A green light to the developers

New planning laws bypassing environmental concerns make a joke of Blair’s vision of sustainability

Next September Tony Blair will be going to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg to teach the world about saving the planet, just as his government completes the greatest assault on environmental protection this country has ever known. With his customary messianic zeal, he’s said he “wants the UK to lead the world on sustainability”. So why is his government trying to hustle through reforms in the planning system which rip away current protections?

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2001/dec/18/localgovernment

Within these walls

Getting housebuilders to take energy efficiency seriously would have a dramatic effect upon the UK’s environment

Only 20 years ago, Sue Roaf’s house in Oxford would have come out of a science fiction novel. Thermal insulation, energy efficiency appliances and solar energy from photo-voltaic panels means that her traditional looking semi not only emits hardly any carbon from fossil fuels but is a power station in its own right, exporting surplus electricity back to the grid.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2001/dec/12/climatechange.society

Hogwarts, the haven

Today’s dysfunctional families and fractured communities make boarding school an attractive option again

Just when all progressive people could congratulate themselves that the boarding school ideal had died a natural death, along comes the nostalgic fantasy in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Any child would find Hogwarts boarding school much more wonderful than Potter’s suburban “foster” home. But is JK Rowling really indulging in nostalgia for the past or sensing the future? Is it possible that, far from fading away, the boarding school is about to re-emerge as a viable solution to contemporary family difficulties?

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2001/nov/20/schools.uk5

As good as it gets

As national parents week gets underway, Ros Coward asks whether we ever really know if we’re doing it right

The British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott was the first to work with the idea of “the good-enough parent”. He illustrated its meaning by describing possible interactions between a mother, a baby on the point of crawling, and an interesting toy just out of the baby’s reach. The too-good mother can’t bear the baby’s frustration and immediately hands the toy to the baby. The not-good-enough mother leaves the baby too long with its frustrations. The good-enough mother allows the baby to explore its own capacities but not so long that frustration turns to despair.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2001/oct/24/familyandrelationships.roscoward

Put the planet on a war footing

This is the time for environmentalists to challenge the actions of our leaders and press their demands

I sat in the summer sun a few months ago with Blake Lee Harwood from Greenpeace, idly discussing whether Bush had inadvertently done environmentalists a favour. Kyboshing the Kyoto accord meant people who had never heard of climate change were suddenly discussing carbon trading and greenhouse gases.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/23/afghanistan.politics

We got it so wrong

This atrocity exposes the wilful self-delusion of western liberals who want to believe that humanity is essentially good

The events of September 11 dealt a terrible blow to our self-perception as western liberals. We always suspected that we, the postwar generations, were peculiarly privileged but also soft and untested.

Now we have witnessed an act of terror which has quite literally first terrified and then pulverised 6,000 people in front of our eyes. This experience has dealt a grave psychological blow to our liberal belief system.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/sep/25/september11.usa5

Battle of Hastings won

Victory over the bypass was sweet, but plans to streamline planning suggest the fight is scarcely over

For those involved in environmental campaigning, victories don’t come often. When they do, they are shockingly sweet. In recent months two major unexpected victories have attracted surprisingly little comment: Crystal Palace, a green oasis in London, was saved from development, while the decision not to build the Hastings bypasses has spared beautiful countryside and precious wildlife.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/aug/17/politicalcolumnists.comment

Exam fever

Results can be an unhealthy obsession, says Ros Coward – and not just for the kids

A few days ago an old acquaintance unexpectedly made contact. We had plenty to catch up on but within a couple of minutes, I found myself dragged into a conversation about children’s exam grades. Such exchanges are common among middle-class parents, but, with A level and GCSE results imminent, they are reaching hysteria pitch. Even so, I was aghast at the blatant way our dialogue was wrenched round to her daughters’ exam triumphs. Number one, an academic slow starter, was now expected to get straight As for her A levels. Daughter number two, by contrast always a workaholic, will not be satisfied with anything less than 10 As in her GCSEs.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2001/aug/15/schools.alevels2001

It had no place on TV

Sometimes I am ashamed to be “a leftie” and the response to the Brass Eye programme is one such occasion. There’s a consensus building in this quarter that the programme was a valid, nay brilliant, satire “about the media hysteria surrounding paedophilia”.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2001/jul/31/childrensservices.comment1

The evil women do

Goran Ivanisevic thinks women bring bad luck – because his mother told him. Why, asks Ros Coward , do such superstitions live on?

For those who followed the whole of the Wimbledon tournament, the absence of Goran Ivanisevic’s girlfriend was a puzzle. While the other players’ wives were scrutinised for their fashion sense and set against one another in the beauty stakes, Goran’s beautiful partner remained notable for her absence even during the spectacular final. Yesterday, however, it emerged Goran had banned her from attending not because he wanted his freedom (as the tabloids unkindly concluded) but because of his superstitions. “I do not watch him play,” said Tatjiana Dragovic, “because he thinks women will bring him bad luck.”

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jul/12/gender.uk2