A climate ‘on steroids’ was to blame for Australia’s record breaking summer – the hottest on record. A report by the independent Climate Commission says that the extreme weather experienced across the continent was exacerbated by climate change and will become the norm in years to come. The reports lead author, Professor Will Steffen says that some “really frightening” temperatures could be expected over the next two decades. Temperatures reached 49C in some locations with widespread bush fires.
As economic data showed that China has now overtaken the US as the world’s biggest importer of oil, many Chinese are starting to notice the increase in pollution and illnesses caused by toxins, poisons and smoke. Water Pollution and smog are at the top of the agenda – with more than 70% of groundwater now polluted – with citizens using social media to vent their anger at government inaction over environmental deterioration.
The campaign to curb pesticides linked to the collapse in the bee population gathered momentum yesterday when the 129 strong Garden Centre Group (who own the Blooms and Wyvale chains) banned Provado Lawn Grub Killer, made by Bayer, which contains the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Wickes, The Garden Store, HillierB&Q and Homebase have also withdrawn neonicotinoid products and quarter of all UK MPs have signed a pledge restricting the use of the pesticide.
The future of sustainable energy in the United Kingdom is still attracting fierce debate – with wind farms at the top of many agendas. Now the High Court has issued a seminal judgment after a challenge to a new wind farm was brought by conservationists, saying that the decision to allow a wind farm on a proposed site between Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire overlooking a heritage site owned by the National Trust, Lyvedon New Bield. Whilst first blocked by the local authority, that decision was overturned by a public inquiry, but that decision itself has now been over turned by the Mr Justice Lang in the High Court who said the planning inspector’s decision to allow the West Coast Energy farm was legally flawed as he had “failed to properly interpret and apply the relevant planning policies on the effect of development in the in the setting of a heritage site”. And I bet you want to know Prince Phillip’s view – the Duke of Edinburgh thinks wind turbines are “bloody useless”. And the battle over Britain’s rubbish is heating up – with campaigners at loggerheads with a number of local authorities over plans to burn waste. Incinerating waste to produce energy (EFW – Energy From Waste) is seen by many in the power industry as a ‘renewable’ energy source as the waste would otherwise go to landfill but campaigners against a new incinerator in Kings Lynn say the new development may have serious impacts on health, transport and the local economy – particularly that toxic micro particles of cadmium, lead and arsenic might be released from plants. With pressure on local councils to educe the 27% of waste currently sent to land fill, similar battles are being fought across the country as a further 111 incinerators are planned in addition to the current total of 32 plants.
And energy companies are keen for the Government to decide on its commitment to green energy saying that thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investments are at risk. Company’s say that a lack of a target for making electricity companies reduce carbon emissions ‘seriously undermine’ investment. Even the Times sees the point of producing an energy strategy that protects the UK’s energy supply, and energy safety and security and says in a leader (Growing Green, 11.03.13) that “energy policy, properly conceived, can be seen as a source if future growth and job generation. This is the pitch made by the business leaders in the high efficiency gas fired generation, clean coal, carbon capture nuclear and renewables sectors in am open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Business Secretary and Secretary of State for Climate Change” with the Times saying “public policy can have long term consequences and we will be thankful tomorrow for a Government that acts boldly today.
EU regulations that mean biofuel must be make up 5% of all road fuel will add 3p to the cost of each litre according to the Chatham House think tank – or £40 each year for the average driver. Chatham House also called into doubt the environmental benefits of ethanol based fuels.
London will host the quietest Grand Prix ever -with electric cars racing around a track in the Olympic Park – in a new class called Formula E according to London mayor Boris Johnson.
The Lake District National Park Authority is using a state of the art wood burning boiler to cut its CO2 emissions by 40% in 3 years. The Authority plans to recoup the cost of the new biomass system (which cost £140,000 ) within seven years – saving 34 tonnes of carbon and £12 each year. A government grant makes up the balance of the costs. The Authority will produce biomass from its own woodlands instead of burning fossil fuels.
The Green Party in the UK is facing charges of hypocrisy after trying to recruit an unpaid intern as an assistant for its chief executive: the party also promotes the introduction of a ‘living wage’
Florida is facing an invasion of giant mosquitoes. Psotophora Ciliata is twenty times bigger than the common mosquitoe – and has a painful bite.
Vango have launched their ‘Green Leaf’ eco tent – a tent made out of recyclables – and its just £39.99 (see www.funkyleisure.co.uk), and keep an eye out for the new Re-wind wind-up torch and lantern – a rather nice looking waterproof and battery free wind up light – which can also be charged from a USB port. It can be found on www.amazon.co.uk.
New research shows a link between eating fresh food sprayed with pesticides and the spread of the human norovirus (hNoV), or winter vomiting bug, which is one of the most common stomach bugs in the world. The virus is highly contagious, and causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and the number of affected cases is growing. The new study, published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology investigated whether contaminated water used to dilute pesticides could be a source of hNoV. Farmers use various water sources in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables, including well water and different types of surface water such as river water or lake water – sources which have been found to harbour hNoV. Results showed that the infectivity of the norovirus was unaffected when added to the pesticide samples. In other words: pesticides did not counteract the effects of the contaminated water and the authors conclude that the application of pesticides on fresh produce may not only be a chemical hazard, but may in fact also be a microbiological risk factor as both have consequences on public health. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/e-paa031213.php
Treehugger reports that Washington State Representative Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) has said that the act of riding a bicycles “results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider” and whilst he is opposed to a transport tax, a tax on the sale of bicycles should be levied as only cars pay for roads, and cyclists are polluting, and thus polluting cyclists should pay their way. Bonkers. You can read all about it here