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Showing posts from August, 2019

Tourism adversely affects animal survival

When we consider protecting animals in the wild from humans, we tend to think of hunting or deforestation and the consequences of over-exploitation for food and housing.  Or we think of the effects of our infrastructure such as railways, roads, airports, carving great chunks out of the landscape and destroying precious habitats.  These all have devastating effects on wildlife.  While the effects of human activity on populations of animals is well established, disturbance by tourism is also increasingly being identified as affecting the behaviour and reproductive success of animals in the wild and can have significant impacts on their survival.    In a new study published in the journal Ethology, researchers examined the impact of human encroachment on two adjacent giraffe populations in Kenya to determine whether human activities and high predation affect their social networks.
One study site was a premier tourist destination with a high volume of human activity in the form of touris…

Parliamentary sovereignty is central to our democracy.

Perhaps there was a feeling that the enormity of the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal would bring sense to prevail. What politician would purposively, knowingly wreck the economy? The warning signs were there. Brexiteers in the Tory party were becoming more strident as they were gaining more hold on the Tory party. They now sit round the cabinet table. They are making the decisions and they control parliament. They are convinced by their own rhetoric. Even now, when all the signs are against it, many believe 'sense will prevail', that it is all tactics and there will be a deal. But whose 'sense' is it that will prevail?

Proroguing parliament removes the political machinery for holding the government to account at a time when it makes decisions that will affect our future for generations to come. In doing so they turn our democracy on its head. We had a parliamentary democracy. Today, our government is riding roughshod over it. Our representatives are no lo…

The Bigger Picture

We need to see the bigger picture. While populist politicians turn inward and argue about migration, the world burns literally.  Instead of erecting barriers, they need to address the causes of migration.  We need international action on climate change.  Climate change is the biggest challenge we face. It is the bigger picture. 

When I started The Thin End blog, it was heavily focused on the political aftermath of the financial crash.  In the UK, and elsewhere, politicians made the poorest, and least able bear the brunt of the banking scandal.  The capitalist system could 'no longer afford' to help the poor, to house the homeless and heal the sick!  The stark naked truth of its objective - growth for profit - was revealed. Any growth would do, even if it killed the planet.  A self-destructive growth on which a few grow very, very rich. 

Of course, we all benefitted, didn't we?  Growth creates jobs and income we are told.  Some of us are living longer and in better health.  B…

Brexit: the End Game?

The UK government is to ask the Queen to prorogue parliament. It is another move in the game of chess that is Brexit. The stakes are high. Yesterday opposition leaders in parliament agreed to find ways to take hold of the parliamentary agenda so that they could pass legislation to halt a no-deal Brexit.

No deal is the default position. All Boris Johnson needs to do is to sit tight and prevent parliament from voting and there will be a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. There is a lot of shouting about parliamentary coups and constitutional crisis. No doubt there will be a legal challenge in the courts. But the sad truth is No-Dealers have the upper hand.

That is why Boris Johnson is in No 10 as Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the opposition scurries around and, frankly, can't get their act together. They are still too busy moving their pawns around and ignoring the possibility of CheckMate. What Johnson is doing by proroguing parliament is castling to defend his position. That is al…

Boris Johnson's Porky Pies

Boris Johnson has been telling Porky Pies about Melton Mowbray pork pies. He gave the pies as an example of our poor trade arrangements with the USA. US regulations stopped them being exported to the US, whilst they could be sold in Iceland. It all sounds like tough-talking. It seems reasonable, but for the fact that the pies are only exported to Ireland. It is the standard trick of the populist politician. Make something up and then sound tough on it.

The Melton Mowbray pie is protected by the European Union. A no-deal Brexit would remove that protection, and the pies could readily be copied, or other kinds of pies could be sold as Melton Mowbray.

This is a significant worry for the producers of Melton Mowbray pies who fought a legal battle to ensure its status was protected.

Mr Johnson is in a hurry to make a trade deal with the USA. Both he and President Trump suggest a deal could be put in place within a year. This is odd, given it would usually take up to ten years.

The UK co…

Why I support Greenpeace

We are now losing orangutans at a rate of 25 a day as a result of unsustainable palm oil. Rang-tan represents all of these orangutans whose home, the Indonesian rainforest, has been destroyed for palm oil plantations by big brands like Unilever, Nestle and MondelĂ©z (who make Cadbury's).


The beauty of our planet Earth depends on life, just as life depends on the beauty of our planet.  We humans can appreciate its breathtaking beauty.  We stand in awe of its mountains and rivers; of its great lakes and its rainforests.   We share our photos on social media, as more of this world has become accessible to us. We have the power to destroy, and the power to protect and nurture it.

Nature is our treasure.  Perhaps this is because it needs protecting from us.  We have become its biggest threat.

Yet, we rarely take the political decisions necessary to protect it.  Utility always seems to prevail.  We need more food to feed a growing population.  We need more houses and more roads to link …

Brexit and the bogeyman

So, here we are, still. No further forward and time running out. Boris has met Merkel and that French president bloke, Macron (a very tasty name, like a macaroon). Boris went firmly stating that they (THEY) 'drop the backstop', to which they deftly replied: "you come up with a solution to the problem and we will drop the backstop!" Boris accepted the challenge to do so in 30 days. It sounds almost biblical. In 30 days he shall make heaven on earth! 


What this demonstrates is that Boris doesn't have a solution to the backstop problem, any more than did Mrs May. If he had such a solution he would have presented it.

He also acknowledges that there is a problem. The backstop wasn't invented to spite us. It was invented (if that is the right term) because of the Good Friday agreement and the peace process. Most of us think peace in Northern Ireland is important and the kind of Brexit we have is important. This is why we need a deal. This is why Boris is trying to g…

Reforming how we use land.

We and politicians need to face up to it.

It matters how we use land. Unless we start thinking and acting on that we are unlikely to meet the target of restraining global warming. Politicians need to be acting on this.


How we use land globally depends on our consumption. It depends on our lifestyles: what we eat, where and how it is produced. If politicians don't tell us that and start planning for it, then they are deceiving us, and not facing up to the climate catastrophe we face. Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry. This is why getting the balance of land use right is so important.


So, when we come to a general election, let's not be all-consumed by Brexit. Let's see if any of our  leaders are willing to take the undoubtedly unpopular measures necessary to res…

Will no-deal diminish Britain's standing in the world?

A group of ex-British ambassadors have warned Boris Johnson that a no-deal Brexit will diminish Britain's influence and standing in the world. 

Of course, it would, just as it was declining rapidly before we joined the EU. The UK will become tied to the apron strings of the USA, just as we now seek to curry favour with Trump for a trade deal.  Boris Johnson pleads with Trump to 'be nice'. 




Before joining the European Union, Britain was the 'sick man of Europe', with a declining economy and influence in the world.  Do we forget the endless balance of payments problems and sterling crises?  Do we forget running to the IMF for bailouts?  

We have played a more significant role as a member of the EU than we would have been able to do outside it.  This is why Britain is now still a member of the G7.  The EU has enabled the UK to punch above its weight.  Instead leaving the EU we should be looking for ways to make that weight count on environmental issues and global trade. …

No Brexit Sense

I really don't understand why we didn't approach Brexit sensibly. There was a mad rush to invoke article 50 and set the process in motion. It was a signal to voters that the result of the referendum would be 'honoured', and with a lot of macho grandstanding. But no planning for Brexit had been made. The voters gave an answer that wasn't anticipated.



Complex trade deals take ten or more years in the making. They are also politically entangled. Brexit is a more complex trade deal because it involves disentangling our institutional arrangements, not just trade but our politics. So much of our security depends on cooperation with European institutions we helped establish, and many of these collaborations we would wish to continue.
This is why treating the EU as an 'enemy' in the negotiations has been so foolish. They are our partners. 
We should have considered that any transition would be politically difficult. Instead of making the transition 'as short a…