ANOTHER PLANET?

10 billionIt took 200,000 years for the world’s population of humans to reach 1 billion. By 2000 there were 6 billion of us – now there are 7 billion and now our number increase by 1 billion every ten years and by 2050 the world’s population will probably be over 10 billion. In his book Ten Billion, Stephen Emmott, the head of Microsoft’s computational research lab says that unless human change radically, Earth will become a hellhole for us with climate change, food and food shortages and global unrest. Year on year we need more water, more land, more food, more energy, more transport. more cities – and we are producing ore greenhouse gases and more pollution. Its all going to end in tears ……  ‘I think we’re fucked’  – Stephen EmmottTen Billion is a book about us. It’s a book about you, your children, your parents, your friends. It’s about every one of us. It’s about our failure: failure as individuals, the failure of business, and the failure of our politicians. It is about an unprecedented planetary emergency. It’s about the future of us. More here http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jul/19/ten-billion-review-royal-court and on Amazon here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Billion-Stephen-Emmott/dp/0141976322

Cars produce 60% of greenhouse gases from travel – whilst lorries contribute  20%, vans contribute 13%, buses 4%, rail travel 2%, and motorcycles and other vehicles 1%.

burning questionMike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark’s new book The Burning Question explores and explains climate change – and the effect this will have in our lifetimes and what it might do to future generations – and what options the human race have left. Against a backdrop of the vested interest of the coal, gas and oil industries, we are merrily sending ourselves into oblivion (when was that ever a good business model?) and this books make some valod points – pointing out that the World is NOT going to run out of fossil fuels anytime in the near future – but burning all these fuels means more CO2 and that means more global warning – and that once the CO2 is out there – it stays in the atmosphere for decades or even centuries. Its probably not too late but humanity needs to take action now but  climate change presents huge risks and we really do need to reduce fossil fuel use as a matter of some urgency.

Engineers are developing a hybrid airliner that will be propelled by wind, electricity and biofuels made from algae. Aerospace giant EADS and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce say the planned passenger airliner would produce 75% less CO2 than a modern plane.

Plans have been hatched to clone some of the United Kingdom’s ‘super trees’. Genetic twins of great woodland survivors such as the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest and the Tortworth Chestnut in Gloucestershire – as well as some of the majestic Scots pines and ancient churchyard yews – would be given away to schools, cities and landowners ensure our most successful trees survive.

Some rather serious people are starting to talk about what happens when the UK starts to run out of electricity – initially at peak times – with plans to incentivise heavy industry to shut down when consumers put a heavy load on the National Grid – or adopting Central European Time to delay the onset of the evening peak in demand – to closing shopping areas on a rolling basis and rationing power in winter. The forthcoming power crisis of course means that many commentators simply suggest we increase capacity – but this ignores the bigger problem – we are simply using too much of everything – and energy companies’ decisions are based on short term profits – and our politicians are not much better at dealing with this.

Awful news from Arizona where 19 elite firefighters have lost their lives fighting wildfires. The 19 men, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, were fighting a massive fiore started by lightening. 400 other firemen are still fighting the blaze which has consumed thousands of acres. Over 200 buildings and homes have been destroyed with strong winds driving the flames. At least 15 other large fires are raging across states including New Mexico and California.

Delphine Batho, France’s Energy and Ecology minister sacked by President Hollande after she complained about budget cuts, could end up causing serious problems for the beleaguered French premier – the Ecology Party, a junior coalition member, is deciding whether or not to stay as part of the Government and if it leaves will its two ministers out of the coalition. Ms Batho suggested in a radio interview that the President had turned his back on a promise to “make France the country of environmental excellence”.

large-blueIt looks like the reintroduced large blue butterfly will have a bumper year in Somerset this year – but less good news for nightingales whose numbers are in sharp decline. There are less than 6,000 singing make birds left in Britain. Ongoing research suggests that the decline is related to changes in the bird’s habitat on the route to their African wintering grounds.

Kenyan farmers supplying UK and European supermarkets are being forced to discard as much as two-fifths of what they grow, an undercover investigation has revealed. UK-based food waste campaign group Feeding the 5000 claims to have obtained photographic evidence that shows Kenyan farmers rejecting 40% of the crops they produce.  It says that some depots are discarding more than 20 tonnes of crops a day and forcing food disposal firms to sign a contract forbidding them to use any of it for human consumption.

Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone has a fascinating and disturbing piece on how sea level rise threatens Miami … and the unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic­ scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies – and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” says Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

The Co-operative Group is to review its reusable bag range following findings that showed carrier bag use has increased across its retail stores during the past year.

Environmental regulation will only partly drive improvement in the transport industry as it stimulates “one part of the business brain” and does not engage the more creative, innovative side needed for change, says Jonathon Porritt. Forum for the Future co-founder Jonathon Porritt told edie.net that it is pivotal to engage the “creative side of the business brain” to push the boundaries and encourage sectors to join up and develop a more resource efficient and sustainable transport industry.

Some places in Singapore will close to the public if the local air pollution index reaches 100, which is the threshold for “unhealthy”. Anything above 200 is “very unhealthy”, 300 is considered to be downright “hazardous”. What’s the latest peak measurement? 371, a new record for the city-state. http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/singapore-smog-breaks-records-indonesian-forest-fires-partly-blame.html

Treehugger has reported a mass killing of bumble bees, which happened in an Oregon parking lot. The cause was determined to be the spraying of Safari, a pesticide, on 55 trees around a Target parking lot. The pesticide was used for cosmetic reason, and possibly — though this is still under investigation — against the label guidelines for use. Over 50,000 bumble bees, along with many bees, ladybugs and other insects, were found dead and dying. While we can’t magic them back to life, there are things we can do to help pollinators and move a few steps closer to not allowing this to happen again. http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/how-you-can-help-prevent-another-mass-bumble-bee-die-off.html

solarThe UK is not on track to meet its 2020 European renewables targets, according to the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC). Published in the annual update of the EREC’s “Keep on Track” project, the findings rank the UK as 25th out of 27 member states for renewables contribution.  In addition, preliminary figures from the Renewable Energy Association (REA), show that the UK is the only Member State in the project which did not achieve its first interim target under the directive by the end of 2011 (4.04% for 2011 to 2012). In better news, The total capacity of renewable electricity in the South West has grown from 714MW in 2012 to more than 1 GW, according to a report released today. The region now generates 7.3% of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly in the form of solar PV, biomass and heat pumps.

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute instead decided to comb through thousands of hours of video recorded by remotely controlled vehicles over the past 20 years, specifically looking for debris on the sea floor and found over 1,500 observations of deep-sea debris, at dive sites from Vancouver Island to the Gulf of California, and as far west as the Hawaiian Islands. In the recent paper, the researchers focused on seafloor debris in and around Monterey Bay—an area in which MBARI conducts over 200 research dives a year. In this region alone, the researchers noted over 1,150 pieces of debris on the seafloor. About 1/3 of the trash were made of plastic, more than half of those being plastic bags, which are notoriously dangerous for marine life. Next were metal objects, at about 1/5 of the total. Other common debris included rope, fishing equipment, glass bottles, paper, and cloth items. Because of deep sea conditions (very cold water, little oxygen, few bacteria), all of this trash will likely stick around much longer than it would do on the ground. http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/researchers-study-18000-hours-deep-sea-footage-ocean-seafloor-covered-trash.html

Defra has set out the risks and opportunities UK businesses face as climate change and extreme weather becomes increasingly prominent. According to Defra’s National climate change adaptation programme report, while the impacts of a changing climate will increase the risk of damage to UK businesses, it will also offer vast financial opportunities.  Defra points to figures revealing that the impacts of climate change led to £170m of losses in 2011, while the total financial uninsured costs of the 2007 floods were estimated to be £4bn.  The potential for the effects of climate change to directly impact on Starbuck’s supply chain is the company’s main driver towards sustainability, according to its director of environmental impact Jim Hanna. Speaking at the Responsible Procurement & Supplier Engagement conference organised by edie.net and Sustainable Business, Hanna explained that a two degree shift in temperature, caused by climate change, could make large swathes of the planet’s coffee-growing farm land unsuitable.  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Climate-change-disruption-driving-Starbuck-s-sustainability-agenda-/?utm_source=weeklynewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=news&utm_campaign=weeklynewsletter

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