“Unfair Trade” by Conor Woodman on 1st June 2017

Our next book will be a new topic for Green Thinkers, delving into the world of social responsibility and global supply chains. Investigative journalist ‘Conor Woodman’ gets under the skin of ethical business in an attempt to find out if the claims stack up.

When: 1st June 2017 (7-9pm)

Where: Town Wall Pub (Library Room, Pink Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Booking: Free event, but spaces limited – email: marek@green-thinkers.org to book a place

“Don’t Even Think About It” – Questions

Our next meeting is this Thursday (2nd March) to discuss “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change” by George Marshall. In order to whet your appetite, or in case you can’t make it to the meeting, these are a few of the questions we will discuss:

  1. What do climate change skeptics and climate change campaigners have in common?
  2. Daniel Kahneman (respected psychologist and the author of our last book) said that he is “thoroughly pessimistic about climate change” – discuss
  3. Have you ever struck up a conversation with a stranger about climate change? What was the result?
  4. Do you think that labelling Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant is helpful in aiding people’s understanding of the impact of the gas?
  5. Have you watched Leonadaro DiCaprio’s films ‘The 11th Hour’ or ‘Before the Flood’? Do you think that apocalyptic imagery is helpful in getting the message of climate change across to the average person?
  6. Do you think that Marshall is right to dismiss the optimism of groups like ‘Sustainia‘ so readily?
  7. International agreements on climate change would be more effective if they focused on the extraction of fossil fuels rather than GHG emissions (the subject of ‘The Burning Question’ by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark) – discuss
  8. Were you surprised that Marshall reports that people with children are on average less concerned about climate change than people without children?
  9. Have you ever read a book about climate change on an aeroplane?! – Why is there such a large gap between what we know about the subject and what we do?
  10. Do you agree that the climate change movement could learn useful lessons on communication and conviction from religious groups?

Don’t Even Think About It

Our next Newcastle Green Thinker’s meeting follows seamlessly on from our previous book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, looking at the psychology of climate change, and climate change denial.

Book: “dont-even-think-about-itDon’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change” by George Marshall

Date and time: 2nd March 2017, 7-9pm

LocationThe Town Wall pub, Pink Lane, NE1 5HZ. (In the Library Room)

Cost: Free!

To Book: Space limited so book with marek@green-thinkers.org to assure your place.

On the same theme, I would also encourage people to listen to a Radio 4 broadcast called ‘Nothing but the Truth’ by Jo Fidgen about ‘Post Truth’  There is a fascinating story about a republican politician (Bob Inglis) who was voted out of the party after changing his mind to believe in man-made climate change. So, Mr Inglis has a unique take on group-think as it cost him his job.

Marek Bidwell

Water Vole shines a light on gov’t disregard for nature

Blue Sky

Natural England has just published a consultation on proposed changes to the licencing of European Protected Species. Whilst the proposals suggest that the policies aim to achieve better outcomes for European Protected Species it also suggests they will reduce costs, delays and uncertainty for developers. This proposal has to be seen in the light of the prevailing government view of environmental protection and their view of “EU rules on things like habitats […] placing ridiculous costs on British businesses” a view expressed by Osborne but recently underlined by comments from David Cameron that are signalling a sea change in government view of protection of nature and wildlife.

Cameron was recently speaking before the House Liaison committee where he was asked amongst other things about flooding issues. He said he welcomed the

“attitudinal change in the Environment Agency – were trying to balance up the effect on nature and protection of property. The time…

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Sustainable Energy – Newcastle Meeting Discussion (Jan 2016)

Hot Air ImageGreen Thinkers Newcastle convened for the first meeting of 2016 in a new venue, and with some new members attending. The meeting was chaired by Marek who led an engaging and fascinating discussion exploring some key questions prompted by the text (Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air). The overriding view expressed was that the book opened up a wide range of topics and points for discussion in this vitally important area of future environmental planning. Whilst it was accepted that the analysis and data used in the book had perhaps dated somewhat, this did not detract from the wealth of detail it shone on the opportunities and challenges of developing sustainable energy solutions for the future.

In discussing the book it was particularly appreciated just how complex the issues surrounding sustainable energy are, and the significant point of importance of the need for carefully planned mix of solutions, with no one energy type able to provide all or enough of our needs moving forward. At the same time, it impressed upon the group the degree to which many sustainable energy solutions impact in terms of available land, and competing land uses. The specific challenges of space per head of energy consumption was well illustrated by the exercise the group completed using maps from the book exploring  the sheer scale of the sustainable energy footprint on the UK land surface.

A point that raised a good degree of discussion was that whilst the book may have some flaws in areas it perhaps does not cover in detail, or excludes, or where technical progress since it’s publication has moved the debate on, on the whole the significance and importance of developing a detailed plan of action – a task it was felt government should now be addressing – was something that was of value, and touched on what can be done to encourage government to drive policy forward.

Unsurprisingly, the issue of nuclear power came up, not least because the book (perhaps controversially) includes it within the sustainable energy models it explores, and the feeling of the group generally tended towards concern over nuclear as an option we might want to pursue. This was however measured against a clear understanding that there are significant energy security risks (and possible ethical issues) with some elements of sustainable energy provisions from non-UK sources for UK consumption.

The group felt ultimately that the meeting had been a very interesting exploration of some of the key ideas, but that this is such a significant area that perhaps could be explored in more detail at future sessions. Certainly everyone felt that a huge amount of detail had been raised in a very positive and interesting meeting.

COP21 and The Burning Question

One of the most helpful books we have read at Green Thinkers bookclub, for understanding the Climate Change debate, was ‘The Burning Question’ by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark.

The Burning Question is essentially: ‘how will the world avoid extracting and burning the $20 trillion worth of fossil fuel reserves we are currently planning to burn, that will emit 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon emissions?’ – a figure that is five times greater that the potentially ‘safe’ limit of an additional 565 gigatonnes to stay below two degrees of warming.

There are some helpful clues in the book, one being the illustration of a train of three carriages: the first ‘consumption’, the second ‘combustion’ and with ‘extraction’ bringing up the rear.

Train image

Trying to slow the consumption and combustion carriages is futile unless the extraction carriage is also slowed down. The effect of was seen recently as the US switched from coal to gas, but continued to extract and export the coal, which was then sold and burnt elsewhere in the world.

Lets hope that any climate change deal today in Paris at COP21 acts on all three parts of the train.

Interested in discussing sustainability issues? Come along to a Green-Thinkers bookclub in your area, or set one up where you live.

By Marek Bidwell

marek@green-thinkers.org

 

‘Feral’ by George Monbiot, 3rd Dec, Nottingham

Feral

Feral

Nottingham’s next Green-Thinkers meeting will be held at The Tapastry, Heathcoat Street, Hockley on Wednesday 3rd December at 6pm.

We will be discussing  Feral : Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life by George Monbiot. For this book we will be asking questions such as:

  • What could you easily do to bring the wild into your life?
  •  How has the book changed your outlook on the British countryside?
  • How do you relate to wild spaces and creatures? Are they something you enjoy or would you rather avoid them?

Please feel free to invite friends and family to come along and join the discussion.

The meeting is FREE, so please email info@hostaconsulting.co.uk to book a place, or click here to join the Facebook group.

Support local business by ordering your book through us from Five Leaves Book Store to get a 15% discount.