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ANOTHER PLANET?

A third runway at Heathrow would lead to significantly more early deaths from pollution than a new airport built in the Thames Estuary, a study has warned. The research, by US University MIT, suggests Heathrow aviation pollution causes about 50 early deaths a year and this number is rising. That figure may climb to 150 if a third runway is built, the study claims.

Eleanor Fairchild, the Texas farmer and now anti Tar-Sands activist who is protesting against TransCanada using eminent domain to take her land for the Keystone XL pipeline,  has been arrested for trespassing, on her own land, while protesting against construction beginning on her 300 ranch. Tar Sands activist, the actress Daryl Hannah was also arrested while protesting. Ms Fairchild’s land includes undeveloped wetland areas and natural water sources.

The drought in the USA and the heatwave in Russian are amongst the factors putting massive upward pressure on food prices. Oxfam said it expected to the price of staples such as wheat, maize and rice to double again in the next twenty years. For six out of the last eleven years we have consumed more food than we have produced and reserves are running low with food security at an all time low and the UN has warned of a worldwide food crisis next year if US harvests fail again.

As fuel bills continue to rise, and with a commitment to nuclear power in the balance, Ed Davey, the climate change secretary, has devised a loophole to allow power companies to invest in new gas-fired power stations – and avoid penalties for increasing their carbon footprint.  To the dismay of environmental groups, Mr Davey will re-write emissions targets which are currently 50g of CO2 per kilowatt of electricity by 2030, down from the current level of 400g per KW. Of course this all relies on gas prices remaining stable – if they rise  (which they may well do!) then not only will CO2 levels rise – but prices too. Lord Stern has called on the Government to ensure that policies are based on robust economic analysis and reflect the cost of damage caused by climate change -and even the head of the CBI has called on George Osbourne to recognise the risk of exposure to prices rises in the global market. Many business leaders have pointed out that not only is investment in clean energy is good for the UK economy in terms of investment and job creation, but also means that the UK has more control over its own future energy provision.

Conservationists are to undertake a programme of woodland management in the South of the Lake District in England, introducing coppicing to stop the decline in numbers of the pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly whose numbers are down 85% since 1985. 14 woodlands around Morecambe Bay will be coppiced to allow violets to grow which provide food for the butterflies and will also link up isolated breeding colonies.  It will also provide income for landowners who can supply coppiced wood to the local fuel market. More at http://yurtworld.blogspot.co.uk/

The Footloose  is the world’s first chainless hybrid electric folding bike made by Korean auto suppliers Mando Corp and Meister Inc who have collaborated to a beautiful and functional  design. There is no chain so added to the extra perk of being able to fold it is it’s ability to fold to a very small size.

A new competition to  “find new ‘green’ designs for the development of London’s spaces” has resulted in some amazing entries – see some of the winners here http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/short-list-high-line-competition.html including  Fletcher Priest’s winning entry Pop Down which creates an urban mushroom garden in a tunnel that hasn’t been used in a decade. It would be lit by fibre-optics inside the mail rails that were used to transport mail below busy Oxford Street. The light would come from sculptural glass mushrooms at street level. The runner up is  channel in the Regent’s Canal makes it possible to swim the ‘Lido Line’ from Little Venice to Limehouse.

Marine parks in the USA are facing a backlash after it was revealed SeaWorld in Atlanta is trying to import 11 out of 18 Beluga whales which were captured from the wild off the Russian coast, to ‘broaden the gene pool of the American captive population” and even more ludicrously “promote conservation and education”. The whales are currently in a so called research facility on the Black sea coast awaiting an consideration of an import licence by the US Government. The whales would go to aquariums in Florida, California and Texas.

The UK’s badger cull, which may well exterminate up to one third of the UK’s badger population , has been branded “mindless” by a group of 30 eminent scientists in a letter to the Observer newspaper (14th October 2012). The government’s own chief scientist has refused to back the killings. Bovine TB is an increasing problem in Britain’s cattle and ministers have argued that culling badgers, which can carry TB, will reduce infection rates by between 12-16%. The scientists say this is wrong and that the government is “cherry picking” data to support it’s policies and that “the government’s policy does not make sense” and its a “costly distraction”.  Professor Sir Patrick Bateson’s letter says that culling badgers could INCREASE the problem of TB in cattle. Defra disagree, saying that the experts they brought together in 2011 agreed that evidence pointed towards culling.

More on badgers here http://www.savethebadger.com/

The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Corp, has admitted that it knew its tsunami defences were inadequate before the nuclear accident in march 2011 but did not act as it feared temporary closure.

The EU has a target of 10% of fuel used by 2020 being renewable – biofuels – but new calculations based on Indirect land use change (ILUC)  which rakes into account the carbon cost of swapping from food production to fuel production, or clearing land for bio fuel production show that biofuels may be as harmful to the environment as fossil fuels – meaning it wont help anyone meet emission targets. A third of US grain harvest last year went to ethanol distilleries to produce fuel.

The space shuttle Endeavour’s 2 mph twelve mile journey to its final home at the Californian Science Centre resulted in 400 trees being chopped down in Los Angeles to clear the route.

Firefly Solar were invited by the team at AGF Award winning festival We Love Green in Paris to help the festival with its aim to become a truly sustainable event. Firefly’s event team installed a 45kVA solar PV system comprising 9 Cygnus Solar Generators with 14 fold arrays flanking the main stage, making it the largest mobile solar rig seen in Europe .  This system powered the efficient LED lighting rig on the main stage, which featured performances from Norah Jones and the Klaxons.  The lighting rig included Clay Paky Sharpies, Alpha Spots and Martin MAC Auras – a new compact LED moving head with zoom. The Kinectrics  playground proved very popular with the Parisian youth and was the main attraction in the Kids’ Zone.  The Playground featured the full range of Kinectrics products along with the Kinectrics Display System software, which gave a real-time energy readout as well as the total energy generated over the weekend.