Monday, 28 September 2009

GM Rice petition

In just a few weeks, the European Union will decide whether or not GM rice can enter EU countries, appear on supermarket shelves and end up on our dinner plates. If the EU approves the import of Bayer GM rice, farmers in the US and elsewhere may soon start planting it.

The GM industry, and their supporters, often claim that we need GM food to feed the world but this is a very simple and highly misleading position to take (like most of the anti-environmental arguments, it appeals to the gullible and the self-interested who seem not to analyse any topic beyond the point at which they confirm their innate biases and their own wishful thinking). It is yet another example of an unsustainable solution with huge hidden drawbacks.

If you want to have your say, here is a link to a Greenpeace petition which states:

We ask all governments around the world to protect consumers and farmers, their crops and fields by rejecting Bayer’s GM rice, and to stop GM rice field trials”.


Wile E. Coyote runs over the cliff edge, not immediately realising that gravity is going to do him in soon

September 25 was “Earth Overshoot” Day.

Earth Overshoot Day is a dangerous annual milestone: the metaphorical time in the year when humanity begins living beyond its ecological means. Beyond that day, we move into the ecological equivalent of deficit spending, utilising resources at a rate faster than the planet can regenerate in a calendar year. In other words, the planet can sustainably supply us with a certain amount in a year but unfortunately humanity as a whole is now using that amount up in under 10 months. The United Kingdom’s National Overshoot Day is about 22nd April. Jersey’s extreme consumer lifestyle obviously makes our own Island Overshoot Day a fair bit earlier than this. For shame.

Globally, we now require the equivalent of 1.4 planets to support our lifestyles. Put another way, in less than 10 months humanity has already used up the ecological services that it has taken 12 months for the Earth to regenerate.

Global Recession Barely Slows Ecological Demand

Because of the current global economic slowdown, we reached Earth Overshoot Day one day later than last year, according to Global Footprint Network projections. By comparison, in the past, Earth Overshoot Day has steadily moved four to six days closer to January 1st each year. “The fact is that in spite of a very painful world economic situation, we are still way over-budget in our use of nature,” said a spokeman for


Almost unbelievable!!!!!! – but in a good way…

Lawyers often get a bad press but this story, linked to here, shows that it looks as if it is possible for governments to sue power utilities for using too many fossil fuels even if the government itself has taken no action to reduce emissions themselves. Here’s an extract:

“The lawsuit against American Electric Power Co Inc, Southern Co, Xcel Energy Inc, Cinergy Corp and the Tennessee Valley Authority public power system, argued that greenhouse gas emissions from their plants were a public nuisance and would cause irreparable harm to property.

The utilities are five of the largest carbon dioxide emitters in the United States. Around 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil-fueled power plants.

Lawyers or representatives of the companies were either not immediately available to comment or could not immediately be reached for comment on the decision.

The top legal officers for Connecticut and New York welcomed the decision.

“Our goal is not money damages, but a change in company practices to stem the pollution and safeguard our environment and economy,” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.”

The importance of this ruling is that failure of Congress or the EPA to act on greenhouse gases will not immunise emitters from legal action to compel reductions in emissions. This could be huge!


Saturday, 26 September 2009

Inspirational story from TED


Monday, 21 September 2009

Glow–in-the-dark Mafia and why crude oil is suitably named

Here’s a link to a story - Mafia 'sank ships of toxic waste' - reported on the BBC, that I found amazing. It clearly demonstrates why the free market in goods and services really shouldn’t be allowed to be totally free. Before food safety legislation got strict, Victorian spice merchants used to adulterate their spices with lead powder to make more money, thereby poisoning people. In a similar way, it now appears as if the Calabrian Mafia got into the highly lucrative toxic waste disposal business and DUMPED RADIOACTIVE WASTE INTO THE MEDITERRANEAN by scuttling ships full of the stuff!!

Next time you hear some ideologically driven free marketeer whingeing about government red tape cramping his business, just imagine what the world would be like without red tape…


Of course, the biggest companies sometimes also act as if they are above the law and the video below is a trailer to a new film about the environmental impact of the oil industry in Amazonia. Chevron and Texaco are in the firing line. As peak oil starts to grab hold of the world economy, there will be increasingly desperate and damaging attempts made by the oil industry to exploit ever less suitable oil fields in areas they would never have touched before. Just another reason for the world to go green ASAP.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Quick - before it melts! - glaciers disappearing fast

Whilst every glacier in the world is not melting and retreating (nor would they be expected too - climate change means some will grow as some areas get colder and have greater precipitation of snow and ice) it is true that the vast majority are shrinking due to gradually rising temperatures. Around 95% of the glaciers outside Antarctica are retreating. This is a very slow occurrence, however. Indeed, "glacial slowness" is a well-known metaphor for a very slow process. Enter the time lapse camera, which is the best way of showing the changes in an obvious way.

Here are two videos about the glacial retreat. The second one is probably the most dramatic but, as it is one of the excellent TED talks, there is about 10 minutes preamble (which is very well worth listening to) before the time lapse movie is shown. The whole clip is about 20 minutes in total. Bear in mind with time lapse films of glaciers that you will see the seasonal variations too – glaciers advance in winter and retreat during summer – like waves of ice breaking upon a shore. The long term time lapse shows that the “tide” of ice is indisputably going out as the climate is changing.

Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change.


Monday, 14 September 2009

No comment

Thanks to


Sunday, 13 September 2009

Petition the States. This time it’ll be different!

I am a committee member of, and a spokesman for, Jersey Climate Action Network (J-CAN) (click here for our website) which is launching a petition, as I write, that asks the States of Jersey to plan for strong positive policies to comply with whatever targets are decided at the forthcoming uber-important climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, which has been described as our “last chance” and “the most important meeting in history”. Have a look at the new countdown timer to the conference in this blog’s side bar. It’s big, it’s flashy and it’s red. You can’t miss it. Thanks to Nigel J. for the html code.

If you would like to lend a hand to get as many signatures as possible you can download and print copies of the petition by clicking here.  You don’t have to get signatures for all of the lines if you can’t, just send it back to us when you have got as many as you can. Please try to prevent “Mickey Mouse” etc from signing, or people from signing it twice, as these will all be checked for and eliminated from the final number. Reasonably full addresses must be given.

The actual text of the petition is quite “dry” but it has to be put in this way to be accepted as valid by the States. It goes as follows:

We, the undersigned, petition the States of Jersey as follows:
Following publication of the targets agreed at the Copenhagen Conference, the Council of Ministers should give
detailed consideration to these targets and report back to the States within six months of the closing date of the
Conference on how they intend to respond, their report to include detailed proposals and timescales.”

The preamble to the text states:

“These are the reasons for this petition:
A global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is essential to ensure that the Earth's average temperature does
not rise more than an absolute maximum of two degrees centigrade above pre-industrialised levels.
This will require a commitment from all Countries and Parliaments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to
sustainable levels.
The general scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced to at least 80% below their 1990 levels by 2050
to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The global targets for sustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions will be decided on at the United Nations
Climate Change Conference 2009, taking place in Copenhagen between the 7th and the 18th of December 2009.”



Friday, 4 September 2009

Mother Nature cries icy tears

This rather haunting image is from a Norwegian archipelago
which is melting rather faster than previously. One of the articles the image was used in is here at the Mail Online which is not normally "climate change friendly."

Well, it's a bit more dramatic than the usual "Virgin Mary on a pretzel" image, no?

A more detailed discussion on the Arctic is here at one of the top climate blogs (Joe Romm's) under the title

Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds

It discusses a new scientific paper to be published today in Science today which shows that global warming has been cancelling out the (very) long term natural cooling trend as we head towards the next ice age in a few 10s of thousands of years.

Now, it might seem that cancelling out the natural cooling trend is a good thing but unfortunately our excess greenhouse gas emissions have been so large that we had already overshot what would have been a desirable atmospheric equilibrium by around 1980. We have overwhelmed the natural trends in spades. Had we cut back hard on emissions then, we could have stabilised temperatures safely.

Enough talk - it's time for action. My next post will show how we can do something locally.