The UK’s fracking debate has turned up a few more notches, with neither of the main two parties seemingly safe custodians of our health or for our environment. Yes, whilst the Tories plot new laws to allow fracking under homes and schools, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osbourne focussed only on the economic benefits, Labour seemed like deer caught in the headlights and refused to support the move for a total moratorium on fracking after pressure from Unions (again, we need leaders and thinkers in our Parliament and in our Unions, not sheep). What we ended up with are some ‘safeguards’ which this blogger doubts will guard anyone’s safety: Yes the Tory led coalition government has accepted amendments to planned legislation conceding that there will be no fracking in National Parks, sites of special scientific interest (SSIs) and areas of natural beauty – in the face of opposition from their own party led by ex Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and the former home office minister Lib Dem Norman Baker. But no – no temporary moratorium on fracking. Other ‘safeguards’ supported by Labour include the depth of drilling and the need for an environmental impact assessment for fracking and maybe protecting drinking water. And lets not forget earthquakes – yes, trial drilling in 2011 triggered two quakes here in the UK. Great! The fossil fuel companies, compliant politicians and our blinkered media have really pulled a fast one here. For more comment – there’s an interesting feature in the Observer on Joe Corre, who set up and then sold on lingerie business Agent Provocateur, who now with his Mum, fashion guru Vivienne Westwood is putting his money where his mouth is and campaigning against fracking. highlighting the health issues – along with water contamination, air pollution and environmental damage and who says the anti-fracking campaign “is an alliance of people right across the political spectrum. Fracking has opened their eyes to the whole way government is corrupted by lobbyists and scientists are corrupted by corporations. That’s why fracking is such a hot election issue”.
BAD NEWS is that the Prime Minister’s plan to make citizens powerless to stop fracking firms drilling under our homes has been approved by MPs. Though 52 MPs pushed for a moratorium, it wasn’t enough to stop the new laws from getting the go ahead. Greenpeace organised a petition calling on MPs to vote against Cameron’s plan and that now stands at 360,000 strong — an incredible number. And while this awful law was approved today, Greenpeace says this: “Under the weight of huge public pressure, the consensus on fracking is crumbling. And the evidence that the industry is bad for the environment and for the climate grows week after week.” But not a good day.
The Sum Of Us says this: The government still got its corporate-sponsored fracking bill onto the statute books — allowing the fracking industry to drill right under our homes without our permission. And it has another plan up its sleeve: It wants to spend £80 million of taxpayer money to boost the fracking industry’s terrible reputation.
No fracking way! The Business Department will soon make the final decision about this plan, so we need to take action now. The Business Department plans to fund the drilling of hundreds of boreholes all over the country. It’s trying to persuade us that fracking is safe — which it isn’t. Affected communities around the world have shown us that fracking pollutes the groundwater and air, is dangerous for our health, and emits large amounts of greenhouse gas. Instead of listening to its own parliamentary report, our desperate government is plotting to spend millions of pounds of our own money on duping us — but it’s not too late to squash this plan. David Cameron has boasted that his government is going ‘all out for shale’ — regardless of the fact that less than a quarter of the UK public thinks fracking is a good idea. And opposition to fracking has exploded all around the world: Protest camps, mass demonstrations and multiple rejections of local fracking applications have sprung up everywhere. Fracking will not lead to more affordable energy, nor will it tackle global warming — whereas investing in renewable energy will. We cannot frack the British countryside and hit our climate change targets. With yesterday’s vote the government love-in with the shale industry has taken a hit — let’s keep on fighting it.
Yes we need energy. But every pound spent on fracking is a pound not spent on sustainable energy – wind, water, tidal and sun. It’s there to have – but out lobbied by the fossil fuel corporates. With Lancashire County Council are about to decide on whether to allow the first fracking sites in the UK. We’re standing with people in Lancashire. As 38 Degrees say “Together, we can stop fracking” – sign 38 Degree’s petition here
And interestingly, Shanghai has become China’s first big local government area to ditch a formal growth target based solely on economic criteria – Shanghai is dropping economic growth from its annual work report – and will now look at factors including improvements to the environment, employment and the ability to keep bad debt under control. Shanghai had a 2014 GDP of $250 billion – although commentators say the new targets may not be easy to gauge.
Tens of millions of people along the East Coast of the U.S have hunkered down for a snowstorm thay could be the worst on record. Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service said Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get the most snow, about 2 feet. New York could see 10 inches to 20 inches, Hartford, Connecticut, 1 to 2 feet, and Philadelphia and central New Jersey about 6 inches. The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. On Monday, life abruptly stopped across the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest plowing crews. 7,700 fligts were cancelled in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday and Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark. “When you wake up in the morning, it is going to look like a blizzard,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, echoing the concern of many government leaders. Forecasters originally said the storm could bring 1 to 3 feet of snow and punishing hurricane-force winds. But early Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying New England would fare the worst, but even then not as bad as expected. But still bad!
Claims that 2014 was the hottest year ever on record may not be 100% accurate. The UK’s Met Office 2014 had not been quite as warm as predicted although it probably equalled the record set in 2010. 2014 was certainly one of the top ten hottest years on record and “adds to the set of near record temperatures seen over the last two years”. NASA and the NOAA in the USA recently announced 2014 was the warmest since records began in 1880.
A £1 million cache of ivory and pangolin skins has been seized in Uganda – the three crates were destined for Amsterdam and were labelled as ‘communications equipment’. The tusks in the crates weighed more than 700KG and there were two tonnes of pangolin skins – Pangolins are scaly mammals that live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poaching for illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss have made these extraordinary creatures one of the most endangered mammal groups in the world – pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Image from http://savepangolins.org/
Prince Charles has warned World leaders that they will be condemned by their grandchildren if they fail to take effective action to protect rainforests and prevent dangerous climate change. The Prince warned that politicians in an “increasingly uncertain world” had one “last chance before we end up with an irreversible situation” calling for an “integrated approach to forestry, agriculture, fisheries, water and energy”.
Talking of fishing …… Greenpeace is taking the UK government to court over fishing quota saying “Who should be first in line to get fishing quota? We think it should go to those who fish sustainably. And hard-won reforms to EU fishing laws now gives our government a mandate to do just that. But the UK government is failing to take action. Instead, they’re keeping the status quo, and favouring the industrial fleet instead” . Read more here http://www.independent.co.uk/…/greenpeace-comes-to-the-aid- … and like/share if you agree that fishing should be low-impact and support the UK economy.