Sunday, January 27, 2008

Councils tree (stump?) policy

Yet more evidence that Bristol City Council just doesn't care about and prioritise our environment (as if flogging off allotments and parklands, considering plans to mass incinerate waste, atrocious air quality, tremendous congestion and a very poor public transport system... aren't already enough)! Bristol Street Trees campaigners show how the council is cutting down large numbers of big trees and is often not then planting replacements - see the 'stumps' slideshow/photos on their website and you may recognise a stump near you! We know from past actions that they have not got their act together:

Adult learning services well worth the money: dont cut funding!

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Concerns about loss of funding for the Bristol Adult Learning Service are certainly justified. I see that Green Cllr Charlie Bolton has received an appeal to oppose loss of funding and is minded to put in a budget amendment:

I certainly hope he can and does do this. Services in Knowle will be one the big losers if there is loss of money. The activities undertaken are really important for personal development and family and neighbourhood life.

Gamblers and 'market forces'

I make no apologies for reproducing below the whole of Tony Probert's letter 'Our economic future in the hands of gamblers' from the Bristol Evening Post, Friday 25 Jan. I've done it because I share his view exactly and have considered posting on it several times. What is going on in Davos (and in particular in France at bank Societe Generale) at present provides ample evidence to back what he says.

What a bizarre economic system we live under. Our very livelihoods depend upon the reactions of "the market", as though it were a supernatural entity hovering somewhere in an ethereal vacuum untouched or influenced by mankind.Let's get it straight - "the market" consists of "human" gamblers who wager vast amounts of money in their quest to make a quick buck.When they get cold feet, they withdraw their money by selling their holdings back to "the market" - very much like a poker player throwing in his hand.Their withdrawals are rapidly matched by their fellow gamblers, and very quickly panic sets in and the bottom falls out of "the market".This has been happening over the past month or two, and the effects are now being felt around the world. with the word "recession" being repeatedly heard.The media have been talking up a recession since the sub-prime mortgage problems emerged in America last September, and now their prophesies have borne fruit with the world's stock markets plummeting as more and more "gamblers" pull out.The upshot of all this is that millions and millions of people who have never gambled in this way are subjected to what is euphemistically called "market forces", and lose their jobs as the share price of their companies falls to such an extent as to make trading impossible.Meanwhile, until a warm feeling seeps back into the gamblers' bones and they start gambling again, the taxpayer gets stung to the tune of billions of pounds as governments use their money to subsidise the gamblers' losses in an attempt to lure them back to gamble their money once more.Margaret Thatcher once said, "you can't buck the markets", and this situation will continue until governments acknowledge that they have been elected to look after the interests of all of the people, and not just those who - through their reckless urge for riches - dictate economic policy across the world.

Tony Probert,Locking,near Weston-super-Mare.

Attenborough: broadcaster who has done more to encourage respect for the natural world than anyone

Great respect, even reverence, for the natural world is of course a cornerstone of being green and no broadcaster has done more to encourage this in people than David Attenborough. The interview with him conducted by Jeremy Paxman in this week's Radio Times is fascinating. What a life and career he's having - certainly an inspiration to me (and I'm sure to very many others), especially when I was 17 yrs old and avidly watching Life on Earth in 1979. The interview of course covered his new series Life in Cold Blood, which I shall certainly watch regularly. He was also asked about life, death, consciousness and a Creator - and responded powerfully, supporting naturalism and not supernaturalism:

You wonder what a life spent marvelling at the world about us has taught him about life. Is there - the only big question - a purpose? "None whatsoever!" he exclaims, leaning forward and banging the table.

On not crediting a Creator when commenting on wonderful pictures of hummingbirds:

He has drafted a standard reply [to letters], which asks why it is that people who suggest he should give credit to a Creator Lord always cite hummingbirds, butterflies or roses.

"On the other hand, I tend to think of an innocent little child sitting on the bank of a river in Africa, who's got a worm boring through his eye that can render him blind before he is eight. Now, presumably you think this Lord created this worm, just as he created the hummingbird. I find that rather tricky."

On death:

But what does he imagine will happen to him when he dies? "Oh nothing." So he's with Bertrand Russell, who said 'I believe that when I die my body will rot'? "Absolutely." Does that trouble him? "Not at all."

On whether consciousness distinguishes humans from other species (and on vegetarianism):

...he doesn't even accept the distinction, asking how we can prove that monkeys dont have it. In that case, why isn't he a vegetarian? "Because I'm designed to be an omnivore. I have teeth for chewing and the length of my gut is quite clearly not that of a vegetarian. But as a sentient human I ought to make sure that what I eat has been raised in a 'humane' way." Why? "Because its unfitting that you should dictate the living conditions of another sentient organism."

Well said David!! Certainly couldn't have put it better myself!!

Dont displace bikes and walkers with buses, displace cars

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Turning the Bristol to Bath cyclepath into a major bus route is basically a proposal to build a road (see BB). Bikes, like walking are very easily above buses in the hierarchy of sustainable transport. So, if buses are to displace anything they should displace modes of transport lower in the hierarchy, like cars. Will they be planning to displace those nasty pedestrians, walking on all those pavements all over the city, with buses next?

Good posting on the Bristol Greengage site on this topic.