Category Archives: Environment

Breakthrough!

Some years ago, I wrote a “Warning” on this website, in the hope that it would encourage some action on the part of some people to do something about the gobal warming problem that threatens us. It can be accessed from the top menu, or:- Warning

Unfortunately, the response was not exactly world-shattering, and I have had to patiently wait for something to happen.

Now, however, the Genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and there is no turning back!

Greta Thunberg led the way. Her long vigil outside parliament in Sweden has caught the imagination of youth all around the world, youth that has been frustrated by the lack of progress in the race to save the planet. Collectively they have also demonstrated that children do have a voice, in spite of not having a vote, and that voice is now demanding to be heard.

The movement is spreading like wildfire racing through a bone-dry forest!

Governments are powerless to stop it. They have little or no leverage against children who are committing no crime, but only demonstrating against a rank injustice. They are the ones that have most to lose, and if we don’t fight for them, they will fight for themselves, in any way possible.

You can follow Greta on Twitter at @GretaThunberg. Give her more support if you can.

Some of her comments are as follows:-

“Children skipping classes to take the moral lead is an indictment of adult complacency”

“British PM says that the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time”. That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

But the real meat of what she has to say is contained in her speech at the UN COP24 climate talks. Links to this are given below.

“My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do.

But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. (The Koch brothers come to mind here!)

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.”

Links:- You tube
Climate Change
(The reference to the Koch brothers is my own.)

And if you have the time, do watch Greta’s presentation at the TED talks, which is even more comprehensive:-
Ted Talks

Another young lady, Sophie Sleeman, says:-

“We’re swapping the classroom for active citizenship. Without a vote for 16 year olds, our generation – like the Earth we are trying to protect – has been silenced.”

“We are here because we have less than 12 years to sort this out… and we are just not seeing the action by our government. They are so behind the times and we really are scared.”

@SleemanSophie is Sophie’s Twitter handle..

Note:- At the moment, demonstrations are restricted to Fridays. If necessary, this could be extended to the whole week, which means that virtually none of our children would be attending school at all. Can you imagine what sort of a headache that would be for governments that are affected?!!!

And I have no doubt at all that the collective genius of our youth will come up with further ways of ramming their point home!

At the same time, there are signs that the dam is beginning to break for other reasons.

George Monbiot posted the following article in The Guardian newspaper:-

“My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back”,

and stated:-

‘You have issued a challenge to which we must rise, and we will stand in solidarity with you. Though we are old and you are young, we will be led by you.’

@GeorgeMonbiot

George Monbiot’s Guardian Article

George is also one of the main supporters of Extinction Rebellion @ExtinctionR

In the USA, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a sweeping package of environmental measures Thursday that has pitted progressives in the House Democratic caucus against moderates over how far to go in pursuit of resetting the climate change debate.
The proposals, which have come to be known as the Green New Deal, were crafted in conjunction with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Their plan envisions shifting away from fossil fuels and other sources of emissions that cause global warming within 10 years.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can be reached on Twitter at @AOC.

“Don’t mess with our future.

When it comes to climate, it’s all our lives at stake. The younger you are, the more consequences you’ll see.
It’s life and death for us. And we will fight like it.”

Its our world! Want to help? Find a climate champion, and support them on social media as much as you can!

Furthermore, if there is a politician who is not doing what we need, tell them so, and be clear about it!

Advertisements

New Alerts from Avaaz and 38Degrees!

AvaazThe Global People’s Climate March – September 21st, 2014

What is wrong with the following picture?
March

There is one thing that is very conspicuous by its absence – there is no sign of activity in England!

Perhaps its too early yet, and people are waiting to sign up?

Well, I will be checking from time to time, and will keep an eye on the situation. We cannot afford to ignore this matter completely, it is too important for all of us. And we know that we can get things done when enough people demonstrate their solidarity behind a project.

If you want to sign up now, go to Global March

38degreesThere is a new request from 38Degrees.

Apparently Syngenta are attempting to persuade the British government to ignore the EU ban on neonicotinoids, and allow their use in the UK. The bees would not thank us for that – they have taken a big enough bashing as it is.

Don’t forget that these pesticides are part of the “Triple Whammy” that is causing us problems with our farmland.

A cabinet decision is expected on Tuesday, so we don’t have long to act.

Please add your name to the petition:

“Bees pollinate apples, cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, cauliflowers, onions, cabbages, broccoli, carrots and many many more of our fruit and veg.”

Without bees, we wouldn’t last very long!

UK Food Security – Triple Whammy!

EarsA recent report from the University of Cambridge states – “Britain is running out of land for food and faces a potential shortfall of two million hectares by 2030 according to new research.”
See – UK faces ‘significant’ shortage of farmland by 2030

What farmland will be available will probably be dangerously contaminated, according to a comprehensive scientific assessment, which states that “The world’s most widely used insecticides have contaminated the environment across the planet so pervasively that global food production is at risk”

See – Insecticides put world food supplies at risk, say scientists

The third item may seem unrelated to the problem at first glance, but when we consider that farmland is also part of infrastructure, the connection becomes obvious. We are in fact here talking about extreme climate events, which are increasing, and which will have an effect on crop yields.

See – UK public ‘should be primed to expect more infrastructure failures’

With multiple threats like these there willl be a multiplying factor that makes the overall result much worse, and in some scenarios catastrophic. It is essential that we connect the dots early enough to give us a chance of avoiding disaster.

The government has been criticised for a lack of a coherent vision with respect to farmland, but in my view this lack of vision applies to everything that the government touches. Our present-day actions should always be driven by long-term necessity, and not short-term expediency.

But this also applies to everybody, and not just the government!

As every chess player knows, the best chance of survival is to think further ahead than the opponent!

Keep this in mind at the next election!

New Alerts from Avaaz and 38Degrees!

AvaazIt’s our “holy shit” climate moment according to a leading NASA scientist, and only a holy shit massive coordinated day of action response, right now, can change the future we’re facing.

One agreement with common sense steps to end dirty energy can save us. That’s why the UN has called an urgent climate meeting in just over 100 days with all major world leaders — if we greet them on September 21st with the largest ever global climate mobilisation in history we can break through the walls of mega coal, oil, and business that prevent even the best politicians from doing what is right.

What has got everybody so excited?

It is the realisation that an Ice Age can be triggered, and be upon us in a matter of months!

JUST months – that’s how long it took for Europe to be engulfed by an ice age. The scenario, which comes straight out of Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, was revealed by the most precise record of the climate from palaeohistory ever generated.

Around 12,800 years ago the northern hemisphere was hit by the Younger Dryas mini ice age, or “Big Freeze”. It was triggered by the slowdown of the Gulf Stream, led to the decline of the Clovis culture in North America, and lasted around 1300 years.

Until now, it was thought that the mini ice age took a decade or so to take hold, on the evidence provided by Greenland ice cores. Not so, say William Patterson of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and his colleagues.

The group studied a mud core from an ancient lake, Lough Monreagh, in western Ireland. Using a …

To continue reading this article, subscribe to receive access to all of newscientist.com, including 20 years of archive content.

More info at:-
A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change
Global warming: it’s a point of no return in West Antarctica. What happens next?
Report: Prepare for climate tipping points

Please join the GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION on September 21st! Volunteers welcome!

38degreesAnd now for people in the UK:-

Stop the privatisation of the Land Registry.

Why is this important?

Privatisation of the Land Registry will create a private sector monopoly of a function essential to the property market. It will remove competition and devalue the Land Registry.

The Land Registry is a very efficient public organisation that is self funding and is not a drain on public finance. It has a 98% satisfaction rating with its users.

The public consultation on government proposals to privatise the Land Registry closed on Thursday 20th March. There has been no publicity or attempt to inform the public of this radical change to an organisation that is vital to the UK property market.

Another consultation on giving the Land Registry wider powers in the control of data essential to the sale and purchase of property closed earlier with the majority of the public not being aware of its existence.

The Land Registry is well run, efficient and professional. If the government is to sell off one of our best performing public services, the wider public needs to be able to have its say.

The public consultation is at
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/land-registry-new-service-delivery-company

The petition will be delivered in person.

Don’t Drop This on Your Foot!

President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency have finally weighed in to the climate change debate with a massive tome – The Clean Power Plan.

If you have the time and determination to read through this document yourself, you can get an on-line version in PDF format.

I decided to give it a try, but admit to reaching only Page 65 before putting it to one side, with a mental note – later (if I must)!

Apart from its weight, this document is highly significant, in that it heralds a commitment by the American people to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by the year 2030. Some may say that this measure is way too late, but my view is “Better late than never” – don’t knock it!

Unfortunately, not all of the American people see eye to eye on the need for carbon dioxide reduction yet. To those ‘Doubting Thomas’s’ there is a simple answer – you will only find out if you are still alive, and cutting emissions now gives us the best chance of survival.

There are also those that bemoan the cost of these new measures – see US unveils sharp curbs on coal power plants

There is talk of “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class”, and “there’s no question that electricity prices will skyrocket”, but EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has a different opinion.

“They’re wrong,” Ms McCarthy said. “We have never, nor will we ever, have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.”

“The EPA estimates the new rules will shrink electricity bills by 8% by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand on the electricity system.”

And don’t forget, the costs of “Exceptional Climate Events” have so far been staggering, both in terms of loss of life, and economic effect. This new rule will at least mitigate future costs from this source.

America – Welcome Aboard!

Sort the Bones Out of This!

I read the headline, but couldn’t believe what it said, so I read it again. It didn’t didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, so I thought I had better read on, and see if I could get some clarification. It soon became clear enough. It was a problem I had anticipated some time ago, but to see how it was being solved was quite a shock!

Judge for yourselves:-

Six elderly people in China kill themselves ‘before burial ban’

The problem of the space required for the dead was one that had been seen coming in Europe, but to see it in China was something unexpected, as looking at the map, there seems to be more than enough room for everything. This belies the facts on the ground, however, and the Chinese are taking drastic measures to alleviate the problem.

In Japan, with a tradition of cremation, the problem is minimal. In Europe, one solution has been to take the dead back to their town of origin to be buried. But for the Chinese, with a long tradition of ancestor worship, it is another matter entirely. And for a folk that could take 10 years in preparing their own coffin, such drastic change is going to be very hard.

Seeing some of the Chinese sections of a cemetery, I have often thought the the dead are better housed than the living.

All that is about to change!

“Elsewhere in China, local officials have launched campaigns to “flatten graves” to create land for farming and development.

Officials in the central province of Henan demolished 400,000 graves in 2012, local media reported. The case provoked a nationwide outcry.”

“Government officials in Anqing, a city in the eastern province of Anhui, ordered that all locals who die after 1 June should be cremated, the Beijing News daily reported.”

It would have been kinder to phase in this change over a period of years, rather than at two month’s notice, but kindness seems to be in short supply where politics is concerned.

Those Chinese who are concerned about the environment can take some solace from the knowledge that their “footprint” will be reduced to practically zero.

I first wrote about this in 2011 – see “Lets call a spade, a spade!”

“By the way, I am told by reliable sources that dying without giving prior notice will soon be made an offence. The reason for this is obvious enough, I am sure. We are running out of graveyards! The one viable alternative – cremation – cannot be used because of our on-going energy crisis, and air-burials are completely out of the question. Lets be realistic – where do we find enough vultures to do the job in the middle of Brussels, Paris or London? (And they always leave the bones behind!).”

If you want to read the complete post, use the ‘Postfinder’ in the top menu.

Message from AVAAZ, & Request from 38Degrees!

AVAAZAvaaz
“Meet the UK Climate Secretary!
Watch the live webcast here at 1:30 Monday June 2nd

In days, Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Climate Change, will be sitting down for an online meeting with Avaaz members to find out what voters want. Let’s make sure he hears loud and clear that we expect Britain to be a world-beater when it comes killing emissions.

We’re still reeling from the news that Antarctica is melting much faster than we knew, bringing massive sea level rises and putting cities from Bangkok to London at risk. A vital global summit on climate change is coming up fast and countries need to decide now what carbon cuts they will offer up. So far no one’s stepping up — but Britain could play a leading role in restarting the momentum.

Davey needs to know that protecting the planet’s future is a serious vote winner. Use the form on the right to sign up and submit your question for him. The more of us get involved the more clearly Davey will hear that message.

Use this form to ask your question!

38Degrees38degrees
“Hi,
Have a look at this:

It just took me three minutes to email the Department of Education and tell them to keep profit-making companies out of Child Protection Services.

Protecting children is one of the most important and sensitive roles that a government has to perform, but Gove MP wants to potentially outsource this to profit making companies.

Please e-mail the consultation too, by clicking here. It only takes three minutes and it will help to make sure that we protect vulnerable children across the UK.”

Don’t forget, use your own words – its much more effective!

Please spread this info as wide as you can!

Natural England – Licensed to Kill!

I knew nothing about “Natural England” whatsoever until this morning, when I spotted the following article on the Guardian website:-

Call for killing of birds deemed health hazard splits conservationists

The “About” page on Natural England’s website states the following:-

“Natural England is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Our purpose is to protect and improve England’s natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings.”

So we see that they are tied in with Owen Paterson, which immediately raises alarm signals, and sure enough, the evidence is not hard to find:-
Natural England overruled its adviser to extend badger cull in Gloucestershire
Aerial pesticide spraying of UK woods to go ahead despite fears over wildlife

“A consultation by Natural England, the body that advises the government on the natural environment, has made the case for allowing people to destroy the birds’ nests and remove their eggs, amid growing concerns that they threaten health and safety.”

“Natural England is also looking at similar measures to permit “taking, damaging and destroying of nests and eggs” for pied wagtails and starlings.”

“The consultation, which closes tomorrow, explains that the birds’ nests should be considered fair targets if they “present a potential hazard”, such as being found in ventilation flues”.

I downloaded the consultation and read it completely, (well, almost completely), and found some horrors and a few issues with it. Unfortunately, with it closing tomorrow, there is no time left to provide an input to it, hence this post.

1. Even though a species may be “Red-Listed”, which is the highest level of concern for its conservation, it could still find its way onto a General Licence – which means it is “Open Season” on the poor creatures.
2. General phrases are used for justification of inclusion on a “kill list”, such as:-

    Preventing serious agricultural damage or disease
    Conserving flora and fauna
    Preserving public health and safety
    Air safety

with no explanation of the mechanisms involved, or the extent of the damage so caused.

And what species are we talking about exactly? Here is the list:-

Species targetted by “Kill” Licence
Carrion Crow Collared Dove Curlew
Egyptian Geese Greater Black-backed Gulls Greylag Geese
Herring Gulls Hooded Crow Indian house-crow
Jackdaw Jay Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Mallard Pied Wagtail Oystercatcher
Robin Starling Sacred Ibis
Stock Dove
Trap and Release License
Pied Wagtail Blue Tit Great Tit
Dunnock Song Thrush

The sale of both live and dead birds (and even some eggs) is regulated, and the sale of dead Mute Swans is complicated by the Crown Prerogative.

Schedule 4 birds, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, have their own special regulations.

The scale of the red tape here is simply staggering, but how else do we provide employment for a department of some 2000 people? (Sorry, can’t find the reference for that at the moment).

But this?!?!?:-

“Issue a new General Licence permitting the taking and temporary possession of great crested newts, by schools and educational facilities for educational purposes. This licence would be subject to a number of conditions, including restricting the methods of taking (including torch, hand and net, but not bottle trapping) to ensure captive great crested newts are kept in suitable conditions and for a suitable length of time.”

The mind boggles!

I am convinced that in many cases, common sense would do very nicely, and the regulation is completely unnecessary. If you have a birds nest in a ventilation flue, for example, the judicious use of a bit of wire mesh would keep the birds out of it altogether.

The point is, we should should be looking for alternative ways of dealing with the problems,
if in fact they are problems,

And not killing wildlife!

Owen Paterson – The Right Man for the Job?

This post is about the current UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson. Another boarding school product, he failed to win a seat in Wrexham in 1992, but has been MP for North Shropshire since 1997, (from Wikipedia).
He has held a variety of positions, including –

    – Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister from 2003–05
    – Shadow Minister for Transport from 2005–07
    – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from May 2010 to September 2012

none of which have provided him with the experience required for his present position in DEFRA, where his performance has been openly questioned, and he seems to have been promoted to the point of incompetence.

“An acrimonious Cabinet rift opened Monday over the handling of the flooding crisis that has inundated wide stretches of the south of England. Conservative colleagues Eric Pickles and Owen Paterson are at odds over the performance of the Environment Agency and its embattled chairman, Lord Smith.”
See “UK weather: Eric Pickles and Owen Paterson clash over the performance of the Environment Agency

And further:-
“Mr Paterson was reported on Monday to have protested “in the strongest possible terms” to Mr Cameron about Mr Pickles’s “ grandstanding” in his absence.” “But the Environment Secretary was dismissed in scathing terms by a fellow Cabinet member. The minister told MailOnline: “He just isn’t very bright. Most of the people around the Cabinet table are bright, even if I disagree with them, but not Owen. He isn’t climate sceptic, he’s climate stupid.””

He is not doing too well on air pollution either! See “Air pollution

He doesn’t like bees, apparently, and supported the UK government opposition to a European ban on Neonicotinoids.
Owen Paterson defends use of bees-link pesticide

Neither does he appear to like badgers!STB_Badge

As if all of that wasn’t enough, he is apparently an ardent fan of Gm foods. See:-
Ministers ‘covering up secret meetings with GM food lobby’

    Ministers are trying to cover up secret briefings with GM companies
    Owen Paterson has refused FOI request to supply details about talks
    Has encouraged public to accept GM crops being sold in supermarkets
    Has also been lobbying EU to let Britain grow crops banned elsewhere
    He is working in partnership with Agricultural Biotechnology Council

It is crystal clear to me that with Owen Paterson in his present position, we will never get the environment we want and need. It is high time to do something about it!

You can add your signature to mine on the following petition, if, as I ardently hope, you are of the same opinion as me.

Owen Paterson should resign as Environment Secretary

Lets ‘badger’ him into doing the right thing!