Archives for category: Education

Woodbrooke

Islam, like other Faiths, calls for stewardship of the Earth. What can we learn from Islam and its teachings on the environment and environmental justice?

“And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto God they will be gathered” (Hold Quran 6:38)

Each week there will be video, audio and written materials for you to engage with, and forums for you to share reflections and ask questions.

There will be two live Q&A’s. If you can’t join these discussions live, they will be recorded for you to watch at your convenience.

This course is intended for anyone, of any faith or none.

Start Date: 20th August 2018 12:00 am

End Date: 30th September 2018 11:59 pm

£38.00

More information here: https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/item/islam-and-the-environment/

 

 

 

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Dr. Ian Maidment of Aston University has co-authored a significant piece of medical research published recently in the British Medical Journal: Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia: case-control study

It found that routine medicines, including common antidepressants, bladder drugs and anti-Parkinson’s medication (others noted on BBC report), taken by hundreds of thousands of people, increase their risk of dementia by up to a third.

These medicines account for tens of thousands of cases of dementia and doctors need to use them more sparingly.

This comprehensive study adds weight to the 2014 research findings, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, that cumulative anticholinergic use is associated with an increased risk for dementia.

Dr. Maidment said: “In the last 20 years the number of older individuals taking five or more medicines has quadrupled. Many of these medicines will have some anticholinergic activity and, in the light of today’s findings, we have to consider whether the risks of dementia outweigh the benefits from taking a cocktail of prescribed drugs.”

He added that the focus should be on “de-prescribing”, adding: “Doctors, nurses and pharmacists need to work with older people and their carers to ensure that they take medication only if the benefits clearly outweigh the harms.”

See the BBC News reports here.

Note also years of research findings on the effects of anticholinergic insecticides/pesticides on human health. See a free report in Toxicological Sciences, Volume 94 (OUP).

 

 

 

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John Ferguson, Professor of Classics in Nigeria, the United States and England, became the first Dean of Arts at the Open University and was also President of the Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham, pacifist, cricketer, singer and opponent of nuclear weapons.

Two years after his death in June 1989, the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics was founded, headed by a Professor of Global Ethics, a position established in memory of John Ferguson, with funds contributed by a family trust. It was set up to address the key ethical issues of our time and is hosted by Birmingham University’s Philosophy department. 

Emily Knowles, who leads the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme acknowledges the expertise which the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham has shared with the ORG.

The Birmingham Policy Commission earlier published, “The Security Impact of Drones: Challenges and Opportunities for the UK” (University of Birmingham, October 2014, summary and final report), which concluded at the end of its review that there was a need for clearer, more forthcoming public communication and transparency on the part of the UK government, and the MoD in particular.

In October 2017, a panel of practitioners, activists and academics reflected upon the ethics of armed conflict and the legality, morality and strategic implications of the Reaper Drone ten years after its introduction to active service in the UK. The event was hosted by the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham.

The late, great Professor John Ferguson`, ‘a committed Christian pacifist’, would have wanted the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics (University of Birmingham) and Dr Heather Widdows, who is the John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics at the centre, to have participated in this event. Perhaps they did.

CGSE was set up to address the key ethical issues of our time. Is not ‘remote killing’ – aka drone warfare – a key ethical, moral and legal issue of our time?

John Ferguson would certainly have said so – and denounced it forcefully!

 

 

 

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 “The West Midlands is beginning to get its act together under its new metro mayor”: Will Hutton Observer 18th February

George Morran, Director of the West Midlands Constitutional Convention and former Assistant Chief Executive of Dudley Metropolitan. Borough Council, comments: “Will Hutton’s praise for the West Midlands elected mayor and the Midlands Engine is misplaced”. He continues: “The mayor is constantly seeking publicity for policy developments for which he has no or limited responsibility. His budget proposals have not been supported and his capacity to make any real difference is compromised by the WM Combined Authority and District Councils”.

Deborah Cadman, the new Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority, appears to have similar misgivings “I can’t deliver the half a million new jobs we are trying to do and that massive investment. I can’t do that directly, I have to do that through local government.” (WMCA)

Morran points out that, despite so called devolution deals, the real power remains with Government Ministers and Whitehall:

“The Mayor’s democratic accountability is very questionable given that his election was based on a very low turnout, combined with the media and business support. The geographical focus of the West Midlands Mayor and Combined Authority is an area which divides the West Midlands Metro from the adjoining shires, urban and rural, town and country which together make up the West Midlands Economic Region.

“The “Midlands Engine” is as important a symbolic rallying cry as the “northern powerhouse” but it is a totally anonymous entity. It lacks any local or regional democratic accountability. It is totally dependent on Government, Whitehall and big business. It does not reflect the very different traditions, economic and political focus of the West and the East. Its focus does make life simpler for Whitehall than having to deal with two regions. What we need is a focus on the local and the region rather than what suits Whitehall. We need radical reform as part of a new constitutional settlement for the West Midlands and the other English regions. This settlement must focus on improving economic prosperity, the wellbeing of residents, business, civic society and democratic representative government in the West Midlands and the other Regions.

“This new settlement must include the transfer of real power and democratically accountable government from London to the local and the region; the downsizing and refocusing of Westminster and Whitehall. The new local has to be really local and not based on the existing large local authorities imposed on us in the past by Westminster and Whitehall.” 

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities, focuses on the limited powers and resources at the metro mayors’ disposal:

“As highlighted in the recent international mayoral summit organised by Centre for Cities (in partnership with Citi and Boston University’s Initiative on Cities), England’s mayors are highly constrained in their control over local tax revenue and how it is spent compared to their counterparts in other countries. They have also faced delays in gaining the powers already promised to them by the government in their initial devolution deals. For example, Street has criticised the Department for Education for postponing the devolution of the adult education budget to the mayors, a key policy area they need control of to improve the economic performance of their city regions”.

Richard Hatcher (BATC) is campaigning for the reform of the WMCA based on the following three principles:

  • A critical challenge to the claims for the economic strategy of the WMCA, and for an alternative primed by government investment and based on meeting social priorities and the promotion of the green economy.
  • Defence and improvement of public services, the protection and improvement of jobs and conditions and the involvement of workers and service users in policy decisions.
  • A radical democratisation of the WMCA with the full participation of citizens, communities and employees at every level of policy making and implementation so that it is genuinely democratically accountable.

As George Morran wrote last year: The needs of the West Midlands and the other English Regions will only be realised if there is a real transfer of power and elected representation from Westminster to the regions and a far more localised local government underpinned by a more proportional voting system to ensure cross party and geographical support.

 

 

 

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WEST MIDLANDS NEW ECONOMICS GROUP

Date: Thursday 22nd February, 5pm-7pm

John Nightingale, who will be chairing this session, intends to do a brief introduction. He sent a background  paper to members of the group to avoid having to share the information at the meeting. The question posed is:

What values and priorities do we wish to see retained and/or developed through the Brexit process (whatever the result), and what mechanisms do we suggest for expressing them? 

Venue: The Community Hub room, Level 4, John Lewis, Birmingham Grand Central Railway Station aka New Street Station. The John Lewis Community Hub is located on the 4th floor of the John Lewis store over the station (lift and escalator), immediately off the area where television sets are being sold.

Newcomers who wish to receive John’s paper beforehand should contact  Comments on the WMNEG website.

 

 

 

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Climate Action Network West Midlands invites you to the official launch of our exciting Big Lottery Funded project.

It’s a free public event for anyone in the region interested in sustainable community development and climate change. Hear some inspirational speakers on whole systems approaches to “green cities” and community development, followed by workshops to agree priorities for the project.

The project goals are to support and encourage better links and communication between community / environmental groups and activists in order to increase engagement in climate change at community level in the region.

The meeting will start with short presentations on:

  • aspects of community development
  • transition to renewable energy at whole-city level
  • an outline design of a web portal to support the “circular economy”.
  • an overview of the project and our crowdfunding campaign for a community-level climate action fund.

After a question and answer session with the speakers, there will be a “World Cafe” style workshop to discuss priorities for the project.

Climate Action Network West Midlands (CANWM) is a free and open network of groups and individuals. List: https://www.climateactionwm.org.uk/climate-action-groups

Membership is open to anyone in the region who wants to support the international and UK goal of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. 

When: 

31 Jan 2018 – 18:00 to 21:00

Location: 

The Studio, 7 Cannon St., Birmingham B2 5EP

For more details about the project or to offer expertise and information, please contact Jules Todd FRSA or email canwestm@gmail.com

Cost: 

Free

Procedure for booking: 

Please click the link below

Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/further-faster-together-project-launch-tickets-41093290137

After the launch on 31st Jan, there will be six themed workshops at the John Lewis Community Hub (above New St Station):

  • Feb 28, 2018 5pm to 7:30pm  Workshop 1: Transport
  • Mar 28, 2018 5pm to 7:30pm  Workshop 2: Food
  • Apr 25, 2018 5pm to 7:30pm  Workshop 3: Energy and Resources
  • May 30, 2018 5pm to 7:30pm  Workshop 4: Housing
  • Jun 20, 2018 5pm to 7:30pm  Workshop 5: Employment
  • Jul 25, 2018 5pm to 7:30pm  Workshop 6: Education

October 2018 – date and venue to be confirmed – End-of-Project Conference

There’s some more information and links to background papers here: https://www.thersa.org/fellowship/fellowship-news/fellowship-news/further-faster-together–towards-the-1.5-0c-target-for-global-warming

 

 

 

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Birmingham’s Professor Rex Harris (FREng) is drawing attention to a recent article in the Guardian Review on wind energy giving an up-beat view of off-shore wind farms which, he agrees, are showing a lot of promise, particularly compared with the very expensive and increasingly problematic nuclear option. He comments:

“However, in this article, there was no mention of the vital role played by NdFeB-type permanent magnets in the direct drive generators provided by companies such as Siemens”.

The untutored writer consulted a second engineer who said that readers may have noticed wind turbines of rather different shapes starting to appear. The more traditional ones have a nacelle behind the rotor – the gearbox to convert slow rotation to a higher speed required by the generator.

He continued: “These gearboxes are expensive and heavy, bringing new problems to solve. One solution is the turbine with NdFeB, otherwise known as rare earth magnets. They eliminate the need for the gearbox, driving the generator directly at the speed of the blades. They can be recognised by a large ring structure behind the blades. (The traditional gearbox opposite has the low speed shaft to the left. It makes the high speed shaft to the right turn approximately 50 times faster than the low speed shaft.)

Stanford Magnets reports on the emergence – over the last two years – of commercial-scale & direct drive permanent magnet generator systems with the hub directly connected to the generator (right). Being direct drive, these turbines have significant advantages over the geared variety:

  • significantly increased reliability,
  • reduced maintenance costs,
  • reduced downtime for maintenance
  • improved efficiencies in the power conversion process and
  • greater efficiencies when wind speeds are not at full rating.

The second engineer warns that “engineering is always a compromise and there is a clue in the name RARE earth: these generators need a large quantity to make the magnets required. There is a limited amount of these materials and they are predominantly found in China”. 

Mineral reserves: resources known to be economically feasible for extraction economically and technically feasible to extract. Note that the New Scientist reports that in what is said to be the first detailed report on the country’s supply, the US has 13 million tonnes of rare earth metals –  but it would take years to extract them.

Source: https://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/critical-metals-investing/rare-earth-investing/rare-earth-reserves-country/.

Professor Harris and his colleagues David Kennedy and Adrian Arbib end: “With this medium to long term threat to the magnet supply very much in mind, the West, including Europe and the USA, should recreate its previous manufacturing capacity for the production of NdFeB-type sintered magnets, start to exploit alternative rare earth reserves and develop and support NdFeB-type magnet recycling. Simply leaving matters to market forces will certainly not be sufficient”.

 

 

 

 

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There is a substantial and interesting article about the work of Joseph Chamberlain on the website of the Centre for Retail Research.

It ends with the reflection that Chamberlain’s ideas about the need to protect people in lower income groups from oppression and bad faith seem resonant today and continues:

What does Chamberlainism mean for Mrs May and industry?

Probably a recalibration of policy with a much greater focus on work, opportunities and living standards using an expansionist industry policy. We can discern five themes relevant to today:

  • A comprehensive industrial strategy, based on local needs and using local knowledge intended to replace imports and create the vital supply chains needed by British business.
  • New housing, potentially a provider of 1mn new jobs and a swift way of improving the living standards and opportunities. 
  • For education, an increased focus on science, maths, technical subjects and foreign languages; abandoning the current emphasis on university as the only useful goal for young people; and increased focus on vocational training, retraining and part-time study for adults. 
  • A concern for manufacturing industry and jobs once again, rather than assuming that retail, service industries, banking and the City of London are all one needs to worry about to provide work.
  • Requiring Government permission before a significant UK business is purchased by a foreign company.

Read the whole article here: http://www.retailresearch.org/chamberlain.php

 

 

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Corbyn’s core philosophy

We must recognise that every single child in this country has talents and every single child deserves the chance to flourish and thrive to their maximum potential in whichever field suits them best. That focus on the individual child is what drives our determination to reduce class sizes. We know that half a million children have been landed in super-size classes of 31 pupils or more.

He opened by setting out an all-embracing programme:

  • a government for the many not the few
  • invest in our economy and public services.
  • give the richest and largest corporations tax hand-outs worth tens of billions.
  • The NHS and social care have been pushed into a state of emergency.
  • Housebuilding has fallen to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s.
  • Schools across the country face real terms cuts in funding per pupil,
  • and class sizes are rising –
  • while those young people who want to go to university face huge debts.

His undertakings:

Labour will introduce a National Education Service, ensuring excellent learning opportunities for all from early years to adult education and halt closures of Sure Start centres and increase the funding for them.

Universal free school meals for pupils at primary schools will be introduced to help teachers who will see the benefits of improved concentration and improved attainment in the classroom. It will also help parents who will not only save money but have the peace of mind in knowing that their child is getting a healthy school meal during the day. Investing in the health of our nation’s children, is investing in our nation’s future.

If we are to build an economy worthy of the 21st century, we need a schools system that looks forwards, and not backwards to the failed models of the past.

The task is clear: we must build an education system that suits the needs of our children and the opportunities they will have in the jobs market of tomorrow.

 

Read the full text here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/jeremy-corbyns-2017-election-address-to-head-teachers/

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), one of the oldest Antwerp ship owners, which has built the first commercial ship that runs on hydrogen and produces zero pollution.

CMB currently sources its hydrogen from the chemicals industry but wants to get it through electrolysis powered by renewables in the future.

Bloomberg reports that the Hydroville passenger shuttle can operate on compressed hydrogen as well as regular fuel oil and has recently been certified to operate as a seagoing vessel by Lloyd’s Register. CMB will expand the technology to engines on cargo ships after initial testing.

“There’s a very strong commitment to decarbonize shipping from countries such as China, Japan, and a group of European nations,” said Tristan Smith, a lecturer at University College London’s energy institute and a former naval architect. “Hydrogen is one of the most cost-effective ways to do this. It’s proven, it works in the energy system and it’s easy to combust in ships.”

Cargo shipping is too energy intensive for electricity to be an option. “Even with the world’s biggest battery, we wouldn’t be able to sail a full day,” said Roy Campe, research and development manager at CMB. “Our trips usually take two or three weeks.”

The shipping industry, estimated to produce as much as 3% of the world’s emissions, was not included in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. But the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency, is to impose rules that limit the amount of sulphur emissions from ships from 2020. There are also talks about adding a carbon tax.

“We’ve had one in Birmingham since 2006!!!!”: Professor Rex Harris

The Ross Barlow is powered by a combination of a metal hydride solid-state hydrogen store, a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, a lead acid battery stack and a NdFeB permanent magnet electric motor (project leader: Professor Rex Harris). The ongoing development of The Ross Barlow is one of the hydrogen and magnets research interests of The Hydrogen Materials Group at the University of Birmingham.

 

 

 

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