Tuesday 3 July 2012

These workers are at the sharp end of the fight, not only against cuts and austerity, but, as recycling workers, they highlight the fact that the fight against the cuts and the fight for a safe future for the planet are one.

From Socialist Worker:
GMB union members who work at Sheffield recycling centres are now on all-out strike against job losses, pay cuts and severe cuts to the opening hours of the service.

They are up against Sheffield City Council, private contractor Veolia and charity Sova Recycling in a battle that had already seen the 35 GMB members take 21 days of discontinuous strike action before going all out from Saturday 23 June.

The strikers are clear that the recycling service generates enough money to stop the cuts.

But management want to restrict four of the five recycling sites to weekends only for the public, cutting the workers’ jobs and hours – with even more severe cuts lined up for the winter.

The strikers explained the background to the dispute at last week’s Unite the Resistance conference in London.

Help the Sheffield strikers defend jobs, hours, pay and an important public service!
Watch the video

How to help
Send messages of support and donations (payable to ‘GMB’)
c/o Pete Davies, GMB Office, 188–192 Norfolk St, Sheffield S1 1SY.

Sunday 3 June 2012

I'm not a biologist, but this growing of experimental aphid-hostile GM  spring wheat crops in a field somewhere in the UK, for me, is an example of the reckless behaviour of capitalists in their frantic search for easy profits. The idea, so I understand, is that the GM wheat will give off an odour which will deter aphids and thus protect the plant from those insects. In the UK, however, there is no problem, according to some expert commentators, with aphids and spring wheat. The driver for the experiment, thus, is the possibility of selling the GM wheat on the market for big profits. The driver is not more efficient food production. Enough food is already produced to feed everyone on the planet - and yet 2.5 million children die each year of hunger. The problem is: Food is produced for profit not for need.  

There are plenty of examples where alien species of plants, animals, insects, bacteria, viruses etc have been introduced deliberately or accidentally  into an ecosystem only to cause unforeseen effects. For example, the cane toad was introduced to Australia to control pests. Now it too is considered a pest.  The poisonous tadpoles and skin of the amphibian kill native mammals when they ingest the stuff. As it turned out, the cane toad was ineffective at controlling the cane beetle - its intended victim.

It doesn't take too much imagination to envisage a situation where the anti-aphid pheromones produced by the GM wheat become general anti-insect pheromones, or anti-bee pheromones or some unforeseen other, when or if the GM material begins to cross over to other plant species.

There is also a general problem with GM.
It is the opposite of bio-diverse. A field of GM wheat will have only a single variety. Traditional farming in the way it developed grew food originating from a multiple of varieties. This variety, developed over centuries of agriculture protected the general stock of plants from the regular attacks by aphids and fungus etc. See the work of Martin Wolfe for an explanation of the strengths of biodiversity (of diversity in general in fact) for the benefit of sensible food farming.

Saturday 12 May 2012

I was notified of the ISBN for the book this morning - hooray - things are moving fast.

SAFE PLANET  shows, using real meteorological data and existing tried and tested technologies, how we can generate all our energy and power. It tackles the main barrier to change  -  the global political and economic power structures that make up the capitalist system.
The book will be divided into three parts.
The first part explains why energy storage must play a central part in a future renewable electricity generation system and describes a paradigm shift in how we use vehicles – a step change in energy storage.
Intermittent renewable energy can become a source of firm 'dispatchable' power when combined with a suitable energy store.
Real meteorological data is used to show how two example states – the UK and California - can be powered by renewable generators alone.
The second part of the book examines the political and economic barriers to a zero carbon world.
The third part of the book identifies the agent for change.
Essentially, the book argues that fighting for good conditions and safety at the places where people work, and fighting for the safety of the environment – the place where we all live - are not separate struggles.
The workers at Bhopal died in the same way that the people outside the plant died.
With effective organisation they could have prevented the disaster.
The impending climate disaster is preventable in a similar way.
The book concludes by arguing for a campaigning strategy which will engage with and develop the agencies that can deliver a safe planet.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

A good omen.
I received a publishing contract yesterday - May 1, May Day, International Worker's Day!  - to write a book.
The book is called SAFE PLANET  - Worker's Power plus Renewable Energy
SAFE PLANET should be out by the end of 2012 or early 2013 if i get cracking.

Wednesday 4 April 2012


Geoff Chaplin of the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Association says:
'we can't get rid off CO2 without  Carbon Capture and Sequestration' BBC 03 April 2012

I suppose in a way that's true. If you are going to burn coal, then you will produce CO2.

Three things. Firstly,what he was implying was, we cannot produce our energy without CCS. That is not true. It can be done with renewables.
Secondly, CCS is completely untried and untested, for energy production, in any commercial form.
Thirdly, the technology seems to fly in the face of the laws of thermodynamics.The energy cost of shoving CO2 back into a confined space will possibly make the operation futile in terms of the energy out. It will certainly add to the money cost of burning coal for energy. This is an attempt by the coal lobby to claim coal can be clean. In the meantime it can continue to pollute the planet and continue making its dirty profits

Sunday 18 March 2012

Big oil is anti-wind

Big Oil and the entrenched energy corporations (like the nuclear power industry) are not supportive of wind energy. It cuts into their profits. Every extra wind turbine producing electricity 24 hours a day 365 days of the year is producing energy that the fossil fuel industries would prefer that they were selling. Contrary to what is being repeated by commentators, wind will bring the cost of energy down.

These interests are doubtless applauding actions like this one by Powys