My mouse and I happened to stumble across a press release from that noble institution, the University of East Anglia (UEA), home of the highly esteemed (well, at least in their eyes) Climatic Research Unit (CRU).
A University of East Anglia academic is launching a report proposing a ‘super jury’ of ordinary people to act as guardians for the country’s future. The report will be launched at the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon.
The ‘Guardians of the Future’ report by Dr Rupert Read […] from the university’s School of Philosophy calls for radical constitutional reform to safeguard the basic needs of future generations.
He proposes that a council of randomly picked members of the public, like a jury, should be placed above the House of Lords to oversee all government decisions – with the power of veto to stop legislation which threatens the interests of future generations.
Dr Read’s ‘super-jury’ would also be charged with the power to force a review of existing legislation which is likely to have negative effects for society in future.
The report will be published by Green House – a think tank set up to lead the development of green thinking in the UK. It sets out proposals for how the guardians could be chosen, how many should sit on the council and how long they would serve for.
Dr Read believes his radical idea would stop us bequeathing a damaged and dangerous country to our descendants.
He said: “This report is meant to stimulate debate about how we can represent the interests of future generations within our existing parliamentary democracy.
“Obviously future generations can’t be given a vote, but I propose that we give them the closest equivalent by creating a council of Guardians of Future Generations – a third legislative house. They would have the power to scrutinise and if necessary veto proposals that they judge would impact negatively on future people’s basic rights.
“The members of this body would be selected by sortition, as is current practice for jury service, to ensure independence from present-day party political interests. They would be free from party pressure, and the pressures of short term electoral cycles, so they would represent a more genuine ‘us’.
“It sounds radical, but many radical ideas throughout history have come to be accepted as the norm, after at first seeming to be ‘too extreme’ to many people. A good example is recycling – when Greens first called for this, in the 70s and 80s, they were laughed at, but now we all take recycling for granted.”
I haven’t had a chance to read Read’s report, yet, but here’s an excerpt from the summary:
The Guardians would have a power of veto over legislation that were likely to have substantial negative effects for society in the future, the right to review major administrative decisions which substantially affected future people and the power to initiate legislation to preserve the basic needs and interests of future people.
Not to worry, though … it’s only a “discussion” paper. And considering Read’s credentials:
[He] works closely with environmental scientists, in eco-philosophy, at UEA. His publications include his popular book, Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture. He was a Green Party Councillor from 2004-2011, and helped write the first draft of the Green 2009 Euro-election manifesto. He blogs on environmental reframing at Green Words.
and the credentials of his Green House colleagues … What’s not to like, eh?!
I thank my lucky stars that there’s an ocean between us. Not to mention that here in Canada, at least, there are signs of more down-to-earth developments. As Terence Corcoran reported in today’s National Post:
Never before has a Canadian politician challenged the hitherto saintly protectors of the environment in such direct language
It is a cliché in journalism to declare metaphorical wars at the drop of a news release. In this case, it looks like war is exactly what Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver launched Monday in an unprecedented open letter warning that Canada will not allow “environmental and other radical groups” to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”
What a welcome war this is. Never before has a Canadian politician challenged the hitherto saintly protectors of the environment in such direct language. More importantly, Mr. Oliver took straight aim at a troubling trend in Canadian environmentalism — the foreign funding of Canadian green activist groups with the express purpose of shutting down Canadian resource development — first documented in the National Post by Vancouver investigative writer Vivian Krause.
“These groups,” said Mr. Oliver, “seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interests to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources.”
Seems that that the U.K.’s Read was inspired by developments in Hungary – while Canada’s Oliver was very uninspired by developments in Obama’s USA. Radical constitutional reform or war on green radicals? I know which horse I’m backing!