Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Going green will be rewarded with gold

We always hear about China and US being the great polluters but is it the full truth? By international standards the UK’s spend in developing a green economy is very low; the US for example spends three times as much as we do relative to GDP on low-carbon innovation, whilst China is very active in renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings, electric cars and clean coal.

The MP Tim Yeo in his pamphlet Green Gold: The Case For Raising Our Game On Climate Change, has said "We must beware of China who, behind a smokescreen of recalcitrance in international talks, is moving faster than most Western countries to decarbonise its economy," he writes. "If we lead the way in switching to a low carbon economy, we will reap the rewards as going green will be rewarded with gold."

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Property prices soar in the desert

The Thar desert spreads 200,000 square kilometres across North West India, abd land there has gone from virtually worthless to being very valuable almost overnight.

The reason? The Indian government recently launched its National Solar Mission - a $19bn plan to generate 20,000 megawatt of solar electricity by 2022. And the Thar desert is a vast place basked in sun with abundance, meaning that it is ideal for generating solar energy. The beauty of this project is that it uses land that would otherwise be barren.

The region's solar revolution is expected to get underway shortly when one of India's biggest energy companies - Reliance Industries - switches on its 5 megawatt solar plant in the nearby town of Khimsar.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Blow to promise on stopping illegal timber imports

The coalition is being accused of back-tracking on its commitment to stopping imports of illegal timber and is a further dent in the credibility of David Cameron's promise to lead the "greenest government ever".

According to the Guardian, the government will not now honour a pledge to make it a criminal offence to possess, or bring into the country, illegal timber. Campaigners say such legal measures are necessary to help curb the 350m-650m square metres of forest that is illegally logged every year – possibly as much as 40% of the total market.

Green campaigners are highly disappointed at the apparent dropping of more stringent measures on illegal timber because the coalition document explicitly committed the two parties to introducing "measures to make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence."

Protecting the rainforests is vital in the fight against climate change and preserving endangered species.

Concern over Serengeti road plans

A group of scientists writing in the journal Nature has appealed against a road planned in the Serengeti National Park, saying it would cause an environmental disaster and curtail wildebeest migration. The migration of the wildebeest was the "largest remaining migratory system on Earth", they said.

Instead, the scientists have proposed an alternative road running to the south of the park. However, there has been pressure to start building the 50km stretch of road through the north of the Serengeti due to increasing economic interest in central African mineral wealth. The planned road would form part of a link between Tanzania's coast and Lake Victoria, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The proposed road could lead to the collapse of the largest remaining migratory system on Earth - a system that drives Tanzania's tourism trade and supports thousands of people," the appeal said.

Buying pieces of rainforest through organisations such as the World Land Trust is one way of helping to protect rainforests and wildlife habitats threatened by so-called ‘economic development’.

Chernobyl plant life overcomes radiation

It seems that scientists have uncovered the mechanisms that allow plants to thrive in highly radioactive environments like Chernobyl. The study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal reveals that plants have an innate ability to cope with radioactivity.

The research goes on to speculate that this defence mechanism could date back millions of years, when early life forms were exposed to higher levels of natural radiation.

The explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in 1986 was the worst nuclear disaster in human history killing dozens of people whilst striking down many hundreds with radiation sickness. Although the plants are adapting some believe that there area will be uninhabitable for generations to come.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A Natural Alliance-Garden Buildings from Decorated Shed

Here is a guest post from Decorated Shed about the benefits of working from home

Decorated Shed offer a range of garden building designs that unifies architecture and nature in a striking mix. The existing beauty of the garden is used as an impressive stage on which to showcase each building’s stylish form. From the pen nib of scrawled design to the muscles of materialisation; the garden studio is moulded from ecologically sound practices and materials, standing as an enduring mark of environmental respect that permeates up from its foundations.

Decorated Shed provide garden studios that reduce environmental impact without compromising upon visual impact and functionality. The convenient position of a garden building means that it is a perfect alternative to a lengthy commute, providing an office space that eradicates the need to pump harmful car fumes into the atmosphere. The garden studio and office encapsulate a green lifestyle, as leafy surroundings promote an appreciation of nature’s precious qualities. Humans are biologically classed as animals; we therefore thrive in an outdoor setting, which explains why we feel invigorated when we spend time amongst nature, just as a lion thrives in the African plains. We are ultimately one of the many strands that make up nature; it therefore makes sense that we should strive to conserve the habitat that boosts our contentment.

All dimensions of a Decorated Shed garden studio and office are energy efficient; the walls, roofs, windows, doors and foundations are all engineered to save energy. The floor is a multi-layered structure that offers a high-insular performance, set on an augured pile foundation system, which serves as a permanent means of saving energy. The timber frame of each garden studio offers substantial insulation, with a heat reflective membrane that traps internal heat, together with windows, that offer some of the lowest U values; top-to –toe. The window positions flood the internal space with illuminating light ensuring that the need for electric light is reduced. Wall panelling also seals the heat within the structure, armouring the building against the cold, so that energy requirements are limited. The garden building becomes a cosy cocoon of warmth and light. Decorated Shed also work with FSC and PEFC accredited suppliers to ensure that materials are sustainably and ethically managed, which means a garden building is cut loose from the overbearing shadows that are created as a result of environmental scarring.

The roof can be made from recycled rubber or zinc, with the option of a sloping sedum roof that integrates the attractive greenery of the garden with the structure, literally living up to the name; green building. A planted ‘living’ green roof system can support a flower bed, which will adorn a studio top like a hat pinned with decorative flowers. The exterior cladding is made up of premium Western Red Cedar wood cladding, which also acts as an effective thermal insulator, while displaying a rich colour which ages beautifully, due to natural internal oils, which prevent the need for the wood to be treated with environmentally harmful chemicals. The exterior acts as an inviting display, nestled into nature’s hands, while the interior acts as a hollowed out retreat of modernity, style and immaculate design.

Although one green building may seem like a drop in the ocean compared to larger scale influences, such as deforestation and city pollution. However, the road to recovery starts with a single footstep. By rejecting to join a relentless force of environmental destruction, the impact is lessened and a new trend is set. Decorated Shed garden buildings provide shining examples of why green built spaces are so attractive. Just as an extension, garden buildings add extra space and value to a home but unlike an extension, they provide a private retreat that is energy efficient and cost effective, as a dazzling gemstone of investment, set in the emerald cushion of the garden, while standing as a stroke of engineering brilliance, in its own right.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Trophy hunting

Trophy or 'sport' hunting has been used as a conservation measure, with the money hunters pay then used to help protect a wider population of animals. For example, in Tanzania quotas of lions and leopards are shot each year by trophy hunters.

However, conservation experts have started to question the viability of trophy hunting with some arguing that lion and leopard numbers will crash in countries such as Tanzania unless fewer big cats are killed.

Tanzania holds most of the remaining large populations of African lions and also has wide areas of leopard habitat. Vast areas of the country have been set aside as 'hunting blocks', in which private companies fund trophy hunting by tourists.

Tanzania currently allows about 500 lions and 400 leopards per year to be killed for ‘sport’.

How deeply depressing to think that there are people out there who get pleasure from shooting and killing such magnificent animals.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Freshwater turtles in catastrophic decline

It is estimated that over a third of the estimated 280 freshwater turtle species around the world are threatened with extinction.

The unsustainable collection of turtles for food and to supply a lucrative pet trade are believed to be the key drivers behind the worrying fall in numbers.

Habitat loss as a result of river-damming for hydro-electricity is another major concern.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Exactly what is ethical fashion?

The Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) defines ethical fashion as an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.

For the EFF, the meaning of ethical goes beyond doing no harm, representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimising and counteracting environmental concerns.

Ethical Fashion Forum has drawn up a set of 10 criteria for ethical fashion, to inform the fashion industry’s official ethical fashion awards:

1.Countering fast, cheap fashion and damaging patterns of fashion consumption
2.Defending fair wages, working conditions and workers’ rights
3.Supporting sustainable livelihoods
4.Addressing toxic pesticide and chemical use
5.Using and / or developing eco- friendly fabrics and components
6.Minimising water use
7.Recycling and addressing energy efficiency and waste
8.Developing or promoting sustainability standards for fashion
9.Resources, training and/ or awareness raising initiatives
10.Animal rights

For more information visit The Fair Trade Clothing Shop where you can find more useful information on ethical and fair trade clothing, along with a list of suppliers.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Huge growth at largest wind farm

It has just been announced that a massive expansion is to take place at Europe's largest onshore wind farm in East Renfrewshire.

ScottishPower Renewables is to add another 75 turbines to the wind farm on Eaglesham Moor by 2012, taking the total number of turbines there to 215. As a result, its electricity generating capacity will be increased by around two thirds.

The wind farm on Eaglesham Moor already generates enough electricity to power 180,000 homes, and with the planned expansion this will increase to 300,000 homes.

Ice on Mount Everest disappearing

Photos of Mount Everest comparing it in 1921 with 2010 shows that the ice mass is disappearing at an alarming pace.

"The photographs reveal a startling truth: the ice of the Himalaya is disappearing," an Asia Society statement said. "They reveal an alarming loss in ice mass over an 89-year period."

The Asia Society says that the findings are "vitally important" because the Himalaya is home to the world's largest sub-polar ice reserves. "The melt waters of these high altitude glaciers supply crucial seasonal flows to the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween, Irrawaddy, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, which hundreds of millions of people downstream depend on for their livelihoods," the statement said.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Chatting chimpanzees are 'socially aware'

Primatologists have discovered that chimpanzees are aware of the social impact of their communications, and use a variety of calls and gestures.

Even more surprisingly, researchers found that chimps will actually change what they "say" depending on who is listening at the time. This represents an important finding because it reveals a previously unrecognised social awareness that may even have implications for the origin of human language.

Details of the discovery have been published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Up until now, the high level of awareness of the potential social consequences of calling has not been shown in any non-human primate.

It also appears that chimpanzees are biologically programmed to appreciate pleasant music!

The more we learn about our closest evolutionary relations the more we realise just how close we are and why it’s so important to protect species and the environment on which they depend. In particular, its imperative that we do everything possible to protect the rainforests.

Don’t throw away your old mobile phone!

When upgrading to a new mobile phone many people simply throw their old phone in a drawer and leave it to gather dust. Worse, some even throw them in the dustbin where they end up in landfill sites leaking out hazardous chemicals, causing contamination and health problems.

Remember that mobile phones can be sold or donated to give them a new lease of life, helping poorer people in the developing world. Those that can't be re-used or re-furbished in this way are recycled according to EU Standards. By recycling, you give new life to old technology and keep those toxic e-waste materials from causing harm to our environment. Many mobile phone recycling companies also use some of the proceeds to support charities and sustainable causes. For more money saving tips and ideas on how to live more sustainably visit Piggy Bank

Friday, 3 September 2010

Humpback whales form lasting bonds

Scientists have found that female humpback whales reunite each summer to feed, swim and socialise in the Gulf of St Lawrence, off Canada.

Though humpbacks spend the rest of the year apart migrating and breeding, it seems that individual humpbacks manage to find each other again in the open ocean each summer, spending the season feeding together.

It also seems that such friendships benefited the female humpbacks, since those with the most stable and long-lasting associations tended to give birth to the most calves. How the whales find each other each summer remains a mystery.

Loss of bees could be 'a blow to UK economy'

Honeybees, hoverflies, wasps, bumblebees, moths and butterflies play a vital role in feeding people through the pollination of crops. If bees and other pollinating insects were to disappear completely, the cost to the UK economy would be around £440m per year according to scientists. In a bid to save the declining insects, up to £10m has been invested in nine projects that will explore underlying reasons for the decline whilst looking at ways to re-populate.

Whilst there is no single factor that could explain the decline, loss of flowers and other habitats, disease, environmental change and pesticide use are being blamed.

BP oil disaster

More oil is spilled from the Niger delta network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of the major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP's Deepwater Horizon rig.

Polar bears face 'tipping point' due to climate change

The journal Biological Conservation has published research which suggests that polar bears face a ‘tipping point’ due to climate change. The research claims that there will be a dramatic and sudden decline in the number of polar bears, due in the main to falling pregnancy rates and fewer bears surviving during longer, ice-free seasons.

As these ice-free seasons lengthen, fewer bears will have enough fat and protein stores to survive the fast. "Some populations are expected to go extinct with climate warming, while others are expected to persist, albeit at a reduced population size," says Dr Peter Molnar of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

The US Endangered Species Act lists the polar bear as "Threatened".

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Five Thousand Gulf Oil Spills

That's the rate at which humans are releasing carbon into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion and deforestation every single day. That’s the same as five thousand spills into the Gulf of Mexico, all going at once, each releasing 40,000 barrels a day, every day for decades and centuries on end. Mankind is burning a lot of carbon!

Turning the concrete jungle green

Trees play an essential role in improving the quality of life in UK towns and cities, according to the Woodland Trust. Planting more trees has been shown to improve air quality, reduce ambient temperatures and benefit people's health it said in a recent report. The trust is launching a campaign to plant 20m native trees each year. "Towns and cities tend to put into sharp relief some of the key problems we are facing as a society," said lead author Mike Townsend. "So they are a good place to start when try to illustrate just where green spaces can deliver significant improvements for relatively little cost."

During a speech in May, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "If any organism has demonstrated an ability to multi-task, it's trees. They capture carbon and hold soils together, prevent flooding and help control our climate. They also add immeasurably to the quality of life of our towns and cities." She added that in some parts of inner London, it was calculated that each tree was deemed to be worth as much as £78,000 in terms of its benefits.