“Simply Put: They are Lying”

So says the UN Secretary as he accuses governments of ‘lying’ about climate change – and the rest.
| Metro Video
Listen to him. He says it is only a grassroots movement which will work. In short the politicians won’t deliver. Why? They are trapped in a system that hasn’t delivered and can’t until the population wakes up to its responsibility to hold politicians to account.
Politicians seem to live in fear of loosing votes, popularity, access to power, influence,   funding, column inches. Not a crime given much of our culture is driven by much the same  – but when facing a global emergency this becomes a narrow blinkered vision of leadership in which they serves either their own ascendence or a political war which is meaningless when it comes to planetary survival. They are not brave enough to do what everyone knows needs to be done.
Grassroots movements are not immune to the same infection that Governments are – we are not so different, for as Carl Jung said the primary work is for each individual to transform the internal shadow into light. But at the very least most volunteers are passionate and driven by the desire to save what they love – rather than build careers they sacrifice careers. Hence there’s a genuine motivation to obtain a result for the sake of what they love – which isn’t quite so compromised by the need for column inches or staying in the job. Evidence leads.
 Scotland – prides itself on being a nation of science  – but it has become scientifically incoherent. Too many bureaucrats and civil servants make the decisions – not on science but on what politicians need to look good and survive.
When what they need to do is be brave and risk not surviving.
When the UN Secretary-General says “Governments are lying” about climate change –  and corporations are turning a blind eye this is also much of the media industry.
The Secretary general has seen through the rhetoric and knows the science.  Pretty words won’t halt extinction, biodiversity loss and climate change. Only radical solutions are left. Action is needed or our world unravels. Unless we wake up to our real potential we will keep killing ourselves slowly. Believing ourselves to be separate – we kills that which we believe is “other” –  in this case that is the web of life which we are both a part of and which sustains us.
Despite the busswords about ecosystem and sustainability which echo around the corridors of power – blindness to the plight of the ecosystem and other species has infected the  institutions of power set up to protect us, our Planet and the natural world.
Why else would we be in the mess we are in? Did the UN Sec. General come to COP 26 in Glasgow and see through the Scottish Government’s sustainability rhetoric? We think he did.  What he says is damning but it is a global message about the take over of Governments by corporate thinking.
This blog is focused on Scotland as one of the worst offending examples – please read / watch the Secretary-General Warns of Climate Emergency, Calling Intergovernmental Panel’s Report ‘a File of Shame’, While Saying Leaders ‘Are Lying’,
He says we need to cut global emissions by 45 per cent this decade. But, current climate pledges would mean a 14 per cent increase in emissions.
It says we must protect ecosystems but leaders have been giving in to corporate power everywhere.
He says, and he would know.  Scotland is a highly industrialised nation which prides itself on the number of science papers it produces. Yet it is not leading the way – it is one of the worst offenders in the world with the most industrialised and damaged seas. Worse still, our  hubris around sustainability is in the way of any real action.
The reason is bureaucratic tick box exercises replace the science of ecosystems and Marine Protected Areas, indeed even an ambition of recovery of all our commercial fisheries – with the exception of a short list of priority marine features.  That is not ecosystem thinking. The ecosystem is interdependency – a web. It is all connected up. Damage one part you unravel the whole.


One perfect Scottish example, amongst many is explained below. Sea Change WR shall be writing to the RAINE Committee to ask for this scientifically incoherent policy to be replaced by ecosystem management which includes the precautionary principle and an understanding of Marine Protected Area networks.  PLEASE help us by writing to your MSPs to endorse the RAINE Committee to examine this and ask for this incoherent policy to be changed.

SEPA says with regards to Horse Island fish farm by the Scottish Sea Farms.

“In the case of the proposed Horse Island fish farm, SEPA has reached a determination, that while there will be some impact on the MPA and the Priority Marine Features (PMF) within it, the impact of the fish farm is not likely to be significant.  This is because, although there are PMFs within, or some hundreds of metres beyond, the likely footprint of the farm, the quantity and/or quality of the PMFs in the area is not substantial and even if they were lost by the impact of the fish farm, it would not represent a “nationally significant” issue.  “

THE STORY of the incoherent science used to allow fish farms expansion is most obvious when looking at Wester Ross Marine Protected Area as an example. Within the area of Horse Island are some of Wester Ross’s most intact maerl beds and some of them are colonised by another priority marine feature – flame shells. Maerl beds are damaged by nutrients from fish farms that can spread across a vast area.
Many sea lovers in coastal communities know that we have some of the fastest warming seas in the world with many “iconic” species which Scotland is famous for in the extinction vortex – or even on the brink of extinction. But maerl is particularly vulnerable to climate and nurtrient combinations.
There are many Scottish examples worthy of satire but of immediate importance to protest about is the protection of the Marine Protected Network  in the North West where Wester Ross Marine “Protected” area underpins the recovery of the regional ecosystem – and is under threat by two multi-national fish farm corporations. Scottish Sea Farms and Mowi. Two Golaiths.

The Marine Protected Area (MPA) network was scientifically designed to work as a network with each MPA seeding the surrounding areas’ recovery – connecting to the wider network of Marine Protected Areas all working together. This was at its conception a coherent policy designed to help save depleted species and create resilience in the face of the current storm so well articulated by the UN. But it got watered down in ambition when the Scottish Government caved in to the trawl and dredge lobby. It became broken,  allowing the very types of fishing that had destroyed the ecosystem to continue within many of the MPAs. One exception was Wester Ross as this group and the wider community,  petitioned for a dredge ban.  No sooner than that happened fish farms saw the opportunity to expand.

Wester Ross Marine Protected Area is the largest “Maerl” MPA in Scotland and therefore of global importance to protect. Maerl is Scotlands equivalent to the barrier reef – in terms of its  function as a nursery and spawning ground.

Maerl beds in Scotland and in Wester Ross had become so depleted, Wester Ross MPA was specifically set up to “recover” Maerl beds amongst other important keystone habitats. Keystone habitats like Maerl underpin the recovery of fin fish which has collapsed, current fisheries as well as the whole biodiversity which underpins the wider ecosystem.

Maerl is a very fragile coral like seaweed easily harmed by dredging and fish farms. Unfortunately for maerl –  maerl and fish farms like the same kind of clean fast flowing water conditions so fish farms target areas maerl have colonised. To add insult to injury scallop spat love growing in maerl – so of course Maerl has been damaged by scallop dredgers targeting scallops for decades. This is like turning the barrier reef to dust for a handful of scallops. Maerl is a spawning and breeding ground for multiple species including herring, scallops, cod and also feeding grounds for salmon needing a quick meal during their migrations. To mention just a few of the fisheries it supports.

But even when the world is faced with the extinctions – possibly including ourselves – and a loss of biodiversity on a colossal scale – not to mention fast warming seas (climate change and ocean acidification ) and plastic pollution – these beautiful habitats are not safe from corporate expansion.

Maerl is harmed in multiple ways by fish farms. Including the nutrients described above but there is a whole ecosystem impacted way beyond maerl including sea trout and salmon, and the burrowed mud of the prawn fishery. The best being in Horse Sound.

Many fish farms  sell us cheap fish fed by plundering other developing countries fish or deforesting areas for farmland to grow the feed – in exchange they offer a handful of industrialised jobs – divorced from knowledge of the natural ecosystem they harm. They dump their toxic chemicals and fish poo and feed into the sea lochs – undermining the resilience of multiple species.  All the time whilst most of their profits leave Scotland.

INCOHERENT SCIENCE – The National Significance argument. The offending paragraph clearly made not by an ecologist but by a bureaucrat.

Under Part 15 ( l) Marine ( Scotland) Act 2010 a public authority must take any authorisation or enforcement decision in accordance with the appropriate marine plans unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise.

“National Marine Plan (General Policy 9) specifies that development and use of the marine environment must:b) Not result in significant impact on the national status of Priority Marine Features.

SEPA SAY “even if they were lost by the impact of the fish farm, it would not represent a “nationally significant” issue.  “

The scientifically incoherent logic which underpins this policy is that you can risk or actually destroy maerl beds in the Wester Ross MPA because you have some elsewhere – say in the Orkney Islands.

This is against the scientific rationale underpinning the MPA network.  It is also against any scientific understanding of how keystone species work to underpin regional ecosystems and support the very fisheries everyone else depends upon for their jobs and businesses – not to mention our own health and pleasure in the restoration project we hoped for in Wester Ross. We’ve deforested the land and turned it in to wet desserts. We are planting trees on land to save ourselves, all the while deforesting, poisoning and polluting with little restraint under the sea.

Even Nature Scot knows this is nonsense. The Parliamentary Enquiry into Salmon Farming in 2018 made recommendations in their report called Salmon Farming In Scotland which was published on 27 November 2018 by The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s Report . (SP Paper 432 9th Report  On page 90 point 396

Dr Carol Hawley expressed concern that although Scottish Natural Heritage is responsible for ensuring that Priority Marine Features are safeguarded, its own planning guidance only permits it to object to planning applications for fish farms if the national population of those PMFs is at risk. She argued that “SNH must be allowed to object to new applications where they threaten PMFs at a regional level, and not only when the development will threaten them at the national level.”.

The question the planning guidance asks of the Government Agencies like Nature Scot and SEPA is whether the damage to a local ecosystem is of “national significance”. The answer is always “No – go ahead we can afford to lose this or that Priority Marine Feature or damage it” because we’ve got that species elsewhere.
This is bureaucratic logic. It means we have been damaging habitats which underpin regional ecosystems for decades because if you have a habitat somewhere else which is okay then you don’t need it in the  regional ecosystem. This is  based on an economic model of the world divorced from the web of life which actually sustains that economic model. A small offering of a handful of jobs and a profit for wealthy multinationals secures this low bar)
But then what? Perhaps next we can damage the local ecosystem in Orkney which was OK because there is yet another maerl bed which is OKAY in Shetland – or somewhere other than Orkney….and on and on until less and less is OKAY.
The Marine Protected Area Network was set up to work as a network to  mitigate against further biodiversity loss (and the climate change caused by it). This was designed to create resilience and underpinning recovery of the environment AND jobs which were really sustainable, not greenwash.
Take this a step further and the Scottish Government could trash the whole of Scotland’s waters on the basis that the English or the Norwegians have their fisheries so why would we need fisheries and food security here?
The logic is the same as saying – well the Brazilian rainforest can be logged because the Chileans have a forest which is protected….and on and on until – well perhaps another Planet might do.
If we trash the Earth system…..There are after all some people building rockets to escape from Planet Earth. Perhaps they’ve seen the writing on the wall like the UN Secretary General.
Whilst the idea of moving to another planet maybe satire – the logic used is REAL at a regional ecosystem level in Scotland. The Scottish government policy  allowing fish farms to develop in highly sensitive “maerl” Marine Protected Areas which were set up to recover this species – with the salmon and sea trout and other species already decimated by them makes little sense in todays world.
Perhaps the UN Secretary General might be thinking of joining the Extinction Rebellion?  After all he was against them being considered radical. He has a point.

Not only are few Marine Protected Areas actually protected from the very damaging bottom-towing fishing methods that destroyed them in the first place – and illegal dredgers  ignoring the law anyway mostly overlooked.

Marine Protected Areas are now the target for fish farm expansion. Pristine places to populate with industrialised feedlot farms with salmon packed in to high density cages – advertising the idea of Scotlands pure waters….and “iconic” Salmon whilst destroying that very thing.

There is hope. Boycott farmed salmon and write to your MSP in support of a change of policy.  People power is all that is left to us.