Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated Lincoln (about the 16th US president, not the East Midlands town*) is released in the UK today. Simon Leadbetter argues that future generations will see our debate about the cause of, and response to, climate change in the same way we view historic arguments over slavery. There was only ever one valid conclusion and one course of action then – just as there is now.
The modern era is unusual in that it does not see slavery as tolerable. For the whole of our human history, trading people as property has been seen as an acceptable form of commerce. It predates written history and it is still with us even today. There are still 12 to 27 million people estimated to be living bondage.
Every single aspect of human progress has been fought for and hard won, and always resisted by powerful vested interests. Expanding the franchise to the poor, emancipating women, creating a framework of education, healthcare and equal rights, better working conditions, fairer pay and, of course, abolishing slavery, have all been resisted and still are to a certain extent.
There are still some today who, if they were completely honest, would say that society has deteriorated since the poor, women and minorities gained rights. Fortunately, for them, an eager media relishes demonising, sexualising and caricaturing these groups to ensure that their voices are regularly diminished.
Whenever someone proposes a ‘wild’ progressive idea, there are always those who raise, amongst other objections, economic concerns. It runs along the same lines every time: if we do this it will damage our economy, the downside is greater than the upside. There is a serious body of academic work on the economic reasons for and benefits of slavery. A similar body of work attacks expanding the franchise to the poor and women.
Oppression of any kind is certainly profitable for the dominant group. Readers of various investment magazines would be the first to applaud and invest in anything that led to profit maximisation, and oppose anything that limited it. If slavery was reintroduced, they would pile in to reap the handsome profits on offer – despite the cost in human misery and suffering.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist” – 13th amendment
Slavery in the UK was effectively made illegal by a 1772 case (R v Knowles, ex parte Somersett) and by statute in 1833, when the Slavery Abolition Act was introduced. Britain used its naval strength to hunt down slave ships. The US followed in 1865 with the 13th amendment, after a four-year long and very bloody civil war. Around 625,000 people were killed and 412,000 injured: representing 3% of the US population at the time.
Visionary, courageous and determined individuals, for moral and religious reasons, fought and won against those that profited from slavery. The Quakers and abolitionist movement sparked the ethical investment sector.
We started our slow realisation that commerce (in this case, the burning of coal) might be damaging the environment, and us, with the Great Smog of 1952. This severe and lethal pollution event coincided with a period of cold weather, windless conditions and lasted for five days. The number of fatalities is thought to have been 20,000, while around 100,000 were made ill. It still took four years to pass The Clean Air Act, imposing smoke control and encouraging the use of smokeless fuel. Progress was slow and smog struck again in 1962. Unfortunately, we had failed to learn the lessons of 1272, when Edward I banned the burning of sea coal in London, due to the problems of smoke.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country” – Abraham Lincoln
While there had been a nascent environmental movement throughout the industrial revolution, the Great Smog really provided the impetus for modern environmentalism, seeing the movement expand from the ‘60s.
The recent era has been dominated by the philosophy that growth is good and profit is the only goal, regardless of the cost to society and the environment.
However, the Earth’s resources and ability to regulate itself are finite and this imposes natural limits on growth. Industrialisation in the developed world gave birth to environmentalism, as people witnessed the damage being done first hand, and industrialisation in the developing world has made environmentalism an urgent necessity.
As living standards rise in the countries that have populations greater than Europe and the US combined, India and China, so the demand for energy, water, food and consumer goods rises inexorably.
Unless we recognise our planet’s constraints and how ignoring them is having a terrible effect on our climate specifically, and environment more generally, our future will look increasingly uncertain.
But today we are faced by senior politicians, columnists, rogue scientists and celebrities who argue against human-caused climate change or assert that the costs of doing anything would be ruinous for our economy. When you scratch the surface of any of these sceptics they either have no relevant scientific training or have a vested interest in the status quo.
Commerce and industry that threatens the climate is our generation’s slavery, and you either fall into the camp of progress, reaction or apathy. Tragically, the latter group is often the largest on most issues of progress, but are often very happy to reap the benefits of any change. As are the reactionaries, who once defeated seek new and exciting ways to profit from progress.
Slavery was abolished in the UK 180 years ago and we now recognise its abolition as a vital triumph of our nation’s character. One can speculate on how dimly and angrily the people of 2193, in another 180 years’ time, will view our feeble political leadership, indecision and inaction today.
Abolishing slavery took vision, courage and determination and was, put simply, the right thing to do. It birthed an enlightened investment community that rejected profit at any cost.
A sustainable future, one that we would want our great, great, great grandchildren to inhabit, needs people with the same vision, courage and determination to reject reckless and unethical investment and reject those rapacious companies that profit from polluting the Earth.
The way we invest today is harming our planet, its people and everyone’s prosperity. It’s time to say that neither reckless nor unsustainable investment shall exist.
“The struggle of today, is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also” – Abraham Lincoln
* More’s the pity
UPDATE: Friends of the Earth has pointed us at an inspiring speech made by Labour peer Lord Puttnam on just this very subject in 2007. Read more here.
What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?
A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.
When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.
New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.
This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.
Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.
With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.
Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.
The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.
Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.
Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy
Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.
Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.
Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.
How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:
- They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
- They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
- They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
- They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.
Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.
Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use
The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.
Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.
Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers
Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.
Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.
Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy
Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:
- Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
- Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
- Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.
You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.