What is community power?

In September this year, construction is due to finish on Ray Valley Solar (RVS), which, once completed, will be the largest community solar energy installation in the UK. Near Bicester in Oxfordshire, the solar farm is projected to generate enough renewable electricity to power 6,000 homes, replacing 4,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year—the equivalent of someone flying 4,200 times back and forth between Paris and New York each year.

The great salary divide

With Fairtrade Fortnight kicking off this week, we are encouraged to vote with our wallets, to recognise and reward the people behind the food we eat and the coffee we drink. Fairtrade often, and rightly, focuses on the unfair ways that distant workers are treated, but data revealing that supermarkets have some of the most unequal pay distributions of any UK company are a stark reminder to also pay attention to unfair trade closer to home.

The Power of Food

If there's one thing that the powerful movement for Black Lives made clear in 2020, it is that we are, in many ways, still living out the long-tailed consequences of our histories. In Britain, and elsewhere around the world, the legacies of empire, colonisation, and slavery are still very much alive: legacies which many of us have never before thought to question. These legacies are often profoundly violent, and they are threaded through almost every aspect of modern life, from the clothes we wear, to the names of our streets, to the museums we visit—and the food we eat. Food—its production, processing, transportation and consumption—is filled with echoes of this violence. We are all caught up in these echoes each time we pick up our forks—whether we hear them or not.

Flour power: The miller’s tale

During the Covid lock-down, many of us turned to baking—as a way to pass the time, to reconnect with our heritage, to feel connected with a growing movement of people around the world who were discovering ‘the power of sour’ and sharing their masterpieces on social media. Flour flew off supermarket shelves, and small-scale millers suddenly found themselves inundated with orders from bakers both commercial and amateur all over the country. Some of these millers were volunteers at London’s last working windmill, a heritage building in Brixton, built in 1816.

What Coronavirus has Revealed About Our Broken Food System

Empty supermarket shelves, media accounts of people ‘panic-buying’ and hoarding: the outbreak of Covid-19 and its rapid spread across the globe led to significant disruptions to the food system. But these very visible problems which were, for a few weeks at least, all anyone could talk about (never forget the great toilet paper shortage of 2020) are hiding a much deeper and more systemic vulnerability which the crisis is exacerbating, but did not create... This was cross-posted on the Oxford Climate Society blog as well.

COVID vs. The Climate

As the world grinds to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's easy to think that this has to be a good thing for the climate. And certainly, there are plenty of positive consequences of the virus for the environment. There's the dramatic impact that this is having on the air-travel industry (a 4.3% decline in global air travel in February), and travel more generally as people around the world are encouraged (or required by law) to stay home. Plus, the strong coupling of economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions means that a global slow-down of the economy could lead to a fall in emissions. In China, the lockdown over recent weeks has led to a 25% reduction in energy use and emissions over two weeks compared to previous years. ​ But unfortunately the news isn't all positive.

(Hu)man vs Wild?

When we talk about nature, protecting nature, we’re usually talking about preserving something separate from humans, something outside of us. Forgetting that we humans are not (yet) machines, but living ‘natural’ beings, animals; creatures of the earth who share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees and, apparently, well over 50% with bananas… And so we try to protect the natural places, decrying any sign of a human hand, be it houses or wind turbines. But that begs the question: what is natural in the first place?

If Māori Speak in a Forum that Doesn’t Listen, Have They Spoken at All? A Critical Analysis of the Incorporation of Tikanga Māori in Decisions on Genetic Modification

This paper discusses the consideration and incorporation of tikanga Māori in decision-making on GM, ... The first part briefly introduces concepts of tikanga Māori which frequently come into conflict with GM. The second part will canvass and critique how tikanga Māori was taken into account in early consultation and decision-making processes regarding non-low-risk applications. ... The paper will then discuss how relevant actors have responded to critiques and recommendations pertaining to the process of engaging with tikanga Māori. The final part suggests further improvements to existing consultation and decision-making practices in order to ensure better incorporation of tikanga Māori. See also: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3415243#references-widget
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