Monday, 19 February 2018

The Hidden Life of Trees
Thursday the 8th March 2018 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

Trees have been around for about 385 million years so it is not surprising that they have developed sophisticated ways of interacting with their environment that we are only just beginning to appreciate. They have to collaboration for the survival of the individual tree, the genus of trees and the collective forest – sounds familiar!??!

Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees” is a very accessible description that explains some of the complex interactions that trees have developed.
Ø  They communicate through the fungi that make up the forest floor
Ø  they protect themselves against predators by apparently putting out airborne volatile chemicals that alert other trees to produce toxins against those predator
Ø  roots seem to communicate distress to neighbours and grow in such a way that they can optimise their group response e.g. to drought, etc.

The sort of issues that we will be discussing are:
·         The importance of trees to our life - as part of the ecosystem that produces the Oxygen that we breath and maintains the temperature of the planet on which we live.
o   Global warming and the South American forests
o   At a more local level: the balance between the needs of new roads and parts of the green belt
·         What about the psychological impact of becoming increasingly remote from our natural environment?
And also
·         Is there a moral imperative that requires that we treat all living things with respect (lest they come back and kill us?)
·         Is there a way in which we can use this better understanding of the complex systems that enable trees to flourish?

Please bring along any of your ideas.

Thank you

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Humanist Policing in the 21Century
Thursday the 8th Feb 2018 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel
Is good policing a basic necessity for civil society?  The society’s greater good is secured by all members following the rules, but sometimes our individual interest can best be served by breaking those rules and sometimes the rules need to change to enable society to evolve.  This is not really question of good and bad in the Biblical sense, it is about maintaining a balance between individual freedom and the requirements of the group.
Firstly let’s review the challenges faced by policing today and then see how we need it to evolve over the next 30 years.
There are special challenges in the immediate future with regard to the ‘surveillance society’. How does the public maintain control over invisible policing algorithms that might find you guilty of intent and impose penalties, because it thinks you might do something! We are continuously tracked, not just when you are in your car (number plate recognition is common place) but now face recognition that means ‘society’ can track your every move – even if you choose not to be followed by your mobile phone.
As our identity becomes public property, how can we protect ourselves from an overbearing state and balance personal freedoms to disagree, with societal needs for conformity? And further developments in Block Chain technologies have the potential to change the nature of ‘Trust’ between strangers and that may have a bigger impact than anything!

Note: we may be in a different room at the White Rock Hotel…

Future subjects
·         March – The hidden life of Trees (Nick and Liz)
·         April – Global Population issues (Alastair)

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Our future with artificial Intelligence and robotics

Our future with artificial Intelligence and robotics
Next Thursday the 11th Jan 2018 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

It seems appropriate that as we enter a new year, that we think about some of the great challenges to the way we will organise society in the future.
Our accelerating ability to offload the routine and humdrum (and the vitally important) onto machines that will do it better and cheaper than humans can, will have an impact on everybody. It is the classic middle class jobs that seem most at risk from the industrial revolution 2.0 and it is hard to know what to advise young people to specialise in, as they contemplate the next 50 years of their lives.

The impact of developments in AI and robotics will change the world of work at an exponential rate. But whether this is a boon that improves the lives of everyone, or a disaster that creates an even more unequal society of ‘haves’ and ‘have nothings’, is a matter of political choice. It will pit our great human capacity for collaboration and co-operation, against the equally powerful tendency for group think and competition.

We are approaching a tipping point in which individuals can make a difference, but nobody has a clear view of the questions, never mind being able to construct answers….plenty of room for debate on all the vital issues.

Happy 2018

Future subjects
·         February – Do Humanists need Police? (Mick and Mike)
·         March – The hidden life of Trees (Nick and Liz)
·         April – Global Population issues (Alistair)

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Hastings Humanists Festive Bash!

Thursday December 14th at 7.30 pm.

The White Rock Hotel

1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JU
Tel: 01424 422240

We are having a end of year get together with a buffet. £15 per head - but please come along anyway if you don't wish to join in with the food.
£5 non members, £3 members, just to cover the costs of the hotel room hire.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Any Questions on Thursday 12.10.2017 19.30 pm

Any Questions
On Thursday the 12th Oct 2017 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

There are so many big issues that are facing the world at the moment, so this month, let’s take a moment to consider a few of them. 
Bring along ‘Any Question’ that you would like to discuss, and the following are a few that I can think of to get us started……..

·         Is  Donald Trump a short term aberration or a step towards the dystopian future that seems to be the pre-occupation of films, books and plays at the moment.
·         Hastings is a test area for Universal Credit.  Does our experience give any confidence for its future roll out?
·         Is now a good time to buy a property or is the price now so high that the only direction is down?
·         Why are we seeing such a resurgence of nationalism in all its forms?.  From Catalonia to Kurdistan, and ‘America First’ or Brexit or Crimea there seems to be such a strong mood to challenge the status quo that we haven’t seen since WWII
·         And should the state take a stronger role in controlling global companies that don’t obey our rules or pay a fair level of tax?
·         And any other questions that you might like to put to the group….
Look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy
On Thursday the 14th Sept 2017 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

2 months ago, for one day, more than 50% of the UK energy consumption was supplied fromnon carbon based renewable energy sources and for a brief moment we even met our Paris accord targets for 2025.
Just a couple of years ago this would have seemed a dream beyond imagining so despite the doomsayers, the world is making progress. 

So first a review:
·         What is it?
·         How does it work and
·         what you might like to do now as your contribution?

Then Alastair will walk us through some of the practicalities of what he is trying to do in his own home.
Planning permissions, feed in tariffs, what is practical right now and what might be just around the next corner.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Update and forthcoming events

Hastings Humanists are on summer recess for August. The next meeting will be on Thursday September 14th at The White Rock Hotel.

We have had some great debates over the past few months including genetically modified organisms, democracy and morality as well as a look at how news stories are portrayed in the newspapers and other media sources.

Forthcoming meetings will discuss renewable energy and we hope to have Kevin Precious, former R.E teacher, Humanist and comedian later in the year.

I will update the blog once dates are confirmed