ANOTHER PLANET?

rainbow warrior2After Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, along with inflatables and paragliders, surrounded Russian oil tanker Mikhail Ulyanov to protest against first shipment of Arctic oil in Rotterdam, 10 Dutch armed anti-terror police boarded the environment group’s flagship boat outside Rotterdam port and arrested 44 activists trying to stop a Russian tanker from unloading its shipment of Arctic oil. Although the activists were taken to several Rotterdam police stations and the Rainbow Warrior towed ashore, the ship and most of the protesters were released without charge within a few hours.

Almost half of Americans live with unhealthy levels of air pollution. A new report American Lung Association (ALA) found that 148 million people were living in areas where smog and soot particles are health risk with climate change likely to worsen conditions – The report, which is based on data collected between 2010 and 2012, found smog, or ozone, had worsened in 22 of the 25 biggest US metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Houston, Washington-Baltimore, New York City and Chicago – and said there was a high risk of more high-ozone days because of climate change.

Climate change ‘making extreme rainfall in England is more likely: New Oxford University research shows rising temperatures mean intense rainfall now one in 80 year event rather than one in 100 year. More here

In our last ‘Another Planet’ we looked at the policies the Green Party and UKIP were putting froward for the May 22nd European Parliament Elections. This time we will take a look at the Liberal Democrats and in particular North West MEP Chris Davies. Chris leads by saying he has campaigning strongly to change the tax laws so rescue volunteers like mountain rescue teams are exempt from VAT – and has met the EC Commissioner Algirdas Sementa on the issue. Chris also highlights reforming EU law to protect the environment and that the Lib Dems have a track record in fighting climate change –  he has been active in seeking the reform of EU fishing policies – protecting jobs in the fishing industries and helping fish stocks to recover – and has a pro-EU stance on cross border crime – noting quite sensibly that criminals don’t respect borders! On the economy the Lib Dems point out that 86% of businesses say that leaving the EU would harm them – and that the EU brings in billions of pounds in foreign investment every year and leaving the EU would threaten our economy and 3 million jobs.

And what of the Conservative party? Well they are campaigning under the banner “Real Change in Europe” and  “Putting you back in control” and “Fighting Britain’s corner” with promises to fundamental change the UK’s relationship wit Europe – securing more trade but not an ever closer union – and getting a better deal for UK taxpayers.  The Conservatives point to their success in cutting the deficit and creating more jobs – as well as tax cuts and a cap on welfare – and new controls on immigration – although this limited by current EU agreements. The Conservatives want to bring power “back to Britain and away from Brussels” and plan to further reduce the deficit, create more jobs, cut income tax and fuel duty and deliver the best schools and skills for young people. In our next Another Planet? We will take a look at the Labour Party and what they are campaigning for.

Scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research have warned that part of the ice sheet of East Antarctica, which collectively holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 53 metres should it ever melt – could have begun an irreversible slide into the sea which will be completed this century – causing an unstoppable process of global destruction. In a study published in Nature Climate Change the scientists say that whilst it had long been thought that the Eastern ice sheet would be stable even with global warming – “this may not be true” and that it may contribute significantly to future sea levels.

The US Supreme Court has endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to deal with air pollution blowing across state lines on Tuesday, in an important victory for the Obama administration as well as downwind states. The court’s 6-2 decision unblocks a 2011 ruling requiring 28 eastern states to reduce power-plant emissions that carry smog and soot particles across state lines, hurting the air quality in downwind states. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the court’s majority opinion, said the EPA’s formula for dealing with cross-state air pollution was “permissable, workable and equitable”. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself, and justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In the UK, home owners will be able to claim grants of up to £7,600 to insulate their homes and install new efficient boilers and install double glazing – as well as a £100 refund against the cost of an assessment of their homes energy efficiency. However critics say that the Green Deal home improvement scheme is flawed  as customers can only use installers approved for the Government run scheme – and as that costs £2,000 to obtain many qualified builders and heating engineers  will be excluded – leaving home owners restricted in their choice and often unwilling to take on new and untested trades people. There are 2,800 registered installers out of an estimated 120,000 qualified tradesmen.

Amazon burningIn Equador, indigenous people, environment groups and others hoping to force a national referendum on whether one of the world’s most biodiverse regions should be exploited by oil companies fear that the Ecuadorean government is manipulating the results of a petition in order to support the President. Ecuador’s proposal to leave an 846m barrels of oil in the ground under the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) area of the Yasuni national park in the Amazonian rainforest and ask the world to compensate it with half its monetary value was hailed as a revolutionary new conservation idea when it was agreed by President Rafael Correa in 2007. But when only around $300m had been formally pledged by August 2013, Correa reversed his decision, saying the estimated $7bn that the country could eventually earn from the oil was needed to alleviate poverty.

Here’s a new eco-diet vocab word: demitarian. It means cutting your consumption of animal products in half. It was coined by Mark Sutton, an author of a new United Nations report that models how reducing Europe’s meat and dairy consumption would impact human health and the environment. Similar to flexitarian or weekday vegetarian, the concept of demitarian is another formula for reducing animal products in our diets without giving them up entirely. The report finds that if Europeans ate half as much meat, dairy and eggs, they could lower agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent. There would also be a 40 percent drop in nitrogen pollution, which can lead to poor air quality and decrease oxygen levels in water. More on Treehugger.

northsideTraders at Denmark’s NorthSide festival are being given financial incentives to be more ecologically friendly, as part of a wider campaign to improve the event’s environmental credentials. Only vendors which achieve nationally-recognised Ecological Society of Denmark’s bronze, silver or gold standards will be allowed to trade at the event; those which achieve silver or gold will be eligible for a greater proportion of the profit share than those with the bronze standard. “This is part of a larger effort to be a more environmentally-friendly festival,” explains NorthSide booker John Fogde. “It reflects the type of festival we want to make, as well as being something which we’re seeing more in Danish society – people are much more eco-conscious than they were in the past.” Since 2012, NorthSide has been engaged in a concerted effort to make the event more “green”. Fogde says the event has been inspired by the hard work carried out by Norway’s Øya Festival, which won the Green n Clean award at the European Festival Awards in 2010 and holds the ‘Outstanding’ A Greener Festival Award and has carried out extensive and market-leading initiatives to be eco-friendly.

 

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