Sunday, 22 July 2012


Sometimes nothing beats a cool refreshing glass of the milk.

But the White Stuff is not as innocent as it looks. In fact, its cool clean exterior masks a multitude of sins.

Milk has hit the headlines recently in a battle between farmers and the processors which are imposing cuts to the price paid to farmers for milk.  This is leading to farm gate prices which are less than the cost of producing the milk.  This is not a new fight.  For several years the large powerful dairies, such as Robert Wiseman (now owned by Müller), have put downward pressure on the farm gate price of milk.  This in turn has driven “efficiency” measures in the farming sector, i.e. industrialisation of the process.  About ten years ago I spoke with a farmer planning to build a huge shed so that his cattle could be kept indoors all year round.  This was, he said, due to pressure to cut costs. It was necessary of his farm was to remain sustainable.  The surrounding pasture that the cattle had grazed for generations would be used to produce their feed which would be supplemented with commercial cattle fodder.  I’m sure he wasn’t alone in this change but to me it seemed crazy – taking the cattle away from the grass so that someone can cut the grass and feed it to the cattle and at the other end, the muck would be cleared from the shed and, presumably spread on the field as fertiliser.

What are the issues with milk?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tell Shell

You can save the Arctic

Tell Shell that you don't want them drilling for oil in the Arctic. It is one of the least spoiled places on earth but Shell want to explore for oil.

Climate change is more rapid in the Arctic than almost any where else on the planet, leading to greater areas of the Arctic Ocean being ice free than ever before in the history of oil exploration. This makes oil exploration easier, an opportunity that Shell are keen to exploit.

But picture this: if a leak or spill occurs as the ocean begins to freeze over for the winter, there are no tools or methods available to contain and recover the oil. Floating booms won't work. Detergents won't work (and can cause damage themselves). The oil will be locked in the ice, travelling around the ocean until it melts next year, depositing a filthy slick


This is a response to Rea Cris's article "THE NEW ARCTIC GOLD RUSH" on the Unite Society website (, because 140 characters is not enough to respond properly to such a complex issue.

An interesting article on a challenging topic, made all the more difficult by people's (including my own) inability to truly comprehend living or working in the arctic.   Even simple provisions like milk, fruit and vegetables must be flown hundreds of miles from the south.

Indigenous peoples, particularly in Greenland, Canada and Alaska, face difficult choices: to continue the traditional way of life, hunting with dogs (and rifles) or do they adopt more modern technology such as the skidoo, or do they go the whole way to modernity, invite the oil companies in and get paid employment. More traditional trade avenues,such as fur trading, have been closed off leaving little opportunity to barter for modern conveniences leaving a stark choice of living completely independent of the modern world or taking hand outs. Nothing is free so those giving expect something in return: access to mineral resources. And if they become isolationist, how will they survive as the pattern of seasons change and their prey (seals, walrus, polar bears) in turn struggles to survive?

Monday, 9 July 2012

BMW Attacks Efficiency Targets

BMW accused of hypocrisy over opposition to European car targets | Environment |

BMW is lobbying to water down European plans to improve the fuel efficiency of cars at the same time as trumpeting its green credentials as the official car sponsor of the Olympic Games, according to internal documents seen by the Guardian.
According to this Guardian article, BMW want to delay or reduce implementation of Europe wide fuel efficiency targets for 2015 and 2020.  BMW believe that premium manufacturers (such as themselves) will be disadvantaged compared with manufacturers of normal cars. In other words people who can afford more expensive premium cars can afford the higher fuel prices and these wealthy people don't need to worry about climate change or limited supplies of oil.