our
    children’s eyes.”

    “Let us address some facts. To achieve a 2 degrees Celsius threshold, we
    must reduce our global carbon budget from 50 gigatonnes today to 36 by
    2020, and seven by 2050. The rich countries must cut from about 40 today
    to 11 by 2020 and one by 2050. That is correct: we in the rich world
    must emit only one gigatonne in 2050, out of the seven emitted by the
    world that year. It is called contraction and convergence, and it is the
    only way humanity will successfully deal with climate change. That is
    when our moral and political standards will merge at the global level.”

    http://www.greens.org.nz/speeches/un-climate-change-negotiations-cancun-and-new-zealand-dr-kennedy-graham

    “I rise to address the issue of climate change and this Government’s
    failure to develop adequate national policy to combat it. Climate change
    has slipped below the threshold of daily media focus and that is the way
    that this Government seems to want it.”

    “The failure at Copenhagen to tackle the global threat head on has sent
    the international community into a state of collective catatonia. We see
    this in the lack of leadership from the UN itself, in the actions of
    national Governments around the world, and in the attitude of much of
    the public around the world. The problem we have is that Nature is not
    disposed to wait for humanity to iron itself out morally and get its
    political act together.”

    “The poor countries rail against us for historical responsibility and
    insufficient reduction targets. The rich countries fear the projected
    population growth among the poor and insist that they enter binding
    commitments before we sign on to medium-term cuts.”

    “Humanity probably faces only two global threats: immolation through
    nuclear conflict, or suffocation through global warming. The first is
    the product of traditional enmity; the enemy was the other tribe or the
    other nation. Climate change is the product of a new enemy: it is us.”

    “We try to cut nuclear arsenals by changing the enemy’s behaviour; we are
    required to cut carbon emissions by changing our own behaviour. It is no
    surprise that we are not succeeding. Most Governments lack the political
    courage to convey the magnitude of the climate change threat to their
    peoples, and they lack the political insight to prescribe the required
    global and national policies that are necessary.”

    “Before, during, and since Copenhagen the threat of serious unpredictable
    climate change has grown. Our scientists do not know when non-linear
    change might occur, but they warn that tipping points exist. If the
    precautionary principle is to mean anything, we must all move with
    speedy purpose and resolve. Translated politically, that means we must
    act not as an international community of states, but as a global
    community of peoples who are represented by Governments. If the
    difference seems vanishingly small, then we do well to act on it none
    the less, lest our prospects of survival prove to be the same.”

    “Our professional negotiators are rearranging the deckchairs,
    contemplating whether we shall have one or two legal agreements, and
    whether it will be next year or 3 or 10 years from now. Our political
    leaders dampen our expectations with appeals to realism. We all suffer
    from cognitive dissonance. Every so often we see the magnitude and
    imminence of the threat, and it is simply too frightening to accept
    individually and politically, so we basically return to business and
    government as usual.”

    “As the Minister made clear recently in question time, the state of play
    is the Copenhagen Accord, with voluntary commitments to national cuts.
    These are demonstrably inadequate to the science-based judgment of what
    is required to avert failure, but we pretend that it is a useful start
    to greater things. We are told that global emissions must peak within
    about 7 years, and we know that the Accord is way short of achieving
    that, so we mumble about bigger cuts later and avoid looking into our
    children’s eyes.”

    “Let us address some facts. To achieve a 2 degrees Celsius threshold, we
    must reduce our global carbon budget from 50 gigatonnes today to 36 by
    2020, and seven by 2050. The rich countries must cut from about 40 today
    to 11 by 2020 and one by 2050. That is correct: we in the rich world
    must emit only one gigatonne in 2050, out of the seven emitted by the
    world that year. It is called contraction and convergence, and it is the
    only way humanity will successfully deal with climate change. That is
    when our moral and political standards will merge at the global level.”

    “After 10 millennia, especially the past two centuries, it is the moment
    of truth. For our part, New Zealand has to agree through treaty or by
    voluntary declaration in advance to cut our national emissions
    proportionately. That means we must cut from 78 million tonnes today to
    56 million tonnes in 2020, down to 1.6 million in 2050.”

    “That is the scale of the challenge before New Zealand. It is as well
    that we face up to it now, not when it is too late.”



  • Ellen’s Collaboration

    Posted on October 7th, 2010 Jo 1 comment

    Video Credit : Ellen MacArthur Foundation

    I can’t decide whether I’m inspired or concerned by this little film from Ellen MacArthur.

    It seems to focus quite heavily on cars, and one of the collaborators is Renault.

    It also talks a lot about electricity, and another one of the corporate names shown is National Grid.

    And then it also talks a lot about waste, and the company that sponsored Ellen’s sail around the world was B&Q, the chain that spawned a thousand home makeovers.

    None of these companies appear to want to follow the sustainability principles spelled out in the movie.

    Is it just a little bit too high-brow to be talking of “closing the loop”, when most people in the world are simply concerned with finding their next meal or coasting towards their next pay cheque ?

    Who is this video designed for ? What’s the intended audience and how are they being asked to respond to it ?

    Tell me I’m wrong to be ever-so-slightly sceptical.

  • Big Oil’s Tea Party

    Posted on October 5th, 2010 Jo 3 comments

    http://www.desmogblog.com/astro-turf-wars-uncovered-new-undercover-documentary

    If you, dear Reader, are a Republican American, and you are demographically “middle class”, and you support the Tea Party movement, you are likely to have been seriously deceived – by Big Energy. Or Big Mining.

    Who are these “Big Diggers”, propagandising the naive, well-intentioned, right-wing citizens of the United States of America, so they don’t realise they’re thinking somebody else’s thoughts, shouting somebody else’s slogans, riding somebody else’s train ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Franny Armstrong Blows Reputation**

    Posted on October 2nd, 2010 Jo 29 comments

    In a critical stage of the the battle to win hearts and minds with a massive global campaign, Franny Armstrong has decided to blow up every ounce of credibility she has ever earned** by agreeing to produce what has to be the most repulsive**, sick** little film in the entire universe.

    Or not. Depending on whether you find the viral transmission of outrageously disgusting** YouTube movies humourous. Or not.

    It’ll certainly get the 10:10 campaign through to people, but maybe not quite in the way she intended.

    I’m thinking fatwas**.

    So much for decades of trying to convince people that the green movement isn’t all about world domination through domestic fascism and mind control.

    Wave goodbye to all that hard work to sell the concept that eco-living is about a shared vision, building bridges and finding common ground – no pressure.

    Eco-fascism. It’s right back there on the agenda now, thanks to you, Franny**.

    And it’s going to encourage very nasty e-mails. Which we really don’t need.

    Oh goody. It’s already attracted enough complaints about violence for you to take it down from the 10:10 website. Good call, I’d say :-

    http://www.1010global.org/no-pressure

    ** No relationships were harmed in the making of this post – it’s all intended to be ironic. If you didn’t realise that, sorry, but it should have been really obvious. Franny Armstrong is a fabulous individual, as everybody knows, and the 10:10 campaign is ultra cool. It’s a shame that this mini-movie didn’t work for so many people. We’re all different, and we all have a different sense of humour, and that’s great. Go on, pass the YouTube link on to someone and start a conversation. No pressure.

  • This Is What Overwarming Looks Like

    Posted on September 17th, 2010 Jo No comments

    http://vimeo.com/15028423

    “We have to believe what we are witnessing with our own eyes — floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: from smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan, to soaring temperatures in the US and a deteriorating landscape in the High Arctic, our planet seems to be having a breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come but real signs of very troubling climate change already under way.”

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dlashof/this_is_what_global_warming_lo.html

    NRDC Advocacy Website

    “Tell Congress not to weaken Clean Air Act protections : As the EPA prepares to set standards for global warming pollution from power plants, refineries and other major polluters, some members of Congress want to weaken the Clean Air Act and give industries free rein to dump harmful pollution into our air…”

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/09/37-states-set-nighttime-high-temperature-records-this-summer.php

    “With January to August 2010 found to be tied for the hottest year on record by NOAA, new analysis from NRDC shows that it wasn’t just daytime temperatures that’ve been soaring. In fact, 37 states in the US set record high nighttime temperatures this summer…”

  • Hungry for Change

    Posted on September 15th, 2010 Jo No comments

    People often talk about the weather in relation to Climate Change, but neglect to talk about the possible obvious and inevitable side-effects – hunger and starvation.

    Frontline Club will screen the film “The Hunger Season” on 1st October 2010, and follow it with a panel discussion hosted by BOND and Oxfam UK :-

    http://frontlineclub.com/events/2010/10/liberation-season-screening—the-hunger-season.html?utm_source=Frontline&utm_campaign=074ce4510f-Announcing+October+events&utm_medium=email

    “Across the world a massive food crisis is unfolding. 
Climate change, increasing consumption in China and India, the dash for Biofuels are causing hitherto unimagined food shortages and rocketing prices. This has already provoked unrest and violence from the Middle East to South America and there is no end in sight in the coming months. The people who are going to be most sorely affected are those already living on the razors edge of poverty, those dependent on food aid for their very survival. As commodity prices have risen by 50%, the UN Agencies have barely half the budget they need to meet the needs of 73 million hungry people they are currently feeding…”

    Biofuel targets may not be the only factor behind food price rises :-

    http://www.wdm.org.uk/food-speculation/great-hunger-lottery

    “In The Great Hunger Lottery, the World Development Movement has compiled extensive evidence establishing the role of food commodity derivatives in destabilising and driving up food prices around the world. This in turn, has led to food prices becoming unaffordable for low-income families around the world, particularly in developing countries highly reliant on food imports. Nowhere was this more clearly seen than during the astonishing surge in staple food prices over the course of 2007-2008, when millions went hungry and food riots swept major cities around the world. The great hunger lottery shows how this alarming episode was fueled by the behaviour of financial speculators, and describes the terrible immediate impacts on vulnerable families around the world, as well as the long term damage to the fight against global poverty…”

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Liberate Tate : Pouring Oil on Troubled Relationships

    Posted on September 15th, 2010 Jo No comments

    http://www.youandifilms.com/2010/09/crude-2010-oil-painting-protest-over-bp-sponsorship-in-tate-modern-turbine-hall-liberate-tate-calls-for-footprint-of-art-museum-to-be-free-from-big-oil/

    http://twitter.com/liberatetate

    https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B2JesScn-l6lM2E2OTU2MGEtZmEzYy00NDZmLWE0YWMtYzY4Zjg5YmUxZTVi&sort=name&layout=list&num=50&pli=1

  • Give London a Crude Awakening

    Posted on September 13th, 2010 Jo No comments

    Oh, blithersome rattacious gnarlies !

    Something else I have to miss.

  • Spoilt for Choice

    Posted on September 13th, 2010 Jo 1 comment

    September 2010 is turning out to be a veritable over-stuffed cornucopia of Climate Change- and Energy-related events.

    This week, 15th September 2010 breaks the record for the number of useful things I could be doing. I am effectively quintuple-booked, and something’s got to go (well, nearly all of them, actually).

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Climate Weak

    Posted on September 8th, 2010 Jo No comments

    An e-mail trail with a certain amount of political content…


    from: Kate Shepherd
    date: Tue, Aug 10, 2010
    subject: Climate Week

    Hello Jo

    It was lovely to speak with you today about Climate Week and I’d be grateful if you could pass on the information to the rest of your team.

    Climate Week, 21st – 27th March 2011, is a new national occasion on climate change, backed by the Prime Minister, Al Gore and Kofi Annan. During Climate Week, thousands of events will be run by organisations from every part of society to highlight the positive steps being taken to help prevent climate change.

    I have attached a document for further information, the document includes a list of supporters of Climate Week, which range from every part of society: from the Chief Fire Officers Association to the Women’s Institute, the Girl Guiding UK to several Regional Development Agencies.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Save Oxfam

    Posted on July 24th, 2010 Jo No comments

    In an unguarded moment, I allowed myself to watch television, and found myself watching this campaign advertisement from Oxfam.

    The first thing I felt was empathy with the unhappy woman shown in the opening sequence, as the narrator told us that her baby had just been washed away by floodwaters. How dreadful for her. How awful for her child.

    The second thing I thought was how shocking it was for an aid and development agency to use this person’s grief as a marketing tool.

    The third thing I thought was to ask myself why the makers of the appeal didn’t mention the aggravation to the environment caused by Climate Change, but instead just refered to “more people than ever are dying because of floods, drought and lack of clean water”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Sound Of Many Waters

    Posted on July 9th, 2010 Jo No comments

    A message from the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences [IFEES] :-

    “Salam, Shalom and Peace brothers and sisters in humanity : Hope you are in the best of health and faith, Insha’Allah. Please find details of our forthcoming event. Please forward!”

    “IFEES and Radical Middle Way (RMW) present: “Question Time: Can Islam meet the Environment Challenge ?” The panel will consist of : Kristane Backer, journalist and ex MTV VJ; Rianne C. ten Veen, Green Creation; Fazlun Khalid, IFEES; Shaykh Babikir Ahmed Babikir.”

    Date: Friday 9th July 2010, Time: 6.30-8.30pm; Venue: Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street, London E1 6LS.

    Read the rest of this entry »