ANOTHER PLANET?

maria eagleIn the UK the Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle has said the current Government will put 330,000 more homes at risk of flooding by failing to tackle climate change – making a mockery of Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to be the ‘greenest government ever’.  Eagle has vowed to make climate change a top priority for the Government if Labour gets voted into power at next year’s general election. speaking at the WWF’s UK headquarters in Woking, the Labour MP said human-induced climate change was “the biggest challenge facing the world today” adding “No sensible government can govern in these challenging times without putting tackling climate change at the core of what they do. It must be done consistently over time, beyond just the confines of one parliament, across all government departments led by the Prime Minister”.

At least 180 people have died after monsoon floods in Nepal and North East India. The authorities in both countries are struggling to evacuate the worst affected villages and air lift in food, water and medical aid.

Fracking news: Hot on the heels of news that environmental campaigners fear that the Barclays Bank backed Third Energy’s plan to drill for gas in Ebbertson Moor in the York Yorkshire Moors will be a ‘stalking horse’ for future bids to carry out fracking in the national park, comes news that some eight pages have been removed from the Department of the Environment’s draft report Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts– seemingly on the basis that the pages detailed the negative impact of fracking on house prices with Caroline Lucas the Green Party MP asking “what are the the economic, social and environmental imopacts and effects upon housing and local services, agriculture and tourism that the Government is so keen to withhold from us?”

The UK’s changing weather and climate have allowed farmers and gardeners to start to experiment with new crops – olives are being farmed in Kent – and bananas are being grown in Somerset – and Scotland will have urs first grapes harvested for wine this year – and sloe berries will have a bumper year.

Whilst a Government survey shows that only 24% of the UK population support fracking (down from 29%) – a energy industry survey says that 57% think tat the UK should produce natral gas from shale. ow so? Well is depends what question you ask – and whilst the DECC survey explained that fracking was a system of pumping water at high pressure into shale and ask if people supported that (and three quarters didn’t) whilst UK Onshore Oil and Gas’s Populus survey  set a framework of energy needs and energy security and now gas could heat the UK’s homes for a hundred years. The DECC survey did show that 79% of the UK population support renewable energy from wind and solar. Support for fracking is dropping: In May last year a University of Nottingham survey found that just under half of the UK supported fracking – and a third opposed it.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012What is the real cost of promoting renewable energy? Figures from the Renewable Energy Foundation and the DECC say that

£30,000 – annual rental a farmer can expect from a large wind turbine

£900 – annual income from an acre of a solar farm

£115 – annual cost to each UK household to support renewables

£1,7 billion – anmual subsidies for wind farms

£800 million – annual subsidy for biomass

£500 million – annual subsidy for solar

Seagreen , which is planning a £3 billion wind far off the west coast of Scotland is opposing plans for a large solar farm on nearby farmland. Why? Both Seageeen and Tealing Park Solar want to use a disused airfield – and the solar company and farmer Charlie Simmers says that Seagreen is worried that a succesful solar farm may increase land prices across the region – causing problems for Seagreen.

One person has died and more than a million were evacuated from their homes as typhoon storm Halong hot the coast of Japan causing landslides and flooding and major disruption to land and air traffic.

The Panama Canal may be forced to limit the size of ships passing through because of the worst drought in Central America for decades.  The drought has drained the amount of water in lakes feeding the canal as well as the deaths of thousands of cattle and a drop in levels of pwoer available from gydro-electricity – meaning many cities have rationed power as air conditioning use goes up. Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala have also declared a state of emergency in some regions. Last year’s rains in Panama were the lowest in the Canal’s history.  In Santa Cruz in Southern California ‘water cops’ have been employed to catch anyone breaking a hosepipe ban – imposed after three years of severe drought.

Work on the largest local authority rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system in the UK has been completed at the Northacre Resource Recovery Centre in Westbury and will save £1.5m over the next 20 years. The 1,248 panels cover an area the size of more than seven tennis courts and will generate more than 280,000KWh of electricity each year. This is expected to save Wiltshire Council more than £55,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 148 tonnes.  All of the energy will be used on site to power the mechanical biological treatment process used to turn household waste form the region into solid recovered fuel, thus diverting it from landfill.

Perceptions that sustainable buildings are more expensive to construct have been challenged by new research, which has found that achieving lower BREEAM ratings can incur little or no additional cost. The study undertaken by Sweett Group and BRE applied cost data from real construction projects to three case study buildings – an office, secondary school and community healthcare centre – to produce detailed capital and operational cost information.  It examined the actual costs of a range of individual sustainability strategies, plus additional costs (if any) of achieving various levels of overall building sustainability. The research also looked at the associated payback to be gained from reduced utility costs.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer has announced an additional £900,000 of funding for seven local sustainable transport schemes in the UK. The news follows the announcement last month of a £440m fund for sustainable transport, £64m of which is being provided by the Department for Transport the rest coming from Local Enterprise Partnerships and match funding.

Six leading UK universities have launched new energy efficiency research projects today, thanks to a £3m cash boost from the government. Researchers will investigate a range of issues relating to energy management in non-domestic buildings. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, it aims to enable UK businesses to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions through more efficient energy use.  Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Oxford, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Southampton will run the projects investigating a range of energy efficiency strategies, from how facility managers can future-proof energy saving improvements to the use of digital cameras to monitor window blinds and lighting to cut occupants energy usE.

Sony Corporation has announced that it plans to sell its flame-retardant recycled plastic to a wide variety of manufacturing business operators such as consumer electronics retailers, both within Japan and abroad The electronics giant revealed that it plans to sell its Sustainable Orientated Recycled Plastic (SORPLAS) to external parties from October.  Its SORPLAS product is a flame-retardant recycled plastic comprising polycarbonate plastic recycled from materials such as optical discs from discarded DVDs and optical sheets used in LCD televisions.

mantaray3The amount of mercury near the surface of many of the world’s oceans has tripled as the result of our polluting activities, a new study has found, with potentially damaging implications for marine life as the result of the accumulation of the toxic metal. Mercury is accumulating in the surface layers of the seas faster than in the deep ocean, as we pour the element into the atmosphere and seas from a variety of sources, including mines, coal-fired power plants and sewage. Mercury is toxic to humans and marine life, and accumulates in our bodies over time as we are exposed to sources of it.

Three top tips for feeding birds this summer:

1.  Put your hanging seed feeders over a paved or decked area where you can keep the flooring clean much less likely to attract other unwanted guests

2.  Don’t forget to fill up your birdbath with good fresh and clean water.

3.  Avoid whole peanuts and large chunks when putting out birdfood – young birds run the risk  of choking.  More at Wriggly Wrigglers

Finally: The European Commission is to build single market for green products. Could this harmonize industry regulations in the EU? The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) pilot, led by the European Commission, is a considerable commitment from prominent industry members in various sectors to lead the way in bringing more sustainable solutions to the market by building the single market for green products, to cultivate universal UPS technology solutions designed to maximise availability, efficiency and capacity within the data center environment. More here.

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