ANOTHER PLANET?

So what do young people have to look forward to in the future – well – it’s a ‘perfect storm’ :  ever increasing numbers of humans alongside worrying food and water shortages, and falling energy resources. Fun eh?

China had more than 50,000 rivers mapped in the 1990s – and now it has just over 20,000, with over 28,000 having disappeared. Chinese officials, fumbling for an explanation, have put the blame on poor maps, or perhaps climate change that has caused rivers to dry up. Both may have an element of truth, but environmentalists point to the disappearance of rivers on the rush for economic growth with heavy use in industry and agriculture both to blame for a shortage of water in rivers – and a rise in pollution. The iconic Yellow River often runs out of water before it reaches the sea – posing both environmental and social risks.

red-kite-430We’ve blogged about the dangers posed by neonicotinoid pesticides a few times now – mainly in the context of their threat to bees – and there has been recent good news with garden centres across the country starting to withdraw products that contain neonictinoids, – and the EU is also looking into the risks: Now it seems the damage caused by the chemicals may be much wider with other insects such as damselflies, and birds at risk.  A new paper by former Canadian government scientist and a US Bird Conservancy Pesticide Programme manager   says the chemicals can kill many species of birds and damage entire food chains. Birds at risk include the sparrow, the grey partridge and the mallard duck. Ellie Crane, the RSPB’s agricultural policy officer has called for an “immediate ban on the use of neonicotinoids in crops that are attractive to pollinating insects”.  Paper: The Impact of the Nations Most widely Used Insecticides on Birds (by Dr Pierre Mineau and Cynthia Palmer). More at http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/its-not-just-bees-popular-pesticides-are-killing-birds-too 

Solar-powered devices aren’t just for the off-grid adventurers and power-hungry gadget-loving crowd, they’re also quite useful in the farm and urban garden, as they can provide the juice needed to fulfil many basic functions for the small grower and farmer alike. More on Treehugger here.

skiingThe Alps have had a fantastic winter for winter sports enthusiasts, but scientists and locals are observing ongoing changes in the weather as global warming starts to take its toll on resorts like Chamonix. The changes are particularly noticeable at lower levels, and it seems that there is 40% less snow cover under 1000M, and the level at which precipitation changes from snow to rain has dropped 200M. And its no secret that the glaciers are all shrinking now – the Mer de Glace as lost 65M in depth and 300M  in length since 1996.  Average temperatures in Chamonix have risen by 1.5C in the last 75 years.

power station3Official figures from DECC have confirmed that the amount of UK electricity generated using renewables increased significantly in 2012 compared with 2011. However, while low carbon electricity’s share of generation increased from 28% in 2011 to 30.5% in 2012, coal power rose by 9% to make up 39.5% of electricity generated, becoming the biggest single source of UK electricity in 2012. And after less than seven months as Energy Minster, John Hayes has been replaced by Michael Fallon in a mini reshuffle, announced  by Prime Minister David Cameron. Hayes has met fierce criticism during his tenure as Energy Minister for his negative stance on wind power which contradicted the views of his liberal democrat chief Energy Secretary Ed Davey. http://www.edie.net/news/6/BREAKING–Hayes-replaced-with-Fallon-as-Energy-Minister-/

The European Union’s 27-Member State and Norway emitted around 1,876 million tonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gases in 2012, a decrease of 1.4% on 2011.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged governments around the world to reform fossil fuel energy subsidies which currently amount to $1.9tr (£0.86tr). In it’s report Energy Subsidy Reform – Lessons and Implications, the IMF says reforming the system could spur economic growth and help the environment.

The Bluewater shopping centre’s strategy for cutting its annual energy bill by 50%, with the aim to become Europe’s most energy-efficient retail complex, will be a benchmark for future energy management projects, says Lend Lease’s Pascal Mittermaier. And in more retail news, John Lewis Partnership offers a compelling retail perspective on how corporate resource efficiency is reshaping the waste supply chain in the second of our Resource Revolution thought leader video interview series. You can see the video here http://www.edie.net/news/5/VIDEO–John-Lewis—Waste-won-t-exist-in-20-years–Resource-Revolution/

Businesses across the world are increasingly expressing an interest in unlocking economic opportunities around the circular economy, Dame Ellen MacArthur has said. The former yachtswoman, who is leading on the global business case for regenerative systems change has revealed that her own think tank, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been approached by numerous companies, organisations and countries seeking to learn more about this transition.

Ireland has seen a dramatic loss of water bodies in pristine condition due to relatively low intensity activities, such as field drainage, and pollution, according to a new report. Ireland Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new research report outlines strategies to protect pristine waterbodies from degradation. Commenting on the findings, consultancy firm RPS’ Fiona Murphy said “We have identified two requirements in particular: much tighter planning controls for those areas which are fortunate to have pristine water catchments and a code of best practice which would set out control mechanisms in sensitive areas for the use of pesticides, the establishment and maintenance of forestry and currently unregulated activities such as overgrazing”. http://www.edie.net/news/4/Ireland-addresses-protection-needs-of-pristine-water-sites/

The first local authority in England to offer residents a dedicated weekly nappy recycling service has scaled new heights in its drive to divert the absorbent hygiene waste from landfill. Cheshire West & Chester Council’s commitment to increase recycling rates and slash the volume of this waste stream sent to landfill has drawn Australian waste management firm Relivit to the UK to see the ‘Nappycycle‘ service in action.

The UK has just recorded its coldest March and coldest Easter for 50 years, so here’s our Top Ten Tips to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

* Insulate your loft

* Install LED lighting

* Is your boiler efficient? Check it! Or think about a biomass boiler

* Insulate your walls

* Have an efficient shower head

* Install solar panels – in the UK, the Green Deal scheme may help with costs

* Have thermostatic controls

* Think about an air or ground source heat pump

* Draught proof your house – quick and cheap!

* Install double glazing

Fuel bills are going up –  save money too!

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