Saturday, November 16, 2019


Unarguably there.
One smooth white block of stone, memorial to the ordered dead.
Her Majesty lays the wreath, steps back and dips her head.
Behind her, in perfect ranks, her guardsmen, bearing guns.
Behind the guard those politicians, silent for once,
Shoulder to shoulder, as if they were at one,
As if no war had ever been their fault.
Behind them, in order, captains of court,
Then marching servicemen, and civilians
Who serve the suffering people,
Readers of papers, like newsprint, all in neat lines.

And after them, wheel to wheel, as if they had been ruled,
Are veterans with absent or paralytic legs,
And after them the ones with faces shattered or burned
And following them, the ragged mass of those who cannot stop crying
Cannot stop fighting, cannot sleep, cannot be housed
Cannot move on from images in their eyes and brain
Cannot stop their visions of carnage,
Cannot believe that a fit and healthy man can one second be
A living, laughing mate and next a scatter of red lumps.
A brain so full of play, even in the hardest times,
Could now be just grey matter sliding slowly down the white stone wall.

Not there.

© Richard Lawson

Friday, November 15, 2019

Recognising Ecocide

My letter today to Zac Goldsmith:


Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency

Cc: Sandra Keen, Labour Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency
      Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency
[Caroline Shah, Independent Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency - no email found]

Dear Zac

Thank you for your letter of 31st October written as Minister of State for DEFRA and DFID in response to my letter of 23rd August.

I was a bit disappointed that you did not dig deeper into the matter of recognising Ecocide, but merely repeated the Government’s claim that it “does not recognise Ecocide”. As I pointed out in my letter of 23rd August, Ecocide is defined in a submission to the UN Law Commission as “extensive loss or damage to, or destruction of ecosystem(s) of a given territory(ies), such that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminished.”  This clearly applies to the deliberate destruction by fire of the Amazon, and in observing those fires, anyone can recognise that ecocide is taking place, since the word “recognise” implies to acknowledge the existence of a thing.

In your letter, you state that Government believes that “countries should have sufficient mechanisms in place, legal and otherwise, to ensure they are able to protect biodiversity and their important ecosystems”. This clearly is not happening in the case of Brazil and of many other countries in the world, including, arguably, our own country. One single overarching international law is necessary to prevent the many manifestations of ecocide.

You are as much aware as anyone that ecocide is taking place across the surface of our planet. We have lost 80% of the biomass of wild mammals in the last 50 years, and insects are on a trajectory that could render them substantially extinct by 2100. You know that this is a very serious situation indeed. Genocide is already, rightly, a crime. Ecocide must become a crime also.

I ask you to take advantage of this election period to reconsider the response you gave as a Minister, and if re-elected, and if re-appointed to the position you held, I ask you to press within Government for ecocide to become a crime. If you are not re-elected, I hope that you will throw your weight behind the campaign for ecocide to become a crime.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

Richard Lawson

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Johnson's Response to Cancellation of Brexit on October 31st

Do or die.
Die dead in a ditch.
Doo Da.

I gave my word, no buts or ifs.
Doo Da.

Under no circumstances will I delay
But when circumstances change,
My word is just to say
Doo Da.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Andrew Neil's interview with Extinction Rebellion's Zion Lights

The opposition are crowing at what they regard as a total victory for their Andrew Neil's BBC "victory" over Zion Lights, a speaker for Extinction rebellion. Their claims are of "deconstruction", "hysteria", "alarmist" and much related sneering. This is all par for the course. There is a huge volume of reflex criticism from the denial side of the conflict, and we do not have to concern ourselves with the noise, we only have to seek out the signal.

So let's have a look at the interview itself. You can watch it here, with the end cut off (where Zion makes stronger points and is invited back) :

In the first place, It is a David and Goliath situation. Andrew Neil is a big beast with decades of media experience behind him, and Zion Lights is a newcomer, and a woman. Some of us have a distinct impression that Neil is much harder on women and non-right wingers, although this needs confirmation by academic work on his Interruption Rates. I counted 8 minor interruptions by Neil here, which is less than I would have expected. On the other hand, Neil was firing his questions in bursts, and Zion was given no time to answer.

He challenges first on the "6 billion [of humans] may die" which has been made by Roger Hallam, one of the founders of #XR.

It looks at first as if Roger's claim of 6 billion deaths from climate change alone is unsupported by evidence.

There is an estimate that 6 billion people may be threatened [not killed] by Dengue fever in a warming world. Dengue is a mosquito borne viral illness which at present affects 4 million a year, and kills 22,000 a year.

Kofi Annan's think-tank claimed in 2009 that 300,000 people are dying a year in present times due to global warming, but it would take 20,000 years at this rate to reach 6 billion.

However, Hans Joachim Schnellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate change Research estimated in 2009 that the carrying capacity of Earth would be reduced to 1 billion humans in a 4 degrees C world. 

We we could arrive at this temperature in 80 years time, in 2100.

So Roger Hallam's 6 billion figure is not wrong, especially if we factor in a global nuclear war. Increased regional wars are a probable result of global heating (there is evidence that the present war in Syria may have been pushed forwards by a climate related long period of drought). If one of these wars goes nuclear, which is well possible it we have people like Trump in power,  6 billion deaths, and even eventual human extinction, is a possibility.

It should be noted that nuclear deterrence is not infallible, and should therefore be abandoned.

Surreal statistical calculations aside, the effects of global heating are bad enough. Zion manages to mention migration, coastal flooding, wildfires and weather extremes before Neil launches his second attack, on weather extremes.

Neil says that 100 years ago, weather disasters caused 500,000 deaths a year, and that now they cause only 20,000 a year. He is being completely disingenuous here. 100 years ago, homes were less substantial, and extreme weather warning systems were almost non-existent. Poor effort, Andrew.

Neil moves on to sea level rise. He quotes a median projected rise of 500 cm by the IP CC, and claims that this is "manageable". This betrays his ignorance. 30% of the world's food crops are grown on alluvial soil in low lying river deltas, which form just 3% of Earth land area. Neil is well wide of the mark to assert this is manageable.

Next point: XR demands that we go carbon neutral by 2025.  Can't be done, can it?

My response to this argument about whether the target should be 2025, 3030, or 2050 is this :


I leave the discussion of targets to academics. The job of politicians, of our representatives in Parliament and Government is that they should be implementing the Green New Deal in all its fullness and glory. Just do it. Create jobs, save energy, stimulate the Green economy, just do it. Get moving. Stop wasting time arguing about what is feasible and when.

Next, Neil hoists up the opposition's favourite  Straw Man: "You want to ration meat, confiscate our cars, stop us cooking on gas and all the rest of it".

This is so wrong.

We need to be starting a careful, national debate on what steps we need to take. The matter needs to be discussed in depth in a Citizen's Assembly. This kind of attempt at political point scoring is so pathetic and amateurish on the part of Neil. It is one of the reasons that creates the drive for direct action, because the BBC is so useless.

Finally. Finally. Neil makes his own unsupported claim:
"I'm not arguing about the consequences of Climate Change".

This is news to me. I have been watching his tweets and his broadcasts, and he has been firmly in the climate denier camp for years. It may be now that he is easing himself into the Lukewarmer camp that says "Yes, climate change is happening, but it will not be all that bad".

In conclusion, Zion did well, but the 6 Billion Deaths figure needs to be abandoned unless put in the context of a global nuclear war, and Andrew Neil's case that climate change is a pussy cat (if that is what he is arguing) simply does not hold water.

(This post was updated 15/10/2019)