Monthly Archives: March 2013

Hours to ban bee killers!

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In just hours, the European Union will vote on whether to ban toxic pesticides that are killing bees around the world and threatening our food supply.

The big corporations profiting from the pesticides are lobbying furiously to defeat the ban and the campaign group Avaaz has just heard that key governments are about to cave in – unless they feel the sting of public opinion!

Avaaz says: “Bees are disappearing around the world at alarming rates. Because bees pollinate our crops, experts are warning that these mass deaths pose a catastrophic threat to our food supply.

“Thankfully, numerous studies have now identified the likely culprit: a certain class of noxious pesticides. An official EU report found that banning them could solve the problem, but pesticide giant Bayer is trying to convince our leaders to ignore the science to protect their profits.”

“Over 2.5 million of us have signed the petition that made this vote possible – and now it’s time to tell our politicians that they must side with science to save the bees this week. Let’s flood the inboxes of our EU Agriculture Ministers, drown out the corporate lobby, and make sure our governments saves the bees and our food. Over 300,00 people have so far!”

Visit the Avaaz website to send a message to the EU Ministers of Agriculture, and urge them to support this crucial proposal.

Enough Food for Everyone IF

The world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food. Here’s a great new campaign worth supporting.

Plastic waste linked with UK shops kills whale

National Geographic

Pic: National Geographic

There was some sad news today when it was reported that a dead sperm whale washed up on the southern Spanish coast had swallowed 17kg of plastic waste dumped into the sea by farmers tending greenhouses that produce vegetables for British supermarkets.

The 4.5 tonne whale had swallowed 59 different bits of plastic – most of it thick transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in southern Almeria and Granada, reported The Guardian. The plastic had eventually blocked the animal’s stomach and killed it, according to researchers from Doñana national park research centre in Andalusia.

In all the whale’s stomach contained two dozen pieces of transparent plastic, some plastic bags, nine metres of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots and a plastic spray canister. All were typical of the Almeria greenhouses where plants are grown in beds of perlite stones and drip-fed chemical fertilisers.  Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are all valued customers.

Environmentalists complain that local riverbeds are often awash with plastic detritus and  some ends up in the sea. “The problem of degraded plastics that are no longer recyclable still remains,” said Renaud de Stephanis, lead researcher at Doñana. “These animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place.”

The news came just two days after British actor Jeremy Irons told a conference that people must overhaul their habits of “unadulterated consumerism” if the EU is to curb its huge waste problem.

The European Commission hosted the conference in Brussels  to announce the publication  of the EU’s green paper on plastic waste. It aims to launch discussions about how to make plastic products more sustainable throughout their life cycle and reduce the impact of plastic discards on the environment.

“We have time for things we think are important,” said Irons. “If people were made aware of the follow on [of waste disposal]… Unadulterated consumerism will not work. Now it is really time to think. The old model, especially in this part of the world, hasn’t worked well.”

Not your everyday station buskers..

Alex Moorehead's Photography Blog

March 1st 2013 marked the beginning of the 3 week ‘tiger tracks’ programme at St Pancras International station in London. The idea of the event being to help raise awareness of tigers in the wild and steps that everyone can take to help keep them from future extinction.
To kick the event off on the stage in the Grand Terrace, we’re none other than Legendary guitarist and song writer Brian May and West End star Kerry Ellis. It started at 6pm and was a free 30 minute piece for anyone in the station to see.
I managed to catch the end of a quick rehearsal about an hour before, so stayed around for 6pm too. Below are some of the images I took at the event.

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Welsh charity hits £2m rainforest target

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Welsh campaigners have protected an area of rainforest the size of Wales (that’s 2 million hectares), after they hit their £2m target yesterday, St David’s Day.

The Size of Wales charity was launched in 2010 to bring everyone in Wales together as part of a national response to climate change, and the conservation projects that will benefit include:

  • An RSPB project in Sierra Leone’s Gola rainforest.
  • A project to help the Ashaninka people to preserve forest in Peru.
  • A new legally protected area in Madagascar. Funds here will pay for a sustainable forestry management, educating people to understand the risks of overexploitation, and strengthening land rights.

The charity will now focus on encouraging other countries to set up similar initiatives.  The Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, said: “I am very proud of Wales. We are the first country in the world to help to protect an area of tropical forests equivalent to its own size and I am calling on other countries to follow our lead – for the benefit of our climate, our forests and the wildlife and people that depend upon them.”

Denmark is considering launching a tropical forest initiative equivalent to its size (4 million hectares) and Ireland has launched the Size of Phoenix Park project as a first step in improving tropical forest protection.

Where to watch red squirrels in the UK

Tammy Tour Guide

The red squirrel is one of Britain’s iconic species. With its rusty-orange coat, tufted ears and bushy red tail this cute creature is everyone’s favourite small mammal.

But it’s also one of the most elusive of our wildlife species not least because it is now confined largely to northern England, Scotland and parts of Wales.

Sadly this beautiful creature is now absent in most of southern England except for a small colony on the Isle of Wight and two small islands in Poole Harbour.

So imagine my joy last week when we saw not one but three very active red squirrels on a trip to Grasmere in the English Lake District.

They were a few feet away from the camper van, running up and down trees, chasing each other and feeding on a large cache of nuts!

I’m lucky enough to live in northern England so I’ve seen red squirrels before…

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Arctic drilling plans put on ice

Pic by Greenpeace

Pic by Greenpeace

An unexpected thing happened on Wednesday. Shell cancelled its plans to drill this summer in the Alaskan Arctic this year after a series of costly accidents.

“Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people,” said Marvin E. Odum of Shell.

President Obama ordered a federal inquiry into Shell’s Arctic drilling programme after the oil company suffered numerous setbacks last year in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, including running its drilling rig aground on Sitkalidak Island, and the US Coast Guard has listed 16 safety violations on the rig.

“This is the first thing Shell’s done right in Alaska — calling it quits,” said Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. “Now the responsible decision is to make Arctic drilling off limits, forever.”