Reminder – Sustainable Cities – 21st May

Dear Green Thinkers,

Just a quick reminder that our next meeting is next week (21st May) in the upstairs room at the Jazz Cafe (Pink Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne), starting at 7pm (£3.75 entry, food not included).

The Jazz Cafe are keeping their kitchen open for us from 6-7, so please feel free to join me for a bite to eat downstairs before hand. I’ll be there from 6.15.

The subject for our discussion is ‘Sustainable Cities’click here for full details. Please feel free to invite others, and if you have not already done so please send me a quick email if you are intending to come along.

Marek Bidwell

Vote for the Nature and Wellbeing Act on 7th May – here’s why…

Nature and Wellbeing ActWe discussed many of the benefits that nature provides at a Green Thinkers meeting last year after reading ‘What has nature ever done for us?’ by Tony Juniper. Studies show that people living close to areas of green space enjoy a range of health benefits – many of which were referenced in Public Health England own review’. Two medics who attended our meeting testified to these health benefits from their personal experience.

With the election coming up in May there is the opportunity to do more than discuss these issues – we can vote for an MP, or party, that supports theNature and Wellbeing Act’ set out in a Green Paper proposed by the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts.Continue reading “Vote for the Nature and Wellbeing Act on 7th May – here’s why…”

Sustainable Cities: 21st May 2015

I am excited about our next Green-Thinkers discussion on 21st May 2015: Sustainable Cities (see booking details below*). It is a topic that directly affects us all in our day to day lives – whether that is in Sunderland, Newcastle or elsewhere.

In the UK most cities have recently put forward transformational housing development plans to meet projected population growth targets, but do you feel that these plans incorporated a spacial vision for green infrastructure, nature, and health and wellbeing?

We will be asking questions such as:

  • What makes a city sustainable?
  • Does the green-belt as it is support, or hinder, sustainable cities?
  • Which city would you most want to live in and why?

Continue reading “Sustainable Cities: 21st May 2015”

Circular Economy – Newcastle Meeting Discussion (Feb 2015)

Green Thinkers reconvened for the New Year and a new meeting format to discuss the topic of the Circular Economy. Our core text for the evening was “Cradle to Cradle” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, but contributions for a range of different sources were also discussed. The overall view of the group of 10 was that the concept of the circular economy was of interest, and that in particular it offers a third way to approach to some of the environmental problems we face between the two opposing models of limits to growth and technical abundance and growth for progress. Whilst Cradle to Cradle covers concepts of circular and symbiotic design, for many it was the message of concern over the need to detoxify material use and product design that was a more important message. This was in contrast to some of the other sources discussed where the focus seemed to be driven more from an accountant style understanding of resource scarcity and the drive for continuing profit the core motivator for exploration of circular economy implementation.Continue reading “Circular Economy – Newcastle Meeting Discussion (Feb 2015)”

Newcastle upon Tyne (2015)

We have an exciting line-up of discussions for Green-Thinkers during 2015 to stimulate the little green cells as follows:

Continue reading “Newcastle upon Tyne (2015)”

How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place? (Green Thinkers – 13th Nov 2014)

How to Spend...This month we are going all out to avoid confirmation bias, and reading the newly released 2nd edition of “How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place” by Bjorn Lomborg. No doubt a worthy question to ask, but will you agree with Lomborg’s analysis? If not, come and tell us how you would spend the cash. All opinions welcome.

You can purchase the kindle edition for £3.28, or paperback from £8.99 on Amazon. The seller is the Copenhagen Consensus Center, USA.

Join us at on 13th November 2014 at the fantastic Bridge Hotel, Newcastle.

Entry to our meeting will be £5, or £3 concessions, and include chips and sandwiches. Food from 6.30pm, and discussion from 7pm.

Feel free to forward this email to anyone you know who might be interested in joining our discussion.

Email to book a place.

Next Meeting – ‘EcoMind’ by Frances Moore Lappé

Our next bookclub will be to discuss ‘EcoMind’ by Frances Moore Lappé on Friday 27th June 2014 starting at 6.30pm at the Bridge Hotel. Pay £5 (£3 concessions) on the door for entry and chips.EcoMind

We have chosen ‘EcoMind’ because it will move us on from the focus of recent books (ecological and technological problems and solutions to sustainability issues), to how people think about them: anthropology and neuroscience. Following our last discussion about ‘The Burning Question’ we felt that this would be a good avenue of exploration – many of the tools are out there to make progress, but how to make it happen?

Lappe argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn’t our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it’s our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. She dismantles seven common “thought traps”—from limits to growth to the failings of democracy— that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting “thought leaps” that reveal our hidden power.


Next Meeting ‘The Burning Question’ on 27th March 2014

Our next Green-Thinkers bookclub will be on 27th March 2014 to discuss The Burning Question’ by Mike Berners-Lee & Duncan Clark.

The Burning Question is whether or not it will be possible for the world abandon around four fifths of proven coal, oil, and gas reserves? The book argues that this will be necessary in order to limit warming to 2 degrees, unless there is massive development of carbon capture and storage. We will have the answer to this question soon – at the crucial climate conference in Paris in 2015 when an agreement may, or may not be reached, to supersede Kyoto.

What would be the economic, social, and financial implications of leaving proven fossil fuels in the ground? Is the combustion of these fossil fuels already locked-in to the development plans and infrastructure of countries with massive reserves (such as the US, Russia, China, Australia, and Venezuela)? What will happen to the climate if emissions continue to rise at present rates? What action is required during 2014 to put pressure on governments to commit to targets? What will be the implications for you and your organisation over the next 20 years? or are we worrying about this for nothing – if global warming is actually doing more good than harm – as claimed by climate sceptics such as Matt Ridley? We will debate all these questions, and more…

When: 27th March from 6.30pm

Where: The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne, Upstairs function room, NE1 1RQ

Cost: £5 includes chips and sandwiches and room hire, pay on the door (£3 concessions)

Book: Send a quick reply to this email to book (Email

My thoughts on ‘What has nature ever done for us’ by Tony Juniper

A group of us braved the floods on 5th December to discuss Tony Juniper’s ‘What has nature ever done for us?’ The following few paragraphs explain what I personally took from the book, and our discussion.

I found a kindred spirit in Juniper. I grew up in awe of nature: I have an early memory catching caddisfly larva in tributary of the Trent, experimenting on them at home, enthralled as they reconstructed their shells from coloured beads. On holiday in Corfu I discovered the rainbow-world of marine biology – an experience that inspired me to study this at university. However, despite an instinctively feeling that nature is priceless, I often find it difficult making a business case for its protection; and that is why I found the treasure-trove of case studies presented in this book so valuable.Continue reading “My thoughts on ‘What has nature ever done for us’ by Tony Juniper”

Next Meeting: “What has nature ever done for us?” by Tony Juniper

Our next Green-Thinkers bookclub is on 5th December at 6.30pm to discuss Tony Juniper’s “What has nature ever done for us?”. The book is a fantastic insight into our fundamental, but poorly understood, life-support systems; and it is timely for communities, businesses, and governments around the world.

We will be asking questions such as:

  • What benefits does nature provide to you, and your region / organisation?
  • Can, and should, a price be put on nature?
  • What do you see as the greatest threat to the effective functioning of ecosystems? and what are the potential consequences if they break-down?
  • And dare I ask – if traditional conservation has largely failed to protect iconic endangered species, can biodiversity offsetting ever be a good thing?

 Gareth Kane recently brought to my attention the latest advertisement from Toys-R-Us depicting a bus full of bored school-children on a field-trip to a forest; but when the trip was diverted to a shop full of plastic toys they were allegedly ecstatic. If we believe nature has intrinsic health and educational value – have we lost the battle? and how can we turn this around? As an alternative see this infographic about the value of tree from Natural Capital Forum, and also the family from Nottinghamshire who set their children a challenge of completing 100 different outdoor activities in a year – Nottingham Post.

Date: 5th Dec 2013, Time: 6.30, Location: Newcastle at the Bridge Hotel. Price: (£5 / £3 concessions) includes sandwiches and chips!

Please email to book, if you have not already done so.

Kind Regards,

Marek Bidwell