Daily Archives: July 28, 2008

Gulf between rich and poor in Britain wider than during Victorian times

The gulf between rich and poor in Britain’s inner cities is wider now than at any point since Victorian times, the Tories will say today.

By Simon Johnson

Telegraph | Jul 28, 2008

They highlight new research showing some of the country’s most deprived communities are literally next door to the most prosperous.

Despite their proximity, these ghettos are described as being “on a different planet” – rife with drug dealers, gangs, knives, guns and children being raised in squalor.

They say the figures are a damning indictment of New Labour’s policies.

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “What we are seeing is the growth of a sub-culture in our society that is utterly divided from and alienated from mainstream British life.

“In many respects these communities might as well be on a different planet from the rest of us.

“This is one of Britain’s great social challenges, and the fact that it remains untouched a decade after Gordon Brown and Tony Blair won power will remain one of the great failures of this Government.”

The Conservatives claim their research, based on Government figures produced by Oxford University, shows the scale of the divide.

In areas of central London 99.55 per cent of children are officially classified as living in poverty, whereas in other parts of the same area the figure is just 0.64 per cent.

More than 80 per cent of households in one ward in Leicester are officially classified as being “income deprived”, while elsewhere in the city the figure is only four per cent.

Manchester city centre has the most divided communities in the country, with nearly half of residents in one electoral ward officially poor, while in nearby streets the figure is just one per cent.

The official unemployment rate is 5.2 per cent but there are pockets of Britain’s cities where half the working age population is dependent on benefits.

Mr Grayling will argue in a speech to businessmen in Liverpool tomorrow (tues) that the gulf in social opportunities and life expectancy “is as vast as it has been at any stage since Victorian times.”

He will compare the gang culture and deprivation of that era to today, and argue that social mobility under Labour “has come to a halt”.

In an attack on Gordon Brown’s record, Mr Grayling will claim there is a metaphoric “glass wall” around deprived areas that prevents residents from escape.

Describing the Toxteth area of Liverpool, he will say: “I can show you streets where no one works, street corners where drug dealing is the main business, children being brought up in squalor, a caged up pub with pitbulls as bouncers – gangs, knives and guns in abundance.”

Doctors’ advice to Britons: have fewer children and help save the planet

· Parents urged to consider impact of large families

· Journal highlights dangers of rising population

The Guardian | Jul 25, 2008

By Ian Sample

British couples should consider having no more than two children to help reduce the environmental impact of the rising global population, doctors have said.

An editorial in the British Medical Journal today calls on GPs to encourage the view that bigger families are as environmentally dubious as owning a patio heater or driving a gas-guzzler.

Writing in the journal, John Guillebaud, professor of family planning at University College, London and Pip Hayes, a GP based in Exeter, urge doctors to “break a deafening silence” over the use of family planning to curb the rise in population, which has been viewed by many in the community as a taboo subject.

Managing the impact of a soaring human population will be one of the most politically fraught issues governments will have to grapple with in coming decades. Although the rate of population growth has slowed since the 80s, the UN estimates the world’s population has increased by about 76 million a year this century, which drives up greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbates the destruction of wildlife habitats.

Previous efforts to limit population growth in India in the 70s and in China, with its one child policy, have made any attempt to raise the issue in Britain highly controversial.

The authors call on schools and GPs to develop education programmes to explain how a rising population is environmentally unsustainable, and how families who have no more than two children will help ensure the population remains steady or even falls.

Government figures for 2007 show that average fertility rates in England and Wales were 1.91, meaning there were 191 children born for every 100 women, but that rate has been rising since 2001.

Guillebaud argues that bringing the fertility rate down to 1.7 would lead to a halving of the population within six generations.

“Should we now explain to UK couples who plan a family that stopping at two children, or at least having one less than first intended, is the simplest and biggest contribution anyone can make to leaving a habitable planet for our grandchildren?” the editorial asks. “We must not put pressure on people, but by providing information on the population and the environment, and appropriate contraception for everyone … doctors should help to bring family size into the arena of environmental ethics, analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high-carbon cars.”

The authors emphasise that couples should never be coerced into having fewer children than they wish, but the environment should become part of a couple’s decision making. The doctors, both of whom are linked to the Optimum Population Trust, a thinktank that researches the impacts of a rising population, claim that every new birth in the UK produces 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions than one in Ethiopia.

“We are not criticising those people in Britain who had large families in the past, because a lot of people had no inkling about the sustainability implications,” Guillebaud told the Guardian. “The decision that needs to be made is one that balances rights. It’s people’s right to have the size of family they choose, but surely that should be balanced against the rights of future generations.”

But the debate is complex, as a sharply falling population would have considerable economic, fiscal and social impact.

The editorial calls for improved availability of contraceptives in the developing world, where the biggest rises in population are anticipated. The authors cite the impact of widely available contraception in countries such as Costa Rica and Iran, which have cut their fertility rates.

Chris West, director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, said that while there were good environmental reasons for halting the rise in human population, it would not deliver sufficient cuts in greenhouse emissions quickly enough. “If we had a way to reduce the population … it would be one way to address climate change, but in the current circumstances, it’s not a very effective way,” he said. “For all sorts of other reasons … we probably need to be aiming at zero population growth, but it’s not going to deliver emission reductions on anything like the timescale we need.”

Backstory

Humans have struggled with overpopulation since antiquity, when the Greeks were forced to set up colonies across the Mediterranean to reduce pressure on resources back home. According to some accounts, they also encouraged sexual abstinence, delayed fatherhood and introduced basic forms of abortion. In modern times, India began to control its population growth in the 50s in an attempt to alleviate poverty, but stepped up efforts in the 70s, with education programmes and state-sponsored birth control. In China it is estimated that the one-child policy brought in during the late 70s has prevented nearly half a billion births. In many countries, simply providing contraception has been enough to bring fertility rates below the figure needed to maintain a stable population, as people choose to have fewer children. In his 1729 satirical pamphlet, A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift suggested that Irish families might alleviate their poverty by choosing to sell their children to the rich for food. But nothing has been as effective in reducing the human population as the flu virus. The 1918 strain is believed to have killed more than 20 million people.

Disney’s teen siren Miley Cyrus sings “Global Warming Anthem”

Miley Cyrus flashing the secret sign, popular with rock stars, royalty and elite politicians. Photo: Annie Leibowitz

“Several moments of your consideration
Leading up to the final destination”

The green Miley: Popster Miley Cyrus pens ‘eco-anthem’

The Grist Mill | Jul 22, 2008

by Sarah van Schagen

Fifteen-year-old Disney pop starlet Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) wants America to wake up and deal with global warming … though she’s not quite sure what that means. At least, that’s what she admits in a song — dubbed an “eco-anthem” by some, though I’m curious what qualifies it as an anthem — on her new release Breakout.

It may seem not to fit on an album whose title track whines “Every week’s the same/Stuck in school’s so lame/My parents say that I’m lazy/Getting up at 8 a.m.’s crazy/Tired of bein’ told what to do/So unfair, so uncool.” But once you listen to it (or read the lyrics), you may agree with the Entertainment Weekly reviewer who suggests Miley “talks about our troubled planet as if it were a needy adolescent.” In which case, perhaps the song fits quite well.

No word yet on whether she’ll be touring by biodiesel bus, releasing the CD in ecofriendly packaging, or really doing anything more than singing about doing something. But as many artists have found recently, singing crappy eco-songs (“Hey You,” anyone?) is one step in the right direction.

Wake Up America – Miley Cyrus

Wake Up America

Oh, can you take care of her
Oh, maybe you can spare her

Several moments of your consideration
Leading up to the final destination

Oh, the earth is calling out,
I wanna learn what it’s all about,
But everything I read — global warming, going green
I don’t know what all this means, but it seems to be saying

Wake up, America, we’re all in this together
It’s our home so let’s take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to wake up, America
Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do
Matters, yeah, everything you do matters in some way

Stand up, I’ll try if you will
Wake up, it’s not a fire drill
All she needs is a little attention
Can you give her just a little attention?

Uh oh, it’s easy to look away
But it’s getting harder day by day

Everything I read — global warming, going green
I don’t know what all this means, but it seems to be saying

Wake up, America, we’re all in this together
It’s our home so let’s take care of it
You know you want to
You know that you got to wake up, America
Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do
Matters, yeah, everything you do matters in some way

I know that you don’t want to hear it
Especially coming from someone so young

But in the back seat, yeah, they want to hear it (they want to hear it)

So come on (turn it up)
Come on (turn it up)
So come on (turn it up)

Wake up, America, we’re all in this together
It’s our home so let’s take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to wake up, America
Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do
Matters, yeah, everything you do matters in some way