Tag Archives: environmental

The issue with going green

16 May

So you are going green, fantastic?

You feel like the sky-rocketing trend of rising temperatures, melting ice caps and C0² levels isn’t just a coincidence at that you, your community, your government and the world should move towards a sustainable future ASAP.

Therefore you decide to cut down your meat intake, dust off your bike and search for gadgets that reduce your dependency on mains electricity and use the free power of the sun and wind.

So it is only right if you turn round to your housemate and state – ‘look I should not pay an equal amount on the electricity bill as I use a lot less mains electricity energy then you do!’

Now this can seem a little bit pragmatic; but as solar power gets more powerful and smaller (just like those things called computers)

Folks will start to power their mobiles, laptops and heat produce appliances like kettles or hair straightness.

But they will still be those stuck in dark ages, which use things like plugs and have stuff on stand-by, who will complain about ‘You live here, so you should pay equally amount!’

Solution: Buying an energy monitor, which you would then look at constantly- seeing the peaks and troughs of kWh’s and calling it precious and thus becoming a Gollum of the energy world.

 Turn off that lightses!!!

 You would then produce graphs explaining to said housemate, the difference in electricity energy use and within a short time either

  • Converting them to a carbon Gollum or
  • Having them move out.

 It is a fine line between being uber carbon efficient or a (swear word)

There are more subtle ways to introduce housemates to carbon efficiency – showing how much money is saved, reeling of stats on how evil the stand-by button is and getting them to understand that many of their bad carbon habitats are more useless then actually saving power/ using your own body.

Example: I had a housemate who always switched the hall light on. No reason for it, the street light outside lit up the hall enough to read a novel; so why switched on the light just to see 0.001% better?

My cheeky solution was to take the bulb out. So he just thought it was broke and thus stopped switching the switch.  – Result!

Have any of you had similar issues? Have you resolved them?

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My Climate Squad action

16 May

For COP16, whilst working for the youth intiative Climate Squad. We decided to each do a 24hour carbon cutting challenge, here is the details on mine.
*

My punishment, sorry my ‘challenge’ was to give up gadgets for the day.

If you were to tell my 16 year old self to do this – it would be near impossible. Back in those days I had TV, Playstation 2, mobile phone, laptop and Hi-Fi on 24-7

Nowadays, I have calmed down. Technology allows me to only need a mobile and laptop to catch up on TV, find interesting internet links and stay connected with friends.

I also find myself having little space or with the opportunity to own a TV and game console and being the environmental-nerd I am, I’m used to switching off appliances when not in use.

So this was more of a battle of wills – going back to the 1990’s when being connected with the world 24-7 was still a dream or part of a movie plot line. 

I was to keep off Facebook, Twitter and my mobile.

Total disconnection.  

Within minutes of waking up, I wanted to tweet- ‘flippin’ hell, I am late for work due to having to switch my phone of as a challenge’  – there was an obvious problem in doing this.

I wanted to text mates about the nights plan – Instead I had to really on the small belief chat we had two days before and that they would be still turn up at said place at said time.

I wanted to Facebook state “I may OD on mince pies this Christmas!!!’

 

However come Saturday morning I moved back into my old ways – checking the back catalogue of updates in case they was anything interesting (there wasn’t) and texting my mate to find out if he did that thing, with that thing that stood by the door of that 8th pub we went into. 

But did I save carbon? Well…

Facebook:

Just check out this watch?v=QPty-ZLbJt0

Twitter:

A twitter employer (probably the best job ever) has worked out each tweet you send equals 0.02grams of C0². Thus using some quick maths: I spend 58kg of carbon per year tweeting!) 

Mobile phones:

Roughly 47kg of carbon per year – roughly as it does depend on its manufacture, transport, how often you use it, how long you keep it, how you use it (texting, calling, internet) and what network you use.

 *  

To me, the challenge and writing this blog has been one of those cases in which you realise everything you do affects the world around you and creates carbon.

So maybe it is worthwhile ever-so-often, to switch off and notice the world around you, just to rein back those social media carbon emissions and notice clouds floating by.

After-all humanity has been around a lot longer then @Stephenfry twitter account.

Pens Vs Pencils

16 May

VS

 

 

Both writing implements have been going strong since Ancient Egyptian times – both have undertaking different forms since and both have been more popular within certain areas depending on resources.

Firstly the typical pencils of today, were first created in the 17th century via heating up ground up graphite & clay into a thin strip to place within a wood casing (before this pencils were raw stripes of graphite)

Nowadays annually -14 billion are produced, with over half of these coming from China.

If every bit of an average tree is used – 172,000 pencils could be made. But we know this isn’t the case, whole forests must have been wiped out for the next budding Picasso or school art project.

Whilst the typical pen (not one of these fancy uber expensive ones) – needed to wait until plastic was commercial available to be made into casing. The ink itself, can be a complex medium, composed of solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants, solubilises, surfactants, particulate matter, fluoresces, and other materials.

which all leads to environmental issues concerning volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and non-renewable oil. use Not forgetting annually around 1600000000 pens per year are chucked out just in the USA

So the WINNER must be pencils, even if they all come from China.  The wood can be sustainably managed, or you can have one of those funky pencils made out of plastic cups.

However you will be buggered if you have no nearby sharpener.

It is a moral but POINTLESS victory.

Green Jobs

16 May

I am one of those people that aims for a green job; a career that in whatever small way leads to being a savour of the world.

Reasons for this:-

  • Climate change is happening, within the 24 years of life – I am able to give hundreds of examples of it destroying environments and peoples lives.
  • I love the idea of working within a communication sector that is not all about profit, but aims to create great change individually, within a community, a nation, a continent, a whole planet!
  • I have grown up with superhero’s on the brain and without coming into contact with radioactive material or wearing my pants on the outside, this is the nearest I get to saving the world

They is a slight issue with this career goal however.

The United Nations Environment Programme define Green Jobs as

Work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.*

which covers quite a lot of different varied jobs – so how come – there are so few about?

OK that’s a little white lie. Day-by-day in my search for the perfect full time job, they has been a general small increase in opportunities and roles that involve some sort of sustainable, environmental aspect.

Its just none seem applicable for graduates.
you need ‘at least 2-3 years experience’ a ‘blah blah blah qualification’ and a ‘high level of something you never were taught at university’ 

Therefore the only way to get a job is to work hard get those years of experience behind you so that one day you will get that fantastic job and you will in turn push aside those recent and growing number of graduates aiming for a green job.

Will this continue?

Will the unbelievable happen and an army of green jobs appear that have been promised for the last couple of years by the government and others?

This of course, does not include clothes on the floor

Will companies, organisations, groups charities etc realise that whilst these recent graduates do not have 2-3 years of labour behind them –  they are keen, they want to save the planet and they can actually pick things up quite quickly.

Maybe..We the graduates have to be the ones to push this to happen.
If we can complain to friends and family about the job situation, why can’t we push this to those who could make the change.

After all we are now voters, We will be joined by 4/5 years of new voters. What can stop us?**

*http://www.unep.org/PDF/UNEPGreenjobs_report08.pdf 

**The only answer I am accepting is global destruction.

Boris bikes

16 May
 

 
The Barclays Cycle Hire, or as everyone else is calling it Boris’s Bike’s (Fitting into the view of him being a megalomaniac, who owns every single one of them, and will one day use them as some sort of tool to gain greater power – cue evil bumbling laugh) have rolled out across London.

By 2015 this splendour of sustainable travel will consist of :-

■5000 Bikes

■350 Docking Stations

■12 Cycle Superhighways
(The nearest to Richmond will be running through Honslow)

Spread all over greater London and with more then 1200 people signed up, no one can knock it for being a bad idea ‘sustainable, low carbon travel’ is a big thing these days.

Be wary though, as soon as one person goes under a bus on one of these bikes; the tabloids will change their tune and call for the scheme to be scrapped and Boris to be hung from the Tower of London.

So what other challenges do TFL, Boris and Barclays face in the future

Well all the people that want to cycle in London; most likely already own a bike

The price for some seems more pricy then the bus or tube :-

Free first 30mins, though this does not include the fact that you have to pay a £1 access fee, or get a membership key for £3. An hours use is £1, rising to £15 for four hours. If for what ever reason your are unable to return the bike after 24 hours its a £150 fine.
This is standard though – the Paris Vélib’ is exactly the same and has grown into the worlds largest cycle hire scheme.

That someone has already figured out how, to make a fake membership key and thus steal a bike (Vélib’ since starting in 2007, has had over 3000 bikes stolen)

THEN they is ridiculous issue that whilst Boris plans to reduce carbon emissions and look sustainable using the scheme – He is actually cutting out a proportion of the Congestion Charge area, allowing roughly 30,000 cars back into central London – and thus increasing its air pollution, already stated as the worst in Europe..

But how about positives

Paris’s scheme has grown over the years due to better cycle routes, tourists seeing it as viable option to getting on one of those buses and transport strikes. (London is quite good at this) It will also benefit to the health of Londoners, who may end up dusting of their own bikes after riding one and help cut down on personal carbon emissions. We could even get to see drunk people falling off bikes more often, Fantastic!

I’m also sure, it isn’t long until other cycle schemes appear in UK major cities, as if the bicycle is a brand new invention that everyone must own, just like those fruit based technology pad things.

So watch out for those cyclist coming soon

Green Parks

16 May

reporters field

As you may of heard recently Richmond Borough achieved 9 Green Flag Awards for 9 of our fantastic parks.

Our reporter in the field – Went out to investigate

To achieve a Green Flag Award, the park must comply with 8 key features.

  • Be a welcoming place
  • Healthy, safety and secure
  • Clean and well maintained
  • Sustainable
  • Conservation & heritage
  • Community involvement
  • Marketing
  • Management

Well as I travelled the stretch of the borough from East Sheen to Hampton, peeking a look at the parks or sitting on the grassy verges to rest my weary feet – you could tell how these parks stood out.
For one they had people in them, doing a range of activities and on another point,  the parks did not just feel like an open space – playgrounds, kiosks, tennis courts, cricket pitches skate parks, flower beds, scenery and wildlife make them feel homely and fit the bill for Cliff’s song ‘English Country Garden’

  • Twickenham Green, Twickenham. Or as I like to call it Twickenham Cricket Stadium
  • Hatherop Park, Hampton. A little gem, tucked into the corner of the Borough
  • Palewell Common and Field, East Sheen. A mini Richmond Park, shhh don’t tell the tourists
  • York House Gardens, Twickenham. Fact. this location stars in the Michael Caine movie ‘Alfie’
  • Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens, Richmond. You must have legs of steal, to climb the hill here

    You must climb the hill here

  • The Kings Field, Hampton Wick. Huge field + skate park = the place where all the cool sporty youngsters go
  • Richmond Green, Richmond. Sometimes its quicker to take a detour via the green, then to walk the narrow High street
  • Kneller Gardens, Twickenham. Just built a new play park and kiosk + it has an added bonus of being next to the River Crane
  • Radnor Gardens, Twickenham. It may flood once in a while, but you have to give it credit for its River Thames views

In addition, If you live near to these parks and would like to becoming involved, many have their own group which REN aids and supports. http://www.richenvironmentnet.org.uk/Groups-database.aspx

As its the Summer and you are stuck with the kids for several weeks – then take this opportunity to search these parks, greens, gardens and fields out. – happy wandering.

 

A new weapon against lazy people

15 May

The other week, this article appeared within the London Metro

World’s oldest woman Antisa Khvichava turns 130:
Antisa Khvichava, a woman from a remote village in west Georgia, has turned 130, making her the oldest person in the world by 16 years, officials claimed.

Yes, this claim is suspect. Being born in 1880, losing her birth certificate and having a child at 60, who is now himself 70.

But what about the official oldest people in the world – Eugénie Blanchard (1896-) Walter Breuning (1896-) and the UK record holders Eunice Bowman (1898-) and Claude Choules(1901-)

What is the one thing they all have in common apart from being old, grey and wrinkly?

Whenever a journalist comes knocking on their door asking ‘why they have lived so long’ secretly hoping that they will state ‘oh, I’ve got the fountain of youth in my back garden’
The boring answer they actually receive is ‘I keep myself busy and working.’

Now, I have lived through the lazy teenage years, eating sweets and playing the latest GTA consistently. However I now find myself being uber busy, undertaking more opportunities and roles then physically possible, whilst also being addicted to twitter and chocolate digestives. With the added bonus of believing I’m fitter and healthy then ever!

So when my friends say ‘I cannot be bothered to recycle because it takes too much energy’ or ‘doing community work is pointless as I know one day I will move somewhere else’

Due to the presented evidence I can say something along the lines of –
If you recycle, if you do community work, if you do all the environmental and sustainable stuff that is, as evidence suggests good for the planet – you will keep yourself consistently busy and working hard just like Antisa Khvichava the oldest woman in the world has been doing for the last 130 years!

What is more persuasive then that? Living forever and annoying your great-great-great-great-great grandchildren. Due to helping save the planet,

So yes, this blog has just confirmed and given you further artillery in turning people and friends green.
Use it well.

Environmental music

15 May

A Few day ago I blogged about films with an environmental meaning. So it makes perfect sense to delve into the world of music.

the small choice here concerns songs that I like and are

A) Not done by hippies, who get over a clear message – but have this hidden sense of being on drugs and believe love to be the only answer (I’m afraid this includes John Lennon – sorry)

B) Not part of the world music genre. Its all good having some Peruvian music with in a film, TV etc when you are showing how a family or community cope in Peru. But not many of us would gladly listen to it unless we were hippies.

Manic Street Preachers – ‘If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next’
So its really about the Spanish Civil War, being a quote upon a poster to recruit idealistic volunteers.

Isn’t that what most of us climate orientated youth are? Plus we are thinking of our future and the future our kids live in – therefore it fits perfectly.

Jamiroquai – ‘When You Gonna Learn?’

Within Jamiroquai’s Greatest hits CD pamphlet it stated that they were ahead of their time singing about fish stocks and its true – I don’t even think you can get away with it in 2010

Joni Mitchell – ‘Big Yellow Taxi’

Parking lots, tree museum, the use of synthetic pesticide. She covers it all and makes you realise you don’t know what your got until its gone.

Marvin Gaye – ‘Mercy Mercy Me’

If you don’t actual listen to the lyrics, you might think he is trying to swoon you into bed – that might be possible, but what he is really is stating is that we F*** the world.

Jack Johnson – ‘The 3 R’s’

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. made for the film Curious George. but it is very simple and very catchy.

The Kinks – ‘Apeman’

To me this song is about one of those posh people who believe they save the world just by being a vegetarian. But one day it hits them, that they are just the same as everyone else and should really do more about it – stand up and fight.

Bad Religion – ‘Kyoto Now’

A song that should get credit as its all about the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 & a USA ‘Kyoto Now’ student led movement to cut down CO2

Pixies – ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’

This particular monkey is ‘killed by ten million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey’ simple connection really

Michael Jackson – ‘Earth Song’

WOW its the King of Pop saving the children of the world by written a song that sold millions of copies worldwide and had a video costing $3.5 million.
Being the King he could of made a video from REAL LIFE torment and destruction, instead of having pre-planned trees falling down on cue. Then gave the money to charities.

Though I guess that wouldn’t look as cool.

You can find all these songs on YouTube, Last Fm, MySpace, Spotify

 

Bonn climate change intersessional Pt3

15 May

The best way to understand what actions the youth took at Bonn, to change negotiators opinions and their actions within the many meetings their attend.

Is to let you click on these two videos made by Danny Hutley, a Southampton Uni student.

 

not bad for us youth.
and has lead to us making a difference, connecting to those in suits.

You can tell, the time was taking to learn about what was being talked about; so that the actions we took were accurate and made the negotiators think.

You can also tell that the youth from around the world were truly united in what they were doing and what they believed in.

you may also be wearing a smile on your face because of the shear
AWESOME-NESS of it!!!

 

Bonn climate change intersessional Pt 2

15 May

The youth within the Bonn climate change talks going on this week, are from a mixture of nations, UK, Nepal, Australia, German, French, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Denmark and others.
Many of them have also gone there out of choice and not getting paid for their efforts. (Including moi)

Thus if you were going to split this motley crew of climate campaigners into certain categories, you could go for the groups of –

Unaccredited: These youth turned up for the excitement, because they knew it was important and to check out the stuff going on in Bonn (talks, climate camp) which they could gain entry for.

Accredited: many of those from the UK were accredited via http://www.350.org, meaning they could enter certain UN talks and gain experience on what it was all about. Here’s a blog all about it – UK youth at UNFCCC

Young Friends of the Earth: Two people gained accreditation via the organisation that had 25 placements in all. Two out of 25, does not sound like much, but be assured that they were loud and passionate enough to kick up a good UN fuss.

UNFairplay: A group of youth were there to support smaller nations, who could not afford or have several negotiators at Bonn, giving them a bigger voice amongst those who actually are causing the most carbon emissions.

Adopt a negotiator: This scheme started of in Copenhagen, but gathered speed and lead to being part of YOUNGO– a youth movement that gained constituency status within these UNFCCC meetings. That we all then fell into.

But no matter if their gained entry to the conference or got paid for their efforts. What brought them all together was the aspect of action and making the negotiators discuss and act in making the low-carbon future we all would want and are aiming for.

All of these young people (or shall I say YOUNGO) met up daily to discuss what is going on and what actions can we take.
We talked to negotiators from around the world and mingled with those from Non-Government Organisations. We even had an international youth meeting to discuss goings-on globally, COP16 in Mexico and what we could do together as a collective.
But did we actually make any sodden difference whilst at Bonn? did the actions we take lead to anything?