Jack Lesgrin’s week: Is it time for UN climate-keepers for Brazil’s rainforest?

by Jack Lesgrin

Is it time for UN climate-keepers for Brazil’s rainforest?

Thursday before last, we learnt that the appalling, man-made destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has meant that this, the world’s largest carbon sink, may for the first time be emitting more CO2 than it consumes.

Here’s a thought experiment. Most people (although not many of the hard left) think that state sovereignty should be overruled when a genocide is happening, to protect victims, prevent broader instability and deter future violators by punishing those who commit crimes against humanity. What if a state, through act or omission, was causing environmental and ecological damage that will affect the long-term health of not only the citizens of their own territory but the whole world? What if this damage caused not merely ill-health, but the long-term viability of life as we know across vast swathes of the world?

We might be reaching a time when the egregious actions in the Amazon, of far-right populist, President Jair Bolsonaro, may require the international community to take action that prevents the destruction of what is a global environmental asset, as well as a national territorial possession. Of course, the first steps would need to be diplomatic and seek to induce better behaviour. Next might come sanctions of some kind. But countless cases in recent geopolitics show that diplomacy, international sanctions and strong words often have no effect. The time might soon come when the international community will have to be far more robust with states that cause irreparable damage to our environment.

Fortunately, the UN Environment Programme is doing interesting work in this area and in June, an international panel of legal experts defined and proposed a new category of international crime – ‘ecocide’ that if taken up by the Parties to the International Criminal Court, would become the fifth category of offences prosecuted by the court alongside war crimes and so-on. Increasingly, legal cases are being taken by campaigners and individuals to hold companies to account for the environmental damage they cause. But as countless victims of oppression or genocide know only too well, international law normally only has effect after massacres have occurred, to prosecute only a tiny minority of offenders, decades later. In other words: ‘too late’. As recent news about how the UK climate has already undergone damaging change shows, we cannot wait before acting. What if the whole of the Amazon was destroyed? Would anti-interventionists cling to the notion that ‘sanctions and diplomacy works’ or that ‘state sovereignty is everything’ or that ‘the UN Security Council didn’t pass a resolution, so your intervention was illegal’? Or might we need a UN climate-keeping force to protect the rainforests?

Premium presenters promoted to plum positions preventing progression

I’ve been on holiday so have been listening to even more Radio 4 than normal, hearing its talented journalists, producers and editors, creating content that by itself is more than worth the licence fee. You can deduce that I’m a fan. So what I’m about to say is in no way a criticism of the individual presenters or journalists, all of whom are brilliant and I’m sure decent people who try to help out their colleagues.

I have a hunch that the BBC management, like management everywhere, decides who are the golden boys/girls and gives them the most challenging and often rewarding roles to the exclusion of others. A couple of years ago, in a single weekend, Andrew Marr presented a TV political documentary on Saturday, the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, followed by Start The Week on Radio 4 on Monday. I thought this must be an aberration, for surely it would be more equitable to share these prize positions around the BBC stock.

This trend of loading plum roles onto star presenters continues unabashed. In the last year or so, we’ve seen the rapid and giddy ascent of both Chris Mason and Amol Rajan. Mason’s roles include: BBC News Political Correspondent; presenting the premium Radio 4 debate show Any Questions; sometimes presenting Any Answers; co-presenting a new spin-off of AQ/AA called Questions Answered; co-presenting the Brexitcast and Newscast podcasts; anchoring BBC Breakfast (this July); and, appropriately enough, occasionally acting as a newsreader on the Andrew Marr Show.

Amol Rajan’s roster of roles is glittering: BBC Media Editor; presenter of Radio 4’s Media Show; co-presenter of Radio 4’s main daily news show the Today programme; Radio 4’s Start The Week occasional presenter; and currently presenter of Rethink on Radio 4, a multi-episode in-depth exploration of how the world should change post-pandemic; and major interviews such as a recent in-depth interview with Google and Alphabet’s CEO.

As I said, all three do these roles amiably and admirably, but what would a junior colleague, perhaps even one from the regions, give to have a go at any one of these gigs? It would be a career-making moment for them, but it’s just another busy day at work for the stars.


The SW1 bubble and even some in the provinces watched the Dominic Cummings interview and responded with a mix of sympathy when his views reinforced the viewer’s characterisation of the Prime Minister, and outrage, when he said something that was, apparently arrogant, such as that he and chums were plotting to oust Mr B Johnson weeks after his election victory. It is touching to think that so many commentators and voters think that there is some perfect, just, transparent and honourable system for selecting leaders or maintaining them in office (we are, after all, such an advanced democracy!). Do they honestly think that any PM in history got to such high office without the acquiescence and conniving of influential advisers, powerbrokers, vested interests and others? Haven’t we all had enough of this faux outrage? What is so shocking to many, and perhaps one day destabilising for a system that is very much in need of wholesale reform, is that Dominic Cummings, someone with absolutely nothing to lose, is so honest.

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7 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s week: Is it time for UN climate-keepers for Brazil’s rainforest?”

  1. Tafia says:

    Is it time for UN climate-keepers for Brazil’s rainforest?
    Apart from the fact that the UN is not allowed to operate in any country without that country’s permission – not even for peacekeeping or famine alleviation, the bottom line is Brazil’s rainforset Brazil’s. Do we in the west – where even our ‘peasant class’ has enough to eat, clean drinking water, flushing toilets, mobile phones and 60″ LED flat screen TVs, have any right whatsoever to tell any country such as Brazil that they must slow down their own development? I really really do not think so. Brazil, India, China etc have as much right to a western level of consumer life as the west itself does and they have as much right to advance to it as quickly as they can – and we have no right to tell them that they can’t, or mustn’t, or must slow down, or must do it in a way that we want. Absolutely none.

    And we’ll have no middleclass lecturing from people who think the latest iPhone or electric cars are marvellous things – despite the utter carnage that lithium mining for the batteries does, not to mention the child slaves used as miners. Or that protecting British farmers with ever-more subsidies than any other industry this country has ever had ever (currently over £3bn a year) is a jolly good idea, despite less than 1% of the workforce working there, while said farmers in turn pour highly destructive, environment altering chemiclas all over the land and into the water table.
    Sanctimonious lecturing by rich middleclass westerners who have the luxury to adopt such laughable opinions because they can afford to.

    Premium presenters promoted to plum positions preventing progression
    The BBC is dying. It probably doesn’t realise it yet but the public – who pay for it, have lost patience with it and want it euthanised. ALL subsidy to media needs to be ended. If it it can’t stand on it’s own two feet – via it’s own self-generated income streams, then there is no need to it or for it.

    Nowhere is this exemplified more than BBC and CH4 – which are little more than woke-garbage propaganda platforms and would collapse in days in a commercial (ie real) world.

    Cummings is of little interest outside of the ‘Islington Chatterati’. Deep down I think he has realised he has made himself totally unemployable after his behaviour of the past year – certainly you would have to be an extraordinarily stupid employer to take him on, and he is just milking the media for interview money now to keep himself in the public eye ready for the inevitable publication of memoires and to keep up the ‘churn’ on his subscription-only blog, before he than banks his cash and retires.

    Utterly shameless showboater who is playing his audience (largely the Toynbee’s of this world), for morons – and succeeeding spectacularly.

    He got far too big for his boots. He was taken on as a strategy advisor. This he was good at. He understood the complex relationships between differing political opinions amongst competing socio-economic groups across the country and how to knit them into a cohesive political strategy and focus voters. A number-crunching, in the shadows, back-room geek. He was exceptional at that – probably a once-in-a-generation genius at it, and should have stuck to it. Instead he suffered a massive over-dose of hubris (and he stilll suffers from that now) – and caused his own downfall.

    He had a £90,000+ a year job, guarenteed probably for the next 10 years at least. And all he had to do was stay out of the limelight.

  2. A.J. says:

    I gave up watching TV quite a few years ago, other than (on occasion) the Six O’Clock News, which usually had me walking out of the room. A chap I used to know, a fully-paid up member of the chattering classes, once told anyone interested that the BBC was worth four times the cash it manages to wring out of an agonized public. Oh how we laughed. My younger daughter and her chap seem never to watch TV, certainly not the BBC, and I don’t suppose they’re alone in that. Like Simon Heffer, my wife and I are addicted to old British movies, Ealing and the like. But TV as a medium can do things very well: situation comedy for example, or those adaptations of Le Carre with Alec Guinness.
    Tafia is right about the other stuff – as he is, elsewhere, about the Taliban – silly middle-class internationalist drivel. Let the US, if it must, carry on being the world’s policeman. Our enemies around the world must look at us and chuckle. Who predicted the decline of the West first? Spengler? Hitler? It’s declining rapidly and has been, I suppose, since before 1914.
    Labour should hope and pray it never wins another General Election but reconstitutes itself as some kind of Social Democratic Alliance that can capitalize on any anti-Tory sentiments still bubbling away circa 2030.
    I’ll be too old to care.

  3. Tafia says:

    And now the moment you have all been waiting for – the round-up of the monthly polling.

    There were 20 polls conducted during July, by all the leading polling companies. During the month the Tories see-sawed quite abrubtly between a low of 38% and a high of 44%. Most of their see-sawing occurred in the final third of the month which – to seasoned poll watchers, was to be expected and normally happens in the immediate aftermath of ‘unlocking’. Labour ranged from a low of 30% to a high of 37%. At no stage did they ever poll abopve the Tories although at one point they got to within 2% of them. Averaged across the month they were 7.5% behind.

    Polling For July (20 polls)
    (figures in brackets is the shift from June average)

    Con – 41.3% (-1.7)
    Lab – 33.8% (+0.8)
    LDem – 9.2% (+1.1)
    Grn – 5.6% (-0.4)
    Oth – 10.3% (+0.5)

    Polling So Far For 2021 (146 polls)

    Con – 42.0%
    Lab – 35.0%
    LDem – 7.7%
    Grn – 5.3%
    Oth – 10.0%

    2019 General Election Results

    UK Con 43.6%, Lab 32.2%, LDem 11.6%, Grn 2.7%, Oth 9.9%
    GB Con 44.7%, Lab 33.0%, LDem 11.8%, Grn 2.8%, Oth 7.7%)

    ENGLAND GE2019
    Con 47.2%, Lab 34%, LDem 12.4%, Grn 3%, Oth 3%

    SCOTLAND GE 2019
    SNP 45%, Con 25.1%, Lab 18.6%, LDem 9.5%, Oth 1.8%

    WALES GE2019
    Lab 40.9%, Con 36.1%, PC 9.9%, LDem 6.0% Oth 7.1%

    N IRELAND GE2019
    DUP 30.6%, SF 22.8%, UUP 11.7%, SDLP 14.9%,
    AP 16.8%, Oth 3.2%

    LONDON GE2019
    Lab 48.1%, Con 32%, LDem 14.9%, Grn 3.1%, Oth 1.9%


    France: Michel Barnier will also be standing in the French Presidential Election as the Les Republicains candidate (their verion of the Tories). His main campaign pledge is to end all non-EU immigration into France, and to toughen-up the eviction of the illegal immigrants/asylum seekers etc etc. His next policy offering seems to be rolling-back on the federalisation of the EU. Current polling suggests that he will be runner-up to Marine Le Pen, with current President Macron finishing thord and being eleiminated. Polling suggests a run-off between Le Pen and Barnier is neck & neck. So France seems to have lurched to the right, and as it stands their next President will be an anti-immigrant EU-sceptic, or an anti-immigrant EU-Leaver.

    Italy: Mario Draghi’s six party Coalition of National Unity is in serious trouble and on on the verge of falling with several pareties indicating they wish to leave the Coalition. Should it fall, and a replacement government fail to be formed then in a fresh election current polling suggests the three right wing nationalist parties (who are all anti-EU) will win a majority between them. Two things appear to have ‘done’ for Draghi – the never ending stream of boat people crossing from North Africa, and the cuts he is imposing on soicial welfare spending in order to comply with the EU’s budgetary demands.

    Italy is a class example of why PR-style parliamentary elections lead to weak governments I personally have always been against PR because it leads to weak highly unstable coalitions as no party can form a government without at least one other party being part of it (usually more) and that involves abandoning election pledges in order to get other parties on board. Italy for example has had 66 governments since 1945. That’s an average of a new government every 13.5 months. Our constituency-based system may not be perfect, but it retains a direct link to the voters via that constituency and a directly elected politician from within that constituency – a ‘face’, and invariably leads to a majority government that is actually capable of getting things done.

  4. John p Reid says:

    Thanks for the poll Tafia
    Looks like some tory votes are going Libdem( in middle class South England)
    Some Libdem went labour
    Some labour went green

    Conference will be interesting as Labour’s more middle class than ever

  5. Tafia says:

    China & India – along with 81 other countries, have failed to submit any plans ahead of COP26.

    Because the ‘submission failures’ are led by China and India – who between them account for over a third of the world’s population (and when you include the other, mostly third world countries, it’s over half the world’s population), the UN has literally had to resort to begging them to submit something.

    China & India have absolutely no intention of decarbonising etc. India and China are rushing to develop their economies and raise the living standards of hundreds of millions of their citizens from absolute poverty. That can’t be done if they are restrained by net zero commitment and they have no intention of even trying – and people in the westwho think otherwise are either drunk, drugged or just plain stupid. China for example, on current trends, will build over 250million petrol/diesel vehicles within the next 10 years, purely for the domestic market.

  6. Tafia says:

    Cummings says he now has more than 1,500 subscribers to his blog. Given he charges £100-a-year or £10-a-month he’s on course to make over £150,000 this year – that’s not including any consulting for which he is openly sniffing around.

    Any bets that’s the Toynbees, Rigbys and Marrs of this world? Charging their subscription to their employers?

  7. SuperG says:

    All mature forests are more or less carbon neutral. The whole “lungs of the earth” nonsense. We get the bulk of our oxygen from algae built up over hundreds of thousands of years. For almost all the oxygen released by a mature growth forest through photosynthesis in the day is released through respiration by the forest at night, and respiration by the rotting mass and animals that live there.

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