Monthly Archives: January 2013

Brazilian nightclub owner ‘wishes he had never been born’

Brazil Kiss Nightclub FireThe owner of the Kiss nightclub in southern Brazil where more than 230 people died in a fire last weekend has said he wishes he had never been born, and has deflected blame to architects, safety inspectors and “the whole country”. His lawyer,  Jader Marques, said his client, Elissandro Spohr (28), “regretted having ever been born” because of his grief over the fire, but still blamed Sunday’s tragedy on “a succession of errors made by the whole country.” Spohr and co-owner Mauro Hoffman have been arrested along with  Gurizada Fandangueira member Marcelo Santos who was arrested at the wake of band member Danilo Jacques who died in the fire.

As the toll of those injured continued to grow as some 22 of those who escaped returned to hospital with respiratory complications, police investigating the blaze have confirmed it is likely to have started when the band Gurizada Fandangueira lit an allegedly cheap outdoor flare, which ignited soundproofing foam on the ceiling. That initial error was compounded by the near-total lack of emergency infrastructure such as a fire alarms or sprinkler systems. It also seems that the club also had only one working door, one or more faulty and sub-standard fire extinguishers and has not been inspected in the last twelve months.  A number of details are disputed by the local Fire Department.

Marques denied reports that the club was overcrowded, insisting there were only 600 to 700 people in the club at any one time – below the 700 capacity. One performer told media that the space was packed with an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 people and local Police have given the same estimate but Marques insisted that any higher tallies of people at the club that night were due to club-goers cycling in and out

As Brazil looks forward to hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, lawmakers in the lower house in Brasilia have already begun working on a proposal that would require federal safety minimum standards across Brazil rather than state regulations.  Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who met with the bereaved relatives, has called for a stricter safety rules across the country. The newspaper O Globo reported that the mayor’s office in Santa Maria has ordered all nightclubs closed for 30 days while inspections are carried out and The BBC reported that mayors from at least eight major Brazilian cities, including seven of the 12 World Cup host cities, have thus far announced new measures aimed at preventing similar tragedies.

More here and here

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Brazil the latest scene for another nightclub disaster

kiss nightclub brazil 2013News reports are coming in that at least 231 people have died in a fire in a Brazilian nightclub, with fears that the death toll could rise further. The blaze, at the Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria, in the south of Brazil, apparently began when a band lit a flare or fireworks which ignited sound proofing foam on the ceiling. Guitarist Rodrigo Martins, whose band Gurizada Fandangueira was playing at the time of the fire told Radio Gaucha: “We had played around five songs when I looked up and noticed the roof was burning. It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks. When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher, and our singer tried to use it but it wasn’t working”. Reports suggest that as furniture and fittings in the club started to burn, toxic fumes spread, adding to the death toll.

Eyewitnesses also say that fire extinguishers in the venue didn’t work, and that the evacuation of the building was hindered because security guards – not realising what was happening inside – wouldn’t let people leave the club before they had settled their tabs, the venue seemingly operating a special card-payment system. Around 200 people have been injured and television pictures showed fire fighters trying to break down walls with sledgehammers and axes to get people out of the club. Reports say that the venue was 1,000 people over capacity when the blaze started in the University town. and it seems that there was no emergency exit available and people rushed to the only way out of the building in panic, local officials said. Some people died of asphyxiation, others from being trampled, they added, most aged between 18 and 20.

It’s grim reading and what has anyone learned? Back in 2003 the Great White disaster in the USA left 100 dead when the band’s fireworks ignited sound proofing at the Station nightclub in Rhode Island. A tragic venue fire in a club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2004 left 174 dead. The disaster at the Santika Nightclub in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008 left 61 dead, and the fire at the Lame Horse nightclub in Perm, Russia, killed 112 in 2009, and again caused by fireworks igniting the venue’s plastic ceiling. In Scotland, tragedy was narrowly averted at the Luna nightclub in Edinburgh when indoor fireworks, predictably, ignited plastic netting across the venue’s roof in 2009. And it happens AGAIN?

Police in Brazil have now made four arrests. It is thought that the four men arrested include two co-owners of the venue destroyed in the fire, the venue’s security chief and one member of Gurizada Fandangueira, the band playing when the fire occurred. Police stressed that the arrests so far were for “investigative purposes”. One of the owners of the club is reported to have confirmed that they were in the process of renewing its licence to operate, and that its fire safety certificate had expired last year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-21232740

Photo from Facebook/1santamariense and shots from amateur videos here and here

http://rt.com/news/night-fire-dead-brazil-833/

Bonnaroo captures the sun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bonnaroo Festival has announced the completion of it’s fully operational solar array, which will generate 61,000 kilowatt hours per year, or about 20% of the festival’s power needs. Bonnaroo will also be selling its renewable energy to the Tennessee Valley Authority power grid.

Celebrating its 12th year as a leader in environmentally friendly concert events, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival continues to spearhead aggressive new initiatives that raise the bar in shrinking the carbon footprint of one of the largest, most popular festivals in the USA.

In a groundbreaking effort to actively reduce its energy consumption, Bonnaroo organizers and representatives and Vermont-based Encore Redevelopment announced today the completed construction and installation of the country’s first permanent solar array for a music festival. The 50 kW solar photovoltaic, (PV), system will support a notable portion of the festival’s energy needs. Construction of the new solar array is complete, and it is already generating energy in advance of the 2013 festival.

“Running part of Bonnaroo on solar power has long been a goal, as it underscores the commitment of Bonnaroo organizers and our community to the environment,” said festival partner Rich Goodstone from Superfly Presents. “None of this could have been possible without the immense support of the generous and forward-thinking Bonnaroo community. Their contributions have brought this project to fruition.” The solar project was fully funded by “opt-in” contributions that fans select during the ticket-buying process. In effect for the past three years and always focused on sustainable site improvements, past opt-in dollars have been used to fund the compost pad, the garden, and last year’s mobile tower of power. In addition, a $1 fee was added to every ticket sold in 2012 to generate guaranteed resources for additional green initiatives onsite. As a result, Bonnaroo fans can take full  credit for helping Bonnaroo expand its commitment to environmentally focused projects and programs.

The array system, which was planned by Encore Redevelopment and installed by Sustainable Future, is comprised of 196 American-made SolarWorld solar panels along with microinverters and related components that will be mounted to the roof of a metal structure in the festival’s back stage area. It will generate more than 61,000 kWh per year, about 20 percent of Bonnaroo’s total electricity needs. While it will not be visible to patrons, fans will be able to see an educational display in Planet Roo and also monitor the power generated on the festival website. “Sustainable Future is pleased to be helping Bonnaroo with its sustainability initiative by providing a solar system that will generate clean solar power for music lovers for many decades to come,” said David Bolt, company founder. “It’s a pleasure to work with such a progressive group.”

Vermont-based renewable energy development firm Encore Redevelopment outlined the technical, social, and economic value of a solar array for the venue and managed the groundbreaking project from concept to commissioning. Encore Founder and CEO Chad Farrell said about the endeavor, “We are thrilled to have been part of this exciting project, which will allow for a significant portion of the total. The sun, never is short supply at Bonnaroo, will provide clean, renewable energy and about 20 percent of the festival’s total electricity needs. The 50 kW solar system at Bonnaroo will generate more than 61,000 kWh per year. The new solar array is already generating energy in advance of the 2013 festival.

Bonnaroo has been awarded the Greener Festival Award all six times  since its inception in 2006, and currently holds the Award in the ‘Highly Commended’ category.

ANOTHER PLANET?

WORLD thermo

Mankind is a “plague on the Earth” according to the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Sir David gave a bleak warning that humanity needed to cut its numbers of face the prospect of famines as the world population approached 9 billion by 2050 adding “until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a co-ordinated view about the planet, it’s going to get worse and worse”.

Mackerel has been taken off the ‘fish to eat’ list in the United Kingdom after concerns about stocks. The Marine Conservation Society said that  its decision has been prompted by  over fishing.

Pamela Warhurst, the Chairwoman at the Forestry Commission, has left her job after Environment Secretary Owen Paterson demanded a more robust approach to the ash dieback crisis. Mrs Warhurst was a former Labour council leader and a board member of Natural England, and was appointed at the end of the last Labour government.

Seventy percent of companies believe that climate change has the potential to affect their revenue significantly, according to research published today by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Accenture.

Prominent environmental campaigner Tony Juniper has been appointed as the first President of the Society for the Environment.

Home insulation has been a moderate success story in the UK, with 10.09 million homes with loft insulation in 2009 rising to 14.72 million in 2012. Cavit wall insulated homes have risen from 9.98 million to 12.7 million. But now  Briitsh Gas is scrapping its programmes to insulate an estimated 40,000 homes in the UK. The insulation, was was going to be funded by one of those bonkers schemes called CERT – BG thought it would miss its targets under CERT so decided to take on the extra insulation, but then realised it was cheaper to buy ‘credits’ from other energy companies who had exceeded their targets. All together some 84,000 planned insulations have been lost from BG and other energy company schemes. Note to Government – all of these schemes – carbon credits, carbon trading – whatever – are USELESS. The move comes as the UK Government tries to encourage home owners to borrow to insulate under the Green Deal energy efficiency programme.

Businesses generating their own energy can create new revenue streams, reduce exposure to price uncertainty, benefit from government incentives and help ensure long-term revenue structures, says EDF Energy. The energy company predicts that the renewable generation market in the UK is set to double over the next five years to reach the 75TWh mark – a contribution of roughly 20% of the UK’s total generation capacity – as the cost of technology comes down and a larger volume of accredited projects come online.

Adoption of fortnightly waste collections has a positive impact on recycling rates and household behaviour, new UK research has shown. Findings from a study carried out at Southampton University challenges the thinking behind Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ efforts to encourage councils to revert back to weekly waste collections.  The results also contradict claims made just last week from a leading reprocessor that the economics for commingling stack up far better than kerbside sorting due to the high volumes that can be achieved.

airplaneAirlines will generate up to €1.3bn (£1.1bn) in profits in 2012 by taking part in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), according to a new study. Commissioned by the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) and carried out by the consultancy CE Delft, the study also shows that EU airlines would take the lion’s share (€758m) of these extra gains, which is almost twice their estimated €400m profit for 2011.

Edie.net reports that the effect of soot on global warming could be about twice as much as previous estimates have suggested, a study has found. According to the first comprehensive analysis of the issue, soot, technically known as black carbon, is the second largest man-made contributor to global warming.  The study, co-led by the University of Leeds and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, has revealed that black carbon has a warming effect of about 1.1 Watts per square meter (W/m2). More at http://www.edie.net/news/6/Influence-of-soot-on-climate-change-greatly-underestimated/23859/nl

fraking wasteIT’S A FRACKING WASTE –  What Wastes Enough Energy to Power 2.5 Million Cars and Can be Seen From Space? Well, its the gas that is wasted from Fracking – up to one third of all the gas extracted is just burnt off –  Treehugger explains more here  (photo: NASA).

 

A leading reprocessor has backed commingled waste collections, arguing that the economics stack up far better due to the high volumes that can be achieved compared to kerbside sorting Edie.net report that Chris Dow, CEO of Closed Loop Recycling – a plastic bottles reprocessor – said that commingled methods deliver up to three times as much materials, and that these higher quantities effectively deal a “killer blow” for kerbside sort collections.

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has strengthened its consumer-facing campaign activities on food waste in the wake of a hard-hitting report released last week from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers study that revealed up to 2 billion tonnes of the world’s food production is going to waste each year – which has prompted the retailer to focus its efforts on encouraging customers to think more wisely about how they buy and use food.  Its latest campaign ‘Make your Roast go Further’ will support shopper efforts to create a further two family weekday meals from every Sunday roasting joint.  A new online portal, the ‘Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint’ campaign will offer advice and tools for businesses to reduce losses and waste along the entire value chain of food production and consumption.  It is being led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), and harnesses the expertise of UK organisations such as WRAP.

food wasteMore on food waste: Restaurants waste almost five times more food than the average UK household – an amount deemed “unacceptable” according to our friends at the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).   While hundreds of restaurants have taken steps to reduce food waste, the industry average remains high at half a kilo per diner. The SRA has called on the industry to take action and clamp down on these wasteful habits. SRA chief Mark Linehan said the sector as a whole must do more and added a bug thumbs up for the ‘doggy bag’ saying “restaurants should also make diners feel more comfortable about asking, and diners should feel free to ask to take home leftovers from a meal for which they have paid”.

BMW and Toyota have joined forces to bypass the stalled market for lithium  battery charged electric cars, with the aim to get hydrogen fuel cell powered car on the road by the end of the decade. They are also close to agreeing a deal to develop so called lithium air batteries.

The Power Behind Festivals – new edition launched

Click Here to download the Guide (PDF format)

Worthy Farm To Install UK's Largest Private Solar Panel SystemOur friends at the Green Festival Alliance have produced a new revised version of the Power Behind Festivals Guide  – with more detail and new case studies in the most comprehensive and accurate guide to sustainable power at outdoor events. This Guide won’t tell you how to run your festival or why you should care about climate change. What it will do is give you sector-specific knowledge, ideas and tips you need to save fuel and increase your energy management skills, reducing your carbon footprint and cutting the unnecessary costs as a result.

In fact, the Alliance think that you can make fuel savings of at least 10% as a result of implementing ideas in this guide and they have included a healthy sprinkling of examples to show you how it’s already being done and links to where you can find further help or advice.  This guide is for anyone involved in the organisation of festivals. Regardless of the size of your festival, the nature of your audience or your role, you will find information on how you can limit the fuel consumption

Power has significant implications for the practical, economic and environmental success of any event. With rising fuel costs and an increasing awareness of sustainability, the industry is asking for more knowledge, understanding and expertise on sustainable power at festivals. After 18 months of exploration and consultation, the Green Festival Alliance has created The Power Behind Festivals guide – so now it is time for you to switch on – and save money!

 

Green Festival Alliance to talk power savings and efficiencies at Event Production Show

EPS_logo_v1Following on from the successful launch of the Green Festival Alliance’s practical guide to sustainable power at outdoor events, they will be hosting a seminar at the forthcoming Event Production Show entitled ‘Innovations in Power: Reducing Costs and Carbon’.

Alongside presentations from four industry experts, the seminar will also include a comprehensive overview of the guide, which was published in December 2012 and was designed to bring together the Powerful Thinking Campaign research initiative, which monitored generators at eight festivals last summer, and extensive feedback from power suppliers and festivals about the way they manage their power.

The key findings of the research, carried out in partnership with De Montfort University and Julie’s Bicycle, were:

  • The industry could achieve a 10% reduction in fuel consumption, saving over 1 million litres of diesel, and over 3000 tonnes of carbon annually;
  • There are opportunities to make fuel savings if festivals and power suppliers can work more closely;
  • Renewable and hybrid solutions have the potential to offer cost and carbon savings in many situations.

Chris Johnson, Chair, Green Festival Alliance said: “This guide is a response to requests from festival organisers for information and resources about how to manage power more efficiently. The industry is on the brink of a huge shift toward a more sustainable approach – it’s taking place now, with solutions emerging on the market by the month. It’s not a magic bullet, but there should be something in here for everyone, and crucially, it starts an industry-wide conversation that can help to move things forward.

“Having the opportunity to talk about the guide and bring a panel of industry experts together at the Event Production Show is the perfect way to begin that process.”

This seminar, which will be held from 11am to 12pm on Wednesday 6th February, promises to be both interactive and informative with four, Japanese style, ‘Pecha Kucha’ presentations (20 slides for 20 seconds) about the very latest innovations and trends in temporary festival power. There will be a panel discussion and a Q&A session with industry experts.

Delivering the ‘Pecha Kucha’ presentations will be Chris Johnson, Green Festival Alliance; Bill Eagan, Agrekko; Richard Randle, Firefly; David Noble, Midas UK and Laura Pando, Festival Republic. The panel will discuss efficiencies and renewable technologies; solar and hybrid power revolution; biofuel as an alternative to diesel; what festival organisers can do and where there are savings to be made, if any.

The seminar forms part of a programme of industry panel debates at this year’s Event Production Show. More at http://www.eventproductionshow.co.uk/ and seminars in detail here http://www.eventproductionshow.co.uk/seminars-and-workshops

ANOTHER PLANET?

ONews that West Cumbria, and in particular part of the Lake District National Park, might be used as a nuclear repository – basically a site to bury nuclear waste – has sparked widespread outrage. Sellafield is situated on the West Cumbrian coast and has historically been an important part of the local economy, which has been hard hit by the recession and there is a real need for local jobs.  But the Lake District is an area of outstanding beauty, a National Park and attracts millions of tourists each year. A crucial meeting of the three councils potentially affected – Cumbria County and Allerdale and Copeland District councils – will decide on 30th January whether to agree to full-scale preliminary planning for a repository whose underground facilities would cover an area larger than the nearby town of Workington. The three councils are the only ones in the UK still considering a government request to provide underground nuclear storage, but Cumbria’s fractured geology has already narrowed potential areas to limited parts of the western coast, including the Ennerdale valley in the National Park.

OMany think the council’s  ‘consultations’ are just window dressing and the councils, or rather their cabinets, particularly Copeland Council (like local MP Jamie Reed (Labour)), see the need for jobs and economic benefits as more important than the widespread environmental damage and possible damage to local tourism that would be caused by the scheme.  Mr Reed has already said he wants the plans to proceed to the next stage – Stage 4, but other local MPs are not all so sure. There were “gasps” at public meetings in November when mock-ups of the possible construction project were shown. The projections, based on a French scheme, showed how construction and surface maintenance buildings might irrevocably scar the beautiful foothills of legendary fells such as Great Gable and Pillar. Eskdale has also been identified as having suitable granite rock formations. At a meeting in Keswick last week the hundreds attending  overwhelmingly opposed the scheme, with just three people supporting it.  Stage 5 would involve 60,000 holes bring drilled and dynamited, involving 16 drilling pads each the size of a football pitch, and Stage 6 the actual construction of the repository. More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/16/cumbria-tourism-chiefs-oppose-nuclear-waste-burial  and see http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/01/17/stop-nuclear-waste-plans-for-the-lake-district/ and http://www.in-cumbria.com/mp-focus-on-west-cumbria-nuclear-waste-dump-facts-1.1028712?referrerPath=news-archive.

nissan leaf 2013The latest model of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle will be made in the U.S. and priced 20 percent cheaper than last year’s model, and according to Nissan making it the most affordable five-seater available.

Search the internet for “human-electric hybrid” and you will see many attempts to satisfy  the dream of a sustainable vehicle: a weather-proof car that can carry two, compete with fossil-fueled traffic, and provide the opportunity to get a workout while extending our range. But does it exist! Would it surprise you to learn that there is one such vehicle on the market, available for sale today, street legal in Europe and North America? And that this vehicle is approaching 20 years of road-proven use by hundreds of sustainable-vehicle fans who have made the leap to a completely new lifestyle with a human-electric hybrid? Yes, its the TWIKE, the only human-electric hybrid currently mass-produced.

One in five people in the UK are confused about what to buy under the upcoming Green deal, according to a survey conducted by the Energy Saving Trust (EST).   he survey also revealed that 47% of respondents have an interest in installing an energy efficient boiler, 52% are interested in installing double glazing and 21% are “very interested” in fitting insulation.  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Confusion-reigns-over-Green-Deal/23843/nl

A qualitative study of 100 participants, carried out by the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House, found that most respondents showed only a vague understanding of climate science. There is “widespread public confusion” over climate change coupled with a growing lack of interest in the issue, according to new research. Media reporting on the topic is in part contributing towards this trend as journalists tend to treat it as “a topic riven by uncertainty”, resulting in an overall message of inconsistency, researchers say.  This is further compounded by the continuing politicisation of climate change – as the topic falls down the media agenda, this encourages the view that it deserves a lower priority than economic problems, which are seen as more urgent.

Technology giants Apple and Google have both announced investments in renewable energy projects, focusing largely on wind energy. Yesterday, Google made an approximate $200m (£125m) equity investment in the Spinning Spur Wind Project, a 161 megawatt facility located in Oldham County, Texas and built by EDF Renewable Energy.  Meanwhile, Apple put forward plans to develop a wind turbine that converts rotational energy into heat, which is then used to generate electricity.

Edie.net reports that delegates in charge of handling the £100m London Green Fund have not found any commercially viable community-led projects to invest in, questioning revealed yesterday at City Hall. The fund was set up in 2009 to invest in projects in the capital with a positive impact on the environment and it is hoped that returns from the loans and investments can then be reinvested into future schemes.  The Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee heard that so far about 20% of the fund, which must be invested by the end of 2015, had been allocated and that other projects were still under consideration.

If you want to look at some AMAZING images of animals and humans living in peace together – take a look at Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert here  http://vimeo.com/29498902

food wasteNews that half the world’s food supply may be going to waste has raised serious questions around our ability to manage this most essential subsistence at every point in the value chain and means that emerging economies must build waste minimisation thinking into supporting infrastructure and logistics around food production to cope with rising global demand for food supply.  With Pressure is mounting on finite resources of land, energy and water used in crop harvest and manufacture, as much as 2 billion tonnes of the world’s food production is going to waste each year according to research released today by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  The wide-ranging study estimates that 30% to 50% (1.2 to 2 billion tonnes) of this food never reaches a human stomach.

The NFU is urging farmers to build resilience into future water availability on farms so that they are in a better position to face the next drought. Following two consecutive dry winters in 2010/11 and 2011/12 that prevented many farmers from filling their reservoirs, discussions between the NFU and Environment Agency resulted in the adoption of a ‘flexible approach’ to licensing to improve water availability.  This allowed many farmers to fill reservoirs when river flows permitted, irrespective of the calendar date or the conditions on the licence.  http://www.edie.net/news/4/NFU-calls-for-long-term-water-security-on-farms/23844/nl

Ennderdale photo (c) 2010 Jane Challis