ANOTHER PLANET?

sea_ice_polar_bearRecord sea ice in the Antarctic has triggered a debate about global warming between climate change sceptics and conservationists. The former point to the fact that the record 2.07 million square kilometres of sea ice is evidence that theories of global warming are flawed, whilst scientists and conservationists say the change is more evidence of climate chaos. One interesting theory is that global warming is that the spread of sea ice is caused by melting ice from under the cap rising to the surface and re-freezing. Another theory is that strengthening winds have caused lower temperatures. Other scientists say that the annual variation in Antarctica has much less significant than the ongoing melting at the Arctic, which is losing 1.8 million sq km each decade.

The BBC have said that they are re-considering editorial balance in their programmes after complaints that far too much coverage was given to minority and extremist opinions -including religious activists and climate change sceptics – making it clear that in the future the views of climate change sceptics such as (Lord) Nigel Lawson will not be treated as equal to mainstream scientific consensus on global warming and climate change.

From the Arctic to the Himalayas, Dark snow is accelerating glacier melting as industrial dust and soil, blown thousands of miles, settle on ice sheets and add to rising sea level threat: The Observer reports that the phenomenon of “dark snow” is being recorded from the Himalayas to the Arctic as increasing amounts of dust from bare soil, soot from fires and ultra-fine particles of “black carbon” from industry and diesel engines are being whipped up and deposited sometimes thousands of miles away. The result, say scientists, is a significant dimming of the brightness of the world’s snow and icefields, leading to a longer melt season, which in turn creates feedback where more solar heat is absorbed and the melting accelerates. More here.

New underground maps from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Environment Agency (EA) have discovered that many shale gas deposits overlap with major water aquifers.  The series of maps provide a new way to visualise geological data and assess the potential of fracking to contaminate drinking water with methane in England and Wales. They show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers, which provide 30% of the UK’s drinking water and shows the fracking riss to up to 70% of the drinking water in South East England.

food wasteA new UK study that measured and compared the dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat- and fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans  found that the highest dietary Greehouse gas (GHG) emissions were found in meat-eating men and the lowest were found in vegan females. So one way to reduce your carbon footprint is to stop eating meat.  The journal Climatic Change has published the first-ever study to compare the dietary greenhouse gas  emissions of real-life meat-eaters to those who abstain from meat or choose other sources of protein. (Other studies have used modeled estimates of reduced-meat diets.) This study, which took place in the UK, compares data on the actual diets of 2,041 vegans, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 fish-eaters, and 28, 589 meat-eaters.  Each individual’s diet was standardized to a 2,000 kcal diet so that differences in estimated energy consumption between diet groups would not affect the end results which showed:

High meat-eaters (more than 100 grams per day, which defines the majority of adults in the UK and US): 16 pounds / 7.26 kilograms of CO2e

Low meat-eaters (less than 50 grams per day): 10.3 pounds / 4.67 kg

Fish-eaters: 8.7 pounds / 3.94 kg

Vegetarians: 8.5 pounds / 3.85 kg

Vegans: 6.5 pounds / 2.94 kg

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012Some people who are against renewable energy  (and often when you follow the money you find that they are being financed by fossil fuel interests) spread all kinds of misinformation. Treehugger says that one of their main arguments is that it takes so much energy to, for example, build wind turbines that the energy that is produced takes a long time to offset the energy used for production and installation, making them a worse deal than they seem, and thus not as beneficial to the environment as pro-renewable people claim. It might sound like a good ‘gotcha’, but the facts don’t back it up. More on Treehugger here

Virgin_atlanticThe UK’s Airports Commission has said that London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary would have ‘large scale adverse effects’ on wildlife and the environment and that the costs of mitigating the damage could be as much as £2 billion – and critics say the whole plan would be a ‘costly environmental disaster and that compensating new habits for ‘Boris island’ might not be successfully created.

Hundreds of wellington boots were dumped outside Defra’s offices this morning by Friends of the Earth campaigners calling on UK Prime Minister David Cameron to sack Environment Secretary Owen Paterson for his perceived failure to take climate change seriously.  The environment charity’s campaign, ‘Give Owen Paterson the boot’, is calling for Mr Paterson to be sacked in the coming cabinet reshuffle, stating that the minister’s failure to accept the science of man-made global warming makes his position untenable. And the majority of MPs consider responsible business to be a key electoral issue, but their awareness of businesses’ community activities in this area remains low.  This was the main finding to come out of a report jointly released by Lloyds Banking Group and Business in the Community (BITC), which surveyed 151 MPs on their views about the role of business in their constituencies. According to the study, three in five MPs thought responsible business was a key issue for national Government as the 2015 national election approaches – two in five said it would be a key issue within their constituency.  But the UK government is in the firing line – the Association for the Conservation of Energy says total number of energy efficiency measures has fallen 60% in the past year and that the installation of measures to help homes save energy has collapsed as a result of government policies, campaigners have said – and  more than 150 businesses have called for Prime Minister David Cameron to support the UK solar industry in a letter to Downing Street. The letter, signed by a coalition of 150 businesses including brands such as IKEA, KYOCERA, Interface and Triodos Bank, warns against destabilising the lucrative solar power market in the UK, when the global solar market could be worth £78billion per annum by 2020.

On the same day as revealing a new Circular Economy Package, the European Commission has published its new Green Action Plan for SMEs in a bid to improve resource efficiency among smaller firms.  ‘Green Action Plan for SMEs: Enabling SMEs to turn environmental challenges into business opportunities’ presents a series of SME-oriented actions to help exploit the business opportunities that the transition to a green economy offers, as well as highlighting the drivers and obstacles and financial instruments available to help implement green initiatives.

And businesses, particularly smaller companies, buildings and infrastructure such as transport networks, hospitals and water supplies are all ill-prepared for the extreme weather events related to climate change says a report released today.  The progress report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Adaptation Sub-committee finds that the resilience of UK business, buildings and infrastructure needs to be enhanced to counter more severe flooding and heatwaves in the future. Among its top line recommendations, the committee is calling for the introduction of new regulations to avoid surface water flooding caused by new development and a new building standard incorporating cooling measures to prevent buildings overheating. The Report also praises the ‘comprehensive approach’ that has already been put in place by the energy sector and recommends that a similar plan be instituted by water companies and telecommunications providers as well as for major roads and airports. More here on edie.net http://www.edie.net/news/6/Businesses-with-no-climate-change-plan-risk-failure/26570/?utm_source=weeklynewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=news&utm_campaign=weeklynewsletter

A new manifesto  by the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) has calculated that the UK could save £12.1billion per year by 2050 by focusing energy policy on greener buildings.  The report uses the government’s own ‘Pathways’ energy calculator to show that a greater focus on green buildings and energy efficient construction would prove more cost effective than prioritising large-scale energy projects such as nuclear power and large off-shore wind farms. The SEA estimates that measures such as low carbon buildings and buildings which produce their own renewable energy will be cheaper than large-scale energy generation measures, with small scale-energy efficiency costing an estimated £91 per MWh and large-scale renewable measures costing £108 per MWh.

Tour_de_FranceThe opening stages of this year’s Tour de France in the United Kingdom will have its environmental impact measured by the Carbon Trust and Leeds City Council.  The Carbon Trust will measure the carbon emissions, waste and long-term legacy impacts such as encouraging people to take up cycling. The report will examine how the environmental impact is being managed and look for areas of improvement for future events.

A consortium of organisations from UK packaging, retail and recycling industries, led by Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer (M&S), are to launch a market trial aimed at recycling up to 1.3 billion plastic food trays each year. The initiative focuses specifically on black CPET trays, most commonly used in supermarket ready meals. Although they are recyclable, the black colour of the trays makes them undetectable with Near Infra-Red optical sorting equipment used at plastic sorting and recycling facilities.

 

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