Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Why Quakers in Britain should become a Low Carbon Community

Craig's post last week has prompted me to post here my own piece submitted to The Friends Quarterly essay competition.

July this year saw the launch of The Friends Quarterly essay competition at Yearly Meeting Gathering in York. September this year saw the launch of the 10:10 Campaign in London. Both of these are about the future, and neither is about only a short-term future.

The 10:10 Campaign asks each of us, each individual and each institution, to reduce our carbon footprint by 10% in 2010. But that is only the beginning – we need to follow this by reducing our carbon emissions by 10% year on year. This is known as carbon descent, or energy descent, and groups of people who work together to achieve this are known as low carbon communities. In most cases a low carbon community is a geographically proximate group of people; perhaps a village, a school or other institution, a business, or other similar grouping. But let us consider the possibility of a dispersed low carbon community. Of course, I have in mind Britain Yearly Meeting. What would it mean for Quakers in Britain to be truly a low carbon community?

For this possibility to become real, for it to embody not only our testimony to simplicity but also, and particularly importantly, our testimony to truthfulness, it would require that each of us as individual members of the Yearly Meeting committed ourselves honestly and practically to reducing our carbon emissions by 10% year on year; that each of our meetings and meeting houses did the same; that our gathering together for area meetings or other functions also reduced the carbon emissions of all that travelling; that Woodbrooke and Friends House as institutions also succeeded in this reduction, along with all the other Quaker-owned or Quaker-run organisations around the country; and that we find a low carbon method of holding Yearly Meeting.

To make this real would require from us both commitment and discipline. Our commitment would have to be not only to carbon reduction but also to the corporate witness of Quakers in Britain. The discipline required would encompass not only our carbon-related behaviour but also the spiritual discipline of taking seriously our membership of a larger corporate body.

In any group of people, a balance is required to sustain the healthy functioning of that group: a balance between a focus inward, on the life and processes of the group; and a focus outward, relating to the wider world, to other groups, and embodying the raison d’ĂȘtre of the group. Thinking of Friends, we should add also a focus on the Spirit – which is, of course, not the same thing at all as a focus inward on the group.

It is perhaps in the nature of Friends – in the way we worship, in the kinds of people who are attracted to the ways of Friends – that a tendency to turn inwards is very strong. When this becomes dominant, an overriding concern, without the balance of an outward focus, the inevitable tendency is to stagnation and loss of vital energy. Among British Friends, the Quietist period in the eighteenth century led, in the end, to this kind of stagnation. (See, for instance, John Punshon, Portrait in Grey, London: Quaker Books, 2001, Chapter 6.)

Friends have perhaps been at their best when tested by external circumstances – when the world presents dilemmas that require the best of Quaker spiritual discipline, individual and corporate. In Britain, this was manifest in the two world wars. Friends had a clear issue to confront, it required steadfastness and faithfulness to do so, and the public stance taken drew many people to seek out Friends for succour, spiritual nurture and practical support.

In modern times there have been, arguably, three major crises that have undermined our view of human beings – of ourselves – as rational human beings. The first was the carnage of the World War One trenches; the second was the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in spring 1945, revealing to the world the reality of what had gone on; the third was the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, facing us with the knowledge of our potential for terrible, potentially global, destruction.

In each of these cases, the ‘ordinary person’ could look at what ‘they’ were doing, or had done, could look to the politicians or the generals, and blame someone else. In his memoir The Last Fighting Tommy, Harry Patch describes how his team of gunners decided not to shoot to kill, as the German foot soldiers were as much victims of the situation as they were themselves; they would aim for the legs, and the injured German would be stretchered off the battlefield and might thus hope to survive the war. So, even in the midst of the fighting, the responsibility was clearly felt to lie elsewhere than with the men who loaded and fired the guns.

In the anti-nuclear campaigning that followed the end of World War Two, it was clearly someone else who was in a position to ‘press the button’ – everyone else could campaign self-righteously against it.

The present situation, the fourth crisis, is different. There is no-one to point the finger at except ourselves. Those of us who live in the rich industrialised West are part of the problem, just by living, just by getting up in the morning and going about our normal business, we are part of the problem. Even those of us who are working very hard at reducing our carbon emissions are part of the problem. So we can campaign and protest (and we surely need to do those things) but we also have to change our lives in ways that most people have barely glimpsed yet. We can’t rely on technology to enable us to continue with business as usual by other means.

This is an exciting time to be alive, because – quite literally – everything we do makes a difference.

We are going to be tested: as individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, and as the whole tribe of humanity. Quakers in Britain, will be tested as a religious body. And the outcome is uncertain; just as in the seventeenth century, when the Pilgrim families set off for the New World, we do not know what awaits us, we do not know if we will survive, we do not know if we, or our children or their children, will return – where, in our case, ‘return’ is not a geographic returning, but a cultural one.

So this is potentially a moment in history when Quakers are needed – needed to be faithful to Quaker testimonies; needed to be visible, to be speaking out, to be offering leadership; needed to ‘do the right thing’ in the face of external pressing circumstances. To use a phrase of Gandhi’s, Quakers – individually and corporately – need, and are needed, to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’. To do and be so will require us to deepen our spiritual grounding, alone and together – not only for inward exploration but for the future of human society.

A further challenge will be to find the corporate will, the rediscovery of a depth of corporate discipline, to undertake this wholly and fully – and not just as a matter of some individuals’ personal choices. Our dispersed and devolved patterns of leadership, authority and decision-making place upon us an added layer of difficulty in this. Other churches and faith groups, with more traditional hierarchical organisational patterns, are forging ahead in this field, in their own ways – it remains to be discovered to what extent the ‘ordinary’ congregation members will follow their leaders.

But if we, as Friends, were to find the way to do this, we would not only contribute vitally to the necessary decarbonising of British society; we would not only offer a beacon of leadership to others lacking a community context; we would also strengthen, deepen and revitalise the life of our Society.

Are we ready to undertake this?

If you have been trying to post a comment and have had technical difficulties, you could instead email the comment to me at Good.Lives@woodbrooke.org.uk and I will post it for you.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Quakers in Transition

This week's posting is a Guest Post from Craig Barnett. Craig is involved with Transition Sheffield, and is national co-ordinator of the City of Sanctuary movement. This post is an extract from Craig's entry to The Friends Quarterly essay competition on ‘The Future of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain’. The full essay is available online.

Over coming decades most British Quakers will be forced to come to terms with a long-term decline in our standard of living, social prestige and life choices, which will profoundly alter the context of our daily life. This will also create new spiritual needs and priorities, as Friends struggle to come to terms with drastic reversals in their lives, and in the apparent failure of our society to deliver on its promises of continuous social and technological ‘progress’.

British Quakers are among those groups that will be especially vulnerable to the social changes of the era of ‘energy descent’.  Quakers of working age are disproportionately employed in public sector occupations such as teaching, social work and higher education, that are most vulnerable to cuts in public spending resulting from declining revenues. Relatively few British Quakers are currently employed in areas that are likely to see an increase in numbers and status; such as agriculture, engineering, skilled trades and policing, as the economy is re-geared towards core priorities of food and energy security, economic localisation and domestic security.

There are already signs of a re-ordering of political priorities away from higher education and social welfare, as the main parties have converged on a programme of deep public spending cuts, due to the crippling cost of the recent bank bailouts. As resources available to all governments become ever-more constrained by a shrinking economy, these cuts will affect growing numbers of public service employees.

Prolonged economic recession will also threaten those dependent on retirement pensions, as the value of invested assets is affected by falling share prices and the potential collapse of vulnerable financial institutions.

A loss of faith in the ideal of progress that has provided a dominant narrative for our civilisation for over two centuries, will be a profoundly disorientating experience for many. It will challenge British Friends to seek a basis for ‘hope’ that is not grounded in the prospect of inevitable improvements in social conditions. To what can we turn if it is no longer possible to believe that the future will always be ‘better’ than the present? This crisis may encourage us to explore alternative perspectives on time and history, which have been superseded by the modern narrative of progress.

Christianity drew from its Jewish origins a concept of historical time as a period between the fall from original innocence, and the expected redemption by the historical intervention of God. Early Quakers, however, often claimed that this period of waiting for the final intervention of God was at an end, sinceChrist has come to teach His people Himself. They believed that they participated in the ‘end of history’ when God was gathering the whole world to fulfil the prophecies of scripture, as all people would be united by the immediate guidance of the Spirit.

As Quakers moved from being a prophetic popular movement to a conservative denomination, this view of time proved difficult to sustain. Eventually their hope ceased to be located in the intervention of God in human history, and was removed to the secular future of social progress.

But the ancient perspective of ‘prophetic time’ can perhaps remind us that hope does not need to rely on optimism. There are historical periods when it is foolish or impossible to be ‘optimistic’, but hope is always possible, if it is rooted in faith in a God who is able to act through human lives in any situation to liberate and transform. Biblical scholar Walter Brueggeman describes the prophetic view of time in this way:
"Ancient Israel’s prophets held to a vision of an alternative world in season and out of season because they understood that the new alternative to come was not to be derived from present circumstances. Their hope was not grounded in their sense that things are going to get better, nor in the notion that things were evolving in a desired direction. Their hope was independent of the present, because the new world would be a gift from God, who acts in unqualified freedom.”   (Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1978).
Another important aspect of Quakerism that is likely to have a new relevance during a prolonged period of economic decline and diminishing material security, is the benefit of belonging to a community of mutual aid. This was an extremely important aspect of Quaker Meetings (as of other churches and secular societies) in the period before the Welfare State. As many Quakers begin to experience employment insecurity and falling incomes, due to declining public expenditure on social welfare and education, our Meetings will increasingly be needed for mutual support.

There are great benefits to belonging to a community of mutual aid in a period of severe economic insecurity. Belonging to a Quaker Meeting will provide an important 'safety net' for many people experiencing a rapid dislocation in their work and personal lives. Sharing of skills and practical help, benefit funds for those in severe financial hardship and social enterprises to provide employment opportunities, may become widespread priorities.

Other resources of the Quaker tradition will also become increasingly important over this period. A shared vision of the 'good life', which is not based on material prosperity is likely to be a powerful resource in an energy-constrained society. For many in our society, falling incomes, more limited opportunities for travel and energy-intensive consumption will be experienced as a disaster, which consumer culture has provided no resources for making sense of.

Our Quaker testimony to simplicity will take on a new significance in this context. Over the last half century for many British Quakers the testimony to 'simplicity' in lifestyle and possessions has been increasingly difficult to practice in a hectic consumer society. In our new conditions of life, it may help us to see not just the material hardships, but also the possibilities to live slower lifestyles, more connected with our local communities, and more focused on real social and spiritual values than on material consumption.

This perspective will not come easily to any of us whose life experience has been shaped by the consumer society. But the writings and example of earlier Friends such as John Woolman will acquire a new contemporary relevance in an energy-constrained society, providing a rich resource for collective reflection on those goods of life that are not dependent on material living standards.
"My mind, through the power of Truth, was in a good degree weaned from the desire of outward greatness, and I was learning to be content with real conveniences that were not costly; so that a way of life free from much entanglements appeared best for me, though the income was small... I saw that a humble man with the blessing of the Lord, might live on a little; and that where the heart was set on greatness success in business did not satisfy the craving; but that commonly with an increase of wealth, the desire for wealth increased." (John Woolman, Journal 1743)
In this new society, in which material scarcity is becoming a widespread, bitterly resented and disorientating experience, the testimony to simplicity may take the form of an acceptance of scarcity, an equanimity that does not deny the real hardships involved, but also honours the spiritual goods made possible by material simplicity of life. The testimony will not necessarily consist of a different material standard of living to others, but an alternative perspective, which embraces material simplicity as an opportunity to pursue the true goals of the 'good life' – relationship, community, spiritual practice, and useful work for human and ecological flourishing.

The challenges of a society in energy-descent may also highlight a new contemporary significance for other Quaker testimonies. Some of the potential social consequences of falling living standards include the scapegoating of migrants and minorities, fuelled by anger and resentment over competition for increasingly scarce resources. As climate change puts increasing pressure on food and water resources in climate-sensitive areas of poor countries there is also a likelihood of large-scale forced migration  and civil and regional military conflict, leading to growing numbers of refugees seeking sanctuary in relatively ‘stable’ countries in the developed world such as the UK. The British government may also attempt to respond to the economic and political challenges of energy descent by taking a greater role in the management of the economy and society, creating a greater potential for abuse of State power, corruption and militarism.

All of these challenges will highlight the urgent significance of Quaker testimonies to peace, equality and integrity. We will need to renew our commitment to becoming communities of mutual support in responding faithfully to the leadings of God, in peacebuilding, reconciliation, and speaking Truth to power, as this becomes more urgent and costly than ever. Quakerism may once again be led to become a subversive force within British society – offering refuge to persecuted minorities and publicly challenging scapegoating, violence and propaganda.

Other Quaker traditions and practices will also offer powerful resources for negotiating the transition to a low-energy society. Any period of rapid social change involves drastic and unforeseen changes in ways of life, and a re-evaluation of expectations and values. For many people, this is likely to be deeply traumatic, as our culture has provided few resources for this kind of fundamental reflection.

The Quaker tradition of discernment can offer some powerful and well-tested practices which support new ways of seeing and personal and communal transformation. Communal discernment in the Meeting for Worship for Business, Meeting for Clearness and Threshing Meetings provide the Quaker community with powerful tools for negotiating change and conflict, which may become increasingly important to Quakers and others experiencing disorientating personal and social change.

Times of social upheaval tend to cause many people to seek new 'certainties', which appear to offer a source of assurance and stability. For this reason we may expect a growth in dogmatic religious and political groups. But many whose world views and personal expectations have been overturned by 'energy descent' will be stimulated to ask new questions, and seeking support in their process of reflection and questioning rather than a pre-packaged set of 'answers'. For them, Quaker Meetings will have some rich resources to offer.

The 'Transition Quakerism' that emerges in response to the needs of a society in energy descent will also need to place a much greater emphasis on the formation of our children and young people. One of the consequences of rapid and largely unforeseen social change is that young people will be coming to adulthood in a society for which their formal education has left them largely unequipped. The current education system reflects the perceived economic needs and social priorities of a high-technology, service-orientated economy. Few of the skills and aptitudes that will be essential to an energy-constrained society such as food production, small-scale manufacture, or maintenance and repair skills, currently receive much emphasis in the school curriculum.

As Quaker communities struggle to support young people through social changes, we may also be challenged to think more deeply about the other skills, practices and traditions that will help them and the wider society through the process of energy descent. In recent decades all aspects of the education of young people have increasingly been delegated to the school system. As we re-examine the usefulness of State-designed curricula for our young people, we may also recognise that fundamental intellectual, social and spiritual needs have often been neglected by the education system. Quaker families and communities may begin to take a greater responsibility for meeting some of these needs, by sharing and teaching conflict resolution skills, centering practices, group facilitation and decision-making, nonviolent direct action, ecological understanding and our Quaker religious tradition.

As our society gradually learns to adapt to the new era of energy descent it will create new patterns of economic, social and political life that reflect the reality of diminishing energy availability. In the long term, any society must be able to function within its ecological and resource constraints if it is to survive. Our current 'industrial growth' civilisation has failed to do this, has encountered its ecological limits and is beginning the 'long descent'.

No one can know what the new society that emerges at the end of this process will look like. It may well develop by exploiting another non-renewable energy resource (starting from the much-reduced options left to it by our society), until it passes a depletion threshold and enters a further decline.

In the long term, if a sustainable civilisation is ever to emerge it will need to develop a culture that recognises objective limits to levels of production, consumption and waste. In rejecting the goal of endless economic growth, a sustainable society will need to find other goals for human life, not dependent on material 'progress'. Quakerism has much to contribute to this new civilisation, as do other religious traditions that embody understandings of authentic spiritual goods of human life.

As our society enters its long energy descent, Quaker Meetings may come to provide both a refuge for people struggling to adapt to changing social realities, and also a midwife for a gradually emerging culture. British Quakerism could offer long-tested practices of communal support and discernment, and insights into spiritual values for human life that do not rely on material growth. Quakers, in partnership with communities of other faiths and traditions, may help to weave part of the fabric of a new, sustainable civilisation.

Thanks to Craig for this post.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A new year miscellany

Happy new year to you all! I thought I'd ease us gently into 2010 with a miscellany of short items on matters that have caught my attention over the past two weeks. Back to something more substantial next week . . .

How long it takes litter to decay
(without the help of the heat generated by a compost heap):
Paper bag: 1 month
Apple core: 8 weeks
Orange peel, banana skins: 2 years
Cigarette ends: 18 months – 500 years
Plastic bag:10-20 years
Plastic bottle: 450 years
Chewing gum: 1 million years
[Source: Keep Britain Tidy]

Surprise quote:
“If you ask me where in 15 or 20 years’ time I’d like to be, it will be probably on a farm somewhere close to the land, getting up early in the morning... I want to be near land. I want to be able to grow my own food. Look after my own farm animals, worry about the weather and get the timing of my harvest right.”
Peter Mandelson in The Spectator, 15 Dec 09

Having trouble visualising
all those tonnes of CO2 that we’re either emitting (or, hopefully, saving)?
Carbon Quilt will help you to visualise any amount from 1 gramme to billions of tonnes. Eg: one tonne would fill a cube with sides 8.12m, or a sphere 10.07m in diameter.

Food waste
On average, each UK household throws away £420 worth of good, usable food each year. If an amount is added for food that is composted, or liquids that are poured away, this increases to £480 per household – or 8.3 million tonnes for the UK as a whole. Source: Love Food Hate Waste

Globally, deforestation outstrips reforestation by about 7 million hectares (17.5 million acres) per year. Want to help? Visit The Woodland Trust and look at their campaign ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reforest – Woodland Carbon’. Also go to GreenMetropolis to buy and sell second-hand books and benefit the Woodland Trust at the same time.

Future technology?
“Having worked and played continually with computers since 1991, and with networks and programming languages since '97, in my humble opinion the technology of the future is plumbing.”
[online respondent to survey asking ‘what will be the most important technology in the next five to ten years?’]

James Hansen, Storms of my Grandchildren: the truth about the coming climate catastrophe and out last chance to save humanity, (Bloomsbury, 2009. £18.99)
Don’t look at the sensationalist title and dismiss this book. James Hansen (a senior scientist in NASA) has form – he was the one who said that the ice caps would respond quickly to global warming, and he was right. His message in this book: the situation is worse than we’re being told, “your governments are lying to you”, nothing is being done, you can’t ‘compromise’ with nature and the laws of physics . . . and consequently, civil resistance is now the only way forward – “it’s up to you”. The outcomes of Copenhagen give us nothing to change his view. Michael le Page, reviewing the book for New Scientist, said the book is “the most frightening I’ve ever read” and “could be the most important one you’ll ever read.”

Carbon emissions in England
Now about ¼ come from houses and another ¼ from road transport. This means that the collective actions of private individuals can have a significant impact. During this year’s recession the only industry to be given help by direct subsidy was motor manufacturing and retail (via the scrappage scheme).
“Today we expect the travel industry to be on a war footing for our personal convenience all year round . . . Travelling must bear the global externalities that it imposes on other users of the planet.”
(Simon Jenkins, ‘Don’t blame the system for winter travel chaos. Stay put’, The Guardian 23 December 2009).

Quakers at the Copenhagen Climate Summit
See Sara Wolcott's blog Quakers at COP. Her December 19 post 'The Morning After' reports an "extended discussion" among US, UK, and Asia Pacific/FWCC Friends present at Copenhagen. They suggest:
    1. organise a Quaker presence / network on climate and ecojustice issues
    2. encourage involvement by Young Friends
    3. plan for a worship space at the June 2010 climate talks in Mexico
    4. a QUNO-type body at Bonn, the headquarters of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
    5. a collective Quaker effort to catch up with other churches. Other faith groups are much more organised.
Sara's December 20 post proposes a Quaker network focussed on UNFCCC work, and urges cooperation with the Montreal-based TckTckTck worldwide coalition of major NGOs (from Oxfam to Amnesty International to Religions for Peace and Christian Aid) which collected 15,243,644 signatures for climate action. That is a lot of allies.

An octopus using tools!
Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelterunusually sophisticated behaviour that researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The findings are significant, in that they reveal just how capable the creatures are of complex behaviour. There is always debate in the scientific community about how to define "tool use" in the animal kingdom, but the findings are interesting: "It's another example where we can think about how similar humans are to the rest of the world. We are just a continuum of the entire planet" (Simon Robson, biologist).

Sinking and swimming: understanding Britain's unmet needs
The Young Foundation's latest report 'Sinking and Swimming: understanding Britain's unmet needs'  explores how psychological and material needs are being met and unmet in Britain. It looks at why some people can cope with shocks and setbacks and others can't (which will be important as we move further into the consequences of peak oil and climate change), and it draws out the implications for policy, philanthropy and public action. The welfare state that was built up after the great economic crisis of the 1930s was designed to address Britain's material needs – for jobs, homes, health care and pensions. It was assumed that people's emotional needs would be met by close knit families and communities. Sixty years later psychological needs have become as pressing as material ones: the risk of loneliness and isolation; the risk of mental illness; the risk of being left behind. New solutions are needed to help the many people struggling with transitions out of care, prison or family breakdown, and to equip people with the resilience they'll need to get by in uncertain times. This study is a guide to the changing landscape of need - and a guide to how we can reduce the unnecessary suffering around us. You can read the full report (294 pages or the summary (28 pages).

Species survival and climate change
Global warming creeps across the world at an average of ¼ mile per year – but this average hides radical differences between, eg, tropics and poles, mountains and plains. The speed of change links directly to survival prospects for plant and animal species, which will have to displace geographically to remain in the right temperature zone for their survival. Many of the world’s protected areas (nature reserves, national parks, etc) are not large enough to accommodate the necessary displacements. Maybe 1/3 of the globe could see climate velocities higher than the most optimistic estimates of possible plant migration speeds. Some species might have to be moved by people, and protected areas joined up and enlarged. The full scientific report may be found at: ‘The velocity of climate change’, Scott R. Loarie, Philip B. Duffy, Healy Hamilton, Gregory P. Asner, Christopher B. Field & David D. Ackerly, Nature vol.462, no.7276, pp.1052-55 (24 December 2009)

Generation-X and their midlife crises
Alice Yaxley points me to:
A new age group is entering midlife - and some members are tackling it differently than those in generations past. Historically, the excuse, "I'm having a midlife crisis," was often used to justify reckless, self-indulgent behavior, from infidelity to splurging on sports cars. But now, some Generation Xers and younger baby boomers are quietly refusing to have their midlife crises the old-fashioned way. More mindful than their parents about the psychological perils of middle age, they are anticipating midlife unrest and trying to turn it to positive ends.”
And she comments: “Now we only have to work out if we can get any of them (re)interested in Quakers and the Society might stop dying out . . .”

Archbishop Rowan Williams – sermon at Copenhagen Cathedral
at the time of the Copenhagen Climate Summit: Act for the sake of love’, Sunday 13 December 2009.

Bring home the externalities!
The ‘externalities’, in economic terms, are those items or processes which are assigned no accounting value. So, for instance, the money we pay for our tap water pays the water company to deliver it to us. No-one pays anything for the actual water – it falls from the sky, it’s a ‘free’ resource. On the other side of the balance sheet, an environmental disaster, like a major oil-spill (or decommissioning a nuclear power station), can increase the GDP of the country concerned, because of the jobs created by the clean-up. GDP is an accounting fiction (or ‘convenience’ if you like), a 20th century invention, that adds up all the goods and services in an economy, costed at current market prices. Intangibles can be given financial value – for instance, in health budgeting a human life is assigned a notional financial value, in order to make decisions about the cost-effectiveness of screening or treatment programmes. This may seem callous, but at least it recognises value. Similarly, there is now a significant lobby to assign financial value to environmental ‘goods and services’. Thus we might all pay ‘rent' for the ‘environmental services’ provided by rainforests, paying the governments concerned to maintain them. The costs of road-building and motoring would include a charge for the environmental damage they cause (currently railways have to pay such a levy, but road-builders and motorists don’t). A recent paper 'Nature's role in sustaining economic development' by Prof Partha Dasgupta explores this whole area in detail.explores this whole area in detail.

Living on what an affluent society throws away:
an interesting article by Katherine Hibbertand a preview to her book to be published on 14 January: Free: adventures on the margins of a wasteful society (Ebury Press, £11.99)

Right-brain / left-brain: a new look at our brain structure,
and it’s interesting in terms of our collective inability to respond appropriately to long-range issues like climate change. Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary: the divided brain and the making of the western world (London: Yale University Press, 2009). The Guardian published an interesting and informative review by Mary Midgley.