What we learned this week

The UK has a different government than this time last week. This one plans to keep the ban on fracking that last week’s government put in the bin. But they’ve also re-banned onshore wind, which last week’s government had finally set free.

No word yet on whether the proposed ban on solar arrays on agricultural land will remain, but this week’s government might want to keep this in mind: one of the biggest investors in solar farms in the last few years has in fact been… the government. As well as many local councils, the Ministry of Defence has been building them for its military bases, and the Ministry of Justice has installed over 20 to serve its prisons.

The small charity Freedom From Torture, of which I’m a supporter, has been instrumental in challenging the government’s racist policy to export refugees to Rwanda. They have targeted the charter airline that had taken the government’s contract, and after a series of thoughtful direct actions, Privilege Style have pulled out. At a time when protest can appear almost random in its attention seeking tactics, it’s a good case study in strategic truth-telling.

Speaking of truth telling, nine students in Uganda have been arrested for protesting against Total’s planned EACOP pipeline, a hugely damaging project that has proved dangerous to oppose. You can send a letter of solidarity through 350.org as they stand trial this week.

Regular readers will have heard about it earlier, but I wrote about our summer holiday to Sweden for the Flight Free UK campaign.

The Vegan Society has revised and relaunched its Plate up for the Planet campaign, if you’ve been contemplating more of a shift in a vegan direction.

This week I’ve been on half-term, and amongst my holiday reading was Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few. I rather like Chambers’ people-centred sci-fi, and this one deserves a mention because the circular economy is a background theme. The book is as much a portrait of a community as a story, describing life on the Exodus Fleet, in which humanity abandoned a degraded earth centuries before. With many colonies to choose from now, the fleet is a remnant from a bygone era, and its distinctive pattern of ship-borne life is being eroded. Chambers explores how life works in the fleet, where everything is repaired, everything is shared, and nothing is wasted. It’s a way of life that people are advised to remember when they leave and choose a colony to settle on: “remember that a closed system is a closed system even when you can’t see the edges.”

Highlights from this week:

Land, food and the future

At the weekend I gave a talk on sustainable food to a student conference in China. I had a fairly open brief to talk about any aspect of food sustainability that I liked, and so I thought I’d write about land. In George Monbiot’s recent book Regenesis, he talks about how the climate and ecological…

The search for new growing spaces

In part three of this series on land, food and the future, I want to look at some of the possibilities for expanding food production without destroying the environment. (In case you missed them, here are parts one and two) Earlier we ruled out a bunch of land types that aren’t currently used for agriculture:…

More food from the same land

Yesterday I wrote about pressures on limited global farmland, and how we basically had two choices. We could look for new growing spaces, or try to get more food from what we have. Tomorrow I’ll look at the first of those, and today I’ll look at the second – is there any way to get…

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