For Adults

The Ethics Of Climate Change

The Ethics Of Climate ChangeThe Ethics of Climate Change.(right and wrong in a warming world)
by James Garvey

What has morality got to do with ecological questions? Surely it's a matter of ... ah yes, of course, a matter of life and death. And not just death of an individual or several, but of the whole planet and all human life on it. So that involves decisions. It may seem obvious that the instinct of self-preservation dictates our actions in this case so it hardly seems worth arguing. A number of ethical questions do arise, however.

To what extent do immediate interests clash with long-term ones? For instance: do you or. more importantly, your business, stand to lose because of actions taken to prevent CO2 emissions? If you are in your 6os, or older, will you be greatly affected by climate change before you die and, if not, is it worth sacrificing your present comforts for the sake of future generations?

Questions of right and wrong arise all the time. So do questions of individual responsibility. Are some of your reasons for action – or inaction – contradictory?

The author examines a number of aspects of what the individual, or the whole of society, should actually do (or, again, not do). Then he goes into the various alternative courses of action and analyses the morality which underlies them. He writes of consistency, how psychology plays its part and, for instance, whether civil disobedience is morally justified.

If you are in doubt about where you stand, or have already made hard and fast decisions, read the book and be stimulated to consider – and perhaps reconsider – your own attitude and the actions resulting from it.


The No Nonsense Guides

nn world food

The No Nonsense GuidesThe series published by New Internationalist

1.Climate change
2.Conflict and Peace
3.Human Rights
4.Fair Trade

These four books in the series deal exhaustively but succinctly with just those issues that are bpec's raison d'etre.
And how persuasively and knowledgeably they both inform and argue their case.

1.We are told that "...humanity is changing the world climate and we need to do something about it, quick!" Since the book's publication this warning has increased in seriousness and urgency. The effects on human health, farming and food, wildlife and forests are explained in considerable detail. Sensible solutions are suggested at the end of each article The final chapter is headed, "Lasting solutions for a Global Crisis."

2."We need to understand the causes (of violence)and find ways to deal with it." The book analyses these causes and asks us to "imagine living a life in peace." Many examples of the success of peaceful actions to redress grievances are given, some on a stupendous scale. But, the author warns, "Peace needs hard work." Exactly how the peace movement could and should work are also detailed with clarity and commonsense. As Howard Zimm says, "This guide is excellent for students and peace activists. But hurry – time is short.

3.On human rights, Desmond Tutu (who else!) remarks: "Respecting human rights means respecting that every person is unique and entitled to a life of dignity and choice." The authors explain in considerable detail exactly what human rights are and what they are based upon. They also maintain that "All the different rights together make up a whole." The book provides convincing evidence that torture, persecution and the denial of work and education still exist all over the world, despite the Declaration half a century ago. But rights do not depend on declarations or laws, they are inherent, as explained in the American Declaration of Independence over 200 years ago. The abuses cited, the book maintains, must be resisted in different ways, according to the circumstances. At the end of the book there is a valuable list of contact and resources to aid the struggle against tyranny

4.Trade can also be a source of conflict, and Fair Trade gives examples of producers in Peru, Ghana, the Caribbean and many other areas, of how we exploit producers in the developing world. The point made is that paying them a fair price for their labour is the beginning of the fight-back against such exploitation.

All these books are powerful tools in the hands of all those who, in J.B. Priestley's words, struggle " to make this world a better place to live in."


Show Racism the Red Card

Show Racism the Red Card (Combatting racist myths against asylum seekers).

This double book, issued by the by Show Racism the Red Card publishers, together with a complementary DVD, provides very clear guidelines for teachers, showing them how to use the very useful materials provided and apt quotations, especially from the Press. The DVD portrays some typical situations which the class, prompted by the teacher, can then discuss.

Quite fortuitously, my last review was of Refugee Boy, which could profitably be added to the above materials. There was also a recent report in The Guardian of a study, conducted by a former CID counter terrorism officer of Exeter University's European Muslim Research Centre. It revealed alarming statistics, demonstrating an increase in hate crimes against Muslims, including death threats and murder. The point it makes, based on detailed evidence, is that the ill-feeling that provokes these attacks is whipped up not only by extremists but also by "mainstream" reports, primarily in the media.

So it is clearly the duty of the education system to disabuse young minds of the prejudice thus created. They should do this not by counter propaganda but with simple facts. The two books show how very varied activities, questions, role playing, discussions based on what they have seen and heard, like examples of misreporting in the Press, can stimulate thought and affect children's attitudes.

One telling example is quoted of the constant battering readers get of news about "terrorism", usually associated with Muslim-sounding names. Its heading concerned a terrorist attack in an area with many Muslims. The actual report, often not read by the busy reader, revealed that it was an attack by neo-nazis on a Muslim neighbour!

The book thoroughly analyses and discusses terrorism, in all its aspects. There is no attempt to minimise the atrocities carried out by some Muslims. But the point is made that many non-Muslims are guilty of murder and other crimes, but when do you ever hear about a Christian murderer? A murderer's religion or philosophy is never taken into account when his crime is reported. Moral: don't generalise from individual cases, even if there seem to be a lot of them. Are all Britons to be blamed for the atrocities carried out in our name in the Empire?

The lesson of the books is: think it over. With their accompanying DVDs they provide an invaluable aid in the teaching of this vital subject.

Human Rights - a no nonsense guide

Human Rights   a no nonsense guide

Human Rights - a no nonsense guide by Olivia Ball and Paul Gready
Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

What are rights? The American colonists, who framed their Declaration of Independence in the 18th Century, had no doubts. "Man is born free and has equal rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Sounds fine. Who could object? But, like many another simple declarations, it gives rise to many questions. One is obvious when one starts to look at the practicalities. What if your rights clash with somebody else's?

Without directly answering that question, most people are clear that their rights are bound up with democracy: "government of the people, by the people, for the people," as Abraham Lincoln defined it in his famous speech.

Democracy, yes, but there's the rub (as Shakespeare put it).

Democratic rights, often won in bloody battles in the past, are now in danger of being seriously eroded in the very countries that regard themselves as the bastions of democracy. Think of Guatamala; think of "Stop and Search" and all the other recent curtailments of, for instance, Habeas Corpus, in pursuance of the so-called War on Terror.

So this book is very timely. It lays down, in detailed but simple language, all the rights that any citizen of a country claiming to be a democracy should be able to take as a matter of course. It tells us what these rights are. It recounts the history of the struggle for their establishment and the constant threat to their application in many places but also the ways in which they can be defended and secured.

In short, it is a guide and support for all those concerned with the maintenance of humanity and the demand to protect our human need for happiness and a satisfactory life.

Funny Weather

Funny Weather

Funny Weather by Kate Evans

Everything you didn’t want to know about climate change but probably should find out.

When a book on climate change, consisting mainly of cartoons, is praised by George Monbiot for the power of its message and its author lauded by Steve Bell as “one of the most original talents in comics”, it must have something going for it.

Do you want to understand the complexities of the ecological debate? Do you want to have a good belly laugh, despite the serious danger we face? OK. You couldn’t do better than to read, not to say devour, this book.

The pros and cons of the debate are presented in readable – and pictorial – form that ‘make the medicine go down in a most delightful way’. Nonetheless, medicine it is. And this full dose of it will amuse whilst it enlightens, encourage and enable you to play your part in the urgent task of saving the planet.

“A graphic guide to global warming”, says The Guardian. “Brilliant, funny and shocking”, says George Monbiot. The New Internationalist advises you to “read it, give it away and get on with it. “Essential reading”, say The Big Issue.

And you can borrow it from the BPEC library. Need I say more?

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