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ANOTHER PLANET?

badgersUK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the UK’s planned badger cull, to stop the spread of bovine TB, will save the UK £1 billion and that there was now no backing down from the culls. Trials in West Somerset and Gloucestershire expect to see 5,000 badgers killed. Mr Cameron said that without the cull there would be ‘appalling consequences, not just for the cattle and the farmers – there are also appalling consequences for the badgers’. Errr yes David – like extermination.

The Lib Dems have said that motorists who hit cyclists should be deemed to be at fault unless they can prove otherwise. The ‘presumption of liability’  would also apply to cyclists who hit pedestrians. The Lib Dems also plan to crack down on the illegal use of cycle lanes by motorists. And Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston has called for a radical shift in priorities for long term funding and road priorities in favour of cyclists and pedestrians as well as a sustained programme of cycle training.

The UK’s Prime Minister has announced that £160 million will be spent to ‘cycle proof’ Britain’s roads to make it easier and safer to cycle and encourage more people to cycle. Networks of safe cycle paths will be built in eight cities (Norwich, Cambridge, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Oxford and Leeds) and four national parks – and a new cycle route is being considered alongsid the new HS2 train line.  also 14 key stretches of A roads will be re-designed to make them safer for cyclists. The Times comments that works still neds to be done: hundreds of dangerous road junctions still need to be improved, 20 mph zones need to be expanded across cities, lorries entering cities should be fitted with extra safety equipment, training for cyclists shoukd imrpove, and two percent of the Highways Agency and Transport Budget should be allocated to cycling

Shares in electric sports car maker Telsa Motors jumped 18% on news that the US company had sold 5,150 of its Model S cars in the second quarter – despite a starting price of more than $70,000.  The company now expects to hit an annual production rate of 40,000 by 2014. Shares have doubled since the start of the year.

India, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan are all planning new dams on rivers in the Himalayas to produce hydro-electricty. The number of planned dams is staggering: China is planning 100 dams and Pakistan 9, and India is planning a massive 292 dams – with scientists warning that there could be dangerous consequences for the environment. In what has been dubbed a ‘water grab’, the new dams would produce 160,000 MW of electricity from the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Huang he, Salween, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Salween rivers.

The Observer reports that the Lake District in England is facing a plague of freshwater terrapins – discarded and abandoned pets which are dumped. The small cute little critters, brought to satisfy cravings stirred by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze, soon grow into large, aggressive and smelly pets – you have been warned!

Fuel prices in the UK have prompted 73% of drivers to modify their driving and take other measures to save fuel: Actions taken include reducing speed, with 20% of drivers removing heavy objects from the boot of cars, 26% now check tyre pressures, and 39% of people drive less. But just 3% car share to get to work a survey of 2,007 adults by Sansbury’s Car Insurance has shown.

ALLOTMENTS4A late Spring, and a recent burst of warm and then wet weather means that Britain can expect a fruitful Autumn – with a bumper crop of fruits and berries when the delayed Autumn finally arrives according to data collected by the Woodland Trust.

Three ministers in Peru have resigned pover plans to allow Argentina’s Pluspetrol, Hunt Oil from the USA and Spain’s Repsol to drill for oil in a reserve for indigenous tribes. Protesters say that the influx of workers and machinery could devastate the local Nahua people – and disease could be fatal to many. Since the 1980s, half of the tribe have been wiped out.

Britain’s largest consumer group Which? has called on the National Audit Office to investigate whether households are being ripped off by green levies on fuel bills. The levy is used for subsidies on wind farms and home insulation but the government seems keen to let fuel companies carry out its environmental programmes – mad really – I still have boxes full of unwanted and unasked for low energy light bulbs which will probably last me ten lifetimes from the last time we let the fuel companies try and do something ‘green’ They don’t. They are out to maximise profit.

The Rice Fergus Miller Office and Studio green building achieves its low energy use by “designing for off” – that is, designing efficiency and simple intelligence into the building so that systems can be turned off for the majority of the year. Great idea!

A new study by ow a study confirms what everybody always knew: peple who drive expensive cars have a sense of entitlement and don’t think the rules apply to them. A study by Paul K. Piff of The University of California, Berkeley shows that higher social class  increased unethical behavior:  The study used a series of experiments to quantify how “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower class individuals”: One experiment  involved looking at how drivers dealt with four way stops (fancy cars were more likely to cut off other drivers) and whether they stopped at pedestrian crosswalks. Cutting off a pedestrian violates the California Vehicle Code. In this study, 34.9% of drivers failed to yield to the pedestrians. BMW drivers were the worst offenders.

hyperloop-elon-musk-image-04.png.492x0_q85_crop-smartElon Musk, founder of pay-pal and Telsa Motors has published details of a new solar powered futuristic supersonic vacuum tube pod  train – what he calls the ‘Hyperloop’ (without patents, under an open source license). The plans can be found in a 57 page PDF file that goes into quite a lot of detail, with TreeHugger saying the design shows that Musk is not just a business person, but is also the “chief product architect” at both Tesla and SpaceX, immersing himself deeply into the technical side of things. The solar-powered, city-to-city elevated transit system can move people (and cars, in the larger version) from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

And finally, fishermen on the Øresund Sound in Scandanavian waters reeled in a Pacu, much to the alarm of folks at the neighboring Natural History Museum of Denmark. The fish, an unwelcome new arrival that’s closely related to the piranha, boasts a set of blunt, square teeth that are apparently well suited for nibbling on one of the most sensitive parts of the male anatomy who are now advised to “Keep your swimwear on if you’re bathing in the Sound these days – maybe there are more out there!”