Around The Web

Britain's problem with pets: they're bad for the planet

The Guardian - Fri, 2009-11-13 10:05
The authors of a provocative new book have bad news for animal-lovers: pets are bad for the planet. They consume vast amounts of precious resources, produce mountains of noxious waste – and they can be a disaster for wildlife

Henrietta Morrison confidently plunges her spoon into a tin of slow-cooked lamb hotpot and lifts out a mouthful for inspection. She passes her nostrils over the meat chunks and accompanying sauce, smiles, then places the whole lot into her mouth. "Delicious," she remarks, as a small crowd of onlookers gathers round to watch the spectacle.

Someone eating their lunch doesn't usually elicit such attention, but, then again, most people aren't prepared to tuck into a tin of dog food for sustenance. Morrison has a point to prove, though: she is at Europe's largest pet trade show, PetIndex, at the Birmingham NEC, and her company, Lily's Kitchen, sells the most expensive pet food on the market. Her dog food, for example, retails in places such as Harrods for more than £2 a tin, with the promise that the contents are "proper food".

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

The cashless man responds to your comments | Mark Boyle

The Guardian - Mon, 2009-11-02 21:54
From criticisms of hypocrisy to marriage proposals, Mark Boyle's blog on living without money attracted mixed comments

When I wrote a blog last week about living without money, I thought it would be just that: a little blog. But it seems the money issue is much more taboo than I thought. The reaction was huge and mostly positive, but there was also a fair amount of inevitable criticism too. So I thought it could be helpful to respond, not in defence, but just to clarify.

Take this comment:

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Greenwash: Dong Energy - 'clean' Denmark's dirty secret | Fred Pearce

The Guardian - Thu, 2009-09-17 21:55
State-owned Dong Energy trades on its green image at home while outsourcing the dirty end of its energy portfolio with coal-fired power stations elsewhere in Europe

The Danes like to think of themselves as green. Denmark is home to the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas. And today, the giant state-owned energy company, Dong Energy, opens the world's largest windfarm.

But the Danes have a dirty secret. For Dong Energy, while greening its image at home, is busy building coal-fired power stations elsewhere in Europe. First in Germany, and now in Scotland.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Toxin-free, easy to use and eco-friendly: What's not to like about the Mooncup? | Jill Tunstall

The Guardian - Mon, 2009-08-17 22:28
Some undignified suction noises are a small price to pay. But I won't be emptying the blood on to my compost heap

Every year, in Britain alone, a staggering 1bn tampons and sanitary towels are used and disposed of – many ending up in the sewerage system.

If that figure gives you a PMT-type headache consider this: the average woman – if such a woman exists – uses 11,000 sanitary items during her lifetime, spending around £90 a year.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

What's the environmental impact of a sky lantern? | Leo Hickman

The Guardian - Sat, 2009-08-01 01:16
They may be beautiful as they drift off into the night, but the party could soon be over for sky lanterns

I am getting married next year and when going to buy so-called 100% biodegradable "sky lanterns" I have been disgusted to find that they contain metal wires which obviously take years to degrade. Beautiful and fairly cheap they may be, but I for one will not allow even the possibility of harming animals to come from my wedding, and I strongly believe that others will feel the same – if they have the knowledge.

Saffron Light, by email

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

In pictures: Six of Britain's oldest trees

The Guardian - Wed, 2009-07-22 18:40
The yew that inspired Wordsworth, the Ankerwycke where the Magna Carta was signed, and the apple tree that helped Newton, these national treasures are still standing today, with as many stories as the rings in their trunks Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Is it greener to shop online?

The Guardian - Sun, 2009-07-19 09:01
Letting your mouse do the walking sounds eco-friendly, but there are hidden costs to e-retail, warns Lucy Siegle

Shopping has become a cloak-and-dagger affair. Conspicuous consumption does not look good during a recession, which explains why so many of us are embracing e-commerce. Online shopping on these shores is projected to grow from sales of £8.9bn to around £21.3bn by the end of 2011.

Often people proclaim they've embraced e-commerce because it's "green". This is understandable. If many shopping bags in a recession looks bad, bricks and mortar retail - huge out-of-town shopping centres, retail emporia that insist on leaving their doors open even in winter and grocery stores full of the most inefficient freezers - look terrible during an ecological emergency.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Swarms of carnivorous giant flying squid terrorise southern Californian coast

The Guardian - Sat, 2009-07-18 00:25
Divers spooked by tales of assaults as swarms of aggressive jumbo flying squid invade the shallows off San Diego

Jumbo flying squid have invaded the shallow waters off San Diego, California, spooking scuba divers and beachgoers after washing up dead on the beaches.

The carnivorous cephalopods, which weigh up to 45kg (100lb), came up from the depths last week, with swarms of them roughing up unsuspecting divers. Some reported tentacles enveloping their masks and yanking at their cameras and gear.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Snipers to protect Sydney's penguins from fox attacks

The Guardian - Tue, 2009-07-14 02:25
Night watch on endangered species in Australia after nine birds mauled to death

Fox attacks on endangered penguins have led Australia's wildlife authorities to post snipers at night to protect the birds.

A colony of about 120 little penguins (Eudyptula minor), also known as fairy penguins, at Quarantine beach in Sydney has recently lost about nine of its number to attacks. On Sunday night, the two snipers took their first watch but were unable to shoot the animals responsible.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Spectator recycles climate rubbish published by sceptic | George Monbiot

The Guardian - Thu, 2009-07-09 22:19
Ian Plimer's work of climate fiction is riddled with schoolboy errors the Spectator appears prepared to believe

Seldom has a book been more cleanly murdered by scientists than Ian Plimer's Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth, which purports to show that manmade climate change is nonsense. Since its publication in Australia it has been ridiculed for a hilarious series of schoolboy errors, and its fudging and manipulation of the data. Here is what the reviews have said.

Professor David Karoly, University of Melbourne's School of Earth Sciences:

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

What is the most efficient form of air-conditioning for the home? | Leo Hickman responds

The Guardian - Sat, 2009-06-20 02:27
Shutters, curtains and moving water are a few natural solutions, but there are green options if you can't live without air-conditioning

What is the most efficient form of air conditioning for the home?

T Briar, by email

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

New images show 50 years of climate change in the Himalayas

The Guardian - Fri, 2009-06-05 02:00
Series of before and after panoramas of Imja glacier taken five decades apart highlights dramatic reduction of Himalayan ice

When Fritz Müller and Erwin Schneider battled ice storms, altitude sickness and snow blindness in the 1950s to map, measure and photograph the Imja glacier in the Himalayas, they could never have foreseen that the gigantic tongue of millennia-old glacial ice would be reduced to a lake within 50 years.

But half a century later, American mountain geographer Alton Byers returned to the precise locations of the original pictures and replicated 40 panoramas taken by explorers Müller and Schneider. Placed together, the juxtaposed images are not only visually stunning but also of significant scientific value.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Carbon emissions fuelled by high rates of obesity

The Guardian - Mon, 2009-04-20 09:01

High rates of obesity in richer countries cause up to 1bn extra tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, compared with countries with leaner populations, according to a study that assesses the additional food and fuel requirements of the overweight. The finding is particularly worrying, scientists say, because obesity is on the rise in many rich nations.

"Population fatness has an environmental impact," said Phil Edwards, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "We're all being told to stay fit and keep our weight down because it's good for our health. The important thing is that staying slim is good for your health and for the health of the planet."

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

World will not meet 2C warming target, climate change experts agree

The Guardian - Tue, 2009-04-14 09:01
Guardian poll reveals almost nine out of 10 climate experts do not believe current political efforts will keep warming below 2C

Almost nine out of 10 climate scientists do not believe political efforts to restrict global warming to 2C will succeed, a Guardian poll reveals today. An average rise of 4-5C by the end of this century is more likely, they say, given soaring carbon emissions and political constraints.

Such a change would disrupt food and water supplies, exterminate thousands of species of plants and animals and trigger massive sea level rises that would swamp the homes of hundreds of millions of people.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Health risks of shipping pollution have been 'underestimated'

The Guardian - Fri, 2009-04-10 00:50
One giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars, study finds

Climate change threatens 50 years of progress in global health, study says

Britain and other European governments have been accused of underestimating the health risks from shipping pollution following research which shows that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars.

Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars. Low-grade ship bunker fuel (or fuel oil) has up to 2,000 times the sulphur content of diesel fuel used in US and European automobiles.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Philippine fishermen net and eat rare megamouth shark

The Guardian - Wed, 2009-04-08 00:26
One of the world's rarest sharks ends up in the pot after being accidentally caught in fishing nets in south-east Asia

Fishermen in the Philippines accidentally caught a megamouth shark, one of the rarest fish in the world and later ate it after it had been identified. Only 40 other sightings of the shark have ever been recorded, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The 500kg, four metre megamouth (Megachasma pelagios) died while struggling in the fishermen's net on 30 March off Burias island in the central Philippines. It was taken to nearby Donsol in Sorsogon province, said Gregg Yan, a spokesman for WWF-Philippines.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Patrick Barkham: The greenest way to go to the grave

The Guardian - Wed, 2009-03-11 10:01

Wendy Richard's funeral was notable not just for the number of EastEnders stars among the mourners but the fact that her coffin was woven from bamboo.

Richard's family chose an eco-friendly coffin because they did not want a tree to be chopped down, according to its manufacturer, Ecoffins. The company stresses its environmental credentials: the bamboo is harvested from sustainable, licensed plantations and is not the species eaten by pandas; its Chinese factory is certified Fairtrade. With smart packing, they claim the shipping of one coffin from China uses the same amount of fuel as driving a car 4.63 miles.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

George Monbiot on the anti-road protest that still influences environmentalists

The Guardian - Wed, 2009-02-11 10:01
When a protest began 15 years ago to save Solsbury Hill from road builders, no one could have foreseen its massive long-term effect

One fine day in 1994, two policemen struggled up to the protest camp on Solsbury Hill, near Bath, and asked to be taken to the leaders. "You want to talk to Aqua and Sulis," someone told them. "They're up the top. You'll recognise them 'cos they're both black." The officers sweated up to the top of the hill and told the people there who they wanted to talk to. Everyone stared at them. "Aqua and Sulis? You sure about that?" they asked. "Definitely," the policemen replied. And so they were taken to meet the two black piglets that were kept as pets at the camp.

No one returned from Solsbury Hill unchanged. The battle against Batheaston bypass was a turning point in the fight against the government's road building programme, and in the lives of many of the people who became involved in it.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Democratic Unionist party stands by climate change sceptic environment minister Sammy Wilson

The Guardian - Wed, 2009-02-11 03:03
Sammy Wilson keeps job despite petitions calling for his sacking and fellow unionists accusing him of turning Northern Ireland into laughing stock

Despite petitions calling for his sacking and even fellow unionists accusing him of turning Northern Ireland into a laughing stock, the Democratic Unionist party is sticking by climate change sceptic Sammy Wilson, who is the province's environment minister.

All the major parties in the Northern Ireland assembly have now said Wilson is unfit to hold the office, after he used his powers this week to ban government television adverts from the province's airwaves. Wilson said the Act On CO2 ads were insidious green "propaganda".

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

President Obama 'has four years to save Earth'

The Guardian - Sun, 2009-01-18 10:01
US must take the lead to avert eco-disaster

Read the full interview with James Hansen here

Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web


Subscribe to Sustainable Engineering Society aggregator - Around The Web