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Activism: ffs, read this – Building Movements, Not Organizations

Building Movements, Not Organizations

Creating a healthy, humane world will require more than new organizational designs. It will take rethinking the nature of organizations entirely….

What might be possible, therefore, if socially minded organizations and businesses acted more like movements than organizations? And what might that look like in practice?
To answer those questions, consider how we might re-define the following three factors: success, leadership, and means.

Here.

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AMEEF – burnishing the mining industry

AMEEF was established in October 1991, as the Ecologically Sustainable Development Process was peaking.  One of the first things they did was a listing of all articles environmental, with a lovely cover.

1991 ameef

Ten years later, it was still going (but would be shut down a bit later).  I stumbled across its magazine, Groundwork, recently.  Not much of interest, but they did get a new logo. And they were run by someone who had done green stuff for the Business Council of Australia back in the early 1990s.  A small world, of course, this green capitalism gig…

2001 ameef logo

and who was stumping up?  The usual suspects…

2001 ameef supporters

Blog- Thurs 6 to Sun 9 July

Thursday 6
Around the park  five times
Two hours at microfiche tracking down crucial newspaper articles for the carbon tax 1994/1995 story. Dead useful, developed a couple of new tricks of how to get the info v. quickly
Good meeting with a research librarian, who was super helpful, and put me onto an academic I am meeting up with on Thursday.
Scanning some important stuff (and also pages from John Howard’s  memoir ‘Lazarus Rising).
Cycled home and had three games of scrabble with dad, won two lost one.
Did lots more  grunt work around the stuff I collected earlier today (this matters – if I have learned anything it is the importance of doing the grunt work as you go!!)
Insomnia!
Reading Anna Krien’s excellent Quarterly Essay on coal, coral and climate change.  We’re toast, and she is almost as good as Elizabeth Kolbert, which is High Praise Indeed.

Friday 7
Insomnia – working on thesis at stupid o’clock.  Then, in the morning,  one game of scrabble with mum Lift into town (raining!)  Two hours in State Library – got the hang of some software/hardware, scanned some useful stuff. And some trainspottery stuff. It’s not always possible to know in advance which is which.
Very little/nothing in Keating biographies about climate, which is telling re: what a low priority it was – I don’t think he got involved at all in the spat over the tax itself.  And forestry took up all the oxygen.
Then fantastic meet up with lovely chap who it turns out I had met once before.  Really inspiring and energising to meet someone on the same wavelength.  He’s into Arendt, and a whole lot of other stuff. Looking forward to introducing him to various folks (inc The Wife).  Walked home, making it ahead of the rain.
Meanwhile, that March tweet by Elon Musk was coming true – the one about building a 100Mw power storage facility ‘or it’s free’.
More work (typing up bits of a book I read, then tracking down the relevant factoids. Never underestimate the willingness/brass neck of trade associations to just MAKE SHIT UP.

Saturday 8
Walked around the park times five, followed by scrabble tournament with my ma.  Played 6, won 4 (one by a single point). Got totally totally thrashed in the first game.  Largely enjoyable. People are strange.
A bus up to somewhere to see a film (not very good) and endure a truly excruciatingly bad meeting.  We will never learn, it seems. It was heart-breakingly bad.  Then long wait for a bus back, but that is a first world problem, and one of my own making (I shoulda left earlier).
In the meantime, read a lot of Mark Butler’s Climate Wars, and will be late getting the review written, but only by a day, so not the end of the world…
Got up to watch some Federer, but fell asleep towards the end of each set…

Sunday 9
Backpain, possibly from all that walking with a backpack…  I never learn.  Watched The Insiders, with Lenore Taylor, Shane Wright and Mike Seccombe (all journos I am referencing in my thesis) talking about the week’s events.  Barnaby Joyce trying and failing to minimise the significance of the Weatherill/Musk announcement.  That %#$* Chris Uhlman ripping into Trump (apparently it went viral in DC).
Turns out my Gunther Anders conversation piece has been popping up in different places. Currently over 28k views, putting it second in my most-viewed conversation pieces. Odd.
Then off to the library. Got a bit of reading of Senate stuff done (from the mid-1990s) and borrowed some books I will probably only read about ten pages of  (e.g.  a Joe Hockey biography. Srsly).  Then went through the print-off of the 94/5 chapter and then made changes, added bits etc. This took hours, but was worth it, because now aged female parental has a hard copy that she is very kindly reading. Must iterate, basically.  This can guide what else I do, research wise.  Actually would like to do a couple of interviews….
Thank goodness I had no money on me today, otherwise I would have bought an anthology of Meanjin for $2 and a zombie comedy memoir for 50c.  Cough, cough.

May-DUP coalition and #climate change

Note: I pitched this a couple of weeks to a news outlet, was told yes/no/maybe and then waited.. and waited.  Further correspondence unanswered, so am posting it here, if only for posterity….

 

Let’s play a game of pretend.  Let’s pretend that the deal wounded Prime Minister Theresa May has stitched with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party lasts for at least one of the five years she mentioned in her speech on Friday morning.

The deal is causing some Tory MPs concern, with some warning party whips that a formal deal would be opposed, thanks to the DUP’s positions on abortion, gay rights and climate change. Basically, they’re worried that the deal will further re-toxify the Tories.

Let’s pretend that she won’t be “gone in six months” , or in fact at “the end of next week”. What might we have to look forward to on climate change, which was predictably absent from the election campaign ? First we should briefly recap the DUP and some of its climate change positions.
Who are the DUP and what actually is their view on climate change

The DUP is a political party in Northern Ireland,  founded in 1971 (at the height of the Troubles) by Ian Paisley, who led it for the next 38 years. It’s now led by Arlene Foster,  who probably came to the attention of most English voters only when the Good Friday power-sharing arrangement was suspended earlier this year when the she had to resign over a scandal about energy efficiency…

The DUP has now got ten members of Parliament. One of them is Sammy Wilson. Back in 2009, as environment minister in Northern he banned UK Government ads which exhorting people to “Act on C02.”

It’s unclear how much the DUP will try to hold up the May government on social and environmental issues though.  For one, they’re probably simply more interested in what happens with the European Union (they’re keen to avoid a ‘hard border’).   The editor of Belfast’s Unionist-leaning daily News Letter Sam McBride says

“They’ve been very pragmatic, are very malleable when they have to be, have governed [in Northern Ireland] for a decade now with Sinn Fein, who are diametrically opposed to them on almost every ideological sphere.”

Secondly, they know that there are powerful Tories who would push back if they tried to push, for example, on gay rights.  Ruth Davidson, leader of the Tories in Scotland, has secured agreement from Theresa May that the DUP deal will not affect LGBTI

So, perhaps they will not have much obvious impact on environmental decisions. Time will tell.

 

What big climate decisions are coming up that might be affected?

The first indication of May’s agenda (if she is indeed still Prime Minister: rumours are swirling) will be the “Queens Speech” on Monday 19th June.  [It was delayed]

This is the formal opening of the new parliament, where the Queen reads out the government’s legislative agenda.

Wags are already predicting it will be the  shortest Queens Speech ever., given so many things can’t be talked about, thanks to pressure not just from DUP, but also marginal MPs.  If climate change gets a more than a passing mention, I’ll eat this …  article, a la Matthew Goodwin

 

In autumn the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will have to keep his promise.  In his spring budget Philip Hammond put off changes to the UK’s carbon price until his autumn 2017 budget. As per Carbon Brief,

“Subjects not mentioned in the budget include flooding, shale gas (a favourite of former chancellor George Osborne) and a diesel scrappage scheme, which campaigners say is needed to tackle the UK’s chronic air pollution. Hammond also did not mention renewables or carbon targets, in a lightweight budget document that clocked just 68 pages, compared to 148 in last year’s version.”

With regard to renewables, there are great concerns about a policy vacuum  following the closure of the Renewables Obligation to new capacity.

According to Adam Vaughan, the Guardian’s energy correspondent, drawing on a Green Alliance  study

“investment in windfarms will fall off a “cliff edge” over the next three years and put the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction targets at risk, with more than £1bn of future investment in renewable energy projects disappeared over the course of 2016, the Green Alliance found when it analysed the government’s latest pipeline of major infrastructure plans.”

“The final closure of the Renewables Obligation to new capacity in 2017 – ending a scheme that’s responsible for 23.4% of all electricity supplied in the UK in 2015-16 – can only mean even fewer renewable generation sites coming online in the next year.”

Another  reportStaying Connected: Key Elements for UK–EU27 Energy Cooperation After Brexit, jointly authored by Chatham House, the University of Exeter and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), argues that there are strong practical reasons for treating energy as a special case during Brexit negotiations. If common ground could be found on energy during the Brexit negotiations, it would, according to the authorts benefit both the UK and the EU,

Sure, but there seems to be a widening gap between what ‘could’ and ‘should’ happen and what seems possible.

Meanwhile, at some point the much delayed (actually AWOL) emissions reduction plan will have to get released at some point.

As for the  post-Brexit positions (given that the UK will no longer be within the EU bloc in the UNFCCC negotiations), well, that’s doesn’t seem near the top of anyone’s to do list.

Basically, there is no end in sight to what academic Malcolm Keay has described as the “ideological limbo” in which the UK

“risks getting the worst of both worlds – without the coordination and direction which could come from a centralised approach or the efficiencies and innovation which might emerge from a more consistent market based policy. UK energy policy [risks being] not be fit for purpose and will fail to meet its key goals, of economic effectiveness, environmental protection and energy security.”

Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide accumulates

Manchester and the ‘what to do’ question…

Manchester is famous the world over for its football, its music and now, sadly, for being the latest in an ever-lengthening list of European cities that have suffered terrrorist atrocities- Madrid, London, Oslo, Brussels, Berlin, Nice, Paris – in recent years. (And globally the list takes in Oklahoma City, Boston, Mumbai, Baghdad and so very many others).

Manchester has had terrorist incidents before, (such as the IRA bombing in 1996) but Monday night’s atrocity is on a different level of horror.

The pattern is familiar now – the attack, the rolling media coverage, the hashtags, the facebook ‘safe status’ search, the heartbreaking circulation of photographs of the missing – young, innocent people – the tales of heroism, the diligent professional work of the emergency services, the skill of the medical staff, followed by speculation about the perpetrators and their motives, the resolute sombre speeches of national leaders, and the solidarity expressed by other politicians, especially those from cities recently afflicted.

Also there are vigils. Last night thousands of us gathered in front of the Town Hall for a much needed vigil and show of solidarity, unity. The city had been on edge all day. Sirens and helicopters, people compulsively checking updates on social media and news feeds. The now all-too-familiar messages of solidarity from other cities that have been the subject of attack in the recent past. And when (not, sadly, if) the next attack happens, then Manchester’s leaders will themselves be signing condolence books and sending tweets.

I was with my wife and friends, and although we heard some of the poem, we heard little of the speeches of assorted political and religious leaders (it was a bit like that opening scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian – blessed are the cheesemakers).

Of course, the words were not the point. The point was that Manchester rejects the idiocy of hate, divisions based on class, religion or race.  Manchester is cosmopolitian, and very determined to say that way.

What can we do?

The blood banks are full to overflowing – for now. But giving blood is a really good thing to do, part of the gift relationship. A work colleague wrote yesterday “Fear of needles not withstanding, I tried to give blood this morning because I am O-. However, they are a bit overwhelmed and can’t register me yet. I should have registered before. Anyway, if you are a registered, universal donor, you are exactly who they are looking for right now!”

Perhaps put a note in your diary for a fortnight, or a month’s time from now?

I personally don’t think the choice of target – where young women gather to hear about women’s power – was an accident. Neither do people like Australian commentator Greg Sheridan. So, continuing to support increased opportunities for everyone (while recognising the historical and systemic barriers that women have faced)

Contesting some of the ways that this atrocity will be used. I think there are two things here. Firstly, people outside the UK (and within it) have some very weird (by that I mean “wrong”) ideas about how things are. Remember the terrorism “expert” who claimed in 2015 that Birmingham was a ‘no-go’ zone?

To quote a wise friend

please push back against people with very transparent agendas who will use this event to talk about Manchester as some kind of “war zone”, or make references to “no-go zones” where lots of South Asian immigrants live. I’ve already seen people pushing that narrative, and it couldn’t be more wrong. Manchester is a beautiful city full of sports, music, and history, and it is made all the better by its diversity….. Muslim taxi drivers offered free rides to get people away from the arena. Muslim doctors worked overtime to help the victims…. And today, as the smoke is clearing, people are dusting themselves off, helping and comforting the victims, and getting on with their lives. Manchester is resilient and it will survive this.”

My wife, who speaks both Arabic and acerbic spent time yesterday doing precisely this kind of ‘push back’ work on Twitter and Facebook, against those who want to stir up hatred and stupidity.  It’s a Sisyphean challenge of course. Or perhaps, more like cleaning out the Augean stables.

Secondly, the attack may be used as part of the ongoing power grab by the State, for ever more control, surveillance. This is really tricky, because on the one hand there is a need for more frontline staff, but at the same time swelling budgets end up swelling the scope of the state’s reach into private lives. Troops on the streets is, at the very least, ‘unsettling.’  Those who try to exchange freedom for safety often end up with neither.

When you think climate change, think “dam”…. #3MT

Here’s me giving my spiel in the “Three Minute Thesis” heat at University of Manchester

Here’s the slide I used.

hoover dam3

 

And… I’m through to the Three Minute Thesis Final to be held on Wednesday June 7, between 2pm and 3:30pm in University Place Lecture Theatre A. You can register for a (free!) ticket

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/university-of-manchester-three-minute-thesis-final-2017-tickets-34791162303.