Covid-19

We export more salmon than we import

How food trade deals bloat UK’s carbon footprint

Food prices could rise by 48 per cent after Brexit, if the UK cannot agree a trade with the European Union, warned one headline in the past few days. Actually, that’s the tariff that could be imposed on imported beef mince, spurring the average tariff up to 20 per cent. But there is nothing like a scary headline to inspire us into reading a story.

The possible rise in food prices leads to the question – if we really must have Brexit, why import so much food? Why not “buy British”, rather than allow goods we grow in the United Kingdom to be exported?

A report called The Trade and Investment Requirements for Zero Carbon presents buying local as a solution to not Brexit, but reducing carbon footprint.

Read More »How food trade deals bloat UK’s carbon footprint
A forest

I’d love to change career to plant trees

Just how many lockdowns because of pandemics could we have? It’s a reasonable worry, if deforestation – particularly for farming – is pushing animals, which carry diseases, closer to human contact.

But let’s take a step back. Theories include that animals are forced to live closer to humans, increasingly the likelihood of spreading diseases. Or that destruction of habitats, such as forests, disturbs the places that host diseases.

Human-induced land use changes are among the drivers of disease from the forests to communities, one scientist told Unearthed Greenpeace, adding that scientists were agreed on this theory.

A United Nations summit on biodiversity, scheduled for this month, will be told there is a strong link between environmental destruction and unlocking deadly diseases, according to a report in the Guardian.

Read More »I’d love to change career to plant trees
Tea is a traditional part of a cricket

Will Covid-19 kill the traditional cricket tea?

Sandwiches, cakes, crisps, maybe some fruit and a good old English cuppa. Summer would be nothing without cricket – and cricket would be nothing without the traditional cricket tea. Or would it?

Since time immemorial, it seems, a tea has been produced by volunteers. It is gratefully consumed in a convivial break between two sides going out to bat on a beautifully manicured village green pitch.

This has been depicted in any number of television dramas, from an occasional story line to a full backdrop to conversations in Outside Edge in the mid-1990s.

One tea making company even ran “The Great Cricket Tea Challenge” featuring former England captain Michael Vaughan, in 2014.

Read More »Will Covid-19 kill the traditional cricket tea?
Rubbish outside allotment

Litter tossers have no respect – for area or themselves

It is hard to know which is worse: hundreds of discarded piece of litter, scattered over a reasonably wide area, or dumping rubbish in a concentrated spot, otherwise known as fly-tipping.

One, at best, involves a negligent slip of an item out of a hand, pocket or perhaps a vehicle; the other is a completely deliberate act to avoid disposing of items responsibly, perhaps at cost.

Both types of rubbish disposal could be deliberate, cigarettes or crisp packets flicked from cars for example. And both types of littering have been noted in the Earlswood area in recent days.

One hopes that the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s Joint Enforcement Team, whose attention has been brought to the pile of debris outside the entrance to the Earlswood allotments, will find evidence to point to the culprit.

Read More »Litter tossers have no respect – for area or themselves
Newts just get in the way of housing

Build back better: newt very green at all

Did he say “build back better, greener, faster?” Yes, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a broad list of a £5bn plan to kick start our economy. But it left many who have called for a properly “green” recovery cold.

The banner underneath his podium said “build, build, build” – and it turned out the real emphasis was on building. Building greener was tertiary, behind the concept of “faster”. Environmentalism came across as an after thought.

Build HS2. Build links to north and south; build to sort out the transport bottle neck at Manchester; build a wider road to Scotland, he said, to make good the promise made in 1992; build homes; build 50 schools; build the election pledge of 40 new hospitals.

And, yes, he wanted 4,000 new carbon zero buses and he highlighted a “massive” investment that is underway in cycle way improvements.

Read More »Build back better: newt very green at all
Generic picture of oil refinery

BP’s answer to climate emergency: shed staff

When BP announced on Monday that it would shed 10,000 staff by the end of the year because of a drop in demand for oil and investing more in renewable energy forms, on a drive towards being carbon neutral, it raised many more questions than it answered.

CEO Bernard Looney wrote up on LinkedIn what he had told staff in his briefing. It became listed as an “editor’s choice” story on the news feed of the business social networking site.

Commentators offered many viewpoints. One was that this shedding of staff was inevitable. It was merely delayed from March and in fact the company’s line about there being a drop in demand for oil pre-dated the Covid-19 crisis, when there was a large drop in demand for oil.

Readers might have noticed that there were far fewer aeroplanes, that far fewer people drove – including to work – and the petrol prices dipped to about £1.00 per litre at the pumps.

Read More »BP’s answer to climate emergency: shed staff

Drill oil? Even PPE can be plastic free

At the start of lockdown, a friend remarked: “We’re told not to use so much plastic and now we’ve got all this plastic PPE that will need throwing away.”

What can we do? This week, two things happened to prompt thoughts about this.

The first one was part of the response by the company running Horse Hill’s oil drilling site after four Extinction Rebellion protesters broke in. A put down, condemning the actions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“And did they ever stop to think that the medical equipment and PPE the country sorely needs at present is derived from oil and gas? Face masks and visors, gloves, protective aprons, syringes, sterile tubes and pipes in intubators and ventilators, catheters, sample bottles, tablet dispensers, vital function computers and screens, the list is endless. Even patient notes are kept in a plastic file and ID wristbands are made from plastic. All are made from petroleum products. You cannot get away from it.”

Read More »Drill oil? Even PPE can be plastic free
Humans are being displaced from uninhabitable areas already

Climate emergency needs shift in economic thinking

“Lockdown is showing us the misery that Net Zero 2050 will demand.”

In one sense, the headline offered hope. Could this be, finally, a national media journalist outside the Guardian offering us a glittering set of solutions for the climate emergency, to avoid Net Zero in 2050?

Not a bit of it. Charles Moore, in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, offered under the above headline exactly what I feared: fear of changing our ways because it would upset our current economic model. Or, more precisely, the economic model of the rich, individuals or nations, who would trample on those affected by climate change; the refugees already beginning to be displaced by shrivelled up land that has become uninhabitable. 

Read More »Climate emergency needs shift in economic thinking

Riding a sustainable travel path after Covid-19

It is wonderful to see that nations, or cities, are pondering a more environmentally friendly future as society ponders an exit from Covid-19 lockdown.

Indeed, sustainability is part of the solution – and our local authorities can act swiftly to play their part.

Last week, world leaders came together to try to agree on a “greener” future. That seemed a message of hope for a long-term plan.

Read More »Riding a sustainable travel path after Covid-19