Afshin Rattansi goes underground with the Yes Men, as they pose as the oil industry execs you would like to meet. In an April Fools’ Day skit, they parody the oil industry by refusing the North Sea tax relief, and stopping Arctic drilling. They also explain their new film, about climate change and how being part of a movement can change the world. Stewart Paterson, political correspondent for Glasgow’s Evening Times, thinks growing inequality and increased reliance on food banks could be a big factor in the election north of the border. And is the government spying on you? Kevin Blowe, co-ordinator for Netpol, the network for police monitoring, looks at the domestic extremism database, which features people who have never even committed a crime.
Tony Juniper, environmentalist and author of What Nature Does for Britain, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about how the government has got environmental policy all wrong. He says that contrary to the mainstream view, looking after the environment is not expensive, and by working with nature many goals can be achieved, from job creation to flood protection to reduced water bills. With flooding, he says that they ‘pick up the pieces after the event’ so they build up flood defences, rather than restoring the green infrastructure that can hold water and prevent flooding. Either, he says, ministers are ignorant of the science or trying to point blame elsewhere. He says they scapegoated the Environment Agency, which meant they could not explore the solutions he puts forward, which are long-term and cheaper. Britain has 80% of the world’s chalk rivers, which produce pure water used for public supply, but they are being destroyed as we take too much water out of the ground. Ofwat, the water regulators, are in his opinion failing to recognise the value of that water in the environment, for recreation, nature conservation and fishing, all of which have economic value. The expense to society for this ‘is on nobody’s balance sheet,’ and a ‘real’ view of the economic calculations needs to be taken rather than looking at parts in isolation. He also believes that value of bees has been underestimated. An estimate puts it at £430 million of free work by these insects which we are ‘systematically eradicating’ through habitat destruction and stronger pesticides.
The short term economic perspective always trumps the longer term, wider, environmental one, and he points out that the environment secretary was dismissing scientific evidence of the impact of neonicotinide pesticides on bees and supporting the pesticide companies in keeping them in circulation – which he ultimately failed. He says the Tories are split on climate change, with some sceptical, and those sceptics have cut back on things that would be ‘sensible to do’ in preparing for climate change, leaving us ‘naked’ in the face of future flooding, drought and extreme heat, a mistake that could cost Britain a lot. India and China are now regarded as a better investment for renewalable energy, in part due to climate scepticism and dismissing renewable energy. The countryside ‘has made us the way we are’ and needs protecting as ‘part of our historical and cultural resource’ in addition to the massive economic opportunities and climate solutions that nature offers.
Greg Barker, former climate change minister and Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about stopping climate change. On the 23rd of September will meet to discuss climate change, so to send a message, he is asking people to give up meat once a week. The meat-free monday campaign is supported by stars like Paul McCartney, who seek to reduce the carbon emissions which come from meat production, 14.5% of all emissions. He says that giving up meat one day a week is equivalent to giving up your car for a month every year in carbon terms, and in addition money saved could be used to buy meat with higher welfare standards. As a climate change minister he set up the green investment bank, and also helped with the proliferation of solar panels. A global treaty is needed to ensure action across the world, which he hopes will be achieved at the UN summit on the 23rd of September.
The OECD has published a report containing predictions for how the world will look by 2060 — and it isn’t great. Economic growth will slow to two thirds of its current rate, inequality will jump by a third, and there will be a huge surge in hunger and poverty in both the developing and developed world. Climate change will destroy capital and agriculture in South East Asia. But the world will still be four times richer and more productive — thanks to computers. But immigration is vital — Europe and the USA will need to take in 50 million immigrants before 2060 — and without immigration, even a 3 percent growth rate is off the cards.
The Director of Policy and Investigations for the London-based charity Action on Armed Violence, Iain Overton, tells Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi how the US foreign policy is entwined with gun wars. He explains why we have seen an increase in gun crime worldwide and why the liberal elites just do not care about it.
Afshin Rattansi goes underground on glowing global inequality in the shadow of the World Economic Forum happening at Davos this week. Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now warns that it perpetuates the ‘propaghanda’ that the system benefits all of us, and but from free trade agreements to philanthropy, it benefits the richest. Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day, talks about his battle for peace across the world, talking to those profiting from the arms trade to the Taliban as he tries to bring anyone he feels can make a difference to the negotiating table. With protests planned against Trident this weekend, we ask if renewal could breach the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As Cameron commits to full employment for Britain, we take a look at the plight of the 3 million underemployed today. And one week after Japan announces its biggest ever defence budget, their foreign minister meets with defence secretary Michael Fallon in London.
Nick Dearden, director of campaign group Global Justice Now, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about global inequality with the Davos economic forum happening this week. He says the Davos economic forum is ‘capitalism’s away day’ where the global elite meet to discuss the problems they face, and how to survive and profit from anything from ‘global terrorism’ to ‘climate change.’ Last year they did talk about inequality, and things such as the economic crisis are on the agenda as they need to talk and decide how to react to things happening in the world. He thinks the reason it is important is it is where they reinforce their ideas and ‘fuel the propaganda’ that leads ordinary people to think inequality doesn’t matter because the poor are also getting richer thanks to their policies. He says that they use an impenetrable language, so it can sound like they are saying the right things about inequality, but within those messages they are talking about continuing the system ‘that has caused so much devastation to the world.’
One of the ‘big myths’ they portray is that privatisation solves all problems, and he believes it is ‘really clear that this is a complete lie’ from what we have seen, yet Davos perpetuates that myth so it sinks into people’s minds. He says people tend to assume growth is a good thing even when it only benefits a tiny minority, but he points to the fact that around 95% of growth in the US economy since the financial crash has gone to the top 1% of people.
With Africa, he points out the same thing is happening – whilst economies are growing, so is poverty. He says there is an assumption among those meeting in Davos that this is a good thing as it coincides with their interests, and they have to convince, to an extent, themselves, that what they are doing is a positive thing for the world. There is philanthropy, which will be celebrated, but that is supposed to inspire ordinary people to think ‘isn’t it wonderful, billionaires can still afford to think about the little people’ and make them seem connected with the world’s problem.
He says that trade will also be touted as a solution to global ills, but this is another myth. The aid and philanthropy is ‘premised on the notion that big business can save the world’ and all we need is more, but he says the free trade regime imposed on African and Latin American countries in the 80s and 90s sent many of their economies into tailspins. When they say free trade, they mean a set of rules meant to benefit big business and give them more rights.
No country, when letting in large multinationals, has managed to compete its way out of poverty, it simply cements them as providers of raw materials and nothing else. He says the way they can create a more sustainable economy is to trade internally and with their neighbours. He also thinks that the truly radical challenge to the elites in Davos, rather than being the BRICS countries, is the radical Latin American countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela who refuse to follow free trade rules and have created their own currency to trade, their own banks, and their own rules, and ‘the more that challenge grows, the more irrelevant (the forum) will become.’ There is hope, but for now, ‘they continue to drive the world’s policies, they continue to decide how people live and how much they eat.’
Afshin Rattansi goes underground on environmental politics. Tony Juniper, author of the book What Nature Does for Britain, believes the government’s entire approach is short term and does not take into account the benefits provided in nature, such as the ‘£430 million of free work’ done by bees, and warns climate scepticism will leave us ‘naked’ in the face of the extreme challenges posed by climate change. Geoff Heyes, of mental health charity Mind, warns of a crisis in mental health care, with 1 in 6 people attempting suicide whilst on NHS waiting lists. We take a look at what went wrong with Hinchingbrooke, the UK’s only privately run NHS hospital. American Sniper controversy and Greece’s ‘Marxist’ negotiators hit the headlines in Breaking Views. And did you get your tax return done? HMRC suffers from severe IT problems and congested phone lines, but it’s ok – you can tweet them your problems!
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
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