Tag Archives: japan

ANOTHER PLANET?

canberraA march expected to attract 200,000 people onto the streets of Paris ahead of crunch UN climate change talks was cancelled by the French government  in light of last Friday’s terror attacks and ongoing security concerns.  But organisers have said it is now even more important for people around the world to come out onto the streets for “the biggest global climate march in history” to protest “on behalf of those who can’t”. There were 2,173 events organised in more than 150 countries around the world on 28 and 29 November. The world’s largest solar-powered boat is en route to Paris for the COP21 climate conference, where it will be moored up as an ‘ambassador vessel’ to draw attention to the key issues of ocean plastic waste and maritime emissions.

The Brazilian government is fining the mining giants Vale and BHP Billiton for a dam burst at their jointly owned mine. The companies face preliminary fines of 250m Brazilian reais (£43.6m; $66.3m). President Dilma Rousseff said the country was “committed in the first place to blame those who are responsible.” On 5 November two dams at the Samarco iron ore mine in southern Brazil ruptured setting off a deadly mudslide. Authorities have confirmed that eight people died and 19 people are still missing. The mud is also being tested for potential toxins from the mine. The companies could face even higher fines from environmental regulators for water pollution and damage to local areas. State prosecutors are also considering whether to pursue criminal charges. Contaminated waste from so-called tailing ponds, mineral waste that was stored in reservoirs contained by the dams, was flowing through two states, interrupting the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people and raising questions about the potential impact of the waste on residents’ health, agriculture and the ecology of the region.  Teams of biologists are rushing to rescue fish from the river that was contaminated by the collapse: Mining company Samarco said in a statement that it was providing logistical support to the so-called Operation Noah’s Ark effort aimed at saving aquatic life from the now-turbid waters of the Doce river. Experts have warned that the ecological harm caused by the 5th November breaches could last a generation. water supplies for over a quarter of million people have been contaminated.

airpollutionThe UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations will be shut by 2025 with their use restricted by 2023, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has proposed. Ms Rudd wants more gas-fired stations to be built since relying on “polluting” coal is “perverse”. Only if gas-fuelled power can fill the void created by closing coal-powered stations would coal plants be shut, she said. Environmentalists are concerned little is being done to promote renewables.

Sir David Attenborough is attending the UN climate conference in Paris. He is working with the Global Apollo Programme, a campaign group which supports renewable energy. Attenborough told BBC Breakfast that solar energy needs to “undercut the price of energy obtained from oil and coal.”

UK retail giant Tesco has announced it is donating a further 700,000 meals from its 10 distribution centres to charities in an attempt to reduce the amount of surplus food the company is producing.  Tesco already supplies to redistribution charity FairShare with surplus food from its ambient fresh distribution centres; and the charity will receive a one-off donation of one million meals from Tesco, on top of the original 700,000 meals. FairShare’s CEO Lindsay Boswell said: “Over the last 12 months FareShare redistributed over 2,660 tonnes of food from Tesco – including food donated from the twice yearly Neighbourhood Food Collections – to over 2,100 charities across the UK. Our rewarding and longstanding partnership with Tesco means this latest donation will help us reach – and feed – even more vulnerable people.”

There’s a population crisis all right. But probably not the one you think. While all eyes are on human numbers, it’s the rise in farm animals that is laying the planet waste: Human numbers are rising at roughly 1.2% a year, while livestock numbers are rising at around 2.4% a year. By 2050 the world’s living systems will have to support about 120m tonnes of extra humans, and 400m tonnes of extra farm animals – More from George Monbiot on the Guardian here.

FrackOffAfter nearly 5 years Cuadrilla have abandoned their proposed fracking site at Becconsall near Banks, Lancashire. This is the same site that was occupied by protesters on the same day that Cuadrilla admitted causing seismic activity back in 2011. Residents and members of the UK’s very first anti-fracking community group Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) said: “REAF would like to thank all those who have supported us as we continue our work with other communities faced with the dangers of fracking.” Cuadrilla are still trying to press ahead with two new sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre, in Lancashire. They are trying to overturn Lancashire Councillors refusal by taking an appeal to the planning inspectorate” and “It comes as no surprise to members of REAF that exploratory drilling company Cuadrilla are to abandon the Becconsall site and remove over 150 monitoring stations in the local area. Their failure to comply with time frames and mitigation measures imposed on them by Lancashire County Council has shown their disregard for the planning process and has left locals with many unanswered questions.” Read more…

The world’s most widely used insecticides harm the ability of bumblebees to pollinate apple trees, scientists have discovered. The finding has important implications for agriculture and the natural world, say the researchers, as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce. There is good evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees but the new research, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show a negative impact on the vital pollination services bees provide. However new research has also shown that organic pesticides also increase the risk to bumble bees. Nematode worms, meant o infect and kill pests such as slugs and caterpillars, were found to wipe out up to 90% of bees within four days by scientists at Liverpool John Moores University who led the research.

Our Claire on the London Climate March

Our Claire on the London Climate March

Conservationists are calling for an end to a government cull of tens of thousands of fruit bats in Mauritius that they say is putting the survival of the threatened species at risk. Authorities began shooting 18,000 Mauritius fruit bats (Pteropus niger) on 7 November, despite protests and even though the species is protected on the Indian Ocean island and listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, the world’s conservation union. The government claims the cull is necessary because the number of bats has soared to almost 100,000 and is causing significant economic damage to the country’s lucrative fruit crops of banana, pineapple, lychee and mango.

The EU has dropped a plan to pressure countries into cutting food waste and marine litter by nearly a third, documents seen by the Guardian show. The law would have obliged countries to reduce food waste 30% by 2025 with national strategies for their retail, distribution, manufacturing and hospitality and household sectors. By 2030, under an aspirational target, countries would also have had to cut common pieces of rubbish found on their beaches by 30%, as well as fishing gear found at sea. But in the new draft of the EU ‘circular economy’ legislative proposal, which could change, references to marine litter have been removed and countries are merely asked to take unspecified “measures” to curb food waste, with no time frames or targets. More on the Guardian here.

Namibian lionFrance has banned the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies, nearly four months after the killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion by an American trophy hunter sparked international outrage. In a letter to the actor and animals rights activist Brigitte Bardot, France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal, said that she had instructed officials to stop issuing permits for lion trophies and was considering stricter controls on trophies from other species.

Stephanie Choate, a champion angler and a board member of marine conservation body Wild Oceans has been filmed riding on the back of a bluefin tuna holding a bottle of champagne. The fish had been hauled beside a boat.  Choate said ‘its hard to explain the love I have for these fish’ on an Instagram posting. The bluefin population in Nova Scotia has halve din the last 45 years.

The UK could get more than a third of its electricity demand from offshore wind by 2030 while also supporting 50,000 skilled jobs, a new Offshore Wind Vision document has found.  The document outlines a trajectory for offshore wind that will provide the UK with the “best opportunity for cost-effective decarbonisation”. Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council said: “It is only 15 years since the first UK offshore wind farm – just two 2 megawatt turbines – began operating. Since then the technology has matured rapidly to the point where the UK leads the world in deployment and could readily build 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2030.”

Britain will enter the Paris climate change talks this week with its credentials as a responsible, low-emission power generator in tatters. That is the stark conclusion of one of the country’s leading energy experts, Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University. Haszeldine believes George Osborne’s last-minute decision to axe the government’s £1bn support for a scheme to capture and bury carbon dioxide emissions from power stations was a final act that utterly undermined British negotiators’ status in Paris. More here.

imagesJapan is set to resume whaling early next year, after a break of more than 12 months, in defiance of an international court of justice ruling that it cease the practice. The Japanese government says it has taken into account the court ruling and its “scientific” whaling programme will catch only a third of the minke whales it caught under its previous programme – 333 instead of 1,000 – which it halted in March last year. Japan’s international whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, said in a letter that his government had “sincerely taken into account” recommendations of the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee. He said Japan’s new programme “does not require any substantial changes” and confirmed whaling would resume.

Shifting disease patterns, extreme weather events and degraded air and food quality are examples of how climate change is already killing tens of thousands of people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned . The UN agency said the upcoming global climate change conference in the French capital, Paris is an “important opportunity” to protect the health of current and future generations. Climate change is “the defining issue for the 21st century,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN agency estimates that seven million people died from diseases related to air pollution in 2012, making it the world’s largest single environmental health risk. It also predicts that between 2030 and 2050, an additional 250,000 people will die from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and under-nutrition. WHO will be in Paris for the global climate change conference, known as COP21, which kicks off at the end of the month.

We Remember

Nick Alexander, the Eagles of Death Metal’s Merchandising Manager.

Nathalie Jardin, who ran the house lighting at Le Bataclan and known by her nickname “Natalight”

Thomas Ayad, 34. International Product Manager for Mercury Records France

Guillaume B. Decherf, 43. Journalist for celebrated French music and culture magazine, Les Inrockuptibles

Marie Mosser, 24. Digital Marketing executive at Mercury Records France

Manu Perez. Music industry marketing executive who worked at Universal Music France for over a decade

 

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ANOTHER PLANET?

climate march1They were massive! The Climate Change marches on Sunday 21st September in New York City, London, Berlin, Bogota, Paris, Delhi, and Melbourne were a timely reminder to those in power around the globe that we simply do not have another planet – and time is fast running out – if it hasn’t run out already  – to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take action against global warming and climate change. World leaders are  gathering for the UN climate summit today. President Barack Obama will address a group of world leaders at the U.N. Climate Summit today, a one-day meeting hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and open to leaders of all 193 U.N. member states. The leaders of China and India will not attend. More from Avaaz here  and CNN here .

Japan will defy the latest IWC ruling on ‘scientific whaling after Tokyo announced a new round of culls in the Southern Ocean despite a majority ‘no’ vote at International Whaling Commission. The 65th meeting of the world’s whale conservation body voted by 35 to 20 with five abstentions in favour of a resolution by New Zealand, requiring members to put future scientific whaling programmes to the IWC’s scientific committee and the biennial commission itself for guidance. More on the Guardian here.

Barack Obama has welcomed a new report saying fighting climate change can be low cost and that the World can cut greenhouse gas emissions, grow economy and improve lives. The report is for the UN climate summit in New York from a group including of the globe’s biggest institutions, including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and co-authored by Lord Stern, one of the world’s most influential voices on climate economics.

A collection of 160 of the world’s top environmentalists have taken a full page advert in the New York Times to call on philanthropists and charities to use their funds to tackle global warming ahead of next week’s UN Climate Summit in New York.  Known as the Environmental Laureates, the group warns of a 4C-6C rise in global temperatures, and says it is ‘terrified that we will lose our ability to feed ourselves, run out of potable water, increase the scope for war, and cause the very fabric of civilization to crash’. However, the group believes the collective wealth and influence of the world’s philanthropic foundations can ‘trigger a survival reflex in society, thus greatly helping those negotiating the climate treaty’.

More and more British farmers are combining their sheep, chickens and other poultry with rows of solar panels and producing a double output of food and home-grown energy, according to a new report. The BRE National Solar Centre, in partnership with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Solar Trade Association (STA), has today (12 September) produced new guidance which explains how conventional agriculture and ground-mounted solar electricity generation can be coupled for the mutual benefit of both. It explains that solar farms are often used for the grazing of sheep and can be particularly suited to the fattening of young, hill-bred lambs.

sea_ice_polar_bearThe extent of sea ice in Antarctica is set to reach a record high, scientists said on Tuesday, as they announced that Arctic sea ice appeared to have shrunk to its sixth lowest level ever. The NSIDC said that satellite data was expected to shortly confirm whether the maximum extent of sea ice at the opposite pole, in Antarctica, had set a new record. Jan Lieser, of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), told Australia’s ABC News that: “This is an area covered by sea ice which we’ve never seen from space before.”

The descendants of John D Rockefeller, the USA’s first oil baron who set up Standard Oil, have decided to divest all investments in fossil fuel and companies tied to global warming. The $900 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund join a growing movement moving out of polluting and damaging fuel sources and will instead look at investments in wind, total and solar energy with Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great-great-granddaughter ad trustee saying ‘there is a moral imperative ro preserve a healthy planet’.

Ecologists have launched an app to help people identify common house spiders. The app from the Society of Biology lists descriptions and photographs of 12 of the most common spiders found in homes from the approximately 660 species in the UK, including the European garden spider (Arraneus didaematus), the large hairy spiders Tegenaria genus and the Pholcidae family which are often mistaken for Daddy longlegs (which are actually a species of fly).

Our friends at the Exit Festival sent us this photo of the devastating floods

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank. The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.

Are beef cattle and dairy cows the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, water depletion, deforestation and environmental degradation? I thinkk this films says they are and no one is talking about it. But even the  film is vague. Weird but watchable. Could be a spoof.  http://cowspiracy.com/

UnverpacktThe Berlin duo OF Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovskiof have launched a supermarket with no packaging. Shrink-wrapped shallots and polystyrene-packed peppers are a thing of the past at Original Unverpackt, a German concept store selling groceries without the packaging. It works like this. You bring your own containers and have those weighed. Berlin-based supermarket Original Unverpackt labels your containers. You shop. When you get to the till, the weight of your containers is subtracted and you pay for the net weight of your groceries. The label is designed to survive a few washings so you can come back and skip the weighing process for a while. More here.

New York City, 21.09.14 More from Avaaz here
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/climate_march_reportback/?bWaAcdb&v=46379

climatemarchnyc

ANOTHER PLANET?

6769_dolphins_1_460x230In Peru,  fishermen are slaughtering up to 15,000 dolphins every year — for bait to catch endangered sharks.  Now Avaaz is fighting to end this nightmare. Dolphin hunting is already illegal and punishable with several years in prison, but authorities in Peruare turning a blind eye — allowing thousands of dolphins and sharks to be butchered. That said, the government in Peru cares a lot about Peru’s international reputation, especially for tourism, and if we can make them feel embarrassed with a massive global campaign, we are sure they’ll start taking action to end the massacre.  Avaaaz are looking to deliver a million signatures from all over the world to the government of Peru: Avaaz will place ads in tourism magazines in countries where most of  tourists to Peru come from – and the government won’t be able to ignore us! Help stop the brutal slaughter by signing now:  http://www.avaaz.org/en/dolphin_hunt_peru/?bWaAcdb&v=33685.

Sea Shepherd has accused a Japanese whaling fleet of killing four minke whales in protected waters – an internationally designated whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean. The hunt was confirmed by New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully. The Japanese fleet whales in the name of scientific research – although whale meat ends up on commercial markets. It caught 103 whales last year, down from 267 in 2012 and 681 in 2009 according to the Japan Fisheries Agency. It had an annual target in 2013 of 1,000 whales.

China has destroyed more than six tonnes of ivory ornaments worth over £7 million in an unexpected stand against poachers and smugglers. The move took place in Dongguan, a notorious ivory trading hub.

In Japan, Sushi restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura has paid 7.36 million yen (£43,000) for a 230Kg blue fin tuna at the first auction of the year. Last year he bid £900,000 for a similar sized fish. Worldwide consumption of blue fin is leading to its rapid decline and over 90% are caught before they can reproduce.  Japan eats about 80% of the catch. 1,729 fish were sold at the auction.

windturbines_300UK Ministers will have to cut subsidies to the UK wind farm sector under pressure from the European Commission – the Commission has also told the UK to cut support for solar energy by the end of the decade. Government subsidies means that the UK pays four times as much for energy generated by wind (£95 MWh) compared to Brazil which has an open market. The Duke of Gloucester is brining a landmark case to allow him to erect for giant wind turbines on his own land. Barnwell Manor Wind Energy wants to build four 400ft-high turbines – opposed by English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council who won a High Court decision blocking the move in March 2013 claiming the development would blight unspoilt Elizabethan countryside and overshadow Lyvden new Bield, a Grade 1 listed lodge. The Court of Appeal will now decide the matter.

As the USA shivered in temperatures of up to -50C, the UK has had the wettest December for two decades, the worst storms seen in a lifetime and extensive flooding: Sir David King, the government’s special envoy on climate change has warned that the UK needs to spend much more on flood defences – potentially doubling spending to £1 billion a year by 2020 to meet the challenges of climate change with storms and flooding far more likely to happen than 100 years ago. The storms on the UK have claimed three lives so far in 2014.The only good news is that Britain’s wind farms are expected to generate a record amount of energy – up to 6.4GW during each half hour during the storms – enough to power 6 million homes.

UK energy regulator Ofgem has said ‘it can’t find out the truth on energy prices’ and how and if energy companies are ripping off customers because energy markets lack transparency. Labour had accused the energy companies of artificially inflating wholesale energy prices. The energy companies will have to pay customers in Southern England who lost electricity supplies over Christmas due to the severe weather £75 in compensation. Scottish & Southern Energy said it would pay customers £54 for homes that lost power for up to 48 hours  and then £54 for each further full 12 hour period – with a payment of £75 for Christmas Day.

The classic light bulb is getting a make over – the new Philips SlimStyle a new flat design that makes it more sturdy, easier to fit and it lasts for over 20 years. The LED bulb gives out light equivalent to a 60W traditional bulb and does not flicker, uses less energy and does not shatter.

Only one in ten drivers involved in accidents that kill cyclists ever go to prison. Between 2010 and 2012 40 cyclists were killed on the roads in London but only four of those convicted for the deaths went to prison.  24 cases never even made it to court. British Cycling and the Green party are asking for a review of the justice system.

OThe UK’s Environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has said that Developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodlands if they agree to plant ‘offset’ woodland  to replace the trees which would be felled to provide land for new housing. The ‘biodiversity offsetting’ might mean 100 new trees are planted for every tree felled – but groups such as the Woodland Trust have warned that the move would sweep away cherished woodlands and that it would be impossible to recreate mature woodlands in anyone’s lifetime. The Government abandoned plans to sell 250,000 hectares of publicly owned woodland in 2011 after more than half a million people signed a petition opposing the sale.

London Marine, a British mineral company, is trying to attract Chinese and other international investment to build a £1.5 billion iron ore mine just outside the Arctic Circle in Greenland according to the Times.

Edie.net reports that the United Nations (UN) has been urged to be “bold, courageous and provocative” when mapping out its vision for a sustainable future for humanity. The UN is currently planning a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will include action to tackle poverty, disease, environmental degradation and promote sustainable economic growth between now and 2030. Calling for a long-term “master plan”, May East, the chief executive of Edinburgh based UN sustainability agency CIFAL Scotland, told members of the UN Trusteeship Council in New York that a radical new approach was needed to manage the effects of urbanisation.

UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is investing in a new £250m energy recovery centre to be built in Teesside. GIB will invest £20m in the facility, which will convert more than 420,000 tonnes of residual waste into energy each year, and will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 60,000 homes each year.  It will also save more than 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, equivalent to the annual emissions of 780,000 cars.

Nissan has confirmed that its 100% electric taxi – the e-NV200 – will hit the streets of London in 2015 speeding up efforts to help the city meet 2020 pollution targets. Introducing the new taxi next year, the vehicle will be years ahead of the Mayor’s 2020 target for the development of a zero-emissions taxi and will complement the low greenhouse gas emitting NV200, launching this year.

scotlandNew rules on recycling waste have come into force for Scottish businesses. The Waste (Scotland) Regulations require waste to be separated into paper, card, plastic, metals and glass for collection.  All food businesses producing more than 50kg of food waste each week must present it for separate collection, unless they are in a rural area. Those failing to comply with the new laws from 1 January risk a maximum fine of £10,000.  The Scottish government, with its agency Zero Waste Scotland, recommends businesses should audit waste to see where most of it comes from, and contact their waste contractors about how best to arrange separate collections.

prototype shower system has been developed that claims to offer massive water and energy savings by recycling water while you wash. The OrbSys Shower – the brainchild of Swedish designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi – operates on a closed loop system by purifying hot wastewater from the tap once it hits the drains and recycling it back into water of a drinking quality standard, before pumping it back up to the showerhead.  As the process is quick, the water remains hot and only needs to be reheated very slightly. According to Mahdjoubi, there is no compromise in water pressure while in operation and the system can save more than 90% water and 80% energy while you wash.

And finally – new climate models taking greater account of cloud changes indicates heating will be at higher end of expectations. Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study led by Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia who said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world’s governments deem dangerous.

ANOTHER PLANET?

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised a nuclear free future for the country by the 2030s but the pledge has prompted scepticism from opposition politicians and business leaders who fear job losses, a loss of technology exports and a rise in the cost of power. Until the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan was planning to build 14 new nuclear power stations to produce 50% of the country’s electricity by 2030. It will now move to fossil fuels and Japan will invest £400 billion in renewable energies which currently produce just 1% of Japan’s power (excluding hydro-electricity) – but in the short term Japan will miss it’s agreed Kyoto targets to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

A new fair trade oboe is being made by Marigaux, with wood sourced from community owned sustainable forests in Tanzania set up by Sound and Fair. The forests are homw to the rare  blackwood tree, used in oboes and clarinets. African Blackwood is an endangered species and is often illegally logged.

The list of animals on the Endangered Species List continues to grow – with giraffes, zebras, howler monkeys, hummingbirds and peacocks and  joining polar bears, giant pandas, rhinos and snow leopards.

Sue Perkins has been confirmed as the host for the Sustainability Leaders Awards on December 5th this year at London’s the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, announcing the winners and welcoming them on stage to receive their awards.  Full details including the entire shortlist and details about the gala black tie dinner and award presentation are available here. Comedian and TV presenter Sue  was the face of the Love Food Hate Waste ‘Freezer Expedition’ campaign, aimed at cutting food waste by encouraging householders to make the most of their freezer, both by freezing food that might otherwise be thrown away and by using forgotten food buried in the nation’s freezers.

Virgin Atlantic plans to recycle four million plastic bottles a year for use in its new amenity kits for airline passengers. The company has been working with one of its supply chain partners, MNH Sustainable Cabin Solutions, to develop the technology to make this possible.  The kits have been designed with sustainability in mind and are made from 100% recycled PET (rPET) material which is derived from a yarn created by smashing, melting, polymerising and spinning the PET bottles. Virgin says the resulting material has a 90% lower carbon footprint than nylon and can be recycled again at end-of-life. Any unused amenity kits will be collected for reuse. Elsewhere in business, Sainsbury’s is looking to enter into partnerships with councils to boost customer recycling facilities at a third of its stores in the UK, Waitrose has announced plans to open a third energy centre next year powered by waste wood in a pioneering “closed loop”  model and Brewery firm SABMiller is embarking on a pioneering partnership to improve food security through waste reduction and optimisation – looking to produce food from agricultural waste. Finally, the first sale of a robotic recycling system powered by artificial intelligence has been made in a deal worth over 1m with Dutch firm Baetsen Recycling and will be installed next February at its construction waste recycling plant in Son, in the Netherlands.

The US wind power market is under threat from rival energy sources, particularly cheap natural gas, and a threat to the tax credit – with thousands of jobs at risk.  The US Commerce Department has also put tariffs on steel turbine towers from China after finding they were being sold for less than the cost of production. A $1 billion subsidy schgeme for green energy will expire on December 31st and may not be renewed this year after what had been agreed by both Republicans and Democrats split on political grounds – Barack Obama wants the subsidy to stay – Mitt Romney is against – as is the oil industry.

The British public could save over £300m a year on their water heating costs by reducing their shower time by two minutes, according to research from E.ON.

Lord de Mauley has finally been confirmed as the new resource management minister at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) – two weeks after the UK Government’s cabinet reshuffle.

An EU energy efficiency directive, approved by the European Parliament, will enforce mandatory energy saving measures that could save the region billions of euros per year.  The energy-saving measures include renovating public buildings, energy-saving schemes for utilities, and energy audits for all large firms, which could cut energy consumption by 20%, saving the EU €50bn per year.  EC Rapporteur Claude Turmes said: “This essential legislation is not only crucial for achieving our energy security and climate goals, it will also give a real boost to the economy and create jobs”.

The UK’s Met Office has launched a wind production forecast service specifically designed for wind farms and wind energy production.

A survey conducted by warranty provider SquareTrade of 2,000 US iPhone users found that, based on the sample size, Americans have spent an estimated $5.9 billion on repairing and replacing broken phones over the past five years. That amount includes cost of repairs for minor issues and replacements for phones that were broken beyond repair as well as insurance deductibles on phones that were still under a warranty. More on gadget good sense here http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/iphone-users-have-spent-6-billion-broken-phones.html

Solar eclipse …. by solar power

Panasonic will be live-streaming the May 20th annular solar eclipse from the summit of Mount Fuji in Japan, and appropriately enough the filming will use only solar power – this includes all electricity needed to run the the base camp and the broadcast, including video cameras and computers. The project, Eclipse Live from Fujiyama by Solar Power, seeks to bring the astronomical phenomenon to as wide a global audience as possible.  A documentary of the streamcast project will be posted on the site shortly after the eclipse. The last time such an eclipse was visible from land in Japan was on September 23, 1987 from Okinawa Island. Mt. Fuji is in the central eclipse path.

Stop the dolphin slaughter

Is it OK to kill dolphins and pilot whales because the International Whaling Commission  says they are “small” cetaceans and so not protected by whaling bans? NO!!!!!!

Here’s some photos of the protest organised  by London Against Cetacean Slaughter  outside the Japanese Embassy on the 1st September as part of a global demonstration which saw co-ordinated events in other European cities and in New Zealand, Australia and the US as part of a movement that recognises that more needs to be done to protect our oceans and marine life.

Ric O’Barry’s seminal documentary “The Cove” brought the yearly dolphin capture and slaughter in Taiji, Japan to a wider and horrified audience – but the slaughter it still continues. On the 1st September the new season started in Japan. The capture and slaughter in Taiji is particularly brutal with painful lingering deaths from spiking for the 20,000 dolphins who are not “lucky” enough to be selected as specimens to be sold to dolphinariums round the World. The saying “dolphins are dying to entertain you” is sadly true. The slaughtered dolphins enter the food chain as “whale meat”. Campaigners are also highlighting the slaughter of pilot whales in the North Sea by Faroe Island whalers in what they call “the Grind”

Taiji - the bloody cover

Dolphins and whales are apex predators and are a critical part of the ecosystem, which in many parts of the world are now showing signs of serious environmental damage and a number of species are listed as endangered and  we need to ensure that these barbaric practices are stopped as we seek to establish a more sustainable marine ecosystems and protect the oceans.

www.thecovemovie.com
www.savejapandolphins.org
www.facebook.com/pages/London-against-cetacean-slaughter

This blog from an article sent to us by Paul R. Photos: London Against Cetacean Slaughter and SaveJapanDolphins.org.

Japanese Embassy, London, 1st September 2011

ANOTHER PLANET

Scientists at Kings College London have devised a way of putting an economic value on nature – giving a worth to so called ‘eco-system services’. Dr Mark Mulligan, Reader in Physical Geography and his team at Kings have developed a tool dubbed ‘Co$ting Nature’ that uses satellite derived data to measure the worth of carbon, water related and tourism services provided by protected areas – and gives a value to ‘services’ such as the environment’s role in filtering clean water, providing carbon catire and storage, and the value of tourism benefits – all of which have an economic value.

Edie.net reports that Japan produced record-low levels of greenhouse gases in the year to March 2010; continuing the country’s downward trend. It is the second consecutive year that Japan’s numbers dropped; down 5.6% on 2008/2009. Under the 2008 Kyoto agreement, Japan pledged to cut emissions to an annual average of 1.186 billion tonnes over five years. This would see levels 6% lower than they were two decades ago when Japan first started recording information on greenhouse gases. 

Leading figures in the water industry have moved to dispel fears of significant droughts this year, after a spate of unseasonably dry weather across the UK.  Water UK, an organisation representing all water and wastewater suppliers across the nation, claim that despite the dry start to spring, utility firms are not foreseeing a need for water restrictions to be put in place in the coming summer. However, Southern England in particulr is now extremely (and unusually) dry and firefighters have been tackling extensive blazes Swinley Forest in Berkshire.  Berkshire fire service had crews in 10 engines working at the site overnight but shad scaled up resources to 100 firefighters in 20 engines on the 6th May and a a spokesman said it was likely 50 more firefighters would be drafted in saying “Inroads are being made into this fire but as the hot weather continues it’s still causing a problem.”  The fire service said the blaze had exceeded the scale of the 1992 Windsor Castle fire, in terms of resources deployed.  The BBC reported that water had been drawn from a lake at Sandhurst Military Academy in an attempt to double the capacity of water available for fire crews. Meanwhile, residents and workers evacuated from nearby houses and businesses have been told they will not be allowed back for the “foreseeable future” unless there is considerable rain. Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of arson.

At a time when rising fuel prices, road congestion, parking charges, increasing insurance costs and the general hassle of being stuck behind fat 4x4s (driving along in a gas guzzling world of its own) means that more and more passengers are looking at rail and bus alternatives, The UK Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, has promised to review the ‘perverse’ pricing of rail fares that mean that one train at 06.59 might be almost empty, whilst one just two minutes later at 07.01 has passengers fighting just to get on. Hammod said that rail operators needed incentives to deliver “what passengers want”  adding that this hadn’t happended under the UK’s current revenue sharing systems, and saying that changes to forthcoming rail tenders for Virgin services from London Euston and trains from London’s Liverpool Street would hopefully tackle the anomalities. I have to say I find Virgin’s pricing on the West Coast line one of the better examples of fairer pricing – especially when compared to trains to and from the South West and The East Coast line. But overall train ticket pricing in the UK is absurdly complex and clearly does deliver some ridiculous ‘cruch points’ in timetables that could surely be avoided.

The Lake District is under attack! Two new ‘alien’ invaders have been found to be rapidly spreading in the Lake District and residents and visitors are being asked to be vigilant.  Australian Swamp Stonecrop – a small plant that spreads rapidly in water and on lakewshores and damp land – is already in Bassenthwaite Lake, Windermere, Coniston Water, Grassmere, Tydal Water and Derwentwater and is seen as a major problem. Himalayan Balsam, a pink flowered annual which can produce 800 seeds per plant, and which has no natural predators in the UK, is also a real threat with the Lake District National Park, Natural England, The National Trust and the Environment Agency all taking action to combat the plant’s spread.