27 Aug 2006

SURVIVING CLIMATE CHANGE

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Green politics is the politics of survival, it is repeat a difficult task, it is not a matter of simply replacing 'bad' 'grey' politicians with a new set of 'good' 'green' individuals....green politics is about saying we have a way of life that does not work, we need a new culture based on consuming less, we need new values and we need a new economic system. Getting there will require a lot of thought and self-criticism, you cannot cut the knot of ecological crisis with a paper knife.

Tragic that in Germany the Greens have gone from visionaries to very mild reformists, the same goes for Jonathon Porritt....depressing, depressing, depressing...However Caroline Lucas et al have been great for the GP of England and Wales...schnews is real great as well! Its a weekly online diy green direct action round up.

This is from Schnews, they are the best thing since organic sliced bread, I love them...get a weekly injection of intelligent radical green thought by

READY? CHARGE! - SURVIVING THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
The double-whammy of peak oil and climate change have recently become much more mainstream, but the (if you'll pardon the expression) 'roadmap' to a sustainable future is still very sketchy. Of course our governments are still too focussed on unsustainable growth of an oil-based economy to do anything much about either issue. But there's little point in waiting for them to sort it out, when there's so many positive ideas and capacity for real change to be found at the community and grassroots level.

As well as dismantling the political structures which have been built around the free market economy's addiction to oil, if we are to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century without a massive die-off of our species (and every other), individuals and groups need to change en-masse to other ways of generating and using energy. Carbon emissions will have to be reduced by 60-90% to prevent further damage to global weather systems, and even if we did this tomorrow we'd still be heading towards some climate chaos.

The only way out is a combination of massive scaling back of usage, and a sharp turn towards renewables... in other words a drastic change in the way we eat, travel and house ourselves. Our ability to influence geo-politics might be limited but we can make changes right now on a local level.

POWER POLITICS

Although we don't want oil-based market capitalism to simply jump onto the renewables bandwagon and maintain the consumption-led status quo, there are viable zero-emission, renewable power options.

You can cross nuclear off the list straight away (See SchNEWS 522). Apart from the danger of reactors, and waste deadly for thousands of years, estimates of global uranium deposits suggest we'd get less than a decade of power before we started running out - 'peak uranium'!

Solar energy is the most abundant renewable source on earth. A recent report claims that every year, "each square kilometre of desert receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Multiplying by the area of deserts world-wide, this is nearly a thousand times the entire current energy consumption of the world." * It suggests the use of Concentrated Solar Panels (CSPs), which focus heat on solar arrays using mirrors, driving conventional steam powered generators. This has been used in California since the 1980s and costs half the amount per unit than oil energy. (* For more see www.trec-uk.org.uk)

While all-year sunshine isn't something we're blessed with, the British Isles are estimated to have enough wind power using current turbine technology to meet our power usage three times over. And when it comes to the wave power, it would be economically viable to meet 25% of our current demand.

That our government isn't pursuing these options with any real intent shows how clearly it is in the pocket of the oil companies. As any good anarchist will tell you, power needs to be decentralised down to the grassroots level...

GET OFF THE GRID

A wide range of actions are needed, both in terms of shutting down the causes of climate change, and building a sustainable future, globally and in your own community. Here is just a few areas to get involved in if you want to do something about it...

* Air Travel is the fastest growing cause of greenhouse emissions - yet Britain has a programme for massive Airport Expansion. For contacts to campaigns across the country fighting individual airport expansion plans see SchNEWS 553-554.

* Avoid flying - calculate the amount of carbon created for each seat on a plane, per mile, at www.climatecare.org/calculators/flights_calc.cfm

* Road Building: In 2005 the UK Govt laid out a programme of road building with over 200 approved schemes. To get involved in local campaigns see www.roadalert.org.uk

* In Glasgow, plans have been approved for the M74 Northern Extension, which would put a 6-lane elevated motorway through the southern suburbs of Glasgow. To join the campaign to stop it going ahead see www.jam74.org

* Protect Forests Worldwide. Over the past 150 years, deforestation has contributed an estimated 30 percent of the build-up of CO2; likewise climate change will have a devastating effect on the remaining forests. For an international roundup see www.ran.org

* Ride a bike, don't drive a car and get involved in campaigning to make cities more bike friendly. Critical Mass events are held all round the world for cyclists to reclaim roads - to see if there's one in your area visit www.urban75.com/Action/critical.html See also Sustrans - a charity which designs and builds routes for cyclists and walkers. www.sustrans.org.uk

* Food Production: Buy local food, go vegan and/or grow your own. Get your own Allotment - for advice see www.allotments-uk.com The transportation of food on a large scale gives rise to 'food miles' and is directly related to oil consumption and climate change. For more see www.sustainweb.org Permaculture is a theory and practice for sustainable, localised food production, as well as having other applications - for more see www.permaculture.org.uk To find out how supermarkets are stitching up the food market see www.tescopoly.org

* Generate Your Own Energy: While the start-up costs can be expensive, it is possible to set up a 12 volt system in your house using batteries charged by wind turbines, photovoltaic panels - or pedal power with a bike generator. Normal domestic appliances can be powered using an inverter. While photovoltaic panels are expensive and resource-intensive to create, it is not too expensive to build your own wind turbine (if you've got the room). For info on building small scale turbines see www.scoraigwind.com To build a Bike Generator see www.stewardwood.org/resources/DIYcyclepower.htm

* For advice on making your home more energy efficient, and grants for those on low income to get better insulation see www.est.org.uk

* For info on Bio-Diesel, and how to use it see www.schnews.org.uk/diyguide/howtomakebiodiesel.htm however while using waste oil for fuel is good, this could lead to large scale intensive fuel crop farming.

* For info about Peak Oil and other large scale energy issues see www.energybulletin.net

* And most of all, bite the bullet(point) and CONSUME LESS!

The Camp For Climate Action

It's happening now at a site in Megawatt Valley, near Leeds, home of the Drax power station, the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK. This ten day camp goes on until September 4th and features 150 workshops discussing and planning actions around climate change.

See www.climatecamp.org.uk

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