Why We Should Take ‘Green’ Policies Seriously

Green Party usually gets accused of being a fringe party, full of
eco-warriors, with nothing much to say except how much they want to
save the trees. The ethos of the party does lie with its concern for
the environment, but this concern seems completely justified and even
relates to wider issues in society. The problem of pollution, waste,
climate change, deforestation, soil erosion and destruction of
ecosystems is not a priority for the other political parties, but it
should be for a number of reasons. The 2010 Green Party Manifesto
points out that ‘green’ issues are not a middle-class, Western luxury
as many people think – they are essential for creating a
“sustainable and fair economy.”

for a sustainable economy recognises the climate crisis that we’re in
at the moment, but it also recognises how the economy’s current
contribution to this crisis affects other areas of society as well.
An economy which causes pollution, for example, affects the poor the
most since they live in areas where the air and water is the most
polluted. One woman, Rosalind Dalton, told the Guardian that she was
recently diagnosed with a long-term lung condition, event though she
doesn’t smoke. Where she lives the 3 ft high pollution monitoring box
regularly shows pollution well over its legal limit, making it
physically difficult for Rosalind to go about her day without
suffering from the symptoms of asthma. Having a non-polluting economy
and having a fair economy (which doesn’t negatively impact on the
poor more than anyone else) seem to go hand in hand.

economics also seems to be the only kind of economics which is
realistic. Green economics recognises that there is only one planet
which has very limited resources – it is unrealistic to try to use
more resources than the planet gives us. Some estimate that even if
we used oil ‘sensibly’ it might last for about another 60 years at
the most. With coal, some estimate that with our current reliance on
it, and if usage increases, then the six thousand trillion cubic feet
of gas we have left on the Earth could only last for about another 87
years. Relying on fossil fuels is not sustainable and it’s actually a
lot more expensive than investing in renewable sources of energy –
such as solar, wind and water – because the demand for oil is
exceeding the supply of it. Oil production has been decreasing in the
UK since 1999, but the demand for it is higher, making it very

hemp has been suggested as a renewable energy source since growing
hemp is much easier than growing many other plants – it grows
faster, requires less energy to grow and doesn’t require fertiliser.
Cannabis seeds also contain useful oils that can be turned into fuel.
Hemp biodiesel produced by graduate students at the University of
Connecticut had a 97% conversion efficiency, making it way more
efficient than standard diesel. These renewable sources of energy
should be taken seriously by the other political parties since they
are currently stuck in the fantasy that the Earth has unlimited
resources, with enough coal, oil and gas to last us forever. But this
outlook just doesn’t match reality and will lead to an even more
catastrophic economic crisis than the one we’ve seen; that is, unless
we invest in renewable energy.

a stable, fair and green economy will also generate hundreds of
thousands of jobs in manufacturing, design, building, engineering and
technology. It will create more opportunities for young people to
find work and hopefully improve on the dismal state of youth
unemployment at the moment, with 21% of 16-24 year olds unemployed at
the moment. The Green Party would spend £5 billion in the next year
on offering opportunities for 700,000 unemployed people, especially
the young unemployed, in jobs relating to energy conservation and
renewable energy. The focus of Labour at the moment is in encouraging
consumption as a way to get us out of the recession. But this is a
counterproductive policy – it will make consumption even more
unsustainable, fuelling the ecological crisis, which in turn will
deplete our resources and land us in a financial crisis even more
difficult to recover from.

Green Party also want to work towards a 35-hour working week as the
standard norm. Part of the reason for doing this is to help create a
low-carbon economy, but also to improve job satisfaction and prevent
the levels of stress that come with working long weeks. Full UK
employees currently work the longest average hours in Europe, 43.5
hours, compared to 38.2 hours in France and 39.9 in Germany. Many
‘green’ policies, therefore, are not solely designed to protect the
environment (although this is justified in itself) but seek to
protect the environment in a way which benefits everyone.

policies which promote ‘local living’ should also be taken seriously.
The quality of our lives depend a great deal on the quality of local
services, especially how far away these services are. No-one wants to
travel miles to go to school or to see a doctor. The poor suffer the
most when these services are far away, since the cost of travel to
use them becomes expensive. Promoting small, local businesses instead
of supermarkets will relax the burden on the poor and also work to
decrease the amount of carbon emissions. The current political
parties seem to believe that ‘big is better’ and that bigger schools,
hospitals and councils are more efficient. While it may be true that
they are more efficient, this benefit seems outweighed by far greater
costs; public services become isolated, inaccessible, impersonal and
environmentally damaging. If these services were local and easily
accessed by public transport, then walking and cycling could be
encouraged, while using cars would be discouraged. This would be
convenient for the most vulnerable and benefit the environment at the
same time.

energy should be opposed. In light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster
in 2011, it seems far too risky and dangerous to rely on nuclear
power, in any way, as a source of energy. The Fukushima disaster is
the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the World Health
Organisation predicts that the radiation exposure caused by the
disaster could affect infants the worst – increasing their risk of
cancer (of all types). In addition, building and maintaining nuclear
power stations is far more expensive than building and maintaining
solar panels or wind farms. Disposing of nuclear waste will always be
unsafe and expensive. It might also be a good idea to get rid of the
UK Trident program, which encompasses the development and operation
of British nuclear weapons. According to the think tank BASIC,
cancelling the program would save the budget over £83 billion over
the next 50 years.

the other parties, the Green Party takes the issue of factory farming
seriously, recognising it as a leading contributor of greenhouse
gases – methane in particular. The Green Party want to phase out
all forms of factory farming as a sure way to resolve this issue. In
addition, protecting wildlife, the landscape and its diversity is
good for us as well – we depend on the natural landscape for
sources of clean air, water and food. The use of pesticides must be
reduced, for the sake of the wildlife as well as for our health. We
are currently losing 30,000 species a year in the UK which is
worrying. Modern ecology tells us that ecosystems are delicate,
balanced and complex – the environment and all of the species that
live in it are linked together in a web of life. This means that the
disappearance of just one species can have a knock-on effect on the
whole ecosystem. Since humans are part of the ecosystem too, then
with species disappearing at this alarming rate, the consequences
could be bad, even threatening our existence. 


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