Tag Archives: donald trump

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droughteastafrica2016 was the hottest year on record, setting a new high for the third year in a row, with scientists firmly putting the blame on human activities that drive climate change. The final data for 2016 was released on Wednesday by the three key agencies – the UK Met Office and Nasa and Noaa in the US – and showed 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century. Direct temperature measurements stretch back to 1880, but scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years. More on the Guardian here.

The world must not allow the Paris climate deal to be “derailed” or continue to inflict irreparable damage on the environment, Chinese president Xi Jinping has said, amid fears the rise of Donald Trump could strike a body blow to the fight against global warming. Trump, who will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, has threatened to pull out of the historic Paris agreement and dismissed climate change as a Chinese “hoax” and “expensive… bullshit”. But in an address to the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday, which observers saw as a high-profile bid to bolster China’s image as a reliable and dedicated climate leader, Xi issued a direct challenge to those views, warning “there is only one Earth in the universe and we mankind have only one homeland”.

Radiation levels inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are at their highest since the plant suffered a triple meltdown almost six years ago. The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled by a huge tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011.

Scotland is seeking to dramatically cut its reliance on fossil fuels for cars, energy and homes after setting a radical target to cut total climate emissions by 66% within 15 years. In one of the world’s most ambitious climate strategies, ministers in Edinburgh have unveiled far tougher targets to increase the use of ultra-low-carbon cars, green electricity and green home heating by 2032. The Scottish government has set the far higher target after its original goal of cutting Scotland’s emissions by 42% by 2020 was met six years early – partly because climate change has seen winters which are warmer than normal, cutting emissions for home heating.

babyorangMore than half of the world’s apes, monkeys, lemurs and lorises are now threatened with extinction as agriculture and industrial activities destroy forest habitats and the animals’ populations are hit by hunting and trade. In the most bleak assessment of primates to date, conservationists found that 60% of the wild species are on course to die out, with three quarters already in steady decline. The report casts doubt on the future of about 300 primate species, including gorillas, chimps, gibbons, marmosets, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises.

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public. The communications director for Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and manmade carbon emissions are to blame. Former EPA staffers said on Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.  And Donald Trump was sharply criticised by Native Americans and climate change activists  after he signed executive orders to allow construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Both pipe projects had been blocked by Barack Obama’s administration, partly because of environmental concerns. But Trump has questioned the science of climate change and campaigned on a promise to expand energy infrastructure and create jobs.  The environmental movement is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”, according to an adviser to the US president Donald Trump’s administration. Myron Ebell, who has denied the dangers of climate change for many years and led Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until the president’s recent inauguration, also said he fully expected Trump to keep his promise to withdraw the US from the global agreement to fight global warming. The Republicans have backed off bill to sell 3.3m acres of public land after an outcry. Congressman Jason Chaffetz withdraws House bill 621 as conservationists and outdoorsmen vowed to continue fight over similar legislation. Chaffetz, a representative from Utah, wrote on Instagram that he had a change of heart in the face of strong opposition from “groups I support and care about” who, he said, “fear it sends the wrong message”.

Falling costs of electric vehicles and solar panels could halt worldwide growth in demand for oil and coal by 2020, a new report has suggested. A scenario that takes into account the latest cost reduction projections for the green technologies, and countries’ pledges to cut emissions, finds that solar power and electric vehicles are “gamechangers” that could leave fossil fuels stranded. Polluting fuels could lose 10% of market share to solar power and clean cars within a decade, the report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative found.

Shell_oil_croppedBut ……. global demand for oil will still be growing in 2035 even with an enormous growth in electric cars in the next two decades, with numbers on the road rising from 1m to 100m, BP has predicted. The oil and gas giant predicted that despite electric cars spreading rapidly and renewable energy recording exceptional growth, oil demand would still rise because of rising prosperity in the developing world. BP said electric cars would not be a “gamechanger” for the oil industry. “It’s not Teslas and the US. It’s the fact that 2 billion people, much of that in Asia, are moving to middle incomes, can buy their first motor car and that drives up oil demand. It’s that stuff that really matters,” said Spencer Dale, BP group’s chief economist.

In the final week of January London was put on “very high” alert as cold and still weather, traffic, and a peak in the use of wood-burning stoves combined to send air pollution soaring in the capital – and across swaths of the UK. According to data from King’s College London, areas of London including Camden, the City of London and Westminster all reached 10 out of 10 on the air pollution index, with many other areas rated seven or higher.

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Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

In the USA Democrats have promised to try to thwart the appointment of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, amid fears within the agency that he will trigger an “unprecedented disaster” for America’s environment and public health. Donald Trump has nominated Pruitt to lead an agency he has sued multiple times in his role as attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt has vowed to dismantle serried environmental rules and is currently involved in a legal effort by 27 states to overturn Barack Obama’s clean power plan, the president’s centerpiece policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Giraffes have seen a 38% decline in their numbers since 1985, falling from about 157,000 to 97,500 today. They sadly join the “red list” compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has also added more than 700 newly recognised bird species, but 13 of these are already extinct. But there is good news in the list as well with the rediscovery of a few species thought to have been lost, such a Madagascan freshwater fish which had not been seen since the 1960s, and the recovery of the Seychelles white-eye bird after conservation efforts.

Google’s data centres and the offices for its 60,000 staff will be powered entirely by renewable energy from next year, in what the company has called a “landmark moment”. The Guardian reports that the internet giant is already the world’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable electricity, last year buying 44% of its power from wind and solar farms. Now it will be 100%, and an executive said it would not rule out investing in nuclear power in the future, too.

Paris had a second day of free public transport due to a spike in air pollution – and some cars were barred from the roads. The city is suffering its worst and most prolonged winter pollution for at least 10 years, the Airparif agency which measures the levels said on Wednesday. In the week Authorities said only drivers with odd-numbered registration plates can drive in the capital region on Wednesday. Drivers of even-numbered cars were given the same opportunity on Tuesday, but could now be fined up to €35 if they are caught behind the wheel. More than 1,700 motorists were fined for violations on Tuesday. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said images of smog blanketing the capital were proof of the need to reduce vehicle use in the city centre.

London mayor Sadiq Khan will  more than double funding to clean up the capital’s dirty air. London is one of the most polluted of dozens of cities in the UK that breach EU standards on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas caused by diesel vehicles. Air pollution has been linked to nearly 9,500 premature deaths in the city each year. Funding for air quality measures over the next five years will be more than doubled to £875m, under new plans, up from the £425m committed under the former mayor Boris Johnson. Khan will has also promised to spend £770m on cycling initiatives over the course of his term, saying he wants to make riding a bike the “safe and obvious” transport choice for all Londoners.

Two prestigious organisations have warned that England may have tipped into deforestation, with more trees being cut down than planted for the first time in possibly 40 years. “We are only planting 700 hectares (1,730 acres) a year, almost certainly less than we are felling,” said Austin Brady, the conservation director of the Woodland Trust charity which, with commercial forestry groups, wants government to pledge to meet its planting targets at a parliamentary debate. Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, the trade association for the UK forestry industry, said planting was at its lowest level in England in more than 40 years. “Forests are being lost to development and infrastructure; we are cutting a lot and planting so few, so it may be that England is technically deforesting,” said Goodall. More here.

The level of household waste which is recycled in the UK has fallen for the first time, figures have shown. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs statistics show that 44.3% of household rubbish was recycled in 2015, down from 44.9% in 2014. It is the first fall since 2010 when monitoring began, though is still the second-highest annual rate on record. Waste company Biffa Municipal warned that recyclables that are not clean (where they are contaminated) can cause “lorry-loads” to be rejected. There is a European Union target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.
People working in green buildings think better in the office and sleep better when they get home, a new study has revealed. The research indicates that better ventilation, lighting and heat control improves workers’ performance and could boost their productivity by thousands of dollars a year. It also suggests that more subjective aspects, such as beautiful design, may make workers happier and more productive. An increasing number of green buildings are being constructed by developers as the cost and health benefits become better known, but this the first study to show such buildings can make their occupants brainier. The research analysed workers in certified green buildings in five US cities and compared them with other workers in the same cities employed in different offices owned by the same companies.

The world’s most widely used insecticides harm the ability of bees to vibrate flowers and shake out the pollen to fertilise crops, according to preliminary results from a new study. Some flowers, such as those of crops like tomatoes and potatoes, must be shaken to release pollen and bumblebees are particularly good at creating the buzz needed to do this. But the research shows that bumblebees exposed to realistic levels of a neonicotinoid pesticide fail to learn how to create the greatest buzz and collect less pollen as a result. The research is consistent with previous work that has shown neonicotinoid pesticides reduce learning and memory in bees. A moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoids on flowering crops was put in place in Europe in 2013 and will be reviewed next year.

The rogue practice of removing vital pollution filters from the exhausts of diesel vehicles has suffered a blow with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for the first time banning an advert for the service.

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icegreen2The Guardian reports that Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe. The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level. Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year. “It’s been about 20C warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia. This is unprecedented for November,” said research professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers university.

A bear shot in the frigid expanse of northern Canada is believed to be a grizzly-polar bear hybrid, a consequence of the increasing interactions between the two imposing bear species caused by climate change.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Barack Obama’s administration is rushing through conservation safeguards for large areas of public land ahead of Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, presenting a conundrum for the new president’s goal of opening up more places for oil and gas drilling. The US Department of the Interior banned gold mining on 30,000 acres of land near the northern entrance of Yellowstone national park. This follows announcements that barred drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and a brokered settlement that cancelled 32,000 acres of mining leases on Montana land considered by the Blackfeet tribe as “like a church, a divine sanctuary”. Many thibk that Donald Trump presidency will be a ‘disaster for the planet’ and the Obama’s administration has also cancelled 25 oil and gas leases in Colorado since Trump’s election win and further executive action is expected before the real estate magnate takes office in January.  Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favour of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. probably sensible in the circumstances as there wont be much left on Earth by then if Trump insists fuelling economic growth by burning fossil fuels and stripping resources from the planet. But a glimmer of better news – Donald Trump has said he has an “open mind” over US involvement in the Paris agreement to combat climate change, after previously pledging to withdraw from the effort. Have a look at this article: China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump’s triumph and note that one of Trump’s team thinks that the US should completely quit the United Nations forum to tackle climate change in order to quickly exit the Paris climate agreement, according to a conservative lawyer who is part of Donald Trump’s transition team. Steven Groves, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said exiting the UNFCCC would be the “most practical” way for the US to drop its climate change commitments. Groves is part of the state department transition team for the president-elect.  A growing number of environmentally friendly American businesses – including major airlines and banks, as well as energy, tech and pharmaceutical companies – are pushing back against the president-elect’s attempts to dismiss climate change concerns and are planning to take the lead in the drive to make the US a worldwide leader at slowing or reversing the damage.

hawksbill-turtle-thailandA new study has found that higher water temperatures have ravaged the Great Barrier Reef, causing the worst coral bleaching recorded by scientists. In the worst-affected area, 67% of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University study found.

Peru has declared a state of emergency in seven districts in the north of the country where forest fires have killed two, injured four and burnt nearly 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of land, including five protected natural areas.

Four of the world’s biggest cities are to ban diesel vehicles from their centres within the next decade, as a means of tackling air pollution, with campaigners urging other city leaders to follow suit. The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced plans on Friday to take diesel cars and vans off their roads by 2025. Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, led the initiative at the C40 conference of mayors on climate change, taking place in Mexico this week. She said: “Mayors have already stood up to say that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes, particularly for our most vulnerable citizens.”  More here.

plasticbagThe number of plastic carrier bags found on UK beaches has dropped by almost half, according to conservationists. The Marine Conservation Society said the introduction of a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the past five years was instrumental in the reduction.

Also in the UK, the government is being forced to deliver an effective plan to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis within eight months, after a high court judge rejected a longer timetable as “far too leisurely”. Environmental lawyers ClientEarth inflicted a humiliating legal defeat on ministers earlier in November – its second in 18 months – when the high court ruled that ministers’ plans to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in many UK cities and towns were so poor they were unlawful. The government subsequently refused to agree to the eight-month timetable proposed by ClientEarth for a new plan, saying it needed until September next year. But on Monday, Mr Justice Garnham ordered the government to produce a draft plan by until 24 April 2017 and a final one by 31 July 2017.

Princess Cruise Lines will pay a US$40m penalty after pleading guilty to seven federal charges in an illegal ocean pollution case that involved one ship’s use of a so-called magic pipe to divert oily waste into the waters. Miami US attorney Wifredo Ferrer told a news conference the penalty was the largest ever of its kind. A plea agreement filed in federal court also requires Carnival, the UK and US-listed parent company of the Princess line, to submit 78 cruise ships across its eight brands to a five-year environmental compliance programme overseen by a judge. Ferrer said the illegal practices came to light when an engineer aboard the Caribbean Princess discovered the “magic pipe” in 2013 off the coast of Britain and told investigators about it.

Lady Elliott Island, Great Barrier Reef by Jasmine ChallisA remote tropical island has catapulted itself headlong into the future by ditching diesel and powering all homes and businesses with the scorching South Pacific sun. Using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs the tiny island of Ta’u in American Samoa is now entirely self-sufficient for its electricity supply – though the process of converting has been tough and pitted with delays

 

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Matthew Ames, 38, who used famous names, including James Middleton, the brother of the Duchess of Cambridge, Jack Charlton and Sir Rodney Walker, and quotes from Tony Blair and the Prince of Wales to promote bogus “ethical investments” and persuade people to part with £1.2 million to fund a lavish lifestyle, now faces a custodial prison sentence after being convicted at Islelworth Crown Court of scamming investors out of £846,000 in a bogus Sri Lankan teak tree plantation scheme and £430,000 to buy bogus carbon credits through his business – Forestry For Life.  Ames had denied two counts of fraudulent trading during a near six-week long trial.

treesforlifeBetter news – our friends at the End of The Road Festival have launched a scheme to support planting more trees in FESTIVAL WOOD – our reforestation project with Trees for Life in Dundgreggan, Scotland. And these are real trees – we know that for sure – because we have planted some of them ourselves!

Train manufacturer Bombardier, who have won the £1 billion contract to make trains for London’s Crossrail project, ensuring the future of manufacturing at its Derby plant, has said that it now has planning permission to cover the roof of its wing assembly factory with solar panels – five hectares of panels the size of six football pitches – and will install a gasification plant to use waste to produce energy.

The global warming ‘pause’ which some climate change sceptics (the headless chicken brigade) have taken as evidence that climate change is a myth could be explained by a dramatic increase in the amount of heat absorbed by the Pacific Ocean. A new report published in Nature Climate Change from the University of New South Wales says that the increased speed of the easterly trade winds blowing from South America to Australasia over the last two decades means more warm surface water is pushed down into the Ocean, leaving cooler surface water, which can then absorb more heat.

Morrissey has called Prince William a ‘Thickwit’ and accused the royal family of hypocrisy after it was revealed that William has flown off on a hunting trip just days before taking part in a high-profile campaign to highlight poaching and the illegal wildlife trade with his father, Prince Charles. Accompanied by his brother, Prince Harry, the second in line to the throne flew out to Spain to shoot wild boar and stag at an estate in rural Cordoba owned by one of the wealthiest men in Britain, the Duke of Westminster. The princes are reportedly frequent visitors to Finca La Garganta, which is one of the largest and most exclusive hunting estates in western Europe. In a video message which launches their anti-poaching campaign and the threat posed to that wildlife by organised criminal gangs which slaughter animals for their tusks or horns or other body parts, Prince  Charles, said that the numbers being killed are “staggering”: nearly 100 elephants killed every day – a rhinoceros killed every 11 hours – a wild tiger population which, a century ago, numbered around 100,000 and which, today, has been reduced to an estimated 3,200.

The Scottish Government has defeated Donald Trump in a legal battle that has involved the tycoon challenge plans for a new offshore wind farm in Aberdeenshire. Trump has been opposed to the construction of the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) since plans were approved in 2011, which would have “negative impact” on the view from the US tycoon’s golf course.  Trump launched a legal case last year against the Scottish Government who approved plans for the project put forward by Vattenfall, Technip and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG).

UK clothing powerhouses including Tesco, Next and designer Stella McCartney are among 53 retailers, suppliers, charities and recyclers in the textiles sector who have committed to significantly reduce the environmental impacts of clothing across its lifecycle. Led by WRAP, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) has unveiled the SCAP 2020 Commitment targets today (11 February), pledging a significant 15% reduction in carbon, water and in waste to landfill, plus a 3.5% reduction in waste arising, per tonne of clothing by 2020.  WRAP states that on average, the UK consumer buys about 27 items of clothing a year with the average household spending £1,700 on clothing. SCAP signatories represent 40% of the UK clothing market based on retail sales value. To date 29 signatories and 24 supporters have signed up, including 12 retailers and 15 charities, recyclers and collectors.  And British retail giant Primark has announced a commitment to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain.  Signing up to Greenpeace’s global detox campaign, which is calling on brands to phase-out toxic chemicals from their supply chains, Primark follows major retailer Burberry, who announced the same commitment two weeks ago.

A very interesting article in the Guardian by John Harris: On climate change, Ed Miliband must match his bold words with real action – saying while Tory ranks contain so many ‘deniers’, Labour can now lead the way in bringing the planet’s fate to the top of the political agenda – “It’s not about Nigel Lawson, or pantomime-villain deniers: they will stick to their script no matter what, and sounded just as daft before the great deluge of 2014 as they have in the midst of it. No, if anyone is going to carry the can for the fact that climate change vanished from public discourse just as the weather was definitely turning strange, it is surely the politicians who once banged on about its urgency, and then suddenly went quiet.” More here .

sochiAs news breaks that two members of Pussy Riot have been arrested in Sochi, apparently whilst just walking along the street although equally maybe for stealing a handbag (although they had announced a planned protest) , more disturbing news that environmental campaigner Evgeny Vitishko has been jailed for three years after breaching the parole terms of  a suspended sentence – his original crime was painting a slogan on a house that activists say was built illegally on national park land. Campaigners say there have been repeated infringements and violations of environmental law during the build period for the winter Olympics.  The Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, has already met local people to discuss Vitishko’s case, and raised the matter with the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

climate week

2013 – is it looking any better?

2013It’s worth remembering that as 2013 ends, two members of punk group Pussy Riot remain in custody in Russian gulags for their protest against Vladimir Putin.    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will mark the new year in a prison camp in Mordovia, 360 miles south East of Moscow. Maria Alyokhina will be in Perm, 750 miles further east, in solitary confinement.  Both have young children, Nadezhda has a four year old daughter Gera, and Maria a five year old son Philip.

Will 2013 be the year of the hand me down? Maria Saltzman, the well known US trend spotter, says that we will shift away from visible consumerism, use car pools, downsize, look at smaller more energy efficient (and cheaper) houses, and start to adopt thrift – with even The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge embracing the “new frugality” by using hand me downs for the new royal baby. “Reduce, re-use , recycle” anyone!

Maybe 2013 will be the year when we finally wake up to the huge damage the global food giants are doing. with over one third of UK primary school leavers classified as obese and an ever fattening adult population, the food industry has become adept at manipulating the political agenda – did you know Coca-Cola and Nestle both have seats on the global food policy board at the World Health Organisation. And in the UK the food industry primarily ‘self regulates’ – and we get fatter and fatter – and more and more unhealthy.

More of the same – the Guardian has revealed that 23 employees of energy companies are currently working within the Department of Energy and Climate Change – and taxpayers are actually paying for staff from Centrica, ESB (Ireland’s biggest energy provider) and National Grid. Staff from Shell and npower owner RWE are not charged back. DECC say the secondees bring in vital expertise and knowledge – and have to ‘self police’ themselves in any conflict of interests.

Electric car sales are expected to  double in the UK in 2013 as prices start to fall as cheaper  models are introduced – and the number of charging points start to increase. That said, sales are expected to increase fro just 3,000 to 6,000.  The number of charging points in London will increase from 900 to 1,300.

2012 was officially the wettest on record in England, dramatically reversing the drought that the UK was facing when 2011 ended. 2013 will be blown in with 70mph winds and more rain according to the Met Office, with flooding once again predicted as rain falls on saturated ground.

UK Rail fares will go up 4.2% on average on Wednesday 2nd January. Some unregulated fares will go up by as much as 12%. Rail users point out that there has been no like improvement in services.

A new study, Understanding Society, says that single men in the UK are the worst at recycling – with only 65% recycling  compared to 79% for mixed-sex couples. The panel survey of more than 5,000 households showed that women are more committed recyclers than men, and more willing to spend time on recycling.

In a move reminiscent of the odious Donald Trump’s controversial Scottish golf course, campaigners are alerting the world to moves to build a £100 million gold course beside the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland –  a UNESCO World Heritage site. The National Trust is spearheading the challenge to protect the 39,000 hexagonal basalt stones which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

The Sam Simon (named after the animal activist co-creator of the Simpsons ) is the latest addition to Greenpeace’s fleet of ships. The Sam Simon will be deployed in the Antarctic Ocean as part of ‘Operation Zero Tolerance‘ against the Japanese whaling fleet – ironic as the boat was originally an ‘ocean research vessel’  and part of that whaling  fleet. Four ships will be deployed against the whalers in 2013.

And if you wanted a review of 2012, TreeHugger have posted a handy blog on their ’10 Environmental Victories in 2012′ here  http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/10-environmental-victories-2012.html. They also have 15 amazing animal photos from 2012 – starting with a rare white humpbacked whale and with bears, Manatees, monkeys, snakes, birds, insects and lions – and even a lobster – all here  http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/natural-sciences/15-amazing-animal-photos-2012/

The UK’s bird population has declined 13.7% since 1977.

Life expectancy for humans has risen 10 years over the last decade, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

France enters 2013 with a £300 million budget disaster at the Philharmonie de Paris. The costs for the  new aluminium encased classical concert venue, designed by Jean Nouvel,  are spiralling out of control with state auditors pointing to a ‘exorbitant inflation in costs’.  A senate committee warned of a ‘worrying drift’ in the budget. The project is being funded by the state and the city of Paris.

Emile Sande will end the year with the No 1 album in the UK with Our Version of Events.  X-Factor winner James Arthur tops the singles chart with Impossible. Adele’s album 21 has sold 4.562 million copies in the UK and despite being released in 2011 was the second biggest seller in 2012. She won six Grammy awards. Korean pop star Psy’s Gangnam Style has been seen by more than 1.083 billion people on You Tube, the most watched You Tube video of all time.

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olympicsEdie.net reports that the London 2012 Olympic Games has achieved carbon emissions savings of around 400,000 tons, despite larger than expected spectator-related emissions, according to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic games (LOCOG). Publishing its post-games sustainability report today, LOCOG said the popular success of the London games, which included 1.5m people lining the route of the Olympic Torch relay and full venues throughout the games, led to an increased ‘actual’ overall carbon footprint.  Spectator numbers substantially exceeded expectations leading to an increased footprint for spectators from 670,000 tons of CO2 emissions to an ‘actual’ footprint of 913,000 tons of CO2 emissions.  The increase was mainly due to the impact of travel, but also included revised estimates for accommodation, catering, merchandise and waste. On the construction side, the games was able to avoid 15% less carbon emissions than originally projected, while the operational side recorded a 28% drop from the original estimate. Other achievements included 100% waste diverted from landfill, with 99% of total waste being re-used or recycled. Final revised total emissions were 3.4m tons of CO2. http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=23711

The UK’s first solar-powered business park has generated 730,000kWh in its first 12 months, preventing 400 tonnes of CO2 from being released in to the atmosphere. Since the installation of 3,000 ground solar panels last year, Oxfordshire-based Howbery Business Park, which counts the Environment Agency among its tenants, powered 34% of its park with solar energy from April to September 2012, beating its initial forecast of 25%.  It has also fed more than 116,000 kWh to the National Grid to date.

call-for-entriesThe Resource Revolution Awards will recognise and champion those reinventing the concept of waste and revolutionising the way industry thinks and deals with it. This high-profile gala event in Central London will incorporate a panel discussion, bringing together the entire revolution in one event. The Closing date for entries is 15th February 2013. Visit www.resourcerevolution.net/awards to enter.

The unspeakably unpleasant Donald Trump is facing investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after Scottish Greens have lodged a complaint over adverts place db Trump in two newspapers linking windfarms with the release of the Lockerbie bomber.  The tycoon who is fightingthe proposed construction of a windfarm near his golf course on the Aberdeenshire coast, placed full page adverts in two leading Scottish newspapers last week – the Courier and the Press and Journal. The adverts feature a photograph of First Minister Alex Salmond and a Californian wind farm, and state that “tourism will suffer” as well as linking this claim to the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber.

And Scottish Water is planning to construct a 54MW wind farm on its land at the Backwater Reservoir in Angus, Scotland as it attempts to become self-sufficient in its energy use.

Jeffrey Kaffee, the retired airline pilot who, two years ago, became the first Chevrolet Volt owner in the world, has put 12,000 miles on his Volt, nut he has only burned 26.1 gallons of gasoline! That’s an average of about 1.08 gallon per month. Or put another way, that’s 459 miles per gallon of gasoline (though of course that’s not counting the electricity that he used). Pretty impressive!

The European Commission has awarded a consortium of stakeholders €13.3m to integrate renewable energy generation into the electrical grid. eStorage, a consortium of major European stakeholders from the electric power value chain, will aim to develop solutions for the widespread deployment of GWh-scale energy storage across the EU and to enhance grid management systems to allow the integration of a large share of renewable energies.

One of the largest developers in China, the China Pacific Construction Group, is planning to spend around 22 billion yuans (3.5 billion dollars) to flatten 700 mountains in the Lanzhou area, to allow the construction of a new giant city over an area of 130,000 hectares about 50 miles from the current city.

Heineken is set to recycle all of its remaining brown bottles as it looks to become the ‘greenest’ brewer in the world (probably).

The scientific community must take a more decisive lead in the debate on energy policy, according to the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). Research funded by the UKERC indicates that news coverage of renewables and related energy issues is creating uncertainty and confusion.  The research was put together by social scientists and experts from the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House. However in better news, The UK Government nnounced a revised support package for the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry today following discussions with industry associations.

The water industry has expressed its concerns over the Government’s announcement that fracking for shale gas will resume in the UK. Potential pollution of groundwater and the heavy water intensity of hydraulic fracturing are the main concerns being aired by water organisations.

Large firms are increasingly adopting and scaling up sustainability innovations and reaping substantial rewards in the process, new research has found. A study from WWF-UK shows that such innovations are often driven by smaller, disruptive business models creating new markets and altering existing ones. http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/working_with_business/green_game_changers/green_game_changers_insights_for_mainstreaming_business_innovation/

The progress of carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been disappointing but is a crucial technology and still has potential in the UK, according to Carbon Trust chair James Smith. Smith pointed to a report that CCS could cut the annual costs of meeting British carbon targets by up to 1% of GDP, or around £42bn per year, by 2050.

EU Environment Ministers have set out key actions to improve governance of those involved in managing water resources. Underlining the need for better implementation of the current water legislation, the minister’s conclusions will aim to improve land use, address water pollution, and increase water efficiency and resilience. As a first response to the Commission’s report, A blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources, the conclusions will also look at the integration of water policy objectives into other policy areas, such as the Common Agriculture Policy, the Cohesion Policy, renewable energy, and transport. And the EC has said that research funding worth €40m (£32.5m) will be made available in 2013 to support the development and uptake of innovative solutions to water challenges in Europe.