Sustainability

An example of an oil drilling rig

Horse Hill appeal is start of climate emergency road

Just how hard is it to translate declaring a climate emergency into meaningful policy? This is one crux of a planning appeal, led by local campaigner Sarah Finch, heard this week. It is against Surrey County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a company to drill for oil for 20 years at Horse Hill.

Some local authorities still find it hard to declare a climate emergency, as the Government did in one of Theresa May’s final acts as Prime Minister. For example, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council stopped short of joining the 1,400 authorities in 28 countries to have done so. However, they have come up with a climate action plan.

Waverley Borough Council, by contrast, declared the emergency, but only afterwards set about deciding their action plan. Their public consultation only finished in the past few weeks.

Read More »Horse Hill appeal is start of climate emergency road
Banana skins in a bucket

Going bananas in the garden for extra nutrients

Have you ever seen a quirky idea, thought it was a bit mad but worth trying? Or even worth adapting?

A friend told me recently that she had been soaking banana skins through the summer and using the mixture as a plant grower.

Sounds utterly bonkers! But, when you think it through, it is probably what our ancestors did – even if it was perhaps limited to those from countries in which bananas grow, anyway.

Essentially, this seems simply an acceleration of the composting process. To those au fait with the composting process, it is easy enough to throw banana skins into a composter, or pile, along with many vegetable and fruit peelings, pips, stems or cores: The bits, essentially, you don’t cook.

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Is nature caught between wind and fossil power?

“Keep the carbon in the ground,” is a regular chant from climate march protesters and campaigners. It is a launch pad to insisting on renewable energy sources to sustain our needs.

But with the desire from our Prime Minister to power all homes with offshore wind power by 2030, what are the trade offs for installing and relying upon sources of energy that are non-fossil fuel based?

Reports in June said that 47% of the UK’s energy in the first quarter of the year came from renewable energy. These are figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Add in biomass and nuclear and the figure rose to 62% of our energy.

Read More »Is nature caught between wind and fossil power?
plastic juice

The price we pay for our plastic addiction

Shopping for the week’s household goods in Sainsbury’s, I was surprised and delighted that shopping for fruit and vegetables can be cheaper without plastic.

Many of the items I could buy loose were cheaper per kilogram than if bought in a pack. This has not always been the case, however, and is one of the reasons shoppers pick up a plastic-wrapped pack.

Others reasons include that it is simply easier to do so, especially in quantities required for a family. If you live alone, or even in a couple, you might not to buy as much. Then there is consistency of size – the look.

Society has grown used to being presented with perfect looking fruit and vegetables.

Read More »The price we pay for our plastic addiction
onshore wind

Politicians to ponder the winds of change for energy

Take a road trip to Scotland, Cornwall, East Anglia or through the major roads of France and the chances are you will see wind turbines on land.

In many coastal locations, especially off east of Great Britain, multiple wind turbines can be seen out to sea, too.

And it is these – multiplied sufficiently – that Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged last week would power the United Kingdom’s energy needs by 2030.

Raising the 30 gigawatts capacity target for 2030 to 40 gigawatts is, apparently, part of the Government’s 10-point plan for a green revolution. The rest of the plan will be announced by the end of the year.

Read More »Politicians to ponder the winds of change for energy
An example of an oil drilling rig

China’s climate 2060 commitments welcome

Last week, the BBC reported on a hydrogen powered train. It was a prototype that carried out a 25-mile journey, to demonstrate its power to the media. The train was capable of running for 100 miles on a full tank – which would take most of a day to fill up.

Inventors hope two things will be possible: that the train can be put into service – in Warwickshire – next year and that, first, the hydrogen units can be based under the train, rather than taking up a carriage.

The train uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, on non-electrified lines, as an alternative to diesel powered engines.

Read More »China’s climate 2060 commitments welcome
Green tomato chutney

Harvest: depressing but bringing new opportunities

How often to psychologists – pop or serious – tell us: when one door closes, another opens? It’s the same with gardening.

It seems utterly depressing that most of the vegetation that was planted in the spring has now bloomed and died. We can feel proud it fed us and delight in the joy that many things we planted worked this summer, on patches of land. You know the drill: I say tomatoes, you say potatoes! Then there were beetroots, radishes, lettuces, cucumbers, courgettes, purple heritage beans and sweetcorn.

All came in varying degrees of success, depending on the weather, slugs, the consistency of the soil and the quality of the seeds.

I feel lucky that at least some of my peppers prospered – even if they did not grow particularly big.

Read More »Harvest: depressing but bringing new opportunities

Progress to eco-friendly packaging seems slow

Packaging. Can it be recycled? It’s a consumer’s nightmare. Why do we need so much of it? Can’t manufacturers take more responsibility?

A few weeks ago, a champagne company announced that new packaging would reduce its carbon footprint by 60 per cent. Instead of a formal cardboard gift box, a new recyclable wood-pulp skin one would be about a 10th of the weight, reducing in particular transport costs.

This week, the company which makes Pringles announced a trial of new packaging, to 90% cardboard and 10% PolyAl.

Kellogg’s, who produce the popular snack, has been urged since 2017 to make its packaging more recyclable. And now it has acted. But will it make it totally recyclable?

Read More »Progress to eco-friendly packaging seems slow
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