(Un-) Memorable Easter Monday!

Easter Monday.

Mid-morning and the phone rings…  ‘There is a pony by itself, limping badly and with blood on a hind leg, on Pound Common at Chailey. It may have been hit by a car.’ I made a number of phone calls – Anna my job-share colleague, who set off to check things out as she wasn’t too far away; to arrange borrowing a livestock trailer and for stabling should it be required.

By the time I arrived on site, Anna had managed to get some electric fencing around a group of 11 ponies including the lame pony. I phoned the vet and he was soon on site and looking from outside the enclosed area, he thought it was a foot injury as opposed to a skeletal injury. We left it that he would return when we had it corralled. Anna then set off to collect our heavy metal corral equipment and more fencing from some 20 miles away, while I kept watch over the ponies and explained matters to curious members of the public out walking. Ninety minutes later, Anna arrived back accompanied by Mick – so the dream-team were on the job!

After strengthening the fencing and erecting the corral we drove and corralled them and set about shedding-off the other ten ponies. I then drove off to collect a livestock trailer in case the pony needed to be removed off-site. The vet duly arrived and darted the pony with a strong sedative at which, it literally clear-jumped the corral hurdles from a standing start, these being some 1.5 metres high – I’ve never witnessed that in foureen years of dealing with Exmoor ponies!

We pursued it for some 300 metres across the common to a point where the drug was increasingly taking effect upon it. Something else I never witnessed before then happened. As it became increasingly giddy and weak from the drug, two other ponies were purposely either side of it supporting it including biting it on the neck as if to say, ‘Come on, stay on your feet!’  Finally after repeatedly collapsing and getting up perhaps a dozen times, it went down for good; we waited some ten minutes for the drug to further work. Then, after being briefed by the vet, we made our move from some 30 metres away and held it down on the ground while the vet put a head-collar on it and then tied its two rear legs together. Two of us had our full weight upon it to counter attempts to struggle free even though it had received a very large dose of sedative – native pony survival instinct for you!

Upon close examination by the vet, it was indeed a severe split hoof injury, perhaps a forked tree, or piece of metal, or even from an incursion on to a cattle grid – we shall never know but, not due to a road accident. After paring the hoof to remove loose material, the pony was given anti-biotic, pain-killer and anti-fly spray and then the collar and rope were removed. It took about another hour before he was able to stand properly and to walk and finally, to feed. Corral and fencing were then dismantled and loaded and redundant livestock trailer returned. I eventually left site after a final check on the poor unfortunate animal, early evening. All in a day’s work!

DEFRA Failing To Protect Bees & Help Farmers

http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/25/04/2014/144283/defra-failing-to-protect-bees-say-campaigners.htm

DEFRA failing to protect bees, say campaigners by Caroline Stocks, Friday 25 April 2014.

Friends of the Earth says the government’s draft national pollinator strategy does not do enough to help farmers understand how to provide bees with food or shelter, or how bees can benefit crops. The group says the proposals, which are open for consultation until 2 May and set to come into force in July, are not ambitious enough and rely too heavily on existing schemes that have so far failed to have an effect.

Instead it says farmers need to be given more specific, practical and independent advice, and is calling on producers to demand proper support to help them farm in a way that protects bees and their habitats. “Replacing the pollination that bees do for free would cost £1.8bn a year, so it’s vital the government invests in measures to help them on farmed land,” said Sandra Bell, FoE nature campaigner.

“But the proposed strategy will not reverse pollinator decline unless farmers are given support to take action.” Ms Bell said the government’s proposals – which include researching the effects of the neonicotinoid ban on farmers and sending information to farmers on how to better target pesticides – were not enough.

“We’ve seen promising research on how to significantly reduce pesticide use on crops such as oilseed rape, from companion planting to pest-resistant crops,” she said. “But it’s important these are relevant to the UK and that successful methods or products are rolled out to farmers.

“Farmers need good-quality advice, translating the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best agri-environment and greening options to boost pollinators and benefit crops.” Lincolnshire arable farmer Peter Lundgren said the government’s proposed strategy had been dumbed down too much and did not put enough emphasis on the need to mitigate farming’s effect on bees.

“The strategy seems to suggest that things such as simply providing a few wild flowers is sufficient, but we need to ensure the whole farm environment is as safe as possible for bees. We can limit the effect on bees, but we need to control pests sympathetically and use the full knowledge available about things such as plant breeds and companion cropping,” he said.

Mr Lundgren said many strategies to boost bee numbers came at very little cost to farmers, but were incredibly valuable in terms of public support for the industry. “When I looked at my own costings last year, it cost £2.20/ha not to have neonicotinoids. Working with an agronomist we can tailor effective regimes that will limit our effects on bees while producing good yields.

“The bee situation is politically important to farmers. The public won’t forgive us if we allow the bee population to collapse on our watch.

Ocean Microbe & Carbon Recycling

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424151835.htm

Microscopic organism plays a big role in ocean carbon cycling

April 24, 2014.

ABSTRACT.  It’s broadly understood that the world’s oceans play a crucial role in the global-scale cycling and exchange of carbon between Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere. Now scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have taken a leap forward in understanding the microscopic underpinnings of these processes.

When phyto-plankton use carbon dioxide to make new cells, a substantial portion of that cellular material is released into the sea as a buffet of edible molecules collectively called “dissolved organic carbon.” The majority of these molecules are eventually eaten by microscopic marine bacteria, used for energy, and recycled back into carbon dioxide as the bacteria exhale. The amount of carbon that remains as cell material determines the role that ocean biology plays in locking up atmospheric carbon dioxide in the ocean.

Thus, these “recycling” bacteria play an important role in regulating how much of the planet’s carbon dioxide is stored in the oceans. The detailed mechanisms of how the oceans contribute to this global carbon cycle at the microscopic scale, and which microbes have a leadership role in the breakdown process, are complex and convoluted problems to solve.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scripps scientists have pinpointed a bacterium that appears to play a dominant role in carbon consumption. Scripps’s Byron Pedler, Lihini Aluwihare, and Farooq Azam found that a single bacterium called Alteromonas could consume as much dissolved organic carbon as a diverse community of organisms.

“This was a surprising result,” said Pedler. “Because this pool of carbon is composed of an extremely diverse set of molecules, we believed that many different microbes with complementary abilities would be required to breakdown this material, but it appears that individual species may be pulling more weight than others when it comes to carbon cycling.”

By demonstrating that key individual species within the ecosystem can play a disproportionally large role in carbon cycling, this study helps bring us a step closer to understanding the function these microbes play in larger questions of climate warming and increased acidity in the ocean.

“In order to predict how ecosystems will react when you heat up the planet or acidify the ocean, we first need to understand the mechanisms of everyday carbon cycling — who’s involved and how are they doing it?” said Pedler. “Now that we have this model organism that we know contributes to ocean carbon cycling, and a model experimental system to study the process, we can probe further to understand the biochemical and genetic requirements for the breakdown of this carbon pool in the ocean.”

While the new finding exposes the unexpected capability of a significant species in carbon cycling, the scientists say there is much more to the story since whole communities of microbes may interact together or live symbiotically in the microscopic ecosystems of the sea.

Bees’ Burden of Pesticides

http://sos-bees.org/reports/

A study reports on concentrations of pesticides found in pollen brought back to hives by foraging bees, using samples from pollen traps (trapped pollen) or direct from the comb (comb pollen, beebread). Twenty-five samples of comb pollen stored over winter from the 2012 foraging season were obtained from locations in seven European countries, and subsequently 107 samples of trapped pollen from the 2013 foraging season obtained from locations in 12 European countries and analysed at an accredited laboratory. In terms of the geographical areas covered, and the numbers of samples taken simultaneously, this is one of the most extensive studies of pesticides in bee-collected pollen carried out to date.

This study sheds further light on the potentially serious toxic exposures suffered by honey bees at an individual and colony level throughout their lifecycle, and raises significant questions about likely exposures of wild bee populations and other wild pollinators to chemicals through various pathways. These exposures have either been ignored or have been underestimated in past and current discussions of bee health and pollinator protection measures. The exposure of bees and bee larvae to mixtures of pesticides is of significance because recent research has established that some components of the mixture are capable of interacting in a synergistic manner, such that the mixture proves far more toxic than its individual components.

Climate Change Report: Need To Steer a New Course

Watching this truly alarming scenario develop, resembles watching the Titanic sink! Society procrastinates; politicians tell us what a wonderful a job they are doing, while in fact doing as little as possible – resembling the steward re-arranging the deck-chairs, whilst at the same time, the ship is sinking!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27011044

Climate mitigation report: Key findings.

Paul Rincon, BBC Science Editor. April 13 2014.

A UN panel has released its much-anticipated report into strategies for curbing global warming. In their “summary for policymakers” members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say the world must rapidly move away from carbon-intensive fuels.

Total anthropogenic GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 with larger decadal increases toward the end of this period

Here, the IPCC is setting the scene: Mitigation must happen and happen fast against a background of fast-rising CO2 emissions. Greenhouse gas releases were higher between 2000 and 2010 than they have ever been in human history, and the global economic crisis produced only a temporary lull in emissions. In addition, about half of all the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since 1750 has been emitted in the past 40 years.

Second, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78% of total greenhouse gas emissions from 1979 to 2010. This brings us to another take-home message of this report – that experts believe there needs to be a huge shift towards clean energy and away from carbon-intensive energy sources if we are to head off the worst effects of global warming.

The panel says that, driven by a global increase in population and economic activity, global surface temperature increases will be between 3.7C and 4.8C in 2100 if no new action is taken.

Scenarios reaching atmospheric concentration levels of about 450ppm CO2 equivalent by 2100 include substantial cuts in anthropogenic GHG emissions by mid-century through large-scale changes in energy systems and potentially land use

The figure of 450 parts per million (ppm) concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is about the limit we must not exceed in order to keep temperature change under 2C (3.6F) by the end of this century. The 2C target was agreed by the UN as a way of avoiding dangerous changes in the climate.

But keeping greenhouse emissions under 450ppm by 2100 will be an uphill struggle. It will involve major changes to the way the world gets its energy – requiring a tripling or quadrupling of the share of low-carbon energy from renewables such as solar and wind, nuclear energy or other less polluting options. It will also necessitate changes in the way we use land, including reforestation – trees absorb CO2 and are therefore a natural “sink” for this greenhouse gas.

The message from the IPCC is that despite the scale of the challenge, the changes required are within our grasp and even offer opportunities (renewables could offer energy security, preventing access to fossil fuel supplies being used as a political weapon).

If the world does overshoot the 450ppm limit, technologies such as Bio-Energy Carbon Capture and Storage (Beccs) might have to be deployed widely. But the panel indicates which scenario would be preferable, pointing out: “The availability and scale of these and other carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and methods are uncertain,” and, it adds “associated with challenges and risks”.

Since AR4 [the IPCC’s previous assessment report in 2007], many RE technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and a growing number of RE (renewable energy) technologies have achieved a level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale. Some supporters think that perceptions of renewable energy sources are lagging behind the reality, and this report says that while the sector is growing, renewable technologies still need the support of policy makers if their market shares are to increase.

There will be a price tag: The economic costs of mitigation vary widely depending on the assumptions used in simulations and the technologies deployed. Scenarios that keep atmospheric concentrations of CO2 under 450ppm by 2100 are associated with losses in global consumption (economic activity) of 1% to 4% in 2030, for example. However, the report warns that if mitigation steps are delayed, or if access to technologies such as Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (Beccs) is limited for any reason, the costs of mitigation will increase still further in the medium to long term.

And there are likely to be many other benefits from steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to those related to curbing global warming. The benefits include a reduction in air pollution, which causes millions of premature deaths worldwide each year. Another is energy security – clean energy sources can help reduce our dependence on other countries for supplies of gas, for example.

The report actually backs the use of gas in the switch to a low-carbon economy. It says that efficient natural gas power generation could act as a “bridge technology”, if its use is phased out in the second half of this century.

oooOOOooo

The costs in pursuing a low carbon future by humanity are relatively cheap when compared with the possible horrendous problems and costs that future generations will have to endure and fund!

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/13/averting-climate-change-catastrophe-is-affordable-says-ipcc-report-un?utm_source=Daily+Carbon+Briefing&utm_campaign=fe2fe983c3-DAILY_BRIEFING&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_876aab4fd7-fe2fe983c3-303421281

Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual [world] economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report concluded.

“The report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost [and] the more difficult it will become,” said EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said: “This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change.”

The UK’s energy and climate secretary, Ed Davey, said: “The [report shows] the tools we need to tackle climate change are available, but international [and UK, Mr Cameron!] efforts need to significantly increase.”

The IPCC economic analysis did not include the benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which could outweigh the costs. The benefits include reducing air pollution, which plagues China and recently hit the UK. Also, there would be improved energy security, which is currently at risk in Europe due to the possible actions of Russia – a large producer of gas, in the Ukraine.

National Trust Chief Speaks Out Against Government

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27007451

13 April 2014.

Councils hustled over housing, says National Trust chief.

Councils are being “hustled” by the government to produce local plans quickly to meet housing targets, the head of the National Trust has said. Dame Helen Ghosh said “pressure” meant some English local authorities felt they had to allow greenfield building.

The Trust was monitoring the situation and “making appropriate representations to government about it”, she said. But the government said it valued and protected the countryside and councils had had a decade to come up with plans. Greenfield sites are defined as places which have not previously been built on, including greenbelt land around cities. Brownfield sites are those which have previously been developed.

In 2004, the Labour government introduced local plans, requiring councils to set housing targets and identify a rolling five-year supply of developable land. And, in April 2012, planning law in England was further changed to speed up decisions, with a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” unless negative considerations “significantly and demonstrably” outweigh positives.

Director-general Dame Helen said the National Trust – a charity which works to protect historical sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – was “very concerned” about the level of pressure on councils. “We are very concerned that the haste with which local authorities – some of them ill-prepared to do so – have been hustled into producing their local plans, and the pressure they’re under to produce the number of houses has forced them, in some cases, to designate greenfield sites,” she told BBC Radio 4’s The World this Weekend. “We are very worried about that and we are monitoring it – and making appropriate representations to government about it.”

Dame Helen said the Trust had previously argued that giving councils a year to produce a local plan was “just too short” and events since had proved councils “need to take longer to do these things properly.” But she said there had been “some positive signs recently” when the government had said Incentives for developing on brownfield sites would be increased.

Dame Helen Ghosh Dame Helen Ghosh said the government was “pressuring” councils.” We were encouraged by that but we are still very worried about the number of potential planning permissions that are out there on greenfield sites,” she added.

In response, planning minister Nick Boles said: “This government values and protects the countryside.” Greenbelt development had fallen “to its lowest rate since modern records began” under the coalition, he added. Mr Boles also said: “Councils have had a decade to shape where development should and shouldn’t go through their local plans. So far, three quarters of local authorities have published a draft plan, and local residents should hold slow-coach councils to account.”

The Local Government Association, which represents 350 English councils, said councils were “making good progress with getting complex and detailed local plans in place”. “The most important thing will always be getting them right and ensuring people have a real say in developments that can support growth in their areas,” a spokesman said.

Fracking and floods

During the interview, Dame Helen also criticised comments made earlier this year by Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith, suggesting flood defence planning involved “tricky issues of policy and priority” about whether to protect “town or country, front rooms or farmland”. She said it was “dangerous and unnecessary to paint it as a black-and-white argument”, adding that there should be a “national debate” on flood defence planning.

On the issue of hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – where rock is drilled to release gas, she said the Trust would “undoubtedly say no” to a request to frack on its land at present. It has already said it maintains a “presumption” against the technology.

“We would need very convincing assurances about environmental impacts, very tight regulation around the kinds of assessments that would take place before we would ever consider fracking on our land,” Dame Helen said.

Sightings

Wednesday, April 16th.  Common whitethroat at Berwick and at Warren Glen, Hastings. One adder seen at Warren Glen as was red campion in flower.

Thursday, April 17th.  Several house martins hawking over Hartfield village.

Friday, April 18th.  Garden warbler down by stream at end of garden, has really pulled the stops out with long spells of flitting between trees and bushes whilst singing.  (May have been at one stage, eying up one of the seed feeders in garden?)

Foreign Worm That Could Wipe Out Britain’s Snails

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/new-guinea-flatworm-foreign-worm-that-could-wipe-out-britains-snails-arrives-in-europe-via-potted-plant-imports-9211140.html

New Guinea flatworm: Foreign worm that could wipe out Britain’s snails arrives in Europe via potted plant imports

Tom Bawden, Environment editor, The Independent, Sunday 23 March 2014.

The New Guinea flatworm is set to become the latest “harmful non-native species” to enter Britain under the cover of plants brought in from abroad, after being spotted in Europe for the first time this month. Mr Shardlow said the rapid growth in international trade in potted plants had accelerated the spread of “harmful non-native species” as eggs and insects cross borders by passing under the radar in soil, foliage and branches.

“A flatworm that overwhelms snails in a ‘gang attack’ and has caused many extinctions when introduced to other parts of the world has now arrived in Europe. Urgent action is necessary to save wild British snails – the UK government should close the borders to pot plants,” he said. It is extremely difficult to detect eggs and small bugs in pots, which can be devastating when introduced to alien environments, wreaking havoc on gardens, forests, farmland and ecosystems by upsetting the balance of nature.

“It only takes one or two eggs in a pocket of air deep in the soil to survive and a potentially devastating invasive species has crossed over a border and threatens a new country, where there is no strategy to deal with the invader,” Mr Shardlow said.

“There is no need to import pot plants into the UK – horticulturalists here are quite capable of growing our own pot plants and selling them on the domestic market,” he added.

Potted plant trade is the likely source of species such as The New Zealand flatworm, which has significantly reduced worm populations in the northern British Isles, which play an essential part in aerating and fertilising the soil. Other examples include the Harlequin ladybird which consumes native ladybirds and the Spanish slug, which was first spotted in the UK last year, Mr Shardlow said. The Spanish species is larger, reproduces faster and is more resistant to slug pellets than UK species and is eating its way through gardens and crops. Concerns are mounting that it they could breed to produce a super-hybrid.

But the biggest fear surrounds the prospect of invasion by the New Guinea flatworm. “This species is extremely invasive. I really hope it can be stopped at the earliest stages,” said Jean-Lou Justine of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, adding the threat was so great that “all snails in Europe could be wiped out”.

A government spokesman said: “We do not believe that there are any New Guinea flatworms in the UK but we are aware of the threat they could pose to our native wildlife. We are currently assessing the risk and will then consider the most appropriate action.”

Nor is the New Guinea flatworm the only vicious species poised to enter the UK via the international pot plant trade, Mr Shardlow warns. The Asian hornet, a bee-eating wasp already destroying bee populations is high on his list of insects to fear, as is the Argentine ant – “one of the worst invasive species in the world, eliminating native ant species and damaging ecosystem”.

Mr Shardlow is not alone in his concerns about harmful invasive non-native species. Graham Madge, of the RSPB, said: “We are extremely concerned about the threat of non-native species becoming established in the UK. This has very serious impact on wildlife and could be extremely damaging to the economy.”

“The problem is accelerating in line with international trade, partly because of the Internet which has significantly increased the volume of plants being shipped around the world,” he added.

Mr Madge says rising trade is part of a “potential nightmarish cocktail” – the other part being climate change, which makes it increasingly possible for invasive species such as termites to colonise the UK.

Invasive species fall into three broad categories, according to Mr Madge. There are those that come in “under the radar”, for example nestled in plant pots and those – such as mink – that are brought into confined fur farms and escape and breed. Finally, there are those that are brought over and widely released and cause unintended problems – such as the grey squirrel, which was imported from American in the 19th century as a fashionable addition to estates and proceeded to the native grey squirrel population. Last week ministers finally conceded defeat in their battle against the grey squirrel by scrapping laws requiring people to report their presence on their land so they can be destroyed.

Robin Gill, a vertebrate ecologist at Forest Research, an agency of The Forestry Commission, put the damage inflicted by the grey squirrel on Britain’s timber industry at well over £10 million a year from bark stripping alone. Those losses result from the lower price fetched by the damaged timber and is one of several reasons why woodland owners are increasingly unwilling to plant new trees, Mr Gill says.

“In the last year I have become increasingly aware of woodland owners not wanting to plant new trees because they feel it isn’t worth it. They are increasing worried about climate change, grey squirrels and a proliferation of diseases such as chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) because of the growing global trade in plants and plant products. These provide a strong disincentive to plant and the economic effects could be enormous,” he said.

Farmers are also concerned. “The changing climate means that species historically not able to reproduce in the UK, suddenly can do so,” said Guy Gagen, chief arable advisor at the National Farmers Union, noting that invasive species such ring rot in potatoes “can be very serious”.

Invasive non-native species cost the British economy an estimated £1.7 billion a year, most of it in agriculture and horticulture, according to a government report, which notes that the true cost is likely to be significantly higher because it doesn’t measure “damage to ecosystem services and loss of biodiversity, which cannot be readily quantified”.

Most experts agree that the threat posed by non-native species is clear. However, some believe there is some cause for hope, not least because the European Commission has acknowledged the scale of the threat and is working on “an action plan to protect biodiversity against problematic invasive species”.

“The country is under an unprecedented threat from tree pests and diseases after an exponential rise over the last decade. If we don’t do anything that rise will continue. But I am impressed by how everybody is recognising this as a problem and pulling together. Some things you can’t stop but others you can. So we face a big threat but it is possible to curb it,” said Ian Wright, the National Trust’s gardens advisor.

Britain’s deadly pot-plant bug imports:

Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) – It has taken less than five years to spread across the whole of the UK, consuming our native ladybirds and causing a nuisance in people’s houses in the autumn

Oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) – strips whole oak trees bare of leaves leaving them vulnerable to attack from other pests and diseases. Has very irritating hairs that can cause skin rash for humans and stimulate the Forestry Commission into spraying woodlands with toxic pesticides that damage ecology.

New Zealand flatworm (Arthurdendyus triangulates) – a predator of our earthworms that has spread into the wild in parts of Northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Its impacts have been particularly heavy on our most ecologically important earthworm the Lob worm.

Lily beetle (Liloceris lilii) – a shiny red beetle that people like until it eats all their lillies. They first came to Britain in the 1930s.

Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris): A huge slug spreading through Britain’s gardens and causing havoc. It is bigger and more resistant to slug pellets than UK species and the concern is that the two could breed to produce a super-hybrid slug.

Light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana) – One of the commonest garden moths in many areas but the shiny orange-brown headed insect is so far only causing minor problems in the UK– imported from Australia.

Rosemary leaf beetle (Chrysolina Americana) – a frankly beautiful beetle, but not all rosemary growers agree with me. The beetle, which became an established pest in Britain in the 1990s, also eats the leaves of lavender, thyme and sage.

And three to beware of:

New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari): A horror that has destroyed populations of native snails across the Indo-Pacific that has just been found in Europe for the first time, in France. It is considered to be the cause of extinction of native land snails on several Pacific and Pacific Rim islands.

Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) – a bee-eating wasp already destroying bee populations in France. It is expected to cross into the UK, initially settling in the southern parts of the country. It is regarded as a highly effective predator of insects, posing a significant threat to ecosystems.

Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) – one of the worst invasive species in the world, eliminating native ant species and damaging eco-systems. Its workers are extremely fast moving and industrious, often recruiting in high numbers.

Britain, One of the Lowest Producers of Renewable Energy in EU

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/britain-one-of-the-lowest-producers-of-renewable-energy-in-the-eu-9219497.html

Britain one of the lowest producers of renewable energy in the EU.

By Jack Pitts, Thursday 27 March 2014.

Britain is the third lowest producer of renewable energy in the EU, and is far below its sustainable energy targets for 2020, a recent study has shown. The report, published by the European Commission’s statistical body ‘Eurostat’, indicates that the UK generates the third least renewable energy within EU28 – the block of 28 European states committed to hitting green energy targets by 2020. Britain is lagging far behind other EU countries with just 4.2 per cent of its energy derived from green sources, according to Eurostat, only Luxembourg (3.1 per cent) and Malta (1.4 per cent) are performing worse.

The survey investigates the use of renewable energy as a share of total energy consumption between 2004 – when the goals were proposed – and 2012 – the first year for which data has been available. Britain has increased its contributions from 1.2 per cent to 4.2 per cent over the 8 years in question, leaving an improbable 11.8 per cent gap to make up before 2020, Eurostat reports.

A spokesperson from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told The Independent that “The Government is committed to cost-effective renewable energy as part of a balanced, secure and low-carbon energy mix. We have clear plans in place to meet our 2020 renewable energy target. We are making good progress. In 2012 we exceeded our 2011/12 interim target for generating renewable energy and we are on course to meet our next target of 5.4 per cent for 2013/2014.”

However, 5.4 per cent, although an improvement, still leaves the UK far short of its 2020 target which it will not reach at its current trajectory. The DECC has been apportioned £40 million in funds between now and 2020 to help bolster green energy production.

France and Germany’s renewable contributions account for 13.4 per cent and 12.4 per cent respectively: at least ten times better than Britain’s meagre score that also falls far below the EU28 average of 14.1 per cent

Although the UK’s efforts account for a tripling of its commitment to sustainable energy it still puts it below every other developed European nation in terms of contributions to overall energy consumption.

Britain also trails other nations in its efforts to hit energy targets set for 2020 – again featuring in the bottom 3 of all EU nations. At 4.2 per cent the UK is less than a third of the way towards its target of having 15 per cent of all energy generated using renewable means.

The EU report showcases government listlessness since 2004 in regards to green energy and subverts Cameron’s claim that the coalition will be “the greenest government ever.” Shortly after being elected, the Prime Minister told the Department of Energy and Climate Change: “We have 5 years to make the decisions that will get this country on track  and nowhere are long term decisions more needed than in the fields of energy, climate change and the environment… I want us to be the greenest government ever.”

He continued: “We’ve got a real opportunity to drive the green economy, to have green jobs and green growth… Clearly there’s the climate change agenda where we’ve got to get back on track both nationally and internationally.”

In general the Eurostat report presents an upbeat view of EU energy consumption, recording that “Bulgaria, Estonia and Sweden have already achieved their 2020 targets” and Europe’s “share of renewables in energy consumption is up to 14 per cent in 2012.” Topping the bill is Norway, for whom 64.5 percent of energy is produced sustainably.

Circular Economy The Way Ahead?

The circular economy principle: The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimises, tracks, and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design. The term goes beyond the mechanics of production and consumption of goods and services, in the areas that it seeks to redefine (examples include rebuilding capital including social and natural, and the shift from consumer to user). The concept of the circular economy is grounded in the study of non-linear, particularly living systems.  [THE way forward perhaps].

http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/circular-economy/the-circular-model-an-overview

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/preetam-kaushik/circular-economy_b_5047105.html

Circular Economy: Integrating ‘Life’ into Businesses Responsible for ‘Tomorrow.’

By Preetam Kaushik, posted: 28/03/2014.

ABSTRACT.  In a capitalistic economy, claiming to be ‘exclusive’ may be a privilege. But, in a world which is fast losing out on its metals, minerals, water and clean air, it smacks of colossal snobbishness. Predicaments of an unsustainable future are staring at the businesses in the face. Use and throw has slowly turned into simply throw with shelf lives of products declining with innovation in technology. All this ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘custom made’ has come to a point of no return.

Unless there is a drastic change in ideology that follows integrated approach, future can take us on a time travel. Only, this time we will enter dark ages; never to return. The current economy with linear production where only products are built to be discarded at the end seems to be a game where everyone is out to lose.

A pair of word ‘circular economy’ seems to be the next biggest mantra. And, chant it, you must; for your own good and survival. For, this talks of an exclusive economy, which is capable of designing ‘out’ the waste. In a broader sense, circular economy is much beyond a simplistic one-line definition.

Though at the outset it looks like a clear contradiction and fitting reply to economy of accumulation; the new model of businesses is much more than that. The kind of world that capitalism has created is for all to see. Excesses of a consumption-based economic system –from burgeoning landfills, to rising levels of obesity; cronies of capitalism refuse to see what lies ahead of them. Because, in simple words, there is not much of a tomorrow left there.

In the world that’s headed towards wider gulf between the rich and poor, democratic and autocratic nations — circular economy seems to be the new leveler, if adopted by nations. It is not a new revolution that will take the world by storm. In fact, given that the capitalistic forces are leading the chains of excesses, it can never be, without participation from empowered people of every nation. This almost Zen-like ‘here and now’ formulation of hard economic realities seems very distant to the prevailing sensibilities which promote excesses.

Will the governments, corporations, and individuals embrace a new set of beliefs so divergent from business as usual? Though it is tough to say whether the solidarity will form at that level, there sure is some strength for circular economy from within the circles of propagators. Fortunately for it, this ‘new religion’ has strong voices with those within government set ups too to talk about its need and feasibility.

Circular economy does not ask you to drop everything you did before. Neither does it accept just a bit of trimming here and there, to make it seem like an ‘honest attempt’. It is bringing forth a situation where we need to think of economy as a large circle. As opposed to a linear system that we have now where we only create stuff to turn it into waste, eventually; the circular economy is promisingly different. Here, ‘net waste’ does not figure that can harm the biosphere. Sounds fascinating, isn’t it?

Now, get this. In circular economy, goods don’t get produced for exclusivity. They get produced for a longer shelf life, and are readily reusable and recyclable when they reach the “end” of their operating life. Instead of unidirectional value chains, industry has to imagine being part of a circular value chain where they are responsible and not just profit-oriented. So, whatever goes around DOES come around!

Ideologically, this ain’t a new thought. Actually in a world where limited resources had to be shared, fair and just were the key words that operated in the minds of native economists of those days. Barter system where fair and just market existed simply based on needs and not on the ‘money’ part, ecology was taken care of.

The new mantra of circular economy seems to have caught up well. Mckinsey and Company put out the findings of a study of which the company was a partner. This study revealed that the material waste in Europe can come down significantly by applying the principles of this new model of economy.

Circular economy factors in flexibility in production processes. In fact, flexibility is the prime aspect that creates the base for manufacturing units to change and adapt to changes in the business environments in a more economic manner than what they already do.