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ANOTHER PLANET?

Soylent_greenAh the great British weekend, time for many British families to clear out the fridge and freezer to remove all traces of horse burger, ready made ‘beef’ lasagne and all other traces of donkey and pony, whilst sniggering teenagers try to locate the kitchen to put the obligatory ASDA or Tesco ‘ding’ meal in the microwave to sample the real ‘Grand National’ experience. If that makes no sense to non-European readers,  over here in the Eurozone, we have only recently discovered the folly of allowing the food industry to convince us that it should be self regulated, with some fairly shocking results for meat eaters. 100% horse and kidney pie anyone? So thanks food industry – what HAVE you been feeding us? Can we now PLEASE have some sort of traceability with suppliers – sustainable suppliers – transparency: I know that’s not what the industry wants but since they seem incapable of doing this right, and we are now all questioning the reliability of our food, I think I now want more UK and EU regulation – not less. I want to know what (or who) I am eating.  Solyent Green is starting to look less like science fiction, and more like a documentary.

ilva-steel-italy-Following years of uncontrolled environmental abuse, in August 2012 judge Patrizia Todisco held that the ILVA steel factory in Taranto, Italy, could not produce steel while it made court-ordered improvements to its processes – because of concerns that pollution was harming the health of the workers and local residents. Court documents say the family owned Riva group hds made numerous unfulfilled pledges to clean up at the site, and company head Emilio Riva had been convicted twice of environmental offences over the past decade. Mortality rates near to the site are 70% above average. Although an Italian court briefly returned Europe’s biggest steel plant to company control after the Italian government intervened to save 20,000 jobs, now the court has authorised the sale of E800 million of steel seized from the plant. Investigating judge Patrizia Todisco made the order after Taranto prosecutors said that they need they be sold before they deteriorated. The steel products had been produced in disregard of previous court orders.

The head of Iberdrola owned Scottish Power has urged the UK Government to turn its attention from nuclear power to wind and gas to keep Britain’s energy supply running – saying that by 2015 the UK will have a energy problem and no new nuclear plants could be built in such a short time frame calling on the Government to “focus on gas and renewables”. For the Uk tpo meet its carbon reduction targets by 2030 most commentators see nuclear, offshore wind, solar and hydro electricity as the major sources of power.

Edie.net reports that energy recovery infrastructure has received a boost with several significant infrastructure developments in the pipeline following contract wins. ENER-G Natural Power has joined forces with Seneca Global Energy to harness energy generation from three landfill sites in the north of England.  ENER-G will design, build, finance, operate and maintain three renewable energy facilities at Seneca’s landfill sites at near Newcastle, Hartlepool and Hull. In total up to 3.8MW of electricity could be generated for export to the grid.  The methane gas will be drawn from the waste through a series of wells and then captured and converted into electricity using technology that will be housed in small soundproofed enclosures. It is hoped the facilities will be operational next month.  http://www.edie.net/news/5/In-brief–Energy-from-waste-contract-news-/nl

nl_letterboomerii_r1_c1A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the Sunday Times has revealed that 78% of people want low carbon sources to power Britain in the future, with nuclear power coming top of the list with 26%. Wind and marine energy came joint-second in the poll, which measured public support for Britain’s future energy needs.  The poll revealed that 18% of respondents supported wind and 18% supported wave and tidal, which was more than three times the support for gas (5%) and nine times the support for coal (2%).

European leaders have agreed to commit 20% of all EU spending to mitigate climate change, following two days of negotiations. Following a two day European Council Summit on the EU Budget, which covers the 2014-2020 period, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard tweeted: “This is really a new way of thinking: climate mainstreaming in concrete numbers, not just words. 20% of all EU spending”

The Green Investment Bank’s (GIB) deputy chairman, Adrian Montague, will be standing down in April this year, the Government has announced.

turbineWind news! The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced that it has invested £50m in five onshore wind farms and one offshore farm.. The money from the Government will go to renewable energy fund, Greencoat UK Wind, where it will be spread out across the wind farms located in areas ranging from Scotland to Kent in the south.  Also, green energy company Ecotricity is carrying out final tests on a micro wind turbine which it claims could be 40% more efficient than similar sized turbines on the market: Siemens has been awarded a contract worth more than €700m (£596m) to supply, install and service 80 wind turbines for an offshore wind farm off the North Coast of Germany: And finally on wind, Plans for up to 22 wind turbines at Heckington Fen in Lincolnshire have been approved by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The UK’s 4th largest onshore wind farm.

A new technology that harnesses the power of bacteria could transform wastewater from an “expensive problem” to a sustainable source of hydrogen and valuable chemicals, according to a new report. Pilot studies have indicated that energy captured by the technology, known as bioelectrochemical systems, as hydrogen can greatly offset, or exceed, the energy needed to initiate the process.  Electrically-active microorganisms in bioelectrochemical systems can remove contaminants from wastewater while at the same time produce valuable commodities, such as hydrogen or caustic soda.

Fears have been raised that national recycling rates in England may be flatlining following the release of latest figures from Defra. Statistics for the first quarter of 2012-3 show that six million tonnes (45.5%) of household waste was sent for recycling between April and June 2012 – just 0.5 percentage points higher than the same period the previous year.  Meanwhile the use of incineration with energy recovery increased by over 20% to 1.3 million tonnes, suggesting that councils are struggling to move their waste management activities up the hierarchy.

us-high-speed-rail-map.The dream of high speed rail in the United States is very, very slowly moving forward. But what if we permit ourselves to dream? Alfred Twu, a high-speed rail activist and mapmaker, has created the map above, showing what a cross-country high-speed rail network might look like in the United States. More on Treehugger here .

Liora Lassalle, the winner of this year’s sustainable fashion award, the Estethica / Veolia Re-Source competition, will launch her first collection during London Fashion Week February 15 – 19 2013. Lassalle has produced an upcycled capsule collection supported by a mentoring programme sponsored by recycling and waste management company Veolia.

It seems the awful Donald Trump wants to build another golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland.  

Beijing is currently covered in a think blanket of smog as pollution hits record levels – with China’s residents now asking if they are paying for economic growth with their health. Its being called the ‘airpocalyspse’ or the ‘airmaggedon‘ – one day pollution levels were 30 times higher than World Health Organisation highest safe levels. The WHO says that air pollution accounts for 2 million deaths each year – over 60% in Asia.

“We can believe the superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen, were all just coincidences. Or we can believe the over whelming judgment of science and act”. President Obama.

UNEP