Sunday, July 20, 2014

Super exponential growth of atmospheric CO2

Graphs taken from forthcoming book -  The Vortex of Violence, and why we are loosing the battle against climate change.

Take atmospheric CO2 data from Manua Loa, and plot a straight line through it and you can see more clearly that the rate of increase increases with time:

As all the things driving the graph are exponential such as economic growth, fossil fuel consumption, population growth, etc then it stands to reason that an exponential function should be able to model it which will be of the general form CO2=Aekt, however:

The blue line, shows the actual data that has been smoothed and the red line is the best fit exponential data.  The red line looks straight-ish, because of the values used in the best fit exponential function, but these values represent the best approximation that an exponential function can give to the data over this range and it is clearly unable to provide a decent fit, with an increasing underestimate with recent data.  So it leads to the proposition that k in the equation above is an increasing function of time.

So we plot k against time. To calculate k for any date, we need just two data points on the curve. One of these we fix as of today and the other starts at 1959 and slides towards today's data point. From these two points we can easily calculate k for each specific date. If the data was a perfect exponential curve, then the value of k would not be affected by our choice of points, and that is largely what we see until 2009. However, after 2009 then k starts growing explosively. This lays out the nightmare of super exponential growth; exponential growth on exponential growth. 

Finally given the changing value of k, we can plot how the date at which we expect atmospheric CO2 to go through 450 ppm for any date and we see this coming forwards. So based on the data back in 1960 we would have expected to go through 450 ppm around about 2042, which was bad enough. But recalculating this using data over the last couple of years suggests that we could be going through 450 ppm in about 2022.

After 450 ppm, the worst nightmares of runaway climate change are impossible to avoid. Given these graphs, any talk about getting to 350ppm is pie in the sky.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

To Paul Shulte - following his defence of Trident at the WMD awareness debate

Dear Paul,

It was fascinating listening to your talk at the WMDAwareness debate on Wednesday. There is much that I can agree on. You are right to say that China and North Korea are embarking on nuclear blackmail. You are right to question the emphasis on getting young people to solve a problem that will kill us all and which the old people have caused. You are equally right to advise that we should  relieve ourselves of the dangerously folly of thinking if we should do good, then those around who are incentivised to do harm will also do good.

However, as I reflect on the experience that you brought to the debate, especially your first hand experience of arms control negotiations and working with the MOD, I cannot help but think that the intensity of thought that you have had to pursue down these avenues has blinded you from exploring other options and even recognising the  inherent dilemmas and contradictions that exist with the current government policy of pursuing a Trident replacement.

The most serious of these is the dilemma of climate change. I pointed out to you that we are on track to exceed 450 ppm sometime between 2020 and 2030. Atmospheric CO2 has continuously increased since accurate measurements were first started in 1957 and the recent investments in renewables have had no impact on this. When we get to 450ppm it is game over. At this level the worst nightmares of runaway climate change become impossible to avoid. Even today, if no further CO2 emissions are made, the situation is critical with key tipping points such as the Arctic Ice cap collapse and the subsequent methane releases upon us. When I  pointed this out, you responded with a shrug of your shoulders as if it was someone else's problem.

It is extraordinary that you can take this position. At a minimum, the resulting sea levels rises mean that Faslane will be under water along with the US submarine bases in Georgia and Washington. More seriously, many of the cities of the US, the UK and rest of world will be similarly submerged. Climate change also means that the global economy will collapse within the operating lifetimes of the next generation of submarines that you are supporting. When this was pointed out, you again shrugged your shoulders.

To have any chance of avoiding the worse case apocalyptical nightmares of climate change we have to transform our political systems, find ways to safely de-industrialise and eliminate as best as we can those pieces of today's infrastructure such as nuclear weapons that will become an eternal liability for the survivors. This needs policies such as carbon taxation or carbon rationing that are the antithesis of the growth based policies of today. To do this, we must co-operate with our economic and military  competitors. It will be impossible to do this when we are locked in nuclear weapon standoffs. The flip side of this, like it or not, is that Trident is dependent on the taxation that can only be delivered from a growing economy dependent on fossil fuel. Our decision to pursue Trident forces our competitors to replicate our growth based policies. The result is that all sides must force growth against strict ecological limits and in so doing create a race to the bottom. 

You suggested in your talk that a transformative event such as a limited nuclear war or accidental detonation would perhaps bring nations to the negotiating table prepared for a different discourse. Historical evidence would suggest this is optimistic nonsense. The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not drive the world in fear to negotiated positions on nuclear weapons; instead within a year the US forced the Marshal Islanders from their topical paradise at Bikini Atoll and then destroyed it with atomic bomb tests and Russia upped their efforts to get the bomb. Since then, the world has become littered with the detritus of nuclear weapons.  Mayak blew up in 1957; Chernobyl, whose safety was compromised by having to produce plutonium,  irradiated the Ukraine and Belarus; depleted uranium has left an eternal legacy in Iraq and nuclear weapons tests have left millions of victims suffering from cancer and birth defects. Not one of these events caused any reflection by the world's leaders on the rationality of holding nuclear weapons and threatening nuclear war. Likewise destructive climate change events such as Hurricane Sandy have not resolved the world's leaders to create a zero carbon economy.

Instead of the rational response to these issues, the irrational response takes hold which is to increase competitive strength in the face of adversity, irrespective of the impossibility of all sides being able to do this. It forces a situation where the sides that will weaken first, must strike prematurely before they become too weak.

This is exactly what we did in the 2nd Gulf War where we had to strike Iraq before our economy had become too weakened by rising oil prices. The same dynamic drove Germany's entrance into the First World War with their pre-emptive attack on France and execution of the Schlifen plan because its economy was being weakened in relation to Russia by the race it found itself in with Britain to build the Dreadnaughts.  If we follow your prescription of  maintaining the status quo of increasing our military competitive advantage in a time of weakening economic circumstances, then either we or our competitors will be forced into a set of circumstances conducive to a first nuclear strike.

The nuclear trap that we are in makes the legally binding agreement the UK made to an 80% cut in CO2 emissions pious nonsense. To be clear, nuclear submarines do not just materialise at the end of  slip ways. They are the apex of a country's military industrial complex that encompasses everything from the manufacture of steel to satellites. Once we decide to build Trident we must keep this infrastructure in place and create an environment that keeps it growing. The subsequent carbon footprint is so big that DECC did not even know where to start when we asked that they quantify it in accordance the low carbon transition plan agreed in the last parliament. We also asked that they extend this analysis to cover the economic activity necessary to raise the taxes. Your response to the morality of the carbon foot print of Trident when I raised it, was again to shrug your shoulders and dismiss it.

The brutal reality is that once we sign the purchase order for Trident, we will be forced to violate international agreements on climate change and become another pariah state in the eyes of the world. The history of climate change has already demonstrated this. The US would not sign the first Kyoto agreement because the carbon cut backs would have constrained its military too much. The same conclusion was evident to the other nuclear weapon states who were as proactive as the US in their own ways to mendaciously undermine this agreement.  The same dynamic pertains today.

The alternative that we are left with is to link climate change agreements with nuclear non proliferation agreements.  The argument now becomes that nations must collectively create the security environment necessary to cut back greenhouse gases or else face destruction through climate change. As the weakest member of the P-5 with all our nuclear eggs in a single Trident basket while being simultaneously exposed to the greenhouse emissions of other larger economic blocks, it is in our advantage to advocate this position. In fact, the circumstances dictate, that it is the only rational position that we can take.

If we do not do this, we will continue the pursuit of nuclear weapons against all logic and reason. This requires a level of dictatorial arrogance and cognitive dissonance that can only come about through the possession of great power. This is were we are today. The electorate of this country have never had any say in the decision to pursue nuclear weapons as all the  main political parties have supported its replacement in the past and continue to do so today. Instead of a clear choice being given to the people and subjected to a thorough public debate, the nuclear decisions is made by a small group of appointed experts such as yourself who must myopically distort the reality around them to justify the need to maintain the ability to destroy the planet through nuclear weapons even though the industrial races that we are trapped in means we will destroy it first through climate change.

Kevin Lister

Monday, July 07, 2014

Response to BASIC (British American Security Information Council)

Dear Sirs,

The concluding report on Trident has already met with much justified criticism (here and here) so the intent of this email is not to duplicate that which has already been made, but to extend the argument against Trident along an important direction which is avoided by politicians of all political parties in all nuclear weapon states. This relates to the nexus of nuclear weapons and climate change and there is a global silence on this.

To put this in the context of the commissioners report, climate change is only mentioned twice. Their discussion is limited to the statement,  "the effects of climate change and major damage to fragile ecosystems upon which we depend could all exacerbate pressures towards conflict and insecurity." As such the uncertainties of climate change are then used as justification for a Trident replacement. However, this highly superficial consideration of it avoids recognition of the timescales and the impacts that we face as a society, both nationally and globally.

The following three indisputable facts are absent from your consideration, yet they must form the framework for any decision on nuclear weapon deployments.
  1. There is compelling evidence that atmospheric CO2 started increasing super exponentially from 2009. Given this increased rate, we will exceed 450 ppm some time between 2020 and 2030. At this level the worst nightmares of runaway climate change will be impossible to avoid. 
  2. The resulting global heating will be so severe that a total economic collapse will occur long before 2050.
  3. New evidence on the instability of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice sheets suggests that sea level rises well in excess of 20 feet will be experienced before the end of this century. This will wipe out the global economic base that has not already collapsed from severe global heating.  It is a statement of the obvious to say that along with this will go the submarines bases at Faslane and elsewhere in the world.
It is against this background of certain ecological and economic collapse by 2050, that the commissioners report attempts to justify the decision to procure Trident so we can maintain the ability to destroy the planet with nuclear weapons long after we have destroyed it through climate change.

In this context there are three fundamental questions that any democracy should be forced to collectively consider before proceeding with nuclear weapons deployment of any kind, these are:

  1. Will climate change make nuclear disarmament more difficult?
  2. As economies collapse from climate change will nuclear weapon states be able to afford to maintain their weapons systems safe from attack and accident?
  3. On the assumption that nuclear weapons are not used, will they become an eternal liability for the survivors struggling to make ends meet in the new hostile and dystopian environment that climate change will bring?
To some extent your commissioners have answered the first question with their conclusion that the insecurity inherent with climate change makes the case for Trident. However, what they have not acknowledged is that climate change will continue to get much worse as time progress and will do so with increasing rapidity.  By their logic, it means that if  we do not have the courage to seize the slender opportunity in front of us today to rid ourselves of nuclear weapons it will not return in the future.  Time will expose their strategy of  a "glide path towards disarmament" to be little more than a set of complex words designed to sound plausible.

In respect to the second question, all the main economic blocks are already struggling with maintaining energy supplies. This is driving recognition of the fundamental impossibility of maintaining exponential growth in a constrained world. The banking crisis of 2008 warned the global economy was inherently fragile.  

Another similar collapse is inevitable within the lifetime of the next generation of nuclear submarines and there is far less prospect that an economic recovery will be engineered through  increased taxation and quantitative easing. In its aftermath, the things that we take for granted will disappear such as the conventional defence forces necessary to protect the only submarine we will have on patrol and a political system free of extreme right wing tendencies. The confluence of these could lead to an unpredictable set of events that may lead to a premature launch.

To answer the third question above, we need to consider the strategy that the world's nuclear weapons states are collectively, but silently, working towards. This is that the possession of nuclear weapons prevents war, but the planet is destroyed through the collective failure to make climate change agreements.  This "best case" of avoiding nuclear war is the Easter Island scenario where the few survivors of today's civilisation are left to wonder at the scale of the nuclear weapons systems left behind, especially the ballistic submarines, and the inherent madness of the building these in the face of the overwhelming evidence of economic and ecological collapse. The ballistic submarines thus replicate the history of Easter Island, where huge statues were built as statements of hubris and vanity in the face of collapse.  Those that are struggling to survive in a future roasting environment with little food, water or energy will also have to decommission nuclear submarines; a feat that today all the nuclear weapon states are struggling with in much kinder circumstances.

In a circular argument, where climate change forces difficult questions that make it impossible to pursue nuclear weapons, then nuclear weapons also make it impossible to achieve the climate change agreements that we need to avoid the worst nightmares of the future.

The fundamental dilemma all nuclear weapons states face is that to maintain a credible nuclear force, be it a force of one or one thousand nuclear warheads on deployment, a massive military industrial complex must be maintained. As well as building the actual nuclear weapon systems, it must also provide the conventional defence screen consisting of fighter jets, patrols planes, anti-submarine warfare technology etc. In an ultimate irony, the purpose of these becomes to defend the nuclear forces to ensure a second strike can be launched rather than to defend people, because there is no defence against a determined nuclear attack. The military industrial complex that delivers this equipment must be continually feed with new streams of contracts at increasing values otherwise the industrial complex collapses. Thus a key objective in the initial gate document which justified to parliament  the early procurement of material for Trident was that, "We must retain the capability to design, build and support nuclear submarines and meet the commitment for a successor to the Vanguard Class submarines." In other words, we build Tridents to continue building Tridents.

The enormous cost of this needs to be covered by taxes, and for this some £500 billion of additional excess economic activity is needed which requires energy from fossil fuels and is the antithesis of making the urgent cut backs we need to tackle the soaring greenhouse gas overburden.  Thus once the decision is made to proceed with Trident, it becomes impossible to make the climate change agreements to save the planet. In this context Trident is more dangerous than we ever first thought and it is the ultimate Faustian bargain.

Your commissioners have also failed to acknowledge in their report that the public spending that will be needed on Trident must be made at the same times as scarce public funds must be diverted to building a low carbon economy and mitigating the effects of climate change such as flooding and storm damage. This conflict will arise as tax receipts simultaneously drop through energy price rises.

The impossibility of meeting these conflicting challenges is the reason that much of the negotiations at climate change conferences takes place around the positions of the nuclear weapons states and their need to maintain large military industrial complexes and competitive and expanding economies to fund these.

The commissioners report has also failed to recognise the democratic deficit associated with the nuclear weapons. Virtually every opinion poll in the country shows an overwhelming majority is against the decision to replace Trident, yet all the main political parties support replacement, giving the people of this country about as much say in the decision as those in North Korea.  In these circumstances, it is not acceptable that small bands of experts cast judgement on the decision to proceed or not.

On a fundamental issue such as this, where the electorate is denied a say at the ballot box, then in the interests of democracy, it should be made by a referendum subject to public debate where the three main questions above can are debated in the open.

Ultimately our best defence against nuclear attack and nuclear blackmail is to demonstrate the total irrationality of pursuing these weapon systems in the face of economic and ecological collapse and to ensure that the subsequent debate is heard throughout the world. Instead, we have done the opposite and kept quiet on this painful issue, thus giving the green light for other nations to develop their nuclear arsenals in response.
As part of this new dialogue, we should be prepared to call the bluff of potential enemies. The government of Russia are as aware as us that the use nuclear weapons on any significant scale would be suicidal through either radioactive fall out, nuclear winter or economic collapse.

The alternative is to what we are doing. It is to build at huge expense a nuclear force whilst the nation is effectively bankrupt that will never provide secure protection from nuclear attack and merely encourage our competitors to reciprocate. It drives a race to the bottom where rational decisions on climate change can never taken.

This is of such importance, that a full public debate must be held, instead of the silence that is largely surrounding this issue today. I would challenge any member of BASIC's commission who has concluded we must pursue the Trident replacement to a public debate, and I am sure many people better than me would also be willing.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister BSc, MBA, MSc

(Contributing author to "The World in Chains"  ISBN number:978-1-910021-03-3, Luath Press)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Extract from book - austerity driven nuclear war

The insanity of pursuing nuclear weapons in the face of economic collapse
(Extract from coming book The Vortex of Violence and why we are losing the battle against climate change)

Against the background of economic collapse within the operational life time of the next generation of nuclear submarines, the UK is about to place itself in the worst possible position of all nuclear weapons states. Its Trident programme distills down to concentrating all the nuclear eggs in a single basket as the plan of purchasing four submarines guarantees only one submarine on patrol at any one time as determined by the timetabling of refit, repair and crew rotations. In effect it means a £100bn of investment is locked into a single submarine on patrol. As austerity cuts deepen, maintaining the level of protection it needs will be increasingly difficult and the UK's single nuclear deterrent submarine will set sail into the unknown with little idea if a silent  Russian Akula attack submarine is sitting on its tail or not. If a conflict does occur, the UK's entire operational nuclear deterrence and the decades of investment attached to it can easily be wiped out in a single torpedo strike. This is a totally flawed and dangerous strategy. No other nuclear weapons nation has its deterrence dependent on a single weapon system as the UK does. It is beyond credulity that such a system is being developed today in a world made unstable by climate change, energy shortages and technology races. It also makes the UK's pretensions of being a credible nuclear armed nation nonsense, and a nonsense that will cost £100 billion to maintain.

The result of this combination of a dangerous military strategy and economic hardship is the entirely plausible scenario that in a world moving towards the edge of ecological collapse a Trident submarine could easily be forced into a premature launch decision. We can easily envisage this - a Trident submarine commander in doubt about the effectiveness of the weakened antisubmarine warfare capabilities that he needs to guarantee his security may believe correctly or incorrectly that an enemy submarine is on his tail. If his submarine is the only one on patrol, he knows that he is the custodian of the entire UK nuclear deterrence as all other submarines can be destroyed within seconds while in port, putting him under increasing pressure to act on any order. Having only one patrolling submarine could become an increasingly likely mode of operation as funding cuts eventually make in-roads on the finances of submarine operations. The commander would also be aware that his failure to fire if the order comes through when the country is under threat or under attack would render the concept of deterrence a failure and he and his crew have been drilled to fire without question for this very reason. But the order may not come through if his communication with headquarters has broken down. This could come from any one of a long list of possible causes that may emerge in the event of an economic melt down such as a wide spread power or equipment failure or if in the early stages of conflict a high altitude nuclear burst is fired to disable electronic systems with its electromagnetic pulse as part of what is intended to be a limited exchange. In the terrifying silence that he is plunged into, he would have to decide with his executive officer if he should fire. His dilemma is to fire and kill one hundred million people and precipitate a war that will end the world or don't fire and risk having the country's entire nuclear deterrent which is the apex of over one hundred years of development by the military industrial complex destroyed in seconds by a submarine that may or may not be on his tail. He will know that if he fires one missile, he must fire them all because one missile being fired will betray the location of his submarine. Fortunately for him, but less fortunate for the rest of humanity, his submarine is designed to allow continuous rapid fire of all missiles with only twenty seconds between each one. He may or may not know that if he fires his missiles, the fire storms he will start will be adequate to plunge the north hemisphere into a nuclear winter which will destroy any life that does not get killed in the initial nuclear exchange. He does not have the option to predetermine not to fire in a situation of ambiguity because that would render the concept of deterrence a failure. He will look at the sealed letter of last resort that every submarine captain has from the prime minister to be opened in the event of his or her death being perceived by the Trident captain. Though nobody knows what is in these letters, other than the prime ministers that have written them, it is unlikely that this will offer any categorical guidance not to fire, because the concept of deterrence requires the willingness to fire once total destruction has been delivered to the country. In the midst of this silence and surrounded by doubt, the captain would not have to remain waiting indefinitely for an electronic authentication command from government to launch because Trident is designed as a second strike weapon system; this means that the captain along with his executive officer must have launch authority to be able to fire at an aggressor following their attack on the UK even if it has destroyed the entire country. The result is nuclear war driven by spending cuts. It is not just the UK that could find itself instigating a budget driven war, but every other nuclear weapons nation can end up in the same situation. They must all accept the folly of putting so much destructive power in the hands of so few people and at the end of such a fragile communication channel, which is of course the essence of all nuclear forces. Likewise, they should accept the folly of forcing other nations to do the same.

The US Navy’s Congressional Liaison Office admitted that with the cooperation of only three other officers a Trident skipper could launch an unauthorized attack - an attack equal to 6,500 Hiroshimas. Given the confined environment and the morbid atmosphere that can dangerously distort reality on a nuclear submarines at the best of times, this situation can be made very much worse when it is operating in a sub optimal environment driven by economic collapse.

The technology race that characterises the strategic environment that attack and ballistic nuclear submarines operate within will drive exponentially increasing defence budgets as it is relatively feasible for a new aspect of stealth or sensor technology to be deployed by one side that totally negates the entire investment of the other. A UK submariner has already claimed that on one occasion a Trident submarine was unable to be put to sea because the track of a Russian attack submarine was lost in the Atlantic; thus for the next generation of Tridents to be a truly effective deterrent a massive increase in anti submarine warfare capability will be needed at a time that such cost increases would become increasingly impossible. Step changes in technology are so unpredictable that establishing any long term budget with meaningful accuracy is impossible. Thus Greenpeace’s £100bn estimate for the Trident programme could be a significant understatement in the event of a technological step change by any potential aggressor.

This forces recognition of another of the unpleasant disconnects from reality associated with nuclear weapons; the purpose of the defence forces of countries with nuclear weapons are not to protect the populations against a nuclear attack from an opponent, but to provide protection for their own nuclear forces so they can attack the enemy. The impossibility of providing any worthwhile protection against a nuclear weapon attack makes this unpalatable truth unavoidable. If Russia was determined to launch a nuclear attack on the west, it can do so at any time. Its triad of nuclear forces is as effective as NATOs in achieving this terrifying objective. Even if by some miracle all its nuclear ballistic submarines were sunk within minutes of hostilities breaking out, its aircraft and mobile strategic ballistic missile launchers can still rain down enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Western economy. Scale alone, combined with the target rich environment of a complex industrial society, ensures the objective of providing total destruction can always be met; out of the thousands of warheads at their disposal it takes only a few these to reach their targets to cause sufficient mass destruction to bring any opponent to the point of surrender. Likewise, NATO and the west can bring the same degree of destruction to Russia. The trillions of dollars that the two economic blocks have poured into "defensive" technologies such as interceptor aircraft, anti-submarine technology and missile defences will be wasted if only a few warheads gets through. At best all these will do is ensure that some nuclear forces on either side are preserved for a final retaliatory attack to ensure the ultimate extinction of all life. At worst the perceived threat they cause to their opponent, who will be stuggling to maintain nuclear parity with the economic collapse that climate change will drive, makes the likelihood of a premature launch more likely.

Of all the nuclear weapons states, the UK is probably in the worst possible position. The disproportionate impact that its small nuclear force will cause to the military industrial complex as it builds the defence forces and the submarines themselves will bleed the finances of the country at a time when the economy will also collapse as its oil and gas fields of the North Sea start depleting. When this is combined with the scenario above of putting all the nuclear eggs in a single basket, the law of unintended consequences potentially comes to the fore. But other unpalatable scenarios are equally easy to envisage when the money runs out. A terrorist attack is not beyond the realms of reality. In April 2014, protesters amazed themselves by discovering how easy it was to get onboard a nuclear attack submarine at Faslane and start destroying equipment. It is one thing to have people getting on board who are committed to peacefully challenging the legality of nuclear submarines, but if they can do so using little more than a couple of wire cutters then a disciplined band of terrorists armed with Kalshnikovs would be able to do much more and at times when security is breaking down the opportunities for their attacks escalate. The other scenario is the simple one of mechanical or human failure that are nearly always the eventual result of cost cutting programmes, or as managers and politicians like to call them, efficiency programmes. But worse, is that because all three of the scenarios considered here have the same root cause, they happen together in various and unpredictable ways which make the consequence of any one of them more serious.

Against the background, it is inconceivable to imagine that the costs of safely maintaining a nuclear weapon system from either accident or attack can be met such that a credible deterrent can be maintained over the planned operational life. The collapse when it comes, will come quickly and be severe. It means that it is more likely than not that within a timescale of a few weeks the affordability of safely operating nuclear submarines is lost. All this will happen while the nation's decent into economic collapse is simultaneously accelerated by the cost of maintaining nuclear parity.

Within all societies, the debate should be raging about the illogicality of pursuing nuclear weapon systems that will outlast the society they are supposed to be protecting. Like many things associated with nuclear weapons, it is a debate that no one really wants to have. However, the evidence to support a collapse during the operational life time of these submarines is overwhelming, on the contrary the evidence to support the idea that the economy can continue over this time is virtually zero.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

B52 and B2 bombers in Fairford

Fairford is darkening the skies of  Gloucestershire again as it hosts B52 and B2 bombers as part of the Saber Strike exercise as they practise for destroying targets in Russia, which happens to be the main gas supplier to the military industrial complexes across Europe.

We would not stand by and do nothing if someone did this to us, and neither does Russia.  They have started reciprocal exercises in the Baltic and their nuclear bombers are patrolling off the US West Coast. It has done nothing other that ratchet up the threat of war.

Does this have any military utility? The answer is an emphatic, "no". We do it ostensibly to dissuade Russia from seizing the Baltic states.  If they were to do so, would we really set about bombing Russian forces from Fairford? This would almost certainly escalate into a nuclear exchange, one of the first targets of which would be the Fairford Air Base. It would be a suicidal response.

These exercises create too high a risk of error. With the stealth technology of the B2 bombers a tiny blip on a radar screen, that might actually come from migrating ducks, could be interpreted as hostile intent triggering the worst possible nightmare response when thousands of nuclear weapons still remain on hair trigger alert.

Instead, we should be challenging the legitimacy of Russia's new military posture of "de-escalation", which is an Orwellian distortion of language meaning they will fire a first nuclear strike in the event of conflict. But we don't do this because to do so would be to undermine our refusal to sign a clear and unambiguous no first use policy for Trident. This is the essence of Trident, so having Trident means we cannot challenge Russia in the international courts and fight to make nuclear weapons illegal.

And the final question for the enthusiasts of the B52 and B2 bombers in the press and who are camping at the end of the Fairford runway is what system are they protecting? A system that see millions of people impoverished by a capitalist banking system while enriching the richest and which has comprehensively failed to address climate change so consigning much of the planet to become a baked wasted land by the end of the century.

We need to speak out against the presence of these bombers in our backyard and all that they represent.

Monday, June 02, 2014

300 words on why I stand again for the Green Party in the 2015 general election

This is the second time that I have stood in Cotswolds. In the previous election, I got 1.7% of the vote, well behind the 4.2% that the UKIP candidate obtained and even further behind the Geoffrey Clifton Brown's 53%.

Despite this, Skip Walker, the editor of the Gloucestershire Wilts and Standard, said of the debate that she chaired that I was by far the best and most credible candidate!

This caused me to question what is the point of standing and more fundamentally the point of democracy when populations vote for parties that either are not prepared to take action on climate change or, as with UKIP,  even believe it.

However, not to stand is to surrender to ignorance. The facts in front of us are dire. Atmospheric CO2 is increasing super exponentially; the Trident replacement is being progressed and despite a tax payer bail out that allowed the haves to take from the have-nots the financial system remains on the point of collapse.  Despite years of brave and peaceful protest where people have risked their liberty to stop these injustices, and in many cases their lives, the tide of progress in each of these areas is increasingly against that of  natural justice.

I stand not because I want power, but because I believe in the message of the Green Party. It is the only party that unequivocally acknowledges the crisis of climate change and ecological collapse, it is the only party that stands unequivocally against Trident, and it is the only party that offers an alternative to economic growth by supporting a carbon rationing scheme.

Not standing would be to forsake those who have made so much sacrifice for the causes they have fought. It would also forsake those in the future who will have to fight with far more fortitude that I could ever muster.

It is for these reasons that I put my name forward as the Green Candidate for the Cotswolds.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Swindon Think Slam - 3rd Round - Why education must preserve igonrance

In 1743 the MP Soames Jenyns said of education, "For those born to poverty and the drudgeries of life ignorance is an opiate capable of infusing insensibility. They should never be deprived of this by an ill-judged and improper education. Ignorance is the basis of all subordination, the support of society and by which means the labourers are fitted for their respective situations."

When I read this, I was teaching a young lady from the villages of Robert Mugabie's Zimbabwe.

She explained how their education system worked. The elders taught the youngsters everything they needed to know to survive, what plants to eat, which ones to avoid, which animals to hunt and how to raise livestock. Rich knowledge was passed on without OFSTED and without government set curriculums.

For her, ignorance was not an option; so on this measure is the Zimbabwian education system better than ours?

Their system must equip young people to survive in the natural world and to sustain it indefinitely. Ours must equip young people to compete in the artificial and temporary world of an industrialised society.

But our future will be dominated by climate change and ecological collapse. When today's cohort of primary school children graduate from university, atmospheric CO2 will be so high the worst nightmares of climate change will be impossible to stop. As their industrial society collapses, the education system will push all the students in its care to breaking point so that the best possible candidates can get the last remaining jobs.

Thus, preparation for an industrialised society must remain the primary objective of the education system and it must normalise a high carbon life style, despite the science on climate change.  So the education system will send students on high carbon educational trips abroad, set up relationships with high carbon industries and give careers advice to encourage students to get jobs in these areas. The Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment even organises “chain reaction” competitions for primary school children to help.

So should a responsible teacher step beyond the realm of political correctness and explain to their students this is wrong and the CO2 emissions from the society their education system is preparing them for means they will be fried, roasted, boiled and baked?

To subject impressionable young people to such conflicting messages is child abuse and a serious collective attempt to educate the young on climate change would undermine the competitive advantage this country will need as things go bad. So we don’t do it and we return to the wisdoms of Soames Jenyns; our education system must preserve ignorance. Without this, society will collapse. 150 years of free education has changed nothing and the Zimbabwean education system beats ours.

Swindon Think Slam - 2nd Round - Why the UN P5 Security council is racist and anti-democratic

In 1887, Lord Acton wrote, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." The same applies to nations; great nations are almost always bad nations.

The Permanent 5 Security Council members of the United Nations are the world's greatest nations. They are the USA, UK, France, Russia and China.

They are all bad nations with long lists of misdemeanours:

In 1946, fresh from fighting the fascists in Europe, America went to the Tropical paradise of Bikini Atoll and forcibly removed the entire population which had lived there for thousands of years, burnt their houses to the ground and then started a nuclear weapons test programme which created a scorched earth that even Hitler could not have envisaged. Nobody else even had a bomb.

In 1952 Britain continued the scorched earth tradition by irradiating the Aboriginal homelands in Australia with its atomic bomb tests. Not content with this, they went on to do the same to the Christmas Islands with H-bombs.

France resorted to terrorism to blow up Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior; Russia and China became repressive nuclear dictatorships and remain so today.

All five continue to violate the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

To become a member of this club, it was not enough to be on the winning side of the Second World War, a nation also had to be an industrialised power.

Because India, Africa and the Middle East were not industrialised at this time, they were not invited, despite suffering massive losses in a war that was not even of their making. Bringing them in today would deprive the P-5 group of its power, so they are kept out. 

There is also no representation from the global indigenous communities, despite always being in the vanguard of the fight on climate change, environmental destruction and human rights. To acknowledge their rights would be to curtail industrialisation and economic growth.

So the purpose of the P-5 group is to preserve the power in perpetuity of the most powerful nations in the world. This is fundamentally anti-democratic and racist.

This illegal group has also determined amongst itself that the possession of nuclear weapons by its members is legal. They are now embarking on a collective upgrade of these that is as big as anything seen in the Cold War.  To enable this, they each need a high carbon military industrial complex and so must either directly or mendaciously stop climate change agreements.

It means the P-5 cannot address the main security challenge of today which is climate change. On the contrary, its very existence normalises destructive industrialisation and blocks the progress we need. It encourages other nations who aspire to have an equal say in world politics to acquire nuclear weapons and is thus inherently proliferatory. It embeds racism and nationalism into the world's political system.

It is time to replace it with an elected chamber, where the world's people have an equal say in its membership and whose purpose is to govern in the interests of the survival of the people and the planet.

Swindon Think Slam - 1st round, why 16-21 years olds should be the only ones to vote.

If democracy is so important that we send our young to die in wars to defend it, why does any fool or crook have a vote?

Why should the selfish fool who flies a polluting private jet have the same vote as someone who sacrifices all to cut CO2 emissions?

Why should a top banker who receives a million pound bonus by virtue of tax payer bailouts have the same vote as a pensioner whose savings were destroyed in the banking collapse?

Why should a tax evading crook like Richard Branson even be allowed to vote?

Why should the vote of a Trident submarine captain whose job is to comply with a command to destroy the planet, without question, be the same as a gardener who job is to create beauty from nothing?

These people were not born bad, but became corrupted by a society which values individual success above societal enhancement.

But most of us have not risen to the great pinnacles of society and are simply struggling to survive. In the face of runaway climate change, we are forced to prostitute ourselves to industries we know are destroying our planet. Anyone working in the arms, oil, car or travel industries along with many others do so in the knowledge that their actions contribute to ecological collapse. To enhance their short term prospects of survival they must be silent on this and vote for governments that will maintain the status quo of destructive industrialisation.

The struggle for survival in an industrial world corrupts us all. In so doing, we parallel the Kapos in the German concentration camps. They were the jews that did the dirty work the SS would not do. They pushed their brethren into the gas chambers and took their dead bodies out. They did it knowing it was wrong, but it was the only way they could survive and they had no choice in the matter. They also had to hope for train loads of new victims to keep coming, because without these they too would be destroyed.

In these circumstances, giving the successful SS guards and the corrupted Kapos a vote in the running of these nihilistic camps would never legitimise them. Yet we, who have a similar struggle for survival, legitimise our government’s inaction on climate change with our votes. 

So for a government to hold legitimacy, it must have a mandate from the people who are not corrupted by either success or the struggles for survival.

These are our youngsters. They are the group of people that have their morals mostly intact and care for the future because they will inherit it. So, if we are serious about democracy, the only group of people that should be allowed to vote are the 16-21 year olds.

This would change everything. General elections can still be held every 5 years, but political parties would have to campaign on important long term issues such as climate change, not on short term political advantage. Nor would they be able to recklessly send our young people to war.

It means the youngsters today, who are suffering from a plague of mental health issues as they see their future prospects squandered by the powerful elder generation, are put in the driving seat where they deserve to be.

We might then, just, get governments that will act in the best interests of everyone and the planet.