Grim Now, Grimmer Later: Time to Act

Official launch on Tuesday July 7th — ‘Solving the Grim Equation’, published by Cambria Books and written by me, Pat Dodd Racher

Upstairs at The Angel, Rhosmaen Street, Llandeilo, at 7.30pm.

Author and One Planet Council patron David Thorpe will lead a question and answer session and discussion.

The Grim Equation means that increased consumption now will result in lower consumption in the future.

Exciting pioneer projects in Wales show that families can reduce consumption dramatically and use less energy, and still live happily. Pioneers have had to battle against hostility in local government, but thanks to the Welsh Government’s ‘One Wales One Planet’ policy the chances of projects being approved are increasing.

The One Planet Development policy, and guidance in Technical Advice Note 6, and the establishment in Wales of the One Planet Council, can give Wales a leading role in the inevitable One Planet future — because we have only one planet on which to live.

xxxxx

The longer we wait, the more uncomfortable the fall

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Green Diaspora Grows

Reckon it’s important that Greens of all hues work together for a cleaner, fairer, more sustainable world — and there are more shades of Green than one might think:

http://westwalesnewsreview.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/what-shade-of-green-is-best/

The variety of visible shades of Green suggests that concerns about environmental protection, wealth inequalities, bullying by big business, and climate change, are widely shared and are forcing their way up the political agenda — at last.

 


The Nobbling of Low Impact Development Pioneers

It’s all about the knowledge — some knowledge is valued by the Establishment, some knowledge is discounted as low status, of little import.

The knowledge required for successful low-impact development — knowledge about living far more self-sufficiently than it usual in profit-driven industrial societies — usually falls into the second category and is therefore not regarded by policy-makers or planners as legitimate.

See post on  https://westwalesnewsreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/low-impact-development-hampered-by-illegitimate-knowledge/


The Week’s Environmental News

The week’s round-up of environmental news reblogged from Under the Pecan Leaves:

http://mylandrestorationproject.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/environment-news-613-619/

 

 


Environmental News Worldwide Round-up

Helpful round-up of the week’s environmental news from around the world, from Debra on Under the Pecan Leaves:

http://mylandrestorationproject.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/environment-news-this-week-416-422/

News includes marches against Monsanto, two counties in Oregon ban GMOs, wildfires take hold in Arizona, waste water from fracking damages streams, radioactive water from Fukushima being released into the Pacific, and a lot more.

 


Living in a time of contraction: random notes from a corner of rural Wales

In the Co-op supermarket, people’s trollies containing fewer processed foods than hitherto. More vegetables, fruit, bread, less confectionery and cake. That’s what it looks like. Also signs of supply strains, good quality fresh produce shifts fast, and there isn’t enough for everyone.

Quiet roads outside commuting times. In the evening I can drive 10 miles back from nearest town without seeing another vehicle. We only drive when we have to.

Raising money for good causes. Less easy than it was, but then I am not very persuasive. Not much spare cash around.

Empty shops. Llandovery, several miles to the east, reflects the lack of local spending power. Even the pound shop has closed, the convenience store across the street, the seconds clothing shop near the (too expensive) car park, a good bakery and patisserie, HSBC bank, the local museum. The Post Office is scheduled to close. The closures have come at a time when people can afford to travel less, when subsidies are being pulled from bus services, when in our part of the world road maintenance spending is to be cut by a third.

Official policies continue to favour centralisation, but they are behind the curve of reality. Most politicians still seem to be living in the expectation of renewed economic growth which will pay for yet more centralisation.

However, we have already monetised previous voluntary, unpaid activities, such as care of the elderly and childcare, to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures. There is not much left to monetise, so it was no surprise that in the Budget last Wednesday the Chancellor freed pensioners to spend their funds just as they like, instead of having to buy an annuity, or enrol in a tightly regulated income drawdown plan, the situation until now. Some new pensioners will be cautious, no doubt, but there are bound to be others who are tempted to spend – and that spending will inflate GDP. But is it wise in the long term? What happens when the spendthrift retirees run out of money and are subsisting on the new universal pension of about £7,300 a year, at today’s prices? Will that level of state pension be affordable? Will it be allowed to diminish in real value, so that pensioners sink into real poverty?

Short-term thinking has got us into a real mess. We are entering the era of resource limits without a strategy for fair distribution, without even a strategy for informing people about the likely trajectories of decline.

But then, for those who have scrambled to the top of the crumbling pyramid, the fate of the people below them is not always an important priority.


‘What I Did in my Holidays’: scenarios in 2030

by Pat Dodd Racher

From the Welsh countryside

That popular teacher’s standby topic at the start of term, ‘What I Did in my Holidays’, supposes both that people have holidays and fit ‘activities’ into them. These suppositions are 20th century for the UK, if not for the emerging middle classes in China and elsewhere in Asia.

The news yesterday from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, that real wages (after allowing for inflation) in the UK fell faster between 2008 and 2013 than at any other time in modern history, tells us that most people have less money to spend on holidays. The squeeze is not going to end: for formerly affluent workers in the West, globalisation is a grinding process of levelling down.

In austerity-heavy Greece, the unemployed and/or unpaid are going back, if they can, to the small farms that their parents or grandparents left, when cities were a more enticing prospect. Barter has re-emerged as an important aspect of the economy. In this world, holidays cease to become consumer purchases and are special days punctuating the working calendar.

‘Tourism’ in Wales will change dramatically, too. The short-break market, on which much of scenic rural Wales has a heavy reliance, will shrink. Problem is, policy-makers still expect growth, and even among the post-war babies with their private pensions, calls on their resources to help children buy houses and grandchildren to buy university courses, mean that overall they have less to spend on themselves.

What is the point, then, of encouraging more hotels and guesthouses to open in quiet market towns, rather than developing policies to counteract the perverse impacts of globalisation, by supporting local production for local consumption, production of energy, food, artisan manufactures, remodelling and repairs. Current rules mean that subsidies for local production have to be given voluntarily, by individuals and social enterprises, because the corporation-dominated World Trade Organisation insists on ‘free (unsubsidised) markets’ (except for the manufacture of arms and other ‘essentials’ for the security of the corporate state).

Back to ‘What I Did in my Holidays’. Suppose that in the year 2030, as a decidedly elderly person, I went to Llandovery to stay with my granddaughter.

Scenario 1: The slow train from Swansea clattered over a poorly maintained track, but the embankments were not dangerously overgrown because work parties from the local prison kept them clear. In Llandovery it was market day when I arrived, much of the merchandise transported in electric trucks, some by horse and cart. The high cost of imported foods had persuaded the Welsh government, now in the North West Europe Federation, to prioritise allotments and orchards for communities to grow their own food.  The Georgian houses around the Market Square accommodated small shops and workshops. My granddaughter worked in the rural university, which occupied the former premises of Pantycelyn High School (closed 2015) and Llandovery College, which became the nucleus of the new university. I heard lots of Welsh spoken as I wandered around, and some Dutch and Norwegian, but the speakers were attached to the university, not tourists.

Scenario 2: Long and bumpy journey by cart from the rail terminus in Swansea, because the Heart of Wales line had been abandoned in 2020. The roads, damaged by frequent floods and winter icing, discouraged travel. Llandovery was down-at-heel because few residents could afford building materials or paint, which was in short supply anyway. No school now, and certainly no university, so this was a village of the old, like the little communities I remembered from the Adriatic islands of Yugoslavia-that-was in the 1960s, where donkeys were beasts of burden and their owners, dressed in black, toiled alone in the fields. Rural Wales had suffered badly in the Siberian flu epidemic of 2022, and farmers struggled from season to season in the unpredictable and often stormy weather. Llandovery was such a backwater that the little community was largely left to its own devices. My granddaughter was the district nurse, the only one in the whole of North East Carmarthenshire, with a crushingly heavy workload. Her employer, the Central Wales Health Board, owed her five months’ wages.

And I was the only tourist in sight.