Monthly Archives: July 2015


sea iceIce in the Arctic staged a surprise revival in 2013, bucking the long-term trend of decline, according to the first analysis of the entire ice cap’s volume. The revival was the result of cooler temperatures that year and suggests that, if global warming was curbed, the Arctic might recover more rapidly than previously thought. The shrinking Arctic ice cap is one of the best known impacts of climate change. The indication that it could be reversible is rare good news for a region where climate change has driven up temperatures far faster than the global average. The extent of Arctic ice has shrunk by 40% since the late 1970s, when satellite measurements began. But getting comprehensive data on the thickness of the ice, rather than just its area, was difficult until the European Space Agency launched the Cryosat satellite in 2010. Image: Average thickness of Arctic sea ice in spring as measured by CryoSat-2 between 2010 and 2015. Image: CPOM/ESA.

But whatever the sea ice is, or isn’t, doing – 2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record. There have already been heatwaves in Spain and France, droughts in California and Portugal, thousands of deaths from the heat in India and forest fires in Alaska. Now figures from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that the average global temperatures in the first six months are the highest for 136 years and is 0.85C hotter than the average in the last century. One of the strongest El Nino’s for decades will just add to the warming. In California there is a new business – lawn painting – turning parched brown lawns back to a ‘natural’ green

An unprecedented coalition of the UK’s most eminent scientific, medical and engineering bodies says immediate action must be taken by governments to avert the worst impacts of climate change. But the joint communiqué, issued by 24 academic and professional institutions, also says that tackling global warming would drive economic progress, benefit the health of millions by cutting air pollution and improve access to energy, water and food. To have a reasonable chance of keeping warming below 2C, the internationally agreed danger limit, the world must end all emissions within the next few decades, the communiqué warns. The British Academy is one of the 24 institutions and its president, the climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern, said David Cameron and the UK had a special responsibility to lead the fight against climate change. “The UK led the world with both the modern scientific revolution and the industrial revolution, and must lead again now on the creation of a safer, cleaner and more prosperous world,” Stern said. Another institution involved is health research charity the Wellcome Trust, which has been the focus of a Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign. The campaign has asked the charity to sell its substantial investments in fossil fuel companies. The Wellcome Trust acknowledges climate change is a great threat to health and the campaign argues that it is therefore “morally and financially misguided to invest in companies dedicated to finding and burning more oil, gas and coal.”

Amber Rudd MP

Amber Rudd MP

After news of the UK government’s swathe of changes to its environmental initiatives caused widespread negative comments,  the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said such drastic changes were needed to drive down consumer bills. Lord Nick Bourne, who is responsible for the Conservative Party’s energy efficiency policy, says last week’s decision to axe the Green Deal along with recent moves to restrict clean energy subsidies will mean “people are not paying bills that are totally unaffordable”. Speaking to,  Bourne said: “This is a new Government and we are setting the scene. What we’ve done this week and last week is ensure bills will come down. We’re keen to strip some of these measures out… to have a simplified system which is subsidy-free.” And a week after the Conservative Government cut renewable energy subsidies and closed off key energy efficiency schemes, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has said “it cannot be left to one part of the political spectrum to dictate the solution” to climate change. In her first major speech on climate change since the election, Rudd said that she understands why people see tackling global warming as “cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism” but said “It was Margaret Thatcher who first put climate change on the international agenda. She [said] ‘the danger of global warming is real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.’ I agree.” Rudd reiterated that the Tories are committed to climate action, and that “our long-term economic plan goes hand in hand with a long-term plan for climate action”.  Image.

Insurance giant Aviva has announced a target to invest £500m every year for five years in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The announcement of £2.5bn worth of investment will give the insurance giant carbon savings of 100,000 for these investments. Aviva’s plans were announced in a speech by chief executive Mark Wilson at the launch of an Aviva-commissioned report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which investigates the economic risks of climate change. Aviva chief executive Mark Wilson said: “As an investor, we’re going to challenge fossil fuel companies to look longer term and to the low carbon economy. We will divest where we think a company is not making sufficient progress towards the engagement goals set.”

The UK solar industry remains on track to deliver power without subsidies by 2020, but clearer and more stable support from the Government will be needed in order to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ of deployment. That’s the conclusion of a major new report from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and consutancy firm KPMG, released just a day after the Tories unveiled shock proposals to end a key subsidy support scheme for solar energy developers. “This report shows how close solar is to competing with traditional power generation, and with positive government decisions we can ensure the smooth transition from subsidy to business as usual,” said REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska.

The number of single-use plastic bags handed out by UK supermarkets has increased for the fifth year running to 8.5bn, figures show. The number is up by 200m on 2013 despite the average household already having 40 plastic bags stashed away, research from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found. In England, the number of single-use bags from supermarkets rose from 7.4bn in 2013 to just over 7.6bn, the statistics from waste reduction body Wrap revealed.

beesA farmer and beekeeper has revealed that 37 million bees dropped dead after other farms in Ontario, Canada sprayed neonictinoids on their GMO crops. Bees’ importance to the planet cannot be overstated. The tiny, bumbling bee is responsible for pollinating one-sixth of flowering plants in the world, and also about 400 different types of agricultural plants. In fact, it is estimated that just last year, the honey-producing pollinators helped provide over $19 billion worth of agricultural crops with their pollination services. Globally, they are responsible for helping to create a $300 billion revenue.

Argos is to become the first big UK retailer to offer customers the chance to trade-in their unwanted mobile handsets and tablets as part of a new recycling initiative.The service  will allow customers to take older handsets and tablets to any of the firm’s 788 stores where they will be paid for the items in Argos vouchers. The items will then be refurbished and sold on, or recycled for parts. Argos has been supported in developing the take-back scheme by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which through the EU Life+ funded REBus project is seeking to help companies implement resource efficient business models to keep products in use for longer. UK householders are estimated to have around £1bn worth of electrical and electronic equipment in their homes which is no longer used, and two-thirds of those surveyed by WRAP said they would be willing to trade in their tech products with a reputable retailer.

Apple, Coca-Cola and Walmart are among 13 American multinationals that have put forward $140bn of new low-carbon investment in an announcement at the White House today (27 July). The 13 companies have expressed their support for US President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut six billion tonnes of carbon pollution by 2030 at a White House event hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. The businesses have signed up to an American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Together, the companies are voicing strong support for the Paris climate change talks which will be held in December. The group aims to demonstrate a commitment to climate action, with collective investment of $140bn in low-carbon technologies and plans for more than 1,600MW of renewable energy. The companies launching the Climate Pledge include Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, GM, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi-Co, UPS and Walmart.

And more from the USA:  Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has promised to build more than 500 million solar panels by the end of her first term has US President. In an announcement on her campaign website yesterday (26 July), Clinton said climate change required the US to stand up and do more to invest in clean energy. Clinton said: “You don’t have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all. You just have to be willing to act.”

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012And the US has put steel in the water for what will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The Block Island project, developed by energy company Deepwater Wind, has begun construction of its first large-scale offshore wind facility. The landmark project will see the construction of a five-turbine, 30MW capacity wind farm in Rhode Island state waters. The turbines will rise 589ft above sea level, making them some of the tallest wind turbines in the world with the capability to withstand a ‘Category 3’ storm.

Zero Waste Scotland’s chief executive Iain Gulland has  announced the launch of a new fund to boost remanufacturing innovation. The resource efficiency organisation opened a fund offering awards of up to £100,000 over two years to encourage remanufacturing for items such as commercial and industrial equipment, furniture and small electronics. “The remanufacturing sector presents a fantastic economic opportunity for Scotland,” said Gulland, “and Zero Waste Scotland is focused on getting the right infrastructure and supply of products and materials in place for Scotland to reap the rewards.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott may be more interested in economic growth than climate change but the fact that scientists say climate change is prompting man eating salt water crocodiles, cane toads and dengue fever carrying mosquitoes to move South down the gold coat must surely cause him some concern – maybe?

Greenpeace have released this rather telling image: Its TRUE!



The UK government just okayed a plan to sow bee-endangering seeds across the country

beesFrom the Sum of Us

Despite the fact that bee-endangering pesticides are banned in the EU, the UK government just gave the go-ahead to farmers to sow these toxic-coated seeds anyway. Any day now, Bayer and Syngenta’s toxic bee-hurting seeds could be sown — wreaking even more havoc on our bees.
Instead of listening to us, the Government listened to the intensive farming industry – ignoring the growing evidence of how dangerous these chemicals are to bees and other pollinators.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already signed petitions to the UK Government to stop harming our bees, and they’re feeling the sting. A massive public outcry could force the government to back down and protect bees.

Sign the petition now to the UK Government: stop allowing our bees to die — uphold the pesticide ban!

Neonicotinoids or “neonics”, the world’s most widely used insecticide, were restricted in the EU in 2013 because they were found to be of ‘high acute risk’ to bees. They can still be used on some crops but not those that attract bees when they flower.

Serious scientific evidence shows that the nerve agents cause serious harm to bees – whose pollination is vital for many crops, and thus threaten our whole food supply.

This plan to sow UK fields with treated bee-harming seeds flies in the face of science and facts.

HoneyBeeThe Government gagged its own pesticide advisers to try and stop campaigners from piling pressure on the government — showing that they are terrified of a massive public outcry. They haven’t even seen the half.

Companies like Bayer and their associates have been trying to overturn the neonics ban in the EU for years – using lawsuits and intimidation tactics to try and get their way. But we’ve been there at every step, fighting hard to make sure our precious pollinators aren’t stamped out by corporate greed.
Let’s swarm the UK Government with signatures now and make sure they protect bees once and for all.


hawksbill-turtle-thailandThe warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists have said. The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record. Global sea-level also reached a record high, with the expansion of those warming waters, keeping pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth over the past two decades, the report said.

Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger has said  global warming is a ‘battle in the real world’ that’s bigger than any movie, at the first summit of conscience for the climate in Paris. Schwarzenegger has been chosen by the French government to join Nobel prizewinners, philosophers, UN secretary generals, spiritual leaders and theologians to make the moral case for the world to act urgently on climate change. Talking at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate on Tuesday – ahead of the crucial UN climate change meeting in the city in December – the Terminator star and former California governor declared the science debate over, saying planetary catastrophe could only be avoided with ethical action saying “I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction, this is a battle in the real world, it is impacting us right now.”

warm houseBritain’s first low cost ‘energy positive’ house, which can generate more electricity than its occupants will use, opens on Thursday despite George Osborne axing plans to make housebuilders meet tough low carbon housing targets from next year. The modest three-bedroom house built in just 16 weeks on an industrial estate outside Bridgend in Wales cost just £125,000 to build and, said its Cardiff University designers, will let occupants use the sun to pay the rent. Using batteries to store the electricity which it generates from the solar panels that function as the roof, and having massive amounts of insulation to reduce energy use in winter months, it should be able to export electricity to the national grid for eight months of the year. For every £100 spent on electricity used, it should be able to generate £175 in electricity exports, said Professor Phil Jones, whose team from the Welsh School of Architecture designed the house specifically to meet the low carbon housing targets set by the Labour government in 2006. More on the Guardian here.

beesThe UK government has gagged its own pesticide advisers, after they refused to back an application by the National Farmers Union to lift a ban on bee-harming chemicals. The gag is intended to prevent campaigners lobbying ministers on the issue, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, were banned in the European Union in 2013. Substantial scientific evidence indicates that the nerve agents cause serious harm to bees, whose pollination is vital for many crops. The National Farmers Union says oil seed rape is becoming impossible to grow without the pesticides and applied for an emergency lifting of the ban on two neonicotinoids.

A best-selling herbicide that the World Health Organisation suspects causes cancer could get a new lease of life in Europe after being deemed safe by a key assessment based largely on classified industry reports. A decision on whether to extend the license for glyphosate’s use in Europe is pending, but earlier this year, it was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a preliminary report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The full report is due for release imminently. More here.

London_smog-_UKNearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution, more than twice as many as previously thought, according to new research. The premature deaths are due to two key pollutants, fine particulates known as PM2.5s and the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2), according to a study carried out by researchers at King’s College London.

The first conclusive sighting of a pine marten in England in over 100 years suggests that the elusive domestic cat-sized member of the stoat and weasel family may have been living in the Shropshire hills for years. Amateur wildlife recorder Dave Pearce took two photographs of the dark brown creature thought to be extinct, in a wood in south west Shropshire last week. The photographic evidence has now been verified by Stuart Edmunds, chair of the Shropshire mammal group.

Britain should drop its focus on nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) and refocus spending on optimising renewables and energy efficiency, a leading academic has urged. Catherine Mitchell – a professor of energy policy at Exeter University a lead author on the IPCC’s Fifth Synthesis report – said: “I think the current energy policy in place is simply not credible.” Speaking at an event in Westminster, titled ‘Renewable energy: How far can Britain go?’, Mitchell said: “We may have one or two new nuclear plants, we may not. Even if we do, it doesn’t actually matter, because it does very little for carbon reductions. There may also be CCS being talked about – but even if CCS comes out, there’s really no space to put the carbon. “The only thing in town is renewable energy and energy efficiency. And it’s because those are the only things in town that we need to take stock as a country, and make sure that things are in place to be the building blocks of the future.”

Developers of a new biomass plant in Sheffield have secured £30m funding from the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) and fund managers Equitix. The funding will see the construction of a 6.5MW capacity combined heat and power (CHP) facility in the Holbrook area of Sheffield, with the potential to heat more than 6,700 local properties. The scheme received £14.6m from the fund Energy Savings Investments, in which GIB is an investor, and £15m private capital from the Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund.

sea_ice_polar_bearThe former US vice-president and climate champion Al Gore has made a rare criticism of Barack Obama as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, denouncing the venture as “insane” and calling for a ban on all oil and gas activity in the polar region. With Shell planning to begin drilling in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea within days, Gore said in an interview with the Guardian that Obama was wrong to ever allow drilling in the Arctic. It was the only real point of criticism from Gore of Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, at home and through a global deal to be negotiated in Paris at the end of the year. “I think Arctic drilling is insane. I think that countries around the world would be very well advised to put restrictions on drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean,” Gore told the Guardian in Toronto, where he was passing on his techniques for talking about the climate crisis to 500 new recruits from his Climate Reality Project.

Andy Gotts has photographed almost 60 celebrities wearing the Save the Arctic T-shirt designed by fashion icon and activist Dame VivienneWestwood, in a project that has taken 18 months.



UK Government thinks green is a ‘has been’

SOLAR POWERThe UK government has announced it is to cease funding for the Green Deal, spelling the end for its flagship energy household efficiency programme. The scheme offers cashbacks and incentives on such things as double-glazing, insulation and boilers.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change said it took the decision to protect taxpayers, citing low take-up and concerns about industry standards. Labour said ministers’ approach to energy efficiency had been a “failure”. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it would work with the building industry and consumer groups to agree a new “value-for-money approach”. Future schemes needed to provide better value for money, and support the goal of insulating one million more homes and the government’s commitment to tackle fuel poverty, it said. The announcement comes a day after the government said it would be consulting on whether to end subsidies for many new solar farms.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it was to consult on closing support for new solar farms under 25 acres in size by April next year. It argued that scrapping the renewables obligation scheme for smaller projects would help bring down the cost of solar subsidies to bills, currently running at £3 per household. Other measures  included removing the guaranteed level of subsidy for biomass conversions. Critics rounded on the proposals, suggesting they would hit investment in clean energy and jobs. But the DECC said: “Reducing energy bills for hard working British families and businesses and meeting climate goals in the most cost effective way are Government priorities.

Announcing an end to future funding of the Green Deal Finance Company, which delivers the scheme, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We are on the side of hardworking families and businesses – which is why we cannot continue to fund the Green Deal.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “This proposed cut to support for solar is utterly short-sighted saying “While the Government continues to subsidise fossil fuels and nuclear, it’s undermining investor confidence in clean, renewable energy generation.

Shame on the Faroe Isles

Captain Paul Watson's photo.

Update From the Faroes 1705 Hours (Faroes Time)

The Grind on the island of Vagur at Borg Beach is underway. On this same beach on June 10th they viciously slaughtered 110 whales and now they want to take between 100 and 200 more. It does not look like the whales can escape. The BRIGITTE BARDOT has been stopped by the Danish Navy.Two Sea Shepherd crew from the BARDOT have been arrested by the Danish Navy. All the courage and determination in the world cannot overcome the power of a Naval Frigate and an armed patrol ship. The police are on the beaches protecting the armed mob of whale killers from any acts of kindness that might occur.

What is about to happen in a few minutes is a disgrace to humanity, to the Faroe Islands and to the nation of Denmark and every Danish citizen. It is a disgrace to Europe and is a blatant violation of European Union law.

Within minutes the screams of the whales will pierce the air, the shouts of sadistic joy from the killers will attempt to drown them out. The knives will stab, the lances will penetrate innocent flesh and the entire families of whales will be extinguished in pools of hot blood as calves die alongside their mothers and mothers watch in horror as their children are mutilated in a human orgy of slaughter.
Is this what you are all about Denmark. Is this the image you wish to present to the world. The red on your flag represents the blood of innocent, self aware, intelligent sentient beings. And they are dying for what? The Faroese do not need to eat their flesh. They are dying in the name of archaic traditions that no longer have any place in the 21st Century, they are dying so that the men of the Faroe Islands can validate their existence in a circus of cruelty and sadistic pleasure.

More here

A message from PETA – Don’t Let SeaWorld Build New Prisons!

SeaWorld wants to build new artificial tanks?!
A bigger prison is STILL A PRISON!

SeaWorld has submitted an application to the California Coastal Commission to build new artificial tanks, and we need your help to speak out against it.

SeaWorld claims that its Blue World Project will help orcas, but we know that people like you won’t be fooled by this desperate, drop-in-the-bucket move. In the wild, orcas dive to up to 1,000 feet. The tank expansion that SeaWorld has announced will have a depth of only 50 feet. And because the tank will be only 350 feet long, orcas would have to swim more than 1,500 lengths back and forth per day to approximate the 100 miles a day they may naturally travel in the ocean. This project will not provide anything close to truly “dynamic opportunities” that will “support the whales’ broad range of behaviors and provide choices that can challenge them both physically and mentally,” as the company claims. This project is window-dressing intended to mislead the public into thinking that the orcas are no longer suffering.

If SeaWorld really wants to improve its image, it should spend its money on innovative animal-free exhibits that will truly wow people and on coastal sanctuaries where marine mammals can feel and experience the ocean, hear their families, and perhaps one day be reunited with them. It shouldn’t build a slightly bigger orca prison.

Please tell the California Coastal Commission to vote AGAINST SeaWorld’s Blue World Project.

Thanks for everything that you do to help animals!



The Arcadia Spider Goes Green!


Glasto.Arc.002The amazing Arcadia Spectacular Spider – already a major feature at Glastonbury and now with its own show planned in Bristol on the 4th and 5th September, has got even greener. The Spider – which is constructed out of reclaimed, salvaged and upcycled materials, now runs on bio fuels and the shows in September are part of Bristol’s celebrations at being the European  Green Capital in 2015.

The bio fuel spider was launched as part of the first outing of Arcadia’s amazing ‘Metamorphosis’ show. You can see highlights from this extraordinary show and special effects in this short video

Images by Jo Allen