pollution

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carbon trading, cdm - a cleaner way to profit?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-01-14 12:57

Just what is carbon trading? Carbon trading (also called emissions trading) allows businesses and factories that pollute too much to buy allowances, whilst those that are more efficient can sell allowances they no longer need, at a profit. It’s a system that began in 2005 and is part of the Kyoto Protocol.

pic: greenpeacepic: greenpeaceThe Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change obligates industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a collective average of 5% below their 1990 levels. This is calculated on a per-country basis and for many countries, like those in the EU, this corresponds to some 15% below their expected greenhouse gas emissions in 2008. [wiki]
To achieve reduction in emissions, developed nations have two choices: they can restructure operations and processes to physically reduce emissions, or [...]

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getting in touch with your trash

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-01-07 11:38

We get a number of emails a week asking us to pick up recycling for various businesses or individuals who are becoming more aware of their effects on the environment, and want to adopt greener lifestyles.

Whilst we’re not officially in the business of picking up other people’s rubbish, we’re heartened by the number of queries we get. For those of you who want to know more about getting your rubbish sorted, refer to our ubergreen directory, where the major centres of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban have lists of places where you can drop off your recycling, and various businesses that will come and collect it for you.

We’ve been debating the issues of attempting a ‘zero-waste’ month – a month of no throwing away; a month in which we leave any wrappings that we might accumulate

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greening it up – thurs 03 jan 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-01-03 11:20

‘Organic’ loses its edge . The USDA has apparently given the green light to a proposal that allows 38 new non-organic ingredients in products that bear the USDA organic seal (and before you assume that this applies only to America, certain of our supermarkets import these products too!) Is the term organic losing its credibility? [treehugger]

Organic food produced using toxic chemicals? According to an article in the Daily Mail, ‘thousands of tons’ of organic food sold in British shops during 2007 were produced using toxic chemicals. Actually it boils down to an increase in the use of copper fungicide during summer and autumn by potato farmers – a pesticide approved by the Soil Association. Hype or compelling investigative journalism? Considering that Syngenta, one of the largest agribusiness companies, (read conventional pesticides and fertilisers) is the principal antagonist in the article, the motivation is highly suspect. [dailymail]

New clean air campaign in Germany Berlin, Cologne and Hanover have introduced a ban on ‘dirty’(old cars without a proper catalytic converter or diesel soot filter) cars plying their inner cities in an attempt to limit air pollution. [dw-world]

Clandestine chromium plant in Tshwane . According to reports, there is a chromium-processing plant operating illegally & covertly from an important catchment area providing water to half the Tshwane area. [IOL]

Chemicals blamed for fish poisoning in Dbn harbour. Illegal chemical dumping in the Umbilo Canal has been sited as the reason for the large numbers of dead fish in Durban’s harbour. Dead fish have lined the walls of the canal since the last week of December. [united press] [the independent on Sat]

Taking matters into our own hands. Could 2008 be the year the people of the world elect their own green leaders? Take your pick from
15 green politicians via grist and 15 green religious leaders.

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smart living

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-12-12 13:30

The city of Cape Town has published a SMART living handbook as part of the city’s campaign to save water, cut power consumption, reduce and recycle waste, and save the earth. We think it’s great that Cape Town is putting its money where its mouth is, and actively promoting environmentally-friendly lifestyles!

At the moment, the city has only distributed copies of the handbook to their employees, but read further for an electronic copy of your own. Those employees who make the biggest energy and water savings will win prizes in the form of solar water heaters, grey water systems and worm bins.

The publication covers four major areas...


river of flames and climate action

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2007-12-07 15:13

If you're in Cape Town tomorrow, just a reminder that the Black River needs your help before it spontaneously combusts.
Cuyahoga River: Regularly caught alight due to pollutionCuyahoga River: Regularly caught alight due to pollution
From a recent article on IOL:

The aptly-named Black River in Cape Town is so polluted it could catch fire, an environmental organisation warned on Thursday.

"High levels of E.coli [bacterium] and phosphorus are turning the Black River into a methane-gas-producing swamp, which poses severe health risks to humans," the group What-On-Earth-Is-Happening (WOE-H) said in a statement.

Rivers in other parts of the world with such high levels of pollution had burst into flames, "and the Black River could do the same unless urgent action is taken", it said.

You'll also get to see some local politicians and celebs in latex (gloves).

Details of the river cleanup event over here.

And if you're in Joburg there is a day of climate action going down at Rhodes Park to coincide with demonstrations on Climate Change taking place around the world.

The event is hosted by the GreenHouse Project and will include a Q&A answer workshop on climate change, drumming sessions, poetry readings, craft made from recycled materials and demonstrations of renewable energy and energy efficiency appliances.

Check out more details over here


awareness and action!

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-12-06 11:21

The first step down the road of making a difference is awareness: if you don't know what's happening out there you can't act. At urban sprout we try to raise awareness in a few different ways - news and opinion articles, green guides, a directory of positive options and details of upcoming events. We've been sending out details of events in our newsletter for the last few months, but today we launch a green events calendar to make this information more visible.

So without further ado, here are some important happenings in the next few days you'll want to support:

Safeage talk: Learning from the South American experience

The most common belief about genetically engineered crops is that they are necessary to feed our burgeoning world population, but when big business takes over small scale family farming, it results in the concentration of land ownership, the destruction of peasant economies and indigenous crops, malnutrition, urban migration, increased poverty and crime.

Join Safeage and Javiera Rulli tonight at the Portobello Restaurant, Long Str, Cape Town as she explains the social and environmental situation of South America due to the expansion of Round Up Ready soy monocultures.

Clean-up of Black River

Black River testing: Pic: SA Mercury Assessment ProgramBlack River testing: Pic: SA Mercury Assessment ProgramCape Town's Black River is in dire need of a clean-up and this Saturday, 8 December, local citizen group What On Earth is Happening (WOE) will lead a massive campaign, backed by the City of Cape Town, celebrities, other environmental and corporate partners to clean up the Black River in one of its most polluted stretches close to where the N2 connects with the M5. This is a great opportunity to meet up with other like minded people and be part of a solution. Positive action is very empowering!

While You Were Sleeping screening: Uranium Road

If you're still sitting on the fence about nuclear power in South Africa and the PBMR this is the movie to see. Uranium Road lift's the lid on the closed world of nuclear in SA revealing secrets and greed. Uranium Road is a 53 minute documentary, based on the book by Dr David Fig.

Take a look at our calendar view of events here

And if you know of any upcoming green, organic, enviro events be sure to let us know


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


what’s sa business doing about its emissions?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-11-26 10:41

In February this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a consortium of 2,500 climate scientists, attributed climate change directly to human activity [urban sprout] No sooner was the document public, when big business began making claims at adopting ambitious green plans. pic:davidsuzukipic:davidsuzukiMost of it, if you can wade through the green paint, is pretty impressive – embarrassingly so for governments, according to George Monbiot, who have not dared impose social responsibility on business at the level at which business is choosing to do so. Big business has been largely responsible for proposing plans and pushing government to make changes [big businesses call for government action on climate]

But what’s South Africa been doing in the business arena, to counteract the obvious detrimental effects we’re having on the environment?

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enviro certification my a$$

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-10-11 11:57

I wasn't too surprised to read recently that the green scorpions have cited Highveld Steel and Vanadium for gross environmental transgressions. I mean anyone that's taken a trip past Witbank is aware of the awful pollution belching out of the place. What I didn't realise though was that Highveld Steel and Vanadium is ISO 14001 certified in recognition of its "world class environmental management systems". Yeah, right. What do the ISO guidelines have to say about:

- 40 to 60 tonnes of sulphur dioxide (a primary cause of acid rain) emitted by the plant daily
- 15 times more than the allowable limit for ammonia emissions
- 27 times more than the limit of particulates (dust)
- "significant contamination of groundwater"
- "an unlined and unpermitted hazardous waste dump on site"
- no separation of storm water and process water at the plant

Highveld doesn't stand alone - Mittal Steel, also ISO 14001 certified, stands accused of severe environmental contamination too. Inspections at Acelor Mittal's plant in Vereeniging earlier this year found continued dumping of hazardous waste despite repeated warnings from authorities to stop, and "significant and serious" pollution of surface and groundwater. [all africa], [news24]

To add to the irony, I've just read a moneyweb report pointing out that Mittal is listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's Social Responsibility Index, where it has to go through a rigorous, independent screening process. The JSE website says

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green your lighting

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-09-04 10:42

The advent of global warming has brought many aspects of the way in which we live to the fore. And not least of these is our demand for electricity. We can blame Eskom for bad planning to a certain extent, but we can’t defer our responsibility for continuing to drive the demand for energy that directly contributes to green house emissions and global warming. For a country that receives as much sunlight as we do in South Africa, we’re rather careless in our approach to the design of our homes – it would pay us to pay more attention to the planet’s vulnerability. And the easiest and cheapest place to start, is with our lighting.

Passive design
The best source of light, obviously, is natural light – the sun. And the better use one makes of it, the less lighting you need. Use passive design by making sure, that your windows are north facing, which allows as much natural light into the house as possible; keep the blinds up, open the curtains, and put in the odd skylight.

The merits of the CFL
Before 2006, and Eskom’s infamous energy-saving campaign, very few of us even knew what a CFL was...


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