Friday, September 29, 2006

Buy our 'TOP 10' T-Shirt!!

It's finally here! We have had so many requests for a T-shirt for our 'TOP 10 Ways to save the world' that we've done just that. You can find various options to buy for yourself or, as a gift for others. There are other photo choices and different T-shirt designs and the range will continue to expand. Remember they're there to spread the word;

1. Walk, cycle, use public transport & lastly, carpool
2. Reduce, reuse, recycle
3. Reduce useage of lights, heating & gadgets
4. Buy Fairtrade & Organic
5. Buy energy efficient products
6. Protect woodlands & green spaces
7. Reduce useage of fossil fuels
8. Conserve water
9. Use more renewables
10. Buy local, reducing product miles

Please note that you will find the 'TOP 10' wording on the back of the T-shirt. Easier for others to read.

Go to;

TOP 10 T-shirts at CafePress!

Have fun!

Monday, September 25, 2006

100 biggest questions facing the UK environment

Scientists have drawn up a list of the 100 most important questions on the British environment needing answering today. The answers will help decide future policy. They include:

What are the ecological impacts of the ban on hunting with dogs?
What are the ecological impacts of airports?
What are the effects of light pollution on wildlife?
Which habitats and species might we lose completely in the UK because of climate change?
How can we measure natural capital (renewable and non renewable resources) and integrate such a measure into GDP?
How does the ecological impact of UK farming compare internationally?
How long does the seabed take to recover from dredging, wind farm construction and oil and gas extraction?
What impact does plastic litter have on the marine environment?
Why have many woodland birds declined?
How effective as indicators of overall biodiversity are current indicators (especially birds)?

Which 10 questions would you choose from them (see the link for all 100) as the most important ones that need answering? Or do you have questions that are not on the list that are more important and can potentially be answered?

Where do you think research should be concentrated and how much difference do you think answering these questions will make to policy?

The 100 questions

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Valuing Nature
In an eloquent and passionate piece in the journal Nature (Vol 443, 7 September 2006), Douglas J. McCauley argues that conservation strategies based on the market value of ecosystem services are not working to protect our wildlife. He urges a return to the protection of nature for nature's sake, rather than as a life support system for the human species. As conservation tools, ecosystem services have gained an importance that far outweighs their usefulness and ignores their limitations.
  • We assume that ecosystems are essentially benevolent, and ignore the fact that they work for the benefit of all species not just us.
  • By incorporating ecosystems into our economic fabric, we leave them vulnerable to the whims of the market, which operate on time scales often too short for the environment to respond.
  • There is an implicit assumption that nature conservation is only worth doing if it turns a profit.
  • There is nothing to prevent a "devaluation of nature" if the economic or tecnological climate changes.
  • Making money and protecting the environment are all too often mutually exclusive.
I wish I'd written this piece. I've made no secret of my dislike of the idea that the only way forward for conservation is to assign an economic value to the 'environment' , whether whole eco-systems or individual species, and then use cost-benefit analysis and market forces to prioritise work and allocate resources. In a previous thread discussing the work of Bjorn Lomborg, I asked why we have no mechanism to assign a monetary value to human beings if it's acceptable to do so for any other living species that might be of use to humans. I was accused of being, amongst other things, a Malthusian and possibly a racist. It seems that however far you extend the reach of economic value, there comes a point at which a leap of faith must occur, that the human race has value which cannot be expressed in monetary terms and should be protected for its own sake. Why is it so difficult to make that call for other living beings as well?

Link to article

Saturday, September 09, 2006

One More Hard Luck Story
An island paradise. An archipelago set in a shining sea. Unique habitats, exotic vegetation, a coastline of rugged rocks and empty golden beaches, a haven for bird and marine life. Of between 100 and 200 islands (depending on whether you count them when the tide is in or out), only 5 are inhabited. Over 90% of economic activity is related to tourism, with a little fishing and agriculture. Most visitors arrive on the daily freight ship, with a few coming in by light plane or helicopter. There are no cars apart from those owned by the 2000 or so locals, making walking and cycling something to be enjoyed rather than endured. And yet this Eden, like many places around the world, is under threat from the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, projected to increase by 90cm by 2050, are already causing intermittent local flooding. Erosion of cliffs and beaches is increasing. More violent weather and changes to unique, vistor-attracting habitats are putting the all-important tourist trade at risk. This all sounds depressingly familiar. So where is this place, some tiny atoll nation in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific? No, it's quite a bit closer to home.
Lying 40 miles off the coast of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly are the westernmost outpost of England, one of the UK's best-kept secrets as a holiday destination. The quality of the experience brings visitors back year after year. WIth all Scilly's advantages, it might be forgiven for thinking that climate change could be good for business. A recent report claims that climate change may lead to the traditional package holiday to the Mediterranean becoming "consigned to the scrapbook of history" click. Rising temperatures and sea levels are likely to make summer holidays in Britain and other Northern European destinations a more viable proposition. It's ironic that Scilly is facing similar threats that may destroy everything that makes it attractive to tourists. It's doubly ironic that, while UK citizens remain largely impervious to pleas from low lying island states to reduce greenhouse emissions, a beautiful part of their own country is set to go the way of Tuvalu.

Where Have I heard That Before?

In a blaze of publicity, Britain's second (or possibly third) largest supermarket chain has announced the introduction of bio-degradable packaging for 500 of its organic food product lines click.
The new material will be made from starch and sugar derived from maize, saving thousands of tons of petroleum-based plastic.
Wonderful! Good old Sainsbury's! we cry. But wait, haven't we been here before? Those of us with longer memories will recall a similar fanfare in 2001 click .
Back then, Sainsbury's announced they would be introducing biodegradable packaging for all their own-label organic fruit and vegetables in all stores from the end of January 2001. So what happened to this project and others like the "starch based netting material for organic oranges"?
Basically, Sainsbury's had other more pressing things to think about, such as its appalling commercial performance, its slide down the pecking order of UK supermarkets and the slump in its share price. Only now, with its fortunes revived under a new management team, have they the time and resources to devote to this initiative. And of course, 5 years down the line we are all much more aware of green issues and have much greater expectations of the companies we do business with. Sainsbury's realise that they can't afford not to do this now, especially with arch-rival Tesco making big noises about issues like bio-degradable carrier bags.
Hopefully this time they'll see it through and not sweep it under the back-burner.