A new campaign is targeting the 2012 Olympic sponsors – pointing out that oil giant BP, chemicals group Dow Jones and mining group Rio-Tinto are hardly suitable partners for the ‘greenest games’ ever games and accusing  the companies of  trying to ‘greenwash’ their unethical corporate activities. BP of course remain mired in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster as well as oil tar sands exploitation, and lets not forget Dow Jones’ involvement in the Bhopal chemical gas catastrophe in India – Dow Jones now owns Union Carbide, the company behind the fatal gas leak.  Rio Tinto’s coal, uranium and other mining activities face criticism and do it’s labour and human rights record.  The campaign is headed up by Meredith Alexander, previously Commissioner of the 2012 sustainability watchdog, who quit over Dow’s $100 million (£63 million) deal with the IOC and it’s pledge to provide $7 million funding to ‘wrap’ the Olympic stadium in Stratford. All three companies have defended their ethical record.

An April 10th article by Ross Clark on the use of incinerators to dispose of waste in the UK in The Times provoked an interesting and well argued response in the letters pages of the Times, with Peter Brown writing that the choice “is not between incineration and landfill, both outdated and potentially harmful, but between incineration and modern, cheaper and safer technologies”. Peter quite rightly points out that if councils collected more materials for recycling, put more waste through modern mechanical separators, gasified solid organic waste and put liquid in anaerobic digesters  there would be very little residue left for either landfill or incineration.  And Chris Westwood argues that “the way forward must be ever increasing recycling as most ‘waste’ is not waste, but a valuable resource”.

The UK’s Warm Front home insulation scheme is returning £27 million to the Treasury, with critics saying that it has been the poorest households who have lost out in efforts to reduce the effects of fuel poverty – and even officials have admitted that they have not been able to find enough homes to insulate because of strict criteria – meaning 15,000 homes missed out being insulated.  Bonkers. And Chris Huhne, formerly the UK’s energy secretary, has criticised former coalition colleagues attaccking ‘posturing top Tories’ who are trying to unscramble his ‘green deal’ scheme which was to help millions of people in the UK insulate their homes, reduce carbon emissions – and save money. The 2011 plan introduced by the Energy Act would provide low cost finance for cavity wall insulation and loft insulation but it is thought that ministers such as communities secretary Eric Pickles and employment minister Chris Grayling are concerned households cannot afford  the investment. The new Energy secretary Ed Davey said the average cost under the scheme would be £500 for a home and this would be quickly recouped from savings from cheaper energy bills.

Research on the traditional Egremont Russet apple, unchanged since the 19th century, has prompted scientists to take a new look at modern fruit and vegetables that have been carefully bred over centuries. The Egremont Russet contains up to ten times the level of certain nutrients when compared to modern varieties of apples and scientists will now look at virgin varieties of tea, bananas, onions and mangoes amongst other crops to see if the crops of yesteryear are actually better for us.

The head of  a UK waste company that dumped toxic waste including acids, medicine bottles, oil sludge and inks from photocopiers in public places including lay-bys and a nature reserve in Lancashire has been sent to prison for 18 months. Christian Brierly admitted the offences at Preston Crown Court. Brierly’s wife, Deborah, received a nine month jail sentence, suspended for one year, and 120 hours of community service. Having traced the origins of the dumped waste the Environment Agency raided a number of sites and found leaking and hazardous materials stored, some marked ‘carcniogenic’. Two other defendants also pleaded guilty to offences: Christopher Hill received an eight month prison sentence suspended for one year and 120 hours of unpaid work for 4 waste offences. Roger Bamber was given a one year Community Order and 120 hours of unpaid work for 8 waste offences.

England’s drought continues in the South, Midlands and East, the worst since at least 1976 when standpipes were introduced. Water Companies and ministers are already planning for contingencies should 2012-2103 be another dry winter. A hosepipe ban remains in force in many parts of the country.

Some Himalayan glaciers are defying claims of climate change and global warming and are actually growing. Scientists from CNRS Univertsite Grenoble used 3D maps obtained from satellites from 2000 ad 2008 to map the changes to pinpoint the growth in the Karakoram region.

Online Degrees.org tell us that although many past Earth Days have come and gone “with little in the way of good news regarding the environment”, there is much to celebrate on April 22, 2012. Backed by one of the more environmentally-friendly presidents in recent memory, the United States has seen huge funding for alternative energy sources, a drive for better fuel economy, and a massive movement by colleges and other groups to live cleaner, greener, and more efficiently. So this Earth Day, think of these 25 exciting statistics about the growth of jobs for work that benefits the environment, and be happy. The future is bright they say  – and its all here http://www.onlinedegrees.org/25-exciting-stats-on-green-job-growth/.

A good read can be found in the 2degrees Book Club Part 2: The Death of Green and Other Trends Behind Embedded Sustainability where author Nadya Zhexembayeva describes three big trends in embedding sustainability. What attempts are businesses making today? The blog covers this: Trend – 1 From moral choice to inevitable reality;  Trend 2 – From green to smart;  Trend 3 – From department to mindset. And its all here  http://www.2degreesnetwork.com/groups/managing-sustainability/resources/2degrees-book-club-part-2-death-green-and-other-trends-behind-embedded-sustainability/?utm_campaign=massmail&utm_medium=email&utm_source=massmail

Don’t forget the GO GROUP are meeting in Budapest on April 23rd and April 24th – more here http://go-group.org/2012/03/2nd-go-group-workshop-for-sustainable-festivals-events/

And finally, the JULIES BICYCLE April Bulletin is online – read more here http://juliesbicycle.cmail1.com/t/ViewEmail/y/53A2A92D6CFBED3F/6A0FEBE014CD6B8CC68C6A341B5D209E