design indaba: dare to design differently

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-02-22 17:04

Well it's Design Indaba time again, and I'm very excited to see what eco-organic designs are on offer this time around. Green design is happening in a BIG way around the rest of the world so what is going on in South Africa?

I'm hoping to visit the expo tomorrow to find a few answers. In the meantime I've googled for "design indaba" and found that the expo is aiming to be carbon neutral again, which is really cool.

Design Indaba 10 carries the "Carbon Standard" stamp so the resources used during the event will be offset against planting trees. They plan to offset not only the space, energy and paper used by the event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, but also the carbon emitted to fly the speakers to the event.

In fact Design Indaba organiser, Interactive Africa, is one of the organisations that founded the Carbon Standard!

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should BIG business be going green?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-02-20 13:51

pic: gdrc.orgpic: gdrc.orgCan we simply switch to earth-friendly products, but continue over consuming? Is it a victory that major super markets are the top suppliers of organic milk and organic vegetables? Should we applaud when someone like Ford, renowned for the gas-guzzlers, designs a hybrid car?

This poses a real dilemma for those of us who have long advocated a cleaner, more humane way of doing business. Of course, it's a tangible benefit to reduce the amount of toxic substances in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the homes that surround us. But are mega-corporations - the same companies that sold us the toxics in the first place -- really the best vehicles for lasting reform?

A recent article looks at big business’s takeover of the local, green economy movement and debates the issues, [Alternet]

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greening it up – mon 19 feb 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-02-19 14:45

Organic industry booming – 75 million acres of farmland are now organically certified worldwide. IFOAM presented the latest stats and emerging trends last Friday that also show that organic products offer attractive opportunities for producers in developing countries. [organic consumers]

SA is headed for a heat wave – the central parts of the country will be very hot this week and parts of the coast will also be very uncomfortable. [IOL]

Avaaz leads the way in ‘climate wake up call’. The new MoveOn-style group that will mobilize members all over the world to take action on global issues, is airing a TV ad to petition World leaders. The ad shows world leaders snoozing in their bedrooms, while climate disaster rages outside and urges them to "set binding global targets" for carbon emissions. It began airing in Washington on 6 Feb and will also show in Paris, Berlin and Delhi.[avaaz]

joburg scoops Live Earth concert: seven concerts, seven continents, 07/07/2007

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2007-02-16 17:46

live earthlive earthA series of simultaneous 24 hour music concerts, Live Earth , designed to trigger a global movement to combat climate change was announced yesterday as part of Save Our Selves (SOS) – The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis.

SOS was founded by Kevin Wall, executive producer of Live 8, is fronted by Al Gore, Cameron Diaz, Pharrell Williams and others and will be digitally broadcast around the world by MSN.

"In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to reach billions of people," said Gore, the environmental activist, filmmaker and almost President of the US.

SOS has announced 25 of the 100 Big name artists including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, Lenny Kravitz and Black Eyed Peas.

"That’s what it takes to engage billions of people. We’re not just engaging fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dogg, or the Foo Fighters and Faith Hill. We’re engaging them and everyone in between," Wall said. "We’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the artist community and are feverishly working out the logistics for all of the bands that want to be involved."

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second nuclear reactor on the way

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2007-02-16 16:45

chernobyl sarcophaguschernobyl sarcophagusLooks like we're about to get another nuclear reactor whether we like it or not. In fact it seems we're not being asked for our opinion at all.

Public Enterprises Minister, Alec Erwin, told parliament on Monday that the government had approved the construction of a second nuclear power station in the southern part of the country. The decision was apparently made by the Eskom board towards the end of last year.

It has not been dislosed where the reactor will be located, although I'm betting it will be nowhere near Mr Erwin's holiday home.

"One does not reveal where a nuclear power plant is to be built, because we still have to acquire the land, although we might have already done that," he said, nonsensically.

Maya Aberman, campaign co-ordinator at Earthlife Africa Cape Town said "[We] can only assume that either the Minister isn't aware of the provisions of the Constitution and laws governing South Africa, that he considers these provisions irrelevant, or that he is attempting to inspire a false sense of optimism about his and his department's nuclear fantasies."

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woolies trust eduplant offers free permaculture workshops

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-02-15 13:04

     Woolies just went up a few percent in my estimation! I know I mumble about packaging (what’s with all the plastic!) whenever I buy their organic food, but at least they’re one of the major suppliers of organic to the public, which creates awareness - even if it is about making a profit at the end of the day.

The point here is that Woolworths Trust is the major sponsor (along with the department of water affairs, SABC Education and LandCare SA) of EduPlant – a food gardening and greening programme that promotes and supports schools in the growing of good food using permaculture techniques - through to 2010 - which has allowed them to launch a series of free workshops to help school teachers to create food-rich, sustainable environments for our schools.

EduPlant is co-ordinated by Food and Trees For Africa (FTFA), the first, and still only, national non-government, non-profit, greening organisation in SA. Their aim is to uplift the quality of life of people in SA through the greening of unhealthy, denuded and degraded landscapes.

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gene-wash part 2: bias or blatant spin?

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2007-02-14 16:03

Following on from gene-wash part 1, I've at last finished with part 2.

Biotech industry mouthpiece, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) published a report on the 18 January making a number of claims about the increase in uptake of genetically engineered crops worldwide. [ISAAA]

The report claims:
- total area of approved GM crops in 2006 was 102 million hectares in 22 countries — a 13 per cent rise on the previous year.
- over 90 per cent of those growing GM crops worldwide — around 9.3 million farmers — are small, resource-poor farmers in developing countries.
- about 40 per cent of GM crops were grown in developing countries, which showed the biggest rise in growing area — 21 per cent compared to nine per cent in industrialised countries.

should we go nuclear part 3: 10 reasons why the pbmr project is not a solution for south africa

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-02-13 13:02

pic: ecolo.orgpic: ecolo.orgTaking up where we left off in part 2

Eskom plans to build a PBMR, a version of a group of reactors termed high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGCR). These types of reactors were never successfully commercialised and have been abandoned. Aside from the planned ten reactors in SA, Eskom plans to construct, operate and sell these reactors to create a potential export business.

Earthlife Africa believes that there are at least 10 reasons why the pebble bed modular reactor project is not a solution for our country:

health impacts – there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ dose of radiation. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that low doses may actually be more dangerous, as they may mutate cells more easily than high doses, which can kill the cells. There is no debate as to whether radiation kills, maims, causes mutations, is cumulative, causes leukaemia, cancers, respiratory illnesses and attacks the immune system. The only disagreement is about what is legally considered an allowable dose.

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green home in Muizenberg not recognised as a 'house' by banks

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2007-02-09 11:23

MuizenbergMuizenbergGreen homes have now become the topic of conversation and last week’s Weekender featured an article on a cob house going up in Muizenberg, Cape Town.

Exciting news. Green is no longer just for hippies and people with a burning desire to save the planet – it’s now trendy too.

All the woodwork is treated with environmentally friendly products and thick poles sourced from alien gums support the roof. Most of the walls are cob (beach sand, clay, earth, water and straw mixed together), sourced locally, and these thick walls insulate the house making it cool in summer and warm in winter.

They’re implementing a grey water system and, although the house will start out using the electricity grid, they intend being self-sufficient.

But nobody said it was going to be easy. Simric and Carey Yarrow, whose building will be almost entirely self-sufficient and should survive the next wave of electricity blackouts, have had to battle with the City of Cape Town to get their house up in the first place, and forget a bank loan, as alternative building isn’t recognised as a ‘house’ (no brick and mortar there, I’m afraid!).

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should we go nuclear part 2: but is nuclear the answer?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2007-02-09 10:31

All of this history aside, is going nuclear the answer to global warming and is it the right thing for South Africa? Are nuclear pundits taking advantage of climate change to misrepresent nuclear power as a carbon-free electricity source and the solution to global warming?

According to scientist and formulator of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock, nuclear energy is the only feasible way to power the planet in order to counter climate change.

His alarming take on global warming is that current proposals for alternative energies are too little, too late – anything we might see fit to do at this stage, in the wake of global warming, is of no avail. As Lovelock says:

‘If we had 50 years or more we might make these [renewables, wind, tide and water power] our main sources. But we do not have 50 years; the Earth is already so disabled by the insidious poison of greenhouse gases that even if we stop all fossil fuel burning immediately, the consequences of what we have already done will last for 1,000 years.’ [yes magazine]

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