Adversarial Politics is Killing the Progressives

general election 2017 logo

Progressive parties are damaging their own interests by splitting the left field. Meanwhile the Conservatives have learned and have lunged right to effectively absorb UKIP, giving themselves a clear right field. I am ever hopeful, particularly if more younger folk vote. However, while progressive parties continue competing with each other, I fear the out-dated first-past-the-post electoral system at GE17 will stymie progressive forces. Continue reading

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Badgers and Cognitive Dissonance

badger

Another badger cull debate

The UK government’s policy of culling badgers as part of tackling bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was debated in parliament for a second time on 27 March 2017 (Transcript/Video). What was striking about this debate, as well as its predecessor on 7 September 2016, was its ineffectiveness in informing or influencing. Much heartfelt opinion and many purported facts were aired, and there is some value in bringing the issue to the public attention again, but I doubt anyone changed their mind, certainly not the government. Continue reading

Poaching Campaigns: Missing the Horn’s Point

Patronising is not persuading

Time and time again I read of conservationists’ frustration with demand for horn, scales, and other wildlife body parts used in traditional Asian medicines. This demand is driving species through poaching to extinction. I share that frustration. And I abhor the cruelty and suffering, and the criminal racketeering that supplies the demand. However, campaigners lose my support when they claim that belief in the medicinal power of such items is misplaced ‘because it has no basis in science.’

Rhinoceros horn

Rhinoceros horn, ideally still attached to the rhinoceros

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Missing Hen Harriers: time for zero tolerance

The campaign to ban driven grouse shooting began because the pastime is incompatible with the salvation of hen harriers in particular and the protection of raptors in general. Driven grouse shooting requires intensive land use to maximise the grouse available for shooting. The grouse are ‘driven’ at the guns – beaters flush them toward the shooters, a form of ‘canned hunting’. Despite legal protection, these birds of prey keep disappearing from our skies and often turn up poisoned or shot. There is sufficient suitable habitat for over 300 pairs of hen harriers in England and Wales; the actual number of nesting attempts is in single figures – “a tiny handful“; the number of successful breeding attempts is usually zero.

hen harrier

Hen harrier, via Scottish Natural Heritage media library – copyright-free images of English hen harriers are as rare as…the birds themselves

The justification for seeking this ban has widened to include grouse shooting’s other serious negative consequences. Continue reading

Eathics: eat better for whatever you believe in

Chickens roasting
‘Eat less, better quality meat’ is common advice these days. It’s healthier for you, it’s ‘better’ for the animals you eat, it’s fairer for producers, and it’s sustainable for the environment. Simple? Of course not.

“In rich Western nations, preaching about how eating a lot of meat is bad for both one’s health and the planet provokes resentment. Meanwhile, in developing nations, the rising middle-classes can at last afford to eat more meat, which was previously a luxury. It’s not surprising that governments worldwide duck out of tackling the problem.” Continue reading

Green Momentum

People along the broad frontier of radical pluralism
Positive socio-environmental change is happening in Britain—a skim through recent progress.

Rewilding is not only being seriously discussed, it’s happening. Beavers are back in Scotland and wild in England. Lynx may soon follow as a range of stakeholders recognise benefits and negligible risks — lynx are wary of humans and unlikely to target livestock; instead they are a natural predator for deer, numbers of which are wholly out of control. Continue reading

Sustainable Development is an Oxymoron

Development, according to our current terms, is unsustainable and needs to, er, develop – a wry wander through current thinking.

“The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations. The Scottish Government has as its overall purpose to focus government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.” (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/SustainableDevelopment)

“Increasing sustainable economic growth”? That’s a lot of bulge. Continue reading

Can We Embrace Climate Change?

The planet will find a new equilibrium, with or without humans or any other species. Change is a constant. But what happened to survival of the fittest?

A papier-mâché maraca started it. That was the thing that melted my head about universal timescales. Something hideous I created at school, in decades, centuries, millennia to come would cease to exist, becoming ultimately, atomically recycled. I realised my life and death were ephemeral and, critically, I realised how afraid of that I was. I was ten.

Informed people are increasingly recognising that climate change can no longer be halted let alone reversed. It’s going to happen. It’s already happening. We need to deal with it. Continue reading

Cull the Killing

Shooting Conservation versus Ecological Conservation

“Who hasn’t dreamed of standing in a grouse butt, waiting for coveys of birds skimming like miniature brown missiles over the horizon?” Missiles?

The persecution of hen harriers, other birds of prey, and other wild animals, by land managers whose aim is to breed birds for shooting, is increasingly attracting attention Continue reading