Some was bad but much was good, in East Germany

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ddr-fahneSome was bad but most was good, in the German Democratic Republic, what was known as East Germany or communist East Germany. That, at least, is what now a great majority of those that lived there say after having experience the “freedom” of the capitalist system.

While there was state oppression through Stalinism – it was not Communism nor real Socialism – many things were good to very good, as we can see today. Even West Germans who now learn how East Germany functioned are finding that there were things that were very good. Not that the government of the capitalist state would agree, obviously, for there was no consumer society as it is in the West in those days.

Everything had its fixed price – almost – and it did not matter as to whether you bought your soap, bread, or whatever, in the Komsum or the HO or whatever other shop.

Few West Germans, until the “fall of the Wall” realized that many of their goods that they bought in their stores were often made in the GDR (they rarely bothered to check the label) whether it was clothes, watches, or stationery.

Unfortunately environmental protection did not exist and much of the land was ravaged through mining and other kinds of exploitation. Not that it was much different in the West, I hasten to add.

People, however, were looked after in an unprecedented manner and there was real community even in towns and cities, not just in the villages, and it is that, and the fact that the consumer society did not exist, is what many of those that lived there before the takeover and occupation of East Germany by West Germany long after.

If we want to build a new an fairer society we could do worse than looking at how real communism was meant to function and despite that East Germany and the other Warsaw Pact countries, including the USSR, after the death of Lenin, were run Stalinist and then merge that with the best from the West.

The lack of the rat race for one is something that has much going for it. While it may be true that consumer goods were lacking, for lack of a better word, and those that did exist were expensive it must also be said that, as it would appear, those things that were made, in the main, were made to last and, very important, could be repaired.

Why else,do we think, that there are still so very many GDR products still working to this very day while the people in West Germany have replaced their stuff ten times over.

The planned economy was not one that was based and designed with a continuous growth in mind and even though often it did not work all that well it did work. The western model has been created so as to make some people rich on a continual basis and therefore obsolescence had to be, in the end, designed into the products.

When things keep going and going people are not going to all the time buy new and that would hit the profits of the capitalists. Hence a redesign of products to be no longer repairable. And thus the West became a throwaway society.

This model, however, is so very unsustainable that we now wonder what to do even though the blueprint already exists.

A new society and system is possible by merging the best of both worlds, that of the free market system and that of communism-socialism and a the best from another couple of ideas.

We need a new society where people and Planet matter and where we live again in the way we should be living, not stacked in hives called apartment blocks and such like, where, despite the fact that people live cheek by jowl they do not even know their neighbors and often also dare not even greet them when they encounter them on the stairs, in the elevator or the lobby.

Humans are not meant to live like that but living like that has made us fearful of even our next door neighbor, let alone the stranger in the street or the metro. But a stranger only remains a stranger until one talks to him or her. But I digressed.

While the block warden became something rather sinister in the times of the GDR as time went on and was, in a way, something that was taken from the Nazi past, a block committee on the other hand can bring life into a complex. And community gardens and other such activities, as we see now in certain parts of Berlin, even more so.

In the days of the old GDR, however, neighbors also helped each other and this is what has gone in the capitalist West (and is beginning to fall by the way also in what was the GDR) and this makes for an area that is void of community spirit and of life.

We cannot all go back to living on the land in small villages and in communes. For that there are simply too many people in our respective countries, let alone the world. But we can make our villages, towns and cities livable and alive again by creating community again though a variety of means and activities.

Community gardens and even woodlands where everyone partakes in the construction and management, thus greening our living environment, will go a long way towards creating a togetherness and community and even more so if the produce and products can be used for the benefit of all.

There is much derelict land in our towns and cities, and even in our villages, where such projects can be run and by involving everyone, though without conversion, including the often troublesome teenagers, a new society can be build that will benefit everyone.

Let's take some leaves that were good out of the book of the various systems and merge them to create a new way of doing things that will benefit all and not just the few.

We need a new system, not a new government. In fact, we need no government at all for government is but established by the few; and these few assume the consent of all the rest, without any such consent actually being given.

© 2013

No Yard? No Problem?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

container-gardenMany people believe that in order to grow their own vegetables they need a large garden but container growing is a great way to have great tasting fresh vegetables even if you don't have the yard space for a full garden.

Container gardening is the answer for those that are short of space as regards to gardening, whether flowers, or as far as we are concerned, vegetables for the table.

Growing in containers, with loose and deep soil, also allows the plants to be closer together and thus the density of them does away with an over-amount of weeds and also makes for a larger harvest.

The type of containers for this kind of growing is legion and you can go out and buy decorative ones at a cost or, alternatively, repurpose any other kind of container, including old bathtubs, sinks and the like. It just depends as to whether you want a certain look or just simply a food garden for as little outlay as possible.

Aside from putting your planters on the ground you can also use containers in the vertical, by hanging them up, putting them on old stepladders, etc.

certain trailing tomatoes, for instance, do well in hanging planters and hanging baskets and some plants can, actually, also be grown hanging upside down.

Pot and other containers hung on a fence or a wall can be used to grow herbs and spices and the do do very well in such situations. Also much easier to harvest if they are at the right height.

I have filled my yard, even though I could have been digging or using raised beds, with containers of all kinds that have been repurposed into planters, including so-called builder bags or tonne bags, plant buckets and tubs from tree planting, etc. Even old shopping carts have been drafted into use, lined with barrier fabric and such, as planters.

The latter are ideal for use with growing carrots as they are above the height of the carrot fly's vector and thus are more or less out of its reach to it.

That does not mean, unfortunately, that a container garden will be immune to pests. It is not, and neither to weeds. However, you have a little better access to each and every plant to check and manually destroy pests or remove weeds.

Using containers in your yard you can still have a garden and grow at least some food for your table even if you do not have the space for a proper garden.

So, go and dig some dirt and grow some tasty veg. You no longer have any excuse.

© 2013

There is nothing more difficult than the creation of a new system

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system.

For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old system and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one... ~ Machieavelli

Machieavelli was, unfortunately, right with that statement but that does not mean that we do not need a new system, which we indeed need, nor that we should not try to create this new one.

However, there are not just those enemies that Machieavelli speaks of. There are also the people in general who cannot see further than their noses and fathom that a new system is needed and that it could benefit us all. And when I say all I do mean all, the entire Planet and not just mankind.

Not only, as indicated, are our “leaders” and industry against any new system, especially one where the people have real control, and will regard anyone as much as advocating such a new system as “enemies of the state” and even as “terrorists”, the great majority of the people themselves, at present, cannot see that (1) a completely new economic- and political system is needed and (2) are afraid of the changes that this would bring.

As long as the government- and corporation controlled media is giving people an illusion of democracy, which is a fake, and hides the truth from them the people will remain in ignorance as to their true state and will stand against any change of the system.

The problem is that people hate the truth but, luckily, the truth does not care and keeps knocking. There will be many, however, who will not open their minds to the truth and thus remain ignorant and blinded. They will remain the enemy of any new system and of the advocates and proponents of any such system.

We must change the system, however, regardless of people's reactions as there is no other way. All our current political systems are faulty to the degree that they cannot be fixed so no good tinkering with them and the same is true for the economic system of a growth economy. And the biggest laugh is the oxymoron of “sustainable growth” for the Earth, our Planet and Mother, is finite and so are Her non-renewable resources and we have used up most of the latter and even have done serious damage to the renewable ones because we did not replenish them.

Democracy, or should we call it Democazy, as it is today, is but an illusion created by the powers-that-be to lull the sheeple into believing that they have a say in their affairs. Elections mean nothing, nothing whatsoever, as far as all governments are concerned.

Government is in the pocket of the invisible leaders and of corporations and they will do their bidding and not that of the so-called electorate. Only when people govern themselves will this change and our world will become a better place.

An archos is the mother of the word anarchy and means “without rulers” and it is such world that we need to fix the problems.

The old ways of family and clan government needs to be brought back and extended to work on a larger scale. This was a government where everyone had a say, often even the children, but then came the rulers, the feudal lords and kings and the world has been in trouble ever since.

We do not need a new government, we need a new system.

© 2013

Wood Pallet Projects – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Wood Pallet Projects
by Chris Gleason
128 pages, 9 x 7.5 inches, Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-56523-544-1
Published February 2013 by Fox Chapel Publishing
Price: $19.99

Wood Pallet Projects BookWhile lumber prices are soaring, and deforestation a rising concern, millions of pounds of perfectly usable wood are dumped in landfills every year in the form of pallets and shipping cases.

Pallets offer a great resource – predominately free for the taking – to the wood worker and this lumber and “product” is almost limitless.

Wood Pallet Projects shows how anyone can upcycle salvaged pallet wood to create truly one-of-a-kind projects and this book gives the reader a number of ideas as to how pallets can become furniture and other products.

Asides from the ideas and the general information inside the book the reader will find twelve detailed projects of what can be made from pallet lumber. The author also explains how to take a pallet apart and many other things.

Some of his pieces celebrate the rough, edgy character of the material, while others are crafted as fine furniture. He shows how to construct both indoor and outdoor furniture in a variety of styles, along with other useful items such as a birdhouse, a toolbox, and even a ukulele.

There is also plenty of information in the book on working with pallets, including where to find them, how to process them into usable lumber, fasteners, sanding, and the best finishes (if any) to use.
The author provides important advice on how to make sure that your pallets are safe, and not sprayed with harmful chemicals. A colorful gallery of finished work provides further inspiration for green crafting.

Readers with the right frame of mind and mindset will wish for still more and many more ideas and projects can also be found for the seeking on the Internet.

Wooden pallets (and crates) are an important part of today's shipping operations and often, in fact more often than not, after they have done their duty they end up trashed and go into landfill.

This is a serious waste of a resource, especially also considering that often pallets are used but once and are then discarded and that some are made of quite valuable wood too.

Go and rescue a few pallets and make yourself some great bits of furniture and other things from the wood. Well, and, obviously, go and buy the book to get some ideas and the know-how of doing it safely. I just love pallets and the versatility of them and the lumber they provide.

© 2013

The pencil, one of the most important inventions

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The pencil, one of the most important inventions in history if not the most important one.

pencil0While it is often said that the invention of the printing press with movable type – enter Gutenberg – was the most important invention and it liberated the people I put forward that it was the pencil.

The pencil made it possible to have a portable writing instrument on one's person and thus made reporters and journalists possible and with it the press, the media.

The pencil is also the only writing instrument that can write in space without the need of any technological invention and thus, instead of spending millions, as the US did to create a Space Pen that could write in the weightlessness of outer space, the USSR used a writing instrument already invented that would do the very same, namely the humble pencil.

It is not always the latest technology that is required and one does not have to go to invent something new; just use what has been proven to work.

While the humble pencil may not work under water, as they kept telling us when they issued us with the Fischer Space Pen, to which I replied that under water paper gets a little soggy anyway, it does work upside down, on a wall, and in outer space's weightlessness. And it also work in freezing temperatures.

Yes, true, it has got its drawbacks in that it needs to be sharpened every now and then but a small penknife will accomplish that quite nicely and, to add, when dropped the lead does tend to break inside. But those are bot minor drawbacks when the advantages are considered.

Call me old-fashioned, which I admit I am, but the humble pencil does it for me any day, especially a Number 2 or HB. Often we try to be far too sophisticated for our own good.

© 2013

Fascism in Germany did not start with Hitler and the NSDAP

Fascism in Germany did not start with Hitler and the NSDAP and neither did it end there

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It has often been suggested and is generally assumed that Fascism in Germany equals National-Socialism and thus began with Hitler and the NSDAP. Truth is, however, that those ideas were operational, even in government, well before Hitler ever began with the NSDAP and even before he wrote “Mein Kampf”. Hitler and the NSDAP was just the, then, latest manifestation of fascism in Germany. It neither started with Hitler and the NSDAP and neither did it end there.

The German ruling classes have had the seeds of Fascism in their veins long before Hitler and the NSDAP ever were formed and for that very reason the party and Hitler found the ruling classes, in the main, most receptive and very forthcoming with money and gifts.

Fascism in Germany also did not end with the end of World War Two and the collapse of the Third Reich. Nay, it continued, aided and abetted by the Western Allies, who allowed most Nazis to go free, and the Catholic Church under Pope Pius XII, until this very day.

The beginning of Fascism in Germany are lost in the mist of time but while Jews were accepted, more or less, under the kings of Prussia and the emperor Wilhelm II the Gypsy always knew the power of the state against him.

The German people, and it may be seen as politically incorrect to say so, but it shall be said nevertheless, have had a problem with foreigners and people that appeared foreign to them, for a great many centuries, and their obeisance to those in power, often seen so as “by the grace of G-d”, has colored their judgment and shrouded their vision and thus they fall for many a rabblerouser such as the likes of Hitler who promotes ideas of “bringing Germany back to the position it is due in Europe (the world) and such like.

While not all Germans are “bad” the great majority are, unfortunately, and seen by the gains that the right-wing groups make among the people though, maybe, not as yet in the polls the evidence speaks for itself. The reluctance, in fact the refusal, by the ruling classes to disallow and ban parties such as the NPD, the National-democratic Party, though don't let the democratic in the title confuse you, who are nothing but the official follow-on organization to the NSDAP, and the DVU, Deutsche Volks-Union, the German People's Union, also shows where they actually stand.

Very few parties in the German political scene actually stand against the Nazis of the NPD, the DVU and others, and the Liberals, the FDP, actually scuppered the attempt to have the NPD and others banned in March 2013.

The current economic crisis throughout the European Union, and not just in the Euro bloc, is causing a resurgence of Fascism in many countries, including and especially Hungary and others countries of the former Warsaw Pact.

In Germany also there is a serious resurgence of fascist sympathies amongst the general population though, as said, so far this has not manifested itself with success of the fascist parties such as the NPD and the DVU in more than local elections.

Pogroms against Gypsies, however, are occurring already frequently in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, and also in Germany.

The fascists today also are no longer the Skinheads of previous years, the brain-dead youth with their shaven heads, swastika tattoos and such like. The new Nazis wear Armani suits and are also, to a great degree, the offspring of the landed gentry of old who have come to reclaim their estates in the former GDR, Poland and the Sudetenland; and the NPD always had the men in suits, and it is those that are the real danger.

Also returning to Germany are the old and young Nazis from the German colonies in South America, such as from Blumenau in Santa Caterina and others in Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, as well as Paraguay and Argentina, and they have been doing so for a considerable time now, ever since the conquest and occupation by West Germany of the German Democratic Republic.

Counter demonstrations to fascist marches in Germany are banned or attacked by the police with riot shields and force the Nazis can march and do as they like and rarely, very rarely, are they prosecuted for Nazi salutes and the like, which are unlawful in Germany, theoretically. And, while the SED, the Socialist Unity Party, the Freed German Youth and the Young Pioneers have been declared illegal organizations and even the wearing of the blue shirt of the FDJ (or even a shit similar to it) with or without insignia will lead to arrest the NPD and others of their ilk can carry on plying their ugly trade.

It seems therefore rather obvious that Germany is (again) leaning to the right, towards Fascism, but this is not all that new for during the Cold War the anti-communist rhetoric was obvious enough to determine from which direction the wind was blowing and that direction was right and the color was brown.

From the very beginning West Germany, the so-called Federal Republic of Germany, with bar a few exceptions, was run by people with a serious Nazi past, whether in the CDU or and especially the CSU. One of the very few German Chancellors that was not thus tainted was Willy Brandt and it is therefore rather difficult to understand why the East German Stasi should have used a spy to destroy him as Brandt, who once has a different name, was true and ardent Social-Democrat who was very left. More left, probably, than he could let on.

The West Germany large industries returned immediately after the war back into the hands of those that ran them before the war and who were the big supporters of Hitler and his ilk, such as Krupp, Siemens, Bayer, Zeiss Wetzlar (once Zeiss Jena), Walther guns, as well as Hckeler & Koch, and many others, and the same is true in other areas, such as the military, police and intelligence service, most notorious the Gehlen Organization which became, with Gehlen in charge, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, the German Secret Service.

It is hardly necessary to continue pointing out how, aided and abetted by the Western Allies, especially the USA, the former Nazis could continue in all fields in Germany and thus still continue to this day. There is something dark and evil in the German soul and it needs to be dealt with.

© 2013

Make your own rain barrel – how to project

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Spring has arrived, at least according to the calendar in the northern hemisphere even though it may feel as if winter has returned, and that means that sooner or later we will be needing water again in our garden.

RainBarrel1Maybe, in all honesty, this project should have been considered already in the autumn of the previous year in order to make use of the water from rain and snow during autumn and winter but even now it is still time.

While in many parts of the USA it is illegal to actually harvest rainwater, which is stupid in the extreme, I know, the City of Bremerton in Washington State not only encourages it residents to use plastic barrels to catch rain water and reuse it; the city has actually created a website page showing them how to do it.

Click here to view or download the fact sheet: http://www.cityofbremerton.com/content/forms/MakeYourOwnRainBarrel.pdf

The standard way to download this fact sheet is to right-click the link and then use something like “Save link as” or similar.

This is a file in the portable document format and you will require Adobe Acrobat Reader or another PDF Reader in order to read and/or print the article.

© 2013

EDUCATION MINISTERS’ AXE CLIMATE CHANGE FROM CURRICULUM AND FAIL ‘GREENEST GOVERNMENT EVER’ TEST

Climate change is the biggest challenge we face as a society. Future generations will need the knowledge and the skills to build innovative, resilience-based solutions to survive future shocks, extreme weather events, and resource depletion. How can they even begin if they’re not taught?

There are a number of ways of knowing if governments are committed to tackling climate change. One of the most indicative is: have they put it at the heart of education in schools?

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is alarmed that teachers will soon be able to ignore climate change in geography lessons. This comes as the Secretary for Education, Michael Gove MP, launched a consultation on the new draft National Curriculum, scheduled for release later this year.

In England (not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland), the coalition government will drop climate change from the national curriculum for under 14-year olds. Guidelines for children in stages 1 to 3 make no reference to it in the geography syllabus, with only a single reference to how carbon dioxide produced by humans affects the climate in the chemistry section. All references to sustainable development have also been dropped.

Yet this week, the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, said that the climate variability and extreme weather events similar to those experienced in the past year will only increase in the coming decades. He said that such variability is the face of a changing climate, stemming from greenhouse gases that are already embedded in the atmosphere.

CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, said: “Removing climate change and sustainable development from the school curriculum for under 14-year olds looks like political meddling and is ideologically driven. Climate change is the biggest challenge we face and requires urgent action. It will fall upon the upcoming generation of young people to be as well equipped as they can be to meet and mitigate the challenge, and to secure their future. The government must re-think its plans and put climate change and the environment at the heart of education in schools.”

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org

CIWEM recently launched an Environmental Education Network which focuses on raising the profile of water and environmental challenges at school level, and on helping young people to develop the understanding and skills required to solve them in the future. The Network is chaired by CIWEM Honorary Vice President, Alastair Moseley; more information can be found at http://www.ciwem.org/knowledge-networks/networks/environmental-education.aspx.

The Department for Education is consulting on its proposal, available online at https://www.education.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1881&external=no&menu=1. The draft National Curriculum programme of study is available online at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/nationalcurriculum2014/b00220600/consultation-national-curriculum-pos.

Comments made by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, in an interview with BBC News can be heard online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21357520.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Europe heading for dismal fail on its zero waste policy on plastics

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The plastics industry is not going to achieve zero waste to landfill until 2037, which is a full 17 years later than its stated 2020 target.

This is the the damning conclusion of new research from European trade association PlasticsEurope which has examined current progress to date on recycling and recovery of waste plastics across the EU.

Back in 2009 the sector set itself the goal of reaching zero plastics to landfill by 2020, but the report states that unless there is a greater sense of stakeholder urgency, this will only be achieved by 2037.

The UK in particular is performing badly with a total plastics recovery rate of just 27.3% - over 70% of this material is still landfilled, placing it in the bottom seven of the EU27+2 countries for diversion.

However last year 1.04m tonnes of plastic post-consumer waste was recovered in the UK, representing an increase in recycling of 9.1% and 11.7% in energy recovery compared to 2010.

While the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has introduced higher recycling targets for plastics, which are set to rise from 32% currently to 57% by 2017, the move has proved controversial.

Many industry experts believe meeting these targets will prove impossible unless there is significant investment in the logistics of collection and recycling such materials.

According to British Plastics Federation (BPF) public & industrial affairs director Philip Law, the Government's policy is "ill thought out" and will leave companies obligated under the targets to foot the bill for recycling that can't be delivered.

It's a view echoed by Packaging & Films Association CEO Barry Turner: "The Government continue to say that the onus is on packaging producers to ensure that enough material is collected, but in reality it is local councils that control collection.

"The fact is that, in the absence of resource-based recycling targets, there is no incentive for councils to invest in collection services - even less so when their budgets are already stretched to the limit."

Compounding the problem is Defra's recent downward revisions of UK recycling capacity estimates and the absence of material-specific targets placed on local authorities.

On a brighter note, the PlasticsEurope report notes that some overall progress has been made in capturing value from plastics waste. In EU-27, 4.8% more post-consumer plastic waste was recovered compared to 2010 while the amount ending up in landfills decreased in a similar way.

According to the study, achieving the zero waste 2020 objective would prevent an estimated 80m tonnes of materials from going to landfill, representing some €78bn in cost savings.

The best way, however, to go about things would be to reduce plastic materials in use of packaging to start with and that could be done immediately without any problems other that those of the plastics industry losing money.

Overpackaging of products in plastics, often mixed with paper and other things, which make recycling a nightmare, is still going strong and, in some cases it is getting worse rather than better. Instead of reduction of plastic use the target is to reduce that amount that goes to landfill after it has been with the consumer. This is about as useful as putting the cart before the horse.

When a product has already been “welded” into plastic does it really have to be “welded” in even more plastic just so the packaging is huge in order to hang it prominently on displays? I think not for if I want to/need to buy that product I will regardless of how prominently it is being displayed.

A general reduction of the use of plastic in packaging – what is, after all wrong with card; it was done years ago without any problems – should be the aim but, as said, there is no profit in it for the industry and neither for the politicians who get their pockets filled with backhanders by the industry and that's why we are in the dilemma that we are in as far as waste, and not only plastic waste, is concerned.

Reduce use before attempting a reduction in the amount that goes to landfill and change the material of packaging. This can be done, by legislation if necessary, tomorrow and the zero to landfill would soon be achieved. But that would be too simple, I guess.

© 2013

Hopes for an ecological Church raised by new Pope's choice of name

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

StFrancisThe choice of the name Francis, in honor of the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio upon becoming 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013, has awakened the hopes of ecologists and others who are concerned about rampant consumerism and the deterioration of the Planet that the Church will become more environmentally conscious.

In 1979, then Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226) the patron saint of ecologists. In his first mass as Pope, on March 19, 2013 Pope Francis I said: “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

With the Church’s ability to reach people, the fact that the environment is part of the Pope's discourse is very important, because it will get more people involved.

In Latin America and Africa, environmental problems are closely linked to poverty, with the poor living in areas that are the most vulnerable to climate change and the degradation of the soil,” he said and in other areas too the Pope could possibly turn out to be an ally such as excessive consumption, which is verging on squander and has a huge impact on natural resources.

Environmentalists and bishops in Latin America both criticize consumerism and urge people to follow a simpler lifestyle and the Pope’s homily was in line with the recommendations set forth in the final document of the 5th General Conference of the Council of Latin American Bishops in Aparecido, Brazil, in 2007.

With the Pope hopefully leading the Catholic Church in a new way, and his decision not to live in the Papal apartments in the Vatican but to reside in the Vatican guesthouse also seems to point to a new broom intend on doing some serious housecleaning in the HQ of the Roman Catholic Church, great steps might be taken as to reducing man's impact on the environment.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating and we will have to wait as to how things are going to pan out and how far Pope Francis I actually will be allowed to go with this by the Curia and Vatican insiders.

We can but wish Pope Francis I good luck in his endeavors too make the Church a poor Church and a Church for the poor that also takes the environment and protecting of the environment to heart in the way of Saint Francis.

© 2013

Office Workers’ Green Efforts Being Frustrated by Colleagues

Study shows that ‘working together’ and ‘leading by example’ are key factors in improving green practices at work.

illustration v6Over half of office workers in the UK feel that their efforts to be environmentally-friendly can sometimes be let down by colleagues, a national study has found.

A OnePoll survey of 1,000 office workers, commissioned as part of Avery Green Office Week, revealed that fifty-five percent of people say they work with colleagues who either disregard green working practices or are deliberately wasteful. Forgetting to recycle, needlessly throwing away paper and leaving computers switched on overnight are just some of the top green bugbears identified by workers.

May 13th – 17th sees Avery launch the fifth Green Office Week, with the study highlighting the importance of tackling such issues by collectively working together to champion greener ways of working. Forty percent of office workers say they are more likely to be environmentally-friendly in the office if they are surrounded by colleagues who are passionate about green issues. Green Office Week aims to build on this and unite office workers across the country, empowering them to take simple, practical steps to help make workplaces more sustainable.

‘Leading by Example’ Key to a Greener Office

The study found that how individuals encourage green behaviour is crucial in affecting how likely work colleagues are to respond to change in a positive way. Forty-four percent of workers say that colleagues who promote green practices can have a tendency to make them feel guilty, with forty percent of those saying that this tactic can get ‘annoying.’ Instead of making individuals feel guilty when they forget to recycle or turn off the lights, sixty percent of office workers say that a far better way to encourage others to be green is to lead by example – stating that actions speak louder than words. Other positive strategies identified include helping people to understand the cost benefits of reducing waste and making green behaviour part of everyone’s job descriptions.

Green Office Week 2013 comes at a time when, despite the global economic uncertainty, only 12% of office workers feel that the environment is now less of a priority for their business, with 42% stating the financial crisis has actually increased the need for their workplace to be greener and more resource efficient. 66% of office workers also say they are more likely to purchase a product if it is environmentally-friendly, with 61% saying they would feel happier if their workplace was seen to be more environmentally-friendly.

Here to help, Green Office Week provides tips and inspiration encouraging office workers to think about the small, positive steps they can make towards creating a more sustainable working environment. The week also highlights some of the innovative solutions that can help us all to be greener at work, such as Avery Recycled Labels and Recycled Dividers, the Avery DTR Eco desktop accessory range and unique BlockOUT™ Labels that allow files, envelopes, and packaging to be re-used rather than thrown away. With most of these products part of the Avery Rewards promotion too, there’s never been a better time to be green!

To find out more and to get involved with Green Office Week 2013, simply register at greenofficeweek.eu or visit the Green Office Week twitter feed @greenofficeweek.

Green Office Week aims to empower workers across the UK to change their office practices for the better, helping them to find greener ways of working. Taking place on May 13-17th 2013, the week aims to unite offices around the country, raising awareness of the issues and offering practical help and advice to office workers looking to make a difference. For more information, log onto www.greenofficeweek.eu.

Avery Dennison Office and Consumer Products markets products under the well-known Avery brand name and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and paper products for laser, inkjet and multifunction printers, labelling software, index dividers and a wide range of other products for both consumer and commercial markets. Avery Dennison Office and Consumer Products Europe, a business unit of Avery Dennison Corporation, has manufacturing operations in UK and Germany and sales and marketing offices in more than ten countries across Europe. For more information about Avery products, consumers can visit www.avery.eu.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

Pope Francis wants a poor Church and a church for the poor

Pope Francis said that he wants a poor Church and a church that serves the poor

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Roman Church and especially the Curia have just woken up to a serious shock, it would seem, in that Pope Francis has decided that he and the Church will live up to the standards of the Saint whose name he chose.

Pope Francis I has made clear that he will be introducing a different style and this became already evident on the night he was elected when he shunned the papal limousine and traveled on a bus with other cardinals who had elected him. The next day he returned to the Church-run hotel where he had been staying before the conclave and insisted on paying the bill.

Now he has refused to occupy the Papal apartments in the Vatican and has declared that he instead will be living in the Vatican guesthouse so that he can be together with the people.

Signs are also emerging that this new Pope will take a completely different stance as regards to the poor, the environment, and other issues, much in line with his name's sake, Saint Francis of Assisi.

How far the Holy Father will be allowed by the Curia and the Church administration to proceed with this is something that we will have to watch and hopefully he will not fall prey to some people wishing to keep control of their power base in the Church and the Vatican and begin to plot against him.

The fact that Pope Francis I is from the Society of Jesus may offer him some protection while, as the same time, it also makes him a target by some. He is after all the first Jesuit to occupy the Throne of Peter and in many minds that fact is not going to go down too well.

However, members of the Society have always been in the forefront of what has been referred to as “liberation theology” in Latin America and many of its priests have paid a high price for being on the side of the poor and fighting, even with arms, for the rights of the oppressed.

While it is true that the new Bishop of Rome does not, directly, come from that line of thought and work some of that may have rubbed off on him and many of his actions speak for the fact that he is not all that far removed from that line of thinking and especially acting.

Let us hope that those changes will take place and that the Pope can carry them through without any threat or worse to him from those that may not like the way the Church is going to be heading, as it would appear, under his leadership.

© 2013

How can we meet future transport needs?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This is a question that is being asked time and again by governments and then the ideas of charging for road use, etc. come up.

bycycle on wall1_smlHowever, that is all with the fossil fuel powered cars in mind, but the future is not car, not even the electric one. The future in transport is the transport of the past, regardless what government and industry would like to suggest.

Government talks about the need for more roads, high speed trains the lines of which destroy the countryside, and additional airport capacity. However, all of that is tosh.

The future in transport is proper trains that run on time in every weather and the fares of which are affordable and other affordable mass transit options. And, in addition to that, we need the proper infrastructure for people no longer having to commute.

On the personal transport level the car will soon be history anyway as fuel costs will simply make driving inhibitive to most if not all and costs are not about to come down significantly. The era of cheap oil and thus cheap gasoline and diesel is past and thus we need to consider a new approach.

The electric car is, in the main, far too expensive for the ordinary motorist to consider as an alternative and the costs of them also are hardly going to come down anytime soon, if ever. And then one has to consider that the range still is an issue (it would hardly get you from many commuter locations to London and back on a charge) and the charging too is not going to be free either.

One way of reducing the transport problem is to bring work back to where people live or people back to where the work is. It also would greatly benefit the local areas and we also have to change the way we live and work and where we live and work.

The work, per se, also have to come back home and that includes insourcing all of which we have, so far, outsourced to other countries. Jobs at home, near where people live, will change things as regards to transport also and will also do away with the need for any more roads, high speed rail links and other such ventures.

Bring work back within reach of the people, so they can walk, cycle or rake the bus or local train to work, and the country and the countryside will benefit.

But, oh no, we cannot do that. That would take profits away from the developers and backhanders that our politicians receive.

You want to know the future of personal transport; it is shank's pony and the iron steed first and foremost, followed by mass transit, and not the electric car or high speed trains.

© 2013

Human-powered DIY wood splitter

Ingmars klyv II, Human-powered DIY wood splitter

Yes, the splitting maul and axe also are human-powered but this is a machine that appears to be doing it with a lot less effort and much safer.

Human-powered DIY wood splitter

The machine does most of the work, but the operator is in total control, with no fuel, no noise (except the wood cracking), and pretty low budget, both on funds, and labor.

The wood splitter is entirely created from scrap that the maker seems too have had laying around his property and thus it has cost him very little to any in funds.

How to control a nation and its people

Distract, Deceive, Divide, Indoctrinate, Disarm

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Contol of a countryThe first thing is to use the weapons of mass distraction, namely the media with radio and television having proven to be the most effective in this matter. Hitler knew this in regards to radio and that was why the People's Receiver, the Volksempfänger, was made cheaply.

Those weapons of mass distraction are then employed with the second means, namely deception. And to do that the government or its cronies need to own the media outlets and the editors.

When we look at today's media world they have succeeded – well, almost – in that almost all media, including now book publishing in many cases, are in the hands of the Murdoch empire, under News Corp., and by a couple of more of his kind.

The Internet has become a thorn in their eye by now as it is (often) the only way for the people to get alternative news. It is for that reason that the powers-that-be, in the EU and the US, want control of the Internet. The claim that it is to protect the children from online pornography and such like is baloney. In order to entirely be able to brainwash the people they need to control the Internet.

Further to control a nation one has to divide the people, indoctrinate them and disarm them.

One has to establish a school system along the Prussian lines where children are taught not to think for themselves but are told what to think and are brainwashed into becoming obedient servants to the state and slaves to the established order and good workers to industry and commerce.

Critical thinking is being discouraged and even disallowed and homeschooling, even where officially permitted by law, is being discouraged with the authorities, such as in the UK, trying to intimidate homeschooling parents that the law states, which it does not, that they must send the kids to school and that, if they don't, their children will be taken into care.

The powers-that-be fear a population capable of critical thought and of thinking for themselves in the same way as they fear an armed citizenry, however lightly.

The main points by which the control is achieved is by distraction, deception, division of the people, indoctrination and disarmament. A people that are distracted and divided are easily deceived, can easily be indoctrinated and without arms are defeated. They are then at the mercy of the powers-that-be and can and will be led like sheep to slaughter.

Become discerning and learn to think and research for yourself. Don't just believe everything you read in the papers (or even on the Net), hear on the radio and see on the TV. It is distraction and indoctrination aimed to turn you into obedient slaves of the state.

© 2013

Belgian MP makes stand against war in Mali

Belgian MP Laurent Louis stands against war in Mali and exposes the international neo-colonial plot

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Recently the Belgian MP Laurent Louis made the following statement in the Belgian parliament where he took a concerted stand against the war in Mali and the involvement of the Belgian government it this.

Below is a transcript of some of what he said in his speech:

"It is false, under the appearance of good actions. We only intervene to defend financial interests in a complete neo-colonialist mindset. It is nonsense to go help France in Mali in the name of the fight against Islamic terrorism when the same time, we support them in Syria including the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad by Islamist rebels who want to impose Sharia Law, as was done in Tunisia and in Libya.

It's about time to stop lying to us and treating us like imbeciles. The time has come to tell the truth. Arming the Islamist rebels, as westerners have, in the past like Bin Laden, a friend of the Americans before they turned against him, well, the Western countries are taking the opportunity to place military bases in the newly conquered countries while favoring domestic companies.
Everything is therefore strategic.

In Iraq, our American Allies have put their hands on the country's oil wealth. In Afghanistan, it was its opium and drugs, always useful when it comes to make lots of money quickly.

In Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and again in Syria, the aim was and is still today to overthrow moderate powers to replace them by Islamist powers who very quickly will become troublesome and that we will shamelessly attack, pretending once again, to fight terrorism or protect Israel.

Thus, the next targets are already known. Within a few months, I bet our eyes will turn to Algeria and then Iran.

To go to war, to free people from an outside aggressor, is noble, But to go to war to defend the interests of the USA. To go to war to defend the interests of big companies such as ARIVA, to go to war to put our hands on GOLD MINES, has nothing noble at all."

  • Belgian MP Laurent Louis

It is rather refreshing when a politician actually says such things and thus tries to enlighten the people to what is going on, at least those that have not, as yet, woken up to the fact.

What Belgian MP Laurent Louis said is, unfortunately, very true indeed and the West, especially the US and the UK, has a tendency to back the wrong horse, which then turns to bite us in the proverbial.

It was done with Idi Amin, with Robert Mugabe, with Col. Gaddafi, with Sadam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and is now being done with the Islamists, Salafists often, in the Arab countries where uprisings have happened or are happening.

What Mr. Laurent Louis forgot to mention as regards to Mali is that “thar is gold in them thar hills”. Well the are not so much hills but there is gold, lots of it, and rare earths and minerals and that is the very reason that the West is, interfering.

© 2013

Use your pencil to the end

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If you use a pencil, and if you are drawing or doing a lot of writing where you cannot rely on a pen to work properly, then you probably do.

pencil_stubHowever, how far down can you still, more or less comfortably, use a pencil stub. Not all that far if you have large hands and also if you still want to do proper work.

But this dilemma was overcome many years ago, only too often today we don't consider that anymore, by the extender. They can still be gotten and are the answer to the problem.

As with pencils it is good to use anything and everything to the end rather than tossing it out with it not being used up altogether.

How many people toss their bottle of cooking oil, or dish-washing liquid, or whatever else, out with dregs remaining. Not me. But then people would consider me strange.

I turn such bottles upside down into a glass jar and thus, over the period of a few hours, have the dregs from the bottles run into the jar for future use.

Vegetable oil thus collected is used for treating and thereby preserving wooden products, such as wooden utensils and such like that I carve and dish-washing liquid thus obtained becomes a liquid soap for washing hands, etc.

The same goes for paper reuse in that all paper that is but printed on one side, from press releases and other sources, and even on “green” events press releases are all too often still on paper, and all too often printed single-sided, are used for printing what needs printing, at times, the making of notebooks and for printing lined notepaper for writing drafts (from a template).

So, waste not want not, and you save money and help the Planet.

© 2013

Coffee is good for you

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Isn't it amazing how science can change its tune? For decades if not more we have been told that drinking (too much) coffee is bad for the heart, and such, while other cultures have know the benefits for ages, and now the experts that before said no say yes.

It is the same scientists that told us that margarine, a few molecules removed from plastic was good for us while butter was bad. The opposite is being proven once again, namely that using margarine and vegetable oils for cooking, especially frying, is bad and butter, in fact better if not indeed best.

It is also reckoned that the longevity of Greek islanders can be attributed to their coffee habits, though it is claimed that the way it is made and the type of coffee make it low in caffeine. I would suggest that the people who say that have never drunk that coffee of an evening. But this is boiled coffee, the way it is made in Turkey and all over the Balkan and this is different to the way we, in the Western world, which here includes Australia and New Zealand, make our coffee.

Benefits of coffee

The graphic above – OK, it is produced by a coffee shop chain and they may be biased – shows some of the health benefits associated with drinking coffee and, it would appear also from other sources, that the majority of the health scares were but myths. So, let's go an have a coffee or two or even three...

© 2013

Weather apologizes for late running of Spring 2013

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The weather has apologized for the late running of Spring 2013. The Season is being held up due to snow on the tracks.

As in the days of good old British Rail – and I'd rather have them than the current operators – the message would have been that is was the wrong kind of weather causing the delay. The wrong kind of weather for sure.

Then again, if we are old enough to remember (no, not British Rail) there were times in Britain, even in the South of the country, when winter stayed on until well into April.

Punxsutawney Phil also would like to apologize for predicting, accidentally, an early Spring. He says that he is a rodent and not a meteorologist and then again, if we look at their record, they are not very accurate either many a times.

Signs of Spring are out in the woodlands, for instance, but I am sure many of the plants that have decided to stick their noses, or flowers, in this case, above the parapet rather wish that they had waited a little longer.

© 2013

PRESIDENT MOHAMED WAHEED ENDORSES THE WHOLE WORLD WATER CAMPAIGN

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Maldives Aims to Become the First Country to Eliminate Plastic Bottled Water

WHOLE WORLD Water on March 22, 2013 announced today that Dr. Mohamed Waheed, President of the Republic of the Maldives, will celebrate World Water Day by signing the WHOLE WORLD Water Referendum for Clean and Safe Water. The Referendum encourages the hospitality and tourism industry to replace branded bottled water with filtered water sold in recycled, reusable glass bottles, and donate 10 percent of the proceeds to The WHOLE WORLD Water Fund.

The WHOLE WORLD Water Google+ Hangout will highlight how governments can work with the private sector to drive positive, sustainable change. Participants in the Hangout will include President Waheed; Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and Virgin Unite; Sonu Shivdasani, Chairman of Soneva Resorts & Spas and co-Founder and Trustee of WHOLE WORLD Water; Dinda Elliott, Global Affairs Editor at Conde Nast Traveler; Mike Bettes, Meteorologist at the Weather Channel; Michael d’Estries, co-founder of Ecorazzi.com; Jenifer Willig and Karena Albers, co-founders of WHOLE WORLD Water.

Considered a top tourism destination by many, the Maldives is among the most vulnerable of the small island states to the consequences of climate change, and faces acute development challenges such as a shortage of potable water. With 28 percent of the GDP coming from tourism, this industry has a significant role to play in helping to mitigate these challenges.

“What our world urgently needs to achieve sustained development will require significant changes in what we produce, and how we consume our resources,” said President Waheed. “It is my hope that by endorsing this initiative, all hotels and resorts in the Maldives will join WHOLE WORLD Water and that the Maldives will serve as a global example of how governments can work with the private sector to drive positive, sustainable change for all.”

“We are honored to have our campaign endorsed by President Waheed,” said Karena Albers, co-founder of WHOLE WORLD Water.

“This is an extraordinary story of a small island state taking an astounding leadership position – setting a global example of how governments and the private sector can work together. It is important to note that funds raised by local resorts will be invested back into clean water initiatives here in the Maldives.”

“Solving our world’s great challenges requires screwing business as usual,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group and advisor to WHOLE WORLD Water. “Through the cooperation of government and the private and social sectors through projects such as WHOLE WORLD Water, we can develop lasting business and humanitarian solutions."

For more information about WHOLE WORLD Water, please visit www.wholeworldwater.co.

About WHOLE WORLD Water:

Developed to end the global water and sanitation crisis, WHOLE WORLD Water works to engage the hospitality and tourism industry to filter, bottle, and sell its own water, and contribute 10% of the proceeds to the WHOLE WORLD Water Fund. Founded in 2012 by award winning documentary filmmaker Karena Albers, and Jenifer Willig, former CEO of the (RED) campaign, the core belief of WHOLE WORLD Water is that if it is not good for business, it is simply not sustainable. For more information, please visit www.wholeworldwater.co, and join the conversation on Twitter @WHOLEWORLDWater.

WHOLE WORLD Water Members:

To date, current members include: Soneva, Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Hotels, Banyan Tree, Auberge du Soleil, TAO Restaurant Group, The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Dusit Hotels and Resorts, JetWing Hotels, The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, Yoo Hotels, and Tsogo Sun.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

CHOCOLATE LOVERS URGED TO HELP SAVE THE WORLD’S RAINFORESTS THIS EASTER

3074041_newpicture2A new environmental campaign was launched on March 23, 2011, encouraging chocolate lovers to become checkout-campaigners in their choice of Easter Eggs with the aim of halting the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

The campaign is a ground-breaking collaboration between the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) and Ethical Consumer and has surveyed over 70 of the UK's top chocolate brands on their use of palm oil or its derivatives.

The campaign is has been launched in response to the increasing threat that unsustainable palm oil is posing to the world’s rainforests, and consequently, to the people that rely almost entirely on those forests for their livelihoods.

Having destroyed vast areas of forest in countries such as Indonesia, palm oil companies are now planning to expand in the rainforests of the Congo Basin in Africa. An area the size of Yorkshire is currently being cleared to make way for oil palm plantations. If forest habitats are lost, then numerous wildlife species, including forest elephant and lowland gorilla, will also be under threat.

Simon Counsell, Executive Director of The Rainforest Foundation UK said: “We’ve launched a guide to foods containing palm oil with Ethical Consumer to raise awareness of the impacts associated with the production of this common ingredient. Consumers should be empowered to make informed purchasing decisions, understanding the impact of the production of the products they pick.”

According to a recent RFUK report Seeds of Destruction, 1 million acres of rainforest in the Congo Basin is currently being developed by palm oil producers, and with 284 million acres of suitable soil in the region, developers are actively seeking large sites now. Palm oil is a core ingredient in many food products and companies are not required by EU law to label products containing it until December 2014.

Tim Hunt co-director at Ethical Consumer said: “Consumer power has the potential to help save the Congo's rainforests and its wildlife that is under threat from palm oil production. This Easter we're asking chocolate lovers to buy their Easter eggs from those chocolate companies that we've identified as taking an ethically responsible stance on this critical issue.”

The top two chocolate companies identified in the product guide are: Divine and Booja Booja. Neither company uses any palm oil in their chocolate products.

The bottom three chocolate companies identified in the product guide are Lindt, Thorntons and Guylian. Lindt supplied inaccurate figures while Thorntons and Guylian failed to submit any documentation to the organisations that set international sustainable palm oil standards.

The product guide to chocolate is the first of a series of guides that will rate all consumer products using palm oil. Future guides will include biscuits, cereals and spreads.

The aim of the campaign is to encourage consumers to buy the best rated products, forcing those companies that are not taking their environmental responsibilities seriously to use more sustainably sourced palm oil.

The full product guide can be seen here:www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/palm-oil-database

RFUK and Ethical Consumer’s collaborative guide Appetite for Destruction has been launched with information on chocolate products. Over the next six months additional food categories will be added to the guide, available here: www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/palmoil

Methodology
Ethical Consumer has ranked companies’ practices and policies in relation to their palm oil sourcing for The Rainforest Foundation UK/Ethical Consumer Research Association palm oil campaign. For a full breakdown of the methodology adopted to conduct this research, please visit http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalcampaigns/palmoilcampaign/palmoilcampaignmethodology.aspx

Resources

Earlier this month, RFUK issued Seeds of Destruction, a report unveiling active palm oil development projects now underway in the Congo Basin, and naming the companies responsible. It also details the huge impacts that the current and future development will have on the 500,000 indigenous people living in the endangered rainforest. For the full report and the responses of palm oil developers active in the Congo Basin prior to the publication of the report, please visit our website www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/palmoilreport. Maps, graphics and images available for media use here.

About Ethical Consumer

Launched in 1989 Ethical Consumer is the UK's leading ethical and environmental magazine. In each issue Ethical Consumer examines the ethical and environmental record of the companies behind everyday products and services from bread to banks. For more information visit the Ethical Consumer website: www.ethicalconsumer.org

About The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK)

The Rainforest Foundation UK supports indigenous peoples and traditional populations of the world's rainforest to protect their rainforest homes and fulfill their rights to land, life and livelihood. RFUK adopts a rights-based approach and promotes the establishment of community rights over rainforest lands, tackling the root of problems related to deforestation and paving the way for fair benefit sharing from forest resources. www.rainforestfoundationuk.org

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

BACKWARDS THINKING CHANCELLOR IS FRACKING UP

The Chancellor’s commitment to shale gas is all fracked up, says CIWEM. George Osborne’s promise of tax breaks for the gas industry must be dropped. The ‘dash for gas’ will come at the expense of investment in renewables and energy efficiency and undermine the nation’s climate change commitments.

In the budget released this week, the Chancellor George Osborne incentivised the domestic shale gas industry while turning a blind eye to the nation’s legally binding carbon commitments. He has also promised financial incentives, or ‘bribes,’ to communities to encourage them to accept fracking operations. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) believes that the government is back-sliding on climate change targets and calls on the Chancellor to re-think his position on shale gas incentives.

Incentivising gas to play a more extensive role in the nation’s energy strategy could lock the nation into expensive fossil fuels if cheap shale gas fails to yield as hoped. Investment in gas infrastructure must not detract from energy efficiency, local combined heat and power, and investment in clean renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, wave and tidal power. To achieve secure and affordable energy long-term, the nation needs greater investment in renewables.

CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says: “The Chancellor’s dangling carrot for the gas industry is a big move in the wrong direction. Regrettably, the budget promotes fossil fuels rather than renewables and will jeopardise commitments to action on climate change. This is another desperate example of a short-termist approach to growing the economy. We should be investing in a sustainable renewable energy infrastructure and not a fossil fuel future.”

In the ‘dash for gas,’ CIWEM warns extreme caution. It calls on the government to ensure that climate change commitments are not lost. It is well known that methane can be emitted from unconventional gas extraction during several steps of the gas production process. Fugitive emissions of methane are a by-product of fracking operations and have a very high global warming potential. Fracking will lock the UK into a fossil fuel future and leave a dangerous legacy to future generations.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world www.ciwem.org.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as 'fracking,' is a process to access natural gas reserves in shale rock using high volumes of pressurised fluids. CIWEM’s recently published Policy Position Statement ‘Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of Shale in the UK’ is available from: http://www.ciwem.org/policy-and-international/policy-position-statements/hydraulic-fracturing-(fracking)-of-shale-in-the-uk.aspx

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

WATER RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

Millions of our fellow citizens live without the most basic requirement of life. Where is the moral outrage? As CIWEM observes World Water Day, 22nd March 2013, fellow water professionals are challenged to tackle the injustices of global water and sanitation provision.

World Water Day is held annually on 22 March, to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate the better and more sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first World Water Day in 1993.

In 2013, World Water Day is dedicated to the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the challenges of managing water fairly and equitably in the light of increasing demand and the need to get water to the millions who have no water, or without instant access to it.

“To my mind, there appears to be a lack of moral outrage that millions of our fellow citizens live without the most basic requirement of life,” says D N Thomas, in the first of a series of articles published in The Environment, CIWEM’s monthly magazine.

“The focus on poverty – rather than injustice – fails to capture the labyrinthine reasons why individuals cannot access safe water and decent sanitation, and underplays the richness and ingenuity that suffuses the daily lives of those who have to seek alternatives sources when denied access to affordable and safe water,” says Thomas.

Water is essential to all of life, from fulfilment of basic human needs to socio-economic development. We need it for food, for industry, for health and to achieve high ecological status. Water is a shared and precious resource for which demand is likely to increase as the population grows. Climate change, urbanisation, consumerism and pollution threaten the availability of fresh water, prompting the need for urgent international cooperation and action for water resilience.

CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says: “With a global population of seven billion, and counting, and remembering that millions of people are still without water, I urge everyone to think about the water they take for granted and to commit to being less wasteful. Water is precious and is a basic human right. Let us celebrate it, become water-wise, and do all we can to support clean and wholesome water for all.”

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org

Further information and resources for World Water Day can be found at http://www.unwater.org/water-cooperation-2013/home/en/

Further information about the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation can be found online at http://www.unwater.org/watercooperation2013.html

“Water Rights Are Human Rights,” by D N Thomas, appears in the April 2013 issue of The Environment, as the first in new series of articles published in CIWEM’s re-titled, new-look magazine out this week.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

Vapestick XL Starter Kit (with slimline V Charger Case) – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This is the newest addition to the Vapestick range of electronic cigarettes and includes a stylish slimline charger case. Very useful when you are out and about and cannot charge your batteries from another source.

black-slim-charger-case--black-cigs-right-sideThe case itself contains a rechargeable battery which then, in turn, charges the batteries. The case itself is charged/recharged by means of an USB lead (supplied) from the PC or Laptop and I have found its charge to be enough to charge two XL batteries.

Another USB charger lead is also supplied fro charging the battery outside the case, either via the PC/Laptop or a USB charger.

This starter kit comes complete with five cartomizers in five different flavors and two different strengths; cherry, apple and menthol in 1.8% nicotine and tobacco and original in 2.4% nicotine.

The new cartomizers are by far better than the old style atomizers and refill cartridges and Vapestick's cartomizers are, in my opinion, superior to those of other makers.

The new XL slimline V charger case does not, theoretically, work with the old XL batteries as the latter are just a few millimeters too short. This can be overcome, however, by putting some foam onto the inside under the flap of the case of by using a small silicone cap, such as those from the MAX cartomizers, on top of the battery. But, I would not recommend doing that as this could cause the case not to work, without such an addition, as I have found.

The case is extremely elegant, if I may use that word, in design, as is the XL E-cigarette itself, and one can only say “Well done!”

Having tried out a fair number of electronic cigarettes I must say that the Vapestick ones are the best by far. In addition to that Vapestick's customer service is second to none.

For more details see the website: http://www.vapestick.co.uk/vapestick-xl.html

Verdict: Well, if I could give more than five out of five I would do so.

© 2013

Reading

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

531719_229183897224878_187793626_nReading books, and other edifying materials, broadens and exercises the mind and also enriches one's knowledge, especially if those books are well researched in a way that television, for instance cannot do.

In the age of the Internet and electronic media of all kinds, from radio, television, news on demand, and much more this may sound like old-fashioned advice but reading is by far better than getting flooded by other sources.

People still read, that is true, real book as much as e-books, but a great number of them no longer do and when it comes to new and information many seem to rely of the controlled media, whether print, broadcast or visual rather than anything alternative where truth can actually be found.

Turn off the TV and read good books, interesting journals and material from all different sources to broaden your mind and understanding of things present and past.

Many historical novels, for instance, are better researched, than many a history book, even though characters may be more-or-less invented and those that are not invented may have dialog created for them the truth of which we cannot be certain. They also, in your mind's eye, manage to recreate the atmosphere of those times, something which no history book can and which even a movie cannot.

Other books, such as George Orwell's “1984”, for instance, can warn us of the possibilities of things going wrong in the future if we are not very careful indeed. And, alas, his predictions are more and more coming true in the early twenty-first century which means that he may have been ahead of his time in the date but otherwise almost spot on.

Biographies of people of history very often also are a most edifying read and can teach us a great deal and the same goes for great autobiographies and books of travel, adventure, and other things.

But, whatever your choice, chose to read. Reading broadens the mind and reading may even – the gods forbid – make you change you perspective and your perception of things, be it society or whatever. Presently we are still allowed to read almost anything; it may not remain that way.

Censorship dos exist, even in our so-called free and democratic countries, as can be seen by the ban the British government under Margaret Thatcher enforced of the book “Spycatcher”. It was simply too dangerous for British readers to be allowed to read. So, it came in from abroad, and was read, but, theoretically, the possession even of it would have been a felony, though it was not being enforced.

That was before the Internet and the possibility to order almost anything from anywhere. Probably one of the many reasons why the powers-that-be wish to “regulate” (read that as restrict) the Internet so that they can control what we can read and what not.

The invention of the printing press, especially the Gutenberg press of moveable type, was the greatest danger to the establishment and books and now the Internet is the latest step.

Therefore, use the freedom to read for as long as you have got it... read... Turn off the TV, put away the rags masquerading as newspapers and read real news and books, and even Blogs.

© 2013

School three months without heating and counting

School three months without heating and children still forced to attend

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Basildon, Essex, UK, March 2013: A primary school has been left without heating for three month and children at Willow Primary School in Basildon, Essex, are forced to sit in their classrooms in coats, hats and gloves.

They have had to endure harsh winter conditions with only temporary heaters to keep them warm, after council bosses decided not to repair the broken heating system until the summer holidays, which is still months away.

Parents say that the heaters brought to the school only warm up very small areas and are totally inadequate and one parent claims that her 11-year-old daughter fell ill due to the exposure to constantly low temperatures.

However, totally unconcerned, headteacher Dave Bridges denied that it was too cold.. “If I felt areas of the school were not warm enough I would close them.”

A spokesman for conservative-run Essex County Council said: “The pipework needs to be replaced but this cannot be done during term-time as it would cause major disruption.”

The only answer to this dilemma is the closure of the school for the period that such repairs would take, even if that means that for the week or even four the children would not attend school.

Replacement is also required for the headteacher and the county council who both have such disregard for the health of the children.

We do not need a new government, we need a new system, and as far as schools are concerned we do not need them, full stop.

© 2013

Megahome Water Distiller – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Megahome Water Distiller from J D Harris Ltd

Do you live in an area with hard water? Are you concerned about the possibility fluoride or other nasties in your tap water? Or is your water source not healthy? Then a water distiller is what is called for and what you need. Also saves buying expensive bottled water; expensive for you and your wallet.

water-distiller-with-plastic-bottle-500x500As this is an electrical device it does consume energy in the form of electricity and, according to the specifications a whacking 580W, requiring between four and six hours to produce four liters (one US gallon) of water but, compared to buying bottled water, which is not even as pure as home-distilled (tap) water, it will make sense I think.

The buying of bottled water is really something that we should avoid as more often than not it is nothing more than tap water, filtered if we are lucky. If you are lucky and your municipal water that comes out of your tap is OK and and if you are not concerned about possible fluoridation of your water then the simple way to use it is as it comes and if you don't like the chlorine in it then you can, for sure, use a simple and cheap counter top gravity filter jug.

The latter do need watching, however, as to changing filters regularly and also should, ideally, despite the name, not actually live on the counter top, as light will cause algae growth which may not only be unsightly but could also constitute a health issue and risk.

To be more or less 100% certain you get pure water to drink, with chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants, as far as possible, removed the only way is to distill your own water.

Water distillers used to be bulky and expensive and not something you could or would want to have sitting in your kitchen.

The Megahome Water Distiller, available in the UK from J D Harris Ltd., aka The General Trading Company (Europe), made in Taiwan, which means the Republic of China and not the People's Republic, aka China, on the other hand is neither too expensive nor ugly. In fact, it will look rather good on your counter top.

Although in the specifications of the device it is said that the power consumption is 580W in tests it shows up to be just 435W (measured with the OWL meter) and while this still is high – about a third of what your kettle consumes if it is energy efficient – and at a running time of four to six hours consumes, therefore, quite a bit of electricity you get perfectly clean and pure water which also tastes great; better than any of the bottled stuff, for sure.

After a little less than thirty minutes the first water is being “produced” and the unit shuts itself off when the cycle is completed. No need to watch it and water distillation can, therefore, be done at any time.

While, as said, a fair bit of electricity is being consumed in the distillation process the result is pure and great tasting water and if you are concerned about what may be in your tap, or well, water then this is definitely the way to go.

The unit does get somewhat hot – though not hot enough to burn yourself – during the process of distilling the water and also the cooling fan begins, after a time, to put out warm air. Thus allow it space above to do its work and also keep children away from the rather warm steel body of the distiller.

As the water produced itself is hot allow it to stand to cool before putting the large polypropylene bottle into the refrigerator. Once cold you can decant the water into glass bottles for use.

Once you have experienced the taste of the distilled tap water produced by the Megahome Water Distiller as a beverage you will never want to go back to drinking bottled water again and at an estimated 9pence a liter production cost, plus the cost of your water per liter which, more than likely, is but a fraction of a penny a liter, I believe it works out very cheap indeed compared to bought bottled water.

For further information, including a video about the water distiller, I would like to refer you to the website http://www.jdharris.co.uk/water-distiller

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JDHarrisWellbeing

Verdict: Judging by the results so far I would give the Megahome Water Distiller a definite 5 out of 5.

© 2013