The self-reliance library

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Stack-of-BooksAside from a large range of different tools to be able to tackle the different jobs that may come up another requirement – for lack of a better word – for self-reliance living is a bookshelf, or better a library, stacked with books on the various aspect and subjects.

The most important books in this library are those of the how-to kind dealing with the many different things you may have to tackle, as there is just no way that you can know everything. But knowing where to find the information is important.

While it is certainly true that nowadays much of this information can be accessed on the world wide web, and from there to get some material for your collection is a good idea as well, there may be a time that you can't access that info online. I therefore also advise to print out all relevant material that you may download and file those in a binder or ten.

You most important books for the self-reliance library, as already indicated, are those of the how-to kind and the older they are, often, the better. Some of the best of that kind were produced by Odhams Press in Britain in the early to mid-part of the last century, but there are also publishers who have brought out books of a similar nature.

It is true that the books by Odhams Press are old and the information, the tools and methods used may not be approved of today by the powers-that-be, and especially not by EU rules and regulations, especially with regards to electricity and such like, but that is neither here not there.

The information in such books is still, as far as I am concerned, as valid as more modern ones, especially if you are going to be dealing with things that are of that age or similar. Especially when you are going to do things yourself without, for instance, power tools and other machines then those old instructions are invaluable.

The “manuals” that you will need to learn to live a self-reliant life, and as reference when you are already at it, are those that deal with all aspects of living such a life, from growing your own food, over making do and mending and making all manner of things to building your own home even.

I found that many of the older books are much better than the newer ones and many of the newer, to be honest, are often nothing but a rehash of the old ones, but claiming to be newly written books, and I have had the misfortune to review more than one of them by now.

The one book, or two, that should not be missing in your library are the late John Seymour's “The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency” and “The Survival Handbook” (ideally the hardback version) which he co-authored with Michael Allaby and others. In fact, those two, in my opinion, are a must.

The right tools, and that includes the resources as to where to find information, in other words books, are more important in this game of self-reliance living than anything else. It is not what you know but knowing where to find the information and hot to apply same that counts. You just cannot master all the skills beforehand that you may need.

I am not going to really put together a list of books here for they will be different from country to country as that would not be very beneficial. However, for those in Britain a look around car boot sales and charity shops for the old how-to books published by Odhams Press Ltd. and other of that kind I would recommend and, definitely the acquisition, and that applies to all, of John Seymour's “The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency” and, if you can get it, “The Survival Handbook” by Michael Allaby, of which John Seymour is one of the co-authors.

General DIY books from about the 1930's onwards to around the 1970's together with homesteading books from before the 20th century and till about the 1950s also should be included as and where possible. Look for anything that deals with the aspects that you might encounter, from gardening, cooking from scratch, making do and mending, to building sheds and other kinds of buildings, up to and including a house.

Two other books that I would like to recommend for inclusion in any self-reliance library are “Skills of the Australian Bushman” and “Australian Traditional Bush Crafts”, both by Ron Edwards. They may be difficult to obtain nowadays but they are worth their weight in gold as to how those old squatters in the Ozzie outback made do, especially as many of those, if not indeed all, and ideas, come in very handy in the pursuit of a self-reliant life.

© 2016

Pflanzenpatente: Wir essen immer mehr Laborgemüse


Schweizer Gemüse stammt ­mehrheitlich aus den Labors der globalen Agro­chemie – selbst die Hälfte aller Bioprodukte.

Gleich zwei Volksinitiativen aus bäuerlichen Kreisen wollen ­erreichen, dass wir mehr ­einheimische Lebensmittel auf den Teller bekommen. Ein frommer Wunsch. Was wir essen, wird eher in einem Biolabor in den Niederlanden als im Bundesrat in Bern entschieden. Bereits fallen 95 Prozent unserer Salate – ­inklusive der biologischen – unter ein Patent der nieder­ländischen Saatgutfirma Rijk Zwaan. Letztlich kontrolliert diese, wer den Salat anbaut.

Bisher glaubten selbst gut ­informierte Konsumenten, Patente gebe es nur für genmanipulierte Pflanzen, die in der Schweiz nicht verkauft werden. Doch das Europäische Patentamt erteilt seit einigen Jahren auch für konventionelle Züchtungen Patente. Dass «Patentgemüse» den Markt erobert, scheint den Grossverteilern nicht ­bewusst zu sein. Die Migros hat «keine Kenntnis über die Anzahl patentierter Gemüsesorten». Bei Coop klingts ähnlich. Dabei ist die Mehrheit der Konsumenten gegen die Patentierung von Pflanzen – so das Ergebnis einer repräsentativen Umfrage von Isopublic. Die Migros lehnte patentierte Sorten bis vor kurzem ab, nun hat sie damit kein Problem mehr.

Vollkommen vom Ausland abhängig

Welche Saatgutfirmen hinter Schweizer Gemüse stecken, lässt sich trotz aufwendiger Recherchen nicht sicher sagen. Detaillierte Daten hat weder die Vereinigung für Samenhandel und Sortenschutz Swiss-Seed noch die Schweizerische Zentralstelle für Gemüsebau oder das Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft. Klar ist: Beim Saatgut sind wir völlig vom Ausland abhängig.

Hier weiter lesen.

Why Natural Insect Control Works Better

Interplanting flowers with food crops will promote a balanced insect ecology, which in turn will enable natural insect control without the use of toxic pesticides.

I’ve always been an organic gardener. Early on, I thought natural insect control meant using an “organically approved” insecticide, such as rotenone, to defeat leaf-eating insects — especially my arch-nemesis, the Colorado potato beetle. I dusted my potato patch several times a season in a struggle to keep the beetle’s exploding population in check, barely managing to bring in the crop. But as I learned more about the ecology of insects such as ladybeetles, lacewings, praying mantises, and assassin bugs — what some call “the good guys” — I worried that blasting away with a powder intended to kill might not be doing them any good either.

One spring I vowed to use no rotenone at all in my potato patch, even if it meant losing the crop. I was amazed to find only five potato beetles on my potato plants during the entire season. I took that as luck-of- the-draw seasonal fluctuation — until I bumped into my neighbor across the road, whose garden was less than 70 yards from my own. “My, my,” she wailed, “ain’t these potato bugs just awful. I dust, and I dust, and I dust — and I’m still out here every day, picking ’em off by hand!”

That was my epiphany about the true nature of the teeming insect community around me, and my garden’s relationship to it. From that moment, I have never used a granule of toxin — however reputedly benign — to deal with insect challenges in my garden and orchard. I now find the potato beetle to be one of the easiest insect competitors to deal with.

How to Sustain a Natural Ecosystem

Using natural insect control makes perfect sense to me now. Who wants to eat food that’s been sprayed with toxic chemicals better suited to chemical warfare than gardening? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American agriculture uses toxic pesticides at a rate of more than a billion pounds annually, and only a small percentage of those chemicals actually make contact with a target insect. The remainder is irrelevant to insect control, but constitutes an assault on the rest of our ecosystem. Pesticides suppress the soil food web (the foundation of soil fertility), pollute groundwater and natural water systems, and destroy vital pollinators and other species.

Read more here.

Turn Unreturnable Bulk Bags into Potato Planters

I've added more dirt

In the category of “Use What You Have,” I decided to try an experiment in reusing and recycling.

When I first started building my garden and raised beds, I ordered several bulk bags of garden loam and bark mulch. This was the least expensive and most efficient way to get the material I needed for my garden, but it also left me with several very large bulk bags that I could not return or recycle in my local area. The bags are made of a sturdy, heavy-duty fabric, and I didn’t want to just throw them away, so I had to give some thought as to how I could use them.

I needed a couple more deep raised beds, though, and I was out of large scrap lumber. I decided to recycle the bulk bags into flexible raised beds in which I could grow potatoes and carrots. What this gave me were three extra raised beds with very little effort.

How to Turn Bulk Bags into Potato Planters

1.The first thing I did was decide on a location. I set the bags up next to my storage shed. This spot gets sun for most of the day, and it’s out of the way. Eventually I want to build a greenhouse here, but for now, it’s the perfect location to grow some potatoes.

2. I folded the sides of the bags outwards and down in two folds so I could raise them up as the potatoes grew. Instead of hilling up the soil around the plants, I would fill the bags in as we went along.

3.I bought some bagged garden soil on sale and filled each bag with about ten bags of dirt each. The bags are 25 liters or 22.7 quarts in size.

Read more here.

European Parliament vs petrol lawnmowers

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

das-eu-parlament-hat-grenzwerte-fuer-den-schadstoffausstoss-von-motorbetriebenen-geraeten-und-maschinen-beschlossen-First they came for the kettles, the washing machines and the fridges and now for the petrol lawnmowers, grass trimmers, chainsaws and others.

European Parliament enacts emission limits for lawnmowers which is to say that someone in the civil service of the European Union, either in the Council or the Commission, has come up with this and the parliament was permitted to rubber stamp it.

The EU-Parliament has now enacted legislation about the emission limits of lawnmowers, grass trimmers, and other petrol-driven machinery of this kind.

From now on lawnmowers shall no longer be able to pollute the European air unchecked. The European Parliament in Strasbourg has decided about maximum emission levels for all machines with internal combustion engines that are not intended for road use.

It is not only lawnmowers and other garden and forestry tools with an internal combustion engine that are thus affected. Also Diesel locomotives, bulldozers, harvesting machines for agriculture and inland navigation vessels, that is to say freight and passenger ships that use rivers and canals, as well as those on lakes, fall under those new regulations, which will come into force either 2018 or 2019.

According to a report of the EU-Parliament engines of this kind are responsible for at least 15% of all nitric oxide emissions and 5% of all nano particle emissions in the European Union.

Those emissions have health risks associated with them. They can attack mucus membranes, cause breathing problems and irritation of the eyes, and also can affect the cardiovascular system.

The new rules also intend that all engines must be fitted with a devise that can watch over the emissions, so to speak, while the machines are being used. Thus retrofitting may become compulsory but no decision has been reached in that respect as yet and the EU-Commission is to look into that issue further it has been said.

While, to some extent, curbing emissions from all kinds of internal combustion engines is a good idea, and when it comes to machines such as chainsaws, grass trimmers, hedge cutters, when used professionally, the user tends to breathe in an awful lot of the exhaust fumes, and that cannot be good for health, the cynic in me, however, wonders as to whether this is just another way to, also, do something for the economy, so to speak, in that either having to buy new machines or getting them retrofitted with devices, will mean that people have to spend money again.

© 2016

Young girl shares gardening secrets after growing a massive cabbage


A 9-year-old girl is showing off her green thumb and the massive eleven pound cabbage she grew in her mom's garden in West Virginia.

Isabella Campos learned how to grow a small cabbage in school and wanted to try it at home.

Her parents posted the photo on social media and it has been getting a lot of attention, many people asking, "what's her gardening secret?"

Read more here.

Multitalent Kapuzinerkresse – als Pfeffer, Kapern-Ersatz und vieles mehr

Multitalent Kapuzinerkresse – als Pfeffer, Kapern-Ersatz und vieles mehr

Die Kapuzinerkresse ist ein wahres Gartenwunder, denn als einjährige Pflanze mit geringen Ansprüchen gedeiht sie sogar im Schatten, rankt an Gestellen hoch oder kriecht als reich blühender Bodendecker in jedem Garten. Aber auch auf dem Balkon ist sie eine Augenweide. Zusätzlich macht die Kapuzinerkresse Pflanzenschutzmittel überflüssig, denn sie hält Schädlinge von anderen Pflanzen fern.

Kapuzinerkresse – gesund und lecker

Als Heilpflanze wirkt die Kapuzinerkresse antibiotisch, pilztötend, schleimlösend, harntreibend und blutreinigend. Mit Vitamin A und einem hohen Vitamin C Gehalt, das den der Johannisbeere sogar übertrifft, sollte sie als Ergänzung auf keinem Speiseplan fehlen. Wegen ihres kräftigen Geschmacks und der Schärfe, die an Senf oder Meerettich erinnert, bietet sie kulinarische Genüsse, die weit über die Nutzung einer Kresse hinausgehen. Ihre Blätter finden sich dank des markanten Geschmacks auf Salaten, aber auch die milderen, genießbaren Blüten fallen auf Tellern in Restaurants ins Auge. Dass ihre Samen essbar sind und sogar als regionaler Pfeffer dienen, ist leider in Vergessenheit geraten.

Hier weiter lesen.

Irminsul, Odal Rune and Indalo

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Irminsul_webAll of those symbols have about the same meaning though about the Indalo false stories appear to be told. All three denote free men, and in the case of the Irminsul and the Odal rune in Saxon and Norse “mythology” the signs were to denote a free farm, a free craftsman, in other words a free man.

Certain quarters, such as the Amadeu Antonio Stiftung in Germany tries to claim that the Irminsul (and the Odal rune, obviously) are always signs of antisemitic right wing extremists and -extremism. Some self-proclaimed antifascists have also had a rant and rave as regards to the Indalo that is used in Spain, often by the Gitanos as well, as a talisman and a charm for the protection of the home, for instance.

What those signs are supposed to have to do with fascism and antisemitism is an enigma to me, and to others, I am sure. Only because the runes were also used by the Nazis does not mean that anyone who uses the old Nordic symbols (or the old Saxon ones) immediately is a fascist and antisemitic.

But in the eyes of those that see antisemitic ghosts everywhere and fascists the mere use of Runes to denote the original meanings immediately is interpreted as being evil. Even eco-villages and -communities are being tarred with that brush by the people of that body mentioned above and others if they as much as dare to promote real self-reliance, by trying to be as far as possible independent from government and government interference. Should there be the Irminsul as a talisman or runes being used in any way then the hue and cry goes up immediately that those are right-wing extremists and Nazis. What better way to discredit people than to make the almost infectious as anyone who associates with those also be get the same treatment.

As soon as someone does not want to dance to the neo-liberal tune that seems to have been prescribed, nowadays, and wants to live, on his own, with his family, or in a community, live different to what is given as the way we all should be living under neo-liberalism, he, she or they are immediately labeled as fascists, as Nazis, and all the rest. And it does not just stop with being labeled. Rumors are being spread about them to all and sundries to get them out of local and not so local organizations, or prevent them becoming part of them, as well as “protests” similar to those in the 1930s where it was the cry “don't buy from Jews” and “don't associate with Jews”, with the difference that it is others that are targeted in that way. Different it is, however, not.

While the like of the Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, presently, is targeting eco-settlements of so-called folkish settlers, the eco-villages of the kins domain that are created along the lines of the Anastasia books by Vladimir Megre, and others could also soon also be labeled in the same way as could, and no doubt will, any eco-commune and such in the very near future. Those and similar individuals, families, and groups, just do not fit into the prescribed neo-liberal view and must, thus, be eliminated, even if not physically then by other means. Where would the world come to if we would allow people lo live without government interference and trying to live as much as possible outside the consumer society?

© 2016

Containern: Wenn Menschen Essen aus dem Müll retten


Mülltauchen, Dumpstern oder Containern – es gibt viele Bezeichnungen dafür, dass Menschen in den Müllcontainern von Supermärkten nach Essbarem suchen. Die „Mülltaucher“ sparen dadurch aber nicht nur eine Menge Geld, sondern machen auch auf ein gesellschaftliches Problem aufmerksam: die maßlose Lebensmittelverschwendung.

Nicht mehr akzeptabel für den Wirtschaftskreislauf

Frische Äpfel, diverse Joghurtsorten, abgepackte Bohnen, Salat, Tomaten und Schokoriegel – all das wäre für den Müll bestimmt, wenn nicht Menschen wie Sonja* aus Berlin in die Container der Supermärkte steigen und Essbares herausfischen würden. Mülltauchen ist hip: In sozialen Netzwerken tauschen sich Gleichgesinnte aus, geben Tipps, verabreden sich zum Containern und posten Bilder ihrer „Beute“ und dem daraus zubereiteten Essen.

Die dort gezeigten Bilder sehen denen von herkömmlichen Einkäufen zum Verwechseln ähnlich. Es sind jedoch Lebensmittel, die entweder kurz vor dem Mindesthaltbarkeitsdatum (MHD) stehen oder kleinere Mängel wie Druckstellen aufweisen – abgesehen davon sind sie aber noch verzehrbar. Karitative Einrichtungen wie Die Tafeln nehmen dem Handel bereits Lebensmittel ab, wenn sie im Wirtschaftskreislauf nicht mehr verkauft werden können. Dennoch landet noch immer viel zu viel in den Müllcontainern der Supermärkte.

Hier weiterlesen.

Does Ecosia really have the 'impeccable ecological credentials' that it claims to have?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ecosia_the_green_searchOften the claim is being made that the search engine “Ecosia” has impeccable ecological credentials and then someone may add that it, however, may not always be as effective.

So, does Ecosia really have those claimed “impeccable ecological credentials”? In short, the answer has to be, probably not.

Fact is that “Ecosia” is basically just Bing (Microsoft's search engine, which is simply not as good, as search engines go, as Google). In other words, it is a partnership with Bing whereby Ecosia get a very vague “very high percentage” of ad revenue generated, the rest going to Bing, that is to say to Microsoft.

All the money going to “good causes” comes from people clicking on ads – which people like me, who have sensibly installed adblock software – often don't even see.

They give 80% of their proceeds (i.e. the commission they make from the ads, after paying a cut to Bing, i.e. Microsoft) to WWF rainforest protection efforts which is all good and fine when one does not consider how those large NGOs, such as WWF, with their corporate-style managements, function. In addition to that there is the issue of the WWF's concerns about protecting their intellectual property that has held back the spread of the wonderful One Planet Living concept.

Just using Ecosia does not help direct money to WWF in any way. Only clicking on ads does – and they explicitly state that you should not just do searches and click ads for the sake of it as these are just filtered out and not counted.

So, the truth of the matter is that using Ecosia does not mean that every time that you use it a tree is being planted, regardless of the claims that seem to be circulating.

The small part of the energy involved in your search that Ecosia use to serve the results pages is brought from the German co-operative company Greenpeace Energy (who are a bit like Ecotricity in that they both buy and build renewables, but are also a co-operative which is nice). Its good that they buy their energy from such a supplier.

However, most of the energy is still used by the Bing servers powering the search and we cannot tell how much energy these use because Microsoft refuses to tell us. Ecosia estimate that its probably about the same as a Google search (which we do know, because Google measure such stuff – and help others to do so). But its likely to be more, because Google's data centers apparently use about half of similar facilities.

Anyway, Ecosia assume it is about the same as Google and then “offset” this amount with Pure. Pure are quite good as far as “offset” people go – at least they are a charity not obviously just trying to cash in. They also cancel their carbon credits instead of selling them, another plus.

But Pure also use language that we should find rather troubling: “In simple terms, a business or individual pays to have the same amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere as they have generated. This in effect cancels out the CO2 produced from an activity or lifestyle choice.” That is pure (pardon intended) and simply not true. It is just not possible to “cancel out” CO2 already emitted by offsetting. It is already out there and the geenie cannot be put back into the bottle.

Google, in itself, has been a so-called “carbon neutral” – I say so-called because I do not believe that it is actually possible to be carbon neutral (as a business) but whatever – company since late 2007. They have also invested over $100 million in renewable energy. That is a fair bit more £125,000 that Ecosia has raised in its first year (although that has no doubt helped a bit to protect forests, a laudable aim).

Personally I would rather use Google than Ecosia (Bing) because I think Google are a much more positive force in the world than Microsoft are (mostly because Google, despite their many imperfections, provide superior tools and do lots of Good Stuff like supporting open source/ free software projects – and in my opinion source/ free software is the foundation upon which we can build the community and things that we need for this community.

Google, as a search engine, is also faster by light years in comparison to Bing and gives far better results. Though, as said, Google is by no means a totally benign force in the world. But, I do believe that it is better than Bing, that is to say Microsoft.

© 2016

EU approves imports of genetically modified Monsanto soybeans

© Jim Young

The European Commission has approved the import and processing of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, after debates over glyphosate herbicide’s safety delayed the introduction of genetically modified soybean variety for months.

“Today the Commission authorized three GMOs for food/feed uses (soybean MON 87708 x MON 89788, soybean MON 87705 x MON 89788 and soybean FG 72), all of which have gone through a comprehensive authorization procedure, including a favorable scientific assessment by EFSA,” the European Commission said in a statement Friday.

All of the soybeans have gone through a comprehensive authorization procedure, including a favorable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The approved seeds include Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend.

Following the Commission’s approval Monsanto’s GMO soybeans are now authorized to be used both to feed animals and in human food, but not for planting in the EU. The authorization is now valid for 10 years but the EU warned that “any products produced from these GMOs will be subject to the EU’s strict labeling and traceability rules.”

Although Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are tolerant to both glyphosate and dicamba herbicides, the use of dicamba herbicide over the top of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans remains in the late stage of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review and is not currently approved by the EPA.

Read more here.


organic-agriculture-improves-local-economies-featORGANIC food production is the highest growing food industry sector in the United States. Double digits increase in organic food sales every year has been witnessed in the sector surpassing the growth rate for the overall food market. It’s estimated that organic food sales in 2015 jumped by 11 percent to almost $40 billion, far outstripping the 3 percent growth rate for the overall food market. Foods produced organically fetch higher prices than conventionally produced foods. This has seen an increased interest in organic food production coupled with increased demand of organic food products. More farmers are transitioning to organic production, more organic businesses are sprouting. A key question in this transition would be; what does all this interest in organic and organic activity mean for LOCAL economies?

According to a white Paper that summarizes and discusses three research papers that investigate organic agriculture hotspots in the U.S. and systematically assesses the impact of organic agriculture on local economies titled U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies, it’s been shown that median households income experience an increase by an average of $2,000 in locations defined as organic hotspots. The white paper has been prepared by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Organic hotspots consist of counties having highest levels of organic agricultural production (farms and businesses) and have neighboring counties that follow the same organic production.

Read more here.

Essex badgers keep their homes after railway is designed around them

RCM_badger_prittlewell1At the start of National Badger Week, which this year ran from 25 June to 2 July, Network Rail has unveiled a new way of working on major upgrade projects to protect badgers living by the railway and keep the project on track.

Structures are currently being put in place between London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria, which will carry new overhead electricity lines to make the railway more reliable for passengers, as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.

The structures need deep foundations to be put in place to install the gantries that support the overhead wires, work which could threaten badger setts in the area. As standard practice, an ecology survey was carried out during the early stages of the project. However, rather than using the information to apply for a licence to move the badgers, details from the survey were sent to the project team so that designers could decide where the foundations should be put so that they didn’t affect the badgers. Not only does this mean that the badgers which live alongside the railway can stay in their homes, but it also saves time and money on the project. Network Rail is now looking at how this can be used on other projects.

The usual process, when badgers are found to be living on land where work is due to take place, is to move them to a spot where the work will not affect them. This is a long process, which involves getting a licence and building new homes for them, which they don’t always settle into, and can cause significant delays to essential upgrade work and additional costs.

Adriaan Bekker, Network Rail’s environmental manager for Anglia, said: “We should always consider wildlife at the design stage and how to avoid disturbing it and avoid risks and delays to the project before construction starts. Providing design engineers with simple technical information from the environmental report has enabled them to design a railway that considered the wildlife already living around it, rather than trying to move the badgers away. This has saved a lot of time and money on the project and meant that the badgers can keep their homes.”

Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, said: "We would like congratulate Network Rail in using ecological survey information to construct railway foundations that do not threaten badgers or their setts. Being able to work at the railway design stage to avoid the need to relocate badgers is a major environmental breakthrough and cost saving, which we would like to see rolled out across the rail network."

Badgers are commonly found along the railway network and create homes in embankments and many other areas of railway land. There are occasions when routine operations, maintenance, or infrastructure project activities impact on badger territories and affect badgers in a number of ways including destruction of setts and feeding habitat, and general disturbance by noise and light.

Failure to identify or account for badger occurrence can and does cause costly delays to renewals projects and maintenance tasks and can incur a heavy fine or even a prison sentence, as they have significant legal protection in Britain, including their own Act of Parliament: the Protection of badgers Act 1992.

For more information about Badger Week or the Badger Trust go to

Source: Network Rail

This press release is presented for your information only.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered, as we have no direct knowledge if them. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

Sweden subverts Paris agreement with Vattenfall coal deal

Stockholm, July 2016 – Greenpeace condemns the Swedish government’s decision to allow state-owned Vattenfall to hand over its lignite mine assets in Germany to the Czech company EPH. The decision announced this morning risks catastrophic consequences for the climate.

Annika Jacobson, Program Manager for Greenpeace in Sweden, said: “This is a political collapse. The government and parliament have failed to stand up for the most crucial issue in our time. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven had the chance to make a historic contribution to the climate and to show true leadership. Today's decision will seriously hamper international climate work and implies a direct subversion of the Paris Agreement.

“The cost to society in terms of impact on the climate, environment and health risks may be immense. The costs will far exceed what Vattenfall possibly managed to save in the form of reduced loss for the company.”

The Czech company EPH stated previously that they hoped for a coal renaissance in Europe. The risk is great that EPH will open new lignite mines and thus emit 24 times Sweden's annual emissions. The world has turned their gaze towards Sweden recently and global leaders have urged the government to decommission coal power plants instead of selling them.

“The fight to leave the coal and the oil in the ground continues,” said Jacobson. “Despite today's announcement, we are pleased that more and more researchers, companies, organizations, politicians and individuals realize that the climate requires real action, not just a signature on a piece of paper. Those who do not go from words to action will loose their credibility in the future."

Source: Greenpeace Sweden

This press release is presented for your information only.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered, as we have no direct knowledge if them. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

The EU Wants to Block Romania's 51% Local Food Shift. Who Cares?

A Romanian farmer showing his plums. Amid all the mayhem and turmoil of recent weeks, here's a news story you may have missed.  The Romanian parliament unanimously passed an amendment to the country's "Law on the Sale of Food Products" bill which states that every large supermarket in the country must ensure that 51% of the fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, honey, dairy products and baked goods they stock are "locally sourced".  As a demonstration of how enlightened policymaking can unlock Transition, it's an eye-catching and paradigm-shifting piece of legislation.  But is it legal, and, actually, does that matter anyway?

The legislation has been criticised for being "very general" and "pretty confused".  It doesn't really address the thorny question of "what is local?" (a question academics have debated for years).  Does it mean within a certain distance?  Just within Romania? And what about products made in Romania but with ingredients sourced from elsewhere?  It's a tricky and complex thing to nail down but it should lead to some fascinating discussions.  It gets round the seasonal question (as in is it 51% all year around or just in the summer?) by stating that during the winter a maximum of 70% can be imported.

Read more here.


(UR) Berlin, Germany —  The produce section of the supermarket is changing. You might say it is getting a technological facelift. The change, however, is more than merely cosmetic. INFARM, a German high-tech firm, is changing the way we interact with not only the supermarket, but the food system as a whole: in-store vertical farms.

Designers of “indoor vertical farms,” INFARM has partnered with METRO AG to produce the first-ever in-store farm. Rather than simply selecting the freshest veggies that have all been transported in some capacity, shoppers can basically harvest their own produce. Of course, this system is still in its infancy, and the installation of their indoor vertical farm at one of METRO AG’s Berlin location is only the first step. Yet, by partnering with other organizations like 25h Hotels, Olympus, and Mercedes-Benz, INFARM definitely has room to grow.

Read more here.

Ricardo and Recycling Technologies to characterise plastic waste derived clean fuel

• Recycling Technologies’ highly innovative PlaxxTM fuel is created from residual mixed plastic waste that is not amenable to direct recycling and would otherwise go to landfill. The company is working with Ricardo to characterise the use of this recycled, low sulphur fuel as a substitute for fossil based heavy fuel oil (HFO) and diesel in applications such as power generation and marine propulsion

IMG_1652_1-1024x882_webSwindon, 5th July 2016 – In the European Union alone, more than 25 million tonnes of post-consumer waste plastic is produced each year. Of this huge quantity of material, only 26 percent is recycled, with 36 percent going for incineration, while the remaining 38 percent contributes to the ever expanding problem of landfill. In addition to the loss of its material value, the carbon cost of processing this mixed waste is considerable, not least due to transportation, as many regions and states export their mixed plastic waste due to a lack of localised processing facilities. To help address this global issue, Recycling Technologies has developed a machine (RT7000) and is industrialising a process to convert residual plastic waste into a low sulphur hydrocarbon compound known as PlaxxTM. This can be used as a petrochemical feedstock, a manufacturing commodity such as paraffin wax, or as a clean and more sustainable fuel substitute for fossil-based HFO, which also displaces imported oil.

In the project announced today, Ricardo will work with Recycling Technologies to assess the relative performance of PlaxxTM, HFO and diesel when used in an engine of the type and scale typical of power generation or marine propulsion applications. The Ricardo Atlas II research engine will be used for this work: this advanced test engine is capable of efficiently evaluating the performance of fuels in large, multi-cylinder engine designs ranging from 150-200 mm bore and representing engines in the class 0.5 to 5 MW, in a single power cylinder. This can result in a reduction exceeding 90 percent of the test fuel consumed in a typical research or development project.

In the early stages of the Recycling Technologies project, a thorough review of the properties of PlaxxTM as a combustion engine fuel will be carried out in order that a comprehensive test plan can be developed. Back-to-back testing of PlaxxTM against diesel and HFO will then be undertaken over a range of loads using the Atlas II engine. Combustion characterisation will also be trialled based on the measured in-cylinder pressure, power, specific fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. This will help to fully understand the behaviour of PlaxxTM in this type of engine and enable the further refinement of engine and fuel settings for maximum efficiency and low emissions.

“Finding solutions to landfill diversion is a critical challenge facing modern society,” commented Dr Adam Read, Ricardo Energy & Environment practice director for resource efficiency & waste management. “The ability to generate fuels and recover plastics is key to the sustainable management of the world’s resources. As such, assessing the viability of the process during the pilot phase is an exciting and potentially ground-breaking step for Ricardo and the team from Recycling Technologies.”

Adrian Griffiths, CEO Recycling Technologies commented: “The marine industry is a key market as the use of high sulphur oil is increasingly being restricted. Working together with Ricardo on this project, we are now taking steps to get Plaxx™ qualified so that it is fit for use in medium and large marine engines. Plaxx™ is an ultra-low sulphur feedstock and can be adapted for use in any markets where crude oil derivatives are used. Through this pilot project, we hope to qualify Plaxx™ as meeting the new global MARPOL requirements.”

Recycling Technologies has funded its extensive R&D projects through various government funding organisations, including the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and the Energy Catalyst grant with the University of West England (UWE), funded by Innovate UK. There has been additional support from other government funding organisations, such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

About Recycling Technologies
Recycling Technologies has created one of the world’s most significant developments in the world of turning waste to energy, by creating a highly commercial distributed solution for a multi-billion pound global problem. Recycling Technologies has been formed to commercialise the development of the plastic recycling technique established originally by the University of Warwick. Some of the UK’s leading experts on Plastics, Waste Management and Engineering Processes make up the Recycling Technologies team that provides direction and delivery for the business. The company provides innovative solutions to help customers achieve financial gains through turning residual plastic waste into a valuable resource. Its flagship machine, the RT7000, converts unsorted residual plastic waste – that is currently disposed of in landfill or incinerators – into a valuable low sulphur hydrocarbon known as Plaxx™. For further information, please visit

About Ricardo
Ricardo plc is a global, world-class, multi-industry consultancy for engineering, technology, project innovation and strategy. Our people are committed to providing outstanding value through quality engineering solutions focused on high efficiency, low emission, class-leading product innovation and robust strategic implementation. With a century of delivering excellence and value through technology, our client list includes the world's major transportation original equipment manufacturers, supply chain organizations, energy companies, financial institutions and governments. Guided by our corporate values of respect, integrity, creativity & innovation and passion, we enable our customers to achieve sustainable growth and commercial success. For more information, visit

Source: Ricardo Media Office

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Growth in electric vehicles sales central to closing emissions gap

  • New frontier of vehicle design represents significant opportunity for the energy sector

  • Electric vehicles play a central role in policy or technology portfolios designed to lower emissions

WECElectric vehicles (EVs) will need to increase their combined market share to 16% by 2020 to achieve the aggressive fuel economy standards set by regulators, according to new research by the World Energy Council.

While EVs currently represent less than 1% combined market share across the world’s largest markets for new passenger cars, they should be considered central to any policy and technology portfolio designed to lower transport emissions.

Christoph Frei, Secretary-General of the World Energy Council, said: “Over the past decade, we have seen the emergence of climate change and fuel price volatility as headline issues that keeps energy leaders awake at night. As a result, many countries have set ambitious fuel efficiency targets for passenger vehicles.

“The innovative role EVs can play in meeting these standards makes for a pragmatic step in closing the emissions gap by 2020. Looking beyond 2020, EVs and innovation in this area present a major growth opportunity not only for car manufacturers but for the energy sector as a whole.”

Over the next five to ten years, passenger vehicle manufacturers will be confronted with regulatory pressure and material penalties, as gains in fuel economy fall behind the required rates of improvement set to address environmental preservation and climate change mitigation.

With a collective annual demand of over 40 million passenger vehicles, three of the largest car markets in the world, the EU, US and China, have all set fuel economy improvement targets of approximately 30% for cars from 2014-2020 (as measured in NEDC gCO2/km), which are expected to exceed forecasted new internal combustion engine (ICE) powered car capabilities.

The World Energy Perspective 2016: ‘E-mobility: closing the emissions gap’, published by the Council in collaboration with Accenture Strategy, examines the growth in sales of EVs as the latest technologies to increase average fuel efficiency and meet these stringent economy standards, set in all three markets, referred to as the “EV gap”. In the EU, the EV gap is 1.4 million, 10% of the estimated 2020 projected passenger sales, in the US, 0.9 million (11%) and in China roughly 5.3 million, 22% of the projected passenger car sales.

The report, which will be presented in the margins of the G20 Energy Ministers meeting in Beijing by Berat Albayrak, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey, highlights key findings which represent a new frontier and a significant opportunity for the energy sector which will be fully embraced at this year’s World Energy Congress in Istanbul, where global energy leaders will address these and similar challenges.

Murat Mercan, Chair of the 23rd World Energy Congress Organising Committee, said: “These insights are really significant and will help to ensure that our programme will address the right issues at this time of major transition for the energy sector.

We already have over 240 confirmed speakers, from 82 countries, including 44 ministers confirmed for the congress, which will guarantee that the new frontier for the energy sector will be embraced by all.”

Stuart Solomon, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, added: “To help close the emissions gap through more widespread adoption of EVs, utilities need to play a critical role - not only to ensure a reliable electricity supply, given the added pressure from plugging more EVs into an already stressed grid network, but also by making sure that any added demand for electricity to power EVs increasingly comes from clean power sources.

“Utilities can also play a leading role in bringing together key stakeholders from the automotive, technology and home services industries to encourage customer uptake of EVs through more attractive electricity tariff structures, combined with bundled product offers, such as connected car and home solutions. Customers could realise cost and lifestyle benefits as a result, while new revenue streams could benefit industry players.”

Electricity demand attributed to new EVs can likely be managed with proper planning by utilities and could be further mitigated at the local level with emerging technologies such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G). Faced with a complex array of policy and technology options including hybrid technology, down-weighting technology, off-cycle credit, aerodynamic improvements and many more, it is important for decision makers to understand the potential impact and feasibility of each option.

Key recommendations of the report include:

Industry: Vehicle manufacturers will need to respond to regulatory pressures and shift their product portfolio to avoid material penalties. Additionally, there is an opportunity for vehicle manufacturers and utility electricity providers to partner to deliver a superior value proposition to consumers. By 2020 each market would need an additional:

  • 3.7 TWh (equivalent to 734,000 homes) in the EU
  • 4.5 TWh (equivalent to 367,000 homes) in the US
  • 26.2 TWh (equivalent to 17 million homes) in China

Policymakers: Regulators should examine how proposed fuel requirements can be matched by working with industry through financial and operational incentives in order to achieve desired improvements in CO2 emissions.

Consumers: Consumers should provide feedback to regulators and manufacturers by evaluating the economic and environmental benefits of EVs alongside alternative online transportation methods.

World Energy Council

The World Energy Council is the principal impartial network of energy leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all. Formed in 1923, the Council is the UN-accredited global energy body, representing the entire energy spectrum, with over 3,000 member organisations in over 90 countries, drawn from governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy stakeholders. We inform global, regional and national energy strategies by hosting high-level events including the World Energy Congress  and publishing authoritative studies, and work through our extensive member network to facilitate the world’s energy policy dialogue. Find out more and follow @WECouncil

World Energy Congress

The World Energy Congress is the World Energy Council’s global flagship triennial event that enables dialogue among Ministers, CEOs and industry experts on critical developments in the energy sector. Running since 1924, the 23rd World Energy Congress will be held in Istanbul, Turkey from 9-13 October 2016 with the theme “Embracing New Frontiers”.

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Solar Energy Experts Navitron Predict a Return to Solar DIY

ae097c5ab352b4df_800x800arDespite the subsidy cuts for solar energy which were implemented late last year, it seems like interest in solar power continues to grow, as the UK saw a new record in April, with solar power surpassing coal for 24 hours, according to a recent article by The Guardian. Whilst the rise in solar energy seems to be due to increasing interest in and awareness of the benefits of renewable energy amongst people across the country, as well as the falling prices of solar power technologies, Navitron, a UK leading supplier of renewable energy solutions for both home owners and businesses, have noticed another interesting trend.

According to Jack Knight, Marketing Manager at Navitron, the company has observed a surge in interest for DIY solar solutions. He comments “Whilst we provide a wide range of renewable energy solutions, from solar panels to wood stoves or water turbines, as well as all the ancillaries needed for a hassle-free installation, over recent months we’ve noticed an increase in sales for our DIY Solar Installation Kits.”

“Increasingly more DIY-enthusiasts and home owners are keen to make the switch to green energy and they are opting for our complete DIY solar kits which can be easily mounted and include all the equipment needed to implement the system themselves.” Says Jack Knight. “By choosing to implement their newly bought solar system themselves, people can save on installation costs and start enjoying the benefits of their solar power source from as little as £1300.”

However, Navitron recommends to their customers to make an informed buying decision, ensuring they have all the permissions needed and if they do require any assistance with the installation or any other part of the buying process, Navitron’s team of experts is only a phone call away. Interested parties can contact Navitron on 01572 725512 or email Furthermore, those customers who opt to have their solar power system installed by a professional can choose an installer via Navitron’s extensive national network.

Source: Navitron Ltd

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Eco-friendly Junk Removal and House Clearance specialists Just Clear wins national environmental award

flat clearanceFrom reusing old duvets as dog bedding to safely recycling old televisions, a UK company that collects and recycles over 40 tonnes of people’s junk every week has been recognised for its contribution to the country’s environment.

Having provided a nationwide eco-friendly approach to junk removal for commercial, domestic and trade clients for over eight years, Just Clear has been named Circular Economy Project of the Year at the annual BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.

Just Clear differentiates itself by ensuring all the wide array of material they collect is separated, then re-used or recycled, offering an example of circular economy thinking at its best.

Founder and MD of Just Clear, Brendan O’Shea, says: “While we have been in the business for over eight years, the fundamental goal of Just Clear over the last two years was to reach a state of zero-to-landfill from our property clearance activities, which we have now achieved.

“In the last twelve months alone, Just Clear has spared over 2,000 tonnes of property clearance waste from landfill. It hasn’t been easy - we’ve had to forge so many unique relationships, find avenues for unwanted items that others hadn’t thought of and constantly challenge ourselves to find solutions.

“The environmental and economic benefits of zero to landfill are there to be seen. We are moving things in the right direction, addressing rising landfill taxes and the rate at which they are filling up. By sparing our collected waste from the landfill, we are passing on cost savings to customers, as well as easing their conscience with the second life of their unwanted items.

“By reaching 100 per cent landfill avoidance, we are also hopefully challenging and encouraging our competitors to do the same, but we can forewarn them of the challenges. Already they will know about difficult items, such as mattresses, old TVs and tattered sofas, but they may not be aware of ways to recycling these. We found our solutions through organisations and people with common problems and common goals.”

As an example of Just Clear’s circular economy principles: a hotel in Mayfair, London, which needed a total clearance from penthouse suite down to the basement, contacted the company. Thousands of mattresses, duvets, pillows, sheets, furniture, fixtures and fittings were collected. A large portion was recycled through charities, including providing dog bedding to a local animal shelter. The waste stream was then delicately separated, with plastic and paper distributed on a daily basis through secured sustainable recycling routes. Wood went to Eddie Stobart Biomass, metal and fridges to EMR Recycling and clothes to clothing banks. The organisation also works closely with a selection of reuse networks to rehome unwanted furniture and kitchen equipment.

Traditionally the most difficult item to recycle was televisions and computers, largely due to the lead in their screens. However, in 2012, a company in Kent called Sweeep Kuusakoski, installed the world’s first leaded glass furnace to recycle cathode ray tube (CRT) glass screens. This process has no emissions, creates no waste and avoids exporting hazardous material from the UK and now recycles all Just Clear’s electronics.

Mr O’Shea adds: “To get to where we are has been difficult, but it needn’t be as hard for other businesses trying to get there as much of the leg work has already been done. The solutions we’ve pushed for will now open doors to our competitors, and we are grateful for this, as we are all in it together. When it comes to landfill avoidance, we can put business competition aside and recognise we have an environmental and social duty first and foremost.

“The key message to be learned from our activities is ‘don’t give up’. We’ve been competing against ourselves instead of watching over our shoulder. We are our own biggest rivals and we fiercely drove ourselves through education, innovation, relationship building and environmental policies to reach the golden 100 per cent landfill avoidance figure.

“We’ve found the demand for eco-friendly house clearances to be astonishing and our London based service is now inundated with enquiries from all over the UK. This should serve as strong encouragement for our competitors to consider the appeal of a greener waste stream and disposal habits.”

Highly commended in the same category for their efforts were: O2, Recycle, Refresh, Eco-rating and Refurb Project.

Just Clear is a property clearance specialist, with over eight years industry experience and an eco-friendly outlook on the industry. The company is recognised among its peers as one of the most fundamentally progressive and eco-friendly house clearance companies around. Just Clear is the first to completely avoid the use of landfills. In the last twelve months alone, Just Clear has spared over 2,000 tonnes of property clearance waste from landfill, and in the process, encouraged further recycling solutions to appear.

Just Clear services:

  • House Clearance
  • Probate valuation
  • Office Clearance
  • Garden clearance
  • Junk Removal
  • Rubbish Removal
  • Waste removal
  • Recycling
  • Waste audit
  • Hoarding Clearance

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The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered, as we have no direct knowledge if them. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

Unearthing the true cost of fossil fuels and the true value of photovoltaics

Two new studies published by Carol Olson and Frank Lenzmann in MRS Energy and Sustainability—A Review Journal (MRS E&S) shed light on the true economic, social and environmental impacts of photovoltaics as compared to those of the fossil fuel supply chain.

Olson and Lenzmann, who work at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, compared the economics associated with all the major fuel supply chains, including oil and gas, coal and nuclear. They conclude that the current system is weighted heavily in favor of fossil and nuclear fuels at the expense of more sustainable energy sources—revealing that support for renewable energy sources is dwarfed in magnitude as well as in duration in comparison to the subsidies shoring up fossil and nuclear fuels.

The authors’ timely analysis of the historical and current fossil fuel supply chain provides a useful perspective that challenges what they refer to as “limited frames of reference when addressing the consequences of business-as-usual operation of fossil fuel supply chains.” Their extensive commentary looks at the complete subsidy chain both for production and consumption of fossil and nuclear fuels so that it is now possible, for the first time, to compare all the energy options fairly, revealing costs that have historically been hidden along the supply chain.

“The entanglement of the fossil fuel supply industry, banks, commodity traders, and the financialization of commodities currently allows fossil fuel supply transactions to be made in non-competitive ways,” they write.

“The immense capital available to those operating the fossil fuel supply chain affords not only economic advantages, but also allows them to side-step regulation.”

In a context where there is broad consensus in the scientific community that fossil fuels are largely responsible for global warming—with 85% of CO2 emissions coming from fossil fuel combustion—the authors argue that there needs to be a fundamental redesign of the energy market to make it fit for purpose.

“The electricity market, which is unnecessarily complex, is fundamentally only suited for a small club of fuel-conversion electricity providers,” they write, “not for the large number of providers, the public engagement, or the renewable electricity generation required in the 21st century.”

They argue that the price tag of failing to address this issue is too high to ignore: “While [it is] a starting point, an incremental approach is not sufficient to address the systemic changes required to decarbonize the electricity supply in line with the recent Paris Agreement,” a deal signed by all 196 of the world’s countries to pursue efforts to keep global warming below 1.5°C.

“The ‘true cost’ of electricity generation, including the environmental impacts, must be kept in sight,” Olson and Lenzmann write.

Consumers are currently over-paying for fossil fuel infrastructure through a large variety of subsidies even though fossil fuel electricity prices are often kept artificially low. The cost savings of renewable energy generation for consumers, especially with wind and photovoltaics, is extremely competitive especially with a level comparison. When consumers steer decisions themselves, as evidenced in many regional and community-based actions, they more and more frequently choose for renewable wind and photovoltaics not only because of the economic benefits, but also because of the resilience these electricity generation technologies bring to the energy supply. Policy makers should find ways to address the imbalance of subsidized infrastructure, including the energy market, which gives advantages to the fossil fuel supply chain, and which may obscure the economic advantages of renewable energy technologies, such as photovoltaics.

MRS E&S, a journal of the Materials Research Society and Cambridge University Press, encourages contributions that provide viewpoints and perspectives on the all-important issue of how humankind can work towards, and build, a sustainable future.


The contents of this press release refer to two articles by Carol Olson and Frank Lenzmann in MRS Energy and Sustainability, which are linked below.

Bringing the social costs and benefits of electric energy from photovoltaics versus fossil fuels to light

The social and economic consequences of the fossil fuel supply chain

To comment on these articles, or to continue the debate on the true costs of our reliance on fossil fuels, visit the Cambridge Journals Blog.

About MRS Energy & Sustainability--A Review Journal
MRS Energy & Sustainability--A Review Journal publishes reviews on key topics in materials research and development as they relate to energy and sustainability. Topics to be reviewed are new R&D of both established and new areas; interdisciplinary systems integration; and objective application of economic, sociological, and governmental models, enabling research and technological developments. The reviews are set in an integrated context of scientific, technological and sociological complexities relating to environment and sustainability.

The intended readership is a broad spectrum of scientists, academics, policy makers and industry professionals, all interested in the interdisciplinary nature of the science, technology and policy aspects of energy and sustainability. It is published by the Materials Research Society and Cambridge University Press.


  • David S. Ginley, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA
  • David Cahen, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
  • Elizabeth A. Kócs, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

For further information, go to

About the Materials Research Society
The Materials Research Society (MRS) is an international organization of almost 16,000 materials researchers from academia, industry and government, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research to improve the quality of life. MRS members are engaged and enthusiastic professionals hailing from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and engineering–the full spectrum of materials research. Headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania (USA), MRS membership now spans over 90 countries, with approximately 48% of members residing outside the United States. In addition to its communications and publications portfolio, MRS organizes high-quality scientific meetings, attracting over 13,000 attendees annually and facilitating interactions among a wide range of experts from the cutting edge of the global materials community. MRS is also a recognized leader in education outreach and advocacy for scientific research. For further information, go to:

About Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Dedicated to excellence, its purpose is to further the University’s objective of advancing knowledge, education, learning, and research. Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 45,000 titles covering academic research, professional development, more than 360 research journals, school-level education, English language teaching and bible publishing. Playing a leading role in today's international market place, Cambridge University Press has more than 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world. For more information, go to

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Urban Dwellers Drive Massive Deforestation Locally and Abroad

Cities' sustainability efforts may be undermined by urban destruction of forested carbon sinks.

SOW2016Washington, D.C.-----Urban centers lie at the root of an important-----and often neglected-----source of emissions: deforestation. According to Senior Researcher Tom Prugh in Can a City Be Sustainable?, the latest edition of the annual State of the World series from the Worldwatch Institute, deforestation caused by growing urban consumption is contributing to massive emissions globally, despite increasing sustainability efforts locally (

Tropical deforestation accounts for an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year-----equivalent to the emissions of some 600 million cars-----according to researchers at Winrock International and the Woods Hole Research Center.

Urban growth drives deforestation in at least two ways. First, as rural migrants to cities adopt city-based lifestyles, they tend to use more resources. Their incomes rise and their diets shift to a greater share of animal products and processed foods. This, in turn, drives land clearance for livestock grazing and fodder, either locally or in other countries that export such products or their inputs. Meeting the food needs of a rising and urbanizing global population could require an additional 2.7---4.9 million hectares of cropland per year.

"In Brazil, a surge of deforestation in the Amazon in the early 2000s has been attributed to the expansion of pasture and soybean croplands in response to international market demand, particularly from China," writes Prugh. There, economic growth and diets richer in meat products have boosted soy imports from Brazil to feed pork and poultry.

Even in relatively highly productive European agriculture, it takes an estimated 0.3 square meters of farmland to produce an edible kilogram of vegetables, but 7.3 for chicken, 8.9 for pork, and 20.9 for beef.

A second, and likely lesser, factor linking urban growth to deforestation is that cities are often expanding into areas of farmland and natural habitat, including forests. Cities worldwide are growing by 1.4 million new inhabitants every week. Urban land area is expanding, on average, twice as fast as urban populations. The area covered by urban zones is projected to expand by more than 1.2 million square kilometers between 2000 and 2030.

"Ironically, even as urban expansion drives forest clearance for agriculture, it simultaneously consumes existing farmland," writes Prugh. "By one estimate, urbanization may cause the loss of up to 3.3 million hectares of prime agricultural land each year."

"The impact of urban expansion can, in principle, be attenuated by focusing on proven methods of shaping urban form to emphasize compact development and higher densities," writes Prugh. Reducing consumption, however, is more complicated.

The first and most obvious option is to increase the efficiency of economies at delivering human well-being per every unit of resource input. The impact of the dietary share of higher consumption could be reduced sharply by reducing food waste and creating incentives for much lower meat consumption.

Cities also may have a role in determining broader agricultural policies. In addition to reducing meat consumption, it is possible to reduce the impacts of meat production by shifting from intensive, fossil fuel-based livestock systems to more-diverse, coupled systems that emulate the structure and functions of ecosystems.

Worldwatch Institute's Can a City Be Sustainable? (State of the World) examines the core principles of sustainable urbanism and profiles cities that are putting them into practice.

About the Worldwatch Institute: Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute's State of the World report is published annually in multiple languages (

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Industry response to The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan

“Positive progress but more must still be done”

PhilipSimpson_webEarlier this month (7 July), WRAP launched England’s first action plan to increase the quantity and quality of both domestic and commercial food waste recycling. Developed in association with local authorities, collectors, waste treatment operators and trade bodies from across the country, The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan aims to encourage greater collaboration across the supply chain.

Presented as a five-step roadmap, the document identifies common barriers to food waste recycling and details collaborative solutions to overcoming these issues. Actions are split across the supply chain, with a lead body given responsibility for the delivery of each.

Commenting on the plan, Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, said: “Forward-thinking initiatives, such as The Food Waste Action Plan, demonstrate real commitment from across the industry to help our environment and boost our economy. Despite considerable efforts, more than 14 million tonnes of food is still wasted across the UK every year – 40% of which is said to be completely avoidable. This figure is one which must be lowered and any initiatives launched to tackle the issue head-on should be wholeheartedly commended.

“Since the launch of ReFood’s Vision 2020: UK roadmap to zero food waste to landfill report, which identified the true scale of the UK’s food waste crisis and provided comprehensive guidance to eliminate food waste to landfill, significant progress has already been made to minimise food waste and implement more sustainable alternatives to general waste disposal.

“In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for example, stringent legislation is now in place to prevent food waste from ending up in landfill, which has seen recycling rates soar and resulted in significant benefits on an economic level. What’s more, numerous businesses from across the supply chain – the likes of Sainsbury’s, QHotels and The Savoy, for example – have taken matters into their own hands and introduced self-policing ‘zero waste’ standards to realise the benefits of recycling food waste.

“On the whole, however, England is still lagging far behind and this is simply down to a lack of commitment from those in power. Food is a highly valuable resource and one which mustn’t be squandered, yet without clear guidance from a government level or legislation implemented on a national scale, we will continue to tread water and fail to realise the benefits available.

“In fact, if the UK was to successfully achieve zero food waste to landfill by 2020, we could see greenhouse gases reduced by up to 27 million tonnes, with over 1.3 million tonnes of valuable nutrients returned to the earth each year and savings for the food manufacturing industry of up to £2bn. This said, unless we implement firm legislation, achieving these figures will not be achievable – relying on informal guidance and optional strategies simply isn’t enough.

“The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan is undoubtedly another positive step in the right direction and I personally hope it is seen as a clarion call by businesses and consumers to change behaviours when it comes to recycling food waste.

“In the long-term, however, identifying issues and encouraging best practice isn’t enough. At ReFood, we believe that a government-level ban on all food waste to landfill is essential. From every part of the food chain we need a strict commitment to prioritising recycling and preventing unnecessary waste. A ban on all food waste would not only deliver this, but also provide significant economic and environmental benefits.”

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UN agency head highlights Brazil’s role in promoting family farming and transforming rural communities

Rome, 18 July 2016 – Brazil has a lot to teach the world about the importance of family farmers, said the President of the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, on route to Brasil where he begins an official visit tomorrow.

“The role of family farmers in feeding the world is undeniable,” said Nwanze. “In Brazil, they produce up to 70 per cent of the country’s staple food. The world has a lot to learn from how Brazil has supported family farmers, giving them the tools they need to succeed.”

While in Brazil, Nwanze will visit two IFAD-funded cooperatives in the State of Bahia (COOPERCUC in Uauá and COOPROAF in Manoel Vitorino) and meet with the Governor of Bahia, Rui Costa.

"For more than 30 years, IFAD has partnered with Brazil to reduce poverty, transform rural areas and sustainably increase the productivity of poor rural people, whilst still protecting the environment. We have worked together to ensure that the technological innovations developed in the country are shared across the continent and beyond. It's an exemplary partnership because we share common goals," said Nwanze.

With a total investment of over US$450 million, IFAD-supported operations in Brazil are the agency’s largest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Two thirds of this amount, approximately $300 million, is made up of contributions from Brazilian authorities and beneficiaries. Six on-going IFAD-funded projects currently being implemented in Brazil are directly benefiting more than 250,000 families in the north-eastern semiarid region of the country.

One of the main features of IFAD-supported projects in Brazil has been their quest for technical innovations and agriculture practices that allow family farmers to face challenges posed by north-eastern Brazil’s harsh environment. Examples include: organic and agro-ecologic production methods; water collection and conservation technologies; and methodologies of participatory planning to take advantage of innovations and traditional knowledge.

Two new projects under design are to expand IFAD-funded operations from the semi-arid sertão where IFAD has operated for the last 35 years to Maranhão’s Amazonian transition area and Pernambuco’s coastal rainforest known as mata atlantica and pre-sertão area known as agreste.

Both projects should be operational by the end of 2018, bringing the total amount of IFAD-supported investment in the country to over $550 million, with more than 300,000 families (around 1 million people) benefitting.

Beyond this, IFAD is supporting a number of programmes to promote innovative agriculture technologies, practices and policies in favour of family farming in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

For example, FIDA-MERCOSUR, an IFAD-sponsored programme, encourages policymakers to share successful policies and practices in favour of family farming across the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Similarly, between 2011 and 2015, the Agricultural Innovation Market Place invited scientists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa to work together with EMBRAPA’s staff to adapt agricultural technological innovations developed in Brazil to their own countries and regions.

Over the next three years, a new IFAD-funded programme - Adapting Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture and Access to Markets - will allow the extension and adaptation of EMBRAPA-developed innovations to IFAD-funded projects across Latin America.

Last April, IFAD approved a new country strategy for Brazil. According to it, all IFAD-funded operations in Brazil will focus on supporting family farmers by increasing their productive capacities, facilitating their access to essential services (capacity building, investment planning, rural finance and technical support, with special attention to climate-smart technologies), strengthening their organizations and connecting them to markets.

The SEMEAR knowledge management programme, an IFAD partnership with the Inter-America Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), has worked since 2011 to share innovations beyond IFAD-funded projects, so that they benefit other family farmers and inform public policies.

IFAD-funded operations in Brazil work to ensure that marginalized groups, such as indigenous and quilombola (Afro-descendant) communities, agrarian reform settlers, women and youth benefit from project activities.

“Our new country strategy reaffirms our commitment to collaborate with Brazilian authorities in fighting poverty where it is most needed – the poor rural areas of north-eastern Brazil,” said Nwanze.

Press release No.: IFAD/45/2016

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

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Persian leopards set to make roaring comeback in Russia's Western Caucasus

_DSC0455Researchers released three Persian leopards into the Russian wilderness today (15th July, 2016) in the first-ever attempt to reintroduce the species into the wild. The animals are expected to become the founders of a new population of Persian leopards in Russia as part of an ambitious programme to bring the animal back to a region it once roamed in abundance.

The release of the leopards in the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve marks an important moment in the efforts by WWF-Russia and its partners to reintroduce the Persian leopard in the area. The species was once common across almost all mountain areas in the Caucasus region, but populations declined drastically in the 1950s due to human activities such as hunting. There are currently less than 1,000 Persian leopards left in the wild, with the majority being found in Iran.

Rebecca May, WWF-UK’s Asian big cats programme lead comments: “This is a historic moment for conservation and a huge step for our colleagues in Russia. This ambitious project has been in the making for many years but there’s still a long way to go before securing a viable population. These beautiful big cats were once abundant in this region and we’re now one step closer to seeing a bright future for these leopards. We hope to learn from this programme and help other threatened species, thrive once again.”

The three young leopards released – named Victoria, Akhun and Killi – were all born in a breeding centre in Sochi National Park that was built with the support of the Russian government for the reintroduction programme. Already, 14 leopard kittens have been born in the centre since its opening in 2009.

Under the programme, each of the leopards born in the centre undergoes special training for independent survival in the wild. Researchers are hoping to create a population of 50 adult Persian leopards in the region as part of a stable group that can reproduce on its own.

A series of special measures have been taken to prepare the nature reserve for the reintroduction of the leopards. Prey animals such as deer and wild boars have been steadily increased and local communities have been provided with guidelines to be observed in areas where leopards will live.

Steps have also been taken to strengthen protection in and around the territory but a new amendment that allows the construction of large-scale infrastructure in nature reserves threatens to weaken these measures. Plans to expand two Olympic ski resorts in the region could impact the survival of the newly-reintroduced Persian leopards and other species living in the area.

The Western Caucasus is not only critical habitat to the Persian leopard, it is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country. Russia must uphold the commitments it made during its 2014 Sochi Olympics bid and ensure that protections in the UNESCO World Heritage site are not weakened for businesses and recreational interests.

Following the release today, satellite collars on each of the leopards will provide information on their whereabouts as they adapt to life in the wild. Twenty-four camera traps have also been installed in the reserve along with a mobile response unit placed on stand-by to locate and reach an animal in distress.

The programme for the reintroduction of the Persian leopard in the Western Caucasus is implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation with the participation of the Sochi National Park, Caucasus (Kavkazsky) State Nature Biosphere Reserve, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Moscow Zoo and WWF-Russia, with support from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. for latest news and media resources.

Source: WWF Press Office

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