Archive for the 'Serious Monday' Category

SERIOUS MONDAY: NEW GREEN CODE FOR DATE CENTRES

 

datacentre

As more and more people begin to use computers and the internet, the amount of energy needed to power them all is growing on a daily basis.

So it’s good to hear that the UK government is supporting a new European code of conduct for Data Centres.

Many organisations now have data centres – rooms or building where their computer servers are based – and they are used for everything from websites to financial transactions or online gaming. 

Currently, data centres account for almost three per cent of total electricity used in the UK – and this figure is expected to double within the next few years.

Ministers are urging data centre operators to adopt the code and Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, says: “If we are to tackle dangerous climate change, we need to reduce emissions and the decision businesses make plays a key role in meeting this challenge. 

By signing up to the code, companies can save energy and save money too, which goes to show that what’s good for the environment is good for business.”

The code was developed in collaboration with industry bodies including the British Computer Society (BCS). 

Those signing up to it will have to implement best practice for energy efficiency, put minimum purchasing standards into place and report their energy use each year.  It is likely to lead to actions like the decommissioning of older servers, reducing air conditioning and maximising server use by running  multiple applications.

It is hoped the code will help to save almost five million tonnes of C02 over the next six years –  equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road.

Already, a number of major organisations have hinted that they plan to adopt the code – including BT, Microsoft and Quest Software.

More information on the new code is available from Defra here.

Susan
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SERIOUS MONDAY: REMEMBER THE PLANET THIS CHRISTMAS

 

earth

Christmas is coming – and although most of us love the festive season,  it’s traditionally bad news for the planet.

December brings with it increased product buying, more packaging, more commercial transport – and vast amounts of rubbish afterwards.

It is estimated that wrapping paper alone used in the UK at Christmas, would cover the whole of Guernsey – and gifts aside, we will use around 750 million EXTRA bottles or glass containers and 500 million more drinks cans.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be bringing you some suggestions for a Greener Christmas and tips on reducing the amount of festive waste.

In the meantime, you could consider

Sending  an e-card rather than a traditional Christmas card to internet-savvy friends

Buying as local as possible – often a small games shop in town will cost little more than a chainstore outlet – and you’ll be supporting your local economy

Buying real charity Christmas cards – rather than those sold by many retailers which sometimes offer only a tiny donation to charity. Get them direct from Oxfam or your favourite charity instead

Planning your Christmas menu in advance so that you don’t buy much more food than you really need

Taking reusable bags on your shopping trips. (If you forget, it doesn’t mean to have to accept a bag in every store. Smaller items will often fit into a bag that you’re already carrying

Checking the energy rating on any large appliances or electrical items that you intend to buy

You could also try to buy children’s toys that don’t need up to six batteries at a time. I’ve already bought traditional tiddly-winks for my little one. I used to be quite an expert so we’ll see if I’ve still got the knack 

And if you work with more than a couple of people, suggest a Secret Santa this year where you put names in a hat and buy a gift for just the person whose name you pull out.  It not only saves unnecessary (and often unwanted) gifts but cuts down on your shopping – and saves everyone money!

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: WIND FARMS UNDER THREAT

 

windturbines

Plans for new wind farms to help the UK to meet its renewable energy targets are under threat because of the credit crunch.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, said it is now looking again at proposals for three new farms which it had planned in addition to those off the east coast of England which are due to be in full production by the end of this year.

At the moment, a wind farm can cost up to £3 billion per gigawatt of capacity to build – compared with a gas-fired power station at only £600 million and the cost of a wind farm is even more per gigawatt than a nuclear plant.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: GREENPEACE SAYS GIVE COAL THE BOOT

 

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NASA environmental expert, James Hansen, has warned that we must phase out coal within the next 20 years – or the climate might never recover.

His comments provide extra ammunition – if any is needed – for the current Greenpeace campaign to prevent the building of more coal-fired power stations in Britain.

Greenpeace is asking the public to get behind its protest by signing up to its Give Coal the Boot campaign.

You can add your signature – or rather your footprint – to its map of the UK here and leave your own personal message.

There’s also an animated Greenpeace video, CoalFinger, which spells out the dangers of our continued use of coal. You can view it at www.coalfinger.com

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: AMERICA’S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT PROMISES A GREEN FUTURE

 

barack-obama-5-14-08

There’s probably little left to be said about the historic American presidential election – after all, it has dominated the news over the past few days.

However, environmentalists all over the world are waiting with bated breath to see if Barack Obama comes through on his green promises.

Obama claims to be committed to fighting climate change – and if this turns out to be the case then the USA could make a MASSIVE difference to the planetary effort.

There’s certainly reason for excitement – if he stands by his word, Obama could make the UK’s contribution to the fight against global warming look like peanuts.

At the moment, our annual emissions stand at an estimated 500 million tonnes of CO2 – while the USA is currently held responsible for over 5,000 million – almost a quarter of all global emissions!

(Taken as a whole,  the countries of the EU account for 3171 million metric tons of C02 per year –  still almost 2000 million less than America.)

And it is looking hopeful at this stage.  An organisation called Environmentalists for Obama claims that his dedication to the environment has already been well-established during his time as a senator. 

And while the Republicans were talking of offshore drilling and nuclear power as the answer to energy independence, Obama was instead talking of plans to encourage energy efficiency and support for renewal energy.

Experts say that climate change did not play a big part in voting – except amongst the youngest voters – but the Worldwatch Institute says Americans did broadly support candidates who were advocating greater action on climate change.

And US environmental group, LCV, says with Obama at the helm, it is hoping for “significant global warming and clean energy legislation in the next year.” 

Meanwhile, the Worldwatch Institute believes that with a Democrat in the White House, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, energy-efficient building codes and an extension of renewable energy tax credits are all on the cards. 

Already, the election result has affected the alternative energy market with stock market increases in share prices for a number of “green” corporations such as the Renewable Energy Corporation.   

And on his campaign website, Obama has already promised to:

Create five million new jobs by investing $15 billion per year over the next decade “to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future”

To save more oil in the next 10 years than the USA currently imports from the Middle East and Venezuela 

Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars on the road by 2015

Ensure that 10 percent of America’s  electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 (only four years away!) 

And, wait for it – reduce the USA’s greenhouse gas emissions by an incredible 80 per cent by 2050 – although of course he won’t be in office to take responsibility if that doesn’t happen 

In fact, he has promised to  “make the US a leader on climate change” … so, watch this space as they say.

You can listen to his Blueprint for Energy Change here:

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: UK’S ANCIENT WOODLANDS UNDER THREAT

 

As regular readers will know, I’m a tree person 🙂

And although I must admit that I rarely hug them, a forest walk is a great delight.  I’m lucky to live in an area with lots of trees – and they provide an ever-changing picture from virtually every window in our house.

(Sadly of course that does mean non-stop collection of fallen leaves at this time of year but I’m bagging them this time and saving them to use in the garden).

Trees play a huge part in the life of our planet  – from offsetting carbon emissions and helping in the fight against climate change, to providing shelter for birds and animals and producing fruit, medicines and food.

And in the words of Archie Miles (author of The Trees that Made Britain), trees provided the foundation of our nation’s heritage.

So I was really concerned to read the results of a survey carried out by the Woodland Trust which shows that over the past decade, we’ve lost 100 square miles of ancient woodland in the UK.

That’s the equivalent of an area around the size of Birmingham – and represents 5 per cent of the remaining ancient woodland we have left.

Following 12 months of research, the trust has discovered that half of the ancient woodland we had in the 1930s has already been destroyed or degraded. HALF of our traditional woodlands – gone!

Ed Pomfret from the Woodland Trust says the UK’s ancient woodland is our equivalent of the rainforest – and irreplaceable. 

Some woodlands have been around since the Ice Age and woolands are the most valuable space for wildlife – and home to more threatened species than any other habitat.

And although in theory, ancient woodlands are protected, there are loopholdes in the system that allow them to be destroyed if a developer can prove “economic need.”  That would never happen with a building of architectural importance – and preserving our trees is just as important. (Many woodlands were around long before any of the buildings that we now describe as ancient.)

The trust’s research shows that the biggest threat is from new roads, followed by utilities and power lines but airport expansion and leisure facilities also pose a threat.

And it says we need to protect our woodlands from further damage because we can’t rely on official bodies to do it for us. So it has set up a campaign called WoodWatch which uses the eyes and ears of the public to stop the destruction.

WoodWatch provides people with information and resources to help save threatened woodland in their area. You can find out more here. You can also locate and update the trust on threats to trees through its interactive map and you can find out about wood under treat NOW in your area by following this link. 

At the moment, the Woodland Trust is involved in over 400 cases of trees under threat in Britain.

Do what you can – trees are SO important 🙂

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: THE GOOD, THE BAD – AND THE PLAIN UGLY

 

We’re following an age-old tradition today by giving you first the good news….

Scientists believe that tropical cyclones and coastal erosion may be a small help in the fight against global warming because they wash vegetation and soil containing greenhouse gases into the sea.

Research in Taiwan has revealed that floods caused by a typhoon four years ago swept a small amount of carbon from leaves, roots and soil into the Pacific Ocean where it sank to the seabed.

However, experts say the amount of carbon being “dumped” by these natural events is (if you’ll pardon the pun) just a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of carbon that mankind is creating through the burning of fossil fuels.

And now the REALLY bad news …. 

The “hole” in the Ozone Layer is bigger this year than it was in 2007, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Latest figures show the size of the thinned ozone layer over the South Pole is now around 27 million sq kms – a size almost equal to that of the North American continent.

Image description: darker areas show the ozone “hole” which is actually a “thinning” of the Ozone Layer rather than an actual hole.

And scientists now believe that global warming will affect the rate at which the Ozone Layer recovers because hotter temperatures on earth mean lower temperatures in the stratosphere (higher atmosphere) and this will speed up ozone depletion.  

There are also other factors that could prevent the Ozone Layer from repairing itself by around 2070 as had been originally estimated – including proposals for a new type of supersonic transport.

Back in the 1980s an international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol was signed to outlaw certain man-made chemicals (often used in aerosols) which were damaging the Ozone Layer.

It has been extremely successful but many experts say that when scientists gave their prediction of the year 2070 for repair of the “hole” in the Ozone Layer, they didn’t take account of future actions by mankind that could jeopardise this.

If you’d like to find out more about what causes “holes” in the Ozone Layer, check out this video from NASA

Susan