2011 has been an eventful year by any standards. And here it is from a Green perspective. It began with the death of Pete Postlethwaite the face of the Age of Stupid – I’ll never forget his words as he tells us that we are busy watching and monitoring the collapse of our planet but taking very little action in the face of known calamity – at least the Mesopatamians and the Romans didn’t quite watch their demise as we do!
In February, we saw Queensland, Australia, being hit by floods perhaps another sign of more extreme weather events. It was also the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring with the resignation of Mubarak in Egypt. This wave of events was not surprising in the face of a declining world economy and high prices for food and other basic goods. We welcome the change and hope that better governance may make a difference.
In March, it was the Japanese tsunami and the risks of nuclear contamination that took up the headlines. People turned to the Green Party in Germany for an alternative. We must push ahead with the real Green alternative – energy saving and renewables – as we recognise the risks with nuclear.
From April to early August, the US right caused chaos with the Republican dominated Congress refusing to lift the debt ceiling throwing the US into crisis and reducing its credit rating. Whilst the US President tried to avoid crashing the economy, here the government continued soldiering on – whilst ordinary people wonder if we are under the command of another Haig.
Things went terribly wrong in the UK in August when one police shooting in Tottenham led to violence flaring up around the country, scaring all of us
as we suddenly realised the fragility of what we took for granted. A thirst for consumer goods combined with a lack of hope for the future and a lack of respect for the current order, led to looting and rioting. Mindless violence in some cases, but moe often it seemed chancing it and petty theft in others.
All this time, in East Africa people starved as famine continued to rage. The dusty land no longer seems able to offer sustenance, and people walk miles and miles to camps in the desert and in the blinding sun.
The Occupy Protest that began in September seemed like a welcome relief – at last people were regrouping, it seemed, determined to push for change. The Arab Spring continued into the Autumn and Gaddafi was killed in October.
In November, the Localism Act is enacted and we worry what this means for stable social housing. For how long will people in Council flats safely be able to regard them as home? And the government then makes its Autumn Statement. The Tory offensive will continue and there will be more public sector cuts to come ….. until the green shoots are forced out of the rocky
And finally, December – the Durban talks produce no firm commitments though there are signs that China and India see the need for change. The next day Canada pulls out of Kyoto. We all sink into what could be despair, but isn’t
as we are all optimists who believe that things will change. At last we have had the CERN breakthrough – almost seen the God Particle whatever that may mean – even if it comes along with flooding in the Phillipines and children being swept away with the water.
All this time the Greens made an offering of a positive means for change. Caroline Lucas MP amongst many others visited St Paul’s. The solution is investing in our long term future and moving away from the short-termism of the markets. It’s about challenging the inequality, that in an insidious way weakens our society, by making sure the corporates pay their taxes and making sure that the best paid employee does not get more than 10 times the lowest paid.
The solution is about breaking up the companies and banks that are too big to fail – smaller at least is better. It’s about greater local self-sufficiency combined with an internationalist outlook.
It’s about a focus on well-being and unlocking our huge creativity– instead of all the tat of Christmas and all the hours spent shopping, we’d be making things with the community, with our families.