Thursday, December 07, 2006



Today the Million Campaign Homepage is four months old.

The progress of the project is far beyond expectations: we now have over 250 organisations and individuals linked to the UK site, all of whom we are honoured to include. Most excitingly, a Canadian site is now in the (peak oil) pipeline - we are very pleased to have the super-talented Alex Ramon of Alternative Energy News and Peak Oil News on board to orchestrate it.



Alex describes himself as an "Art Photographer, a Website Designer and Graduate of Langara College in Vancouver, BC"; he is also training to be a History Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library. The Canadian MCH is obviously in good hands. Judging by his test page, it will also be a rather serene blue colour.

We also have the foundations laid for a network of American Million Campaign Homepages. We are aiming at the creation of a federation of one per state, orchestrated by creative, talented, and resourceful cyber-governors and cyber-governesses. If you are interested, please email us at ussolidarity@gmail.com.

So the foundations are laid for our part in what Tim Berners-Lee, the weaver of the web, characterises as the 'Semantic Web' - the next stage of the internet's evolution. As he describes it:

"The value of the web increases in more than linear fashion with the number of links; this has been called the 'network effect'. The Semantic Web will derive its power in a similar way, but through the linking of data rather than documents.

The Semantic Web does not require that everyone use the same vocabluary, any more than we can expect the entire world to speak a single language. Instead, it provides tools for the translation from one set of terms to another. These translations will integrate larger and larger collections of information across the web.

Semantic Web technology can provide significant benefits within particular user communities. But the most exciting discoveries will come from the serendipitous combination and integration of data drawn from diverse sources."



This is a description of our aim for the Million Campaign Homepages. Although Berners-Lee is discussing the effects of increased integration in the pharmaceutical and financial fields, the same principles apply to the not-for-profit and co-operative realms. The Million Campaign Homepages are created as portals through which campaigners are freely permitted as much serendipitous combination and integration as their vision and creativity allow.



999 CLUB

It is imperative that we harness the non-linear potential of the "network effect", because the problems we face are also non-linear.

Today there was a tornado in London. Fortunately nobody was killed, although six people have been reported injured. In July 2005, Birmingham was struck by one of the strongest tornadoes ever recorded in the UK, with wind speeds estimated to have reached over 140 mph, injuring nineteen people.

Tornadoes are not new phenomena in Britain: for example, a tornado on May 21st 1950 killed two people.

However, the exponential growth of greenhouse gas emissions and of natural disasters are long-term trends of major concern. The former can be charted from the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century. Looking at the graph below, we might be more accurate in describing it as the 'Greenhouse Gas Revolution':



The graph for global natural disasters is also non-linear. In 1910-19, the total number recorded was 107; in 1960-9, 588; in 1980-9, 1,900, and in 1990-9 it reached 2,720. According to projections from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, the rate is scheduled to reach 4,650 over the period 2000-9.

In the light of this data, the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina are not anomalies. They are part of a pattern, a pattern that incorporates such disparate effects as the melting of Siberian permafrost and glacial retreat. That pattern is a spiral of environmental damage caused by human over-consumption and mistreatment of the planet. Reversing the spiral is not only possible, it is mandatory. There is no set path to that reversal: the multiplicity of voices and actions on the Million Campaign Homepage show us all that our pathways differ from person to person, place to place. The confluence points of meandering streams make mighty rivers.


BEYOND STERN: ECOLONOMICS, NOT ECONOMICS

The Stern Review has been an important landmark in the growth of environmental consciousness in the UK. However, we need to go beyond the correct observation that environmental damage has negative economic effects, and the correct observation that doing something now saves valuable resources and lives later.


Instead, as Gerrard Winstanley counselled, we need to turn the world upside-down. Ecolonomics, or ecological economics, is built on the premise that the environment is the economy. This turns over all the assumptions of the classical economic tradition from Adam Smith onwards, the classical economics that has fuelled the Greenhouse Gas Revolution. Both 'ecology' and 'economy' have the same Ancient Greek root: 'oikos', meaning 'house', 'habitation', and 'family'. The separation of the two has been the ultimate example of false consciousness, for they are branches of the same tree.

From now on, we need all the ecolonomic intelligence we can find.

We must replace old measures of economic 'growth', such as Gross National Product and Gross Domestic Product, with a measure of ecolonomic harmony such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) pioneered by the New Economics Foundation in the UK.

Nurturing ecology, our economies flourish.

Neglecting ecology, our economies, buildings, livelihoods and lives collapse.

Heard the latest? Even Stern is now going beyond Stern.


WORLD WIDE WEB

We are going to need to use every tool at our disposal, and every trick of our creative imagination, to reverse these trends and to stabilise the health of planet Earth. Hell hath no fury like a planetary goddess scorned.

On a personal level, creating the Million Campaign Homepage has been a revelation. In the light of the widespread cynicism that emerged during the 'war on terror' era, and with the dire predictions about the state of the planet from environmentalists, it has been easy to lose heart. The research involved in creating this portal has shown to me how many people are actively engaged in furthering social and environmental harmony every single day, and how powerful all of their actions are when added together, integrated and combined. There are heroes and heroines on every street corner and in every eco-house.

It is people like Dave of the Low Impact Living Initiative, who has been particularly helpful in the early days of the MCH, that are saving our planet - not through hot air, but through practical action on a daily basis. Mighty oaks grow from acorns.




As Alexander Litvinenko's countryman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, currently languishing in a Siberian prison, puts it:







"The year ahead will show which strategy the developed countries are going to choose to work their way out of the looming energy crisis.

1. Reindustrialisation based on a 'new competitiveness' deriving from an energy-efficiency advantage over the industry of China and other developing countries.

2. New colonial wars - this time for energy resources.

3. New leadership: abandonment of the model of increasing material consumption in favour of improvements in the quality of life, an increase in the intellectual component of the consumer basket.

Strategically speaking, only the third way holds promise for the future. Human nature is extremely conservative, and there is of course a strong desire to postpone making such a radical decision. But this is not possible - the decision will be made in 2007. Whether we are aware of it or not, the direction for the next decade or more is going to be decisively set."


In 2007 we must not only be aware of how the direction is set; we must be the ones setting it. The illegal occupation of Iraq showed us clearly how decisions can be made which are neither in our name nor in our interests. The lesson learnt from that disaster is that never again must such a decision be allowed to be taken.

In an emergency, ambulances are summoned.

Each and every one of us is a paramedic, a nurse, and a surgeon.

Our mission is to save this planet. There is no time for intermission.

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