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greening it up - mon 08 sep 2008

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-09-08 12:22

cartoon: moontoon.comcartoon: moontoon.comUN Expert: Eat less meat to fight climate change

We're used to the IPCC urging countries to reduce their emissions, but now Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that people should make reductions in the amount of meat they eat.

The 68 year old Indian economist, who was re-elected the panel's chairman for a second six-year term last week, said "give up meat for one day (per week) initially, and decrease it from there". The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Via the guardian. More on greening your diet here.

Something fishy behind croc deaths

Scientists are probing whether ailing fish in the Olifants River system may be behind the puzzling deaths of more than 150 crocodiles in the Kruger National Park in the past three months.

"The fish are under some sort of stress, which could be caused by various things including pollutants, heavy metals and the ph of the water. At least we're now finding possible links in the cable and that it's not just the crocodiles that are affected - it's the fish as well. Crocodiles eat fish", said Danie Pienaar, the head of scientific services in the Kruger Park.

Via The Star

This greening it up continues: What would you change, Beekeeping project sets Hluleka abuzz, Team beautiful take to the streets, Toxic Winds

the fight against coal

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-09-04 11:40

In a few years, the backlash against coal power in America has become the country's biggest-ever environmental campaign, transforming the nation's awareness of climate change and inspiring political leaders to take firmer action after years of doubt and delay. Plants have been defeated in at least 30 of the 50 states.

The success of the US campaign is also now inspiring a global wave of protests, many in Europe, against similar schemes that plan to build coal-fired generators before carbon capture technology exists.

The US anti-coal campaign is being linked to protests against similar plans in Australia, Germany, Italy and the UK, where there are demonstrations at almost every public appearance by E.ON, the company that plans to build Britain's first new first new coal power station for two decades in Kingsnorth, Kent, where protesters set up a protest camp against the new development in August.

Coal power returned to the US political agenda when vice-president Dick Cheney's 2001 energy policy lifted key pollution restrictions. It took two years for environmental groups to see what emerged: state by state, project by project, a total of 150 new plants were put forward...

decision to strip wild coast of titanium

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-08-19 09:36

The department of minerals and energy (DME) has decided to grant a mining right to an Australian resources company to mine titanium from the sand dunes in the Xolobeni section of the pristine wild coast.

A media statement released by WESSA and Coastwatch last week claims that this fact, far from being announced publicly, was discovered via the Australian Stock Exchange, meaning that the DME has decided not to follow due process and inform interested and affected parties. Nor...

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sa leads the way for china & india?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2008-08-15 12:09

Treehugger seems to think that our move to cap greenhouse emissions & the possibility of a carbon tax could put the pressure on India and China to consider emission reductions of their own. And that we’re leading the way for developing countries to reduce emissions.

It’s amazing how news written elsewhere about SA gives one another take on what looks like such SLOW progress from here, but in America has been translated as a large positive step. So what are we doing to earn the accolades?

Van Schalkwyk claims that we’re reducing our consumption of cheap coal for electricity, and requiring that all future coal power plants use both carbon capture and storage, there’s the suggestion of a carbon tax, and there’s a greater emphasis on using energy from renewable sources.

Oops, don’t know that I agree entirely here – I think perhaps van Schalkwyk is smudging the grey into the black. We’ve done very little by

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greening it up – wed 16 july 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-07-16 10:02

Inspirational bike-sharing programme in Paris. Almost 1500 bike stations are spread around the city of Paris with over 20 000 bicycles and 3 million subscribers. They’ve saved roughly 10 million kilometres of car trips. Considering the rising price of petrol, this is something cities the world over should be considering. [treehugger] Other than walking, there is no more earth-friendly mode of transportation than a bicycle. Bikes have an incredibly low manufacturing footprint when compared to a motorized vehicle. They’re cheap to operate, don’t pollute the air, and provide more miles per calorie of energy than any mode of getting around known to humankind. Find out how to pick a great used bike. [lighterfootstep]

V Schalkwyk comes down on polluters of the atmosphere. After blustering away at the ineptitude of the G8 summit [reuters], the minister of the environment is now punishing pollution of the

high emission funeral

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2008-07-03 10:44

RIP: +125 g/kmRIP: +125 g/kmThink certain tank manufacturers are feeling a bit stupid about having killed the electric car?

Ford US May 2008 - overall sales down 16%, SUV sales down 44%
Landrover - sales down 30%
GM US May 2008 - overall sales down 28%, 4 factories to close, Hummer future uncertain

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should sa tax pollution?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-06-18 11:23

Do you agree with the concept that excessive CO2 in the atmosphere is causing global warming and that it is a serious issue that requires human intervention? This is the initial question on a taxing pollution survey initiated by a masters student in Pretoria.

Even if you don’t believe that tax incentives and tax penalty systems could be used as an effective means to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, this survey – initiated by a student at the University of Pretoria for his paper called “taxing pollution: a comparative study between South Africa, the UK, Australia and Malaysia.” – is worth checking out! It’s online and

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greening it up – sun 01 june 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Sun, 2008-06-01 17:21

Alternatives worth exploring:

Harnessing the sun’s heat from pavements. Dutch scientists have figured out how to harness the sun as it beats down on hot highways - cutting heating and road repair bills. At nearly a dozen sites across the Netherlands, embedded in the pavement, lies a network of pipes. Water flows through these pipes and heats up in the summer sun. The warm water is then stored underground, where it stays hot for several months. In the winter, the water is circulated through nearby buildings – homes, industrial complexes, even an airplane hangar – providing warmth. [living on earth]

Australia’s first power plant fuelled by hot rocks, four kilometres blow the Earth’s surface, is due to supply electricity to the sun-scorched Cooper Basin outpost 1100 kilometres north-west of Adelaide by the end of the year. It will be the first exploitation of deep-earth geothermal energy in what is known as the South Australian Heat Flow Anomaly, a vast area of subterranean fractured granite with estimated potential to produce 60 times more electricity than the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. [maitland mercury]

Fuel cells power plane’s jet engines whilst on the ground. Airbus and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) presented the first commercial aircraft powered by fuel cells at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2008. The fuel cells cannot replace the plane's jet engines for powering the heavy plane through the air. Instead, the goal is to take the first step towards meeting ambitious targets to reduce aircraft environmental impact (fuel use, CO2 emissions and noise) by 50% by 2020: the fuel cells replace the auxiliary power units which meet the plane's power demands when the plane is on the ground. [treehugger]

and more on aeroplanes…

KLM to power planes with algae? The Dutch carrier says if all goes according to plan 12 Fokker-50 planes - representing seven percent of KLM's fleet - will fly on fuel derived from algae by 2010. Most likely, the planes will be powered by a blend of fuels, though according to AlgaeLink, KLM has every intention of running the 12 Fokkers on 100% biofuel. Biofuels of this type being developed are theoretically carbon nuetral, don't compete with foodstocks, and should be relatively cheap. [triplepundit] via [hugg]

water affairs and wonderfonteinspruit

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2008-02-06 08:43

The Business Times story published over the weekend placed the issue of safe drinking water on the nation's agenda, and in light of the electricity crisis it's quite right that this receives national attention.

Dead carp in Wonderfontein spruit: pic courtesy of Paul Neal (Dream Africa)Dead carp in Wonderfontein spruit: pic courtesy Paul Neal (Dream Africa)The Dept of Water Affairs and Forestry calmly assures us that there is no water crisis. But should we believe them based on a government track record of denial or blithe reassurance?

Dept of Safety and Security: Crime? No problem there, just lots of whingeing.
Dept of Health: HIV / Aids? Beetroot, garlic and the african potato to the rescue.
Dept of Minerals and Energy: Electricity? It should all be okay as long as our economic growth stays at 2%?

Reports of 43 percent of DWAF managed dams having safety issues sounds pretty critical to me. Or what do they propose a safe tolerance level is for a water-stressed country? 60%? 80%? 43% sounds bad enough and I'd like to know what is being done to fix the problems especially in light of Peter van Niekerk, chief director of water resources planning at DWAF, commenting, "we have constructed some dams but nothing to the same extent because of much greater use is the opportunity to manage demand." Sounds suspiciously like load shedding rationing to me.

More concerning is the contamination of ground water by radioactive mining waste in the Wonderfonteinspruit area. This is particularly worrying as the issue of uranium contamination...

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rubbish – a burning issue

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-01-21 13:46

Naples is clearly the site of garbage overload. With its landfill sites full to overflowing, the army has been called in to help clear the mess on the streets. With nowhere to put it, local Italians have begun burning their own rubbish and the fire brigade has been struggling to put out fires as a result. [bbc world]

But you don’t have to look far to see that this scenario isn’t that far off for South Africans. Our mounting rubbish problem, and lack of landfill in which to put it, is fast growing into a serious issue.

A recent meeting in Pretoria, called by the department of environmental affairs, discussed a proposal to incinerate hazardous waste – broadly classified as waste that is harmful to human health or the environment that includes plastics, paint, pesticides, used oil and tyres – as fuel for the kilns of cement factories.

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