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Baroness Thatcher dies: an Iron Lady, definitely; a Green Lady, maybe



Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday aged 87, was a deeply divisive leader, but she was certainly a leader. One area of that leadership was in climate change. In 1988, she told the Royal Society, “Stable prosperity can be achieved throughout the world provided the environment is nurtured and safeguarded.” This is the very essence of sustainability.

Fourteen years later, in her book Statecraft, she had come to be deeply suspicious of what she perceived to be the hijacking of the climate change debate by the left.

We should not conflate her deeply held suspicion of state intervention and her intellectual grasp of the science. After all, she had read chemistry at Oxford and used that formidable intelligence to become a barrister. It was in the late 1980s and early 1990s that she recognised the risk of inexorably rising carbon dioxide emissions.

In various speeches to the Conservative Party, the UN and the Aspen Institute, she set out quite a radical environmental agenda. This included protecting green belts, reducing air and water pollution and calling for an international conference on climate change: a call that led to the creation of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 1988, she spelled out her concern for the environment to the Conservative Party with these words: “No generation has a freehold on this Earth. All we have is a life tenancy – with full repairing lease. This government intends to meet the terms of that lease in full.”

This reflected the natural conservation instinct of the Conservatives. Contrast this with the reckless attitudes of modern corporations and media commentators towards our planet. We have become the worst of tenants, leaving a mess for future generations.

At the aforementioned Royal Society speech, she made an urge for investment saying it was “money well and necessarily spent, because the health of the economy and the health of our environment are totally dependent upon each other.”

She went on: “It is possible that with all these enormous changes (population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels) concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself.”

By 1989, she told the Conservative Party, “The way we generate energy; the way we use land; the way industry uses natural resources and disposes of waste; the way our populations multiply – those things, taken together are new in the experience of the Earth […] It is no good proposing that we go back to some simple village life and halve our population by some means which have not been revealed, as if that would solve all our problems.”

She also called for urgency in a 1990 speech to the Aspen Institute: “The costs of doing nothing, of a policy of wait and see, would be much higher than those of taking preventive action now to stop the damage getting worse.

Also in 1990, at the second Climate Change Conference, she spelled out her concerns eloquently:

“For two centuries, since the Age of the Enlightenment, we assumed that whatever the advance of science, whatever the economic development, whatever the increase in human numbers, the world would go on much the same. That was progress. And that was what we wanted.

Now we know that this is no longer true.

We have become more and more aware of the growing imbalance between our species and other species, between population and resources, between humankind and the natural order of which we are part.

In recent years, we have been playing with the conditions of the life we know on the surface of our planet. We have cared too little for our seas, our forests and our land. We have treated the air and the oceans like a dustbin. We have come to realise that man’s activities and numbers threaten to upset the biological balance which we have taken for granted and on which human life depends.”

Sadly, by the beginning of the new century her faculties and her enthusiasm for climate science had begun to wane.

In 2002, she dedicated 10 pages of her last book, Statecraft, to what she called “hot air and global warming”. She said, “Whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable our economies to grow and develop, because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment.”

Recently, there have been attempts to co-opt the elderly and frail Thatcher to the climate sceptic cause. Taking advantage of her dislike of state intervention, it seems she was persuaded that the economy and environment were in conflict rather than totally dependent on each other.

This reached its apogee in George Osborne’s ludicrous October 2011 statement: “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.” He did not seem to realise that the opposite statement was more accurate: we’re not going to save our economy by putting our planet out of business.

The journalist,  Christopher Brooker (BA History), advocate of the harmlessness of asbestos, passive smoking and BSE, and a rejecter of the concept of evolution, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that she had been an early adopter of the climate sceptic’s cause. This is nonsense; a misrepresentation; and is insulting to Thatcher’s obviously deeply held beliefs concerning the environment.

Her grasp of the environmental impact of unregulated pollution reflected the views of her economic soulmate, Friedrich Hayek. Sadly, she did not maintain that grasp of that truth in her later years. The unleashing of unfettered financial capitalism, reckless corporations and rampant consumerism may have undone many of her wiser words on the balance between ecology and economy. She would probably have disapproved.

The right to buy, unemployment as a necessary cost for growth, winning the Falklands War, beating the miners, waves of privatisation, surge in private enterprise, financial deregulation, surviving the Brighton bombing, subsequent economic boom and bust, the end of the Cold War, and introducing the poll tax, all mark her radical and controversial tenure as Britain’s first female prime minister.

Thatcher divides opinion, but the view of Hugh Prather (writer, minister, and counsellor) on feedback is apposite: “Negative feedback is better that none. I would rather have a man hate me than overlook me. As long as he hates me I make a difference.”

In a speech in 1987 she said, “I think I have become a bit of an institution – you know the sort of thing people expect to see around the place.”

No more. Whatever people think of her politics and legacy, and people connected with Blue & Green Tomorrow have strong opinions, our thoughts are with her family.

Further reading:

Coalition’s green fatigue is a ‘betrayal of conservatism itself’

Are capitalism and conservation incompatible?

David Cameron still needs to show real leadership in delivering a sustainable recovery

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.


How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



home renovation and improvement
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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Poznyakov >

Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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