ANOTHER PLANET?

SumatraRhinoHornbill (1)The Sumatran rainforest will mostly disappear within 20 years: In only a few years, logging and agribusiness have cut Indonesia’s vast rainforest by half. The government has renewed a moratorium on deforestation but it may already be too late for the endangered animals –and for the people whose lives lie in ruin. Writing on the Guardian website John Vidal says ” Our small plane had been flying low over Sumatra for three hours but all we had seen was an industrial landscape of palm and acacia trees stretching 30 miles in every direction. A haze of blue smoke from newly cleared land drifted eastward over giant plantations. Long drainage canals dug through equatorial swamps dissected the land. The only sign of life was excavators loading trees onto barges to take to pulp mills. The end is in sight for the great forests of Sumatra and Borneo and the animals and people who depend on them. Thirty years ago the world’s third- and sixth-largest islands were full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutan and exotic birds and plants but in a frenzy of development they have been trashed in a single generation by global agribusiness and pulp and paper industries. Their plantations supply Britain and the world with toilet paper, biofuels and vegetable oil to make everyday foods such as margarine, cream cheese and chocolate, but distraught scientists and environmental groups this week warn that one of the 21st century’s greatest ecological disasters is rapidly unfolding ……. more here http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/26/sumatra-borneo-deforestation-tigers-palm-oil  and image from  http://daughterearth.com/blog/2008/10/good-news-for-sumatra/

Writing in the Observer magazine, Jay Rayner (a lovely chap, once gave me an apple in High Wycombe High Street, and writes nice things about my friend Stephen Harris’s restaurant, the Sportsman, in Seasalter) points out that ‘local’ food isn’t always the most economic with the carbon – “getting your lamb from New Zealand isn’t hurting the planet and buying your potatoes from the other end of the country is fine”. Its all about the overall carbon cost – not just food miles. So strawberries grown outdoors in Spain  in good soil without fertilisers may well be more carbon efficient than fruit grown in heated glass in the UK – lamb, apples and dairy products produced  in New Zealand and shipped to England can have a smaller carbon footprint than the equivalent products produced in the UK. There is a study by NZ academics Caroline Saunders, Andrew Barber and Grey Taylor –  Comparative Energy/Emissions Performance of New Zealand’s Agriculture Industry – which explains all! It’s not just food miles and to accurately work out the true cost of food you need a Life Cycle Analysis – food miles, petro chemicals used in farming and fertilisers, the energy to build tractors and farm buildings, fencing and so on – and then compare this to the yield!

Are British summers the curse of English festivals – of course they are ‘ a good read is ‘Knee deep in mud at an English festival? Give me Spain any day” – all here http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/may/26/music-festivals-give-me-spain

The British government is preparing to oppose attempts to update the EU’s renewable energy target, calling it “inflexible and unnecessary”, and opting instead to pledge deep emissions cuts. The climate and energy secretary, Ed Davey has said “There are a variety of options to decarbonise any country’s economy. In the UK, our approach is technology neutral and our reforms will rely on the market and competition to determine the low carbon electricity mix. We will therefore oppose a renewable energy target at an EU level as inflexible and unnecessary.” The current goal, of generating 20 percent of energy in Europe from renewable sources by 2020 has been seen as incompatible with George Osborne’s “dash” to build more than 20 gas-fired power stations over the next decade. There is concern that this policy may alienate investors in renewable energy. David Kennedy, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, the body set up to advise ministers on meeting climate targets, said in April 2013: “The government has committed to low-carbon support mechanisms to 2020, but they have said after that we might have a dash for gas – and this is destroying the confidence of investors, particularly in the renewables sector.” http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/26/renewable-targets

May 23rd was World Turtle Day. It is a day of celebrating the many unique and ancient species of turtles and tortoises around the world, and bringing awareness to their need for protection. Of the 207 species of turtle and tortoise alive today, 129 of them are listed by IUCN as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. That’s an incredibly 62% of species! The species may wear a suit of armour, but they are incredible fragile and in need of protection by humans, from humans. http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/11-critically-endangered-turtle-species.html

Clouded leopard

Clouded leopard

And May 17th was Endangered Species Day. amongst the most threatened are the beautiful felid species around the world that are in danger of becoming extinct. The plight of these amazing relatives of our well-loved domestic cats are highlighted by the  snow leopard. This iconic cat lives in the unbelievably cold habitats of alpine and subalpine areas Central Asia and is rarely ever seen in the wild based in part because of its elusive nature and in part because there are so few left in the world. The estimated population of this endangered species is somewhere between 4,000 and 6,5000 individuals. Other cats under threat include the Iberian Lynx, Fishing Cat, Bornean Bay Cat (quickly disappearing due to the deforestation of its habitat for commercial logging and oil palm plantations), the Tiger and the Clouded Leopard. http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/natural-sciences/cats-are-going-extinct-12-most-endangered-feline-species/

Only in New York? A new scheme which launched a public cycle hire service is being threatened by a £1.9 million law suit against sponsors Citibank, arguing that the bike racks at docking stations are a danger to children and the elderly. The law suit is from wealthy residents of Bank Street who also say the bike rack will lower the value of their flats. Other protests have been made by taxi drivers and street vendors. Unlike the successful  Boris’s Bikes scheme in London, no public money is involved as Citibank and MasterCard have stumped up just over £31 million to fund the scheme (Barclays bank sponsor the London scheme). with 6,000 bikes and 330 docking stations, one of the first riders was Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne. 24 hours hire costs $9.95 (£6.30) for New Yorkers (London is £2 per day or £10 for seven days).

Tara+Fitzgerald+fishloveFISHLOVE, the project which highlights over fishing in Europe’s seas, has just released a new set of photos showing stars that included Tara Fitzgerald, steven Berkoff, Simon Callow, Melanie Laurent and Zoe Tapper wearing not much – but fish and shellfish! French actress Laurent said “the fishing crisis is quite complex and difficult to understand, but this was so simple. it said everything that anyone needed to know about the fishing crisis: if we don’t start protecting fish, they will die out”. http://www.fishlove.co.uk/

Investing in a portfolio of low-carbon technologies between 2020 and 2030 rather than gas-fired generation will offer “significant economic benefits”, new analysis from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) shows. In a report on the Electricity Market Reform (EMR), the CCC finds that investment in a portfolio of low-carbon technologies could save consumers £25bn-45bn, rising to £100bn with higher gas and carbon prices.  It warns that the only way a strategy of investment in gas-fired generation through the 2020s will offer significant savings, is if the world abandons attempts to limit risks of dangerous climate change.

MPs charged with monitoring the progress of the Green Deal have reacted at DECC’s failure to provide a well-defined set of expected outcomes.  MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee have t0 published a report – The Green Deal: watching brief – which sets out how it will scrutinise the Government’s flagship energy retrofit policy in the coming years.  The report sets out areas the MPs will monitor, including public awareness and value for money, which have been heavily criticised.

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