Archive for November, 2010

Capitalism can save the planet

November 30th, 2010 by Philip Stephens

Not so long ago governments around the world stepped in to rescue capitalism. It’s time for capitalism to repay the favour by turning its mind to saving the planet. Politicians, you see, have just about given up.

The only vaguely encouraging thing to say about next week’s Cancun climate change gathering is that expectations have been set so low the negotiators will struggle not to exceed them. The UN-led search for a global accord to replace the Kyoto protocol has stalled.

Before this month’s midterm elections the prospect of the US Congress passing legislation to put a price on the noxious gases pumped into the atmosphere by the world’s most profligate energy consumer was remote. The Republicans’ gains have rendered it non-existent.

For Sarah Palin and her pals, man-made global warming is nothing but a “bunch of snake oil science”. Even if America’s enthusiasm for the Tea Party movement begins to cool (let’s hope so), it would be 2013 at the earliest before Washington could offer a bankable commitment.

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Should people pay extra for kerbside collections?

November 29th, 2010 by Rosie

The cost of kerbside-collections for recyclable materials should be made part of the rubbish rates that we all pay.  They should not be an excuse for an extra charge.

Kerbside recycling collections would collect the lion’s share of waste.   The ‘residual’ waste (what’s left after recycling) is the element of waste that we should be charged for according to the amount we each produce (some form of Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT), Variable-rate fee system, or ‘Bag and Tag’).

Recycling is what we want everyone to do so we shouldn’t be asking households to pay more for recycling while charging no more to households that generate more residual waste, since it is the residual waste that causes the community a problem.   At every point in the Waste Strategy, the incentive should be to minimise waste.

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Plymouth Marine Laboratory Ocean Acidification specialists to attend 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-16)

November 29th, 2010 by UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), with support from the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (UKOARP) and the The European Project on ocean acidification ( EPOCA) is sending a team of three to the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16) which will be held in Cancún, Mexico, over the next two weeks.

The group led by Dr. Carol Turley, is determined to increase awareness of the impact of climate change and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on the world’s oceans. The oceans cover three quarters of the planet’s surface, occupy more than 90% of its living space and provide food for billions of people. The health of the world’s oceans are essential to the well-being of humans, yet ocean acidification is still not a major item on the agenda during climate change talks.

Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the earth’s oceans, caused by their uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By the first decade of the 21st century the net change in ocean pH levels represented an increase of some 30% in acidity in the world’s oceans since the Industrial Revolution. Ocean acidification has become known as ‘climate change’s evil twin’ and is another consequence of our continuous use of fossil fuels, changes in land use and other industrial processes leading to greater carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

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Atlantic bonito, Sarda sarda, a member of the tuna family caught near Hanois Lighthouse, Guernsey on 21 November 2010

November 29th, 2010 by Richard Lord

Guernsey commercial fisherman Peter Merrien landed a fish he had never seen before while fishing for bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, near Hanois Lighthouse off Guernsey’s south-west coast on 21 November 2010.

He caught a bonito, Sarda sarda, which is a member of the tuna family, scombridae.  The fish was given to the author on 29 November 2010.  It had a total weight of 1716 grams, a total length of 53.7 cm and a fork length of 50.8 cm.

bonito, Sarda sarda, caught by Guernsey commercial fisherman Peter Merrien off Hanois Lighthouse on 21 November 2010 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

There have been increasing numbers of Atlantic bonito caught in the south-western approaches to the UK this summer.

Doug Herdson of the Fish Information Service reported two bonito landed by the Mevagissey fishing vessel Iris at the Plymouth Fish Market on 29 August 2010.

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Where renewable energy is the norm and not the exception

November 29th, 2010 by Richard Lord

I visited the Netherlands recently to attend a family wedding.   During the wedding party a member of the family told me that there were “about 40 wind turbines” only ten kilometres away.

They were across the border in Germany between the cities of Goch and Kalkar.  So on Sunday 21 November my wife and I drove across the border to visit them as one does if one is interested in renewable energy.

We didn’t know exactly where they were but we scanned the horizon until we found them.  They were located on farm land in pretty countryside.  They appeared to be a good source of supplemental income to the owner of the land as all the wind turbines were quietly spinning away generating electricity.

photovoltaic panels on farm buildings and wind turbines on farm land near Goch, Germany on 21 November 2010 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

But it wasn’t the wind turbines that caught our attention although it had been the reason for our visit to Germany – it was the ubiquitous photovoltaic panels on the roofs of farm buildings, homes, schools and even a police station.   Photovoltaic panels covered roofs in every direction even though they were not always placed in the most advantageous position.  Some photovoltaic panels caught the shadow of adjacent buildings or tree branches.

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Builder Dan Phillips on why we waste so much building our homes

November 28th, 2010 by Richard Lord

Dan Phillips explains why human behaviour causes waste in the building industry.

The homes Dan Phillips builds are made with 70 to 80 percent recycled material.  He builds homes with other people’s waste.  He has used car number plates for roof tiles, bathroom tiles made of pieces of porcelain toilet bowls, and a pub beer tap for a bathroom tap.  The homes he builds are as creative and as individual as the human mind.

“We are in trouble,” says Dan Phillips.  The problem with waste is world wide.  We need to reconnect with the primarily parts of ourselves.  We need to reconnect with who we really are to help solve the problem.

The opportunity in Guernsey for reusing good materials thrown out during building and renovation projects is no different.

The timber for the floor in the entire hall of this St Peter Port property was salvaged from a local church that had suffered flood damage (click image to expand)

A close-up of the high-quality finished hall floor made of wood that was being thrown out because it had been damaged by a flood (click image to expand)

Many good materials get thrown out that are in perfectly good condition but they may be the ‘wrong’ colour or the ‘wrong’ texture or size.  A weather-protected Re-use and Recovery centre would be an ideal facility for accepting these items.  The London Community Recycling Network is establishing such facilities.  Guernsey could follow suit to help our community minimise the amount of waste it generates.

Traffic at 30 mph is too fast for children’s visual abilities, scientists reveal

November 26th, 2010 by Royal Holloway University of London

To coincide with Road Safety Week new research has been published by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London that reveals that primary school children cannot accurately judge the speed of vehicles travelling faster than 20 mph.

The researchers measured the perceptual acuity of more than one hundred children in primary schools, and calculated the speed of approach that they could reliably detect. The results suggest that while adult pedestrians can make accurate judgments for vehicles travelling up to 50mph, children of primary school age become unreliable once the approach speed goes above 20mph, if the car is five seconds away. Professor John Wann, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, who led the research, says: “This is not a matter of children not paying attention, but a problem related to low-level visual detection mechanisms, so even when children are paying very close attention they may fail to detect a fast approaching vehicle.”

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Allotment gardeners tend to be significantly healthier than those who do not tend allotments

November 26th, 2010 by Dr Agnes van den Berg

People who have an allotment, especially those aged over 60, tend to be significantly healthier than those who do not. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health have shown that the small gardens were associated with increased levels of physical activity at all ages, and improved health and well-being in more elderly people.

Dave Gorvel's allotments in St Martin in late November 2010 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Agnes van den Berg, from Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, worked with a team of researchers to carry out a study into the health benefits of allotment gardening. She said, “Taken together, our findings provide the first direct empirical evidence for health benefits of allotment gardens. Having an allotment garden may promote an active life-style and contribute to healthy aging”.

Allotments are small plots of land given to community residents to garden fruits and vegetables for personal consumption and recreation. The researchers polled 121 gardeners and 63 of their neighbors who did not have allotments. During the peak gardening times of the summer months, those with allotments carried out an extra day’s physical activity every week. For the over-60s, perceived general health, stress levels and GP consultations were all significantly improved. Speaking about the results, van den Berg said, “Around the world, allotment gardens are increasingly under pressure from building and infrastructure developments. Considering that allotments may play a vital role in developing active and healthy lifestyles, governments and local authorities might do well to protect and enhance them”.

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Dr. Agnes van den Berg is an environmental psychologist with a specialization in the field of human-nature interactions.  Her research focuses on people’s responses to nature as a key to promoting livable environments that support health and well-being. She has a keen interest in studying the psychological mechanisms underlying people’s responses to nature, including aesthetic preferences, health benefits of nature, and fear of nature.

Environmentally friendly Children’s parties organised by White Rabbit

November 25th, 2010 by White Rabbit Parties

Environmentally Friendly Children’s party organisers have published their November newsletter.  For more information on White Rabbit Parties email jo(at)whiterabbitparties.com or telephone 07781 122234 or 07781 446776

White Rabbit Parties support The National Autistic Society Guernsey Branch, because we work with children who have communication difficulties and/or are on the autistic spectrum.

The charity uses Easy Fundraising as a way of generating funds for the branch. The initiative basically means that every time you shop online through the Easy Fundraising portal a percentage of your order is donated to the charity at no extra cost to you. There are hundreds of sites involved including all the favourites – Amazon, iTunes, Boden, Play, IWantOneOfThose.Com, ToysRUs, Lego, HMV.com, Dell and many more.

An extra incentive (if you need one!) is that you can also save money by taking advantage of special offers such as 11% off Boden and 10% off IWantOneOfThose.com, plus entry into prize draws each time you shop – throughout November and December every time you make a purchase you are put into the draw to win £1500 for yourself and £1500 for the charity!

If you would like to help us help them please visit the Easy Fundraising website.

White Rabbit Parties have received good feedback about their range of eco-friendly tableware including plates, bowls, cups and cutlery made from materials such as organic bamboo, corn starch, bio plastic and palm leaves.  All of these biodegrade and are sourced from sustainable and ethically friendly sources.  Having a Christmas buffet? How about a pack of 25 square palm leaf plates for £9.99? Or 10 potato starch plates for £5.99? Or bamboo forks – 10 for £2.99?

For full details 0f White Rabbit Parties range of eco-friendly tableware visit their website.

‘E’ rating on climate policies shows UK must do better to decarbonise by 2050

November 25th, 2010 by WWF

The United Kingdom may have world-leading climate legislation, but it is still lagging behind other European Union Member States on many of its climate change policies, according to a new tracking tool launched by WWF and Ecofys which ranks countries on a scale from A (excellent) to G (poor).

The Climate Policy Tracker for the European Union provides an up-to-date snapshot of greenhouse gas emission controls across the EU and contains stark reading ahead of global climate change talks in Cancun. It reveals that overall only a third of the necessary action needed to put EU countries on a path towards a low carbon economy by 2050 (reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95%), is currently being undertaken by Member States.

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