Hourglass Newspaper

Whistle-stop walks: Phoenix Trail, Princes Risborough to Thame

I’m strolling in deepest Britain, on a course originally set by a Victorian theodolite. Empty fields stretch silently away. A wren, an animated ball of feathers, tizzes urgently across my path to break the purest peace. Far in the distance a dot gradually grows. Once it might have been the Oxford to London express, all fire and fury, trailing smoke over ancient hedges. But that is now history. The dot becomes a lone commuter on a bike, taking the scenic route home on a safe, car-free, surface. This is the Phoenix Trail, a seven mile path for walkers,…

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Smartphone: Friend or Foe?

Over 90% of adults under 55 own a smartphone, with excessive use linked to anxiety, social and behavioural problems. Technological advances such as smartphones are also cited as causes of the growing human disconnection with nature. We surveyed people about their smartphone use, their relationship with nature and anxiety. The results showed that higher smartphone use was linked to higher anxiety and taking selfies. Selfie-taking is a good example of how new technology shapes and defines human behaviours. High levels of smartphone use were also linked to a weaker relationship with nature. On the flip side, people who were…

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INTRODUCING URBAN GREEN SPACES

Researchers have found that green spaces with greater ecological diversity are particularly beneficial for our mental health. Professor Jorgensen who works at the University of Sheffield highlighted the importance of “experiences of nature – including diverse trees, plants and wildlife.” Across the world increasing numbers of people are moving to cities and 80% of the UK population already live urban lifestyles. By 2050 around two out of three people are predicted to live in urban areas. As things stand, this massive growth in urbanisation is expected to bring increased social and health inequalities. Meanwhile we’re seeing a collapse in…

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THE CLIMATE AND ECOLOGICAL EMERGENCY IN AFRICA

According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average rate. While it is mainly industrial nations that are responsible for producing greenhouse gases, such as CO2, that contribute to climate change, the main victims of climate change are already suffering, in the countries of the Global South. Many countries in Africa have already been suffering droughts, floods, uncertain weather patterns, loss of biodiversity and soils, increased prevalence and strength of diseases, among other disasters such as cyclones. Africa is exceedingly vulnerable to these changes, not only because of its…

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This profit-based system must change

I am a mother of three and a practising Muslim woman, originally from Yemen, a country torn by war. I’ve lived in Britain for 20 years. I have been environmentally aware for years. My first education on environmental issues came from the Quran when I came across verses that alerted me to environmental problems to come. At the time I didn’t fully understand it. One verse read: ‘The corruption has appeared throughout the land and the sea by [reason of ] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of…

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Thoughts on Rewilding

Extinction Rebellion Rewilding (XRR) is a quickly growing group of like-minded souls eager to fight the economic and social system that in so many ways is responsible for the climate and ecological crisis we’re in. A few decades ago I was involved in eco-activism, trying, largely in vain, to raise awareness about climate change. I now regret that I focused most of my ecological awareness on my personal choices. It is easy to become a cynic after having lived through the many ‘Greta Thunbergs’ who had ‘silenced the world’ already 30 years ago. Yet this time around, activism…

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Fossil fuels exposed

A European Commission report has identified the UK as being the largest supporter of fossil fuels in the European Union, giving over £10bn annually between 2008-2016 while claiming that it has ‘no fossil fuel subsidies’. The lack of any universal agreement on what constitutes a ‘subsidy’ means the government is free to set the definition on its own terms. Shelagh Whitley, head of the climate and energy programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) told Carbon Brief that: “The issue is not whether or not [countries] by definition have subsidies. The issue is whether they are providing support to…

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SPEAKING TRUTH TO OBSCENE WEALTH

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) that was founded in 1971. The WEF’s mission is cited as ‘committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas’. It is a membership-based organization, and membership is made up of the world’s largest corporations. The WEF hosts an annual meeting at the end of January in Davos in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. The rising tide of climate chaos that we now see almost constantly (most recently, in Australia’s unprecedented bushfires,…

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A statement to the court: why I chose to be arrested

MARK SLATER, 64, a retired academic and father of two from East Sussex, was arrested sitting in the road outside the Bank of England and charged with a Section 14 violation. He pleaded guilty at City of London Magistrates Court on November 8th, and read out this mitigation statement to the Judge. “I am pleading guilty because the law dictates that I am guilty and as a member of Extinction Rebellion I stand by my actions. But, I do not feel guilty. I feel empowered. Empowered because I am in the company here today of people who have the…

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NONVIOLENCE IS CRUCIAL, AND IT TAKES COURAGE

Scour the history books and you can find any number of moving tales about nonviolent resistors, but it was only in the 20th Century that the world really saw nonviolent movements become major players in bringing about social and political change. Taking inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi’s celebrated efforts in India, Martin Luther King Jr adopted similar tactics for the American Civil Rights struggle and others soon followed suit. Sources suggest as many as 14 nonviolent revolutions were carried out in 1989-90, all but one of which were successful in effecting change. These movements are not for the weak-hearted. It…

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