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Speaking Truth to Power

I read this morning, in Guy Watson’s musings on the card that comes with my Riverford Vegetables box, of his grave disquiet about the plight of farmers not only in this country but elsewhere. They have become squeezed between the power of the big corporations which no one seems able to challenge successfully and the costs of fuel and other inputs which they need to grow food. The big corporations include both retailers who continually revise downwards the payments they negotiate with farmers for the food we eat and the fossil fuel giants whose diesel is a necessity for farming machinery. Both are making profits while the farmers are making a loss. As Guy points out, farmers have cut their costs to the bone, sent their partners out to work in other industries, and done without employees, working themselves into the ground as a result. Increasingly, the only way of making a living from farming is to become part of an agribusiness, dedicated to profit at the expense of everything that has
Recent posts

The sad ironies of the right-wing attitude to migrants

  Every day we hear of the so-called ‘migrant crisis’, with many hundreds of hopeful men, women and children, most of them asylum-seekers, braving the seas to travel here in small boats. In recent days they have benefited from the exceptionally benign November weather, but at other times they have courted death and disaster, and no one knows how many have drowned on the way. The welcome they receive if they make it is shoddy and shameful and entirely down to wilful lack of thought by the Home Office under Suella Braverman. One irony here is that not only Braverman, who is a member of an East African Asian family welcomed by this country in the 1960s, but also other senior ministers such as Pritti Patel and  Sunak himself were lucky enough to be born here because their parents came when immigration rules were different. This should, one would think, make them more aware of what attracts people to the UK, even in the face of the overwhelmingly hostile attitude taken up by our government.

Climate Change - an Afterthought

 I read last week that the main reason why London has experienced 40+ degree temperatures recently, as opposed to the 30 or so of the past, is that big cities create large amounts of energy in the form of personal usage, for transport, electrical appliances etc, and this energy use is increasing. And it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps what we should be worrying about with regard to climate change is actually increased production of energy, something which shows no signs of abating, in spite of much noise made about carbon. The timescale is also suggestive: the current warming has coincided with the much greater use of energy of every kind (beginning with steam) associated with the Industrial Revolution. Nothing like it has ever occurred before – though high concentrations of greenhouse gases certainly have in Earth’s distant past. Whatever the truth about the greenhouse effect causing climate change – a theory which has never really convinced me, I have to say, as readers of my va

Roe v Wade - some thoughts on law and morality

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States, the debate on abortion and its legal status has been reactivated everywhere, including in the UK. Our Abortion Act of 1967, whilst it is on the statue books, making it a degree more secure than the case law that underpinned abortion rights in the US, yet has similarly fragile foundations. It is framed as an exception to the act of 1861 that banned abortions and treated their perpetrators as murderers. Thus abortion is allowed under the 1967 act in exceptional circumstances, for a limited time (currently set at 24 weeks in spite of several attempts to reduce it to 22 or even 18 weeks) and only with the permission of two doctors. Outside this permissive position, it is still illegal. This is not understood by many who see abortion rights in the UK as unassailable, and there have already been comments made in Parliament that indicate some would like to turn the clock back on this under the influence of the Roe v Wade overt

The Importance of Truth

 I saluted the French people in rejecting Le Pen last week. While, as a woman, I would like to see more women in genuine positions of leadership, and they often do the job of leader extremely well (New Zealand’s experience comes to mind), Le Pen represents, in my view, the worst of populism; and populism, and the nationalism that often goes with it, are among our main dangers in modern politics. Consider the damage done by Trump, by Bolsonaro, and now by Putin, not to mention our own Boris Johnson and company - lesser members of the breed perhaps, but nonetheless shameless in their wooing of the popular vote with false promises and misinformation. And that is the rub. Populism is often the enemy of truth - and truth matters. In St John's Gospel, Jesus has more than one sharp encounter with a group of religious influencers in the Judaism of his time, known as Pharisees. They claim, as good Jews with a strong sense of heritage, to be ‘children of Abraham’. But in one of these enc

Climate Change – an ancient perspective

  The whole subject of climate change is not only topical and emotive, but also contested, as anyone who has read anything about it over the last ten years or so will know. Over the last 30 years scientists taking the Global Warming view have gradually won the argument in the scientific community, and therefore in the public domain too. The IPCC has become very powerful, intellectually, and the near-hysteria over the COP26 recently confirmed that the whole topic is now at the forefront of public consciousness. I have, as readers of this blog will know, been very impressed with Prince William's Earthshot prize, and with his and David Attenborough’s excellent series of TV documentaries on the five areas we need to address in order to save the planet from environmental destruction. Only one of these five areas concerned climate change, the others ranging from re-wilding and dealing with waste to cleaning up the oceans. All are connected, and all need to be addressed. I do not have a

Climate Change: A brief (1000 year) history

 I’m writing this third post partly because I am concerned at the level of what is called ‘climate anxiety’ in the general population, and particularly among young people. This has clearly been caused by the media heavily emphasizing every possible negative climate story, as well as talking up the disaster theories, not least because these headlines ‘sell newspapers’, as we used to say (!). Our current climate mania seems still to be stuck in the ‘hockey stick’ era, with every new piece of research seized upon by the media and stacked up with all the rest to create terror; and the scientists have - understandably but I think without fully considering the effects of all the media hype - allowed this to happen because it captures public attention and increases the likelihood that policy makers will actually address the issues. However, this global anxiety is, in my view, largely misplaced and may actually be dangerous, not only to individuals who are being made anxious, but also because