Tag Archives: climate change

When the last bee died

Foodie Festival BloggerOn 7th August, I went to the first day of the Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park.

If you haven’t been, you should: it was a fantastic day out “celebrating its 10th anniversary in Edinburgh with a three-day showcase of Scotland’s finest culinary talents and regional produce”. (To be clear upfront, my free ticket was provided by Lanyard Media, but I got no instructions from them what to say or what to blog about.)

Foodies Festival Inverleith ParkEdinburgh is full of festivals, but I unashamedly love this one: so much good food and drink to celebrate and share.

One of the free lectures for Friday was on urban beekeeping, by Brian Pool, a third-generation professional beekeeper, who teaches beekeeping at the Secret Herb Garden and is Beekeeper in Residence at Edinburgh Zoo (where they’re having a Bee Festival on 29th August, free to anyone who visits the Zoo that day).

I learned that the British black honey-bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is more aggressive and more inclined to sting if provoked than the mellower Italian honey-bee (Apis mellifera ligustica) which Brian Pool attributes to the Italian bee expecting to find honey all year round, breeding to huge numbers within the hive and therefore needing to be fed by the beekeeper: whereas British bees (“hardier and have smaller populations going into winter, so they need less food to survive, and they also have fewer mouths to feed during a cold spring snap” says Terry Clare, president of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association) are better at saving honey for a rainy day.
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Filed under About Food, Climate Change, Honey, Sustainable Politics

Labour Party Split

Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz KendallJeremy Corbyn is the kind of MP who’s not afraid to stand up against cruelty to pigeons or to say openly that he opposes renewing Trident.

Being pro-pigeon and anti-Trident may be popular stances, but it’s a truism in professional political punditry that serious candidates don’t stand up for that kind of thing. Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Liz Kendall are too professional as politicians to have that kind of thing in their political record.

I’m no longer a Labour Party supporter. I decided, a couple of days before Corbyn joined the leadership contest, that the Labour Party had become too right-wing for me to tolerate any longer. The May 2015 election was the first election in quite a few years where I didn’t vote Labour.

I became a socialist in a business studies class at Napier many years ago. The lecturer didn’t know he was making me a socialist: he was explaining company structure. A company is run by its CEO, who is appointed by the company shareholders. The CEO’s first responsibility is to the shareholders: this is in general expressed as a legal obligation to keep the value of the shares rising. Because the value of the shares is usually dependent on the company profits rising quarterly, a CEO’s goal is to have each financial quarter show more profits than the last.

In small-scale companies, with few shareholders all of whom take a personal interest in the doings of the company, the CEO can be instructed to make the profits of the company secondary to other things which are more important to the shareholders than seeing the value of their shares go up and up: their good name in producing quality goods for sale, their desire not to exploit or discriminate against their employees, their belief in climate change, their desire to own both an ecologically sound as well as a profitable company.

But in large-scale companies, where the shareholders are themselves corporations, there is no such human check. The CEO representing the corporate owner of the shares has the overriding legal obligation to see profits go up. And because this is the overriding focus of the business, they frequently expect their employees – whose wages may have been frozen or cut in pursuit of that goal – to share their focus in making profits go up.
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I’m voting Green, of course

European ElectionsTomorrow I’ll be ticking the box for the Scottish Green party, and hoping they get a large enough share of the vote that Scotland finally gets our own Green MEP.

Why I plan to vote Green:

Well, I read their manifesto. They’re the only party I agree with on Scottish independence. They’re the only party taking an economically sound view on austerity. I can’t find anything I disagree with or think unsound or hypocritical in their manifesto: the Scottish Greens have proved themselves to be a party that will aim to do what they have committed to do.

I’ve met Maggie Chapman – at a hustings in Edinburgh last week, at a demo she spoke at. She seems a solid and sensible person, a good speaker, she researches well: she’s certainly working hard to be elected, I think she would work hard and responsibly if elected to the European Parliament. If not, well, we get to keep her as a councillor in Leith – at least until she becomes an MSP.
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Polar Snap and UK weather

Climate Change droughtWe always hear a lot about weather in the US, and right now, it’s cold.

Prolonged cold, prolonged rain or wind, are all more dramatic than the dangers of drought.

Prolonged dry spells, as recently seen in parts of Europe, can cause the ground to sink by so much that cracks appear in the earth, tearing apart the foundations of houses, bridges, factories and other structures. In the worst case, whole buildings can collapse. Climate change will magnify these risks as factors such as rising average temperatures and more erratic rainfall continue to alter soil conditions.

And extreme cold of course means that people who know nothing about science but like bloviating about weather are claiming that unusually cold weather means climate change isn’t happening.

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More rain? Cut flood defences

While Nick Clegg prepares to run a snow job on the people who voted LibDem last time (let me know how that works for you, folks) the rain keeps falling.

This year may be the wettest since records began in 1910.

In London, the Thames Barrier was raised on Thursday morning for the first time since March 2010, to reduce the risk of flooding as water from days of downpours causes high levels further upstream. It will be raised again on Friday morning.

A storm brewing in the Atlantic could bring up to two inches (50mm) of rain and 80mph winds in some areas this weekend.

Provisional figures show that 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed between 27 and 31 December for 2012 to be the wettest year on record for the UK.
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Maldives police: made in Scotland?

I stopped updating my first post about the Maldives two months after I first posted it. I kept fearing I would hear, next, that the President who stepped down rather than make use of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) violently against civilians, had himself been killed.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was his country’s first democratically elected leader, has become a tireless advocate for both environmental action and free elections — two political efforts he ties together.

On 10th December, The Hindu published an interview by telephone with ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, then speaking from Kulhudhuffushi, part of Thiladhunmathi Atoll, in the northern part of Maldives – that is, as The Hindu observes “not far from Indian territorial waters”.

Nasheed said:

“Nothing short of early elections is acceptable to the MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] … We are very confident that if there is a free and fair election and if I can contest, we will win it handsomely,”

In a telephonic interview, Mr. Nasheed said he was running for presidency again. “The MDP has decided that I should run and the primary has given me an overwhelming support. But there have been so many politically motivated attempts to bar me from contesting because the opposition is fair clear that they will not be able to win against me. We have a lot of support in the country. The violent repression against people has made people look towards us. And I think that the three-and-a-half years of our government we have been able to bring about a lot of transformation of the country and we feel that people like it,” he said. Getting the financial system back on track, reducing reliance on indirect taxes and levy of direct taxes, and putting in place an enormous social protection programme were among his main achievements as President.

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Filed under Human Rights, Justice, Police, Politics, Sustainable Politics

World Food Day

925 million people are hungry.

Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.

That’s one child every five seconds.

There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005.

The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.

World Food Day - Michelle HenryThis year has been one of the wettest on record. In Edinburgh, we had the wettest April, May, June, and July since records began at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the 19th century. Across the UK:

Potato harvests are down by half in some areas. The NFU’s Scottish cereal survey indicated wheat yield was down by 18% from 2011, winter barley yield down 7%, spring barley yield down 18% and winter oilseed rape yield down 26%.

I’ve discussed this before (Scotland’s Food Programme) and also, for World Porridge Day, how stock brokers gambling on food prices rising is itself creating a bubble of high food prices to profit investors and make people hungry.
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