The Committee on Climate Change Report

Here are the committee’s findings with regards to economic changes required for a zero-carbon emitting UK by 2050
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• Resource and energy efficiency and some societal choices that cut demand for carbon-intensive activities.
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• Extensive electrification, particularly of transport and heating, supported by a major expansion of renewable and other low-carbon power generation.
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• Development of a hydrogen economy to service demands for some industrial processes, for energy-dense applications in long-distance HGVs and ships, and for electricity and heating in peak periods.
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• Carbon capture and storage (CCS) in industry, with bioenergy (for GHG removal from the atmosphere), and very likely for hydrogen and electricity production. CCS is a necessity not an option.
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• Changes in the way we farm and use our land to put much more emphasis on carbon sequestration and biomass production, while shifting away from livestock.
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In short it recommends that our way of life need not change at all.
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1 It says (elsewhere in the report) that little can be done for aviation, since the technology does not exist. It does not recommend a reduction in aviation.
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2 Similarly, it recommends no reduction in domestic, or commercial transport, merely that they will be electrified. It does not point out that rapid replacement of internal combustion engines will require a massive injection of fossil fuels for manufacturing and of scarce materials from the Earth.
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3 It says that our existing domestic/commercial infrastructures need not change – again merely that they will be electrified. It does not tell us how that electric industrial revolution will be enabled by anything other than an increase in fossil fuels for manufacturing and installation and cement (a large emitter) for construction. It proposes a new industrial revolution powered by electricity to replace the old one, which was powered by coal, oil, gas and timber.
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4 It makes no reference to the fact that a very large part of UK emissions is from out-sourced manufacturing – that is by the purchasing powers of a high-wage economy from the supplies of a low-wage economy. Similarly, it makes no reference to the inequity of emissions within the UK and that the richer we are – the more we spend – so the higher our emissions become. It ignores the remedies embodied in that equation.
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5 It does not connect climate change to GDP, even though the two follow almost identical trajectories on a graph.
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6 It proposes a large roll-out of non-land-use-change biomass production for electrification – from forests and from existing arable areas. Although it also proposes that carbon capture and storage must accompany that production, it falsely concludes that this can achieve so-called, negative emissions. Its founding hypothesis is false. It assumes that if we remove biomass from a living cycle and without land-use change, future photosynthesis will replace that loss.
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Every grower has tested and refuted that hypothesis, season by season. If we remove a crop and return nothing to the soil, but gas and possibly ashes, then the following season’s crop will be reduced – photosynthetic metabolisms will shrink and soil biomass and biodiversity (which some call carbon) will also shrink. Burning biomass has a far greater greenhouse effect than burning coal, because it emits the same CO.2 while also impoverishing soils on which the future depends. It follows that coal with CCS is far better than biomass with CCS. What’s more, Earth does not grow sufficient timber for the scale proposed. Alone, the three Drax biomass power stations in Yorkshire, already consume a mass (annually), which is three times that of the total annual timber production (for all uses) in the UK. The bulk of that timber is imported from South American and Canadian forests.
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7 It proposes a new hydrogen economy for transport and shipping, but hydrogen is not a source of power. It is a means of storing surplus electrical energy – perhaps generated from distant-from-population sources, such as large and remote hydro schemes.
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8 It avoids agriculture altogether, substituting superficial and safe assumptions. For instance, it says that the Welsh agricultural economy will be hard to change, because it is so dependent on sheep. It does not connect the 80% Welsh export of sheep with both a precarious future and the obvious solution of forestation for both photosynthetic power and an acute shortage of timber.
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Neither can I find a reference to the benefits of the mostly manual, yet highly-efficient use of land, that is horticulture. It mentions increasing yields of diesel-powered, very high-input, existing arable systems. . It does not mention how that can be achieved – military invasion of Tunisia for her phosphate reserves perhaps? GM?

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9 It implies that we need not change our lives at all and that silly hypotheses, carbon trading schemes, energy efficiencies and new undreamed techniques (progress), along with CCS will propel our mass silly walk to chaos and finally oblivion.

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Coda to the Differing Forms of Tragedy

Nemesis was our consumer-choice. The bargain was struck. We paid for her and she is ours. We bought the present by selling the future. Our purchase cannot be passed back – please read the small print in Nemesis’s Little Earthly Book of Rules. What we’ve done cannot be undone. Those thickening layers of debauchery are not like the deeds themselves – careless, narcissistic, hedonistic, ephemeral, shallow, easily-forgotten – instead and in terms of human life-spans, they carpet the atmosphere immutably. Let’s be dramatic – the die is cast. We bought storm, flood, drought and a new precarious way of life. We chose it. We knew that we chose it, but said that the natural ingenuity of children (born and unborn) would sort it out. We said that marvellous technologies, such as commercial flight, the internet and so on had been devised and applied so quickly that remedies to the causes of climate change, which lie heaped in the colourful labels of our shopping basket, would come just as swiftly.
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Still, most of my friends – seeking remedies to resource depletion, green-house gas emissions, and the terrible cascade of vanishing species, say they’d improve the same technologies and ways of living, which caused those things in the first place. They say, we’ll have electric aviation, electric family cars, improved insulation of our homes, solar panels on the roofs of every super market and a mass roll-out of new renewable electricity sources. They say that we need enlightenment, education and forward-thinking. In short, they say that our ways of life need not change at all. Enlightened progress will save us, in the same way that endarkened progress led us to this cliff edge.
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Here’s some sober truth – gaze at Nemesis for a while, and you’ll also see its potential beauty. Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold… A terrible beauty is unleashed upon the world.
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1 The present creates the future. The future cannot refuse the legacy. Only the present has the power to choose, because only the present has physics. The future cannot choose. Likewise, the present cannot refuse the legacy of past causes. It must work within its inheritance and generate new causes.
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2 Ingenuity can never replace shrinking resources – it can only change perception of that shrinkage. Only physical mass, or energy can change physics.
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3 The magnitude of tools enabled by coal, oil and gas cannot be matched by man-power, or by wind, sun, tide and gravity. No earthly sources – even though combined – can ever replace the power of those many millions of years of sequestered photosynthesis.
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4 We must devise new ways of life whose tools are powered by wind, sun, tide, gravity, animal, or man and whose behaviour is organised to fit inside the organic cycles of life. It is dangerous to think of biomass as a source of energy, since we must do all we can to allow an optimum biomass (a durable maximum) to regenerate, photosynthesise, while also providing food and building material. Since fermentation is an essential part of seasonal regeneration, some fermentation gases can be usefully captured without harm, or disbalance (anaerobic digestion).
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5 We cannot build new infrastructures (houses, canals, harbours, streets…) with anything like the speed and power we had when using fossil fuels. Acceleration due to fossil fuels will dramatically shrink to just the acceleration due to man.
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6 If our demands are small enough, we can step gracefully beneath the lintels that Nemesis has provided. Only a tiny period of human tool-making has been powered by fossil fuels. We have a deep cultural memory of pre-fossil-fuelled ways of life. Our deepest moral commons evolved without fossil fuels and we possess a pre-fossil fuelled legacy of beautiful field systems, houses, streets, harbours, bridges, market squares, work-shops, mill and manufacture wheels, sailing boats, pubs, churches, temples, mosques… which await re-occupation. Of course, fossil resources also fuelled our massive populations. Well, we shall do the best we can. Fossil fuels spawned a massive increase in inequality. Well, again, we shall do the best we can and as the monopolies crumble… Current inequalities, once remedied, provide the economic solutions to apportioning fair rations for all. I’m not denying the rapacious nature of many pre-fossil fuelled cultures – and particularly of empires. Nor am I denying that we seldom learn from history. Our task is to learn that lesson. Of course, we may not learn and the odds against us are very high. Nevertheless, remember – we are living a tragedy. We can resolve the final pages beautifully – and all our yesterdays… Then the new book opens.
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Nemesis was our consumer-choice and our new task is to make her tragic form both beautiful and true. Let’s celebrate that. She has form, mass and energy. She embodies our new spirit of place, in which we can live according to our ration. Some have called her Gaia.
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The bargain was struck to the degree of our spending.
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However, we can make other choices, while yesterday’s choices howl about our ears, lifting roofs off houses, uprooting trees, breaking flood defences and withering crops where they stand. Of course, since Nemesis reflects the magnitude of past spending power, she belongs to the rich, far more than to the poor. That goes for both the physics of citizens and the coercive ideas of nation states. Now, tragically, she belongs to us all. Nevertheless, if we are to remove the causes of species extinction and climate change that means removing the ways of life of the rich. That includes a majority of people in UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand… A large part of the greenhouse gases emitted from the new manufacturing regions, India, China… can be apportioned to the purchases of UK, Europe, USA and so on. Those purchases are first requested and then owned by the rich and appropriate greenhouse gases should be apportioned to them. Nemesis says so. She also points to the inequality inherent in the contract – between high-wage and low-wage economies – between the “professional” class and the “working” class. She says that equity and social justice are inherent to all solutions to slowing and hopefully (against massive odds) pausing the rate of climate change.
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The rain falls on the Just and the Unjust fella, but mostly on the Just, because Unjust has just pinched the Just’s umbrella.
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That’s also true, which is why my passions rise at reports of the enlightened middle class, marching through London to protect rents, enclosures, monopolies, and low-wage purchases – that is, to maintain property rights to previously-stolen umbrellas. Inexplicably (to me) the UK Green Party marches alongside, shouting, Enlightenment! – and also, Viva middle class entitlement to a corporate-supplied, but carefully and incrementally negotiated, pastel green shopping basket!
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Pshaw!
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We Have a Choice – Between Differing Forms of Tragedy

My passions rise at the sound of the middle class – a million or so of them – marching to protect lucrative ways of life – their property price collateral, and rents for status, money, land and intellectual properties. Those ways of life have become rich by the poverty of others. Such opulent, extractive living is also a central cause of cascading ecologies and climate change. The European project is for a regulated “professional” class, which collects rent from a “beneficial” dependency of the rest. But that European way of life is also causing catastrophic climate change and so is set on self-destruction. If we do not wish to self-destruct, then we must change our ways of life. Reason says that if we are to build an economy which lives within its ecologic means, then we must leave the European Economic Union. We’ve seen by the example of Greece how an attempt at a real, egalitarian, economic revival was crushed by the EU. Similar egalitarian and Green attempts will be similarly attacked. All attempts to slow spending and so resource-use will be attacked. But, such a slowing (and dramatically so) is essential if human cultures are to survive more, or less intact. That slowing means the end of both debt-created and oil-created growth, which in turn, means the collapse of today’s casino of traded stocks, bonds and shares. Money must begin to flow at the rate of energy flow – of the powers of what people can do. Without oil, our powers will diminish by least ten-fold. That is an egalitarian opportunity to at last put our own shoulders to the wheel – acceleration due to people and not acceleration due to many millions of years of once-sequestered photo-synthesis.
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Yet how can I not admire the richness and diversity of European cultures – and that admiration is re-doubled by the hateful bigotry and open scape-goat racism and English (it is English) nationalism of the Brexit campaign leaders – also of course, their entitled right to lie and inveigle – to float above both statutory law and moral commons. European culture and the EU are far from the same things. A Green, egalitarian Brexit and the current Brexiteers are also far from the same things.
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I see these things rising – inequality, consumerist dependency, corporate right, disempowerment, hopelessness, usury, wealth of the professional middle class and poverty of the so-called working class – all of which have been the effects of the European project and will also be of the aims of right-wing, Leave campaigners. Both sides of the conflict – of this civil war – have their separate dreams of the same thing – the continuing prosperity of existing infrastructures. As well as causing increasing social divisions, those infrastructures are trashing the ecologies on which all infrastructures must depend and are causing the end of the stable climatic era, which has enabled civilisation to emerge in the first place.
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Brexiteers and Remainers are trashing our green and pleasant land in identical ways.
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The EU project is a negotiated exchange of a guaranteed quality of corporate supply (mildly greening & so on) for similarly guaranteed consumer rights to receive those qualities (fair trade, regulated pesticides…). Thus, consumerism and democracy have become confused as the same. It is no accident that the same advertising agencies will market political parties alongside airlines, car manufacturers, restaurant chains, super markets, a new potato crisp flavour, or a new energy drink. The result is a desolation of retail parks, boarded-up town centres and derelict work-shops and manufactories – and with that depopulation – the evaporation of convivial meeting places, such as market squares, theatres, concert halls, pubs, cafes, libraries, allotments, public gardens, playing fields, village greens, churches, temples, mosques, synagogues…
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I must sort out my Brexit emotions – my instincts and involuntary reactions have become quite different from my reasoned unpicking of the complex threads. Of course, my reasoned unpicking is limited to a small experience and then is fallible, as all reason is, even inside that experience. That should go without saying, but sadly today it does not.
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Now, whatever happens will be towards two differing forms of tragedy. I hope we may choose the best tragedy – the one most diluted by hope. I fear we will choose the worst.
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The best tragedy is rapid and deliberate de-growth and so the collapse of the casino – of banks and stock trading. That is a tragedy, because as trading systems collapse, so companies fold, unemployment soars, tax revenues wither and so essential social and infrastructure spending withers with it. You can imagine the horror of that. I’ve no need to expand. Yet, I say we must be bold enough to choose that course, because it is the only course by which, working together as a community, we can cobble a new economy and a new social system that will function without oil – and can emerge alive from beneath the wreckage. Consider this – what will have changed? We will have stepped towards a bearable level of greenhouse effects and, if we are wise, regeneration of the natural world – but also these things will remain unchanged – agricultural acreage, housing stocks, old infrastructures of roads, bridges, harbours, towns and villages – these can all be re-occupied in new and exciting ways, using the skill and ingenuity of all. Power will shrink from oil to Man. It will shrink from single monopolies, to shatter and fragment into the open palms of all of us. We can devise new currencies and new trusts. That’s a wild impossible dream? No. It’s a wild unlikely dream. It’s possible. It’s also beautiful. Our current European ways of life are impossible. They are also ugly. I must be realistic? No. Our European ways of life are a fantasy. I am realistic and they must end.
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The other tragedy is much simpler and in which we continue to bolster the casino. We spend the Earth. Human culture – its economies, cultures, hopes and dreams, all collapse utterly with none to inscribe the headstone. That will happen quite soon – money supply (by debt) has far outstripped its energy supply and as that supply diminishes further, banks will collapse. The sooner that happens the better – if it happens later, it may well be too late to slow utterly catastrophic climate change.
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Both an unpleasant, right-wing, nationalist Brexit and a planned, hopeful Brexit with an egalitarian road to de-growth will end with de-growth of sorts and both may trigger a casino collapse and so also, both a crash in spending and a pause in the causes of climate change. Remaining within the EU will prolong the casino and so lead us to catastrophic species loss and inevitable climate change. Caroline Lucas and the Green Party, take note.
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It follows that Brexit in any form is better for our children than remaining within the EU. Remaining is only better for a temporary liquidity and – an untouched for a while – but still utterly ephemeral shopping basket, which personally contributes to that two or three percent of expanding and suicidal GDP.

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My Confession

Have we evolved a consensus for a mass, hysterical psychopathy? Certainly, we have lost sympathy with the passage of human time – with the human consequences of our actions and of course, with other species besides… It is no coincidence that a post-modern insult is that we are (that horrible word) too judgemental. We all have rights to unlimited mirror-time; to me time; to our consumer rights. We’re worth it and you’ve no right to say otherwise. We don’t say, I disagree with this judgement, or that judgement, we say, you are judgemental – you have the quality of one who judges – and that is not permitted.
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I’ve been considering myself and so also my pictures of others. It is plain that most actions are bad actions. For the pleasures of the mirror, we do no less than dismiss and quite possibly, murder our children and their prospects of children. We narcissists don’t speak of defined right and wrong, yet wherever I go, I note that we do speak of vague good and vague evil – that is, the good of my ill-defined way of life and the shadowy evil which threatens it. Neither have form or definition. Our world is of hedonism, roulette wheels, witchcraft, spells and witch hunts. How do novelists depict the end of empires, such as Rome? We’d provide a template.
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The mirror provides my identity, so whatever distracts me from it, becomes an evil force. I lash out at distractions and judgements. Rules of proper behaviour are negated – we move from civil law to marshal law – from keeping the peace, to keeping the war.
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And here I am, keeping the war, because I need more time at the socially-just mirror. I say that as a collective, we have become the most narcissistic and socially-destructive ever to have inherited our spaces and times on this lovely Earth. How do I change that depiction of evil, into a reasoned and defined series of complex wrongs?
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How do I return to sympathetic judgement; to right and wrong and the compromises in between? Well many of us do so, but how do we remain thus, properly judgemental? There! – I have used the word, outside quotation, for the first time in my life. How do we keep the peace and end the war, yet also speak of right and wrong?
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Perhaps the Confession may provide a remedy. Here’s my world of witcheries. You’ll note that what distracts me most from my mirror-pool, are the goings-on, less of opposites, and more of compromised similarities.
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THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER has become a witch-finder for a mirror-pool of ill-defined, middle-class, liberal values. It is vaguely Green – the pool’s reflection is nicer that way. It is spitefully feminist, in the same way that other newspapers are brutally masculinist. Above all, it protects the reeds, irises, lilies and willows of the mirror image. It extols the bank accounts, consumer rights and wages which maintain and fund such garden ponds and so also the EU and corporate-sponsored members of parliament, who have been strategically placed to “represent the Left”. It describes Green back-packing in Cambodia, while conveniently obscuring the flight out.
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THE GREEN PARTY has mutated from its egalitarian, rag-tag, mish-mash of curious and interested humanity into just another Green Mirror faction, seeking political tit-for-tat advantages – even to the degree that the degrowth caused by leaving the corporate supplied, consumerist trade block of the EU, is depicted in the hustings, not as an opportunity, but as a tragedy! I have abandoned my membership, to pin hopes on rag-tag, mish-mashes of personal good behaviour and of course, on assisting the children – Greta’s children.
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THE SOIL ASSOCIATION in lobbying, not to end the corporate supply, but to Green and so improve its efficacy and credence, are complicit in the destruction of communities of proper trades’ people. It is a small force towards the ending of proper and curious shopping and meeting places – vibrant towns and villages which are connected to their particular terrains by the intelligent senses and probity of the trades – that is: the ingenuity and dexterity of living cultures. Such lobbying for improved enclosure, must also lobby for the dismantling of moral commons. It removes my skilled contribution to the culture, to replace it with consumer right (it hopes) to a negotiated quality of corporate supply.
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TRUE-COST ACCOUNTING in valuing priceless commons as capital – and to seem plausible, in under-valuing that capital is a road there and back to where we already stand. I confess (this is the confessional) that my witch-hunt is pricked by Patrick Holden’s re-invention (to step over to the right side of history) as an agroecological accountant from his original role of marketing the above, Soil-Associated, corporate supply. He remains exactly where he originally stood. I am not spell-bound. I’m sorry to be personal, but this is my confession.
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GRASS-FED, PASTURE-FED carbon-virtue signalling of rolling, unchanged acres is my next witchery. That land would photo-synthesise more powerfully as woodland. Grassland also contributes to an economic surplus (80% of Welsh lamb is exported), while removing what is in desperately-short supply – timber. I do think pasture (grazed green manure) is a useful – an essential part of arable and horticultural rotation and I do think that meat and milk can assist a natural enmeshing of human cultures with the natural ecologies, which must supply them. We are a long way from that difficult balance. We have too much pasture and too few trees – apart from exclusively arable regions, which would benefit from some new (and renewing) fertility-building pasture and the enriching culture of meat, milk, butter, cheese… which goes with it.
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Of course, what I write is only read by people like me and so it is that I speak to them. Certainly, no Tory, or New Labour journalist would survive the first sentence without disgust. Anyway, as man-made fires and internal combustions release still more CO.2 and as ice mutates into swelling sea water – as wind, rain, drought and temperature all jump crazily from their prevailing patterns – so we must also act outside our own prevailing patterns. We can act both as individuals and in concert. Most of today’s concerted action makes personal action difficult. Yet, without personal action we can have no concert. The passions rise. The witches increase. This is my confession. My penance is to re-imagine witches in their original human state and to speak, quietly and reasonably across our common ground – and also to both sow and share the seeds of old Voltaire’s garden. The old negates the ephemeral and depicts the passages of time – it implies the new.
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Because the present creates the future, I hope, amongst my failures that I don’t fail too much.
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A Very Short Walk Through the Present

That commons, ordinary household morals, religions and regional cultures themselves, have been a thorn in the foot of the oil state, is apparent in its wars and propagandas – witnessed in the once-stable and beautiful cultures of Syria, Iran and Lebanon; in Latin America; in any region, where a native moral, such as socialism, or native religion, such as Ancestorism, Islam, or Christianity might undermine a universal vision of oil-fed progress – a progress towards the destruction of so-called archaic cultures and ways of life.
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Puppet governments are sought, or created, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, or as we currently witness in process – Venezuela. They are armed and encouraged to wreak havoc – usually in the name of Liberal Democracy that is – to create a dependant society, sans loved terrains, sans festivals, sans parochial knowledge, sans ecological connections, sans past and sans future. Liberal Democracy has become a cult of the present. In that cult, puppet parties are manufactured for slightly differing shades of that present (consumer choice). It is a form of catering. Tory, Liberal, or New Labour parties lay out menus in which, neither past, nor future must intrude in the cuisine. Its most potent political slogan is “Don’t deny the present!” (that is the menu in front of us). It leads to conversation-stopping “Let’s be realistic.” It is no coincidence that the companies which advertise pot noodles, similarly compete to advertise those political parties. Their art is to create illusions that the ephemeral and amoral are substantial and durable things. “Let’s be realistic,” they say, “How can we deny that the super market aisle is laden with pot noodles?”
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So, that’s our task – not to improve the Cult of the Now by green market signals for greener pot noodles, but to assert our loves; festivals; terrains; skills; religions; philosophies – honouring both ancestors (who created the present) and descendants (who must face what we’ve made) – otherwise we remain as puppet people, much as the states of Israel and Saudi Arabia remain as puppet states. We and they, also remain as agents of dispossession, war, famine, death, migration, economic pillage, ecologic pillage and catastrophic climate change. Of course, nearly all of us here in the UK, are personally creating flood, drought, storm and famine. They are properties of our current behaviour. The current mutations of nearly every species on Earth is facing what we’ve done and no mutations can be fast enough to catch those climatic changes. However, if we live in the present – which we have before us in our menu of consumer choices, we can see that future catastrophe is but an idea, while what we have before us is real. Let’s be realistic, we say. Well, if we listened to the voices of parents and looked into the eyes of children, we’d know another reality.
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Yes. It is no accident that the seven Labour MPs who resigned from the Labour Party yesterday, did so primarily in support of the State of Israel and with no doubt, some very wealthy and powerful backers – in support of realism, the Cult of the Now and pot noodles. For them, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party speaks too much of the future – of inequality and climate change – and shockingly of the deeply traumatic lives of Palestinians – of their futures disappearing into the mouths of a protected puppet state of the present.
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Meanwhile, our children are rebelling against the Cult, in which their coming reality is not included. The School Strike for Climate also calls for the rebellion of every household, because every household must budget for the future. The future for which we all make plans, is also not included in the published Liberal Democratic manifestos – at any rate, none have escape the censors of the BBC, Guardian and so on, whose purpose is focused exclusively on promoting the temporal reality of the menu…
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A Short Walk Through Commons, Enclosures and the EU

The factions gather & swell in an entirely human tumult. As the poet says – the worst in passionate intensity call others to the fold. Meanwhile, the ways of life of opposing factions have similar effects, because their ways of life are similar – the only differences being in magnitude – that is, in the poverty, or wealth of practitioners. Wealth commands the greatest effects. Factions are so obsessed with hating their mirror-image opponents, that they forget their similar effects – the common follies of their similar ways of life and also of the untapped virtues of their common humanity.
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For today, we have a period of great and unprecedented forgetting. It is the Great Forgetting of what we know. We know this – that we are living through the most epic of all human times and that all of us (at least in Europe and America) must dramatically change how we live, or otherwise face catastrophe to end all catastrophes.
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The human causes of trashed ecosystems and runaway climate change are very simple. They are very easily understood and nearly everyone understands them Even so, the effects are complex and unpredictable. The malignancy is certain, but the complexity of feed-back loups and tipping points eludes our perfect understanding. We can only rationalise unknowns as we stumble upon them. Many, who should know better, are locked in arguments supporting this, or that projected model – to the degree that they become lost in an unpredictable world of future effects. Meanwhile, they may neglect the world of easily understood (and remedied) causes. Present action creates the future – that is all we can truly know of it. Our causes live in a world of simple arithmetic and simple morals – that is in ordinary household economics.
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In the household, we ration what we have as fairly as we can – in things – food, clothing, toys, bottles of wine… – and also in time – in chores and pleasures. A household is made up of rations of what we can justly do. That is, it is made up, more of verbs than nouns. As we travel out, we carry with us, those filial actions – those household verbs. In the larger world we act out the familiar identity. We know who we are and what we can do. We don’t exceed our rations of things, or of liberties – of nouns, or verbs. If we do so, we lose a part of our identity. We have parents and children. We have tragic and comic passing of time. We embody ancestors and teach children chores and pleasures. This is the world of the commons. Once upon a time, such commons were expressed and formalised by religion. Those commons drove the culture. Leaders could lead – and they could pillage the culture, but they had no means to create it. They could only attempt to steer, benignly, or malignly, what was being created. They needed the intelligence, ingenuity and dexterity of durable cultural tradition to make what they needed – even for pillage. The state depended on vibrant commons and knew it.
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The powers of many millions of years of sequestered photosynthesis were suddenly brought into the light and multiplied the cultural powers of what people could do by about twenty. But that power was seized and enclosed and so commons withered into dependant consumerism. People no longer made the culture. Coal, oil and gas made ninety-five percent of the culture and without commons of restraint. Of course, application of coal, oil and gas, had no past – It seemed so miraculous that it could end history. It had no concept of the future – only fantasies of future miracles upon miracles.
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Households, commons and religions have been a perennial thorn in the foot of the oil-state. For a start, the state cannot understand verbs – the cultural power of what people do. In fact, culture is simply what people do to make it. The state would like to enclose all the verbs to make them powerless, yet happy oil-fed nouns. Today, it has largely succeeded. Yet, everything we do has an effect and so also a moral. Morals are dangerous to the state – personal right and wrong, may not chime with statutory right and wrong.
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Enlightened, new economic models, such as doughnut economics, circular economics and so on are worthy arguments to improve the enclosures. However, such arguments end by endorsing an improved enclosure and so further supressing the commons.
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Without oil, it is essential to revive the dexterity, ingenuity and moral probity of the commons – of the powers of what people (one by one) can do. People must reclaim the culture from the enclosures and begin living on the common. The springs are not entirely dry. They survive in the household and that is where the true economy must begin – where the word itself also began. I nearly used the metaphors embers and kindling, but fire, today is not appropriate, though we love it so. It is a shame – the hearth – the treasures of the mantlepiece – we love them – but that is what is truly new in our economics – the end of fire and all its mythologies and the search for what we must newly love. That’s a new myth in the making – as potent as tales of the flood and the fall…
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No. We don’t negotiate with the enclosures, we drain them of our footsteps and our blood. We don’t lobby for an aviation tax, we stop flying. We don’t lobby against the pernicious behaviours of super markets, we stop shopping there – neither do we lobby for their improved behaviours – organic produce, fair trade… We seek proper, fair-trading and organic market places, such as proper trades’ people and market squares. We don’t argue for electric vehicles to re-power our massive oil infrastructures. We change and diminish the structures, to a demand which renewables can supply. We turn our backs and then open intelligence and hearts to a new and possible world. Given current trajectories, we’ll probably fail, but we may not fail – and in any case, doing the right thing, even when it fails is the source of happiness. It remains possible that we may emerge from the rubble with something of a culture intact, as stock and money markets cascade in chaos around us and as atmospheric CO.2 settles back into something like a stable terrestrial/atmospheric cycle. The common can stand as it once did, whatever leaders do, and in the dawn, small birds may resume their songs. There is very little hope, but romance is a powerful, transformative thing.
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If we continue to waste precious and diminishing time in worthy argument with power’s enclosures (such as the EU), and so neglect our own footsteps, then we’ve not a hope in Hell. We can easily do both, you say? Looking around me, I don’t see that at all, though by all means try it. I hear rising anger and marching in the street and opposing factions with identical life-styles shaking each-others’ lapels.
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On the Farm

Farms and gardens remain as the principal engine of all economies. City states whose money flow is largely of the trades and trading are yet utterly dependent on the supply of food. Thus, we come to have a devalued food supply – the modern world over, the labours of fields have mutated to become the labours of slaves. Of course, by way of their money markets, modern cities also pillage trade and the trades, while in turn, those trades pillage the labours of fields…
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It follows that cultures, which would sit within their particular rations of Earth must re-empower the ingenuities of fields – emancipation of slaves.
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Whichever way we reorganise settlements and social systems, the new organism must flow through its particular ration of soil and back again. That ration of soil gives the ingenuity of a social system the problem of both distributing its ration of food and returning that ration to soil. As I say elsewhere, it is beneficial to think less of limits and more of rations. Rations indicate fair shares. Limits provide excuses for enclosure, monopoly supply and then – imposed austerity.
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As I stand up to reclaim my citizenship, I also stand up to reclaim a word – organic, which I define as a cultural method, which gains efficiency by imitation of organic cycles. That is, it follows the rule of return. That the term has become debased by those who’d market it, is not a reason for abandonment. Rather, we must attack that marketing and emancipate the word. After all, many cultural methods have become debased by fossil-fuelled methods and must be similarly reclaimed. My green friends have turned to the clumsy and modernist new-speak of agroecology and permaculture. Both new-speak and modernism (including post-modernism) are a large part of our problem. On the common, the deepest understanding is simple and universal to all. Everyman understands the rule of return and the cycles of life. Meanwhile, the innocence of academic study is a beautiful thing. It should not be tainted by experience. Similarly, agroecology has no place in the wind and rain.
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That brings us to another and critical problem – inflated claims for carbon sequestration – indeed, also, the use of the word itself. Unlike our thickening deposits of atmospheric CO.2, soil life flows at variable speed in variable masses. Sequestration implies a still and quiet mass – one which denies that mass to the atmosphere.
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But it is the power – the acceleration of life and death in the soil, which leads to acceleration of green photosynthetic blades and leaves – all those lives, in soil and above following the rule of return. Here we note, by shear experience that acceleration due to biomass (life) travels only to the optimum point that can be maintained within a particular volume of soil, water and air. Within that cycle, it is also plain that complexity means resilience.
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However hard the organic farmer tries, she will never imitate that complexity and will always fall short of that resilience. We have simple minds and simple techniques. All farming systems will disrupt the efficiency of natural systems. Since modern cultures are agricultures, it follows that our task is to grow food and limit disruption as much as we can, while leaving as much as we can of Earth untouched by the simple, clumsy and limited tools of humanity.
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It is fortunate that leaving fossil fuels in the ground also enforces appropriate, mostly man-powered field systems. That is – the efficiency of horticulture. Now, horticultural systems will need about two-thirds of their areas sown to green manures. A good way of recycling that green manure is by grazing animals. They provide meat, milk and eggs and also remove part of the considerable work of incorporating plant materials. Animals can be easily managed by “dog and stick” methods. Of course, human wastes can be returned to grazing parts of the rotation.
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Please note that I speak of what we can do on an instant – we can have perennial fields, such as orchards, but other perennial crops, such as cereals managed like perennial grasslands are a hope for the future.
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We can imagine narrow strip fields (centuries corroborate it) bordered by hedgerows or fruit and nut trees. We can also imagine cereals grown in the same dis-modernist, horticultural way, in which people replace fossil fuels. Don’t forget, that human ingenuity will similarly replace fossil-fuelled monopoly. So, animals fit that agriculture in much the same proportion as animals fit in nature. To exceed that balance leads to inefficiency and also further erosion of what must become essential – the return of the wilds – for both biodiversity and bio-massive photosynthesis. Don’t forget that hedgerows can be left to grow on an instant and that high-powered flail hedge cutter, can be left to rust – or rather re-forged to more appropriate tools.
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Another advantage of a human-scale, horticultural mind-set is the slotting of vegetable and fruit growing within towns and cities and as suburbs by necessity (by loss of transport power) fade into new centres and their hinterlands, so people can occupy new rings of market gardens… Small plots become highly visible, and so suddenly possible to the imaginations of many more people, who’d learn both the travails and the delights of their soil; their place; their weathers – that is, the truth.
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On a macroeconomic scale of a nation state, we would need a third of farmed land in crops and two-thirds for regenerative grazing, or green manures. Plainly, for wealthy nations, meat consumption must dramatically fall. Intensive organic market garden production will liberate land for re-wilding. Of course, true yield is durable output minus durable input, so that organic methods far out-yield techniques, which import (always from somewhere, which is similarly diminished) artificial fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, biocides, matricides…. along with the closed minds of their intellectual property licensees.
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As we farm, we must know that we are adding to climate change. Our task is to limit that addition. Fortunately, the same task leads us to the most efficient cycling of nutrients from man to soil and back again. Here in the UK. the most fulsome, diverse and successful habitat is untouched woodland. Only there, can we find so-called negative emissions. Those who boast the sequestering power of well-managed grasslands are in truth, flaunting an excuse for the status quo – even though the boast has been made at the Real Oxford Farming Conference – home of an alternative status quo. Sometimes, I find my green friends, to be the most shocking friends.
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As individuals, as families and communities we must live within our ration of Earth. That cannot extend to rolling grasslands, which are purely allocated for the grazing of cattle and sheep. Changing weathers will lead to failed crops, inappropriate timings for sowing and cultivation and for many mistakes. Even the most skilled are sure to add a little to climate change. But if woodland regenerates over those pastures, it is possible that the whole may muddle along. Don’t forget, we’ll need timber for building materials, far more than we’ll need the luxury of meat with every meal.
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Negative emissions do not exist in agriculture. Their pursuit is a distraction from the epic journey we all face, which is to remove fossil fuels and biofuels from our lives. There is no escape from this truth – we must instantly and absolutely end the burning of both life and fossilised life. We are no longer super-human. As our oil power shrinks, so time expands and with it a marvellous diversity of space will fill those hours. Distances will become walking and cycling distances, so that we must re-organise both work and pleasure. Fields will return to a human scale – apparent to the intelligence of many pairs of eyes. Work and pleasure will become of necessity, both personally and socially, self-determined (unenclosed). Two people walking, or working side-by-side are more or less equal. The difference being, not in their wealth or status, but in their personal qualities.

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Of course, we can burn existing fermentation gases (anaerobic digestion). Fermentation is an essential part of life cycles. Use them or not – those gases will rise. Even so, we do not have the acreage to grow crops specifically for the digester.
Devising farming and distribution systems, which are not powered by fossil/bio-fuels is surely a cultural and personal problem of a magnificence to dwarf the anxieties of all the rest. If we do it right, it’ll bring unprecedented pleasure.

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If a young person, as young people do, needs to escape the parochial, soil-bound identity of farm life, then a wide world waits. After meandering through fields, woods, towns – across rivers and in many weathers, eventually perhaps, she’ll come to a schooner moored at the quay – in-tune with the trade winds. Meanwhile, her natal parish will remain imprinted in memory, in a complexity of images, scents, sounds and personalities, which will all have been harvested at walking speed. That memory will own a greater wealth of intelligence than anyone’s today. It will guide the traveller’s understanding and also at times, call her home. Fossil fuels have impoverished both happiness and understanding and as far as good husbandry goes, have lifted us too high for intelligence of the land below and also too fast for the diverse speeds of a common soil.

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