Have Your Say

Natural Capital waste music schools Paul Crocker Nigel Stewart Maureen Boustred

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Natural Capital

by Paul Crocker

Beach Buddies Banner

Hats off to David Attenborough for his “Blue Planet” documentary which shifted public opinion on plastic and the damage it causes. The firm that I work for, FIMCapital Limited, sponsors Beach Buddies and is committed to cleaning the beaches on the Isle of Man, but this does not solve the problem of invisible pollution in oceans which could destroy most marine life in just a few decades, as highlighted in The Economist’s article “Ocean Warning”. The truth hurts, but sadly, the very people cleaning beaches are probably unaware that their lifestyle contributes to our seas becoming the biggest toxic dump this planet has ever seen. So, why bother?

Before I answer this, let’s imagine that everyone’s salary doubles. What would we do with the extra money? An exotic foreign holiday, more weekends away, a fancy car and possibly some house renovations along with something extra in the retirement pot? Except for this last, all of these choices are wrong from an ecological perspective, given our current tax structure. All this extra money could serve only to increase the size of our planet’s cesspit, as future generations face life without antibiotics, clean air, wildlife and nutritious food, while natural beauty is destroyed by tourism. In our defence, it’s what every government wants, because economic success is measured by growth in GDP. Cheap chicken is only cheap because the pollution it creates is not valued, so we know the price of everything but the environmental cost of nothing. The problem facing politicians is that habit-changing tax policies can lead to lower living standards and lose votes unless, of course, respected environmentalists can demonstrate their necessity. We trust Sir David but not our politicians. Surprisingly, a glimmer of hope has appeared on Westminster’s horizon and it comes from a politician. He may not stand as tall as David Cameron, he is a Virgo (like all the best) and allegedly, it took him seven attempts to pass his driving test, so he is best kept away from tractors. He also has a 2:1 in English from Oxford. This is Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Having revealed his name, readers might switch off, but I truly believe that this man understands the problem and is making huge efforts to turn the countryside and environment into a government priority for the first time in generations. He is a reformer who appears to have done his homework, grasping the concept of Natural Capital and looking to turn “Brexit” into an opportunity to ensure that we improve the environment. It’s a massive challenge which he cannot do alone but he could become one of the most radical and influential politicians in recent times. I suspect by now that I have shaken a few readers, having questioned the rationale for cleaning up beaches while building a pedestal for Michael Gove, so it’s time to expand on the concept of Natural Capital. For this, I am going to quote Dieter Helm, CBE, Professor at the University of Oxford and author of the book “Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet”:

“Natural capital" is what nature provides to us for free. Renewables - like species – keep on coming providing we do not drive them to extinction. Non-renewables – like oil and gas can only be used once. Together they are the foundation that ensures our survival and well-being and the basis for all economic activity.” Dieter believes that the environment should be at the core of economic planning. Canada, for example, would never have been able to justify oil extraction from tar sands because of its environmental cost unless countered by environmental progress elsewhere. National balance sheets would include everything from infrastructure to national parks, being regularly revaluated to highlight anomalies. Michael Gove is possibly the only politician who gets this and with the support of the media, the public could be educated and school programmes updated. The flaws of GDP are being gradually exposed with the realisation that our planet is too small to sustain a high standard of living for everyone. Meeting the problem head-on, we need to abolish income tax and give consumers discretion over spending habits. If it’s good for the environment, then keep every penny of income, while heavy taxes should be imposed on anything that pollutes, the revenues from which should be channelled towards further reform. Such a policy would spell the end of cheap chicken and would hit me very hard in certain respects; that foreign summer holiday could easily double in price. “Brexit” could be an opportunity for the UK to lead the world as it rebases its measure of economic prosperity, offering farmers a level playing field for grass fed protein which could save agriculture and our health. So, we should continue supporting Beach Buddies because hopefully it is now a matter of time before we start to clean up the seas, countryside and everything else. Michael, please don’t let us down.

Ocean Plastic

'If seven maids with seven mops swept it for half a year,
do you suppose,' the Walrus said, that they could get it clear?
'I doubt it,' said the Carpenter, and shed a bitter tear.
(The Walrus and the Carpenter, Lewis Carroll, 1871)

A New Year Resolution?

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has recently announced that Local Authorities will be forced to consult local communities before cutting down trees. This is the latest round in the Minister's year-long battle with Sheffield Council and their contractors, Amey, who have felled over 5500 trees in the city since 2012, as part of a £2bn PFI programme. (Ed)

Sludge Matters

From Our Own Correspondent

There is a film on Biosludge use and sale in the USA as "organic fertilizer" to householders and farmers, even though it contains many thousands of toxins.

These toxins, which we, the people: scientists, industries, bankers, insurance companies and other financial institutions, regulators, politicians, etc; we all agree to put into existence at the beginning. And then we agree to let them out into the global environment.

I remember that when I was at University, in the 1970s, the UK was dumping sewage-sludge into the North Sea, which was later banned because it is so toxic to commercial fishing stocks, now all disappeared through over-fishing, etc. I do not know what is done with all that now, wherever we are, i.e. Belgium and the EU, the UK, Jordan, etc.

Nor do I know the regulations for industrial waste disposal, and how they vary from country to country. Nor do I know if any or all of the regulations are effective.

Certainly, in the USA, fish are now becoming addicted to opioids due to the high human use and their excretion into the sewage system, and then into lakes. Apparently, quite a few waterways in the USA are also rich in cocaine, for the same reason.

I know that in the UK, there are serious pollution hazards for human, and perhaps other animals' health and reproduction, due to "hormonal modifiers", from birth control pills to plastics pollutants, all in the water and food supply. Now, we have the almost certain universal human sterility, both for men and for women, in about 40 years.

This is due to these kinds of pollutants, mostly associated with plastics. The chemicals are already everywhere in vast quantities, so it is already too late to save humanity from imminent extinction?

I know of no studies on the effects of such "hormonal modifiers" on other species, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, bacteria, fungi, etc. I find this to be irresponsible on the part of humans. There is the very reasonable argument that it makes no sense for currently living humans to pay for these studies since all humans will be extinct, so there will be no humans left to care!

I disagree since I believe that people, i.e. "Homo Sapiens Sapiens" have a "duty of care" as the most powerful, and destructive, and arguably the most stupid, species on the planet. We could leave the Earth in a reasonably healthy and tidy state if we collectively choose to.

But that is just my opinion.

However, NONE of this really matters to me, or to you, as we will already be dead of old age before the disasters really strike our children and grandchildren, and who cares about them? Maybe you?

Happy reflections on the future of the planet, especially with all humans extinct. Perhaps it will be time for Eden again!

Live long and prosper


Music - Falling on Deaf Ears?

From Maureen Boustred

Towards the end of the 1960's whilst I was teaching infants in a small school. Once a week in the lunch hour I taught recorder to junior pupils. Then came an opportunity to learn the Carl Orff method of teaching music to young children of the pre-school and infant age groups. I was allowed time off school in order to travel to Tunbridge Wells and attend a little ongoing course on the Orff techniques run by the deputy head of music for Kent. About four other teachers attended the course which ran for some weeks. Then word came through that Dr. Hermann Regner, a friend of the Chief Music Advisor would be teaching a course in the Orff method at Nonnington, Kent, (and in Devon,Dartington, I think.) I was seconded to go to Nonnington, and the other ladies of the Tunbridge Wells group also attended.

Dr. Regner was head of the Orff Institute in Salzburg. He chose to teach the little group I was with, possibly because we would be using basic techniques to teach very young children. On the last afternoon everyone gathered in a large hall. Our group did our prepared 'party piece' and brought the house down. Dr. Regner then offered to answer questions. A secondary teacher asked a question which unfortunately I cannot remember.

BUT I do remember Dr. Regner's reaction. I have NEVER seen anyone get cross so quickly. He seemed to go into orbit. He said that - in Salzburg ANYONE could bring their children from toddler age to the Institute. The parents' walk of life did not matter - had no bearing on the opportunities available. All the children were welcome to come and learn music in whatever way they were capable.



Enriching life through music
Musical training contributes immeasurably to personal development.

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