Archive for April, 2020

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day thirty five

April 27, 2020

I am the only passenger on the bus.

Drivers are still ignoring instruction to turn off engine open door, when sat waiting at a bus stop ahead of scheduled.

Last week there appeared to be more people on the streets. Today noticeable more people on the streets.

I learnt from Curtis in Sincil Street that reopened last week, that their shop in Baigate never closed and next week they will be reopening in the High Street.

Three passengers on return bus

Doughnut Economics Cyprus

April 27, 2020

A couple of weeks ago the Cyprus finance minister opened himself up to ridicule when he claimed the Cyprus economy was going to shrink by about five percent.

The following week the figure had  been revised to ten per cent, which was at best wishful thinking.

With loss of the Cyprus tourist sector, and anyone who thinks Cyprus is going to see any tourists before the end of the season is living in la la land, the economic downturn is going to be far greater than ten per cent.

The world is heading into economic meltdown far worse than the Great Depression, international trade already down by 30%. IMF has warned the global recession is likely to be worse than the Great Depression, and has urged countries to spend, spend, then spend some more, which is an amazing about turn for the IMF.

To put the Cypriot figures in context, the UK economy is expected to shrink by anywhere between 13 per cent and 30 per cent depending on which model, the assumptions fed into the model. The Treasury has forecast April May June the economy may shrink by 30 per cent.

We can not go back to normal as normal was not normal, it was destroying the planet.

We have been able to hear birdsong, our streets traffic free, our cites pollution free, the skies free of planes. A world few of us will have seen in our lifetimes. In India they are able to see in the far distance the snow covered Himalayas, a sight last seen over thirty years ago,

We were told we could not cut carbon emissions within the timescale required for zero carbon 2035, it was impossible, impractical, and yet we have achieved massive reductions overnight.

Politics is not a race, two or more corrupt  political parties in a race as to decide who gets the opportunity to do the bidding of oligarchs.

Politics is who does what to whom.

We have seen capitalism put into suspended animation.  We are in a postcapitalist world, we have been since 2008. Who decides what the future will look look like once we are through the coronavirus pandemic?

If we look to the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak  has made billions of pounds available, to furlough workers with the government providing 80% of salary, a week later for the self employed, grants, soft loans to small businesses, all to keep businesses in hibernation,  ready to be woken up.

In the covid-19 pandemic we are living in another now. What we have to do is create our own another now, an alternative reality, a vision of how we wish the world to be. We failed in 2008, we cannot fail again in 2020, we cannot return to what was the norm, as the norm was not normal.

EU failed to deliver on eurobonds, offered loans that put the southern vassal states in debt bondage with austerity to follow.

We have seen post-WWII relentless rise in GDP, or at least up to the 2008, but this rise is not normal, it has been at huge environmental cost, and the increase in GDP has not been fairly distributed, it has been shared with the rich.

If I ask a bank for $100,000 to safeguard an ancient forest, I will probably not get very far. If I ask for $1 million to cut down the forest sell the timber they will happily give me the money.

If I ask a bank for 100 million euros to destroy pristine coastline for a hotel development, bring in dredged sand to create a beach, destroy bamboo groves habitat of  a rare endangered snail, show I will have guaranteed contracts with a big tour company to bring in all-inclusive guests, I will of course not tell them no benefit to the local economy, the bank will hand me the money, or at least they would have pre-coronavirus pandemic.

Destruction of a forest, of a pristine coastline, is not without costs, soil erosion, floods, loss of a carbon sink, species loss, degradation of water supply, loss of inshore fishing and fish breading grounds, which then feeds into ocean acidification, warming climate, rising sea levels, forest degradation, loss of coastline, further loss of fisheries. These costs are dismissed as externalities (a polite way of saying someone else problem).

The standard economic model showing monetary flows between households and businesses, together with flows of capital and goods and services, sometimes expanded to include the role of banks and government, is too simplified, it takes no account of the economy is embedded within society, which in turn is embedded within Gaia.

Never confuse a model with reality, even worse distort reality to reflect the model.

Kate Raworth has drawn a model, that incorporates what went before, but also includes the commons, the flow of energy, flow of materials, and thus more accurately reflects reality.

We therefore have to devise a new economic system, one that sees the poor are not left behind, are not  reliant on food banks, homeless are not living on our streets, whilst at the same time we do not exceed our planetary limits and what we do produce is fair and  equitable.

One such system is doughnut economics. How do we apply it to Cyprus, to the island, to municipalities, to sectors?

Look to Amsterdam, where the city is working with Kate Raworth to devise doughnut economics for the city, a 21st century economic system.

One of the largest sectors in Cyprus is tourism, it cannot be a return to mass tourism which not only is destroying the planet is destroying Cyprus, it brings in the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive hotels with no benefit for the local economy.

Does Cyprus need an easyJet flight every day, sometimes two a day, would not two or three a week suffice, assuming easyJet is in business and will not run out of money by August?

A proposal for a doughnut economy for Cyprus, a broad brush to be expanded upon.

Doughnut economics was developed by Oxford economist Kate Raworth as an antidote to conventional economics which does not reflect the real world and has not served us well.

What is the economy for? Until we can answer that question, how do we know what to measure, how do we measure success?

Economies need to be distributive, regenerative.

Visualise a doughnut. In the centre nothing, this is where resides abuse of human rights, poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, food banks, it is where we should not be. The body of the doughnut is where we wish to be, a circular economy, everyone’s needs met, living within the limits of the planet. Beyond the doughnut, again where we should not be, global warming, species loss, habitat destruction, acidification of our oceans, pollution, rising sea levels.

Kate Raworth has developed a doughnut economics model for Amsterdam, working with the city. Something that should be studied, adapted to Cyprus, but no two places are the same.

For Cyprus we need a doughnut model for the island and for each and every municipality and sector, and the people involved in developing it.

The largest sector in Cyprus is tourism, but it is not in a healthy state, has not been for years, and looking at crude tourist numbers is about as helpful as focusing on GDP to measure economic well being.

One only had to wander through Protaras last year at the height of the tourist season to see all was not well.  During the day, mid-afternoon, empty sunbeds, watersports siting idle. At night, during the evening, bars and restaurants empty.

The last few years many local businesses have gone bust. They finished last season in very poor shape, and many more would not have survived another season.

Tourism has to benefit society with minimum impact on the environment.

Mass tourism is bad for the planet, bad for Cyprus, it is not sustainable.

There is an over-reliance on tour companies, on mass tourism, on all-inclusive hotels.

Cyprus has become the dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive attracts the dregs, little if any money flows into the local economy.

Cyprus is not going to see tourists this year, therefore time to reflect, seize the opportunity for radical change and innovation.

Rewind the tourist sector to thirty years ago when Cyprus was a quality destination, attracted quality tourists, when hoteliers took a pride in their hotels, restaurateurs in their restaurants.

Cyprus needs far fewer tourists, quality tourists. There should be no all-inclusive hotels, tour companies should be no more than 20% of hotel bookings (no single tour operator more than 10%), pay promptly at the end of the month (with penalty for late payment).

Encourage long stay, fourteen days and longer, discourage short stay, short breaks, seven days and shorter. Fewer flights for the same hotel occupancy.

The noisy bars bulldoze to the ground.  Restaurants in an attempt to compete with all-inclusive hotels are in a race to the bottom, a race to the bottom no one can win.

What passes as coffee shops is laughable, Cyprus is infamous for bad coffee, coffee shops serving drinkable coffee could count on one hand.

Replace noisy bars with traditional tavernas and coffee shops. It would be difficult to find good examples without visiting Plaka in Athens. Paul’s Coffee Roasters and Lazaris (though not for coffee) near St Lazarus Church in the back streets of Larnaca set high standards, take a pride in what they do, as does Nick’s Coffee Bike outside Larnaca Marina, but these are the rare exceptions, not the norm, oasis amidst the dross. Once the norm in Cyprus, until a race to the bottom to attract custom from all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

For restaurants slow food not fast food, local cuisine using fresh local seasonal produce.  Sea food restaurants overlooking the sea, fresh caught fish, for example Spartiatis overlooking Konnos Bay and Demetrion beside Liopetri River overlooking the sea.

Tourism is more than hotels, it is bars, coffee shops, restaurants, car hire, boat trips, water sports. All of which have suffered in recent years thanks to all-inclusive hotels.

There is a need to improve standards within the tourist sector, hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops. How to measure standards?

TripAdvisor is worthless, fake reviews and trolls. Google Maps marginally better. Proposal to tender a contract to assess standards  seriously flawed in a country where everyone knows everyone, someones cousin friend went to school with.

Create an open source open coop collaborate commons platform Booking Cyprus. Charge a small fee to generate a surplus to maintain and improve the platform and fund local community green projects.

There is a need to diversify within the tourist sector.

Diversify away from tourism based on a handful of coastal resorts.

Encourage rural tourism, bookings through FairBnB not AirBnB. AirBnB destroys local communitiesFairBnB works with and supports local communities.

Encourage cultural tourism.

An example would be a week of tango at Grecian Park, not organised by the hotel, they host a week organised by two dancers well known within the world of tango.

A green new deal, use it to kick start the economy. 

Look to what DiEM25 is proposing for Europe. EU needs to issue eurobonds, €500 billion a year to finance a Green New Deal for Europe.

Implement a tree planting programme. Start by planting trees at bus stops for the 101 / 102 bus service Paralimni Protaras Ayia Napa to provide much needed shade.

Pedestrianise the sea front at Larnaca and extend the pedestrianised area into the back streets around St Lazaris Church. Provide an electric shuttle bus service from, Larnaca Marina to Mackenzie Beach.

Cyprus is over-reliant on oil imports, which is crazy in a country with abundant sunshine. Install roof top solar, feed into local community owned and controlled local grids, paid a fair price, consumers pay a fair price, surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned national grid, any ‘profit’ fed back into the local grid or used to fund local community projects.

The proposed Paphos Marina with facilities for cruise ships should be scrapped. Cruise ships are floating environmental disasters.  Floating all-inclusive hotels that bring no benefits to local economies.

The project in Paphos to create a marina for 1,000 boats plus cruise ships is an example of the insanity that is destroying Cyprus. It should be scrapped.

Cruise ships are nothing more than glorified floating all-inclusive hotels, that cause horrendous damage wherever they dock, with little benefit to the local economy.

The streets of Athens, especially areas like Plaka and Acropli, are clogged whenever a cruse ship docks, causing a problem for both locals and visitors, and they do not spend any money. The tour buses ferrying them around, traffic congestion, noise and pollution.

Venice is being destroyed by cruise ships.

Cruise shop are major greenhouse gas emitters, plus passenger fly to start and end of trip. Cruise ships dump their sewerage and garbage overboard, including plastic.

Will there even be cruise ships? As we have seen floating hell when covid-19 spreads through the ship and nowhere will permit a plague ship to dock.

These floating all-inclusive hotels are now all rapidly returning to port, discharging their passengers and being mothballed. The industry has not just been devastated, it has ceased to function altogether. For it, coronavirus has been the perfect storm. It has gone from being an industry worth $46 billion (£37 billion) a year, with 26 million passengers per annum, to an almost total standstill overnight. The only destination for cruise ships, the scrap yard.

Art and culture should be part of our doughnut.

Art and culture would seem an oxymoron when said in the same breath as Ayia Napa, and yet Ayia Napa has an excellent International Sculpture Park on a hillside overlooking the sea and hosts an excellent Medieval Festival.

How many visitors are aware of the open air theatre during the summer in the grounds of Larnaca Castle?

Cyprus has a democratic deficit which should be addressed. Not only open municipalities to the public, open to public participation, live stream all meetings.

A doughnut may appear to be a simple concept, but appearances can be deceptive. Its power lies in its simplicity.

A lower social bound bellow which we should not fall. An upper planetary bound which we should not exceed. It is also circular, symbolises not only money flowing around the economy, but also symbolises mutual cooperation, collaborative commons.

A simple example will suffice. On changing money in a car hire, we are recommended to take a boat trip. The boat trip recommends a restaurant. The restaurant recommends a vineyard from where they source their wine. To visit the vineyard, we return to the car hire to hire a car. We pass through a lovely little village, learn of a house available through fairbnb should we be tempted to return. At the vineyard, we learn they are renting out a beautiful studio apartment with incredible views of the sea. We find a coffee shop which we have been recommended, and as is the nature of coffee shops, interesting conversations ensue with the owner and barista and fellow coffee drinkers, we learn of many cultural events, an out of the way fish restaurant overlooking the sea and of a taverna  overlooking the sea. We learn Cyprus has much to offer, which we would never have learnt of from tour guides at an all-inclusive hotel. And the local economy has benefited. And maybe we will return one day to explore further.

Salient points of a doughnut economy:

  • GDP is not a useful measure. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. Obsession with GDP has destroyed the planet whilst at the same time creating obscene levels of  inequality. The top richest 1% have accrued more  wealth than the poorest 99%. Uncontrolled growth has a name, cancer.
  • Create, innovate, value human development. With rare exceptions there is a lack of innovation in Cyprus. One bar owner opens a bar with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Then more bars open with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Those that follow, do not bother to check the first bar always empty.
  • Understand the power of networks, how feedback systems operate.
  • An economic system must be distributive. All must share in the wealth created.
  • Transactions within an economy are not simply financial, nor are the players only government and private sector. The economy also has to include open coops, collaborate commons, each working in loose partnership with each other.
  • Economy has to be regenerative. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition to merely protect the natural world from harm.

The Cypriot economy is moribund if not in free fall, no tourists anytime soon.  The time should be put to productive use to implement a doughnut economy.

It is important public information, in Greek and English, to keep everyone informed, not only locals but also visitors. Then network and share with other municipalities, not only across Cyprus, across Europe.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day thirty one

April 23, 2020

Only one passenger on the bus into Lincoln.

The message is still not getting through to drivers, when ahead of schedule and waiting at a bus stop, turn off the engine, and if a warm day, open the door.

Streets deserted, though there did appear to be more people about.

Pleased to see Curtis in Sincil Street has reopened.

Return bus, three passengers.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day twenty six

April 18, 2020

An hour later then previous outings venturing out into lockdown world catching the now hourly lockdown bus service. Earlier it was cold damp and raining. Cooler than previous days, though not cold as yesterday.

I am the one and only passenger.

Why are drivers when ahead of schedule and waiting at bus stops, failing to turn off the engine? No excuse, as have been told to by Stagecoach and sent reminders. Adding to pollution, damaging lungs, increasing covid-19 deaths.

My only reason for being in Lincoln, visit farmers market (third Saturday of the month). No farmers market. Why oh why do these people not learn how to use social media? It is for posting of timely information.

Promotion of Lincoln by Visit Lincoln during height of covid-19 pandemic the height of crass stupidity. Even when lockdown eased, there should be no promotion. Visitors carry disease. It is tourism that has spread covid-19 around the world. Visit Lincoln trying to justify their existence, and as always, failing miserably.

My visit not entirely wasted. Redhill Farm Shop in Bailgate open.

On return, only one passenger on the bus.

No international travel anytime soon

April 17, 2020

I won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point. Let’s put it that way. — Grant Shapps Transport Sec

Airlines trashed the planet then spread covid-19 around the world.

It cannot be return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have peace and quiet, can hear birdsong, low levels of pollution, traffic-free streets.

Greece which is in lockdown, has explicitly barred tourists from UK.

UK is in lockdown for a further three weeks.

UK is headed to be worst effected country in Europe thanks to failure to act sooner.

FCO advice, no foreign travel indefinite.

Insurance companies have pulled travel insurance, those that still offer, have excluded codid-19 cover and I daresay hiked the price.

When people have experienced lockdown, social distancing, they are going to think twice to pass through a busy airport, sit on a crowded plane.

A Qantas flight to Brisbane on Monday in middle of covi-19 pandemic, passengers packed in like sardines, illustrates why no one will be flying anytime soon.

EasyJet grounded indefinitely, forecast to run out of money by August, is it their idea of a joke, we will leave the middle seat in a row empty?

If assume Airbus A320, would have to have one person on a row of three seats, no one in the row in front or behind, no one in the row aisle opposite. If assume 100 euros flight Gatwick to Larnaca, would have to charge 900 euros. And this is not even 2 metres separation, nor does it take account of breathing in the same air for over four hours.

In China, one passenger on a bus infected nine fellow passengers.

On landing, aircraft would have to be thoroughly cleaned, not a quick turnaround and tidy by the crew.

At airport, temperature screening, facilities to isolate and quarantine.

Cabin crew on an American airline and BA have tested positive for covid-19. Two Border Force offices at Heathrow have died. Fifteen employees of Transport for London have died.

What is sickening, easyJet are still promoting international travel. An e-mail today entitled Imagine yourself in the Canary Islands.

Tax dodging conman Richard Branson who is demanding a taxpayer funded £500 million bailout is flying near empty planes across the Atlantic.

But if not fly, a cruse ship?

Cruise ships are floating environmental disasters, floating plague ships, flights to and from start and end of a cruise.

Cruise ships are floating all-inclusive hotels, a disaster where ever they dock.

Venice is being destroyed by cruse ships.

Athens when a cruise ship docks, streets are clogged by passengers, streets clogged and polluted by tour buses, and no money flows into the local economy.

Those who think we are nearing the end, we are not, we are at the beginning of coronavirus pandemic.

The Black Death ravaged Europe for two hundred years. Venice lost a third of its population and never recovered.

We have no vaccine, there may be no vaccine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, much to the chagrin of the tourist industry, has warned there will be no summer holiday this year, do not book a summer holiday.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day twenty four

April 17, 2020

Thursday 16 April, coronavirus lockdown day twenty four.

I was the only passenger on the bus.

Working from home has become something of a joke. Gardening leave would be more apt. As I pass through villages, I see people out walking, cycling, working in their gardens.

Lincoln deserted, no traffic.

I do not usually wish to visit Wilkinson’s, today maybe pick up runner beans to sow. A queue. I did not bother.

M&S need to get their act together. They have created a corridor through their store through to the Food Hall at the rear. This now blocked with displays, forcing people close together as walk through.

Only two passengers on return bus.

—- to be continued —-

Treasure Island

April 16, 2020

Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure of mutiny, money and murder, brought to life on stage and filmed live at London’s National Theatre.

It’s a dark and stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper’s granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and her dangerous voyage begins.

to be continued …..

Jane Ayre

April 15, 2020

National Theatre production of Jane Ayre.

Live streamed last week, only a few hours left, as only retained for a week.

A very avant garde production, nigh impossible to follow, not helped the cast keep morphing into different characters, leaving one with glimpse of what is happening.

Excellent music.

A very powerful and moving production.

This week Treasure Island followed by Twelfth Night next week.

Hard to believe long long time ago I read Jane Ayre, humanities faculty English literature, university first year.

Qantas flight packed in like sardines

April 15, 2020

Shocking. Er, social distancing, no, pack em in like sardines.

This is how airlines practice social distancing, packed in like sardines.

This was a Qantas  flight on Monday to Brisbane, in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, at a time when advised avoid public transport, no unnecessary journeys, social distance, do not congregate.

Will these passengers self isolate when they arrive at their destination?

Qantas blatantly lied when claimed ‘there have been no known cases anywhere in the world of people contracting coronavirus on board a plane’.

BA cabin crew, crew of an American airline, have tested positive for covid-19.

At Heathrow, at least two Border Force officials have died of covid-19.

One man on a bus in China infected nine fellow passengers.

If nothing else, shows why tourist destinations, for example Cyprus, will not be seeing tourists anytime soon. Will travellers wish to risk, passing though a busy airport, sat on a plane,  packed in like sardines, breathing in the same air, for a flight of several hours?

Qantas and Virgin Australia are both demanding bailouts.

There should be no bailout of airlines.

It is not a Chinese virus, it is an airline pandemic. The same airlines expecting taxpayer bailout.

Not a penny to greedy grasping tax-dodging conman Richard Branson

April 14, 2020

It beggars belief greedy grasping tax-dodging billionaire conman Richard Branson has his hand out for £500 million bailout of his ailing Virgin airline.

Taxpayers should not give him a penny.

£500 million is only from British taxpayer, Branson is also seeking £700 million from the Australian government to bailout Virgin Australia.

Recently he shifted a billion dollars from American Virgin Islands to British Virgin Islands.

A couple of years ago Branson sued NHS for millions. How many lives has that cost, how many ventilators for patients, protective equipment for front-line staff?

His running of the East Coast Mainline was a disaster. The rail franchise has now reverted back to public ownership, much to the relief of train crew and passengers.

In his call for a bailout Branson is backed by Airbus, which makes the planes, and Rolls-Royce, which makes the jet engines for the planes. He is also backed by Manchester Airport and Heathow Airport which wish to see a return to businesses as usual.

No bailout for airlines, no return to businesses as usual. We should not bailout out industries which are trashing the planet, which delivered covid-19 around the world.

Bailout people not airlines, bailout local indie businesses not global corporations, then fund a Green New Deal.  Any bailout should be of strategic sectors by acquiring a controlling stake.

The rottenness is at two levels, rottenness of billionaires who think the role of the taxpayer to bail them out, whilst calling for the strivers to return to work and make them more money, and the rottenness of the travel industry who think they can return to businesses as usual trashing the planet with the the help of the taxpayer.

Rich football clubs owned by billionaires, have laid off their workers, expected the taxpayer to pay 80% of salaries of the lowest paid, whilst overpaid footballers remain on full salary sitting on their arse doing nothing.

Philip Greed expects the taxpayer to bail out his ailing Arcadia group.

Mike Ashley tried to open Sports Direct during lockdown claiming it was an essential business.

Tim Martin forced sick workers into work at J D Wetherspoon by refusing to pay sick pay, encouraged drunks to go drinking at pubs, then when pubs forced to close, told his workers to go find another job and refused to pay suppliers (many of whom are small craft breweries).

Vulture capitalist owners of Waterstone’s forced their workers into work, refused to implement social distancing, refused to allow workers to wear face masks or gloves.

We face two global crisis, global pandemics spread by airlines and cruise ships and climate emergency.

We were told could not reach zero carbon by 2035, impossible, unrealistic within the time scale. We have shut down polluting industries overnight, we have seen what is possible, we hear bird song not traffic noise, our skies are free of aircraft, our streets traffic free, our cities pollution free. We cannot return to businesses as usual.

Covid-19 has jolted us into another now, a different trajectory. We have a glimpse of what is possible, what could be. We must now create and maintain another now, our future and that of the planet depends upon it.