The Storm Kettle – Product Review

Originally, the Storm Kettle was handmade in Ireland - often by travellers who produced them in copper - for fishermen, itinerant workers and tourists. John Grindlay, who with his wife owns and runs the Eydon Kettle Company, modified the design and implemented modern manufacturing techniques in the early 1960’s.

John Grindlay borrowed an original copper kettle and took it to England during the winter. Tooling was manufactured and the first 10 kettles eventually produced. These were very quickly sold for £10 each in 1979, the assembly work being carried out by Mr Grindlay’s children who were then 8 years and 10 years old. Popular demand meant that production had to increase. Since 1979 the numbers sold have substantially increased each year.

Mainly these Kettles, whether sold in the UK, Germany, or elsewhere, are used by sportsmen, holiday makers, expedition organisers and outdoor enthusiasts. They have even accompanied the explorer John Blashford-Snell, while he was searching for signs of early civilisations on a trip to Central America.

Nowadays they can be found in the Solomon Isles helping remote islanders boil water to purify it, in remote parts of Southern Africa, where dried cattle dung is used by the Zulus as fuel, or in the Sahara Desert on expeditions.

I am always amazed though that they never seem to have found a take up by the still travelling Romani in the UK and elsewhere. The Storm Kettle does away with the need for a fire for just the purpose of brewing a cup of tea or coffee or even for the making of some other hot beverage.

Using a Storm Kettle means you can boil water easily, in the wettest and windiest of weather, both rapidly and safely. They are also environmentally friendly as you only need a sheet of newspaper and a handful of twigs as fuel. So the simplicity of the Kettle ensures that boiling water is always available, without the need to use gas, petrol or any other artificial fuel.

Storm Kettles come in two sizes, the Original and the Popular. The Original will boil up to 2.5 pints (approx. 1.5 litres) the Popular up to 2 pints (approx. one litre) – that should ensure more than enough hot water is available for you within minutes - at any time.

The water boils rather quickly and can be kept going by just adding further small sticks into the fire that is going in the burner beneath the kettle via the “chimney”.

One word of warning even though it is mentioned more than once in the literature and also on a sticker on the kettle itself: NEVER EVER use it with the cork in place. While the cork is very handy for carrying the kettle with water in it when heating the water the cork must be taken out of the spout.

The Storm Kettle & the cook set that nowadays is available for it is the ideal kit for forestry workers, countryside conservators, and other such like, such as Parks & Countryside Ranger, especially those working on maintenance tasks away from the main base.

While the Storm Kettle and accessories do not come cheap I can but recommend them.

The Prices for the kettles are: £43.00 for the Popular and £44.50 for the Original. Prices include V.A.T. and carriage.

Reviewed by Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Eco Button for PC – Product Review

The idea of the Eco Button is that by using it, that is to say pressing it when you are leaving your PC for a while and putting your PC into “standby mode” or “sleep mode” by using the Eco Button by simply pressing said button rather than having to go though the PC's system of putting the PC into said mode(s) thereby reducing power consumption and your carbon footprint.

I had heard about the Eco Button and read write-ups on it and even raving reviews but never actually used one ever before.

My Eco Button came as a give-away from one of the stands at the recent EcoBuild Exhibition at Earls Court ad simply because it is here and I have used it for a while I thought that a review would be in order.

I shall be entirely honest in this review and some may not completely agree with me nor like what I say.

As said in the introduction, the Eco Button basically does nothing more than by pushing it it puts the PC to which it is attached into standby or hibernation by using the functions that are built in to WINDOWS 2000/XP/Vista. This same function works over most, if not indeed all, multimedia keyboards with the “sleep” button. So, therefore, the Eco Button is, in fact, nothing but a gimmick and yet another bit of plastic and electronics that will end up in the landfills, where it should, however, not end up in.

The software that you are forced to download – the button does not work without it – tells you every time when you “wake up” the PC again after it had been put to sleep by means of the Eco Button how much carbon you have supposedly saved, etc. However, it also slows down the opening process of the PC down quite a bit and I do not think that I need that kind of time wasting.

In addition to the time-wasting part, each and every time the PC get powered up again in this way the power surges in the system actually cause a much higher current draw – unless things have changed since I studied the subject – and thereby probably nullifying the effect of any savings made to the environment in the first place. Much better just to turn off the screen, the monitor, by hand. It is also the monitors, even the FST ones, that draw several times more power than the PCs themselves.

I have also noticed that having the device plugged into the USB hubs slows down the PC quite a bit and the Eco Button program also itself does not help here.

The Eco Button, in my opinion, is nothing but a gimmick and I have uninstalled it again. Aside from the time wasting when I want to get back at the PC and I have to go through all the rigmarole that one has to when one does the same via the “sleep” button on a multimedia keyboard or via the “start” menu of a Windows PC, I can do without the loss of power while working.

Are there any really? In my opinion not, with the exception that, aside from the supposed environmental benefits you can “lock down” the PC with the press of a single rather big button.

Many, and first and foremost to anyone wanting to use it there is no Linux support which, with anything, in my view, already makes those that do not have such support less a good idea, as, in today's world, more and more people and business, etc. are migrating to Linux with its various distributions.

I rather turn the monitor, the greatest energy waster, off manually and then be able to get back to work on the PC as and when I need in a hurry without having to go through all the stages of bringing a PC back out of standby/sleep mode. I have no time to waste like that.

So, in the definite final conclusion: Even if you get an Eco Button free my advice is “do not even bother” as regards installing and using it. It is a waste of time and nothing but a gimmick.

As I said in the beginning, there will be people who will disagree with me as to the merits of the Eco Button but that is there prerogative.

To me, after now having had one for test, it is and remains a bit of a gimmick that may do absolutely nothing as to the carbon footprint.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Whole Foods Pledges to Stop Using Plastic Bags

Whole Foods, one of the leading grocery chains in North America that specializes in natural and organic food, has decided to ban the use of plastic bags in every one of its 270 stores—a move that will take 150 million plastic bags out of circulation annually.

The Whole Foods Market chain plans to stop using plastic bags in time for Earth Day 2008 (April 22). In place of plastic bags, Whole Foods customers will carry their groceries home in either recycled paper bags or reusable bags.

Whole Foods officials estimate the chain currently distributes 150 million plastic bags annually through its 270 stores.

While 150 million plastic bags may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the 1 trillion plastic bags used worldwide every year, Whole Foods is a trendsetting business that other retailers follow. It's decision to join an increasing number of businesses and governments in banning the use of plastic bags could go a long way toward reducing, or eventually eliminating, a source of littler and pollution that is causing serious harm to our environment.

Whole Foods Joins Other Businesses and Governments That Ban Plastic Bags

The new Whole Foods policy brings the store in line with a growing trend, as many governments and retailers ban plastic bags or discourage their due to environmental concerns. Nations and municipalities from China to San Francisco have banned certain types of plastic bags while others are requiring retailers to offer plastic bag recycling.

Plastic Bags are Commonplace - and Damaging to the Environment

Although a relatively new phenomenon in consumer convenience, plastic bags have become a standard solution for everything from shopping to food storage. Unfortunately, they also have become an environmental scourge. Here’s why:

  • Plastic bags that end up in landfills may take up to 1,000 years to break down. And plastic bags aren’t biodegradable. They actually go through a process called photodegradation - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water, and end up entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.
  • Plastic bags are made from petroleum. Producing plastic bags consumes millions of gallons of oil that could be used for fuel and heating.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year and only about 1 percent to 3 percent are ever recycled.
  • Worldwide, people use nearly 1 trillion plastic bags every year. According to various estimates, Taiwan consumes 20 billion plastic bags annually (900 per person), Japan consumes 300 billion bags each year (300 per person), and Australia consumes 6.9 billion plastic bags annually (326 per person).
  • Plastic bags are so lightweight that they are easily blown into trees, roads and waterways. Plastic litter is now found everywhere on the planet - even in remote places such as Antarctica. In the Pacific Ocean, there is a floating morass of plastic garbage that is twice the size of Texas and growing daily.
  • Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals die every year after eating discarded plastic bags they mistake for food.
As already outlined about, plastic carrier (grocery) bags are a menace to the planet and to flora and fauna alite, as well as, in the end, to us, to the human race on this our planet, as the plastic from the bag and the plastic's chemicals, may get into the ground water and even the soil in which our food is being grown.

While plastic grocery bags are, as I have mentioned before, ever so handy when going shopping and one does not have a bag on one's person they are a problem in the end, and that even if properly disposed of. And, with Fairtrade cotton tote bags that are so easily slipped into a pocket there is no reason for not having one's own shopping bag on one's person nigh on at al times.

So, let's hear it for the natural tote shopping bag!

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

BOGO LIGHT - Advertisement

Mayor announces start of ‘green’ buildings programme for London

Event - Mayor to launch groundbreaking programme to 'green' London's public sector buildings

Where - Ecobuild event, Earls Court

When - Thursday 28 February, 11.45am prompt (by the UKGBC Arena, Earls Court 2) followed by an off camera technical briefing at 12.30pm

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, will announce the start of a groundbreaking climate change programme to cut energy use by 25 per cent in public buildings with the appointment of energy services companies to start work on Greater London Authority buildings. The Mayor will be joined by Peter Hendy – London Transport Commissioner, Aneeta Prem - Metropolitan Police Authority, Nadim Moge - Head of Property Services, London Fire Brigade and Lisa McClean - City Director, Clinton Climate Initiative along with senior representatives from the energy services companies that have agreed a contract to take forward this programme.

This announcement follows a deal developed by the Clinton Climate Initiative for the C40 group of cities at the New York Large Cities Climate Summit in May 2007. Unlike traditional public building improvement programmes, under the C40 scheme a whole group of buildings are offered up for retrofitting in one go, allowing energy services companies to achieve economies of scale and invest in more expensive, long-term infrastructure, such as decentralised energy supply, out of the savings from cheaper, quicker measures. As nearly three quarters of damaging carbon emissions come from energy use in buildings, improving energy efficiency is key to tackling climate change.

Mayor's Green Homes Service,
0800 512 012 - access free advice about greening your home
0800 089 0098 - personal concierge service - a start to finish, hands-on service for greening your home

Tackling climate change starts at home!

LONDON AWARE 08 - Event - Advert


February 26th 2008, London - ruralZED™, a consortium of architects and specialist manufacturers at the cutting edge of the eco house-building industry, today launches the UK’s first affordable, carbon neutral house at the annual EcoBuild exhibition.

The ruralZED™ housing system is set to revolutionise the house-building industry over the coming years and has been awarded on-site Code 6 status, the highest level in the Code for Sustainable Housing, eight years ahead of the government’s targets for carbon neutral new build homes.

The house is the first durable laminated timber frame to incorporate high levels of thermal mass that will help keep residents cooler in summer and warmer in winter, state of the art energy saving building fabric, and enough building integrated renewable energy systems to achieve zero carbon status.

By using a frame and traditional materials, as opposed to plastic foam, the construction is both durable and avoids problems with off-gassing and poor indoor air quality that can be inherent with other modern construction techniques. Hence it also has none of the concerns with combustibility that have been encountered with plastic foam construction.

The ruralZED™ housing system is available from £1,150 / m2 and £1,550 / m2 based on the purchase of six units at Code 3 and Code 6 status respectively. The low price makes it the first ever carbon neutral house kit that is commercially viable to build, and affordable to buy and live in.

Bill Dunster, Director of ZEDfactory, the architectural firm behind the project, comments on the benefits of the ruralZED™ house to developers and end-users:

“The main goal with carbon neutral housing is to reduce carbon emissions and the risk of climate change. Until now, proposals and prototypes of other house designs have lacked the commercial and financial viability to make them serious alternatives to traditional housing and building techniques.

“The ruralZED™ house has overcome financial constraints due to the strength of the ruralZED™ consortium, which has created a house that is, in addition to being the most ecologically sound housing option to date, affordable to build and desirable to live in, making it the most serious contender in the race to beat the effects of residential carbon emissions.”

The RuralZED™ consortium is an impressive body of organisations that offer thoughtful and viable alternative products and methods for creating revolutionary housing systems. The consortium includes ZEDfactory, ZEDfabric, Rockwool, Rationel Windows, Charcon, Mi-space and Hansgrohe.

Using the consortium members’ respective expertise, ruralZED™ housing system brings together the speed and quality of lightweight Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) at an affordable price. The flexible design and construction of the kit allows for detached, semi-detached or terraces of up to six homes, with variations on internal space and external appearance.

The ruralZED™ housing system, which is constructed in full at EcoBuild, offers detached, semi-detached or terraced houses of up to six units. The timber frame can be adapted to three storeys with the same details and timber sections used for two storeys and embraces environmentally-friendly, energy-conscious, sustainable work and leisure places and master-planning for complete ZED communities.

David Wood, Managing Director of EcoBuild, is thrilled to include the ruralZED™ house, which he considers to be the most exciting and feasible step towards widespread sustainable housing, as an exhibit in the two day event. He comments:

“We are very proud to host the unveiling of the ruralZED™ house, and hope EcoBuild will provide a successful launch pad into the commercial arena. Industry players attending the exhibition will be able to see the sophisticated design specification of the ruralZED™ house, as well as gaining an insight into the new building methods and the commercial viability of the house.”

Energy Saving Day (E-Day) Wednesday 27 February 2008 and 6pm on Thursday 28 February

"The small things in life can make a big difference"

Energy Saving Day (E-Day) will be happening between 6pm on Wednesday 27 February 2008 and 6pm on Thursday 28 February.

Over 24 hours, E-Day will be trying to show how even small energy saving measures can be made to add up, and potentially play a part in tackling climate change.

Everyone who wants to take part in E-Day is being asked to leave off household electrical items, which do not need to be on, and to leave these items off for as long as possible.

These might include lights in rooms that are not being used, televisions left on standby, mobile phone chargers left plugged in, unused printers, etc, etc.

A launch event will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 5pm on Wednesday 27 February 2008.

This will include a candle-lit vigil for the Planet, games, a pedal-powered cinema, world premiers for a small number of fun and factual films, a welcoming address by the Bishop of London and a brief explanation of E-Day’s goals and activities by Matt.

E-Day’s nationwide “Leave It Off” experiment will be launched from St Paul’s Cathedral at 6pm on Wed 27 Feb and finish at 6pm on Thurs 28 Feb.

During this experiment everyone in the country will be invited to see if they can save energy in their home, school or office, by leaving off electrical items which are not in use, and then offered direct feedback on the results of their actions on national electricity demand via the E-Day website (

The cumulative effects of millions of energy saving measures will be updated on the E-Day website on a minute-by-minute basis.

Syndicated versions of the data will be made available to media organisations and news websites for free.

The E-Day website will also offer information on some of the potential solutions to climate change that have been proposed especially for E-Day by a wide variety of major businesses, charities and scientists.

Richard Isaac EMAS Policy Officer
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Policy Development Service
4th Floor, South Wing, Jacob's Well
Bradford BD15RW

Tel: (01274) 431842
Fax: (01274) 432042

Encourage to Recycle

The positive approach is always better than the negative stick

Instead of penalizing those members of the population that, for whatever reason, cannot recycle, and often this is for very good reasons, the governments, central and local, rather should encourage people to recycle by giving incentives to do so, ideally of the financial kind.

The deposit money on glass bottles in years gone by, such as the R Whites Lemonade ones and others, which you got when you brought the bottles back to the store, and this did not even have to be a store you bought the bottle from, was good enough incentive for children to go about town and countryside collecting bottles that had, despite the refund on them, been thrown away, to turn into cash.

Many areas in the United States operate so-called “reverse vending machines” while in other areas the recycling centers pay per aluminium can and per bottle brought into the centers.

As far as bottles go, in the UK and elsewhere, a good choice simply, in order to reduce waste and landfill usage (we must remember that glass basically never ever breaks down nor decomposes), would be to return to glass bottles and those with deposit, including for mineral water, and no longer the plastic one-way bottle. Glass bottles for mineral water also would get people, I am sure, to get their own bottles to take along and use tap water instead of spring water. Many manufacturers of lemonade and mineral water in Germany, for instance, not so long ago, still had the returnable bottles. I don't know whether they still do or not. Time, methinks, that we returned to this and to sanity.

But, we all know that the political will is not there, not in the UK, that is for certain, and we all also know the answer that we would receive from Ministers of the Crown, that is to say, the British government, would anyone even go as far as to suggest su ch ideas to them, namely that while all those things may work well in other countries they could never work in Britain, because Britain is different. Now do not ask me in which way Britain is different – even those government officials who spew forth such stupidity cannot answer you that question.

But, maybe, the Hon. Members and Civil Servants who talk such talk should think back a few decades. I used to make a killing as a kid going around the countryside with my little American Flyer, my little red wagon, collecting the aforementioned R Whites lemonade bottles and others to return to the stores for cash.

However, this is, namely incentives, financial incentives, to recycling, and before that to reusing even, in my opinion, the only way to go forward.

Never ever will we get people to “do the right thing” by penalties if they do not, say, recycle. If this is measured in how many bin bags they put out for collection then all they will do is just get the one bag and any other rubbish they have they will take an deposit in the countryside, in parks and open spaces, and such like. The proposed so-called “bin bag tax” will only cause people to comply on the surface but they will use other methods of how to dispose of their refuse.

Already fly tipping is on the increase, especially in those areas where pilot schemes are running where only a limited amount of color-coded rubbish bags are given to residents and where they have to pay per bag they put out for collection. How much greater is that problem going to be when such schemes end up going nationwide.

Councils may think increase in revenues when they can issue penalties to non-recycling households but they seem to forget how much they, the Council, may end up having to spend on clearing up the fly tipped refuse. It is always amazing that Councils seem to be unable to do their sums properly.

We need incentives rather than penalties; in other words, much more carrot and a good deal less stick.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Windmill hating little-Englanders

Well-heeled British property owners are doing all they can to frustrate attempts to build wind turbines in the countryside even though they produce clean, green energy and harm no-one.

A pensioner in Wisbech says 50 fast-growing trees planted by a neighbour will cut the amount of power produced by the wind turbine in his back garden.

Doug Fullbrook invested thousands of pounds in his energy-saving project and now wants new legislation to control tree planting near wind turbines.

There was just one objection when Mr Fullbrook applied to Fenland District Council for permission to erect the wind turbine one year ago.

Neighbour Claire Simpson objected but Mr Fullbrook was given the green light. Now Mrs Simpson has planted trees along the boundary with Mr Fullbrook’s property and immediately in front of the 15 metre high turbine. She declined to comment.

He said: “She is just being childish and if they had been open with me in the first place we could have discussed it and I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with the turbine or I would have sited it in a different place.”

Mr Fullbrook has called on NE Cambs Malcolm Moss for help in his quest to get new laws introduced.

He said: “As I see it, the big issue is the current lack of planning legislation controlling the indiscriminate planting of trees without regard to the eventual impact on neighbours and infrastructure such as wind turbines.

“I had to go through the planning process to erect the wind turbine which has a finite shape/size and life if about 25 years. Trees, however, and particularly a small forest on your boundary, can grow to heights of 30 metres blocking the light and views, casting long shadows, and blocking the wind to wind turbines.”

Mr Fullbrook’s turbine is accredited by Ofgem and feeds directly into the national grid. A Government grant of £5,000 contributed towards the total cost of £21,000.
He may consider raising the height of the turbine to compensate for the affect of the trees.

We keep seeing this attitude again and again throughout the length and breadth of this country. The NIMBY attitude, whether this is for wind power generating plants, or for whatever on the green agenda and not just there. We must learn to embrace wind energy and other aspects of renewable energy, including also the production of methane gas and power turbines run on said gas. It can be done.

In addition to that we need combined heat and power plants, on a personal local level. That too can be done. The problem is that in Britain we always, the majority and the politicians ate least, always find an excuse and a reason for NOT doing any of this. We cannot continue to go on like that.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Climate change threatens world's fish stocks, UN group finds


Monaco - The rising emissions of greenhouse gases and the resultant climate change are adding to the threats to the world's dwindling stocks of fish, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report made public on Friday. The main problem is the changes in circulation brought on by the fading and falling of the ocean's natural pumping system, which may "seriously impact" three-fourths of the globe's key fishing grounds.

"These natural pumps, dotted at sites across the world, including the Arctic and the Mediterranean, bring nutrients to fisheries and keep them healthy by flushing out wastes and pollution," UNEP said.

In addition, higher sea surface temperatures "threaten to bleach and kill up to 80 per cent of the globe's coral reefs," which often serve as nurseries for fish.
And there is concern that carbon dioxide emissions will increase the acidity of seawater, which will affect shell-forming marine life and plankton, a key part of the food chain.

The report, titled In Dead Water, is the first to attempt to map the impacts of pollution, alien infestations, overfishing and climate change on the world's seas and oceans.

"The worst concentration of cumulative impacts of climate change with existing pressures of over-harvest, bottom trawling, invasive species infestations, coastal development and pollution appear to be concentrated in 10-15 per cent of the oceans," the report says.

That figure is substantially higher than had been assumed and includes large portions of what are currently considered the world's most valuable fishing grounds.

According to UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, "Climate change threatens coastal infrastructure, food and water supplies and the health of people across the world.

"Millions of people, including many in developing countries, derive their livelihoods from fishing while around 2.6 billion people get their protein from seafood," he stressed.

The report was issued on the third, and final, day of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held in Monaco under the theme "Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge."

The meeting was attended by some 100 environment ministers as well as senior figures from business, organized labour, science and civil society.

UN report finds wider acceptance of green needs in big business


Monaco - Problems connected with climate change, such as the melting of the permafrost and extreme weather events, are increasingly changing the attitudes of leaders from a number of areas, but especially in business, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in its Year Book 2008, presented Wednesday in Monaco. Climate change is "beginning to change the mind-sets, policies and actions of corporate heads, financiers and entrepreneurs as well as leaders of organized labour, governments and the United Nations itself," UNEP said in a press statement.

In addition, a so-called green economy appears to be developing "as growing numbers of companies embrace environmental policies and investors pump hundreds of billions of dollars into cleaner and renewable energies," UNEP said.

This green economy is driving inventions and innovation in a great number of fields and "on a scale perhaps not witnessed since the industrial revolution of more than two centuries ago."

An example is the growing interest in geo-engineering projects such as giant carbon dioxide collectors, or "artifical trees," that absorb greenhouse gases from the air.

At a press conference in Monaco, Marion Cheatle, deputy director of UNEP's Early Warning and Assessment Division, said that the number of major companies engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting, including environmental concerns, has grown from a "handful" in 1993 to 2,771 in 2007.

In addition, CSR reporting is now found among corporations in over 90 countries.

According to the report, in a survey of managers of some 150 companies with CSR strategies in the United States, France, Germany and Britain, 54 per cent of respondents said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting energy efficiency was their number one priority.

However, tough challenges remain to be overcome, UNEP said, including the subsidies that favour fossil fuels over cleaner energies, trade policies that make clean technologies more expensive and "risk-averse lending patterns of banks and other financial institutions when it comes to solar and wind power loans for poorer communities."

UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: "Hundreds of billions of dollars are now flowing into renewable and clean energy technologies and trillions more dollars are waiting in the wings looking to governments for a new and decisive climate regime post-2012 alongside the creative market mechanisms necessary to achieve this."

The UNEP Year Book 2008, the fifth in the series, was presented on the first day of the three-day UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held under the theme "Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge."

The meeting was attended by some 100 environment ministers as well as senior figures from the worlds of business, organized labour, science and civil society.

Climate Fight Must Enlist Biodiversity And Communities

International Institute for Environment and Development

UN-led efforts to address climate change, conserve biodiversity and fight poverty could cancel each other out unless the close links between these global challenges are given more attention, says a paper published today (18 February) by the International Institute for Environment and Development.

It warns that many efforts to mitigate climate change have paid scant attention to biodiversity conservation and the world’s poor.

The paper shows that biodiversity has a key role to play in both adapting to the impacts ahead and cutting the concentration of greenhouse gases but that, to be effective, policies must have greater input from local communities who are particularly vulnerable to climate change and have valuable local knowledge.

It comes as government parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meet in Rome this week (18-22 February) to progress talks ahead of the main CBD conference in May.

“Governments, businesses, donor agencies and individuals need to do more joined up thinking to ensure that the aims of the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are met,” says Hannah Reid who wrote the paper with fellow senior researcher Krystyna Swiderska.

“Pro-poor, biodiversity-friendly ways to adapt to and mitigate climate change are clearly the way forward,” says Swiderska. “But for them to work, local communities must be involved in decisions about how biodiversity is used. Good governance and fair access to land and resources must be at the heart of these efforts.”

There are tight links between biodiversity — the variety of life on Earth, from genes to species to ecosystems — climate and people’s resilience to environmental change. But bad policies can promote biodiversity loss and even greater impacts on the people most vulnerable to climate change.

Poor people depend heavily on biodiversity for food, medicine, and livelihoods, and the greater the variety of natural resources, the more options they have. Yet climate change threatens many species with extinction and policies aimed at addressing the threat could also reduce biodiversity and people’s livelihood options.

The paper points out that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations by preserving substantial areas of forest risk excluding local communities from the natural resources they depend on for their livelihoods. Meanwhile, production of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels has led to widespread conversion of biodiverse forests, savannas and peatlands, causing the release of large quantities of greenhouse gases.

The report concludes that while large projects have political appeal and provide an ‘easy fix’, the biodiversity, climate change and poverty benefits of small-scale activities may be many times greater.

“Policymakers have focused on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions but biodiversity is also key to adaptation to climate change, particularly as it enhances the resilience of farming systems and other ecosystems,” says Swiderska. “For centuries, traditional farmers have used the diversity within both domesticated and wild species to adapt to changing conditions.”

“Policymakers and scientists searching for solutions to climate change should recognise the value of traditional farming systems that sustain agricultural biodiversity,” says Swiderska. “Local knowledge, practices and innovations will be crucial to adaptation, biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. Many communities are already using agricultural -biodiversity and traditional practices, such as seed exchange and field experimentation, to adapt to climate change. Farmer-researcher collaboration can bring added value that each alone could never realise"

The report points out that traditional farming also brings mitigation benefits as it produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than modern intensive approaches that rely on mechanisation, and inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides derived from fossil fuels.

Similarly, protecting biodiverse habitats such as forests and mangroves can provide multiple benefits for adaptation, mitigation, poverty reduction and biodiversity — by storing carbon, protecting coastlines, limiting erosion and regulating water flow, which reduce the risks of flooding.

totes»ISOTONER® Introduces New Eco-Friendly Products

Breakthrough Umbrellas, Slippers, Gloves and Knits Made from Recycled Materials

CINCINNATI, OH – February, 2008 – totes»ISOTONER announced today the introduction of a new, breakthrough line of earth-friendly umbrellas, slippers, gloves and knits – proving further that “green” truly is the “new black.” The new lines are called “ecosentials™” for the Isotoner offerings and “eco ‘brella™” for the totes environmentally responsible umbrella. The ‘brella and slipper product lines launch in early spring and will be offered online at and in fine department stores. The cold weather products including gloves and knits will be available online and in stores this fall.

The products offer a variety of earth-friendly attributes, including an umbrella canopy made of 100 percent recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, ecosentials gloves that have the look and feel of nylon but are made of 100 percent recycled polyester from PET plastic bottles and bamboo blend terry slippers, among many other offerings.

Why Green, Why Now
“We found a great way to create fashionable products that incorporate recycled and renewable materials and are in keeping with our principles of comfort, quality and performance,” said Michael Katz, totes»ISOTONER Senior Vice President, U.S. Wholesale Division.

Product Offerings and Availability
Products in the new eco-friendly line come in a variety of colors and styles for both men and women (see attached product fact sheets for a complete list of colors, pricing and eco details). The items range in price from $16.99 to $48. Products in the line include:

  • The Auto Open/Close eco ‘brella – which has a canopy made of 100 recycled PET plastic bottles, frame parts made of 70 percent recycled metals and plastics and a bamboo handle.
  • The Ecosentials Bamboo Blend Terry Slipper – which is made of 72 percent viscose from bamboo and 28 percent polyester.
  • The Ecosentials Packable Sport Glove – which has a shell with the look and feel of nylon, but is made of 100 percent recycled PET plastic bottles and has a100 percent recycled polyester lining. The Ecosentials Stretch Fleece Commuter Glove (lined and unlined) – which is made of 94 percent recycled polyester and six percent Lycra®.
  • The Ecosentials Bamboo Stretch Knit Glove – which is made of 95 percent viscose from bamboo and five percent Lycra®.
  • The Ecosentials Knit Coordinates – which are made of 100 percent viscose from bamboo.

The ‘brella and slipper product lines will be offered in March online at and in fine department stores including select Macy’s, Sears, Bon Ton, Boscov’s and Mervyn's. The cold weather products including gloves and knits will be available this fall online at and in fine department stores.
Important Recycling Facts.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, today, the U.S. recycles 32.5 percent of its waste, a rate that has almost doubled during the past 15 years. While recycling has grown in general, recycling of specific materials has grown even more drastically, including:
  • 52 percent of all paper
  • 31 percent of all plastic soft drink bottles
  • 45 percent of all aluminum beer and soft drink cans
While the rate of recycling is increasing, the consumption of bottled water has also risen dramatically. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), while the average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976, in 2006 each person consumed 28.3 gallons of bottled water. Typically, plastic bottles go to landfills and take 700 years before they start to decompose.

For more information on totes»ISOTONER’s eco ‘brella and ecosentials family of products visit

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New standards to rubber stamp tyre recycling

With more than 100,000 used tyres removed from UK vehicles daily, a new initiative launched by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and the Environment Agency will help businesses come to grips with the value of used tyres.

The Quality Protocol for the production and use of tyrederived rubber materials, which was launched to consultation could make it easier and cheaper for industry to reprocess used tyres into valuable products like flooring, road surfacing, and aggregates.

Martin Brocklehurst, Head of External Waste Programmes at the Environment Agency, said: “Placed end to end, the annual tyre waste of England and Wales would stretch from London to Cardiff more than 100 times. With so many cars, vans and trucks discarding tyres, we have potential to access more than 40,000 tonnes of recycled rubber.

“A Quality Protocol could save businesses the time and costs associated with meeting waste regulations, by clearly defining the standards required to collect, transport, store, recycle and reuse rubber tyres, without harming human health and the environment.”

Under the Quality Protocol processed used tyres would no longer be classified as waste, making the recycled rubber more marketable and guaranteeing to customers that the material they buy will meet agreed quality standards.

Recycled rubber from used tyres can be used for Landscaping, bridleways, footpaths, paving & porous piping, sports and recreational: artificial sports tracks and surfaces, sports barriers, golf and bowling greens etc.


LONDON AWARE 08 - Event - Advert

Mindful munching from Munchy Seeds

The Suffolk based husband and wife entrepreneurs - Crispin and Lucinda Clay – have redesigned their scrumptious Munchy Seeds snacks to appeal to the growing number of people who like both tasty and healthy snacks.

The recipes were originally created by Lucinda’s New Zealand grandmother who wanted to keep her children away from the sweetie jar.

Company founder Crispin Clay said, “We want to encourage ‘nutritious nibbling’ and ‘mindful munching’ amongst children and adults alike.

The entire Munchy Seeds range is rich in Omega 6 and 9, high in iron, zinc and vitamin E, is low GI and free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. It is cholesterol, dairy and gluten free and suitable for coeliacs, vegans and vegetarians.

There are eight tasty products in the range: Omega Mix, Pumpkin Mix, Original Mix, Chilli Mix, Cajun Mix, Naked Mix, Vanilla Pumpkin and a Roasted seed oil Pack sizes include novel 30g sachets (49p), 125g tubs (£1.99), 200g tubs (£3.15) and 500g tubs (£5.99), whilst the Roasted seed oil is in a 250ml bottle (£3.50). Look out for Munchy Seeds in Waitrose, selected Tesco’s & Top Shop stores and fine food outlets or buy online at

Munchy Seeds product range

The Original Mix of roasted Sunflower and Sesame seeds with the brand’s trademark savoury sauce is a very popular addition to salads and dishes that need a little extra crunch or flavour.

The Pumpkin Mix comprises three kinds of seeds that provide a nutty and moreish flavour that are very popular with children and are deliciously healthy.

The Naked Seed Mix is a blend of roasted sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, linseed, flax, poppy and hulled hemp. Fabulous for sprinkling over yoghurt and breakfast cereals.

The Cajun Mix is a special mix of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and a healthy pinch of Cajun spice. Fabulous in a chicken sandwich or as a spicy snack straight form the pack.

The Omega Mix is a delicious healthy combination of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, linseed, flax, rapeseed and hemp, the rapeseed and hemp in this mix help boost the levels of omega 3, 6 & 9.

The Chilli Mix is a perfect accompaniment to pre dinner drinks or a tasty addition to sandwiches, stir-fries and curries.

Vanilla Pumpkin is the only sweet Munchy Seeds variety, comprising crunchy pumpkin seeds lightly dusted with vanilla flavoured sugar. It is wonderful as a cereal or dessert topping or nibbled with a cup of coffee.

Roasted Seed Oil A blend of roasted Pumpkin & Sunflower seeds oil which has an intensely rich nutty flavour. Drizzling it straight form the bottle over pasta and roasted vegetables or blend it with some balsamic to turn it into a yummy salad dressing.

Munchy Seeds, Eastland Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4LL
Telephone: 01728 833004.

Country Living Magazine Spring Fair Supports The Field Studies Council

The Country Living Magazine Spring Fair is proud to support The Field Studies Council (FSC) as its affiliated charity for the annual event held at the Business Design Centre in London’s Islington from 12 – 16 March 2008. The partnership for the Fair will see £4 from every ticket purchased for the Gala Evening (Wednesday 13 March, 6.30 – 9.30pm) going to the FSC.

The Field Studies Council is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural world.

“Our national network of 17 centres provide informative and enjoyable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to discover, explore, be inspired by, and understand the natural environment” says Steve Tilling, Communications Director of the FSC. “The donations from ticket sales at the Spring Fair will be gratefully received and we are extremely appreciative for the support of the Country Living Magazine Fair. The money raised will be put into FSC Kids Fund which provides financial support for dis-advantaged young people who may not otherwise be able to enjoy an FSC visit.”

The Country Living Magazine Spring Fair, now in its 17th year, will boast more than 400 designers, small producers and craftspeople from across the UK exhibiting at the Business Design Centre. The event attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy the relaxed ambience and browse the best of British crafts, home accessories, unique jewellery, clothing, and homemade food and drink – away from the high street crowds.

Guy Foreman, head of shows at Country Living Magazine, adds: “We are very pleased to support such a commendable cause. The work of the FSC is hugely important in terms of educating not just children but individuals and families about what they can do to appreciate the environments’ needs and to protect its diversity and beauty for future generations. I hope that the funds raised from their partnership with the Fair will help The Field Studies Council to continue to provide this invaluable education.”

For further information and to book tickets, please visit or call 08701 261 800

The Field Studies Council is an environmental education charity committed to helping people, discover, explore, understand and be inspired by the natural world. Its network of centres provides day and residential courses for all ages from young children to retired adults from schools and communities throughout the UK. It also reaches many others through its publications and community-based programmes.

The national networks of the 17 centres are located at:

  • Amersham
  • Blencathra
  • Brockhole
  • Castle Head
  • Dale Fort
  • Derrygonnelly
  • Epping Forest
  • Flatford Mill
  • Juniper Hall
  • Kindrogan
  • Malham Tarn
  • Margam Park
  • Nettlecombe Court
  • Orielton
  • Preston Montford
  • Rhyd-y-creuau
  • Slapton Ley

Suffolk Based Woodcarver Makes His Debut At The Country Living Magazine Spring Fair

One of the country’s foremost woodcarvers will make his debut at the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair. Paul Jewby, who is based in Suffolk and specialises in the restoration of 18th century English carved and gilded furniture and the carving of all forms of ornament, will demonstrate to visitors how to carve small, ornamental pieces to enhance any room. Paul is just one of five live craft demonstrators appearing at the five day event in Islington’s Business Design Centre from 12 – 16 March.

Paul Jewby, woodcarver, says, “I have been lucky enough to help restore some of the country's finest furniture, including a pair of tables designed by Robert Adam for the Earl of Coventry, made in 1767. I have also been involved in extensive restoration to a pair of Holbein tables, badly burnt in the fire at Windsor Castle and several pieces of furniture made by Thomas Chippendale. Of these the State Bed at Harewood House was the most prestigious project.”

“I hope that my demonstrations spark an interest in the Fair visitors and show them first hand the intricacies and time involved in such a skilled art form. Most people will never have the chance to see such a traditional skill being carried out so I look forward to the feedback. ”

Paul, who has been carving and carrying out furniture restorations for over 20 years using predominately Victorian tools, is also the recent recipient of The Country Living Magazine’s Balvenie Artisan Awards 2007. The award for best use of a traditional craft or skill recognises those with a traditional skill at the heart of their business and, crucially, rewards those passing on these skills to a new generation.

The Country Living Magazine Spring Fair is from 12 – 16 March 2008 at the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1. For further information and to book tickets, call 08701 261800 or log onto

PhotonStar LED Ltd launch its first Performance Ecolighting product – the CeilingStar 5 downlight Luminaire

The innovative CeilingStar range can be used in residential and commercial new builds, refurbishments or retrofits. The CeilingStar 5, an energy efficient and zero maintenance light fitting, is a superior replacement for MR16 and GU10 ceiling down lighters or incandescent down lighters. As one of its state of the art design features, the thermal management of the LED is at the front of the product, so the fitting can be used in fully insulated ceilings – to further increase energy efficiency through better insulation. This also allows for extra sound proofing between floors. It is IP65 compliant and fire rated (without the need for a fire hood) so you can use the same fitting in bathrooms and kitchens too.

It conforms to EU ‘A’ energy rating and UK building regulations Part L1 and L2. For extra energy saving dimmable versions are also available. In addition, the CeilingStar5 is compatible with occupancy sensors and motion detectors to allow lighting only when needed.

With a projected life in excess of 25 years under normal usage, these light fittings will make changing light bulbs a thing of the past. The CeilingStar 5 range is constructed of materials that are designed for longevity including a glass diffuser. In addition they contains the most efficient, ultra bright, long life (50,000-100,000 Hrs) LEDs available today. To create a calm, relaxing environment we have WarmWhite and for a pure, invigorating feel we have pure NeutralWhite.

There are Bright (4W) and SuperBright (9W) versions available (equivalent to 20W and 35W halogen bulbs). With this fitting you would save over £270 in energy costs alone over its lifetime.

Be green and save money. Replacement of 9 MR16s or 9 BR30 65W fittings in a 4.5x4.5m room will save you over £100 per year in energy costs (compared to the 65W BR30) and over the life of the CeilingStar5 and save the environment between 16 and 24 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

PhotonStar manufactures its products in the UK and offers a 5 Year Warranty on this product so you can confidently expect a long life product.

James Mckenzie CEO, PhotonStar LED Ltd
PhotonStar LED Ltd,
Carpenter House,
1st Floor, Broad Quay,
Bath, BA1 1UD
Tel: 01225 388649

New settlements and sustainability - Lesson from Cambourne

by Stephen Platt

This evaluation provides a unique insight into the development of Cambourne. The study combined a comprehensive literature review with interviews with over 50 stakeholders. The result is a series of practical lessons that can be applied in the planning and development of other new settlements across the region.

Two questions underpin this study of Camboune, a new settlement of 4200 homes due west of Cambridge. Firstly, does Cambourne meet the objectives of the original Master Plan? And secondly, can we learn lessons that can guide future large scale development?

The evaluation provides a unique insight into the development of Cambourne. The study combined a comprehensive literature review with interviews with over 50 stakeholders. The result is a series of practical lessons that can be applied in the planning and development of other new settlements across the region.

These lessons have particular relevance for proposed eco towns and ideas about carbon neutral settlements.

The master planners imagined that the traditional character of an English village would give the settlement its image and identity and sustainability was the big idea that would provide a sense of purpose.

However, neither in terms of size nor character, is Cambourne a village as was originally conceived. Nor is it a small town. It is in fact a new hybrid – an ‘exurb’. Nor have the key objectives of self-sufficiency, high performance environmental design and the use of renewables been met. Cambourne is not self-contained in terms of jobs, secondary schools or services.

Nevertheless, Cambourne is successful and popular. The landscaping is sensitive and imaginative and the houses are, in the main, well built and pleasing. The level of amenities and services is much greater than in surrounding villages and transport access is good. But more needs to be done in terms of local employment.

All this makes Cambourne an attractive and popular place to live. But it is not a sustainable settlement and this analysis casts serious doubt on plans to create carbon neutral eco-towns.

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme)

More and more organisations are committing to improving sustainability. Organisations like yours.

As the Government’s Waste Strategy and draft Strategy for Sustainable Construction propose clear targets to halve the amount of construction, demolition and excavation waste going to landfill by 2012, now is the time to act.

The WRAP Construction Programme is working to develop standards for good practice in waste and resource management for the industry sector. We offer free, practical advice on how to:

  • use construction materials more efficiently;
  • reduce your waste – and your costs; and
  • benchmark your commitment to sustainability.
Visit us at stand E439 for more information on the part you can play in halving construction waste to landfill.


The argument for increased use of independently certified timber in the modern construction industry is undeniable. Its unique combination of performance and environmental profile allows the construction industry to meet its targets for affordable, efficient and low carbon projects.

The performance of timber is outstanding, explains director Mike Bekin. Its structural and decorative capabilities are already well known; it is suitable and adaptable for all sorts of construction – from building house frames to heavy lock gates and bridges; and it lasts longer than steel or concrete in sea water, one of the Earth’s harshest environments.

There are innumerable ways of incorporating timber into any construction project. Plato Wood for example is a revolutionary technology which upgrades the durability and stability of plentiful yet non-durable softwoods or hardwoods. It makes such timbers suitable to long lasting external applications such as cladding and decking. The process uses no chemicals and very little energy, thus providing a viable and cost-effective alternative to the use of rare hardwoods.

“Unlike any other construction material, timber is truly renewable (after all, it grows on trees!),” says Mike Bekin. “And if we adopt and support sustainable forest management practices, the source can be both inexhaustible while also protected from the destructive interests of extensive industries such as pasture and agriculture. So, contrary to popular belief, buying certified timber helps to save forests.

“What’s more, while growing, trees absorb carbon and release oxygen so, the purchase of certified timber not only helps to protect forests worldwide it also actively contributes to the fight against global warming.

“The only way to protect a forest from turning into extensive agriculture or pasture land is to make money from it. But that must be done sustainably, by respecting both the forest’s growth rhythm and its people. That’s where the Forest Stewardship Council comes in. It provides forests with a workable business model that guarantees long-term protection from over-logging (environmental sustainability) while also protecting local people from being exploited or expelled from the land (social sustainability).”

We are truly excited about going to Ecobuild says Beck Woodrow from FSC UK. “The attention this trade show is attracting is just stronger confirmation of the rising demand for renewable materials. And we are pleased to be promoting timbers from responsibly managed sources as a natural solution to this demand alongside Ecochoice.”


*Plato Wood
Plato is a thermo-treatment which upgrades the quality of non-durable hardwoods and softwoods. These acquire important hardwood characteristics such as stability and durability, tapping into applications where in the past usually only rare timbers could go. No chemicals and very little energy are required in the treatment process resulting in thicker sections and less brittleness. The product has been used for cladding in several UK projects as well as decking, fences, highway noise barriers and even sheet piling with direct ground and water contact.

SafeGrip strips go into decking grooves to improve the safety of decked areas that are prone to be slippery when wet, muddy or during winter. The product has been tested to BS7976 and complies with the UK Slip Resistance Group guidance. It offers twice the safety recommended for walking surfaces and can be supplied in many different colours, further enhancing safety.


Niche company Ecochoice is devoted to marketing only timber from independently certified origins – most through the FSC which has internationally accepted business methods of responsible forestry.

The company is UK and Ireland agent for WJR Reef - Europe’s largest stockist of FSC certified hardwoods for external works, enabling Ecochoice to offer quick delivery of certified timbers for projects of all sizes and complexities.

Species available include Oak, Douglas Fir, Ekki, Opepe, Massaranduba, Angelim, Purpleheart and Jatoba. The company’s standard products include decking, cladding, beams, and fencing, with custom-made sizes and profiles also available.

The business offers architects, consulting engineers, contractors, specifiers and landscapers free CPDs, technical sheets and samples on sustainable timbers.

Practical Recycling & Reuse – Part I

Spoon rests and such for the kitchen from plastic fish trays

In the British Isles when buying prepackaged wet fish the product invariably comes on plastic trays, mostly clear plastic material – the grade of which I do not know, e.g. whether it is PET or PP or whatever – and, with most people, I am certain, those trays end up in the garbage or, if lucky, then in the plastics recycling bin.

But, as we have spoken about before: we must think reuse before thinking recycling.

Those trays, some shallow, some deeper, make great spoon rests for the cook in the kitchen and save money in the process and the environment at the same time. OK, fine, the comes a day when, finally, such tray comes to the end of its life and will go to the great recycling bin in the sky, so to speak, but before that we can still get some use out of it.

In addition to this there are other uses too, such as as trays in drawers – no, not in female underwear.

In addition to the use in the kitchen those plastic trays also make useful trays for pens and such items on a desk. While this may not, as yet, at this moment in time, be a fashion statement on an office desk, we never know whether we might end up setting a trend, and in time it might just be that, once people's concern for the environment increases more and more, it might just catch on and become rather fashionable to have such kind of trays on one's desk whence to put one's pens and such items.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

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Before Recycle Must Come Reuse

Think Reuse First!

Before we even think of taking stuff to the recycling stations, and I am talking here primarily the likes of packaging, whether cardboard, plastic, glass, or what-have-you, we must consider if and how each and every item could be reused, either by ourselves or someone else.

It still takes a considerable about of energy, aside from the CO2 emissions from transporting the stuff from the recycling stations to the processing plants, to recycle paper and cardboard into new, or plastic (PET) bottles into, say, fiber for the making of polar fleeces, for example. Therefore we must think “reuse” before we think “recycle”.

So, therefore, to begin with before going to the recycle bin always think reuse and practical rework, and I am sure that, with a little bit of thought, many items need not end up even in the recycling bin.

Reuse and rework beats recycling any day in regards to environmental friendliness.

I am also certain that manufacturers could design packaging – for it is mostly packaging material that we are, as I said already, talking about here in this context of reusing before recycling – already with a reuse in mind and we, as customers and consumers, should and indeed must challenge them to do just that. It should be possible, of that I am sure, to design a second life into an article pf packaging from the very beginning. Pasta sauce, for instance, could come in properly reusable Mason Jars, as an example and other packaging too could be second life designed. It has worked in the past with, say Avon toiletries, where the containers were later reusable as mugs and tankards, and other items and also become highly collectable. Even boxes made from strong cardboard could have a second life design on them, even if this might mean that people have to do a little work to them even.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Potential Risks to Health from Low-Energy Light Bulbs

In January 2008 shops in the UK began phasing out the out traditional tungsten bulbs as part of a government plan to replace them completely by 2011 and save 5m tomes of carbon emissions a year.

However, health warnings have been issues as the current crop of low energy light bulbs are causing skin complaints and migraines, affect ME suffers and increase the risk of seizures in people with epilepsy. Aside from that they are releasing Mercury into the environment on disposal and not being as energy efficient as new LED equivalents.

Further health concerns have come from the bulbs exacerbating of skin conditions in the estimated 100,000 people in the UK with photosensitive skin including suffers of lupus, Xeroderma Pigmentation, eczema and dermatitis.

In spite of all the health concerns it would appear as if the government is going to press full steam ahead with this program.

An Environment Agency spokesman has apparently said that the organisation was not concerned about health risks, but wanted more information to be made available about how old bulbs should be recycled under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations.

The agency said it would not discourage people from making the switch to energy-efficient bulbs, which contain tiny amounts of mercury compared to thermometers and barometers.

So, here we have yet another proof of the “we are from the government and here to help you” attitude. Similar to the fluoridation of drinking water. While everyone knows it is a poison and can even cause tooth disease rather than help it in children it is done for the dental health of the children. But, alas, as per usual, I digressed.

While I, personally, are all for the energy saving light bulbs – if we could but make them safer – especially as they save energy, the health concerns must be taken serious by us and especially by the powers that be.

Those low-energy light bulbs could adversely affect the health of hundreds of thousands of people in the UK but that does not seem to concern the Environment Agency the the government per se. All they see is reduction on the carbon emissions that they have signed up to.

A glimmer of hope is, however, at the horizon and that comes in the form of a new a new type of Light Emitting Diode (LED) developed by Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.

LED’s use less power than energy efficient light bulbs currently available but have not historically been powerful enough to be cheaply produced for the mass market. The Scottish scientists have overcome this by decreasing the costs and increasing the speed of Nano-imprint lithography, the process of putting microscopic holes in the LED’s to make them brighter, and suitable for home use.

Dr Faiz Rahman, who is leading the project, said: “This means the days of the humble light-bulb could soon be over.”

We do, as far as I can see, have such efficient LEDs already, so some degree, only they do not run on 230V AC. They are low power lights, such as the six that are powered by less than six volts DC in the recently reviewed BoGo Light. A couple of sets of light like used in the BoGo would already do the job. The savings compared to the CFLs would be immense. The problem is that our light circuits at home are run on mains voltage. This would, therefore, either require the lights to have a transformer unit built in to reduce the voltage to a standard LED voltage or we would have to run lights via a transformer at home.

It can be assumed, however, that the LEDs developed by Dr Faiz Rahman and his team at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities will run directly from the mains.

LEDs must be the way forward rather than the CFLs, the latter which are becoming embroiled in controversy. And until such a time, which, the way it appears cannot be all that far away, that those LEDs will become available at a price similar to those of the current CFLs we must continue to have both versions, that is to say the CFL bulbs and the tungsten bulbs available to avoid having people suffer ill effects from the low-energy CFLs.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

LONDON AWARE 08 - Event - Advert

Rainwater Harvesting in the USA

You would think that you can, without any problem, harvest the water that falls on your roof or land, wouldn't you?

Well, apparently in some federal states of the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, you cannot do such a thing and it is actually a crime.

Ever collected rainwater in a bucket to water the garden? There's a law about that in Colorado and, technically, it says you can't. Now a state senator from Denver wants to allow homeowners to collect water that drains off up roofs up to 3,000 square feet so ranchers and farmers could use it to water livestock and metro area residents could use it to water their lawns and gardens.

Democratic Sen. Chris Romer said the bill, which had its first hearing Thursday, could also be used to fight fires and eliminate the need for more dams and reservoirs by providing "microstorage" of water across the state. However, water interests, including Denver Water, are concerned about the proposal, and Romer asked members of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee for another week to make some changes before voting on the bill.

I must say that I have never ever heard anything that stupid in my entire life. Oh, well, maybe some similarly stupid things have been heard and read but this is daft in the extreme.

"We shouldn't let 100 years of tradition and law avoid the common sense solution," said Romer, who wants to install a cistern at the house he's building in Denver.

Colorado's water law doesn't specifically talk about buckets or cisterns, but the principle of prior appropriation applies. That means water, including whatever falls from the sky and off your roof, must be allowed to flow downstream to those who have a legal right to use it. So, that means, someone “downstream” from me has more right to the water than do I on whose roof or land the water, in the form of precipitation, whether rain or snow, falls. What about my right as the owner of the property? Excuse me, but this is not just stupid and insane, this is not right – period – regardless of what the law and other such “ordinances” say.

"When it's in the sky it's fine. But as soon it hits the ground, or on the way to the ground, that's where it kind of changes a little," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. Sorry, I may be a little dense here but how does it change, precisely, Mr. Kemper?

It is time the State of Colorado and its legislators woke up to the fact that (1) the water comes from the sky and is free and you cannot put a price or a law on it and (2) that we must make use of all water that comes our way, rainwater – which could easily be used to flush toilets, graywater – as long as it is gray water and not black water, for watering gardens and lawns (gray water can, if properly collected be also used to flush the toilets), etc. to conserve the scarce resource of water in many places of the USA and elsewhere and even if we do not have a scarcity, as has been the case in the last summer and this winter – so far – in the UK we still should and must harvest rainwater and work on gray water systems.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

The BoGo Light – Product Review

The BoGo Light is a concept that brings light into the darkness, and here especially in the developing world, but not only there, as the BoGo Light is also great as an emergency light source.

I received the review sample of the cute orange BoGo Light in the beginning of February 2008 and due to the lack of sunlight in our areas at this time of the year to fully charge the light is a slight problems as, theoretically, it requires a full day of sunlight to fully charge the replaceable rechargeable batteries (three at, what I would assume to be, 1.2VDC each). Otherwise, however, the light is brilliant, literally, and this pun was, also, by the way, intended.

The first thing that I was taken with was the fact that when opening the battery compartment to install the three supplied Ni-cads that there was a proper waterproof seal present that stayed in place and resealed the compartment once the cover was screwed on again. Having had some bad experience with a cycle light that took water during rain and then having pointed out that the instructions state that the light must not become exposed to rain and wet it is rather refreshing to see those seal in this flashlight. Then again, we must not forget that Mark Bent, the CEO of SunNight Solar is a former Marine and we military guys know how things need to be in such cases.
While the BoGo Light may, primarily, be intended for Third World countries, oops, sorry, countries of the Developing World, this light would equally be useful and helpful for the Romani People who live in similar situations to those poor in Africa and India, and other such places, e.g. with no means of light other than candles, kerosene lanterns, or battery powered flashlights and, maybe, just maybe, a gasoline-powered generator. The latter is, however, often only an option for those that have a little more money. Personally, as a Rom myself, I would love to have the BoGo Light available for Romani NGOs to distribute to those of the community that could make good use of them.

In addition to this the BoGo Light is the ideal for general preparedness and for survival situations, whether floods, hurricanes, ice storms, or what-have-you. Even in the event of a “normal” power outage such a light would come in extremely handy. The light can sit, until it is needed, quietly, on the windowsill soaking up daylight and is therefore always charged and ready to go as and when needed for a number of hours without, like with wind-up lights, having to crank a handle every thirty minutes or so for around a minute. By no means am I trying to diminish the idea and invention and concept of the wind-up/dynamo charged lights, far from it; I am just stating a fact while making an observation. They equally have their place in this world as does the BoGo Light.

The term BoGo stands for Buy one – Give one, and it is this principle upon which the light is being sold. You buy one for US$ 25 plus shipping from SunNight Solar in Texas – only via their website – and another one will be sent to the charity of your choice in Africa or to US troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Having now had the unit here for a couple of days, and, having allowed it to get charged on the windowsill in our dull winter daylight plus from electric light in the evening at home I have been able to give it a little try and am very favorably impressed. The six LEDs are extremely bright and the light, with even the low powered charge that the Bogo Light could obtain from this very dull daylight around here, lasts for a number of hours. It would, I assume, require the real amount of sun hours to obtain the six hours or so of light from the BoGo Light.

All in all I can but recommend this light to anyone, and I mean anyone, however, those that are preparing for the eventuality of an emergency of whatever kind and for homesteaders and such the BoGo Light is a light that should be on the shopping list as a stand-by for the as and when or even for general daily use.

The BoGo Light is a scientific, eco-friendly breakthrough that is making an impact worldwide. From Cairo to Cape Town, from the Caribbean to the Amazon, it is improving the lives of individuals, families, and entire villages by replacing costly kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights with an affordable, long lasting, solar flashlight. BoGo means Buy one, Give one. Mark Bent and SunNight Solar Ltd want their lights to benefit the less fortunate; therefore, with each light purchased in the developed world, a second identical light will be donated to an organization that will distribute it in the developing world with the company's direct financial support. Give the Gift of Light, and Help Change the World!

So, go to the website and buy one and donate one to a worthy cause, whether this is for some of the poor in the developing world (and maybe we could even get a Romani NGO equipped some day with those) or for the US troops serving abroad in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Erm, and, erm yes, before anyone suggests it I must admit, I have fallen in love with the BoGo Light.

Some more information as to the history and such of the BoGo Light shall also follow soon.

Reviewed by Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

BOGO LIGHT - Advertisement

Climate change an opportunity for innovation and growth

Penny Wong
February 8, 2008

OVER many years, scientists have gathered evidence that makes the case that climate change is real and that people are causing it.

For some time, this evidence has been irrefutable. People in Australia and around the world have been calling for action — and in their everyday lives, taking action themselves. Businesses have been looking at the looming threat of climate change — and at the opportunities it presents — and also taking action for themselves.

Most of the talk about the economic impact of climate change has been of the potential threat. Yet we should also look to the opportunity for growth — for innovation, for a modern economy. Australia is blessed with resources to exploit developments in clean energy, and we have the scientists, engineers and capacity to deliver.

Our climate change policy is built on three pillars: reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions; adapting to climate change that we cannot avoid; and helping to shape a global solution.

The first pillar — reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions — is marked by our existing commitment to a target of reducing emissions by 60% of 2000 levels by 2050. The Government is also committed to setting a medium-term target.

In developing its strategy to achieve deep reductions in emissions, the Government will be ever mindful of the economic challenges. While the fundamentals of Australia's economy remain strong, we face inflation at higher rates than we would like and an uncertain global economic outlook.

These are times that require careful and prudent economic management, which is front of mind in all the Government's decision-making.

We will deliver measures to reduce emissions at least cost, and with the greatest potential to drive new growth, create jobs and develop industries. That's why at the heart of our efforts to reduce emissions will be a system of emissions trading.

The best way to drive reductions is to use market-based mechanisms. It is not enough simply to set targets to reduce emissions, and hope for the best. Nor should we be just imposing action on those industries and companies that are carbon intensive.

In putting emissions trading at the heart of our efforts to reduce greenhouse, we will place a limit or a cap on the emissions we will allow to be produced. Permits would then be issued up to the level of the cap and each year firms would surrender to the Government a number of permits equal to their emissions.

This will produce a market for permits, which will be actively traded and will attract a price. It is this price, the cost of carbon, that will change the way that decisions are made throughout the economy. Companies that can easily reduce emissions will do so to avoid this cost, thereby freeing permits for those companies who have fewer opportunities to reduce emissions.

This approach forces us to account for our greenhouse emissions. It means we are responsible for what we put into the atmosphere. Obviously, this imposes a cost but it is a necessary one.

Australians recognise that tackling climate change will not be painless. But Australians also understand that doing nothing certainly will not save us any money: the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action.

A system to enable the trading of emissions will help promote private-sector innovation and it will help address the market failure that has contributed so profoundly to climate change.

The introduction of emissions trading will constitute the most significant economic and structural reform undertaken in Australia since the trade liberalisation of the 1980s.

It will create a major new financial market aimed at achieving an environmental obligation. It will spur progress in production techniques, capital investment, research and development. And it will result in challenges for some industries while creating significant opportunities for existing and new industries.

The European Union has already implemented the world's largest cap and trade scheme. Closer to home, New Zealand's cap and trade scheme will start this year. Several cap and trade proposals are being developed and debated in the US. The cap and trade model has widespread support in Australia. It will form the platform for other design considerations.

The scheme will have maximal coverage of greenhouse gases and sectors, to the extent that this is practical. The broader the scheme's coverage, the more cost-effectively it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the more fairly it spreads the burden of such reductions across the community.

There is wide agreement that more than 70% of our national emissions can be practically covered by emissions trading and we will proceed towards scheme design on this basis. We will consult the agriculture and forestry sectors on the question of their inclusion in the system and the timing of this.

The system will be designed to enable international linkages, while ensuring it suits Australian economic conditions.

The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol opens the door to a range of carbon trading opportunities for Australian businesses, and links us to the multibillion-dollar trading market that already exists internationally.

Emissions trading gives us much greater capacity to add momentum to the global carbon market. The design parameters need to balance the desirability of international linking to form an emerging global market with the need to meet Australian objectives, particularly in the early stages of implementation.

The design will address the competitive challenges facing emission-intensive trade-exposed industries in Australia.

The introduction of a carbon price ahead of effective international action can lead to perverse incentives for such industries to relocate or source production offshore. There is no point in imposing a carbon price domestically that results in emissions and production transferring internationally for no environmental gain.

An important input to the Government's thinking on climate change policy issues will be the review being undertaken by Professor Ross Garnaut. He will recommend medium to long-term policies to improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity.

Senator Penny Wong is Minister for Climate Change and Water. This is an edited version of a speech she gave in Melbourne on Wednesday to the Australian Industry Group.

World leaders urge action on climate change at Delhi summit


New Delhi - While slow-moving governments drag their feet, everyone - individuals, communities and businesses - should act now on climate change, according to the consensus at a summit on sustainable development that opened in the Indian capital Thursday. A gathering of leaders from India, the Scandinavian countries, the Maldives, international agencies and sector professionals are attending the three-day summit on climate change and sustainable development India's The Energy Resources Institute (TERI).

The wealthier nations that are responsible for most emissions should play a greater role, specially by transferring technology and financing mitigation in the developing world, participants said.

Several speakers stressed the importance of reaching an equitable post-Kyoto protocol at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sponsored meeting at Copenhagen in 2009.

The Delhi Development Summit is an annual event organized by the Delhi-based energy research institute TERI, led by RK Pachauri, who is also chairman of the UNFCC which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its role in making climate change a global issue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India was committed to taking steps on climate change and would never let its emissions exceed that of developed countries. But he also said it was necessary to ensure an acceptable level of development for all Indians.

"The world has to address this (mitigation) in such a way that we do not have to choose between development and environment. We have to have both," Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said.

"We have to create mechanisms for the rich world to transfer technology and financial resources to help mitigation in the developing world otherwise there will not be big enough advances," he said.

The leaders also said the role of business was important because the corporate sector realized there was money to be made by going green. Government policy could help this process.

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, his counterpart from Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the presidents of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom took part in the panel discussion.

Gayoom was awarded TERI's Sustainable Development Leadership award for 2008 for his pioneering work on alerting the world to climate change. He dedicated the award to the people of Maldives, an island community which was among those most in danger from climate change impacts like rising sea levels, he said.

"The challenge is huge. We have less than two years to draft an agreement to measure up to what science is telling us," UNFCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer said in his keynote address. The summit ends on Saturday.

MPs call for green tax reform welcomed

A new Treasury Committee report on tackling climate change, published today (Tuesday 5 February), has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth.

The report, Climate Change and the Stern Review: the implications for Treasury policy;

  • Criticises the Government's timidity on environmental taxation

  • Says the use of economic tools such as environmental taxes and permit trading schemes are a cost-effective way to cut emissions

  • Calls for the creation of a ministerial post to co-ordinate the government's approach to climate change

Friends of the Earth's economics co-ordinator, Simon Bullock, said:

“This report is extremely welcome. The science and the evidence of economic impacts from climate change demand that the Chancellor greens tax policy over the next five years. He must start by putting forward a comprehensive package of measures for tackling climate change and protecting the environment in next month's Budget.”

“The Committee is right to call for a for climate change champion at the heart of Government. The reality is that while we have had a succession of Environment Ministers who have understood the urgency of tackling climate change, they have been stuck in their department while key decisions on transport, energy housing and green taxation have been taken elsewhere. Of course the most significant champions would be the Prime Minister and his Chancellor. “

Friends of the Earth is calling on the Chancellor to

  • Use his Budget in March to demonstrate his commitment to Environmental Tax reform, announcing rises in pollution taxes linked to cuts in taxes on jobs and income.

  • Introduce measures in March that substantially cut UK carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Introduce a one-off windfall tax on the excess profits of electricity and oil companies, used to create a climate change super-fund to tackle fuel poverty

  • Introduce a Stamp Duty Rebate and a Council Tax Rebate for people wanting to install energy efficiency measures in their homes

Friends of the Earth is also calling for the Climate Change Bill to put duties on the Prime Minister to meet the Government targets and make annual reports. The Bill as currently drafted places this duty on the Secretary of State for the Environment.