The weather turns ugly…

wild weather, the clyde

We are being treated to a series of storms up here in the north- It seems that we are having another one every second day. It has been quite a nature-show.

We all start to wonder about the over used phrase ‘global warming’. Is this the cause of the apparent increase in volatility of our Atlantic weather systems? Or is it just a variation within normal?

Whatever, the storms we complain about in the UK (even here on the Wild West) are nothing compared to the weather systems that kill thousands in places like the Philippines. Is there evidence that the increase in super storms might also be down to climate change?

There is some interesting discussion about all this on Climate Radio– reflecting on the Warsaw Climate Talks back in November.

The science is ever more categorical about the fact of climate change, but also about the potential for positive action;

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in October showed us that in the absence of an effective international agreement we are on a high-emissions scenario racing towards an inhospitable 5 degree world of escalating extreme weather. It also showed us that if we switch rapidly to a low-carbon pathway it is still technically possible to limit warming to two degrees centigrade.

The responsibility still lies primarily with us in the rich West. For example, the US are responsible for around a third of the worlds carbon emissions, despite the shift of much ‘dirty’ industry towards the East.

We might lose the odd fence, the odd roof tile. There is a lot more at stake.

17 rules for a sustainable economy….

Wendell Berry is a prolific author, activist, poet and also a farmer in Kentucky, USA. He is also a life long Baptist Christian.

He came up with a list of what he saw as the best way to change our destructive Capitalist global economy into something more human scale, more sustainable and in tune with our environment, where ever this might be on the planet.

See what you think- might such a set of rules actually work in the real world?

A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a ‘killing’. It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance.

Wendell Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. These underlying principles could be described as ‘the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities:

1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.

2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.

3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.

4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).

5. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labor saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.

6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.

7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.

8. Strive to supply as much of the community’s own energy as possible.

9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.

10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.

11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.

12. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalized childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.

13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalized. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.

14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.

15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.

16. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.

17. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.