'Immature, unsophisticated, or gullible:' green ideology



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction: 'green purist'
An overview [to right]
The preliminary level and the primary level
The green record of the Taliban
The Green Party: wasting a vote
Agriculture, industrialisation and famine
Engels and Manchester
The battery cage
Defence
The New Age
Status and self-esteem
Organic gardening: objections
Profiles
  Tom Moss and pond life
Paul Kingsnorth and green terrorism
OneKind and animal welfare. Is nature kind?


See also

Industry

Supermarkets and small shops
Vegan ideology
Feminist ideology

which includes the section

The material conditions of life

 

Introduction: 'green purist'

 

Green: 'immature, unsophisticated, or gullible.' (Collins English Dictionary, meaning 13.)

 

Green issues are a concern of mine, but the deficiencies of so much green thinking are also a concern. A long time ago, there was a series of books  which included  'Objections to Christianity' (written by Christians) and 'Objections to Humanism' (written by Humanists). Here, there are 'Objections to the Green Movement,' written by someone whose practice (but not in gardening, as I explain in Organic gardening: objections) is a form of 'green purism.'

 

Food transport and food miles

 

I have two allotments. An extensive section of this site is concerned with allotment gardening. The page gardening/construction: introduction, with photographs gives links to all the  pages on growing on this site, including innovations and new ideas. Alternatively, the Site Map and the alphabetical list of topics on the Home Page give ready access to the gardening pages.  I grow a large proportion of my own food. I'm completely self-sufficient in fruit and  self-sufficient in vegetables to a very large extent. The transportation of these amounts to far less than a food mile - a few hundred metres. I never buy imported foods, except for coffee. I never buy rice, bananas, oranges, for example. On my allotments, I grow native wild plants (some of them are shown in the image to the right) and I do as much as I can to care for the wildlife of these allotments - except in the case of pests.

 

Personal transport

 

I've taken a flight only a few times and haven't flown anywhere for over thirty years. When I've travelled to European countries, more often than not I've travelled by coach or train. When  I travelled to Krakow in Poland, for example, I took the coach. The journey lasted just over 24 hours, and was no hardship. When I went to Athens, I took the train, a journey of 3 days, and when I went to Oslo I took the train, a journey of 2 days. I have a van, the use of which I can justify. When I was working, I had a car but used it more and more sparingly. I generally walked to and from the place of work. As I learned to drive at the age of 40, I've walked far more, and made far more use of public transport, than many people (although, it's true, less than many others.)

 

Packaging, recycling and composting

 

I practically never buy processed foods: no cans of baked beans, no breakfast cereals, none of those things. Cooking is a significant interest. If I want to eat a pizza, I make it from the usual ingredients, flour and the rest. If I want fruit juice, I make apple juice, using a cider press. I never have any tins to dispose of, and very few cardboard boxes.

 

My paper, glass and metal waste is in very small amounts. I recycle as much as I can, including recycling of materials by composting.

 

Lighting and heating

 

I make sure to turn off lights when they're not needed. I make sure that I wear enough indoors and the house is never over-heated. I don't have central heating and make use of waste wood as a fuel in an efficient stove.

 

Opposition to supermarket expansion

 

I've actively opposed supermarket expansion and actively opposed the promotion of supermarkets by schools, as my page www.linkagenet.com/themes/supermarkets.htm will make clear. It does, though, include criticism of some small shops.

 

The preliminary level and the primary level

 

I distinguish the preliminary level from the primary level. Recycling, energy conservation, avoidance of waste - these and other green practices are important but insufficient, important but not all-important. They belong to the preliminary level.

 

We visit a theatre, and find that it separates its waste water, so that 'grey' water isn't discharged into the sewers and wasted. Its energy conservation meets the highest contemporary standards. It's so well insulated that very little supplementary heating is needed. We visit a library, and it's exemplary too. But exemplary in what way? Exemplary in meeting green standards. Exemplary in its stock? That's a different matter altogether. The green activist in the role of activist isn't concerned in the least whether the stock is poor, insufficient and rubbishy. The activist in the role of activist isn't concerned in the least whether the theatre is adventurous or unadventurous. If it plays safe and puts on rubbish that at least is successful at the box-office, then it's a matter of no concern to the activist, in the role of activist. The same with a concert hall which programmes nothing but single movements and parts of movements from hackneyed works, and never ever takes a risk. But libraries, theatres and concert halls are like athletics stadiums and football stadiums in one way at least - strenuous activities, not lazy activities, should take place in them, even if there's a need for relaxation as well. The most important activities of a library, theatre or concert hall aren't at the preliminary level.

It's far easier to judge a book's environmental credentials than its content. Is it printed on recycled paper or unrecycled paper? It's easy to find out and approval or disapproval is mechanical. There's no mechanical method of estimating the book's content. Is the style hackneyed or cliched, is it emotionally rich or not, are there logical errors or errors of fact? These and other questions make vastly greater demands on knowledge and judgment.

 

This discussion hasn't so far presented the matter as starkly as it should. It has presented the preliminary level as an important stage in its own right, whilst pointing out that the green activist isn't concerned with the fuller level, or unconcerned in the role of activist. The preliminary level isn't necessarily a precondition. Magnificent works of art, to focus attention upon only one sphere of achievement, were created and presented under social conditions which were abysmal. They can certainly be created and presented in conditions which don't meet the best contemporary standards of recycling, reusing and the rest.

 

The most important issue of our age isn't climate change. A more important issue is the descent into moronic and mediocre ways of life and ways of thinking.

In actual fact, moronic ways of living, ways of thinking, ways of experiencing the world, consume vast amounts of the earth's resources. Industrial methods, apart from making products that are useful and essential, are also capable of churning out vast amounts of low-grade articles of commerce, including reading-matter and viewing-matter.

Words of a language can be used polemically. The use of green to mean 'immature, unsophisticated, or gullible' has become less common. Its use to mean 'enlightened as regards recycling, reusing and the conservation of the earth's resources in general' has become very much more common, of course, the most common meaning of the word now, together with its use for a colour. I see every reason for restoring the less common meaning, as a useful reminder to green-thinking people.

 

The green record of the Taliban

 

To emphasize green issues without any attempt at factorization, to practise isolation of green issues, is stupidity. The green record of a country is one factor amongst many, and not the most important factor.

'The United Kingdom is one of the world's main ecological debtors, consuming far more of the Earth's resources than we can contribute...Countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Bangladesh are the leading ecological creditors, using up far fewer resources per capita than the global average.' (Report in The Times.) Afghanistan under the Taliban was an ecological creditor, Afghanistan partly controlled now by the Taliban is an ecological creditor, present-day Somalia, a war-torn failed state (where female genital-circumcision is widely practised, where stoning to death still takes place, to mention just a few abuses of human rights) is an ecological creditor. We can agree that countries should reduce their environmental impact, but environmental impact should be one factor in a complete survey.

 

A survey of countries ought to include far more than the country's environmental record. It ought to include its humanitarian achievements, its cultural and intellectual achievements, its technological achievements, the 'civic virtues' which support a mature democracy, support for good causes by fund-raising, publication of books, magazines, newsletters and Web-sites, a high level of critical discourse - the constructive criticism of people, organizations and ideas (including green ideology.) Some of these activities cause next to no pollution, make little or no contribution to climate change, use practically none of the earth's resources, but many of them do.

 

The Green Party: wasting a vote

 

From the Website of Sheffield Green Party:

'Speaking about proposed UK involvement in air strikes against Isis, Jon Ashe (Chair of the local Green Party) said “We totally reject the politics and methods of Isis. But the last few decades have shown that military intervention in the Middle East leads to the deaths of innocent people, is followed by more bitterness and violence, and doesn’t provide lasting solutions. We urge the UK government to rule out any further military action in the Middle East, and instead work with others towards lasting peaceful and political solutions.'

The failure to understand human nature - or brutalized human nature - is complete. Naive people (such as Jon Ashe) unwittingly aid brutalized people, such as ISIS members. Jon Ashe has, in effect, given this chilling, inhuman message to  Yazidis, Christians, secularists, anyone fearing for their lives as ISIS advances on the town where they live, or the mountain on which they have taken refuge - don't expect military action. There will be deaths of innocent people, obviously - you yourselves - but you can rest assured that we will be urging the UK government to work with others 'towards lasting peaceful and political solutions.' The notion that the 'peaceful' solution, the solution which avoids military action, will be an ineffectual solution, no solution at all, is one that he and other green theorists never consider.

Highly recommended to Jon Ashe: a remedial course of study to include Chamberlain and the history of appeasement in the years before the Second World War and the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, France, the Soviet Union, the Baltic States and the plans to invade Britain.

Migration Watch calls for stringent limits to immigration to this country. The page 'Outline of the Problem' summarizes very well the reasons for limiting immigration:

http://www.migrationwatchuk.com/outline_of_the_problem.asp

Many of these reasons should appeal forcefully to people with green concerns. This country is grotesquely overcrowded. The building work needed to house immigrants has a severe impact on the environment. The policies of the Green Party in this country amount to a complete failure to address the problem. There are very substantial reasons why green activists should support the objectives of Migration Watch, but, of course, this would harm their self-image, one which is based on evasion. It's ridiculous to assume that only people with extreme right-wing views support strict limits to immigration. I loathe, of course, the British National Party. The reasons for limiting immigration given by Migration Watch are rational, supported by evidence and very important ones.

 

What of non-economic migrants, such as people fleeing persecution or war? I see every reason for admitting - welcoming - human rights defenders in real danger of death or torture in their own countries. I don't think it's at all realistic to admit significant numbers of those who want to escape war, just as it's not realistic to admit significant numbers of those fleeing famine. If 5 million people are at risk of death from war or famine in a country, then the problem has to be addressed within the country. The assumption that victims of war, or injustice, are always inherently virtuous has to be resisted. They may be fundamentalist fanatics, without the least understanding of the qualities needed to sustain a healthy democracy and no asset at all to this country.

 

My views in this one area are markedly different from some policies of Amnesty International. Human rights are a strong interest of mine and have been for a very long time. I was a member of Amnesty International for a very long time. I've helped to raise a considerable amount of money for Amnesty International, including the basic method - standing with a collecting tin in all weathers. I've written a large number of letters about abuses of human rights. I've been the driving force behind motions at the Annual General Meeting, and addressed Annual General Meetings to argue the case for some of these motions, and all of them were passed overwhelmingly - on such varied themes as anti-personnel mines, ways of campaigning more effectively against human rights abuse in China, ways of improving campaigning techniques in general.

 

I left Amnesty International because it was changing fast, and not, I thought, for the better. I think there's evidence that Amnesty International is now a less prominent and effective organization than it used to be but it remains an organization with many humanitarian benefits.


 

 A page of the Sheffield Green Party's Website

http://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2014/07/27/stop-the-violence-now/

has the title 'Stop the violence now!' and begins, 'Green Councillor Jillian Creasy and other local Greens took part in the  rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza.' This was organized by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

One of the photographs on the Green Party site shows a placard held by one of the demonstrators. The placard can be seen at a glance, without the least difficulty. The  image above shows the placard. I don't give the whole of the photograph to avoid infringing copyright. The placard obviously reads in full:


ISRAEL
You have Become
Like Your
NAZI
Predecessors

The 'ss' in 'predecessors uses the lettering which was employed by the German SS.

The equivalence of Israel and the Nazis is a claim which is despicable. The Green Party's inclusion of this placard on their Website is despicable. If the party never noticed this placard, they are negligent and should do everything possible to examine far more carefully the material they post  on their Website. They should also examine far more carefully the record and policies of the organization they endorse, in effect, by attending the organization's demonstration. Even a modest expenditure of effort should have revealed that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is not what it seems. See also the arguments and evidence I include on my page Israel, Islamism and Palestinian ideology.
 
A placard with exactly the same wording was on display at a demonstration organized by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign on 19 January 2009. Workers' Liberty, a  left wing organization which strongly supports the Palestinians but opposes Hamas, had its anti-Hamas placard ripped up and stamped on. My account of the incident and

the account of the incident on the Workers' Liberty Website.

In the comments section of this Workers' Liberty page, a commenter called Heather makes this point very strongly and very effectively:

'I witnessed (and photographed) a placard that said "Israel you have become like your nazi predecessors" with the "ss" done in the lightning bolt style of the Nazi SS. I found is [sic] disgusting, frightening even. But did I rip it out of the hands of the person holding it and destroy it there and then? I did not. I talked to the people around me, a lot of whom I didn't know and expressed what it was that I felt was wrong with such a statement.'

 Heather on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), fully aware, obviously, of the PSC's many failings, unlike some naive members of Sheffield Green Party (I don't in the least endorse her Marxist views and her views of the class struggle):

' ... we do not support Hamas as the resistance to the occupation, because our analysis is based on Marxism and rooted in class struggle and because Hamas is an organisation rooted in political Islam and violently oppresses women, LGBT people AND the left. [That it places the people that it claims to protect in the line of fire of Israeli tanks and bombs. That it does not recognise the right of the State of Israel to exist and we do. I could not fit all of that on to a placard.

'Since 2005 when I visited Israel and the West Bank I have been involved with solidarity work with the region. I did not join PSC because at their 2005/6 conference I was alarmed by the often sinister undertones of anti-semitism. I am not an anti-semite and that has more often than not set me apart from the people I meet who fly Palestinian flags, attend demos and shout popular slogans. I am a socialist and an internationalist.

...

'I was not suprised to hear that on the fourth demo the placard [the Workers' Liberty placard, 'No to  IDF, No to Hamas] had met with aggressive responses after spending a good hour at the demo before defending myself verbally against claims that I was "an Israeli spy" "a disgusting zionist provocatur" and being told in no uncertain terms that I was not welcome on this demo.'

I object to the placard, not for its rejection of Hamas but for its naivety. It crams a great deal of political and military stupidity into those few words, 'No to IDF.' An Israel without the Israeli Defence Force, an Israel which can be invaded and taken over at will, by the military wing of Hamas or by any other force so minded. If the occupier is Hamas, then the result would almost certainly be not just repression for the groups mentioned by Heather, such as gay people, but mass slaughter. The fate of the Jews really would remind the world of the true meaning of the much misused word 'genocide.'

There's evidence that many members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign don't endorse Hamas' policies, whilst keeping a discreet silence about their lack of support. Unfortunately for them, unfortunately for Heather, I have to say, there's overwhelming evidence that the majority of people in Gaza fully share Hamas' viewpoint. These people are anti-semitic, want to see Israel wiped off the map and share the radical Islamist views of Hamas - see the findings of the Pew Research Center for further information. The distinction between the virtuous views of the Palestinian people and the obnoxious views of Hamas is an untenable one.

On the same page of the Workers' Liberty site there's a photograph of the Sheffield Solidarity Campaign demonstration of 2009 which includes another despicable placard:



Life and death in the Warsaw ghetto (which can't be compared at all with the so-called 'Gaza Ghetto'):

The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest Jewish ghetto in Nazi Europe. 400 000 Jews were crammed into an area of 3.4 km2 (1.3 sq mi). The population density was 23 times the present population density of Gaza. Gaza's population density   is similar to that of Chicago, Boston and San Francisco.  

Many, many Jews died from starvation - the food allowed was completely insufficient - and diseases such as typhus. At least 254 000 Jews from the Ghetto were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp in the summer of 1942. Many Jews were killed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the razing of the ghetto. The number of deaths among the Jews in the ghetto is estimated to be at least 300 000.

Agriculture, industrialisation and famine

 

My page Ireland and Northern Ireland: distortions and illusions has two sections on famine and poverty and the importance of industrialisation in overcoming famine and poverty: 'The Great Famine' and 'Late 19th century stagnation and poverty.'

 

On the back cover of Peter Mathias's 'The First Industrial Nation': 'The fate of the overwhelming mass of the population in any pre-industrial society is to pass their lives on the margins of subsistence. It was only in the eighteenth century that society in north-west Europe, particularly in England, began the break with all former traditions of economic life.'

 

In the 'Prologue,' this is elaborated: 'The elemental truth must be stressed that the characteristic of any country before its industrial revolution and modernization is poverty. Life on the margin of subsistence is an inevitable condition for the masses of any nation. Doubtless there will be a ruling class, based on the economic surplus produced from the land or trade and office, often living in extreme luxury. There may well be magnificent cultural monuments and very wealthy religious institutions. But with low productivity, low output per head, in traditional agriculture, any economy which has agriculture as the main constituent of its national income and its working force does not produce much of a surplus above the immediate requirements of consumption from its economic system as a whole ... The population as a whole, whether of medieval or seventeenth-century England, or nineteenth-century India, lives close to the tyranny of nature under the threat of harvest failure or disease ... The graphs which show high real wages and good purchasing power of wages in some periods tend to reflect conditions in the aftermath of plague and endemic disease.'

 

 Larry Zuckerman, 'The Potato:' 'Famine struck France thirteen times in the sixteenth century, eleven in the seventeenth, and sixteen in the eighteenth. And this tally is an estimate, perhaps incomplete, and includes general outbreaks only. It doesn't count local famines that ravaged one area or another almost yearly. Grain's enemy was less cold weather (though that took its toll) or storms, which damaged crops in localities, than wet summers, which prevented the grain from ripening and caused it to rot.'

Desperate poverty in pre-industrial societies and the early period of industrialisation required that 'every member of a family who could work did so, down to young children.' ('The Potato'). And child labour, 'though among the industrial revolution's evils, wasn't restricted to factory or home workshop. Farm workers' six- and seven-year-old children toiled long days too.'

 

 What ended grinding poverty (the poverty of being clothed in filthy rags as well as the poverty of not having very many clothes), what eventually freed these children from work in mines, factories, workshops, the fields, what gave men, women and children increasing relief from back-breaking work, was greater productivity. For that we have to thank not feminists but above all such representatives of patriarchy as mechanical engineers, civil engineers, instrument makers, labourers, who as a matter of strict fact benefitted women as well as men.

 

Eventually, the economic benefits of industrialisation became diffused through much of the population of this country and other industrialized countries. 'The average of real wages in Britain is believed to have risen 100 per cent. in the second half of the nineteenth century ... ' (T K Derry and Trevor I Williams, 'A Short History of Technology.')

E A Wrigley, the author of 'Energy and the English Industrial Revolution,' which gives a superb explanation of the importance of coal in the industrial revolution, gives a clear and lucid summary in an important article in the Website of Vox:

 

' The most fundamental defining feature of the industrial revolution was that it made possible exponential economic growth – growth at a speed that implied the doubling of output every half-century or less. This in turn radically transformed living standards. Each generation came to have a confident expectation that they would be substantially better off than their parents or grandparents ... .

 

...

 

'Every form of material production involves the expenditure of energy and this is equally true of all forms of transport. In organic economies the dominant source of the energy employed in production was the process of photosynthesis in plants. The quantity of energy which reaches the surface of the earth each year from the sun is vast but photosynthesis captures less than 0.5% of the energy in incident sunlight.

 

'Photosynthesis was the source of mechanical energy which came predominantly from human and animal muscle power derived from food and fodder. Wind and water power were of comparatively minor importance. Photosynthesis was also the source of all heat energy used in production processes since the heat came from burning wood.

 

'The implications of this situation in limiting productive potential are clear and dire. The land constraint was a severe impediment to growth. It is epitomised in a phrase of Sir Thomas More. He remarked that sheep were eating up men. An expansion of wool production meant less land available to grow food crops. Or again, it is easy to show that, if iron smelting had continued to depend upon charcoal, a rise in the production of iron to the scale which became normal in the mid-nineteenth century would have involved covering the entire land surface of Britain with woodland.

 

Breaking free from photosynthesis

 

'Access to energy that did not spring from the annual product of plant photosynthesis was a sine qua non for breaking free from the constraints afflicting all organic economies. By an intriguing paradox, this came about by gaining access to the products of photosynthesis stockpiled over a geological time span. It was the steadily increasing use of coal as an energy source which provided the escape route.

 

'It was simple to substitute coal for wood as a solution to the problem of increasing the supply of heat energy, at least where the heat generated by burning coal and the object to be heated were separated by a barrier that allowed the transfer of heat but prevented chemical exchange.

 

'Coal could, for example, readily be substituted for wood to heat salt pans or dye vats. It could also readily be used as a source of domestic heat in an open fire though it was some time before trial and error gave rise to a chimney which could both improve combustion and evacuate smoke. The early expansion of coal production was largely for domestic use, dominated by the supply of coal from coal pits near the Tyne to London. The east coast coal trade expanded so greatly from Tudor times onwards that by the end of the seventeenth century roughly half the tonnage of the merchant navy was devoted to this trade. But it took many decades of trial and error to enable coal or coke to be substituted for charcoal in smelting iron because the transfer of chemical impurities prevented a good quality result.

 

'Until the early eighteenth century, coal, although used increasingly by the English, offered a solution only to the problem of supplying heat energy. Mechanical energy remained a matter of muscle power and was therefore limited by the photosynthesis constraint. Hence the central importance of the slow development of an effective steam engine that made it possible to convert heat energy into mechanical energy. Once this was possible the problem of limited energy supply was solved for the whole spectrum of material production and transport.'

 

Engels and Manchester

 

I quote from Edmund Wilson's 'To the Finland Station,' where he describes Engels' experience of Manchester, 'the infernal abysses of the city:'

 

'He saw the working people living like rats in the wretched little dens of their dwellings, whole families, sometimes more than one family, swarming in a single room, well and diseased, adults and children, close relations sleeping together, sometimes even without beds to sleep on when all the furniture had been sold for firewood, sometimes in damp, underground cellars which had to be bailed out when the weather was wet, sometimes living in the same room with the pigs; ill-nourished on flour mixed with gypsum and cocoa mixed with dirt, poisoned by ptomaine from tainted meat, doping themselves and their wailing children with laudanum; spending their lives, without a sewage system, among the piles of their excrement and garbage; spreading epidemics of typhus and cholera which even made inroads into the well-to-do sections.'

 

It would be very mistaken to interpret this passage about suffering during the Industrial Revolution as an indictment of industrialisation itself, or to claim that the most important factor during the industrial revolution - the factor given pre-{ordering} - was pollution of the environment. If green-minded people can read the passage above and feel greater indignation about the pollution of the environment than the human suffering of the time, then they are lacking in compassion. In my experience, compassion in these people is very often carefully rationed. 'If they hadn't polluted the environment, none of this would have happened...' (But see my remarks about compassion in the page on Industry.)

Of course, rural squalor was comparable, if less intense, but of course industrialisation was the means of ending 'inhuman squalor' in both the cities and the countryside. Inhuman squalor is unbearable squalor - the kind in which human excrement is difficult or impossible to dispose of and in which typhus and cholera flourish. The squalor which blighted the landscape as a result of industrialisation was squalor of a different kind, one which for all its disadvantages began, slowly and surely, to release most of the population from inhuman squalor.

 

It's a commonplace that the provision of clean drinking water and the proper disposal of sewage have had a far greater effect on human mortality and morbidity than any medical advances. These have required advances in the conquest of nature. 'Working with nature' is sometimes possible but often impossible, if inhuman squalor is to be avoided. (The falsity of the green opinion that nature is benign should be obvious.) In Victorian times, the construction of sewers and reservoirs involved back-breaking work, inhuman work. Now, with the benefit of bulk materials handling, earth-moving machinery, PVC pipes, and so many other developments - all an aspect of the conquest of nature, we can enjoy the benefits of industrialisation.

 

The battery cage

 

(See also my page animal welfare and activism.)

 

Modern civilization, with achievements beyond praise, has its dirty secrets and its horrors. One of them is the battery cage system, which supplied eggs to most schools and hospitals and other public and private institutions in the country. The 'enriched cage' is an advance, but falls far short of the benefits - to the chicken - of free-range conditions.

It would be a very unusual green-thinking person who bought battery chicken eggs. (Less unusual is to overlook battery chicken eggs in convenience foods and take-away foods.) The Green Party has enlightened policies on animal welfare. All the same, policies are not enough. To attend to one thing is not to attend to others. To devote to a cause the time and energy needed to have a chance of success is difficult. There's evidence that many green activists and politicians fail to give enough attention to this matter of animal welfare. To act against the battery cage and other practices of factory farming on purely environmental grounds (issues to do with feeding fishmeal or soya meal, for instance) would be to overlook the central point: that this is a moral issue, to do with the infliction of suffering, the denial of the opportunity for animals to exercise instincts. Compare the argument I give in the section above, Engels and Manchester. Again, suffering and the elimination or reduction of suffering are factors which should be given {ordering} prior to any environmental objections.

 

Councils throughout the country have never been more concerned with reducing, reusing and recycling, but most of them have done nothing about the cruelty inflicted by their purchasing policies. A large proportion of Councillors are concerned about recycling and the other green issues. The proportion shocked by the fact that free-range eggs aren't used in Council canteens is far, far smaller. Awareness of green issues can go hand in hand with indifference to cruelty. The exceptions, though, are very significant and very heartening. Forty-one Councils have decided to buy only barn or free-range eggs. They include Croydon Council, Hampshire County Council, Wirral Council, Shropshire County Council and Halton Borough Council. The others (such as Sheffield) I refer to as 'Backward British Councils' (BBC).

 

Compare and contrast these with Microsoft. From 'Farm Animal Voice,' published by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF):

 

'Microsoft UK's Head of Facilities and Property, Nicholas Willis, was shocked to realise that his company was not using free-range eggs in its canteens.

 

'When CIWF called him to check on their policy, he was sure they were already cage-free. But after making all the necessary enquiries he realised they weren't and quickly set about rectifying things.

 

'It is so refreshing to see animal welfare being taken seriously by a company that isn't directly connected with the food industry.'

 

Defence

 

A green-thinking gardener who is very energetic in digging, transporting compost and manure, in all aspects of gardening, may be mentally lazy, unwilling to make an effort in matters that aren't connected with gardening.

 

Very often, people have their 'speciality' and devote so much time and energy to acquiring knowledge of the speciality, practising its skills and keeping up with the latest developments. This is no guarantee that what they have to say about the speciality will always reflect this thorough and extensive preparation, but at least they have made the effort. But of course, people's opinions aren't concerned just with the speciality. They usually have opinions about many other things, where their preparation may be completely inadequate. It's perfectly possible for someone to come to instinctive conclusions about an issue which fuller knowledge would support, but it's also perfectly possible for someone to give naive, unthinking support to positions which fuller investigation would reveal as ridiculous.

 

A liberal, enlightened country with very advanced environmental policies and an outstanding environmental record is likely to be a vulnerable country. All its advantages are lost if the country is invaded. If the country is unable or unwilling to defend itself adequately, it will have to hope that more powerful countries will defend it.

 

 Green 'thinking' has a strong (but not invariable) linkage with pacifism but I focus attention on the need to investigate the issues of war, pacifism, defence very thoroughly. I see little evidence that people who have investigated thoroughly organic methods, recycling and the rest are willing to make a sustained effort in investigating these issues of war, pacifism and defence.

 

In fact, this isn't only a matter of acquiring information. 'Green people' are often people of good-will, not at all ruthless or cruel. They are psychologically unable to grasp the ruthlessness and cruelty of a Hitler, Himmler, Stalin or Beria. Unfortunately, if kindly, pacifist views became far more widespread, it's likely that the world wouldn't become far more kindly but that people who are anything but kindly would dominate the world far more easily.

 

'Green people,' though, aren't always so very kindly. There's sometimes a linkage between green views and very authoritarian views such as fascist views. Green people may view other people as pests not so different from garden pests. Philip Conford's book 'Origins of the Organic Movement' is a valuable guide to this, and many other, aspects of the organic movement. One of his main arguments is that the early movement had strong links to extreme right wing views. For example, Jorian Jenks, who was editor of the Soil Association journal Mother Earth from the time it was founded until 1963 actively supported the British Union of Fascists. He gives information about a secret society which supported organic farming but also opposed foreign influences supposed to be harmful, such as Judaism.

 

Green people who don't share in the least these extreme delusions may still have lesser delusions. If they want to be taken seriously when they speak about matters of war and defence, they should be able to give informed and realistic answers to questions such as these (and the familiar practices of organic gardening and farming, recycling and energy saving are no use in answering them):

 

 

 

 

 

The New Age

 

There are many, many people with green commitment who are immune to new age delusions, who see no necessary linkage between composting, building with straw bales or cob, and the rest - and runes, extravagant claims for the spiritual powers of trees, claims that all animals are equal (slugs and nematodes the equal of Mozart.) For green people with a defective sense of reality, the cosmic sphere is particularly congenial. And there are green people who are realistic in one sphere - they recognize the harsh realities of the land, the weather, the limits imposed by the natural world - and credulous in other spheres, recognizing hardly any limits to their delusions.

 

Modern transportation would be inconceivable without the internal combustion engine and manufacturing the engines and supplying the engines with fuel necessarily demands massive industrial output and massive financial commitment - it demands, in fact, 'big business.'

 

Green ideologists who smile at this defence of something they might describe as a polluting monstrosity, to be got rid should try to imagine a world without them. They can imagine a world in which transportation of people is by non-polluting bicycle and transportation of goods is by bicycles pulling trailers, but would be vague about the difficulties, which are insuperable. How are bicyles to be manufactured without heavy machinery and electric power? After an earthquake, how is heavy lifting equipment to be transported to the disaster area to rescue survivors? If the bicycle is a practical method of transport in some circumstances, it's completely unrealistic in others, such as areas with heavy snowfall in winter. A small-scale counterpart of the bicycle for use on water might be a small rowing boat, again, non-polluting and a practical method of transport in some circumstances but in most cases not. Although people have rowed across the Atlantic, trans-Atlantic transport will never depend upon rowing boats. Although small shops as well as massive stores can sell vehicle components such as lubricating oil and wiper blades, although small filling stations can sell petrol and diesel, only massive operations with massive financial power can manufacture and distribute the components and the fuels. Manufacturing lubricating oil, petrol or diesel from crude oil can never be turned into a 'human-scale' cottage industry, supplied by earnest cyclists pulling small trailers.

 

Organic gardening: objections

 

I was an organic gardener for many years, and for many years a member of the Henry Doubleday Research Organization, one of the main organic associations in this country (later, it changed its name.) I was mistaken, and I moved on. My practice is still prodominantly organic, but I use non-organic chemicals without any misgivings.

 

The section on ships and wind power on this page dramatically illustrates the disadvantages of non-polluting power and the decisive advantages of power which releases pollutants.]Non-organic horticulture can have decisive advantages too. I don't, of course, advocate in the least excessive or indiscriminate use of chemicals.

 

One of the first changes I made was to abandon use of blood, fish and bone as a fertilizer and to use instead a non-organic fertilizer, Growmore. I had no way of knowing if the animals slaughtered to produce the blood and the bone had been treated humanely. I've been a vegetarian for most of my life. For these reasons, the non-organic product was far preferable to this particular organic product.

 

An abandoned allotment opposite my lower allotment was infested with Japanese knot weed. It isn't impossible to eradicate this weed without using a chemical treatment, but it requires immense dedication, immense hard work and an enormous expenditure of time. Dedicated, time consuming work on this one project would involve neglect of duties, neglect of so many worthwhile activity. How could anyone who is involved in action to relieve human or animal suffering,  or to promote free expression, or to further scientific research or achievement in engineering or scholarship, or so many other worthwhile ends, neglect any of these, deciding that getting rid of a patch of Japanese knotweed by laborious, time-consuming methods is more important? Glyphosate would do the job effectively, in a fraction of the time - use it.

 

 

Status and self-esteem

 

The green movement has achievements that anyone can respect and admire. The harnessing of alternative energy sources often requires massive, sophisticated engineering, particularly, perhaps, the harnessing of wave power. These are the achievements of engineers  rather than of green activists. There are many people who are  active at the level of 'intermediate technology,' and again, their achievements can be respected and admired. Such organizations as the Centre for Alternative Technology and community composting schemes work at this level.

 

As for the ordinary green-minded person who recycles, re-uses, reduces consumption of materials and energy (and I'm one of them), this is fine, but these activities alone shouldn't enhance anyone's reputation, except marginally. They require negligible skill, knowledge or personal qualities. They shouldn't be a main source of a person's sense of self-esteem. They aren't activities which need take up more than a fraction of the day.

Profiles

Tom Moss: pond life
 

Tom Moss has a view of human life which is  limited and demeaning, like the views of so many other green (immature, unsophisticated or gullible) people. This is a short letter of his which was published in 'The Times:'

 

'Magnus Linklater claims, inter alia, that "the one species whose survival is essential" is man (Sept 24). This overlooks the fact that for 99 per cent of the world's history, when Man did not exist, it survived perfectly satisfactorily and that, during the tiny sliver of time during which Man has existed, he has caused increasing ecological chaos.

'Surely Mr Linklater should have said "the one species whose survival is superfluous is man".'

Tom Moss, Camberley, Surrey

This is the Green view of humanity as nothing but polluters, destructive, despoilers, not a green view of humanity which recognizes that some pollution and damage to the environment are unavoidable. Even the simple act of walking causes some damage. Multiplied many times it leads to erosion. The massive pollution of the environment which occurred when burning coal was the main source of energy is nothing to be ashamed of in the least. It was inevitable. Tom Moss no doubt showers in warm water, drinks hot coffee not cold coffee, often eats hot food and not just raw food, heats his house or flat in cold weather, doesn't only travel on horseback and makes use of many, many articles which require large amounts of energy to manufacture. During the industrial revolution, the main fuel used to achieve all these desirable ends was coal.

His green view seems not to be one which recognizes the magnitude of the problem but is concerned with intelligent and practical action to reduce pollution and damage and which recognizes that often, high technology is the only way to achieve this. This is a green view which denigrates human achievement and treats humanity as on the same level as pond life. To call Tom Moss 'Tom (Pond Life) Moss' should be quite a compliment to him. What could be less damaging to the environment than pond life?

After doing a little research, I find that someone called Tom Moss of Camberwell is interested in diving, which is reliant upon modern technology for its equipment and for transporting people to the places that interest divers. I wonder if the diver and the letter-writer are the same person. If they are, it may be that he confines his diving to swimming down to the bottom of the local boating lake without the aid of any equipment, causing minimal environmental damage.

His view is, of course, based on a grotesquely limited survey. It has linkages with a Christian view of humanity as sinners, responsible for all the suffering and imperfections of the world, a view which blames humanity rather than the Creator for smallpox, cholera and all the other deficiencies of the world.

When humanity began to use fire for cooking, to give some warmth and cheer in cold rain, sleet and snow, and later for heating in stoves, then wood was used as the fuel. In the developing world, of course, wood is still used on a massive scale. To blame humanity for the fact that the people who chop down trees for these purposes are causing environmental damage is deranged. It would be no more rational to blame humanity for the chemical reactions which occur when wood is burned, releasing some polluting compounds. What are the poor who have no alternatives to the use of wood to do? Stop using it? By using intermediate technology, at least it's possible to make the burning of wood more efficient. When charcoal was used for the production of iron and later steel, it was to make tools and implements which were indispensable for cultivation, the construction of buildings and other uses. The fact that burning charcoal gives off pollutants was no fault of humanity. Later, charcoal was largely replaced by another polluting fuel, coal, vital for transporting people, goods and food, for pumping drinking water, and for any number of other uses - ones which were vital and not luxuries. Waterwheels which powered flour mills used a renewable resource, but when the water level was low, they were useless. Steam engines gave a guaranteed source of power. Back-breaking agricultural work was reduced by the introduction of steam powered machinery.

The industrial revolution led to suffering on an enormous scale but eventually the benefits were far more important. In the celebrated phrase of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, life in a state of nature was 'nasty, brutish and short.' A partial conquest over nature was essential to free humanity from a Malthusian existence where life was shortened by famine and disease, where winter was dreaded and survival was always in doubt. Science and technology have also helped to loosen the grip of superstition, although new forms of superstition are constantly being born, such as the various 'green superstitions.' But the benefits of science and technology are generally taken for granted, as if they are provided naturally and not by ingenuity, creativity and immensely difficult, patient work.

Of course, science and technology are also responsible for overpopulation and overpopulation causes immense damage to the environment. Even environmental fantasists know, surely, that the reason why population is so high is because humanity has been freed from the harsh facts which govern populations in natural conditions: the early death of most offspring, the death of so many young adults and middle-aged adults. As for the future and future dangers, the only starting point available is our present starting point. Speculations like those of Tom (Pond Life) Moss which wish away humanity are of no use at all: pure self-indulgence.

The practical objections to his views are only the start. Practical achievements aren't the only ones which have raised humanity so far above the level of pond life. A very short list of practical achievements and other achievements which reflects, very, very inadequately, some of my own interests from an inexhaustible list of possibilities:

Rembrandt: Isaac and Rebecca (The Jewish Bride). Vermeer, 'The Geographer.' The fan vaulting, the whole interior, of King's College Chapel, Cambridge. Mozart, the Quintet 'Di scrivermi ogni giorno' and the Trio 'Soave sia il vento' from 'Cosi fan Tutte.' Beethoven, the 'Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesen an die Gottheit,' from the Quartet Opus 132. Quantum Theory. Newton and Leibniz and calculus. Linear algebra and topology. Symbolic logic. Huntsman's process for crucible steel. Brunel's work in tunnelling. Human goodness: Nelson Mandela and Raoul Wallenberg, who saved Jews in Budapest.

I don't like such lists at all, but this list doesn't, I think, have the crassness of 'the world's 10 best books' or 'the 10 best paintings.' I make an exception here. Other people would arrive at different lists, and I could easily put together any number of very different lists, but they would all make it clear that whereas pond life has failed to achieve anything beyond mere survival and reproduction, humanity has achieved very much more. For more on the contrast between physical survival and values, in an unexpected context, see the page on smoking.

Paul Kingsnorth and green terrorism

In conjugates, it's often the case that something which can be admired is linked with something which should be criticized, and criticized very severely. The writer Paul Kingsnorth gives a disturbing instance.

 

In his book 'Real England: The Battle Against the Bland,' he makes an impassioned case for preserving local distinctiveness and countering the threats to local distinctiveness. He writes about the rich but  vanishing world of English orchards. (I've planted an orchard in my lower allotment made up of apple trees, giving culinary, dessert and cider apples, and there are more fruit trees in the upper allotment, apple and plum trees.) He writes,


'Certainly no other country has, over the course of many centuries, created such a stunning and curious diversity of this fruit.


'Every county, every soil type, in some places every village, grew its own variety of apple, in orchards whose twisted trunks and unploughed ground provided havens for wildlife ... Eggleston Styre. Scarlet John Standish. Laxton's Superb. Gravenstein. Kirkston Pippin. Foxwhelp. Lady Henniker. Cornish Honeypin. Keswick Codlin. Yorkshire Greening. These are just a few of the varieties of apple that were once grown across the country: at least 2500 of them, accounting for more than a quarter of all the apple types on earth ... Every region has its own apple-based recipes, from pies to puddings to ciders ...'


'Walk into any of the supermarkets which sell 70 per cent of all the apples bought today, though and the story they tell about the state of the nation won't be a happy one ... They will be grown in vast industrial orchards and packed in factories which will measure their diameter and 'colour ratio' to the nearest millimetre. They will be selected not for taste or seasonality, but for their ability to travel long distances without bruising, and look identical on the shelves. And they will be on the shelves all year round, whatever is growing outside the sliding doors.

...

'It is possible to drive down roads in Herefordshire or Kent that even five years ago ran between blossoming trees, which today are surrounded by empty fields or sorry, shrivelled stumps. Wiltshire has lost 95 per cent of its orchards since 1945; Devon 90 per cent since 1965; East Anglia 80 per cent since 1950. The amount of land taken up by apple orchards has halved in the last decade alone, and the amount of fruit they produce has halved in the last five years. The reason is simple: there's no living in it any more.'

On his Website, www [dot] paulkingsnorth [dot net he writes

I’ve recently begun reading the collected writings of Theodore Kaczynski. I’m worried that it may change my life. Some books do that, from time to time, and this is beginning to shape up as one of them.


It’s not that Kaczynski, who is a fierce, uncompromising critic of the techno-industrial system, is saying anything I haven’t heard before. I’ve heard it all before, many times. By his own admission, his arguments are not new. But the clarity with which he makes them, and his refusal to obfuscate, are refreshing. I seem to be at a point in my life where I am open to hearing this again. I don’t know quite why.


Here are the four premises with which he begins the book, the common ignorant dismissal of technology but presented with unusual clarity:


'1. Technological progress is carrying us to inevitable disaster;
2. Only the collapse of modern technological civilisation can avert disaster;
3. The political left is technological society’s first line of defence against revolution;
4. What is needed is a new revolutionary movement, dedicated to the elimination of technological society.'

 

'One day, in August 1983, Kaczynski set out hiking towards his favourite wild place:


The best place, to me, was the largest remnant of this plateau that dates from the Tertiary age. It’s kind of rolling country, not flat, and when you get to the edge of it you find these ravines that cut very steeply in to cliff-like drop-offs and there was even a waterfall there … That summer there were too many people around my cabin so I decided I needed some peace. I went back to the plateau and when I got there I found they had put a road right through the middle of it… You just can’t imagine how upset I was. It was from that point on I decided that, rather than trying to acquire further wilderness skills, I would work on getting back at the system. Revenge.


'I can identify with pretty much every word of this, including, sometimes, the last one. This is the other reason that I do not want to end up being convinced by Kaczynski’s position. Ted Kaczynski was known to the FBI as the ‘Unabomber’ during the twenty years in which he sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. In those two decades he killed three people and injured twenty-three others. His targets lost eyes and fingers and sometimes their lives. He nearly brought down an aeroplane. Unlike many other critics of the technosphere, who are busy churning out books and doing the lecture circuit and updating their anarcho-primitivist websites, Kaczynski wasn’t just theorising about being a revolutionary. He meant it.'

 

Perhaps he's moved on since then and is willing to distance himself from these insane acts without any equivocation. I hope so.

 

OneKind and animal welfare. Is Nature kind?

 

A new animal welfare organization with some old illusions and delusions. This is from the OneKind Website, wonderful if the reading is superficial, ridiculous if the reading is well-informed, although not all of it is misguided.

 

'HumanKind around the world has become detached from nature, and we believe that this is the root cause behind the environmental crises we now face, such as climate change and mass extinctions, and the suffering endured by animals at the hands of humans. We believe that the more we understand animals, how amazing they are, and how similar they are to HumanKind, the more we realise we’re all OneKind. This shift in how we relate to the animals we share this planet with is fundamental if we are to restore our balance with the natural world and end cruelty to farm and wild animals.'

 

I've been an activist in the field of animal welfare for a very long time. In particular, I've been a determined and uncompromising opponent of factory faring, the fur trade and bullfighting. A page of this site gives a general introduction to my activism and there's also a very extensive page concerned with bullfighting, bullfighting: arguments against and action against

 

My aim has been to do what I can to reduce cruelty to animals, whilst recognizing that what I can achieve myself is very, very little in comparison with the scale of animal suffering. Not only am I just one person amongst so many others, I recognize that only a proportion of animal suffering can possibly be reduced by human action. Nature inflicts far more suffering on animals than humans.

 

What is the overall aim of HumanKind? Not, surely, to end all animal suffering Now! That's completely unrealistic, but so is the aim to end all animal suffering eventually. As long as nature has a part to play, and it must, then animals will suffer. The linkage between nature and human nature is very problematic, but human nature, like nature, can only be modified to an extent. It's overwhelmingly unlikely that all people will treat animals kindly, and even less likely that nature will treat animals kindly.

 

Recommended to the people at OneKind: a study of Thomas Malthus, one of those people who have drawn attention to the harshness of nature and the harshness of reality. In a state of nature, adorable couples -  of dogs, or rabbits, or people or whatever - tend to produce many adorable puppies or baby rabbits, or human babies or whatever. But many more than can possibly survive. The death of so many of these adorable puppies or rabbits or human babies or other progeny is generally inevitable, by starvation or disease. In the Malthusian world, which is also the world of nature, many are born but few can survive.

 

Human ingenuity and inventiveness has ended this natural cruelty for most people and for many, many animals. Puppies and pet rabbits and the majority of people have benefitted - but the release from this natural scourge is far more than a simple 'benefit.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



An overview

Large areas of my lower allotment were unusable for growing, including the area shown above. They had been used as a rubbish dump. A very thin layer of degraded soil covered a mass of broken glass, plastic and rusted metal. I constructed raised beds in all these areas, as here. The area is next to a south-facing wall, with favourable growing conditions. Here, the beds are used for growing courgettes [zucchini] and squash. A grape vine is beginning to grow up the trellis. The raised beds on either side of the pond withstand the water pressure on these two sides, the wall behind the pond withstands water pressure on this side, whilst the heap of large stones withstands the pressure on the remaining side. (Image above from the photographic introduction to the two allotments.)

The water reservoir has more than one function: water collection, a wildlife habitat, a place of beauty, at least in receptive states of mind.  It attracts damselflies and other invertebrate creatures and frogs use it every year for breeding. The sloping piece of wood visible in the image is for the use of the young frogs when they leave the pond. The frogs are important in the organic control of pests in this allotment but the most important thing is the benefit to the frogs, not to me. Growing in the water reservoir is the native British water lily, Nymphaea alba.




Soil used to construct the raised beds came from various places, including this one. Removal of the top soil here produced infertile conditions suitable for a range of native wild flowers which have much less competition from other plants in these conditions. Some of them are very rare in the wild.

The image shows wild flowers which grew from seed sown not long after the top-soil was removed: Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), Corncockle (Agrestemma githago), Corn marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum), Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Common Poppy (Papaver rheum).

The common poppy, which commemorates the overwhelming sacrifices made by Britain in the First World War, sacrifices which in general were far from 'futile' and in general ignored by green-minded people (who also tend to ignore the sacrifices made during the Second World War to defeat Nazi Germany.) The reality was that Germany had occupied a large area of France and almost the whole of Belgium. The free and independent life of France and Belgium demanded resistance. In Britain, the poppy is the poignant symbol of resistance and sacrifice, in France the beautiful cornflower.

Another area of the allotment is used for native plants which are found in marshy areas. I could extend these areas, but only by reducing the area used for growing food. Green 'thinking' tends to neglect these obvious difficulties. To concentrate on one thing is to neglect another. In this case, the decision to use most of an allotment to produce food at the expense of native wild plants can easily be defended.

Although the throwing away of glass, plastic and metal is wrong, the production and use of glass, plastic, metal and other materials is obviously vital. Without them, life is a state of extreme harshness. Control over nature is an absolute necessity, as I explain in a section of my page on feminist ideology,  The material conditions of life.

Hobbes gave this description of life in a state of nature, which is a state of extreme harshness, not in the least a state of blissful freedom ('Leviathan,' XIII. 9):

'In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently, not culture of the earth, no navigation, nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.'

Just visible behind the trellis in the top image is an Anderson Shelter, an air-raid shelter from the Second World War, on its side: a reminder that gardening, like other human activities, is subject to other forms of harshness. This period is not the only time in Britain's history when it has been threatened by invasion, of course, and invasions have been an almost constant reality throughout human history. When Poland was invaded by the Nazis, peaceful gardeners, like others in Polish society, were at risk of deportation, forced labour, execution, extermination.

From my page Aphorisms:

'History records that a country's crop yields can easily be reduced by poor weather, poor soil, pests, plant diseases, weeds and invasion of the country.'

The risk of invasion may be slight for this country for the foreseeable future, but other risks are much more likely, such as risks from terrorism. Defence against all these risks requires high technology and adequate investment, as well as attitudes which peaceful gardeners may or may not appreciate.

Helping amphibians and other creatures by building a raised pond required the help of technology, the pond-liner made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) a product made from crude oil. Growing brassicas, such as cabbage and broccoli, is generally impossible in this area without protection. Without protection, pigeons strip the plants bare. The netting used here in the protection system I designed was manufactured from organic building blocks which come from crude oil.



The massive, complex operation which provides these molecules, and an extraordinary range of others, and the diesel fuel which powers the tractor which delivers manure to the allotment, is the oil refinery and without oil refineries, life would be so harsh as to be unlivable.

When I took on the allotment, it was overgrown with weeds and brambles. I cleared the brambles by using a scythe, before putting down black weed-control fabric to clear the area. The method I used was organic but technological. The weed-control fabric is yet another useful product which has its source in oil refineries. Green ideologists who support the use of old carpets for killing weeds by organic methods haven't thought things through. Re-using can have severe disadvantages. Old carpets are bulky and heavy and still have to be disposed of after they've killed the weeds, by which time their condition will be very off-putting.

The river which runs not far from this allotment was a very important source of power and a source of power which left the beauty of the area undiminished. The river supplied the dams which supplied the water to turn the water wheels. Water power was used for grinding scythe blades and for many other purposes. From the publication, 'Walking the Rivelin:'

The mills, workshops and forges supported a wide range of trades, such as grinding and finishing blades of various types, optical glass grinding, paper making (from rags), corn milling, lead smelting, forging metalwork ...wire drawing ... '



Water power is no longer used in the valley. The last waterwheel to be used continued until 1939, for scythe grinding.  Water power was intermittent. Water levels in the river were insufficient for extended periods, making scythe grinding and all the other operations impossible. The scythe blade I used came from a nearby factory which uses electrical power, of course. Steam power and electrical power solved this problem, and could be used anywhere, in locations better situated for transportation, the developing canal system, improved roads and later the railways.

From the same book: 'Life in the grinding hulls was tough and unhealthy - often cold and damp and with the air full of stone and metal dust, which caused various eye and lung conditions, including silicosis. In the 1830's life exectancy among fork grinders, who used dry grindstones, was around 30 years, whereas table-knife grinders, using wet grindstones, could expect to live to 40 or 50.' The dust extraction equipment and other safety equipment which transformed the lives of these workers owed everything to technology, nothing to people with green concerns. People with green concerns are often indifferent to technology, indifferent to human suffering, if it's the suffering of such people as grinders, and indifferent to technology's humanitarian benefits.

Wind power, like water power, has the advantage of being non-polluting, but has severe disadvantages.

 

Why are most ships not equipped  with sails rather than polluting diesel engines? For very good reasons. When winds fail, the non-polluting sailing ship is becalmed and can make no progress, sometimes for long periods. Journeys can take months. Often, the direction of the wind is unfavourable. The ship is vulnerable to severe storms. Sailing ships are limited in size, with limited capacity in their holds, compared to ships with diesel engines. Sailing ships could never be a practicable means of transporting crude oil, for example. Crude oil is indispensable, of course, for purposes as varied as the transportation of timber and as a source of organic molecules for the manufacture of plastics and a vast range of other products necessary in medicine and for innumerable other purposes. Non-renewable resources are indispensable for many, many uses - without them, life is 'nasty, brutish and short.' In this country, the need for timber, a renewable resource, is far greater than the supply. If timber is to be used, it has to be imported, on ships, and ships which, realistically, have to use fuel.

 

The Thanet Green Party Council Election Manifesto 2015 begins, 'If elected to the Council, Thanet Green Party Councillors will:

 

'Promote and support Green industries.'

 

So Green Party Councillors wouldn't support a manufacturer of marine engines, which are polluting? Do Green Party Councillors imagine that the country can do without trains with diesel engines, lorries with diesel engines, cars with petrol or diesel engines? Cycling is favoured by Green Party supporters, but the manufacture of cycles would be impossible without the import to this country of rubber, a product of tropical agriculture, by ships with diesel engines. These people are impossible to take seriously. See also, on this page, my letter to a Green Party Candidate standing for election in this area.

 

This is the polluting but practical engine room of USNS hospital ship 'Comfort' and an image of the ship, used in disaster-relief and humanitarian missions worldwide, whose humanitarian work will not be delayed for days, weeks or months by lack of wind:

 

Another polluting machine, a helicopter. 'Victims of Super Typhoon Megi unload humanitarian aid supplies from a U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter.'

 

 

Again and again, lorries, polluting vehicles, have delivered humanitarian supplies which have saved the lives of victims of earthquakes. Often, earthquakes have made roads unusable. In this case, humanitarian supplies have been dropped by helicopters, other polluting methods of transportation. But the manufacture of helicopters, like the manufacture of lorries, doesn't qualify as 'green industry.' Many, many Green Party supporters either loathe their manufacture or have absolutely no interest in their manufacture. Responsible, realistic parties do have an interest.

 

An exasperated, sarcastic view of some green ideological views, which often disregard beauty and almost invariably disregard such practicalities as defence:

























 




Above, two views of the Port Talbot steelworks, South Wales. The owner, Tata, is selling all its steel-making business, including the Port Talbot works. The response of the Neath Port Talbot Green Party has been very, very weak. The Party's Facebook page does include a 'sharing' of a post by Lisa Rapado of Wales Green Party, which includes this vague hope: 'Short term, mid term and long term solutions needed.' The Green Party has next to no interest in steel and steel manufacture and obviously can't summon up much interest in the dumping of Chinese steel, even though steel is obviously a necessity for the manufacture of bicycles and the manufacture of buses and railway carriages and railway engines and other necessities of public transport.