greening it up

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greening it up – tues 5 feb 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-02-05 11:15

Is SA on the brink of a water crisis? South Africa is on the brink of a water contamination crisis, potentially as bad as the electricity fiasco of the past few weeks, according to reports. Is our government failing to effectively monitor and manage its vast infrastructure of dams, pipes, pumps and treatment facilities? Some alarming findings were reported by the [Times] that include waste water from mining operations that appears to have seeped into the country’s groundwater system. Yet, according to readers, only 8% of people polled on IOL believe their drinking water is unsafe. [IOL]

America is running dry. America is also on the brink of a water crisis. Scientists have been documenting significant changes in water flow in the western United States for the past 50 years. Now it has been found that to 60 percent of the changes in river flow, snow pack and winter air temperatures in the region during this period can be attributed to human-caused climate change. [telegraph]

London’s low emission zone. As of yesterday, most of Greater London will be ringed by 75 camera sites, automatically checking hundreds of thousands of registration numbers entering the city’s LEZ (low emission zone). The reason for the zone is to improve London’s air quality – the worst in the UK and among the poorest in Europe. It is said that half of all air pollution in London comes from transport. [bbc]

Greener alternative to cotton wool Many people don’t realise the environmental hazards of producing cotton wool. A large amount of agrochemicals are used to produce cotton. Per hectare, it uses a higher concentration of chemicals than any other crop - chemicals that end up in our water and the air that we breathe. But there are alternatives like these Bo Weevil cotton wool pads or make your own little washable cleaning pads that you can re-use, in similar fashion to these on hippyshopper.

greening it up–mon 28 jan 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-01-28 09:57

Renewable energy now on the cards. Resisting a strong temptation to play on the many puns available in the debacle that is Eskom’s ‘loadshedding’ exercise, ‘unprecendented and unplanned’ outages will continue unabated, and it seems, unwarned. However not all is as bleak as it seems. It is amazing how as soon as we’re directly affected, we look for solutions elsewhere. So while Eskom continues its mindless and ill-advised scramble for coal-fired and nuclear power that will take too long to lessen the enormous electricity crisis, renewable energy is receiving a worthwhile lookin. Rationing and voluntary target savings to reduce consumption is one thing covered by the government’s rather lame 3-phase energy strategy [allafrica] , but the lethargic solar panel heater rollout has finally got the ‘push’, and co-generation projects are getting serious attention, as an option to feed power back into the national grid. The department of trade and industry took flak last year for largely ignoring renewables in its policy. This energy disaster could change that. By encouraging and subsidising renewable energy development, the country could move away from coal, feed much needed power into the national grid, and provide employment. [businessday] [IOL]

Stupidest. Problem. Ever I couldn’t have said it better myself: The worst thing, the most depressing thing, about global warming, isn't the melting ice cap or the short time horizon… It's the stupidity, inactivity, timidity, shortsightedness and fecklessness of humanity's ruling elites… But what, what, I ask you, is the solution that our brilliant leaders are putting on the table as a necessary part of 'the mix' of fixes? Nuclear power. Which takes years to get online, is unreliable in drought conditions such as those predicted in all the global warming scenarios, is fabulously expensive, and can't be supported in any wise by an open market solution even though it's a fairly mature technology. [watthead] For more on nuclear power on urban sprout

Climate change very low on business agenda. Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies, despite world leaders' hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week. Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. [independent]

Think Green Live Green Challenge. The challenge is calling for submissions of videos from individuals to discuss their green activities and questions on YouTube. The aim is to build a community of dialogue about the challenges of eco-friendly living; pro-planet dialogue. For more about the competition visit [juntoventure]

greening it up – fri 11 jan 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2008-01-11 09:55

City farming the way of the future? The recent spike in food prices, linked closely to the price of oil, has placed ‘urban agriculture’ in a whole new dimension. And certainly in cities like Cape Town, growing your own vegetable garden is fast becoming standard issue for greenies and the first line of defence when faced with food shortages [who can design me a veggie garden]. But on a global level, environmentalists have warned about the fragility of our food systems for years. A recent article in the [economist] covers rapidly increasing food prices - during a year that actually yielded an abundance of food crops – citing the increased demand for meat and ethanol as the contributing factors. The [guardian] also wrote a piece about predicted riots and hunger due to the soaring price of food. But is it possible that we might soon be forced to feed ourselves entirely from city limits? [wildgreenyonder]

Switchgrass revives hopes for biofuels. Already receiving a lot of bad press for their contribution to the spike in food prices and for their lack of biodiversity, the future of biofuels apparently just got brighter - if this account is to be believed. Yields from farm-scale plantings of the switchgrass Panicum virgatum suggest that producing ethanol from the cellulose will be about twice as energy-efficient as previously estimated. [new scientist]

Britain starts new push for nuclear power. Britain has given the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations, setting no limits on nuclear expansion. The government’s thinking: building nuclear plants will help meet its climate change goals and avoid overdependence on imported energy and dwindling North Sea oil supplies. [IOL] We’ve written extensively about nuclear power [here] , [here] and [here]

Buying small & local vs. supporting green at large. Ever wondered why it makes sense to support local business that you know? What happens when big corporations buy up trusted companies, like L’Oreal’s buying the Body shop? Do they manage to maintain the operating philosophies and environmental credentials of the companies they swallow? [noimpactman]

greening it up – mon 03 Dec 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-12-03 09:57

Air pollution hotspots. If you live in the Highveld region of eastern Gauteng and western Mpumalanga in the towns of Witbank, Standerton, Boksburg and Benoni, amongst others (although we can’t tell from the article just which towns these others are), you’re living in an air pollution hotspot. No apologies from the government for letting you know that if you live here, you “do not enjoy air quality that is not harmful to your health” (a euphemism for: you’re breathing really bad quality air that could harm you)! You’ll no doubt be relieved to learn that a plan to tackle the problem could take up to two years just to develop, never mind alleviate the problem. [IOL]

Africa’s desert sun brings power to Europe. In another fine example of how South Africa could be

greening it up – mon 12 nov 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-11-12 09:34

Pick ‘n Pay’s online environmental survey. Fill in Pick ‘n Pay’s online customer questionnaire and help influence their environmental strategy. In this quick online survey (will take you roughly 10 minutes to complete) you get to air your views on recycling, food labelling (or the lack thereof), GM, energy-saving practices and organic food. Let them know just what your needs are, and if you can, please make an issue of eco-packaging as this isn’t directly addressed and should be. [pick’npay]

IPCC report already out of date? The UN’s top scientific panel on climate change, who’ve just won a Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution, meet in Valencia today to finalise a landmark report on global warming and how to avoid its worst ravages...

greening it up – mon 05 nov 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-11-05 13:34

Oil prices rapidly rise. Anyone who has seen the film, the Power of Community: how Cuba survived peak oil, will understand the implications of the predicted rising oil prices due to growing demand. This isn’t just about the prospect of a bleak festive season ahead, this is a sign of things to come and increasing food and transport costs, as well as interest rate increases, will continue. [IOL]

Resource exhaustion – the human price. Continuing on the same theme, greenfuture looks at the mad scramble to feed the ever growing appetite for raw materials and calls for a more sustainable, less wasteful economy that doesn’t exploit our natural resources.

Climate change brings predicted war. A bleak warning by the peace group International Alert, in their report, A Climate of Conflict, predicts that much of Africa, Asia and South America will suffer outbreaks of war and social disruption as climate change erodes land, raises seas, melts glaciers and increases storms. [guardian]

Most of us are ready to make ‘green sacrifices’. Most people say they are ready to make personal sacrifices to address climate change, according to a BBC poll of 22,000 people in 21 countries. The poll suggests that in many countries people are more willing than their governments to consider serious changes to their lifestyles to combat global warming. [BBC]

greening it up – tues 30 oct 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-10-30 08:47

Climate change – it’s NOT all doom and gloom. A new book – ‘the Geography of Hope’ is written by author Chris Turner who believes that most of the environment movement has been spreading the wrong message. It is time to shift from despair to dreams. [treehugger]

GM: is the UK government colluding with biotech companies? Despite their claim to neutrality over GM, it appears that ministers of the government provide at least £50m a year for research into agricultural biotechnology, largely GM crops and food and field trails for modified potatoes. Contrast that with the £1.6m given last year for research into organic agriculture and a very public promotion of everything environmentally friendly and things start to look decidedly deceptive. [environment.independent]

SA considering desalination? A recent press article debates the expense of desalination (converting seawater into drinking water) as a solution for water shortages on the horizon for South Africa. But I have to question the merits of yet again tampering with nature – if we were meant to drink sea water, would it be salty? [IOL]

Climate change ministers – a new position in government?. A UK parliamentary committee has called for a cabinet rank climate change minister to manage its conflicting climate policies. A sign of things to come? [IOL]

greening it up – wed 24 oct 07

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2007-10-24 15:17

Climate labelled carrots. Organic, Biodynamic and Fairtrade labelling will soon be joined by Climate-labelling. Swedish organic certifiers, KRAV and Svenskt Sigill, plan to release a value-added certification to organic or sustainably produced lines in 2008. According to a recent survey Swedes will fork-out extra to know the distance their foods have travelled and what type of transport was used. A whopping 73% said they would always or often buy climate-labelled foods and 40% said they would be willing to pay 10 percent more for the label. [treehugger]

SA press freedom down. The Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index 2007 was released a few weeks ago and South Africa has slipped from an index of 11.25 to 13.00. Our overall position amongst 169 countries has remained fairly constant compared with 2006 placing us 43rd overall. We're rated 4th in Africa behind Namibia, Mauritius and Ghana. [via neverness]

Pick 'n Pay plants trees for Africa. Or at least 3250 trees to offset the anticipated first year's carbon emissions of it's new...

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greening it up – tues 09 oct 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-10-09 09:47

The power of community: how Cuba survived peak oil. SAFeAGE are hosting this ‘must see’ in Cape Town on Wed 10 Oct. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. We highly recommend that you go and see this. For more on the event

New Eat In now on shelves. The latest Eat In is out and includes stories on sustainability, food miles and the winners of this year’s Small Producers’ Awards. Buy it now!

First solar-powered traffic light in SA. Find it: on the intersection on Plantation Road, Montagu’s Gift in CT. Retrofitted with LED lights ( see green your heating and cooling for more on LEDs and their green cred), a solar panel and batteries, it forms part of a three-month assessment. But it’s off the grid! [allafrica]

Science comes up with six big ideas to save the world. Here are some big ideas from scientists to counter global warming that include: mirrors to cut radiation from the sun – with risks of acid rain and ozone depletion - a cloud shield, synthetic trees and increasing plankton and algae in the oceans. [guardian]

greening it up – mon 01 oct 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-10-01 11:00

Plumbing the depths to stop global warming. Global warming can be halted by plumbing a gigantic array of pipes into the depths of the oceans, according to James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia theory, and Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum. [timesonline]

Waste glass recovery up by 24%. The Glass Recycling Company, a non profit organisation, has grown levels of waste glass recovery in SA by 24% in its first year of operation. The benefits of using recycled glass include electricity savings, emissions reduction and a lower dependence on finite raw materials used in the manufacture of glass (silica, limestone and soda ash). [engineering news]

SA takes rubbish underground in its ‘love Gauteng keep it clean’ campaign. 23 giant bins, holding five tons of waste each, are being introduced in Johannesburg and Alexandra...

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