Friday 16 October 2009

Newsnight: 'Greens on Trial'

Just wanted to write a quick comment about Wednesday’s ‘Greens on Trial’ Newsnight special. It was a good insight into where we are.

Emily Maitlis kept calling Nuclear Power and GM Crops ‘solutions’ and accused environmentalists of being too stubborn to accept these ‘solutions’. The problem is that they are not necessarily ‘solutions’ and that was all Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Lucas et al were saying. Nuclear Power is merely a ‘response’ and not necessarily a sensible one right now. ‘It is uneconomic, unsafe and unnecessary, there are much cheaper and safer ways of generating electricity’ as the Green Party leader (Caroline Lucas) put it. Goldsmith agreed and pointed out that Nuclear cannot be up and running quickly enough and it would not be up and running at all if it wasn’t for bags of government subsidy. That money, if any exists to do anything meaningful on Climate Change, should be directed into areas of bigger priority and impact. John Sauven of Greenpeace called for this, the priority for him was CCS and Energy Efficiency.

These are excellent areas to prioritise in at the moment, but in the longer term, we need to invest in education to help people adjust to a changing world. In the next few decades oil prices are going to soar and with that the prices of just about everything else will soar. Whether we like it or not this is going to change the way we live, we need to prepare people for this and stop pretending that our current way of living can go on forever, it plainly can’t. We need to be skilling people up to build flourishing, enjoyable local economies. We need to be inspiring people and giving them the opportunity to enjoy their lives under the new conditions. The transition towns movement marks the beginnings of this, but it needs to go far beyond community gardening and plastic bag banning in small middle class towns. We need films, music, talks, books, magazines, websites, paintings, cartoons and plays that celebrate and inspire enjoyable fulfilling lives that are naturally low impact. We need to invest in these things and do them well.


Anonymous said...

The problem with Caroline's message is that is false. Nuclear is not "unsafe". The Greens promised at the EU election to cut funding of research into Nuclear. We need research into generating power from fusion instead of fission.
She focused and even Zac focused on the likes of Monsanto on the area of GM. GM is only about making crops able to withstand more pesticide and herbicide. It's about developing microbes that will take carbon out of the atmosphere and turn it into fuel.

Money needs to go toward these sciences as they're what'll deliver long-term results.

The Green party can't be taken seriously on climate change and get message across when it lies about the dangers of nuclear and GM. And implies they aren't even part of the equation.
Or when it's healthcare attitudes and animal rights policies are so dangerous to human well-being.

Morgan Phillips said...

Thanks for this comment. I don't think anyone can accurately say whether Nuclear is categorically safe or unsafe, especially when you think about the longer term impacts of Nuclear waste. I would still say that it is uneconomic and not the right 'option' now.

Everyone has an opinion on what will deliver long term results, what seems to be clear right now is that there is only a certain amount of money available for 'the environment' and we need to spend it wisely... in an ideal world we'd have enough money to do all the 'low hanging fruit' stuff that clearly can be done NOW and the research into longer term 'solutions'. This is not an ideal world and we have to make tough choices.

What we need is education and culture change, we need a paradigm shift in production, consumption, lifestyle and so on... we can't keep having our cake and eating it, the laws of science won't allow it!