Active Remembrance and Waging Peace Together

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Green Party MP Caroline Lucas gave this year’s Movement for the Abolition of War lecture at St John’s in Waterloo.

The theme was ‘Active Remembrance and Waging Peace Together.’

In this centenary of the WW1 Armistice, she reminded us of the importance of remembering actively and informing ourselves, rather than a passive remembrance. Passive remembrance, she warned us, can lead to an airbrushing of war’s realities, so that we become less likely to rise up and prevent it.

Europe and peace

Caroline’s focus for much of the talk was the part the European Union has played in maintaining peace in Europe since WW2, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. She did not gloss over its failures, like its hostility to refugees and supporting NGOs, and its punishment of Greece, also pointing out that Greece had itself forgiven Germany’s debts after the 39-45 war.

All this is true, she said, and yet…

While we mustn’t forget the negatives, we must never lost sight of  the positives. Caroline recalled her time working as an MEP, appreciating the courage, ambition and vision of the Parliament. Anything so ambitious, she said, will be imperfect. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

So what we can do?

We need to strengthen our narrative of hope and reach out.

How many Remainers are reaching out to Leavers? She reminded us of the truth that climate breakdown, the refugee crisis and gross inequality are better solved together.

A takeaway action she gave us is to talk about these benefits of EU membership; talk about the People’s Vote; reach out to the Leavers. We can all, she said, be a better version of ourselves. No one is all good or all bad.

 Sharing

Sharing reality is something we need to do more of. Terrorism and repression feed off each other in a continuous cycle. As Remembrance Day approaches, Caroline’s comment that weapons can move freely and go anywhere, but that refugees are vilified, and compassion chased out of town, was particularly sobering.

We don’t have the moral high ground over, say, North Korea. 120 states support the nuclear ban treaty – the UK is not among them. Rather than more WMDs, we should focus instead on crime, terrorism, cyber warfare and endemics. Even the Pentagon recognises the threats of climate change and conflict.

But we can protest and mobilise to ask our government to get on board too. Remember what we have achieved. She reminded us of history’s positive moments: the aversion of full-scale war between India and Pakistan; Harold Wilson’s refusal to send troops to Vietnam; the banning of biological and chemical weapons and landmines.

Remember, learn, make a difference

Caroline pointed out that we are the first generation to know what we’re doing to the planet, and  the last to be able to do something about it. To feed our lifestyles, we’ve stolen from the future, and from other countries. Despite the IPCC special report, and the WWF species extinction warning, the government has gone ahead with fracking.

Even her resolve to find hope was tested, conceded Caroline.

But then she reminded us that Spain is going to close its coal mines and instead invest money into early retirement, training for the young and reskilling. In the past, the Lucas Plan made a similar transition.

The important thing is to unite our campaigns. The Stansted 15, food banks, fracking… at the heart of all these different groups is the question of how we live on our planet. We need to reflect on who we are and the world we want to build; we need to talk about sufficiency, not efficiency. A total and rapid reversal is needed.

In the 12 years we have, the global economy is set to triple. This calls for changing the logic: less disposable and more mendable consumerism; more sharing; usership not ownership. She talked about other principles, too, from contraction and convergence; ato a GCSE in Natural HistoryCould we, she asked, come up with our own Citizens’ National Security Strategy which addresses climate breakdown? Could we come up with a new Lucas Plan, with a conversation about energy at its heart?

We should not sacrifice our principles, but build on our strengths. She name checked pinoeers like Bruce Kent, in the audience, Paul Rodgers and Deborah Johnson.

Is hope naïve, or something strong? She quoted Rebecca Solnit: hope is not a lottery ticket you sit on the sofa and clutch, but a force that shoves you out of the door. To hope is to give yourself to the future.

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Article by Libby Ruffle

 

 

 

 

 

Climate crisis or just a hot summer?

Opinion piece by SCGP member Libby Ruffle

Waldringfield resevoir in the heatwave
Waldringfield resevoir almost dried-out in the heat. Please note: no small dogs were harmed in the taking of this photograph!

As we approach what’s predicted to be the hottest day on record in the UK, I’ve been interested in – OK, annoyed by! – the local media’s coverage of the heatwave.

There are obvious, valid comparisons between 2018 and 1976.  A mere three-year-old at the time, with no personal recollection of the scorching summer and significant drought, I’m nonetheless polite enough(!) to allow for some detailed and lengthy reminisces (zzzz…) and the painstaking mulling over of parallels between then and now…

Acutally, I welcome those concrete comparisons, which give us a necessary and valuable insight into trends and changes. But what I won’t concede to certain of my elders, is the pronouncement that we ‘mustn’t jump to conclusions’ about climate breakdown.

The East Anglian Daily Times printed a gentle, nostalgic article by Paul Geater on Monday, in which he fondly recalled – yes, you guessed it – the summer of ’76.

But nowhere in the paper was there any reference to climate change.

In a fit of heatstroke-prompted insanity, I fired off a letter. (It’s a well-known fact that writing to the papers is the first sign of madness. But, reader, I was cross. And I still think it’s irresponsible journalism…)

Paul Geater’s response (if I can claim it as a response, which is pushing it!) was to say that we must wait until next year before considering this summer part of a global warming trend.

To be fair to Paul Geater, his sentence was cut: “I’m not sure that trying to see individual weather events through the prism of global warming,” he wrote. Erm…  Well, something’s missing there, so that point of his argument is lost.

The question is whether to reply. I soon get bored when two readers, or a reader/journalist, get into a lengthy debate – or rather, a reentrenchment of their own positions. But other readers probably enjoy the tos and fros of an argument.

My conclusion is that if Mr Geater doesn’t think we already have enough ‘long-term trend’ evidence of climate breakdown, then it will take more than a series of readers’ letters to convince him otherwise; or for him to show me enough proof to convince me that I’m mistaken. The platform would be several hours face-to-face discussion. And even then, I suspect we might ‘agree to disagree.’

In the meantime, he has a column to write, and I need to research water purification systems…

Is there a responsibility to counter his words in print, to provide other readers with the opposing view? Perhaps. But, be honest, have you ever been moved by a letter written by anyone other than an admirably wise, fellow reader with whom you entirely agree…?!

We welcome opinion pieces from all SCGP members

Ipswich Against Trump!

 

Donald Trump has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, said that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese and is a supporter of fracking.

So is it any wonder that SCGP members joined the protests in Ipswich when he visited the UK?!

For those who couldn’t make it into London, the meeting at the wonderful La Tour Cafe – hosted by Stop Trump Ipswich and Ipswich National Education Union – was an evening of resistance, solidarity and some hilarity!

Mr Trump surprised no one with his inconsistent and alarming statements. 250,000 people marched in London to tell the US president that his divisive and hostile policies are not welcome here.

post by Libby Ruffle
Personal posts do not necessarily reflect the views of all members.

Climate change news: weekly round-up 18th July

After weeks of dry weather, a temporary hosepipe ban will be introduced in the North West next month. It will affect seven million people.

The hot weather has caused several fires acoss Suffolk, in Chelmondiston, Great Wenham and Bungay, and near Sudbury. Further afield, fires have raged inside the Arctic Circle.

And the good news…??

Suffolk County Council is to consider two motions on Thursday 19th July for a Suffolk-wide network of cycle routes. Add your voice here!

Penzance has shown that it is possible to become plastic free!

This is the last of our weekly round-ups of climate breakdown news. For a fantastic resource, head over to Climate Change News, where you can sign up for a weekly email.

Climate change news: weekly round up 9th July

The UK heatwave was the big story last week. The country saw Britain’s longest heatwave in five years. Vehicles and people sank into melted tarmac.

The death of Ella Kissi-Debrah is thought to be the first directly linked to illegal levels of air pollution.

Greenhouse gas emissions have risen significantly in the past couple of years in Wales; carbon emissions in West Suffolk are 55% higher than average. 

At least 100 people have died after flooding in Japan. Refugees in Rohingya are in danger from landslides as monsoon season approaches.

Campaigners in Marseille are challenging pollution from cruise ships.

The UN has released a report showing worrying levels of over fishing.

BUT…

Projects in India are underway which make innovative use of discarded plastic.

460 acres of land in the Peak District will be made into a wildflower site.

 

ACTION!!

SCGP are undertaking a project this summer to monitor local levels of pollution.
Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

If you’re going on holiday, take a staycation and explore beautiful Suffolk.

Ditch the plastic, and take advantage of the water refill points in Woodbridge.

Please sign our fracking letter

SCGP member Betsy Reid has written to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, against his plans to allow fracking companies to drill test sites without the need for planning permission.

Please consider drafting your own letter; or, alternatively, email Betsy or her colleague Libby Ruffle to add your signature.

“Dear Mr Clark,

I’m writing to ask you to reconsider allowing fracking companies to drill test sites without the need for planning permission.

Local communities have consistently protested against fracking. They are not only trying to protect their own and surrounding areas, but are also standing in solidarity with other places around the world that have been blighted by the extraction of fossil fuels and natural gases.

We are at a tipping point where we must take action if we truly wish to stem climate breakdown. Globally, we have a ‘carbon budget’ of 565 gigatons to ‘use’ between 2011 and 2050 (Carbon Tracker figures 2014) to maintain the maximum 2 degree rise in temperature. Already, with the rapid melting of the Antarctic ice sheets, we are locked into a 10 metre sea level rise.

Clearly, we must add no more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Fracking adds not only the CO2 from burning the gas but seemingly unavoidable leakage of methane (with a global warming power 38 times that of CO2).

Investment in these dirty technologies, with both known and unknown hazards, diverts funds and attention from clean renewables; and once the infrastructure is in place we are locked in to using it for all the years it takes to repay the investment, or they become stranded assets – which is what the climate crisis is likely to make them.  Wind and sun, together with energy conservation and demand management, can do an effective job, and generate jobs in the process.

Our community is not, so far, at risk from fracking, but I’m asking as a citizen of this country and of the world, to please not commit our homes to further climate breakdown.

We, the undersigned, support her campaign to seek alternatives to fracking, and halt climate breakdown.”

post by Libby Ruffle
Personal posts do not necessarily reflect the views of all members.