Month: March 2021

Who and Why and Which and What Is Greeneralia?- Laura Sykes, Editor

Yet another ‘green’ publication – must you?’ will no doubt be the first response of many people reading this, as well it might be. But, in our defence, we think Greeneralia, a bi-monthly magazine, will be different:
  • Most of the existing publications covering the environment are learned journals written by experts, primarily for a readership of experts. This is obviously important as part of a continuing dialogue to enable an accepted world view to emerge of, say, the climate crisis.
  • Coverage in the specialist press reflects the particular angle of the organisation, eg Green World begins from the statist world-view of its publisher, the Green Party.
  • Coverage in the non-specialist press may be nuanced and balanced (eg normally The Guardian and The Independent), capable of presenting a multi-dimensional view, but they are primarily news-papers, not places for general discussion.
  • Coverage in the tabloid press tends to be of ‘The End Is Nigh‘ variety. Or, on the contrary, repeated assertions that ‘it will never happen‘. Nuance and balance are rare.
How is Greeneralia different from any of the above? Well, although the editor is a Liberal Democrat and member of the Green Liberal Democrats, the aim of Greeneralia is not primarily to promote the environmental policies of our party or any other, but it does spring from the most important sentence in our constitution: we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community Greeneralia will not try to impose any particular view of the climate crisis and other environmental issues, although it does take certain arguments as read, eg the existence of global warming. It is intended as a meeting place across the political spectrum. It is hoped that some of our contributors will have a regular column, and others will write for us occasionally. Our writers include both professional journalists and those who have never before written for publication. Greeneralia aims to be part news and features from us, and part forum – the sort of discussions you might get at a village well or pub, just before the arguments get too heated. Greeneralia aims to be: -the place that believes as its starting point that the end may not necessarily be nigh, or at the very least could be deferred if enough of us combine to take counter-measures. -the place where we can get answers to our questions and encourage each other to do what we can as individuals to ‘save the planet’. As Professor Bridle encapsulates, we aim to convey to the layperson the scientific consensus on environmental issues. – the place where anyone can point out that the emperor has no clothes: you may be laughed with, but not at. -the place we hope for writing which is lively; witty if not always amusing; displays erudition without pontification; and is both interesting and enjoyable to read. -a place for civilised discussion [uncivilised remarks will be removed]. You can exchange views on issues arising from each piece in the comments at the bottom of each post but we would be delighted to accept longer pieces putting different points of view for publication in a subsequent issue. My email is laura.sykes[at] Do get in touch if you have an idea for an article.

“Food And Climate Change Without The Hot Air” by Professor Sarah Bridle: A Review

Free e-book version
Four legs good, two legs bad‘: faced with complex issues, there is a strong tendency to reduce them to slogans and, having done this, believe that the slogans themselves contain all the truth on any particular subject that most of us need. Thus, to give just one example, ‘many food miles bad, few food miles good‘ has become a truism which is widely perceived as self-evident and sufficient analysis in and of itself. Mercifully, in August 2020 UIT Cambridge published Professor Bridle’s ‘Food and Climate Change Without The Hot Air’ which puts the nuance back into nosh (sorry – slogans are catching!) and some clarity into the climate crisis. It is the most enlightening book by far I have read on this topic. Is Prof. Bridle a nutritionist? An agronomist? Not primarily, no. In her day job she is a professor of astrophysics. Still only 45, she already has an immensely distinguished academic career as a scientist, but strayed outside her own field from the same concern for the climate crisis which we all share (or would not have read this far). Professor Bridle says:
The aim of the book is to convey to the layperson the scientific consensus on how different foods contribute to climate change, and to put these numbers into the context of different decisions we make every day when we choose what to eat. unpublished correspondence
Here is a snapshot from the first chapter to give you an idea. It is a model of ‘sweet clarity’.

About Professor Bridle: Prof. Sarah Bridle, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester The Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit Take a Bite out of Climate Change Book launch zoom recording Channel 4 News film on 6 February 2021 presented by Sarah Bridle on changing our eating habits to help stave off environmental disaster.. TEDx Manchester talk on food and climate change Policy thinkpiece Interview on The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4 Biographical details on the N8 AgriFood page:

A Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, Sarah has diversified from cosmology into agriculture and food research, motivated by the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, Sarah founded the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Food Network+, bringing together food research and industry with STFC capabilities from astro, particle and nuclear physics and the UK’s largest science facilities.

Sarah leads the Take a Bite out of Climate Change project and the Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT) which brings together data from food choices and greenhouse gas emissions to inform the public and policymakers…

Sarah is author of over 100 refereed publications which have over 9000 citations and has won prestigious awards in the UK and Europe including a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Fowler Award, and European Research Council Starting and Consolidator Grants.

Greener Hairdressing – Martin Thomas

The thing is, I’m a dad to four young people and, whilst they may not be meek, they are going to inherit the planetMartin
Martin is proprietor of Thomas Roskilly, the Andover hairdresser. It is housed on the upper floor of the magnificent cruck-framed The Angel Inn, built in the 15th century by Winchester College, which owned the land. In one sense, Thomas Roskilly could hardly be more green: the trees which frame it have given nearly 600 years of secondary use, a claim which few can rival.

photograph by Martin Thomas

But hairdressing in general is not a particularly green enterprise, with its chemical waste and single-use of plastics. Martin writes:
The idea of all this plastic floating around the earth and its oceans simply made me feel that I needed to do my bit. Apart from the need to protect clients’ clothes from spillage, for which reusable gowns are normally used, with the arrival of the Covid pandemic it became necessary to introduce single-use gowns to avoid the spread of infection. I tried, but failed, to find paper alternatives and decided the only cost-effective solution was plastic gowns. When I had sourced the gowns and ordered 3,000 of them, which in a busy salon were not going to last that long, the size of the impact this was going to have environmentally became all too apparent. Our salon alone would use up to 15,000 per year. Martin Thomas
So I had the idea of involving our clients in an attempt to get our green credentials back on track. It was unorthodox, and although it took a little time for some of our clients to agree to adopt our communal recycling, others were enthusiastic and readily agreed to buy their gowns from us in a cotton version, take them home to be laundered and bring them back for each use. On top of the already pared-down service we can give at the moment (no coffee/tea, wine/beer, magazines or newspapers for example) asking a tenner for a gown and two towels Martin Thomas

What I find really inspirational about this story is that it is not just about one proprietor of a hairdressing salon taking action on his own but acting as a community leader. With the best of justifications (Covid 19), he is leading his clients to living more lightly on the earth and may well cause them to reflect on their overall green attitudes. Bravo Martin!

2050 Net Zero: Boris’s Plan Falls Short – Ian Franks

Democracy across the Atlantic may have taken a knock in recent months but the will of the people won out in the end. Now, the USA and indeed the world is grateful to have a liberal Democrat occupy the White House. In early moves soon after his January inauguration, the US’s new president, Joe Biden, gave clear indications of his green intentions. On the afternoon of his inauguration, on January 20, he officially accepted the Paris Climate Agreement from which his predecessor had withdrawn. In addition, he made clear his policy and plans to move the country away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy, to cleaner air, and reducing pollution. From our perspective, it can only be good that the US has a renewed commitment to tackle change and a determination to champion other green causes. In the UK, the government cannot be said to be taking the green agenda seriously. In January it announced (drum roll and big fanfare, please) a 10-point green recovery plan which has a tremendous budget of (wait for it) £5 billion (music slows and splutters to a halt). Tremendous in whose eyes, I wonder. Certainly not mine. And the media has collectively pointed out that climate experts say the plan falls far short of what is needed to get he UK down to net emissions by 2050, which is what we signed up to achieve. True, the government plan does include a commitment to ban sales of new petrol and diesel fuelled cars after 2030, but a plan, a commitment, does not make it happen. They are just words. Indeed, Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change spoke disparagingly about the Johnson government’s efforts. He said: “It is a vision, it is not a plan. The following 12 months is where the real hard work needs to be done.” So, what are Boris’s top green priorities that made it to the government’s 10-point plan? They are: 1: Advancing offshore wind 2: Driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen 3: Delivering new and advanced nuclear power 4: Accelerating the shift to zero emission vehicles 5: Green public transport, cycling and walking 6: Jet zero and green ships 7: Greener buildings 8: Investing in carbon capture, usage and storage 9: Protecting our natural environment 10: Green finance and innovation We in the Lib Dems are not impressed. We have a plan for a super-ambitious Green Economic Recovery – to provide the jobs people need, and the technology our economy needs, in a bold bid to fast-track the UK to net zero. Our leader Sir Ed Davey is being forthright in insisting that Britain needs a £150 billion public investment programme, to fire-up progress to UK Net-Zero, to help British people and business to become global leaders in key future technologies. Of course, Boris won’t spend what is needed. Across the channel, the EU went public with its European Green Deal in December 2019, yes 2019, when it was agreed by the College of Commissioners. Speaking at that time, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen described it as being both a vision for a climate neutral continent in 2050 and a very dedicated roadmap to this goal. It is 50 actions for 2050. Hm, is it just me, or does 50 actions in Europe’s Green Deal seem more in line with what we need than Johnson’s 10-point plan? Mrs von der Leyen said: “Our goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet, to reconcile the way we produce and the way we consume with our planet and to make it work for our people. “Therefore, the European Green Deal is on the one hand about cutting emissions, but on the other hand it is about creating jobs and boosting innovation. “I am convinced that the old growth-model that is based on fossil-fuels and pollution is out of date, and it is out of touch with our planet. The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – it is a strategy for growth that gives more back than it takes away. “And we want to really make things different. We want to be the frontrunners in climate-friendly industries, in clean technologies, in green financing,” she said. Being British but living in southern Spain as I do, the view from my window of my rural home is of fields and fields of arable agriculture producing multiple crops a year of fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, Spain’s recent history of sustainability, protection of natural habitats, and environment generally have been sadly unsuccessful. In fact, the policies they have had can be said to have been largely ineffective and, I would say, lacked any real ambition. Today, though, things are looking better and greener. This is because two years ago the country’s council of ministers, led by the prime minister, produced the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework. This included the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021 – 2030, which is in line with an EU goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and current rules for sharing out. It also put forward a proposed bill on Climate Change and Energy Transition, which is now law. This was accompanied by a strategy of support designed to ensure that individuals and regions make the most of the opportunities created. Together, this introduces a more solid and strategic framework for the decarbonization of Spain’s economy. But is it enough? I suspect that in Spain, as in Britain, it is not. But only time will tell. In reality as a member state, Spain will be pushed, cajoled, encouraged, and maybe helped to meet the EU standards and targets while the UK, now post-Brexit, will be floundering in rough seas of its own making. Of the main British political parties, only the Liberal Democrats care enough to put forward a well thought out green recovery deal with realistic budgets. What we are talking about is saving the planet, our home for future generations – our children, grandchildren and so on. We can’t cut corners and such noble and essential improvements don’t come cheap.
This is the first of Ian’s ‘Grass Roots’ regular columns for Greeneralia

Ian Franks has enjoyed a successful career in journalism which saw him rise to be Rural Affairs Editor of a Trinity Mirror regional newspaper group in north Wales. That led him to interview UK government and Welsh Assembly (now Senedd) cabinet members, and to be named Welsh Farming Journalist of the Year, 1999-2000.

He joined the Young Liberals as a teenager in 1966, in Orpington – then the only SE England town with a Liberal MP. Today, Ian and his wife Lisa live in Spain and he is secretary of LibDems in Europe.

Wild-Flower Meadows in Stratford upon Avon – Elizabeth Coles

The town council has declared a climate emergency and we have been working on various plans to address it. Obviously the COVID-19 crisis has slowed much of our work and diverted our attention to the immediate worries that our residents have. However, it has been ticking over in the background and we have been talking about it regularly. One of the things that really caught our imagination was the rewilding and wild flower projects that a lot of other councils have been doing. We thought that it fits in really well in Stratford. There are are many groups of people in Stratford who have eco projects on the go and several have started in recent months in part because of the lockdown and people spending more time gardening. We started looking for potential plots of land within Stratford town that would lend themselves to wild flower planting. That was relatively straightforward; what then slowed us down was finding the owners and convincing them to let us use the land for planting. This is still ongoing but it was disappointing when we really wanted to get going as soon as possible. Then we realised we could begin by using the grass at the front of our own house, which we suggested to the council as a pilot site. Catherine Coton is an ecologist and biologist who worked with Councillor Cohl Warren-Howes on the St Peter’s graveyard which has been turned into a nature reserve. She carried out a biodiversity survey for us on the two grass areas which is fascinating to read. It is mainly Rye Grass with Turf Moss and a range of other plants such as Cranesbill, Self-Heal, Yarrow, Common Ragwort and White Clover. We are pretty new to this and apart from the moss saw nothing but grass! The report recommended that we get a soil analysis as, if the land were quite nutrient-high, it would be better to go for a more ornamental planting with native bulbs and flower beds. If it were low-nutrient, then meadow planting would work better. So my next job is to arrange to get a soil test sent off. What we would like to do (and what Catherine recommended) is to have several different areas along the road. If it all works out we are going to have at least three areas. The first, nearest the house, will have ‘plugs’ of perennial and bee-friendly flowers. We will probably put in more planting along the whole length of the wall at the back where the daffodils are. The next area would be Yellow Rattle. If we rake out the moss and a lot of the grass, we can seed the area with Yellow Rattle, a grass parasite that will help prepare the ground for meadow-seeding in the years to come. Catherine recommends mowing at least once in summer, and a follow-up mowing in autumn while the grass is still growing, and early spring.  We would have to stop mowing from late spring (April/May) until as late as possible (June/July to August for some sites) to allow flowering and seed development. The mown hay can be used to seed the area for following years. We would also like to create a  meadow area of Cornfield annuals but we would have to ensure that the soil nutrients are not too high. To do that we would have to create bare ground before sowing by taking the grass out and probably some of the top soil – the soil analysis would tell us if that was necessary. Once seeded, we would need to weed out ​​undesirable species (thistles, bindweed) while the new plants were growing. The ground would need disturbing in late summer/autumn to help re-establish the same plants for the next year.  Possibly we will also need fresh seed, but this can be collected and re-sown each year. The work is hopefully going to start in March with clearing grass, moss and seeding the two different meadow areas. As it is a Town Council project, their Outdoor Team are going to carry out the work or supervise volunteers.  They want to have a good look at the site so they know  what they are taking on. I’m going to report back on suppliers of seeds, plugs and bulbs of wild flowers to the  council so we can make the final decision on what we will put in each plot. I also have been looking at a selection of very low-growing wild flowers which could be included in a lawn that could be kept mowed at 5/6 cm. Some people might find that much more acceptable than a very high meadow. So before March we intend to get a soil analysis and create a report of what seeds and plants can be purchased from reliable suppliers. Then we can finalise the three areas and what is to be planted. We are going to keep a careful record of everything we do to show other landowners when we discuss their land and to ensure a comprehensive archive for the Council. I will take photographs of the area every week so that we can have a visual record of our work. We are really looking forward to getting started! by Elizabeth Coles
Elizabeth in her Council robes

Kate Raworth – The Seer With A Solution

by Laura Sykes
Only 2.39 minutes of your life – If you look at nothing else in this issue, please watch this. Also called ‘Doughnut Economics’
A renegade economist focused on exploring the economic mindset needed to address the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges…the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.” Kate Raworth
This is how Kate Raworth describes herself on her website – and yes, she is the sister of Sophie – quite a family! You can read extracts from her book, ‘Doughnut Economics’ here. This was published in 2017 and Kate has been indefatigable in spreading the word through conferences, lectures and articles. Earlier still is her 2014 TED talk in Athens. Her concept is highly regarded and well known to the cognoscenti. It is as new and important a way of looking at the world around us as was Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in its time. Kate’s ‘big idea’, I promise you, is much easier to understand than Einstein’s. (And, as I shall no doubt get into trouble for saying, more important). Do please dip a little into her world and see how her framework for understanding our environment (and how to live in it in a way that can be mutually beneficial and life-enhancing) needs to be spread by word of mouth until it is the most discussed subject of our time. Kate does not claim that her big idea came out of nowhere: on the contrary it builds on solid research like the work on planetary boundaries by for example Johan Rockström and colleagues:
…we propose a framework based on ‘planetary boundaries’. These boundaries define the safe operating space for humanity with respect to the Earth system and are associated with the planet’s biophysical subsystems or processes. Although Earth’s complex systems sometimes respond smoothly to changing pressures, it seems that this will prove to be the exception rather than the rule. Many subsystems of Earth react in a nonlinear, often abrupt, way, and are particularly sensitive around threshold levels of certain key variables. If these thresholds are crossed, then important subsystems, such as a monsoon system, could shift into a new state, often with deleterious or potentially even disastrous consequences for humans. Scheffer, M., Carpenter, S. R., Foley, J. A., Folke C. & Walker, B. H. Nature 413, 591–596 (2001). Lenton, T. M. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 1786–1793
As we gradually emerge from into a post-pandemic world, the international economic system finds itself in a state of flux. Coupled with the climate emergency, now, if ever, is the time to introduce Kate Raworth’s ideas on a global scale. I call her a ‘seer’, not only because she is a wise woman whom we need to listen to, but also because she is a ‘see-er’, one of those people who come along every century or two and show us a different way of looking at our situation which potentially offers both economic and environmental salvation. Doughnut Economics is successfully permeating the political world: it was one of the major topics of the Green Liberal Democrat conference in June 2020 and in October 2020 was adopted as official policy by the Women’s Equality Party. Sir David Attenborough’s ‘A Life On Our Planet’, not only discusses the link between COVID and human destruction of nature, but also includes the Doughnut Model as part of the solution to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis or, as the Doughnut Economics Action Lab cannot resist summarising ‘David Attenborough Digs the Doughnut‘. Doughnut Economics models are being adopted or considered for adoption in real time in Amsterdam, Barbados, Brussels, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Scotland, the UK, Wales, and others. You can subscribe to DEAL’s You Tube channel here. They are on Twitter at @DoughnutEcon. I am not the only one who thinks that Doughnut Economics is the most revolutionary idea which has been floated in my lifetime, and it offers us a glimpse of a better world which may even be possible. In conclusion: How can a Book Change the World? The theory of action behind Kate Raworth and the Doughnut Economics Action Lab “The Amsterdam Donut Coalition is a good example: they just announced that they were starting up, and have since inspired many other places to follow their example. We as DEAL didn’t have this planned – it just happened – so we have adapted to work with it. Now there are local groups setting up worldwide, and co-ordinating with each other.”
So when anyone asks us … do you convince / persuade a government / multinational corporation/ person to change – we don’t claim to have the answer. At this stage of our work at least, we have far more than we can manage to do by simply working with those who are already persuaded and are getting into action, so that’s where we focus. And we know this work complements the roles that so many other organizations are playing. We all need each other contributions to the whole – hence the importance of creating an ecosystem of new economic change-makers.’ From Poverty to Power

Green Reflections – Clare James

Greetings, fellow homebodies. Our locked-down lives may sometimes seem bleak, but let’s focus on the chiaro, rather than the oscuro. For ways to beat the winter blues, see the BMJ. My favourite tip? ‘Embrace the . . . green.’ Thanks to a recent gift, the east-facing window side of my kitchen is now a verdant array of potted plants that welcome me in and lift my spirits every morning. Environmentally, the pandemic hasn’t been all bad, after all. Going out less has made us eco-friendlier, willy-nilly (usually nilly). We’ve hardly travelled, eaten out or visited public venues. We’ve also (despite Amazonian temptations) spent less. Most meetings and learning sessions now take place online. Much of the ‘new normal’ and its beneficial impact should outlive the lockdowns and restrictions, and some changes for the better may turn out to be permanent. Meanwhile, climate-change deniers seem thinner on the ground and less vociferous than a few years ago. Eco-thinking and green issues are becoming mainstream among media purveyors and legislators, schoolchildren and the twitterati. Across the board, we’re becoming more eco-savvy (‘eco-savvier’?). Advice in profusion (such as Good Energy’s 20 tips) is available to anyone who can go online. Researching and recognising problems are key. If we use reliable sources — rather than social-media bubbles that propagate fake news and conspiracy theories — we can access true facts at lightning speed. Reputable media, with their high-quality articles and documentary films, report on experts’ findings and supply us with a constant, copious flow of statistics and scientific evidence. TV networks and (especially) David Attenborough and his team are doing their stunning best. In the UK and worldwide, perhaps the most encouraging news on the environmental front is about renewable sources’ fast-growing share of the energy we generate and use. The UK is among the world’s largest producers of offshore wind power and a leader in the sector, where investments surged in 2020. We may not quite fulfil Boris Johnson’s October 2020 pledge that this country will generate enough electricity from offshore wind to power every UK home within a decade, but we seem to be well on the way. Piecemeal progress is evident. Consumption of red and processed meats is declining; veganism, vegetarianism and variants of the same are on the rise. Many of us take fewer baths and/or spend less time in the shower, and some of us have turned our central-heating thermostats down a degree or two. With fewer vehicles on the road during the lockdowns, air pollution has at least temporarily decreased. Plastic bags are on the way out, and we’re becoming more aware of environmental hazards from microplastics to greenhouse gases. Language is evolving to reflect these and other positive trends. ‘Carbon footprint’ is now a familiar concept to many, and online tips on how to reduce our own (such as these 50) abound. Everyday products — tea bags included — are increasingly ‘eco-embedded’ (with improved environmental features, such as biodegradability, that consumers are no longer free to reject). ‘Secondhand’ always sounded . . . well, a bit shabby and inferior; now, charmingly, our charity-shop finds are ‘preloved’ and ‘vintage’ instead. And thrift is less often thought of as being stingy (or ‘cheap’ in the American sense). Much advice hardly needs repeating. But there are some good ideas we may never have considered. Have you dusted and cleaned the coils at the back of your fridge, or vacuumed your ventilation vents, recently? They’ll run more energy-efficiently if you do. Do you ever use facial wipes? Mine — the contents of the last packet I bought, at least ten years ago — are reused twice daily, over and over again. Freshly laundered and fluffy, they’re perfect for applying lotion and cleaning my dry old face. We all (or nearly all; certainly me) still have a long way to go. Multiple, ever more alarming environmental crises loom around us. How can we sort and reduce our waste more (much more) and achieve all the other massive changes required for humankind to stop ravaging the planet and reverse at least some of the many harmful trends? Can nature recover from our depredations? Sadly, innumerable animal and plant species have already been lost for ever in the past few decades, and the extinction rate is accelerating. Let’s try. Finding out what to do is a good start. No one has all the answers, but the ‘Rs’ are guidelines that usefully sum up many of them, We need to reflect on and rethink our habits, lifestyles and consumption; reduceour purchases of non-essentials and food imported from distant lands, and the waste we generate, where possible; refuse to waste natural resources, and reject over-packaged consumer goods; and repair, reuse and repurpose (recycle) as much as we can, from clothing to furniture. How can we lessen our destructive impact on the natural world, and the climate change we’re causing? Can we learn to live cleaner, greener lives, in harmony with nature, before it is too late? Can we, as individuals, make a difference? Are we capable of creating a ripple effect among our families, friends, neighbours, colleagues and others, by example and spreading the word? Much more can be done if the local and national politicians we elect make it happen. They too should try harder to get clued up about the environment, what can and must be done, and what other, more successful countries (such as Sweden) are doing. They must impose laws and regulations to ensure recovery and appropriate processing of reusable waste components (such as the metals, plastic and so forth in our vehicles, white goods, electrical appliances and electronic devices) on a much larger scale. They need to provide better and more comprehensive incentives for better home insulation. Rotting (composting) all waste of organic origin — and using the compost to replenish soils and grow more food, as well as other plants and trees — are other key actions for local and national governments not only to encourage but themselves to take. And by restoring natural habitats for disappearing animals and plants — rewilding areas, however small (including parts of our gardens and parks) — we can at least help to slow down the rate of species extinction. Together, all these ‘Rs’ can be summed up in another: admitting responsibility for current damaging trends and tackling the task of doing everything we can — as individuals, as communities of all kinds and sizes, and as nations — to reverse them. Science is on our side, and much hope-inspiring innovation is under way. We might be in the 59th minute of the 12th hour, but if humankind can fill the final unforgiving minute with ‘sixty seconds’ worth of distance run’, we have a last, precious, sporting chance.

 Editor’s note: This is the first of a regular column , ‘Embracing the Green’,from Clare James. Former EFL teacher, now translator and editor, Clare is a voracious reader, traveller and lifelong learner with a keen interest in nature, conservation, biodiversity and green issues generally. She has had the privilege of living in places as diverse as North London and New Delhi, Lahore and Karachi, Serengeti National Park and Nairobi, the Camargue and Stockholm. Now happily settled and enjoying life in Dorset, she is looking forward to travelling again (Sweden at its most glorious, in late May or June?), and socialising more (with fellow Lib Dems, among others).

Diana Iwi : A Portrait – Laura Sykes

I’ve been a member [of the LibDems] for around 55 years. I’ve been a {successful} agent/organiser. I’ve hosted discussion evenings, I’ve delivered leaflets. I’m now old and easily muddled and need a friend to help me around the internet – BUT – I can still spot mistakes and see much better ways of getting to a better civilisation than our present system of always ensuring there is so much money to be made from contracting out, enriching the firms who do the contracting – ie privatisation. That’s why I still go on! Diana Iwi
Them’s fighting words from a doughty political campaigner, who stood in the 2018 Barnet local election, as the Liberal Democrat candidate for East Finchley. After a childhood spent travelling round the Far East and Africa with her parents, Diana Iwi, nee Cooper*, has been what used to be called a ‘Hampstead intellectual’, now according to The Guardian the ‘North London metropolitan elite‘, as was the family she married into. Her father-in-law, Edward Iwi, was a solicitor by profession but constitutional expert by inclination: Sir George Coldstream, Lord Kilmuir’s private secretary, advised 10 Downing Street:
The trouble with Iwi is that he usually puts his finger on an awkward question … You will no doubt recall that Iwi has on several occasions proved right and on at least one of these occasions he could have caused the government great embarrassment – I refer to the unfortunate mistake by which Princess Arthur of Connaught was named as a Counsellor of State in 1944. Iwi spotted the error but was good enough to keep quiet about it. … [He should be told] in friendly terms to keep his mouth shut. Wikipedia entry on Edward Iwi, which also explains that the choice of the surname Mountbatten-Windsor from Prince Andrew onwards was partly at the instigation of Iwi.
I have digressed into this description of Diana’s father-in-law because it shows the fighting spirit, the determination to stand up for the truth in the face of political inconvenience which has been the background from which she has operated. It also exemplifies the ingrained ability to analyse a situation and propose a solution. Being a loyal member of the Liberal Democrats for 55 years, during which time the party you belong to has not been in power except for the brief heady moment of coalition at the time of Cameron, needs grit and determination, an unwavering support for the political truth as you see it, come what may. Diana has also been a supportive rock for the leadership of the Green Liberal Democrats, of which she was a founder member. On behalf of the Green Liberal Democrats, Diana, we echo Tim Farron’s appreciation for all that you have done and continue to do on behalf of the cause. Thank-you for being you!

*not to be confused with her sister-in-law, Diana Iwi nee Leben

Thinking Laterally About Packaging- Judy McDowell

Last night I tweeted a puzzle I couldn’t solve:  _ + _ + _ = 30, and you could only use given odd numbers.  That seemed impossible, because if you add three odd numbers, you must end up with an odd number.  However, the out-of-the-box thinkers on Twitter came up with a few answers, ranging from including (15-5) to fill each gap, to changing the base number to something other than 10.  Mind boggling stuff, but it proved that, with lateral thinking, seemingly impossible problems can be solved. It was on Twitter the day before that I had asked if people were still using plastic bottles for shampoo, conditioner and body wash, why? Some answers were genuinely amusing, such as: – because they leak out of paper bags; -because that is how things are done and we can’t change it; – because the only alternative is glass, which might slip out of wet hands and smash. But, as with the puzzle, you must think outside the box or, in this case, outside the plastic bottle. If glass bottles are dangerous and paper bags won’t hold liquid, why not change the product?  Remember bars of soap?  Most personal cleansing products once again come in bars, which don’t need plastic or glass to contain them.  Cardboard or paper will do. This wonderful discovery came to me when I searched the internet for the best eco-friendly shampoo, expecting to find liquids that were made without undesirable chemicals or animal products; but no, there was a plethora of shampoo bars.  I chose one and haven’t looked back since.  My hair, always dry and frizzy, is now so much softer it is almost like other people’s hair, and I’ve managed to grow it longer than since I was a child! Due to agoraphobia, I haven’t been able to go to specialist shops, so I usually buy things through Amazon.  Whether that is the right thing to do or not is another matter, but it often means free postage.  I think all manufacturers of this sort of product I have come across have been British, which in these strange days is useful for the economy, but also of course reduces the carbon footprint of delivery. The brand I like for my hair is A A Skin care *, in the west country.  Others on Twitter frequently mentioned Lush.  There are also cottage industry affairs.  All in all, there is a lovely variety, and the products are healthy for the planet, and lovely to use.  Some people questioned the cost, but I have found a bar of shampoo, which costs just under £5, lasts a good 3 months, washing my hair every other day. As for cleaning your skin, well, for centuries the product for that came in bar form – a good old bar of soap.  These can be bought cheaply, but for a little more money you can also buy it with lovely added essential oils.  If you like a body scrub, BBC Earth in association with Boots, make a lovely one. Conditioner also comes in bars, but I confess I am still not ready to give up my easy option of using leave-in conditioner, which comes in a plastic tub.  It does, however, last for several months, so I feel a little less guilty.  Perhaps the same type of product can be found in a tin or glass jar (no need to use with wet hands in the bathroom). Another tweep swore by cider vinegar, rinsed off. The other alternative for reducing plastic waste when using liquids is simply to have the containers refilled, either in the shop, or return them so they can be reused.  Supermarkets need persuading this is a good idea! I went on to think about liquid detergent.  Why not revert to powder form, so long as the contents are environmentally friendly, or soap flakes or powder? So, make yourself a cuppa, sit down, and explore all the wonderful products now available.  It will probably surprise and delight you!

Editor’s note: This post recommends a brand or product, but is not a paid advertisement, nor has any discount etc been accepted. It represents the sincerely held view of the author.

@jcm247 “Into politics, environment, wildlife, psychology, early learning, coffee, archaeology, evolution, family + other pets, soaps, sarcasm”

Hot Off The Press

Facebook is (outrageously) acting as a broker between the Brazilian government and assorted anti-social carpetbaggers around the world to buy up the Amazon in bite-size chunks. We suggest that, for starters, you might like to sign this petition being got up by Greenpeace. h/t to Keith Melton In the medium term, how about organising the biggest ever ‘just giving’ crowd-funding appeal for the people of the world to buy the parcels? We might try persuading individual governments to cough up…perhaps this is something Greta Thunberg would like to take on? It would be the ultimate exercise in paying it forward. Rachel Carson:
29 minute BBC Sounds programme Rachel Carson, “The first Patron Saint of the Environmental Movement.” Author of ‘Silent Spring’ about pesticides like DDT,developed in the 50’s & 60’s, killing not only insects but many birds as well. [Spotted by Josie Parr].

The Short Answer – only 6 minutes C4-‘An Astrophysicist’s Case For Eating Less Meat’ or read the more detailed and nuanced analysis of Professor Sarah Bridle’s ideas in this issue of Greeneralia. Natural Capital Accounts for the UK “are lots of stats but do give a useful range of measures across nature in UK across last 20yrs. See big declines in birds and moths in some locations. Acidity of soil still washing out from the days of mass coal burning (acid rain)”.[Spotted by Peter Bruce]
A great overview presentation from Nikki Jones , Chair of Avon Needs Trees on progress against Paris Targets: ‘Are we losing the chance for a Green Recovery?’ So many challenges as we are way behind carbon budgets and science says need to do even faster… [Spotted by Peter Bruce]
Routes to Action is a series of five workshops with contributors from farming, science, economics, ecology, food businesses and more on transitioning towards an agroecological food system and farming practices – from farm to landscape to nation. [Spotted by VMS]
Climate and Ecological Emergency: UK’s Response – in the House of Commons a on 9 February 2021. You can follow discussion in Parliament on these (and other) issues by signing up to they work for you
Fresh water fish in catastrophic decline‘ by Helen Briggs, BBC Environment Correspondent, shared by Steve Mason on ‘Environmental Smart’, Facebook. 22 February
Plant Swap Bellingham is a new Facebook page created by Kevin Smith to reduce plant miles and ensure hardy plants for those living in ‘very rural Northumberland with no nearby garden centres and very cold weather!’ Others similarly placed may like to copy….?
Not really hot off the press (2020) but it was news to me; One hour on an exercise bike could power your home for a day, and Manoj Bhargava is putting his idea into practice by distributing 10,000 bicycles free in India in 2021. He leads ‘Billions in Change’.

Thoughts before COP26

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office #TogetherForOurPlanet | #COP2611:00 AM · Feb 23, 2021· The main website for COP26 is updated daily
Did Henry Ford (or did he not) make a car in 1941 composed almost entirely of hemp?

Not exactly hot off the press, admittedly, but what do you think is the answer?

Green Finder (spotted by VMS) is a useful eco ‘yellow pages’ :

We are here to help you in your quest for a greener lifestyle whether you are making your first faltering steps in sustainability or you are a fully fledged environmentalist wishing to learn more about saving the planet

Whole Grain Digital introduces a toolkit that can help you measure and reduce your digital carbon emissions. h/t to Steve Mason of Environmental Smart.
It’s Spring-Clean your Lifestyle Week from 12-21 March, shared by Carbon Savvy. Of course, some of us don’t get round to spring-cleaning until April: never too late to start! h/t to SP
Nature has learnt how to eat plastic. Nature always finds a they say! But it looks like it may actually be true in the case of our global plastic waste dilemma. Genetic mutations have been discovered in specific natural bacteria that enable them to break the polymer chains of certain plastics. Where have we found these bacteria? Well…in plastic recycling dumps of course. So, gloves and masks on everyone. We’re going in!” Produced by justhaveathink and spotted by CH, thank-you.
Greenpeace has produced a teaching aid aimed at 11-14- year-olds on the plastic problem

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