The Pandemic – A Tipping Point for a Green Future

By Kirsty Campbell

The climate emergency has been, as it so often is, pushed to the sidelines when more evidently immediate dangers emerge. Global lockdowns have hampered the visibility of the climate movement just at the moment when international climate strikes were making headlines and forcing politicians to take the issue seriously. However, the pandemic and the rising temperature of the planet should not be seen as distinct and separate issues. If anything, the spread of COVID-19 should highlight the immediate dangers and potential future catastrophes of an ever-encroaching global climate crisis.

Whilst there is no direct proof that climate change has influenced the spread of COVID-19, there are clear connections between climate change and interactions between humans, the Earth, and other species. Dr. Bernstein, director of Harvard’s Chan C-CHANGE, explains: ‘As the planet heats up, animals big and small, on land and in the sea, are headed to the poles to get out of the heat. That means animals are coming into contact with other animals they normally wouldn’t, and that creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.’ Additionally, he points out that the factors increasing the risk of pandemics lie rooted in climate change, such as deforestation, loss of animal habitats, and large livestock farms (Bernstein, 2020). Thus, rather than overshadowing the climate emergency we face, the COVID-19 pandemic should be a call to action, a clear warning of the potential future disasters that a continued rise in global temperatures may cause.

Indeed, the pandemic provides the potential to act as a turning point in the fight against climate change. The widespread collapse of the global economy will call for a reconstruction of economies around the world. If this reconstruction is shaped around environmental aims, with investments in green energy and green sectors of the economy, we could achieve two goals often falsely understood as being antagonistic. A green economical re-construction would build a world prepared for the future, crafting both a sustainable economy and crucial first steps in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues that indicate the potential for the relegation of environmental concerns in a post-pandemic reconstruction.

Newspaper headlines this year posited the positive news that we are set to have the ‘largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions in 2020’. This is based on estimates by Carbon Brief, who claim that ‘the pandemic could cause emissions cuts this year in the region of 2,000m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2)’, amounting to the equivalent of around 5.5% of the global total of 2019 (Evans, 2020). Previous global crises, for example the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 2008 economic crash, have often led to a drop in CO2 emissions. Yet history also serves as a warning sign: after both crises, most notably following the 2008 economic crash, global economic recovery instead saw a sharp rise in CO2 emissions. In fact, following the drop in emissions after the 2008-9 recession, the world saw an increase in CO2 emissions of almost 6% in 2010, much exceeding the pre-recession global emissions (McGrath, 2020).

Scientists warn us to be cautious of these figures as their cause is related to short-term, individual choices. This year the decline in CO2 emissions has been connected to lockdowns around the world which have led to altered consumer patterns and reduced transport (Le Quéré, 2020). Carbon Brief has pointed out that in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, global emissions would have to drop by 7.6% annually every year. Despite the drastic changes to individual consumer demands and reduced travel brought about by the pandemic, this target has not even been reached this year. Carbon Brief states: ‘To put it another way, atmospheric carbon levels are expected to increase again this year, even if CO2 emissions cuts are greater still. Rising CO2 concentrations – and related global warming – will only stabilise once annual emissions reach net-zero’ (Evans, 2020).

As Adam Vaughan points out, ‘Climate change hasn’t stopped because of a global pandemic. Yet our turbocharged heating of Earth has become an almost forgotten crisis’ (Vaughan, 2020). A false emphasis on this year’s drop in CO2 emissions, based on a unique pandemic situation, could incorrectly lead to a belief that the world is on the right path to combating the climate emergency, and that other issues, such as an economic recovery, must now take centre stage.

Indeed, some go even further and claim that the climate emergency is not real, despite extensive scientific proof of it. Right-wing lobby groups and politicians across the world are opposing green new deals and spreading disinformation while media groups such as The Australian and The Wall Street Journal are undermining the link between human emissions and extreme weather events. The Climate Intelligence Foundation, a European climate science denial group with connections to a number of British Conservatives and comparable parties in the European parliament, recently called on leaders to ‘fight the virus not carbon’. Another increasingly common argument against a green economic reconstruction is that it is ‘poor value for money and climate risks are exaggerated.’ Far-right politicians have shifted their focus from an outright denial of the climate crisis, which has become almost impossible to refute due to the experiential evidence, to ideological critiques. In Brazil, politicians are implying that climate campaigns are a global Marxist plot and that environmental NGOs focused on the Amazon are part of an international conspiracy to stifle economic development (Watts, 2020).

Some major political and economic stakeholders are currently moving beyond rhetoric to action. Rather than moving towards green new deals in the hope of reconstructing their economies following the pandemic, some countries are investing in so-called ‘dirty’ industries to restart their economies. In Brazil, the state-led oil company Petrobas recently sold its shares in renewable energy demonstrating a visible shift away from a green economy future, while Xi Jinping, President of China, who recently promised to make China carbon-neutral by 2060, only put aside 0.3% of its stimulus package for renewables and other sustainable projects (Watts, 2020). Yet this is not a trend limited to Brazil or China. A recent study conducted by The Guardian has found that ‘in at least 18 of the world’s biggest economies, more than six months after the first wave of lockdowns, pandemic rescue packages are dominated by spending that has a harmful environmental impact.’ Indeed, the same article claims that ‘only four countries—France, Spain, the UK and Germany—and the EU have packages that will produce a net environmental benefit’ (Harvey, 2020).

Moreover, ‘the economic crisis associated with COVID-19 is markedly different from previous economic crises in that it is more deeply anchored in constrained individual behaviour’ (Le Quéré, 2020). Thus, the recent drop in CO2 emissions currently being celebrated is in fact not due to governmental or industry reforms but changes in individual behaviour on a global scale. That even these cannot cause emissions to drop by the 7.6% that is required demonstrates that the solution to the climate crisis lies not in individual choices and behaviours, but in structural changes implemented by governments and industries.

Whilst these projections make for a bleak forecast for the future, we can’t assume that the time for ethical and sustainable decision-making is gone. In fact, the potential of a green reconstruction still exists, as long as the right emphases are made now. That is precisely why COP26 2021 will play such a pivotal role in the tipping point for a green future. The upcoming UN climate change conference could re-assert and strengthen a global coalition in the fight against the climate crisis. Indeed, economics professor Ed Barbier points out, ‘there is huge potential for boosting employment, particularly in construction’ in a green recovery (Harvey, 2020). If the potential in green economies is highlighted at Glasgow’s COP26, the need for an economic recovery due to the pandemic could stimulate interest in creative and green solutions. Alternatively, it could see renewed relegation of the issue of the climate emergency in the face of more short-term and national concerns.

Yet there are reasons to be positive. American President elect, Joe Biden’s promise to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement and his ambitious national plans could serve as an impetus for other countries to follow. Indeed, some analysts have optimistically pointed out that America’s ambitious plans, if Biden manages to implement them with the US Senate, could serve as a kick-starter for a ‘race’ between countries to become green and thereby assert themselves on a global scale (Harvey, 2020).

Thus, COP26 can serve as a pivotal moment, signalling either the strengthening or the collapse of a global response to the climate emergency and provide the tipping point we need for a green future. It is the place in which the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement can be forcefully re-asserted and the extent to which countries are reaching them critically considered—finding solutions and putting pressure on these nations if they are not meeting targets. For the climate crisis impacts everybody around the world and can only be successfully limited if all countries fight against it. As Corinne Le Quéré points out, ‘government actions and economic incentives postcrisis will likely influence the global CO2 emissions path for decades’ (2020). Whilst politicians will be the main parties attending the conference and dictating its outcomes, it is up to civil society and the public at large to remind politicians of the urgency to combat the climate crisis.

Kirsty Campbell is part of the team facilitating Arkbounds upcoming publication on the climate crisis. Find out more about the COP26 project here.


Bibliography

Bernstein, A. (2020) Coronavirus, Climate Change, and the Environment. [online] C-Change. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/subtopics/coronavirus-and-climate-change/. [Accessed 9 Nov. 2020]

Evans, S. (2020) Analysis: Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions. [online] Carbon Brief. Available at: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-coronavirus-set-to-cause-largest-ever-annual-fall-in-co2-emissions. [Accessed 9 Nov. 2020]

Harvey, F. (2020) Revealed: Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes. The Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/09/revealed-covid-recovery-plans-threaten-global-climate-hopes. [Accessed 13 Nov. 2020]

Le Quéré, C. et al. (2020) Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement. Nature Climate Change, [online] 10, 647-653. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0797-x [Accessed 12 Nov. 2020]

McGrath, M. (2020) Climate change and coronavirus: Five charts about the biggest carbon crash, BBC News [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52485712. [Accessed 11 Nov. 2020]

Vaughan, A. (2020) How the coronavirus has impacted climate change – for good and bad. [online] NewScientist. Available at: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24833040-900-how-the-coronavirus-has-impacted-climate-change-for-good-and-bad/#ixzz6ehxXsBba. [Accessed 11 Nov. 2020]

Watts, J. (2020) Five post-Trump obstacles to a global green recovery. The Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/11/five-post-trump-obstacles-to-a-global-green-recovery. [Accessed 13 Nov. 2020]

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Modern Prejudice: Some forms of discrimination are decried, whilst others are deemed acceptable

Steve Mcnaught writes of his personal experience and questions why some forms of prejudice go unchallenged


‘Every person has a story’

Eight years to this day I was in a cell next to a murderer. He was serving a life sentence, having been sentenced when he was 17, and back then I remember looking at his face and wondering how he could ever be 28. A murderer – an act that might make you recoil; a man surely defined entirely by such a grievous offence. But his case had arisen from a drunken fight and a wildly thrown punch – he never intended to kill, yet had tragically taken a life.  In the cell next to him was a drug dealer, who had played a leading role in supplying MDMA (Ecstasy) across the South East. A drug dealer, but also a father of two young children and with no prior offences – driven into crime after a period of unemployment and alcoholism.

To define these people solely by their crimes, without looking at the circumstances that arose before in their lives, would be very easy to do. But such an act would be no different from picking up a book and glancing at its cover. You won’t know the story, just how it first appears.

Society consistently judges people who have fallen foul of the law, not just after they have been sentenced and put in prison, but even after they leave. Is it relevant that 72% of prisoners have multiple mental health difficulties (Prison Reform Trust, 2019); that in many ways they are products of a failing society, rather than emerging like some random nuisance with evil embedded in their hearts?

I went to prison for a series of armed robberies committed in my early 20s. I will not go into the circumstances around these, for they are written about extensively elsewhere (see ‘Just Sky’ and forthcoming book by Ben Machell, ‘The Unusual Suspect’), but I had never been to prison before. And I ended up spending 7 years in 23 American and British jails. What I witnessed in that time was not a line-up of hardened convicts. It was instead a microcosm of society at large, composed of people who had made the wrong choices, many of them having experienced abuse and victimisation themselves. A sizable proportion had come from fractured families, brought up in deprived areas, swiftly caught up on the conveyor belt of care home, borstal and prison. Few could read and write well; even fewer had a secure job lined up when they were due for release. Locked up for around 22 hours a day, a great many turned to drugs – a well-known route of escapism relied upon since their teens. The few prison jobs and classes available rarely offered real hope for successful reintegration back into society. Out of that environment, I was released, aged 28. Seven years of my life had passed. Society had changed. Support was few and far between, but some sources – like the Princes Trust and Crisis – offered a helping hand. I wanted to start afresh, but I also wanted to make a difference. I had seen, first hand, how writing could change people – not just the writers, but readers. It enabled a form of creative expression that bolstered confidence and self-esteem, enabling people to discover new aspects of themselves and acquire vital skills. Equally importantly, it could break down stereotypes and stigma towards people from disadvantaged backgrounds – even towards prisoners and ex-offenders – by conveying their stories to others. If a reader understands a person’s story, the former labels that were applied begin to slip away. Suddenly, that person becomes relatable. No longer a label or statistic, but a human being.


Acceptable Prejucide?

For hundreds of years, those from minority ethnic backgrounds were actively enslaved, discriminated against and exploited. It continues, in varying degrees, to this day. The ‘rationale’ offered by those responsible for it varied from pseudo-science to warped social arguments. Yet, today, it is widely acknowledged by society that such prejudice is totally unacceptable.

One thing all forms of prejudice have in common is the failure to consider all the circumstances, background and potential of the person being discriminated against. They are instead judged upon some unchanging and arbitrary characteristic: the colour of their skin; the fact they may look or act different because of a disability; that they may speak differently or cannot afford the latest fashion in clothes. And so on. In other words, prejudice stems from an inability to put yourself in the other’s shoes.

When looking at today’s society, there is one form of prejudice that continues unchecked. It is completely acceptable for the media to support it; even for law makers and public authorities to embrace it. In every institution and level we can find evidence of it, to some degree.  It differs from all other forms of prejudice in respect to going largely unchallenged. Why? Well, like with the prejudices based on colour and other characteristics hundreds of years ago, there are ‘good reasons’ for having it. Only a progressive minority – as with hundreds of years ago – protests otherwise.

So what is this prejudice I speak of?

It is the discrimination against people with criminal records.

If someone transgresses against the rules of society, to some extent they should expect to face exclusion and discrimination. And in many ways the intensity of this exclusion should correlate with the seriousness of their crimes, as defined by the harm they inflicted on others.

And yet, unless we are to judge someone’s transgressions for their entirety of their lives, what is the point of that other principle that society also claims to embrace and support: rehabilitation? Where is the place for redemption where every person who finds themselves subject to the penalty of law can expect a life-term punishment, irrespective in many degrees to the nature of their offence? If we are to treat criminals in this manner, would it not be better just to execute them all?

The fact is, even this latter sentiment is embraced by some. And it all stems from a failure to understand – to cast another group as completely alien and ‘other’ to ourselves. The circumstances by which they entered crime are irrelevant. The behaviour they have demonstrated subsequent to their formal punishment under law is likewise void. What matters is some arbitrary label applied to them, based on a miasma of stigma and demonization: they are criminals.

What about in cases where a person may have broken the law in their youth, perhaps in exceptional circumstances, having expressed immense remorse and going on to turn their lives around? Taking it further, what about in cases where someone may go on to actively contribute to society – helping others who might take similar paths, reaching out to ensure others facing prejudice in all its kinds are able to overcome that?

You might think that, surely, these cases break out of that psychological and social barrier of criminality. Of course these cases are different, you might argue.

You would be wrong. The prejudice continues, regardless of a person’s circumstances before and after they committed an offence. One has only to consider that 82% of former prisoners have reported difficulties in getting employment because of discrimination regarding their convictions (UNLOCK, 2016).And amongst these statistics are personal stories, individuals trying hard, like every other citizen, to be part of society – but ruthlessly pushed out to its fringes. Some are more targeted than others, depending on the profiles they keep. But you can rest assured, if the media or general public find out about their past, it will be used against them – regardless of its relevance – at every turn.

Winston Churchill once famously said that: “The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country.”

He was right, yet if we were to judge present society by its treatment of crime and criminals we might find ourselves wishing to look away. People, as a rule, have an instinctive feeling for unfairness. However, the media – in large part owned by billionaires closely affiliated to right wing interests – consistently scapegoats and marginalises those groups who are easiest to attack. People with criminal records remain the Number One target, followed shortly after by refugees. There are many reasons for this, but a lot stems from the convenience of having a group of ‘irredeemable, violent reprobates’ who can keep wider society fearful, distrustful of each other and pliable to authorities.

If we are to be serious about social inclusion, why should it be totally fine to be prejudiced against one particular group, based on the same kind of reasoning that was used to discriminate against other groups?  It is very convenient to decry prejudice that is not socially acceptable, whilst embracing prejudice directed towards ‘fringe’ groups. Just because the press and those in power support such prejudice. Just because we don’t have the emotional or intellectual insight to put ourselves in the other’s shoes.

The alternative: condemn each person based on their transgression against the law at some point of their lives. Disregard the circumstances of this and the behaviour they demonstrated after the formal term of their punishment. Continue to exclude, discriminate and attack them at every opportunity. What you are left with is a cruel, dysfunctional society, one that would cast a whole segment of the population aside to its own harm, one where indeed most people who have offended go on to re-offend. Ask yourself what that society looks like, and you won’t have to look very far.

Rejection Comes with Success

(By Milly Rochow, Originally Published At https://publishingdegree.co.uk/author/millyrochow/)

When I think back to the time that I was researching the postgraduate publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University, the work placement module was the most exciting but simultaneously, daunting prospect. How could I, with my incredibly limited knowledge of publishing, blag my way through 10 weeks in a real life office without making a complete fool of myself? Would I even be able to secure a placement? Having tried a few times before to gain experience I knew it was competitive. So how was I going to change the discourse of “sorry we cannot take you on at this time”, “we simply don’t have the resources at the moment” “we do not offer work placements for students” to a resounding “yes we would love to have you.”

It was in December, having emailed some companies throughout the year and applied to a couple placement opportunities, that I was beginning to be a bit disillusioned with the whole idea. And then I got a reply from Jamie at the Arkbound Foundation, an indie publisher in Glasgow who were my first choice due to their inclusive ethos and social enterprise model. They replied and said they were looking for an intern and could I complete the editing task. Somehow, I managed to impress them (I can only attribute this to the skills I learned on the publishing course as I didn’t even know what a ‘track changes’ button was a year ago) and I got asked to interview, and then accepted into the role of editorial assistant intern. 

Within the first couple weeks I was given a chapter of a manuscript to edit. A real manuscript that is actually going to be published! This was so exciting as I got to put into practice all the skills we had been learning throughout the first trimester. From there, I completed 5 training days with Jamie, where I learned a range of skills. The perks of Arkbound being such a small company was that I got a taste of everything: promotion, manuscript reviews, editing, social media marketing. A couple weeks later I was creating AI sheets and press releases and managing social media accounts. Jamie took so much time to fully train me and show me why we were completing these tasks and how to do them properly, for which I will always be grateful. The range of skills I learned here was more than I’d ever thought I would get the opportunity to do as an intern and this was purely down to the patience and dedication of Jamie and the team at Arkbound. 

I surprised myself, to be honest, that I was able to complete all my tasks to (what I hope was) a high standard and received consistently positive feedback from Jamie and the team. They were so encouraging, which gave me the confidence to take initiative and complete tasks without being asked and go the extra step to show I had really taken on board their input and wanted to complete everything for them as best I possibly could. Following the 10 week placement period, I was offered the part time position of editorial assistant and I am now a fully-fledged member of the team. I can’t explain how rewarding it is to be told I was valuable enough to be kept on and now to be paid for this wonderful experience. Thinking back to the first day of the course where I felt completely overwhelmed and thought the best I could get would be shadowing someone in an office, I can’t believe how fortunate I was to work with this publisher. They have a genuine desire to train and inspire and this experience has given me such a good foundation to continue into the publishing workplace.

So, if there’s any anything I’ve learned from this experience and some advice I could give to anyone who finds themselves in my position, it’s this: trust your skillset. It is unique to you and the most powerful tool you have. Trust that you know more than you think. New tasks can be daunting but take your time to think them through and you will be surprised at the results. Trust that for the seemingly endless rejections will come an acceptance email. What’s for you won’t pass you by and sometimes that means disappointment from unsuccessful applications for a better option to come.

“A sincere call for change”

New review by Katriina Rowan

The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl by Paul Thornycroft

Paul Thornycroft’s novel The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl is an acknowledgement of the impact mankind has on the natural world and a sincere call for change. Thornycroft engages deeply with environmental issues as he portrays Mowzl the mouse negotiating his way through the human world and reflecting on mankind’s treatment of nature.

The novel follows Mowzl as he is pulled from his world in the future through a mysterious fog into the human world. Although he is a real mouse in his home world, Mowzl is transformed into a toy in the human world where he is found by a man called Pip. He asks Pip to help him find his way back to his home, whilst Pip hopes that he can help him overcome the sad feelings that trouble him. Mowzl is quick to identify that Pip is suffering because he sees the devastating effect mankind’s greed has on the natural world yet feels unable to stop it. Mowzl explains that humans see themselves as separate from nature and that they do not listen to wildlife. As Mowzl shows his human friends how to listen, Thornycroft gives nature a voice through which mankind’s actions and thoughtlessness are criticised.

Whilst the novel acknowledges and highlights the effect humans’ actions have on nature, it focuses more heavily on the need for a change in the way in which humans consider the environment. In this respect, The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl promotes a mindful understanding of the natural world, raising awareness for environmental issues and leaving the reader with a hopeful sentiment.

New Review: No Homeless Problem

by Jemma O’Donovan

‘No Homeless Problem’ is a collection of poetry written by Belfast-born Séamus Fox. Throughout this book, Fox clues readers in on what it’s really like to be homeless by drawing on his own experiences, and by using the accounts and stories of 44 individuals who have also experienced the difficulties of being homeless.

The main thing I thought was most effective about reading this book is that I was able to peer into the lives of so many different people, and that what I was reading are true experiences of people who have lived through the horrors of having nowhere to go. This is what made this collection so hard to read, but also what made me keep on reading. I found that by being able to learn about the complications of homelessness that the majority of people don’t get to see (such as in ‘Attempted Murder’, ‘Yellow’, and ‘Life’) really aided my understanding on the harsh reality of what can happen to human beings when they’re not looked after by other human beings, and it reaffirmed the importance of community and support.

At times, I found that some of the poems seemed to have similar voices that blended into one, but I actually think this was effective when it comes to the intentions of this book because it showed me that these experiences always happen to the homeless, no matter who they are or what they once had. I don’t think this approach would’ve worked with any other poetry collection, but Fox pulls it off very well.

This collection of poetry is incredibly thought-provoking, and it ultimately led me to think about the way I perceive homelessness and the ways that I can help and leave a positive impact on people who need it most. For example, ‘Good Samaritan’ and ‘A Bowl of Noodles’ show examples that no matter how big or small a gesture, they will always be appreciated. This collection taught me that all that matters is that we, as human beings, look after each other.

The Publishing Excellence Programme

by Enya Holland

The Publishing Excellence Programme, developed by a handful of publishers to offer comprehensive work experience for those seeking a career in publishing or media, is currently considering new applicants. The Programme offers the opportunity to gain valuable practical skills as well as an insight into working within the industry from successful publishers across the country. Publishers currently offering the Programme include Arkbound (Bristol), Valiant (Birmingham), UpScribe (Newcastle), The Write Factor (North Devon) and Mother’s Milk Books (Nottingham).

The Programme involves one-to-one mentorship and is structured in modules covering the essential skills needed to pursue a career in the sector. Candidates can choose from an eight-week programme that focuses on several aspects of book publishing or a twelve-week programme that covers books and magazines and the basics of journalism.  Both programmes have been designed to allow the candidate to develop a first-hand understanding of the publishing process from start to finish. Modules focus on core skills such as proofreading and editing while building knowledge of processes from formatting manuscripts to managing author-publisher relationships.

Assessment of the programme is carried out throughout the placement, with either three or six core assessments depending on the length of the programme selected. Assessment tasks include manuscript proofreading, book reviews and short-story writing. Candidates will be provided with an embossed certificate on completion of the Programme, providing a useful CV-boost, as well as a detailed reference.

In addition to the knowledge and experience gained through the Programme, candidates will be supported in their next steps. This includes first selection for internships and roles within the host publisher or referral to partner companies. During the Programme, candidates will also have the opportunity to establish useful connections within the industry, with the option to work in different locations and take part in seminars and creative workshops. Some successful candidates have even gone on to start their own publishing outlets. The Arkbound Publishing Network is open to those who complete the Programme, offering guidance to those who wish to pursue this route.

The Programme is offered to those eligible to work in the UK with excellent written English skills and proficiency in Microsoft Word. Entry to the Programme is subject to the successful completion of two assessments. It may be possible for candidates to be sponsored for the Programme by Arkbound or another funding body, depending on eligibility.

Bridging the Gaps in the Publishing Industry

byFrances Golinski Drinkwater

The publishing industry is broad and ever-changing, attracting book-lovers and academics alike – anyone with a creative mind and an interest in communicating important ideas. The industry has faced huge pressures in recent decades, with rapid changes due to increasing use of technology: fewer people are now reading fiction – book sales in this sector fallen by 23% since 2012, and more people are accessing content online (digital sales increased by 6% in 2016 and now account for 35% of total revenues). Nevertheless, publishing, whether in books or magazines, is still a great place to work, offering wide range of roles in a changing industry.

However, publishing faces two major problems: it is highly competitive and there is a distinct lack of diversity – both in the writers being published and the professionals working within the industry. Perhaps surprisingly, publishing has a higher applicant-position ratio than both finance and law, so competition for jobs is tough. Without training, industry knowledge and work experience, even competent university graduates struggle to find paid work in the industry. Applicants may find themselves stuck in that common cycle of lack of experience leading to no job offers leading to lack of experience. Even those who do manage to land an internship, will likely find that it’s unpaid, favouring more privileged individuals who can afford to work for free. The statistics speak for themselves: in 2017, bookcareers.com surveyed more than 1,000 people and found that more than 90% currently working in the industry classify themselves as white British.

Its not just the people who work in the industry who are overwhelmingly white – its also the writers they publish? In 2016 World Book Night, organised by the UK charity The Reading Agency, was criticised for its all-white author’s list of 15 giveaway books (their 2018 list is just slightly better, with 5 out of 23 writers of colour). World Book Day also issued its own all-white list of authors in Autumn 2016, along with the Carnegie Medal for Children’s Literature, who similarly failed to nominate any writers of colour to a longlist of 20.

Arkbound, the ‘publisher that has social enterprise at its heart’ confronts both of these problems. Founded in 2015, the Bristol-based publisher is dedicated to supporting aspiring writers and publishing professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Arkbound publishes authors who experience barriers to the industry – especially writers with an important message about society or the environment. It also helps individuals to launch careers in publishing.

Along with a small group of publishers across the UK, Arkbound has developed the Publishing Excellence Programme, which offers candidates valuable information about the publishing industry and teaches practical skills like proofreading, copy-editing, getting ISBN codes and contacting and networking with retailers. Candidates receive one to one tuition in the basics of both book and magazine publishing, they are assessed at the end of the course, and leave with a full reference, in-depth report and certificate. Arkbound also ensures that candidates are fully supported after finishing the course; those who complete the Programme will also be the first to be considered for any publishing positions and internships. Gradutates of the course may also be referred on to other, non participating publishers. In some cases, candidates may be directly recruited by a delivery partner after the course. In line with their commitment to improving access to and diversity in the industry, Arkbound can sponsor applicants from disadvantaged groups to cover the full cost of the course and their expenses.

The initiative is unique in combatting some of the barriers to entry in the publishing industry and providing practical and tangible results.

Arkbound also has an exciting new release from a ground breaking writer of children’s literature. Odiri Ighamre’s debut book Arcadia is a beautifully illustrated children’s story which celebrates the beauty of Africa’s natural environment and asserts the importance of conserving this beauty. Through the character of Timone, the story introduces children to contemporary environmental issues whilst celebrating diversity and imagining a truly magical fictional place.

Whilst it’s impossible to authentically tell stories which reflect the experience of every community in every part of the world, nevertheless barriers in the publishing industry are starting to be broken down. Hopefully publishers like Arkbound can play their part: by making a wider diversity of great and exciting literature more accessible to their readers, and also by opening up the publishing industry which supports it, to a more diverse workforce.

More information about the Publishing Excellence Programme
Buy Arcadia

Google and the Daily Telegraph

In November 2017 we uncovered a concerning link between the internet’s search engine giant, Google, and one of the UK’s dominant right-wing newspapers, the Daily Telegraph.

We were alerted to this connection after an unprecedented lifting of the Daily Telegraph’s malicious and inaccurate article that attacked our regulating organisation IMPRESS. Long a voracious opponent to IMPRESS, the Telegraph spotted a weak spot by taking advantage of our founder’s history and warped this to aid their campaign. The article went from appearing on page 8 of Google for searches of ‘Arkbound’ to coming near the top of page 1, in the space of only a few weeks. This also occurred over 10 months after it was published.

What makes this drastic lifting even stranger is that, throughout the entire article, there is only one mention of Arkbound. Moreover, all other search engines list it far from page 1 – in most cases, behind page 10. There is no clear reason for this based on Google’s own search engine policies, either, because there are a preponderance of other more recent and relevant articles about Arkbound, which also feature Arkbound rather than just being a passing mention. Many of these links are from authoritative sources, yet they continue to be placed below the Telegraph article.

We decided to do some digging and discovered some shocking correlations with other Telegraph articles during the EU Referendum and 2017 UK General Election. Over both these periods, articles from the Telegraph – campaigning for Brexit and attacking the Labour Party leader – were consistently placed high up on Google search results, usually at the very top.

We have reached the conclusion that Google and the Telegraph Media Group have an undisclosed agreement and have alerted other more neutral media outlets in an attempt to elicit the truth. What makes such an apparent link highly objectionable is that the Telegraph remains the UK’s most inaccurate media outlet, as found by its own ‘regulator’, and was fined for illegal political canvassing during the 2017 UK General Election. With editorial perspectives that often veer right of the Daily Mail, this newspaper has a track record of poor journalistic standards, as revealed by its own former employees. It has consistently acted as a political springboard for the Conservative Party, condemning any figure that represents a challenge to right-wing perspectives – from Nelson Mandella to Labour Party leaders – or who can be demonised by right-wing rhetoric. Its two billionaire-owner twins, the Barclay brothers, have also been implicated in serious tax evasion and even maliciously removed the sole doctor of a small British island because residents objected to their conduct. All these facts are widely reported and verified – although you may wish to research them using another search engine.

We call upon Google to end any agreements that impede upon search engine impartiality and Google’s own ethical policies to ‘do no evil’.

To read more about the Google-Telegraph connection, visit https://medium.com/@boundless_50018/latest

 

Book Review: The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl


‘The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl’ was a wonderful read. The reader is immediately swept up into an exciting and unique adventure. Horatio Mowzl finds himself pulled from his own world, where he is a real mouse, to the human world where he is a toy mouse. We join Mowzl and his new- found human friends on their mission to discover the truth of how Mowzl ended up in the human world and to figure out how he will return.
This is a very imaginative story. There are some weird and wonderful things to discover right from the beginning such as mysterious talking seaweed, the art of ‘purling’, and the idea of having multiple worlds existing alongside one another. Another great thing about the story is how the wildlife is brought to life and how the impact of human actions on the health of the planet is explored from the perspective of wildlife itself which I think helps to bring the issue a lot closer to home.
I think readers will also enjoy discovering more about Mowzl’s life before he ended up in the human world along with his human friends and will get ample laughs from trying to master wild talk. All in all, a book that captures the imagination but also has a great message.

Words by Grace Nyaboko


Grace Nyaboko is a 22 year old lover of all things bookish. You can catch her snapping her latest reads on her Instagram page (@teaandpapercuts) or posting her poetry on her blog.


The Adventures of Horatio Mowlz is an illustrated children’s story by Paul Thornycroft that reflects on the impacts human activity is having on the environment, whilst taking readers on an adventure they will not forget. It’s available to buy here.

Nature Deficit Disorder

Words by Paul Thornycroft

Lucky me when, as a child, access to nature was straight forward.  With no stranger danger inhibiting my parents, I could I roam the wooded slopes that led down to meadows where a small stream meandered the woodland boundary.  This was the Wild Wood of “Wind in the Willows” fame, and the brook was Ratty’s brook, where he and Mole messed about in boats.  I haven’t visited this place for decades since the time that nostalgia drew me there to feel again my childhood haunts.  What I saw broke my heart.  The meadowland is now a motorway link-road, and the stream a foetid culvert choked with rubbish.

When I see nature brutalised I feel a deep, visceral anguish.  I feel loss, confusion and guilt, adding up to a feeling of abandonment–– but have I abandoned nature or has nature abandoned me?

In an everyday sort of way, we don’t notice losses to the natural world.  We admire technology and enjoy its fruits, finding reassurance in doing so.  But deep inside we know, when we care to look, that our wild desires are harvested and seduced into numbed fulfilment by the consumption of irresistible products, both material and ideological.  By these means our wild desires are muted and the anguish is somatised and normalised.

It seems that nature is defined by western culture as just another resource to exploit, use, abuse and control.  Sound familiar?  If it’s ok to do that to NATURE then surely, it’s ok to exploit, use, abuse and control everything, anything, anybody?  Not so.  That’s not what we want, but it is happening.

But how is it that western civilisation engenders this sense of human supremacy and entitlement at the expense of all other living beings, and cultures?  If we could examine this as a pathology, as if the collective were an individual, what do you think we would find?

As individuals we are conditioned by cultural metaphors from a very early age, perhaps even from the moment of conception, and yet children remain remarkably elastic in their imaginations until the realities of life constrain them.  They have an intuitive sense of the wonder of wild nature, and a hunger for this common source of nourishment, which, sadly, is no longer common nor abundant nor inexhaustible.  Many children have severely limited access to un-degraded nature, some none at all.  Sadly, for most, this becomes normalised.

Why should this normalising go largely unchallenged?  Do we really view nature merely as a resource to be exploited for our own economic advantage?  Perhaps we do, but not consciously; such deep rooted values come from the cultural metaphors embedded in our social mores, and in language itself, and these patterns of belief are cultural, not genetic.  We can change them if we choose to.

Nevertheless, the future looks bleak indeed.  Many young people are struggling, unhappy without knowing quite why, scanning the world for meaning and finding an absence.  Isolation, depression and anxiety have become normal, too, for a large number of older people.  And yet we seem to have no choice but to participate in a social and economic system that is degrading the natural world to a condition soon to be inhabitable only by machines, while humans live lives enclosed within urban norms.

Richard Louv, in 2005, wrote a book called “Last Child in the Woods” in which he coins the term ‘nature-deficit disorder’.  He states “Nature-deficit disorder is not meant to be a diagnosis but rather serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from the natural world.”.

Clearly, children benefit from spending time in wild nature, on camping trips, on adventure holidays and equine-therapy days.  We would all benefit from such activities.  But as Louv indicates, this goes much deeper and it is not just children that suffer nature-deficit disorder, it is humans of all kinds, it is society itself, and most significantly, it is Nature itself.

I recently came across a sentence that made me take notice.  “There’s something unsettling about being reassured in troubling times” (source not known).  This exactly resonates with my ‘deep, visceral anguish’.  Well, actually I feel no reassurance.  I’m clearly not consuming enough.  But if I could see back through time, I might see the beginnings of the patterns of culture that alienate us from the Earth, patterns that could be re-imagined.

I’ll need some help, need to look stuff up.  Learn how to shrink time.  I’ll report back.


Paul Thornycroft is the author of The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl, an illustrated children’s story that reflects on the impacts that human activity is having on the environment, whilst taking readers on a whirlwind adventure.

Follow Paul on Twitter, Facebook and his website for more blog posts, information about Mowzl, giveaways and competitions.

The Adventures of Horatio Mowzl is available to buy here.