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ANOTHER PLANET

Sea level rise is accelerating three times faster on the densely populated East coast of the USA than on other coasts scientists have discovered. The coastal area that includes New York and Boston will see level rise by a third more than other parts of the globe. It seems sea level rise is not uniform . But don’t worry if you live there – the Tea Party and the oil lobbyists will save you – as its not actually happening and scientists just make this stuff up (don’t they?). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US government agency that tracks the data, reported that the spring of 2012 “marked the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States  And let’s all pretend the blistering heatwave in the US and the wildfires in the mountains of Colorado. and the recent “derecho” storm that left at least 23 dead and 1.4 million people without power from Illinois to Virginia  – didn’t happen. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/05/extreme-weather-forecast-storm-climate-change.

As freak weather continues to hit the United Kingdom – now in its wettest three month period since records begun (along with flash floods and giant hailstone)  – there are some interesting side effects: Firstly there has been an increase in the number of  bad weather claims rejected by insurance companies, as well as a record number of instances of rat infestations as storms cause cracks in pipes; redundancies are looming o the UK’s high streets as rain pushes down retail sales – and builders are also losing work days on outside projects such as roofs, drives and patios. The British F1 Grand Prix got perilously close to cancellation in the run up to the event as Silverstone was inundated with rain, flooding car parks and curtailing qualifying. Fans were asked to stay away on the practice day: The MFEST music festival at Harewood House with the Human League, Bob Geldof  and Texas was cancelled as was the Liskeard Agricultural show in Cornwall for the first time in its 109 year history, the boat flotilla on the Ouse to celebrate 800 years  York’s royal charter and the Argentinian Ambassadors Polo Cup at Cowdray Park in West Sussex was also cancelled. I got a text about the weather at T-in-the-Park and after a glorious Friday night with New Order, Snow Patrol, Tinie Tempah and the Kaiser Chiefs it is now, according Helen our Greener festival awards co-ordinator who is up in lovely Balado – WET – after heavy rain lashed the site! The Godiva Festival in Coventry (cap 100,000) was cancelled last weekend and there has been , flooding in the North East and severe damage to both the East and West coast train lines.

The jet stream has been pushed way up North over Greenland,  causing a block of high pressure to push wet and windy weather across Britain. Meanwhile South Eastern Europe is facing a heatwave – my Hungarian friends say the heat is nearly unbearable .

Industrial Chemicals have signed a deal with AFC Energy to install the UK’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cells to create a low carbon micropower station in Essex. AFC’s system uses inexpensive ceramics rather than platinum.

Days after scrapping plans for a new wind turbine factory  in Kent,  Vestas is closing  a factory in China that made small turbines with the loss of 350 jobs. Shares in the Danish company are close to an all time low . The company still employs 22,500 people worldwide but warned that jobs may be cut in the USA if a tax credit was not renewed.

The Sandwich tern (a bird!) has defeated Centrica’s plans to develop a £2 billion wind farm of the North Norfolk coast. After a ridiculously lengthy process the scheme has now been scrapped after the Government refused plans for the Docking Shoal scheme because of potential damage to the tern population when birds are killed by the turbine blades and the turbines may also disturb the fish they feed on. Centrica signed a pre-lease agreement for the site back in 2004 – it would ave provided sustainable energy for 500,000 homes. Two other nearby schemes at Race Bank and Dudgeon got the go ahead, giving the UK a potential 6.6 gigawatt wind generated capacity – much needed as fossil fuel process continue to rise  quite apart from coal, gas and oil greenhouse gas emissions and adding to pollution.

Lucy Lawless, who starred as Xena in the 90s cult TY series of the same name is now facing a possible prison sentence for trespass on Shell’s Noble Discoverer, the Arctic oil exploration boat. Lawless and even other activists each face a maximum of three years in jail for boarding the ship and remaining for nearly four days.

Smart meters are in the news – and whilst on one hand they are brilliant things allowing householders and businesses to track and monitor  energy use and save money, they will soon become obligatory in many countries and they can also be used to collect massive amounts of data and build up profiles of each home. And do you trust your energy company to keep that data secure? Who will know when you are away on holiday? Who will know what you do in your life? Well I for one do NOT trust them,  and thousands of Germans said in a recent survey that they found the collection of data ‘creepy’ and like having ‘Big Brother’ in their homes.  Now the European Data Protection Supervisor has called for members of the EU to put in place guidance on how any data collected is stored and used  – how long it can be kept for – how often meters can be read (and it may be ‘constant’ reading with live feeds) and what companies and do with the data to prevent abuse.

The Observer reports that  fierce row has broken out over a controversial plan to drive a road through pristine  Amazon rainforest, imperilling the future of some of the world’s last uncontacted tribes. The 125-mile (200km) road which has been campaigned for by Italian missionary, Miguel Piovesan, who claims that indigenous people are being kept isolated and denied the chances for development available to the rest of the population. He first proposed the road in 2004, around the time the Peruvian government announced that the Alto Purús was to become the country’s largest national park. the road would pass through the Alto Purús national park in Peru, connecting a remote area to the outside world but opening up the most biologically and culturally important area of the upper Amazon to logging, mining and drug trafficking. Opponents of the plan fear it will threaten the existence of uncontacted tribes such as the Mashco-Piro.  More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/01/amazon-highway-peru-tribes-risk

Edie.net reports that UK consumers could be forced to trade in personal carbon credits to enjoy a roast dinner and rely on lab-grown meats if the food industry and government don’t start tackling some of the difficult decisions around climate change. Restaurants could also prove too pricey for all but the richest in society and pills could replace vegetables. The stark warning comes in a new report published today by researchers at the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) in Manchester, which highlights the “radical changes” in food availability if global temperatures continue to rise.

Lord Taylor has told guests at a ministerial reception at the Houses of Parliament that better use of resources and waste minimisation will be crucial to delivering a green economy in the UK. Lord Taylor called for greater action on both and highlighted the important role of industry in making a green economy a reality

Geoffrey Minter, owner of the Sandside Estate in Scotland is facing financial difficulties after failing in his bid to secure substantial compensation from the UK Atomic Energy Commission over radioactive contamination after an undergound explosion at the Dounreay nuclear plant in the 1970s. Minter alleged that the contamination has reduced the vakue of his Pentland Firth coastal estate which is near the nuclear plant but was awarded a fraction of what he had claimed.

Renewable energy’s share of the market grew by 36% during the first quarter of 2012. In terms of total energy share, renewables is now at 3.8% of consumption, compared to 3.2% in 2010. At the same time, oil production fell by 13% in the first quarter while gas fell 14.1% as a result of maintenance and slowdowns on a number of fields.

An alliance of four sector skills councils (SSCs): Asset Skills, SummitSkills, CITB-ConstructionSkills and Energy & Utility Skills says that improved workforce skills and training is needed to help the UK meet its 2020 energy efficiency targets according to a new building and construction sector analysis.

Oxfam has warned businesses that climate change is threatening the resilience of global supply in a report that highlights the increasing impact of climate change on small-scale producers in the developing world, even suggesting that agricultural productivity in some countries could fall by as much as 50% by 2080. “Small-scale producers are a key link in many companies’ supply chains, often producing labour intensive commodities,” said Oxfam’s GB policy adviser, Jodie Thorpe. “Businesses have a crucial role to play in helping vulnerable producers manage climate risks, first and foremost as a moral responsibility but also as a critical business issue.”

A review of the often controversial process of fracking – extracting shale gas – has been carried out by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering who have sad that properly done Fracking is safe  – provided best practice and effective regulation are robustly enforced.  Hmmmmmmm!

UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will hold high-level talks with major retailers and food charities to examine how more edible food waste can re-distributed to those in need.

Sony have put sustainable consumption at the core of a new futuristic technology, looking to transform our relationships with the products we buy. Working in tandem with Forum for the Future, Sony has brainstormed new ways in which society can adapt to the increasing threat of resource scarcity. Its Futurescapes project centres around four themes – products, places, platforms, and philosophies, all of which could help inspire a more sustainable future.  One of the concepts is Wandular which explores how to promote product longevity in the move towards a circular economy where business models evolve to become more service-based.