Tag Archives: climate change

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand…

14 Jun

I´m alive! Even though I haven´t checked in for a while. Although, I have to say I am SURPRISED that I am alive, considering that I am in Rio, Brazil, and in the past 3 days have had ALL my worldly goods stolen from me (wallet, phone, computer, camera, ipod, glasses, diary, yada yada yada), been physically threatened by a taxi driver, and cut my knee and twisted my ankle with the result that I am hobbling around various conference centres with a crazed and zombified look in my eyes.

But no matter! I just popped in to tell you that the reason that I am in Rio is that I am tracking the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit negotiations along with the Adopt a Negotiator team. Please pop on over and see what we´re up to! I wrote a very cathartic first post which linked the stealing of my bag to climate change, so you can sneak a peek at that as well.

And apart from all the rubbishness, things are very nice. I am currently sitting in a hippy dream of a hostel in a lovely part of Rio called Santa Teresa. One of the hotel staff is playing a samba instrument called a cavaquinho (not unlike a ukelele…) while I tap away, and there are solar showers and beautiful, inventive things like this:

Well look at that. I think I just cheered myself up.

hanna ♥

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Super Monday

13 Dec

It’s been a while it’s true, and one of my new year’s resolutions is to figure out what to do with this blog and which features I want to keep / start / ditch / tweak etc. But in the meantime.. well, there is just so much superness to reflect on!


1. I went to Papered Parlour over the weekend for their DIY Couture Make a Cloak workshop and it was great! A race against time admittedly, but I was very happy with the finished product, plus we got tea and cake. And now I can pretend to be from the 50s, or that I’m a BAT. Because capes are versatile like that.

2. Bento boxes are super. The BBC actually did a report on them, so it’s official.

3. I was interviewed for the Think Act Vote Futures series a while back, which was really nice.

4. You’ve seen Feminist Ryan Gosling. Now brace yourself for Handmade Ryan Gosling. It’s the future of swoon.

5. Talking of handmade, remember these that I made back in the spring? Well they have been selling like hotcakes! I have had orders and requests without expecting any, and I have done so much panic sewing that my left hand is all claw-like. Worth it though to think of these slogans adorning a few christmas trees this year. Haha.

6. I’ve been back at work full time for 2 weeks now as Green Jobs Director at The Otesha Project UK, and it’s nice to be getting back into the swing of things. The coolest thing is that we are trialling a flat, non-hierarchical structure. You can read about how it’s going here. I’d really recommend it, as it’s going super well so far!

7. By far the superest thing this week was Occupy Cop 17 at the UN climate talks in Durban. The outcome of the negotiations was not perfect, and in no way puts us on track for mitigating climate change, but the fact that they came away with ANYTHING was largely down to this protest. The negotiators overran the talks by 36 hours after this public show of dissent. It proves that protest does and can work. To read more about what happened at the negotiations, read this overview.

hanna ♥

A Just Transition or Just a Transition?

8 Dec

This post originally featured on The Occupied Times last week. Let me know what you think!

A major criticism that has been levelled at Occupy LSX is that the movement has become an umbrella for too many issues. “What do they want?” our mainstream media asks, as a stroll through the camp makes it clear that democracy and corporate greed are not the only issues being debated. Linger around St. Pauls, or peek your head into the Tent City University, and you will soon find yourself debating and discussing issues of mental wellbeing, gender equality, class, the environment, parenting, and the role of religion, amongst many, many others. However, rather than betray a lack of focus, to me the diversity of topics being discussed means something quite different – that our movements for social and environmental justice are growing up, that we are seeing connections and joining the dots between issues, and that we recognise that we are most powerful when allied.

There is much that we can learn from each other, and the global Occupy / Indignados movement has provided us with the perfect opportunity to compare notes. What’s working, what isn’t? Are our demands aligned, and does that even matter? However, there is one area of discussion that certainly needs to be addressed by the environmental and Occupy movements together, and that is ‘what does transition look like’? We say that another way is possible, but what journey do we have to take to get there? How can we work together towards building a new low carbon economy, one that incorporates values of social justice, equity, and democracy? Of course this conversation is already well under way in many countries across the world, but different elements of our movement are in danger of pulling in very different directions. You might not think it, but transitioning away from a pollution-based economy and transitioning away from our current capitalist model do not necessarily have to have much in common.

Let’s not kid ourselves – the new, low-carbon economy could be one that retains all of the inequities and corporate greed of our current economic system. One where companies profit from the transition, while workers are stuck in green McJobs, doing the essential work of decarbonising our energy systems and retrofitting our homes but in a vicious circle of low pay and few opportunities for progression or training. Nor does the Anarcho-Marxist model of transition away from a capitalist state make any promises to those who are currently most underserved by our society. The end goal may be distribution of wealth and workers’ rights, but the requisite insurrection and ensuing chaos that it takes to get there may only end up harming those that need the most help. Indeed, members of our unions are concerned that significant periods of economic restructuring in the past have often happened in a chaotic fashion that has left ordinary workers, their families and communities, to bear the brunt. Indeed in the UK, many individuals and communities are still paying the price for the rapid shift away from industrial production over the last 30 years.

Perhaps there is a middle way, one that respects workers’ rights, the rights of the poor, and our planetary boundaries. This is where the idea of Just Transition may come in handy. Just Transition is a framework for a fair and sustainable shift to a low carbon economy, proposed by trades unions and supported by environmental NGOs, that seeks to prevent injustice becoming a feature of environmental transition. Just Transition recognises that support for environmental policies are conditional on a fair distribution of the costs and benefits of those policies across the economy, and on the creation of opportunities for active engagement by those affected in determining the future wellbeing of themselves and their families.

The framework is not fool-proof – it does not deal with the capitalism question, nor does it a build a comprehensive vision of a new world. Questions about growth, nuclear, and means of production go unanswered. However, it is the beginning of an essential conversation about how we can create a new system that is both economically and ecologically viable.

What is not questioned is the speed at which we must act. The need to transition away from our current economic and social model in this country and the rest of the developed world is an urgent one. We are experiencing rapidly rising levels of inequality and, according to the IEA, we have only an estimated 5 years before the fight to mitigate dangerous climate change becomes a fruitless one.

Yes, the challenge ahead is immense, but so is our movement. Who would have thought, just one year ago, that the world would be engaged in a global conversation about corporate greed and the terms of democracy? A fair society that respects our earth may seem out of reach, but that is all the more reason to keep striving for it. As David Harvey has said, “Of course this is utopian!  But so what!  We cannot afford not to be.”

Tar Sands Action

27 Aug

This amazing photo is of the tar sands sit-in that is happening right now outside the White House, protesting against the planned Keystone XL pipeline which would pump tar sands oil from Canada into the States. The sit-in started on August 20th, is planned to continue until September 3rd, and so far 381 people have been arrested. I’m really grateful for the men and women who have been brave enough to take this step, as the Keystone XL pipeline would spell disaster if built.

Extracting and burning the oil in the Canadian tar sands alone would release enough carbon emissions to tip the world into runaway climate change, plus the development is pushing indigenous peoples out of their native lands and having incredibly harmful impacts on local communities’ health. You can read more about it here – http://www.tarsandsaction.org/.

Photo credit – Milan Ilnyckyj

Super Music Monday

13 Jun

So it’s Monday. What can I say? Sometimes Sundays just run away from me.

1. I spent much of last week plugged into the Desert Island Discs archive while I worked. LOVE IT. You learn some incredibly random things about people, such as Joe Simpson, mountaineer, being really into trance music.

2. Quick yay for the funding news! Superest thing of the week. image via weheartit

3. Read some brill books recently – Bossypants by Tina Fey, and The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. Do it.

4. Saw lots of friends and family this week. Good food and good chats.

 

5. I went to the Slutwalk London rally on Saturday and it was AMAZING. I could hear the march coming before I could see them flood into Trafalgar Square, thousands of women singing “There will be a revolution when we fight for women’s rights” to the tune of When the Saints Go Marching In! Earlier today my friend Tamsin Omond put into words exactly how I felt, “i had my reservations about slutwalk. they were blown sky high by the massively inspiring, inclusive and complete day that it was. from women to trans to gay men to immigrants to sex workers to black women – all were invited to stand together fierce against this fear and the victim-blaming that surrounds this threat.” Great blog post here as well that deals with some of Slutwalk’s critics.

6. Living with Chronic Bitchface. Hilarious. I FEEL YOU Kris Atomic.

7. UN climate negotiations are happening right now in Bonn. Follow the super Adopt a Negotiator project to keep up to date on progress (or not, as the case may be).

hanna ♥

Lisa Simpson, Climate Hawk

22 Feb

I think it may be a bad thing that this seems very much like a scene from my own life, rather than a satirical cartoon. Me and Lisa should really be friends.

(via Climatide)

hanna ♥

Feminism vs Environmentalism

12 Feb

I’m a feminist and an environmentalist. I like it that way. I always thought the two ideologies were mutually reinforcing – feminism is a social justice issue, climate change is a social justice issue (since it impacts those who are already vulnerable the most). Climate change disproportionately affects women (links here, here & here), but at the same time there is also evidence to suggest that increasing women’s rights across the globe will do a lot to mitigate against the effects of climate change. So far, so reinforcing.

But then I came across these articles on French feminist academic Elisabeth Badinter. I’m a little behind the times, but last year she published a book, Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), which argues that environmentalists, among others, are pressuring women to be perfect mothers and essentially driving them back into the domestic sphere.

“Between the protection of trees and the liberty of women, my choice is clear,” she says. “It may seem derisory but powdered milk, jars of baby food and disposable nappies were all stages in the liberation of women.”

Reusable nappies, the modern insistence on breast-feeding, the trend for local and organic food and made-from-scratch meals are, to Badinter, a modern form of oppression leading to a limitation on women’s personal freedom and the “tyranny of motherhood”.

Now, Badinter’s views are strongly worded, but it has made me wonder whether she has a point. The washing machine, microwave, supermarket, ready meals and other such time-saving, energy-intensive inventions have historically freed up women’s time and, to some extent, encouraged their entry into the workplace.

Cécile Duflot, leader of France’s Green Party, rejects the Badinter thesis saying, “Greens have always been feminists and always defended equality in the sharing of household tasks. There are indeed men who like to cook for their children, but for Elisabeth Badinter, it is unthinkable to imagine that cooking for a child means anything other than an obligation.”

Of course, I imagine there must be joy to be found in breast-feeding, or cooking for your child. But I think Duflot is slightly missing Badinter’s point here. Duflot asserts that green feminists are for the sharing of household chores between husband and wife, however I think Badinter hits upon the reality – that, surprising as it may seem, household tasks still fall to the woman to complete.

According to the Office for National Statistics, women in the UK spend nearly 3 hours a day on average on housework (excluding shopping and childcare). This compares with the one hour 40 minutes spent by men. Another survey found that 80% of women compared with 17% of men are responsible for looking after the children or arranging childcare facilities. I know that personally, I did a lot more housework when I was living with a boy than I do now, living alone. A problem shared is not necessarily a problem halved.

So I completely get Badinter’s point – the green movement’s push to get us all growing our own vegetables, to shop locally instead of at the supermarket and to take public transport instead of whacking all the kids in the back of the car, can seem like an extended joke designed to take up women’s lives and leave little room for independence.

Even for those of us without kids, Seeds and Stitches (where I first stumbled across Badinter) describes this pressure to be eco-fabulous very well:

“Home made Christmas and Birthday presents, restricting the clothes I buy for 3 months and (admittedly failed, sob) attempts to grow vegetables. I am on a never ending quest for life improvement… We must work, have a fulfilling relationship, be really creative or crafty, cook like Nigella, have photogenic babies, open an etsy shop selling vintage wares, have Apartment Therapy worthy homes and dress stylishly.”

It’s enough to make you want to be a French feminist academic. That’s right, crack open that red, pass me a fag and a great hunk of brie.

But. Although I agree that the current burden-sharing within households leaves MUCH to be desired, I am (of course) not ready to give up on environmentalism. I believe in making things, I believe in public transport, I believe in healthy and nourishing food. I also believe that our real work in solving this dilemma is recognising that equality between men and women, a sharing of the burden, is going to be essential if we are to mitigate against the effects of climate change without making the situation of women around the world worse.

So, if you are a woman, don’t write off environmentalism, instead become an out and proud feminist. If you are a man, same deal, but shout even louder. We need equality, and we need everyone on board if we are to be successful, fair and free in this fight against climate change.