The good, the bad – and the downright ugly

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The Uxbridge by-election had it all. It was good for the Conservatives, winning narrowly by focusing on the Labour mayor of London’s plans to penalise the ten per cent of most-polluting cars by charging them to drive in the area.
It was bad for Labour of course. And it was downright ugly for anyone wanting common sense to dominate in our battle to stop climate change. Both parties have started rowing back on their already inadequate plans to tackle global warming. As if Net Zero would just be nice to have, instead of an absolute necessity.
Where was the grown-up conversation, for example, about the economic benefits of a fair transition to a cleaner world?
Or the costly – massive – damage to lives and health from fossil fuel-driven air pollution?
Aside from clean air, there are two other absolutely essential requirements for survival: clean water and healthy food.
And at the moment we’re doing our damnedest to deprive ourselves of those too.
Water has hit the headlines recently, with decades of failed privatisation having seen waterway sewage pollution increase. Water companies have been loaded with billions of pounds of debt, while billions of pounds have been paid out in dividends to shareholders – most of them based overseas.
As for food, we urgently need to reform what we eat, how it is produced, and where it is grown. Targeted support for farmers is key. More than a quarter of all the food we grow is never eaten. That’s 13 million tonnes wasted. Industrialised farming is a major cause of damage to our soils, and the pollution of our waterways with pesticides, fertilisers etc. Agriculture uses 71 per cent of land in England, with 85 per cent of that used for feeding and rearing livestock – growing plants for human consumption generates around 12 times more calories per hectare than using the land for meat production.
We presently import 46 per cent of the fresh vegetables we eat, and 84 per cent of the fruit. Poor diet causes diabetes, cardiac disease and other obesity-related conditions. It is blighting the lives of millions, predominantly our poorer citizens, and is costing the NHS billions. Unsustainable.
The Government knows all this, but isn’t taking the action needed. Time for change.
Ken Huggins
North Dorset Green Party

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