Call for a New Magna Carta

This year we celebrate 800 years of the original Magna Carta; of the 63 articles contained in the original document, only 3 remain still enshrined in English Law. The barons forced the signing of the original document on King John (he of Robin Hood fame) as they had become utterly fed up with the unfair and autocratic manner in which he sought to raise money from them to fight pointless wars in France. In many instances, when payment could not be made, he forcefully took possession of all the defaulting baron’s possessions. 40 years after the signing of the revised and reduced document, in 1225, England’s Parliament came into being in 1265.

The spirit of the Magna Carta that gave birth to Parliament is barely alive today : token lip service is paid to the equal rights of all, and then only at election time when the populace is asked to vote between parties none of which has either the intention or the ability to deliver what is best for the peoples of this land. The equality enshrined in the Magna Carta has long ago been discarded in favour of corporations; business pressure groups; and political manoeuvres aimed solely a keeping any given political party in power, or in getting it there.

We should truly be drawing up a charter that demands that our elected representatives, and the civil servants they are responsible for, should at all times act in the interests of the people of this nation and its next 7 generations. If at any time enough of us feel that government is not adhering to the charter, a mechanism needs to be put in place which will give us the ability to prevent government from proceeding in the manner intended, or, during a transition period, in the manner accustomed.

This new charter between the citizens of the United Kingdom and its, from time to time elected, government would contain provisions including –

  • requiring commercial and industrial companies to minimize the use of natural resources in the manufacturing process and to maximize the useful of life of all their products;
  • not to involve commercial parties in determining safe levels of consumption and the use of ingredients, such as sugar and salt;
  • removing all and any preferences granted to commercial and transnational organisations, including removing the ability of directors of such organisations to avoid liability for their actions;
  • seriously developing a coherent policy on preventative healthcare and well-being, and encouraging the introduction of happiness promoting measures;
  • banning the practice of lobbying, to be replaced by acceptance of well presented and argued submissions for independent valuation by cross-disciplinary and specialist bodies of all claims made for medicines, food products, plastics, etc.;
  • running certain services as genuine public services, where commercial cost-benefit considerations do not apply;
  • encouraging the emergence of an educational system that prepares children to survive in today’s complex society; to know how to think; and gives them the confidence to dream of, and create, a better future;
  • developing new democratic processes in which issues are required to be spelt out clearly, and electronic means give the populace a chance to express its preferences on a continuing basis;
  • accelerating the introduction of genuine service in the financial sector; the reform of existing financial institutions within a social new framework; the introduction of genuine wealth sharing mechanisms, and shifting the burden of taxation to direct consumption;
  • etc.

Such a 21st century Magna Carta would however ultimately only be a bridging measure; in the longer term our party based political system needs to be replaced (see here for a workable idea). Only this way will we ever be able to participate meaningfully in the running and shaping of our nation along true democratic lines.

Die Like a Hero Going Home

The following so well describes how I have sought, and continue to seek, to live my life. It is ascribed to various Red Indian philosophers, elders and chiefs, but mostly to Chief Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader –

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things put in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

Sand Shortage in Desert

The first reaction of everybody I speak to on this matter, mine included, is incredulity – “you’re winding me up”. I then became so intrigued that I extracted the salient points from three 2014 German language films addressing this issue. I have created a 4-page PDF summary which you can download from here.

At first, briefly, a wave of despair flowed over me (“another example of human ignorance”), this was then quickly replaced by my customary attitude “now that we have identified the problem, let’s find solutions”.

This issue of sand however brilliantly highlights the interconnectedness of everything:

Desert sand is not suitable for concrete. The right sand for building needs to be shaped by water and is mostly created and carried down to sea by streams and rivers from the high mountains. Except, 850,000 dams across most rivers of our planet have now interrupted this natural cycle. As a consequence we are forced to dredge rivers, lakes, beaches and the oceans for sand. This accelerates the flow of rivers, which causes additional damage and flooding. 90% of the world’s sandy beaches are vanishing because of the illegal removal of sand due to the operation of huge vacuum ships just off-shore. Each sucks up as much as 400,000 cubic meters of sand daily from close to the oceans’ shores, which undermines the shelf that keeps sandy beaches in place.

We use 15 billion tonnes of sand each year, which is the equivalent of a convoy of huge trucks reaching seven times to the moon and back. We annually make the equivalent of 2 tonnes of concrete per head of the world’s population. We consume twice as much sand as nature can now produce. Because sand is not to be found everywhere, thousands of sand-miles are added to most building sand as it gets shipped from places like Australia to Dubai. Dubai’s vanity building, the Burj Khalifa, alone required sand that, if carried by a convoy of lorries, they would have circled the world 5 times over (and the building is 90% empty!).

In countries with high rates of homelessness our economic system has encouraged speculators to build homes and flats and keep them empty (e.g. 56% in China; 50% in Mumbai; 30% in Spain).

By 2025 three-quarters of humanity is expected to live along the seaside, which means more sea defences and buildings, which in turn prevent beaches from expanding inland when storms strike and forces them out to sea, where as sand they will be sucked up and lost forever in concrete structures. Morocco offers an ironic lesson – concrete, much pirated from sandy beaches, is poured into hotels designed to attract the tourists representing the 1/3 of us who love holidaying at the seaside – except, the sand has gone and the tourist will either find ugly rocky outcrops, or sand is pumped on-shore at great expense and further undermining the natural balance of the ocean shore.

Sand extracted from the sea causes more damage that dragnet fishing! Sand extraction weakens the fine balance that keeps islands in place – in Indonesia islands are simply vanishing (25 so far), which not only destroys the homes of people, but also creates geo-political shifts as a country’s national maritime boundaries are measured from the shores of its outer-most islands. In the Maldives hundreds of islands have been lost, beaches that were 60 metres wide have vanished and more than 80% of the country is less than 1 m above sea level. Here, almost every grain of sand is of importance.

Significantly one of the films from which I learned about our sand problem was made and shown on Swiss TV. It points out that not only has Switzerland’s extensive hydro-electric industry been a major contributor to preventing sand from reaching their lakes and the sea from the High Alps, but that Switzerland’s leadership in concrete technology has made concrete the preferred building material even in areas where previously sustainable materials like bamboo, mud, timber, straw, bricks and other natural materials prevailed. Recognising this, a number of Swiss research bodies are currently seeking to demonstrate that, for instance, timber buildings are as fire and earth quake resistant as any concrete structure, even in multi-story configurations.

If there was any doubt about using principally sustainable materials for our LightLiving Laboratory, this insight has reinforced the determination to go 100% sustainable. The story of sand helps illustrate our ignorance of so much so well (the pdf or the original films contain much more) that I wish a brilliant film maker would take up the theme and create a full circle, 360 degree visual illustration of how symptomatic the story of sand is for our skewed economic system and attendant ignorance of nature’s cycles. Perhaps there is another symbolism in the fact that as we literally have been building so much of our world and society on sand, we are now being forced to find new materials as our traditional one is rapidly running out?

The good news, as so often the case when given time, is that our mistakes do become apparent and give us a chance to redress them. Paradoxically, in doing so, we are brought back to where we should have been in the first place – in close partnership with nature! The impetus to start building homes with natural materials has just received a major boost.

Another by-product of returning to nature is that using natural materials will impose natural height constraints on buildings, which will prevent little men from compensating for self-perceived inadequacies by building taller and taller buildings. The symbolism of the Tower of Babel reaches way beyond voice originated language!

Peter Rae


My thanks go to my brother Michael and the videos he brought to my attention. It is from these that I extracted the information for this quick summary and the longer PDF covering our sand dilemma (all films are in German) –

“Sand, the New Gold” shown on Swiss National Television

‘EF’ in his YouTube Series for ‘Seekers After Truth’, under the deliberately provocative heading “Does Anybody Really Need Sand?”

“Sand, The New Environmental Time Bomb” produced by the German TV service 3sat

The 11th Hour

We are actually talking about the last few minutes before midnight; assuming the history of our world is expressed in terms of a 24-our clock, our species only appeared at 23.45, so we weren’t even around at the 11th hour.  And yet, in our short presence, we have catapulted Earth towards the destruction of all life on it.

Leonardo diCaprio produced this film in 2007, almost 5 years ago. For some reason or another I missed seeing it at the time. Last night I took out 3 hours to focus on the film and the 50 or so interviews it contains with leading thinkers and proponents for change that will take us back to becoming re-integrated with Earth. As a Red Indian chief reminds us in the film, the earth has endless time, our species does not..

The film’s sub-title is “turn mankind’s darkest hour into its finest”. By the time you have watched the main film and then the equally long addendum which gives a number of illustrations of what is already working, it becomes clear that we have much of the skill and knowledge to make some radical changes that could well make this one of our finest hours.

What therefore is clearly missing is the collective will and strong leadership towards change. And, as I argue elsewhere, this leadership will not, cannot, come from those currently in our traditional leadership positions. If ever we needed  to encourage the emergence of new forms of leadership and new leaders, it is now. Indeed, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is arguably such a new form of leadership, where the  massive majority says ‘enough’ and so encourages new leaders to step forward, lead the change and then merge back into their communities.

In meditating on the film, and the viable ideas and tools for change it enumerates (e.g. mimicking nature in the production of glass without huge energy consumption; self-cleaning buildings and cars; using nature’s technology that creates the illusion of colour to avoid having to apply polluting paints; are just a few examples of what was possible 5 years ago – imagine how much more must be around today), it became clear to me that while it is absolutely right to encourage every individual to make their life-style more sustainable, that alone is not enough – we also need to flex our collective muscle and allow the new leaders to emerge : e.g. exercise your shareholder rights, even if you only hold a minimal number of shares; urge institutional shareholders to encourage companies to adopt new technologies and use their lobbying power to influence government. Single and collective action need much more to go hand-in-hand.

If you have not yet seen the 11th Hour, please go and see it as soon as possible – better still, buy it from Amazon or download it, for you will want to watch it more than once. Leonardo diCaprio has undertaken a fine bit of reporting. I would like to see more and updates on the breakthrough solutions and technologies designed to emulate nature and will help take us back towards doing things nature’s way, which ultimately will enable us to re-integrate ourselves with our home planet.

One small statement by one of the interviewees in the film left an indelible impression – a survey of school children in the US showed that even the youngest could recognize up to 1,000 corporate logos, but none could identify more than 4 plants or trees in their neighbourhoods.


We need to curb the urge to consume

In 2012 we need to fight the instincts that make us want more

We will always have the urge to consume more than we need, but recognising this as a problem is the first step towards recovery …. Val Curtis for the Guardian Professional Network –, 

Val Curtis is an evolutionary psychologist who argues in this recent article that what stood us in good stead in the early stages of our evolutuion is now contributing to our downfall.

Economists are beginning to argue that perhaps the encouragement of increased consumer spending  is no longer a sensible way out of recession.

Are we about to make a major evolutionary leap? I would not hold my breath quite yet.

Linking with Nature

A newly-made friend gave me a book, called Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys, Book One – Watchers. I have reviewed it on It is a great read and combines fantasy with some uncomfortable truths about fictional trends in our society today which skirt close to reality.

This entry is however not about the book, more about the musings it has released in me : from my bed, in our London flat, I can look out on a tree that has suffered badly in recent months, particularly from excessive pruning and damage caused by a scurry of grey squirrels. I look at it daily and think about how much it suffers, and wish I could do something about it. I have become an objective observer, like with so much of life.

What has happened to my childhood ability to emphasize, to merge with what I was observing!  The quiet scream released by a blade of grass, by the branch broken off unthinkingly, were once all part of my reality. As my commitment is to create a model community that can be scaled up to provide the blueprint for out cities of the future, I am vitally interested in how to find ways to linked into & merge with nature in the same manner as I once was able to do and those who live on the land presumably still do.

Talk of living sustainably, and in harmony with nature, is not enough – we need to feel and share in its consciousness. The book I refer to above draws on myths and legends that cross time and cultures and takes us back to when humans felt nature and put these feelings into stories that still evoke powerful memories of this natural harmony.

Does the city of the future have grassy pathways along which its citizens can walk barefoot? Have designated camp-fire areas in which neighbourhoods gather, share food and listen to stories told by professional tellers, while watching the dance of real flames? Plant hugging trees, ready to dispense comfort to those who embrace them?  Make growing fresh produce an easy communal activity? Create orderly environments in which wild animals can live alongside humans without being tempted to become a nuisance and be viewed as a health-threat (e.g. urban foxes)?

What are the ways in which we will be able to make the pulse of nature noticeable in cities? Clearly, looking at nature in cities and lamenting the squeeze under which we are putting her, and talking about becoming more sustainable, is not enough. Her spirit calls, her messengers beckon, I / we need to reconnect to her at the deep, deep level that was once the natural state for us to be in.

As I write these words, the feeling of being linked to our London tree is returning. She stands in our neighbour’s garden, immediately behind my chair and protectively leans over my garden-based office accommodation. A small piece of my childhood at-onement has returned (symbolised by the arrival of these green paraquets which originate from the foothills of the Himalayas, my place of birth)!


The End of Political Parties – Summary of the Manifesto for The Last Party.

An easy and highly practical solution for the formation of a government structure based on community and relevant to issues and requirements of the 21st century, and the OWS generation.


Democracy does not work, or, put another way, is even worse at working for the 99% now than it has ever been before.

Individuals and communities are simply not represented on the national and international stage; consultation is limited to token door-stepping at the run up to elections or, increasingly, web-based polling.

Our interests are being swept aside by the ambition of those in politics to stay in power for long as possible; by a system in which demands total loyalty to “the Party”, ahead of anything else and enforced, in the UK, by 3-line whips (a term well reflecting the problem here addressed!); policies are formulated with the next election in mind, which means that issues that require a long-term perspective are dealt with in a very short time-frame; and, instead of looking and voting at issues from the perspective of the electorate, the highly skilled and very well funded pressure groups will use every trick in the trade to secure legislation in favouring their particular interests. Little wonder people feel alienated from politics and powerless to help bring about change!

It is not being suggested here that politicians set out to ignore the interests of those who elected them, rather, it is argued that we have in place a rotten, no longer relevant, system of governance that will always favour the few over the many and will compel even the most visionary leader and people’s representatives to legislate to an agenda ultimately not of their choosing. As global and national challenges continue to grow over the period ahead, a period which historically is expected to become known as the ‘Decade of Transition’, there will be even more manifestations of the few attempting to benefit at the expense of the many, as they remain better resourced, have more clout and are well versed at manipulation.  Worst of all, the current system prevents our leaders from speaking the truth about the economic, environmental and demographic changes ahead, as to speak the speak the truth under our current system will make any government un-reelectable.

The only way to change within a realistic time-frame is to change our system of governance.  This paper argues that it can be achieved relatively easily and within the usual span of office enjoyed by a political party between elections.  There are those who would argue that a change in human nature will eventually change the system too. This paper’s author is happy to agree, and indeed sees everywhere signs of emerging consciousness, but the reality is that the evolutionary route will take too long and not put in place the structure that global change is urgently calling for now.  Paradoxically, the structure proposed here will help accelerate this expression of growing consciousness and the consequent development of global community.

The concept described here also tackles the problem of bureaucracy – both at central and local government levels, stuffed with people who have opted to go for security and an index-linked pension sometime in the future; wholly risk averse and terrified of change as it may show up what a rotten system they have been defending for so long (and my apologies for including in this terrible generalisation some of those fine minds that have genuinely tried to bring change into this environment, but have had to give up exhausted and defeated by “the system”).

In ancient Greece, the inhabitants of a city-state, the polis, were encouraged to participate in the affairs of the polis, to play an active part in politics, to be political. Those who opted out (in phonetic Greek idi -ot) became ‘idiots’.

This proposal, which has been some time in the making and whose time now has come, invites us all to take back our lives, run our communities as we wish and get rid of the excessive layers that have developed above us and make life an administrative nightmare, rather than a lightly lived experience. It gives us a chance to re-engage.

The Proposal

The EU had a term that we don’t hear much any more, and certainly see little evidence of – the term is “subsidiarity”.  A tongue twister no doubt, but a simple concept nevertheless : it means ‘placing responsibility for issues at the lowest practical level’.

Who knows best where the potholes in the street are; where the pavement needs fixing; who is in need of help because elderly or sick; what public facilities a community needs; etc. – the community itself. The proposal is to give the community the means to tackle all local issues. You don’t need to belong to a particular political party for the local community to know who is best suited to do what needs to be done at community level!  The community would meet as often as it decided in the Community Council.  India already has a system like this in the form of its 265,000 Gram Panchayats operating at village-elder level.

Any community-based group will readily know who in their midst is best suited to argue and defend their interests at a next level up, at Area Level, which in turn will be responsible for a number of issues that extend across a number of communities, which together constitute an Area, e.g. road renewal and building; local planning policies; potentially primary & secondary schooling; school transportation; etc. A given number of communities make up an area, with each community’s representative making up the Area Council.

A grouping of Areas would make up a Region, with Area Council represented on its Regional Council, which would have responsibility for a wider drawn range of issues, including regional planning; greenbelt policy; etc.

Regional Councils would then elect their representation to the National Council, or, if we stick with the current designation, Parliament.

Under this structure, any major legislation Parliament intended to introduce could be passed by the entire nation as only 3 levels would need to be consulted – Regional, Area and Community Councils. In the age of the Internet, Social Media and other almost instantaneous means of communications, this would create a nation of involved citizens, or at least give everybody an opportunity to get involved, to opt in, to no longer being an idi-ot.

Sure there will be issues about which each Council will require informed advice before arriving at an informed decision – voila, suddenly we have a practical role for universities and other places of higher knowledge : each will be given the brief to become a centre of excellence in a given subject and to make this knowledge, potentially coupled with advice, available on demand to any officially registered Council, and to maintain highly informative presences on the Web.

Simplicity of Implementation

The UK’s postal system (and that of many around the world) represents the ready-made answer to the introduction of this community-based system of governance :

Some simple maths –

a.            Essentially each postal code group contains around 120 households, each household is presumed to have 2.5 residents.  Assume 2 postal codes are grouped into a political unit called ‘community’, with its own Community Council. This will create a community of between 500 to 600 residents as the basic unit of local government. This is a very manageable number and will allow most people to get to know one another both in person, as well as via a community website.

With a UK population of around 62 million, this means that there would be around 103,333 communities in the UK

Community Council = 500-600 voters per community = 103,333 Community Councils across the UK
Area Council = 50 Community Councils per area = 2,066 Area Councils across the UK
Regional Council = 10 Area Council per Region = 207 Regional Councils
National Council / Parliament = 2 Regional Councils elect 1 member of the National Council / Parliament = 104 representatives       PLUS                                         = 104 representatives of every trade, skill, profession in the UK

b.            Assuming a grouping of 50 communities constituted an area, and they collectively elected their representative to the Area Council, this would create 2066 Area Councils.

c.             10 Area Councils would elect a representative to the Regional Councils, of which there would be 207.

d.            Each two regions would elect a representative to Parliament, which would consist of 104 parliamentarians, who would be augmented by a matching number of representatives from each profession / professional body in the land. Representatives of the people sitting in a circular chamber with representatives of every skill and profession in the land would provide for well-informed and democratic debate. In key instances decisions would be required to be deferred until all the nation’s Community Councils had taken a vote or expressed a view on the proposed legislation.

Could this be any simpler?  A new party, the Last Party, could at the next elections, present itself as one that by the end of its term it will have introduced the structure here proposed. The need for politics as currently practiced will have become obsolete, with political parties and massive national elections no longer required and activists free to tell the truth, plan long-term and be immediately accountable to their immediate community. Perhaps the OWS movement is making is possible for us not even to have to wait for a next election!

The details of this plan, of which this is a summary, are pretty spectacular too and will get rid of much of the administrative class we currently know, and generally loath.  Cost savings will be considerable.

A system of governance built on the community as basic political unit will make it much harder for overt and hidden interests to drive nations into monolithic blocks, or a politicised One World. It is difficult to imagine a majority of Community Councils voting to take their nation to war!

London / 11-11-2011


Geo-Engineering – Poisoning the Planet to Save It!

Rarely do I permit human folly to get to me – I am aware of too much of it already!

Notwithstanding my clear view of collective human stupidity, arrogance and greed, this film had the potential of catching me unawares! Finally we have a credible and documented rationale for “chemtrails” something I had nonchalantly pigeon-holed as another one of those many conspiracy theories. I no longer do so, particularly as my preventative health advisers and I have been wondering where the excess aluminium in my body might have been originating from – from the sky!

Please set aside 1h 37mins to watch this, and endure the boring bits. At the end there is no denying by politicians that this is happening, alongside agreement by the scientists that we know too little about the effects, both on global climate as well as human and all life. And the suspicion lingers that some pharmaceutical company is potentially working on products that will counter the effect of these “trials” on human, animal and plant life.


Note, this film was funded by private individuals from all over the globe!