ANOTHER PLANET?

smogchinaFrom Palangkarya in Borneo to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the air has been thick, the sun a dull glow and face masks obligatory. Schools, airports and roads have been closed and visibility at times has been down to just a few yards. Communities have had to be evacuated and people advised to remain indoors, transport has been disrupted and more than 50,000 people have had to be treated for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses in Sumatra alone. Last week more than 200 Malaysian schools were forced to close, and pollution twice reached officially hazardous levels. With smoke from the clearance of the rain forests,  vehicle exhaust fumes and industrial emissions all ever increasing, pollution is chocking Asia’s cities, and an acrid blanket of haze is hanging over much of South East Asia where 700,000 people die prematurely each year from the effects of air pollution. More here http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/23/indonesia-forest-fires-pollution-asia

The UK Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed a cap on the Carbon Price Floor at £18 per ton of CO2 from 2016-2017 to the end of the decade. In his 2014 Budget speech the Chancellor confirmed what many had predicted, a freeze on carbon tax, which Osborne said will help “British families and manufacturers save on their energy bills”. Osborne did mention his support for renewables but said little else, focusing more on cutting energy bills for businesses and households. Osborne also announced a £3bn compensation package to energy intensive industries, who will not have to pay the costs of the renewables obligation or feed-in tariffs, both designed to support renewable energy generation. Many driving the environmental agenda say that the move will reaffirm the Chancellor’s disregard for a pro-green economy agenda, saying that it is likely Osborne will again side line environmental policy in favour of reducing the deficit.

renault-joins-formula-e-championship_pressshotThe first all-electric Formula E driving championship will be televised on UK broadcasting channel ITV, after organisers secured a deal with the network.

Global warming will hit Asia hardest, warns new report on climate change, and Flooding, famine and rising sea levels will put hundreds of millions at risk in one of the world’s most vulnerable regionsPeople in coastal regions of Asia, particularly those living in cities, could face some of the worst effects of global warming, climate experts will warn this week. Hundreds of millions of people are likely to lose their homes as flooding, famine and rising sea levels sweep the region, one of the most vulnerable on Earth to the impact of global warming, the UN states.The report – Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability – makes it clear that for the first half of this century countries such as the UK will avoid the worst impacts of climate change, triggered by rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. By contrast, people living in developing countries in low latitudes, particularly those along the coast of Asia, will suffer the most, especially those living in crowded cities. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/22/global-warming-hit-asia-hardest

TreeHugger shows a lot of LED lighting, usually promoting its energy saving benefits and its longevity. However as great lighting designers get a hold of better fixtures and bulbs, they are doing things that could not have been imagined in older lighting systems. The recent refit of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a great example – more photos here http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-architecture/leds-transform-pariss-notre-dame/

A coalition of food waste charities, waste prevention organisations and academia across Europe have launched feasibility studies, which will be led by WRAP, to tackle food waste through social innovation. The European food waste prevention project is called FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies). Its UK partner WRAP is leading the delivery of the feasibility studies. The main aim of the project is to work towards a resource-efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste.

The UK’s share of the global water technology market could be worth £8.8bn by 2030, providing 71,000 jobs and involving around 960 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), suggests a new report.  HTech0: Tapping the Potential: A Fresh Vision for UK Water Technology states that despite successful water privatisation, world class consultants and a reputation for fair dealing, the UK has just 3% share of the global water technology market and “lags way behind” pioneering countries such as France, the US, Japan and Germany.  Report lead Mark Lane, chair of British Water and UKWRIP business & economy action group leader, said: “The economic and environmental case for raising the UK’s global game on water technology innovation is compelling”.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012Up to 1,000 jobs will be created in the UK by Siemens who will build Britain’s first wind farm manufacturing plant in Hull. It will invest £160 million in making giant turbine blades and generators for the so-called Round 3 offshore projects in the North Sea.

Last week was National Recycling day in the USA,  sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, the American Chemistry Council, Waste Management and other companies (that have made fortunes manufacturing, filling and picking up disposable containers!). As Treehugger says –  It’s their way of thanking us for helping keep all that plastic out of the gutters and the landfills, so that it can be downcycled into benches. But really we need a week to celebrate all the better ways to deal with the problem of waste, with recycling coming in eighth – at the END of the list of ‘Rs’ ! Here’s the first seven

  • Reduce: Just use less.
  • Return: Producers should take back what they sell.
  • Reuse: Almost boring, but we throw too much stuff out too soon.
  • Repair: Fix and mend things rather than replacing them.
  • Refill: In Ontario Canada, 88% of beer bottles are returned to the beer store, washed and refilled; just south of the border in the USA, the number drops to under 5%.
  • Rot: Compost what is left over, turning it into valuable nutrients.
  • Refuse: Simply refuse to accept this crap from the manufacturers any more.

AND ONLY THEN RECYCLE!

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