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Letter Signed By 200 Demanding New BP Arts Sponsorship To Be “Dropped”

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National Portrait Gallery London 044 by David Holt via Flikr

214 have signed a damning letter in today’s Times calling for BP’s new 5-year sponsorship deals with the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company to be cancelled.

The signatories argue, “These institutions’ decisions are badly out of step with the mood of their own staff and audiences”. The announcement of the new deals last week was met with condemnation from campaigners and an assurance that protests and art interventions against BP sponsorship would escalate – including a public ‘Splashmob’ in the British Museum in September.

Prominent signatories include actors Mark Rylance and Ezra Miller, writer and activist Naomi Klein, Nigerian poet, campaigner and winner of the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) 2010 Nnimmo Bassey, environmentalists Jonathon Porritt and Bill McKibben, composer Matthew Herbert, artist Conrad Atkinson, climate science historian Naomi Oreskes, and West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda.

Clayton Thomas-Müller, a prominent Canadian Cree activist and signatory of the letter, said:“By signing this new deal with BP, the British Museum is helping the oil company drill more wells and build more pipelines – poisoning Indigenous communities and destroying our planet’s future. Once again, the British Museum is on the wrong side of history. With public culture supporting fossil fuel colonialism, it’s up to frontline struggles to keep the oil in the soil.”

Anna Galkina, a campaigner with Platform (part of the Art Not Oil coalition), said: “Oil sponsorship is meant to buy artists’ silence and audiences’ approval, and silence the people who live on the frontlines of oil extraction and climate change. This letter shows that more and more artists, culture professionals and academics are no longer happy standing by while BP brands the UK’s biggest museums and theatres for a pittance. BP is wrecking the climate and wrecking lives, from the Gulf of Mexico to West Papua, and deserves to be cast out of our culture.”

Earlier this year, BP’s 26-year sponsorship of Tate and 34-year sponsorship of Edinburgh International Festival were ended, following years of protests, art interventions and dissent from prominent artists and performers.

BP claims its sponsorship comes with ‘no strings attached’ but internal emails released by the Art Not Oil coalition have shown this to be untrue. In 2015 BP leant on the British Museum to host a Mexican “Days of the Dead” festival where it was able to meet with members of the Mexican government just weeks before bidding for new drilling licences in the Gulf of Mexico, according to British Museum emails published in a report by the coalition in May. Other emails showed BP convened a security meeting attended by senior staff from sponsored institutions to discuss security measures for responding to peaceful protest. The Museums Association’s Ethics Committee have considered the report’s findings and are expected to issue a statement soon on whether its Code of Ethics has been breached.

Among the letter’s signatories are 16 representatives of frontline groups, solidarity campaigns and Indigenous struggles against BP’s operations and the impacts of climate change, from Australia to Latin America to the US Gulf Coast to West Papua. A full list of signatories can be found below.

Letter text:

Re: Another five years of BP-branded culture

BP’s announcement of five-year sponsorship deals with the British Museum, Royal Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Shakespeare Company is outdated and unacceptable.

We cannot afford another five years of BP-branded culture. We believe museums, theatres and galleries are public institutions that must play a positive role in taking urgent climate action and defending human rights. If the world is to avoid rapid and devastating climate change in the coming decades, most of the oil on BP’s books cannot be burned. Meanwhile, the company continues acting in defiance of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and harming lives every day – despite community resistance from the Gulf Coast to West Papua to Australia.

We know now that BP sponsorship comes with strings attached. A recent report revealed how BP leant on the British Museum to hold events timed with BP’s bid for drilling licenses in Mexico, and how the museum checked in with BP on curatorial decisions.

Branding a major museum or theatre has become cheaper for BP (just £375,000 a year for each institution, on average). This is less than the cost of a short billboard campaign. Surveys show that a majority of Londoners, and the British Museum’s own staff, are against BP sponsorship.[7] These institutions’ decisions are badly out of step with the mood of their own staff and audiences. BP is not welcome to use our culture to promote its destructive business – these deals must be cancelled.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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