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Mabel Morgan
19 December 2009 @ 01:03 am
I have so many thoughts crashing through my head at the moment. The Copenhagen Accord, which was announced today at COP15, falls so short of expectations that I cannot even begin to analyse the implications. It is not just the implications for averting catastrophic climate change, it is the political implications for every global issue we come across from now on. If we could not move toward change on this, what hope is there for anything else?

This is an emergency. Copenhagen was a chance for us to respond to that emergency. Instead our leaders sought to respond to science, with which they fundamentally agree, with an Accord that is downright mystifying to anyone who understands what is at stake. This is not just about the poor people, we will ALL lose with this.

I know people are sat there thinking that if it was truly a problem the leaders would have done something about it. The lack of political will shown by the US, China, South Africa and India has probably left most people thinking there might not be that much of a problem to answer after all. Or maybe, there is a quick technological fix that will be found at the last minute, it happens in the movies after all.

Well, let me just dispel the technological argument right now using the example of the search for a vaccine against HIV. We are over 25 years into the epidemic and a vaccine that will be distributed globally and provide sufficient protection and see HIV eliminated is, at the very least, 5-10 years away. Even if it is discovered tomorrow, once we get through all the trials and find the money for roll out and do all the things we need to do, elimination of this disease is probably 40-50 years away. We would have lived with pandemic HIV for around 75 years by then. Millions of dollars, man hours and lives will have been lost by the time we get there - if we do.

We do not have the same time luxury with green house gases and climate change as we do with the search for an HIV vaccine. We do not have 75 years or 50 years or even 25 years. We have 10. The compromises we make politically are as legally binding to the planetary ecosystem as the Copenhagen Accord is to the US, China and all those other countries. The climate is not going to wait while we slowly come around to the idea that we cannot sustain the constant growth in emissions. We have until 2020, at the very latest, for emissions to peak; after that we will have destabilised the climate to a point where there is no return.

When a person goes on hunger strike their body adapts to the changes in food and water intake. Their metabolism adjusts and they can live for many days without food. After a while organs begin to fail and after a certain point it is too late - even if that person starts eating again they will die. Our planet is no different, only it won't die, we will - in our millions.

Right now, I have no real feeling of hope about any of this. It may look better in the morning, but tonight it just looks like greenwash. Obama is right, the Copenhagen Accord is meaningful. It means that millions more people will suffer just because a few people wanted to stay rich for a little while longer.

We should all feel deeply ashamed about how we have failed our planet
Mabel Morgan
18 December 2009 @ 05:01 pm
I'm back from Copenhagen. You can see my pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/ibster

I have captioned all the photos so it tells a bit of a story about our journey if you want to know more.

Since I've come back I've been glued to the live streaming of the UNFCCC (COP15)proceedings. Suffice to say it's all been incredibly depressing and miserable. There seems to be three options right now: Greenwash, Foundation or Collapse.

Greenwash: This is where the corporate sector and the rich countries produce and sign a deal that condemns millions to suffering. As ever, the people who will suffer most will be poor, non-white and female. The deal that is currently on the table is unambitious, with the US and Canada and the so called Umbrella Group benefiting from Enron style accounting and counting. The Least Developed Countries are left to fall by the wayside and the Alliance of Small Island Nations disappear under the rising seas. Tuvalu is first on the list, but since most people had never heard of this small pacific island they don't really care. Most people have heard of The Bahamas though and they are 5th on the list of nations that may well be submerged within this century. (As as side note, Mabel Morgan, my long time alter ago, is from Tuvalu's neighbour Vanuatu, also one day destined to disappear).

But Greenwash doesn't just affect the usual suspects, who most of us don't give a shit about anyway. Africans are always dying and blaming us, right? The problem is this isn't like HIV or famine or a "tribal war" where we can just insulate ourselves against it. Problems relating to climate change have already arrived at the doors of developing nations: Hurricane Katrina; extensive flooding in the UK; 30K deaths from heatwave in France; and of course the scores of environmental refugees that will be arriving in Australia and New Zealand. We might sit here and think we're going to be alright because we're rich, but we are not. We cannot bury our heads hoping we'll find an expensive technological fix and carry on as we are.

Foundation: This is where they lay the foundation for a deal in Mexico next year. I cannot stress how rubbish this option is. It means more waiting, more talking and less action. Emissions have already increased since Kyoto; that protocol was meant to be the foundation and we aren't even heading in the right direction.

Collapse: Paradoxically, this option might be the best of the three since it might galvanize the populace into action. People might well look at these talks and think "Our leaders are crap, let us rise up and destroy our unsustainable lifestyles". Alternately the media will portray the collapse as being down to China (who have actually been incredibly flexible and open-minded in their approach) leaving us to blame others while we continue to preside over the collapse of the ecosystem.

What can you do?

If you haven't written or contacted your political representative then do so now. Most people think this is useless but it isn't. Lobbyists live and die by such actions. Politicians are terrified by such letters. I've seen it make a difference with my own eyes.
Mabel Morgan
11 December 2009 @ 03:24 am
Well, I am up late and I have much time to kill so I thought I'd post here In a couple of hours I am off to Copenhagen to join with thousands of others to ensure that our leaders - both elected and unelected - do not sign a suicide pact that'll condemn us all.

I cannot stress enough how much this summit means. In my own personal terms I am taking a 20 hour train journey at great cost so that I can play my small part in all this. It feels like nothing, but this is both the most and the least I could do. If I had had to walk there I would have done so.

I can understand that it seems crazy to many people. The media have cast those who can see the immediate importance of a strong climate change mitigation as liars, freaks, cheats, religious fanatics, treehuggers and anarchists. Over the past ten years climate scientists have grown frantic in their calls for something to be done in order for us to continue to maintain our civilisation with minimum disruption. The calls remain unheeded by much of the populace and almost zero political will has been forthcoming from those that govern us. Column inches abound but while journalists and politicians equivocate over scientific ideas long rejected by over 97% of climate scientists, we waste valuable time and large-scale ecological injustice is now almost inescapable.

Almost. We still have time and we absolutely must ustilise all our collective power to ensure that the Copenhagen Protocol if fair, ambitious and binding. A useless protocol, one that refuses to acknowledge all the science or one that is a suicide pact between rich nations, will ruin us. There is no exaggeration here; if you want an idea of the problems that will lie ahead for us all, please, just switch on the news.

So, what can you do?

Join your local climate change demonstration this Saturday. I will be representing myself in Copenhagen, you can represent yourself in your locality. Failing that contact your leaders and demand they take real action. Write a letter or an email. Phone them. Do something to let them know you will not sit still while they bargain away this planet's future.

Well I'm going to shower now. My train is in 3 hours and I'm nervous as all hell.

Good luck in your activism.
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Mabel Morgan
21 September 2009 @ 10:06 am

Originally uploaded by ibster.

This is one of the butterflies from the Butterfly Farm we visited in Stratford upon Avon. Glasswings are just fabulous!

Mabel Morgan
27 May 2009 @ 02:28 pm
I don't care about gay marriage. Not really. I am terrified that my girlfriend of nearly 12 years will wanna make me get married and I don't really like commitment. Seriously though, it's not something that ever really set off any political rage switch in me. When I was growing up so few of my friends had married parents, perhaps subconsciously I didn't think that "marriage" was a civil right worth fighting over.

As the campaigns for/against Prop 8 in California raged on last year, I still found it hard to give a shit and the only thing that really bothered me about the outcome was the speed with which black people were blamed for its passing. Recent rulings riled, but did not get to me; after all, just allowing gay marriage isn't gonna stop many people from remaining second class citizens.

All-in-all, I figured that the gay marriage debate could never leave me feeling like I had to douse myself with kerosene and set myself on fire. Well, fuck me if I didn't come across something that has highlighted to me just how important this fight is.

Read this: http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/533narty.asp?pg=2

It's supposedly a critique of gay marriage that isn't bigoted or biblical in origin. It's actually an insidious, homophobic bag o'shite masquerading as high brow intellectualism. This article is so disgusting and patronising in it's denigration of  gay people. Quite simply, it argues that we are not part of a kinship system and no rules or traditions that bind heterosexual marriage apply to gay marriage.

An example:
Second, kinship modifies marriage by imposing a set of rules that determines not only whom one may marry (someone from the right clan or family, of the right age, with proper abilities, wealth, or an adjoining vineyard), but, more important, whom one may not marry. Incest prohibition and other kinship rules that dictate one's few permissible and many impermissible sweethearts are part of traditional marriage. Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints. There is no particular reason to ban sexual intercourse between brothers, a father and a son of consenting age, or mother and daughter.... If Tommy marries Bill, and they divorce, and Bill later marries a woman and has a daughter, no incest prohibition prevents Bill's daughter from marrying Tommy. The relationship between Bill and Tommy is a romantic fact, but it can't be fitted into the kinship system.
It is repellent and viciously homophobic and so much worse than some fuckhead fanatic screaming about homosexuality being an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. This person actually believes they have reasoned out a rational, sociologically based argument against gay marriage. In actuality it is just right wing, heterosexist, crap. Take this bit:

These four aspects of marriage are not rights, but obligations. They are marriage's "a priori" because marriage is a part of the kinship system, and kinship depends on the protection, organization, and often the exploitation of female sexuality vis-à-vis males. None of these facts apply at all to love between people of the same sex, however solemn and profound that love may be. In gay marriage there are no virgins (actual or honorary), no incest, no illicit or licit sex, no merging of families, no creation of a new lineage. There's just my honey and me, and (in a rapidly increasing number of U.S. states) baby makes three.

What? Really? REALLY? No evidence to support a single statement in the whole article. None. On the contrary there is vast amounts of evidence to dispute virtually everything in it, most especially the sexist and false idea that marriage is there to protect the sexuality of women (fucker has never heard of rape WITHIN marriage).

Gay marriage is different from straight marriage in that one involves gay people and the other involves straight people. That's fucking it. Beyond that of unassisted reproduction (something that is rapidly becoming unavailable to many heterosexual couples as infertility rates rise) any additional argument about the difference between gay and straight marriage is socially constructed BULLSHIT.
Mabel Morgan
02 May 2009 @ 01:01 am
So I came across this site via Twitter: http://www.queersunited.blogspot.com/

I have been following their Twitter account for a while and was thinking about dumping them because their take on things is so US focused that I find their tweets a) boring and b) really fucking irritating. The other day their twitter feed picked up their "Word of the Gay" (another thing that has been trying my patience) as "Ginger beer". They had poorly defined this as being insulting when it's just cockney rhyming slang for "queer" and as such to be seen as empowering and reclaimed if one wishes. So, I go off to their site to post a pissy correction and I notice their site slugline:

Queers United: The activist blog Uniting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual community & Allies in the fight for equality.

I mean, come the fuck on. Where exactly is the "Intersexual community"? Or the "Asexual community"? What legislation or media endorsed, society wide discrimination exists for the "asexual community"?  What exactly does being "asexual" mean anyway? Supposedly this image below helps you identify whether you are "asexual" or not.

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Mabel Morgan
23 April 2009 @ 07:46 pm
You know, just because people mistake me for a man, doesn't mean I ought to be one. I am just me.

As the constant debate about gender and sexuality within LGBT circles rages on, where people discuss "gender fluidity", more and more butch lesbians transition and more women refer to themselves as "boi", some of us find ourselves under pressure to redefine themselves.

There was a time when women like me - who some might call "butch dykes", others might refer to as "boyish" - found it acceptable to refer to themselves as women. That we did not wear the traditional uniform of women (skirts, dresses, blouses and bras) and did not carry ourselves with the traditional (Hollywoord informed) feminine demeanour was not an issue. We were still women, albeit women that did not conform to the stereotypical gender roles assigned to us.

I grew up in the 80s and came out in the 90s and by the time I was at university gender ambiguity was very much the height of fashion. Various fashion designers and models exploited this look - taking it out of the clubs and into the mainstream and I was very happy to be young and keen in a world where androgyny was accepted. When I went out on a Friday night with my mates few outside the LGBT world would be able to discern who among us was male and who was female.

And while our ostentatious gender identities may have been blurred to those looking in, most of us were quite sure that a man who wears high heels and make up is still a man and a woman puts on a shirt and tie is still a woman. Sure there were times I found myself being checked out by gay guys but that didn't make me think I should become one or that I was secretly male. Neither did it make me think that I should start wearing make up and skirts so gay men wouldn't hit on me or straight women wouldn't try throwing me out of the ladies toilets.

Somewhere along the line things changed and A LOT of women who were like me started transitioning and/or calling themselves something else. They went from being butch lesbians, seemingly proud of identifying as women, (albeit women who don't fit into mainstream gender stereotypes), to identifying as men. Their femininity could no longer be expressed in the way it had been previously, it had to be redefined as masculinity. While I was quite happy for that to go on - people can do what they want, right? - I find that the more women there are that do this, the less legitimacy I seem to have in saying "I'm a woman, just not your type of woman".

I am not a boy, boi, guy or man. I am a woman and I am very proud and happy about that. I enjoy being a woman. I like having breasts and occasionally I even enjoy having a fucking period. I like the fact that I can get pregnant and give birth, I like that I was once a girl. I like that I have a vagina and not a penis. I like that one day I'll go through the menopause. I even like that now that I am in my 30s I seem to have fucking acne again. I may not accept my place in society as a woman, but I do like how it has shaped my life. I am woman.

But I also like wearing the clothes I do and I feel comfortable in who I am, even if that means that occasionally people mistake me for being a man. I am not going to start redefining myself as "gender queer" or start transitioning so I fit in with other people's definitions of what is male and female. I wouldn't dress differently so I can accommodate the thoughts and feelings as mainstream society, so why start calling myself something new? Just as I refused to accept being ushered out of the ladies toilets because I don't fit mainstream definitions of femininity, I refuse to accept being labelled "gender queer" by those who think I look like a man.

It seems to me that many of those who are embracing these trans roles and definitions, particularly lesbians, do so thinking that they are challenging and redefining traditional gender stereotypes. I would argue that the opposite is true - rather than redefining gender stereotypes they are perpetuating them. Rather than building on the work of all those feminists and lesbians of the 60s, 70s and 80s they are dismantling all their progress. Not only do they return us to the binary that they themselves are trying to escape, they devalue womanhood and femininity in all its forms.

Interestingly, if I find myself in the position of having to chose between defining myself as "gender queer" or "trans" or changing the way I dress and act so that I can be accepted in a more traditional female role, I would choose that latter. Perhaps that shows an inherent transphobia on my part or perhaps it illustrates just how much identifying as a woman really means to me.
Mabel Morgan
23 April 2009 @ 03:43 pm
I won another prize on Twitter! This time it was a signed Fraggle Rock poster!  The competition was to come up with a slogan for the Jim Henson company to celebrate Earth Day. I pondered it for a short while and having been told that The Muppets now belong to Disney and therefore anything to do with them was out, I came up with: "This is a beautiful place. Let's not frell it up". At the time I thought it was pretty weak but figured that I should really be devoting my time to something constructive, like say writing this mammoth report. Truth is, I didn't expect it to win - and it didn't. I got the runner up prize. First prize was "Thinking about going green? Just doozer it!" a very worth winner.

Anyway, time to do some flaming work. I spent this morning at a lecture giving by Patricia Hill Collins at the London Metropolitan University. I am a huge fan of hers. She's  the current president of the American Sociological Association and long time academic and critical social theorist. She wrote Black Feminist Thought and Black Sexual Politics, the latter being a fabulous read. Unfortunately, the talk was pitched at undergraduates and didn't really focus on any particular topic. After a short introduction where she implored them to "stay in school" it was very much a  Q&A. The whole thing had a very churchy feel about it, with people nodding and vocalising and all around being very participatory.  She did answer some questions put to her by myself and two of my colleagues and it was certainly nice to hear in person her theories on hyper-masculinity, hip hop and homosexuality.

Ultimately though what I really wanted was to sit down with her for 3 hours and just ask her a million questions. African American academics are fabulous.
Mabel Morgan
18 April 2009 @ 02:51 pm
I have grown increasingly worried about the resurgence of fascism and extreme right wing doctrine since the start of this Deprecession (It's a new, unprouncable word that means Deep recession or Depression). There is nothing like economic hardship to sharpen the minds of the right wing elite while dulling the sensibilities of the media. What I find really strange about this report of the war between fascists and anti-fascists in Russia, is the idea that Russians, Russians?, are putting up with Nazi symbolism and propaganda. Twenty odd million Soviets died in that war.

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Mabel Morgan
So the following is an extract from a New York Times article someone showed me yesterday. The article presents data from a review paper in Nature Geoscience that cites Black Carbon (BC), which is produced from sources like cookstoves in developing countries:
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