Tuesday, 30 September 2008

How to stop overfishing

I read a short item in The Ecologist this month (October issue) about Greenpeace dumping 3 tonne blocks of granite in the German North Sea to foul the fishing tackle of bottom trawlers. It struck me as a very neat way of enforcing fishing controls, and one that governments could do well to endorse. Dumping large objects in the sea could be a very simple way of enforcing no fishing zones -- at least as far as the highly destructive bottom trawlers are concerned. It reminds me of the proposal to decontaminate the decommissioned North Sea oil platforms, and sink them. This would have been far cheaper for the oil companies than towing them back to land for dismantling, but was unfortunately opposed by Greenpeace and other environmentalists at the time.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Awards (again)

It's that time of the year. One of the most useful magazines for me as the CEO of a charity is Third Sector. It is bang up to date and full of relevant news. BUT, it has awards for the most admired charity, the most admired ceo etc. And it smacks of the Eurovision song contest.
The winners are chosen from a list drawn up by 'a panel of the sector's leaders'. Three consecutive winners of the "Celebrity Charity Champion" were HRH princess Royal, Bob Geldorf, and HRH Prince of Wales. Beat that for originality. And Medecins sans Frontieres won two years running. And Actionaid was apparently the most innovative charity.

Only one of the so-called celebs listed for selection this year, have I actually heard of. The others, are all presumably minor TV actors

All goes to show something.

The goat season approaches

Last year the Environment Funders Network published a report "Where the Green Grants Went". And I presume it represents the interests of the Trusts and Foundations that make up the Environment Funders Network. In this report, one of the more bizarre pieces of information I came across was that these environmental funders had given grants totalling £1.3 million over a three year period to Farm Africa, an organisation that specialises in promoting livestock use in Africa. And in particular 'sells' goats and other livestock as a way of fundraising. Now any reader of this column will know that I have railed against this for several years. Promoting livestock in Africa, is about as environmentally irresponsible as one can get. The number of goats, cows, sheep, camels and other livestock has spiralled over the past half century, and habitat degradation is a direct result. So the question is how is funding organisation that promotes expanding the keeping of livestock and green?

I will, once again, urge everyone to question the agencies involved, as to why they see fit to encourage more and more livestock in Africa, in the full knowledge that one of the main causes of environmental damage is overgrazing by livestock, and it has a direct correlation with poverty. And also ask all the agencies involved to produce the Environmental Impact Assessments they carried out before dishing out more livestock. Finally, they could be asked about the studies carried out as to the likely socio-economic perturbations caused by hand-outs of livestock.

I know the answer to some of these questions: very few environmental impact assessments have ever been carried out, and very little information about the social impacts of the hand outs has been published. The aid agencies and charities should be held to account.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Population Bomb. And the causes of poverty. An update

Readers of my blog, will be familiar with my rants about how we are ignoring the real issues that drive climate change, endanger species, destroy habitats: i.e. rapidly increasing human populations.

I have just returned from an extensive visit to South America, and unlike Africa, this is a part of the world that is experiencing rapid economic growth. Increasing prosperity. And even more rapid destruction of natural resources.

I was also able to see first hand the results of doing-good by aid charities and missionaries. Not a pleasant experience. And it reminded me of the response I got from one of the world's largest aid charities when I asked them what their policy on human populations was. Here it is, verbatim:

Thank you for your e-mail. Christian Aid does not have a specific policy on population. Our mission is to help people in developing countries improve their lives. We do this by exposing and tackling the root cause of poverty and injustice worldwide. We support and fund projects in developing countries that enable communities build sustainable economies.

To me, it is utterly incomprehensible how an organisation delivering aid to human populations in the most impoverished areas of the world does not have a policy on something so indelibly linked with poverty. And of course, the root cause, which they claim to be tackling, is obviously unsustainable population growth.

And presumably the sustainable economies they are helping build, are based on the unsustainable market economies of the donor countries.