Could Pioneering Vet’s TB Test End the Slaughter?

As badger culls begin, could one pioneering vet’s bovine TB test end the slaughter?

Patrick Barkham.   The Observer.  Sun 15 Oct 2017.

Research at a secret location in Devon may help eradicate bovine tuberculosis without a single badger being killed, says leading vet

A pretty stone farmhouse sits in a bucolic green valley, surrounded by airy cowsheds. It looks like a timeless West Country scene but is actually a pioneering farm, where cutting-edge science is helping to solve the hugely controversial, multimillion-pound problem of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

As an expanded badger cull gets under way this autumn, in which 33,500 animals will be killed to help stop the spread of the disease, a leading vet, Dick Sibley, believes this Devon farm demonstrates a way to eradicate the disease in cattle – without slaughtering any badgers.

Sibley’s trial, at a secret location, was halted earlier this year when two new tests to better identify bTB in cattle were deemed illegal. But government regulators have now given the vet permission to continue. His work is backed by rock star-turned-activist Brian May, whose Save Me Trust last week began a four-year programme of vaccinating badgers at the farm against bTB.

The family that owns the farm, which has 300 milking cows, turned to Sibley in despair after being virtually shut down with bTB for five years. Because of the disease, their cattle cannot be sold on the open market.

“We had nothing to lose,” said the fourth-generation farmer, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of interference from extremists on both sides of the argument. “We want to get rid of TB, it’s costing us a lot. Any technology would be better than the old bTB test.”

Despite four years of badger culling, bTB continues to rise in England, and 30,980 cows were slaughtered in the year up to June in attempts to control it, an increase of 4%. Farmers, as well as wildlife campaigners, are increasingly critical of the cattle test for bTB, which misses many cases, leaving undiagnosed cows to spread the disease within herds. In 2015, 16% of English bTB “breakdowns” were only detected in abattoirs, after supposedly healthy cows had been slaughtered.

Sibley is pioneering two new tests. The phage test, developed by microbiologist Cath Rees of Nottingham University, uses a bTB-invading virus to “hunt” for the live bacterium. It is detecting bTB in cows on the Devon farm months before they test positive with the traditional “skin test”: 85 cows have tested positive with the phage test despite all being found disease-free by the conventional test.

Farmers then need to know if infected cows are infectious. For this, Sibley uses a second test, qPCR, developed by Liz Wellington, life sciences professor at Warwick University. It detects bTB in dung, showing if a cow is “shedding” – spreading – the disease. If it is, the cow is slaughtered even though the conventional test suggests it is healthy.

Both professors have given Sibley free use of their new technologies, and the tests have shown that supposedly healthy cows are the “hidden reservoir” of bTB on the farm. But Sibley said what farms need as well as better testing is better risk management and more resilient cows. “I’ve never cured a cow with a test,” he said.

The farm is an intensive dairy operation that keeps its cattle indoors once they are fully grown and milks them robotically – some cows produce 15,000 litres of milk each year. “If you don’t give that cow everything she needs, and keep the disease away from her, she will crash and burn,” said Sibley. “It’s just like athletes: if there’s a bit of E coli in the Olympic village, they all go down.”

TB – in cows as well as humans – is traditionally a disease of bad living conditions, so the farm’s barns are airy. There are fewer cows in each barn compared with a typical dairy farm, walkways are cleaned three times a day, and regularly changed drinking water is held in “tipping troughs” that are kept scrubbed clean. Dung falling into troughs is likely to be a key transmitter of the disease.

After studying each cow’s history, Sibley believes mothers often spread the disease to their calves at birth. The farm is combatting this by building a new maternity unit with rubber floors that will be disinfected after every delivery. Colostrum – the crucial first milk that boosts a calf’s immune system – is harvested from each mother but pasteurised before it is fed to each calf, so it won’t spread disease.

Leading vet Dick Sibley is trialling new testing methods for bTB that will detect the disease much earlier in cattle. Photograph: Jim Wileman for the Observer

After being “shut down” for five years, the farm had its first clear test last year. It hopes to be clear of all restrictions within 12 months. But Sibley says that removing the disease from cows without tackling diseased badgers is like “crossing the road and only looking one way”.

Farm CCTV reveals that no badgers come close to the cattle sheds, but Wellington’s qPCR technology tested badger latrines and found local badgers were shedding the disease: 30% of 273 faecal samples contained the bacterium. Young grazing cows are potentially exposed to the disease.

“We have to accept that the badgers are a risk,” said Sibley. “We either kill them, fence them out or, more constructively, vaccinate them to reduce the risk of infection in the environment.”

May’s ‘Save Me Trust’ is funding badger vaccination around the farm. The Queen guitarist became a hate-figure for some farmers when he suggested that if bTB was such a problem they should stop rearing cattle. But he has been working behind the scenes for several years to support farmers.

“I’m very, very hopeful that Dick Sibley has the answer,” said May. “I hope it works out, not just for this farm but for the whole of Britain. That would take away this awful polarisation between farmers and the public and animal welfare groups.”

A global shortage of BCG vaccine stopped May vaccinating badgers last year and he points out that the farm has virtually banished the disease without touching a single badger. “If badgers are running around with bTB and the herd has been cleaned up with advanced testing, that really makes you wonder whether badgers are contributing to the disease,” said May.

While some epidemiologists have privately expressed frustration that the government has not yet adopted new cattle-testing technologies, Sibley said the regulators move slowly. “The authorities must have rock-solid evidence in case they end up in court. I predict that in five years time phage and qPCR will be in the toolbox for farmers.”

Other bTB-hit farms are interested in Sibley’s approach and May’s charity has pledged to help meet veterinary costs. In Wales, farms with chronic bTB are receiving special support from the Welsh government and could be among the first to adopt the new techniques. Christianne Glossop, Wales’ chief vet, said: “I have known Dick for many years and have great respect for his work. I am also well aware of his current trials and will be keeping a close eye on the results of his pilot in Devon exploring innovative new testing methods.”

The Devon farmer admits he has been surprised by his success. “This test is showing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m excited that it could help us get clear of the disease and help other farmers in the future.”

THE CULLING DEBATE.

A zoonotic disease – one that can jump from animals to humans – bovine tuberculosis (bTB) caused thousands of human deaths until the pasteurisation of milk began in the 1920s. It was then almost eradicated from British cows with the widespread slaughter of herds in the 1950s.

However, in 1971 it was discovered that cows had passed the disease to badgers after a dead badger was found on a farm in Gloucestershire. The find led to five decades of debate and scientific uncertainty, and it is still not known what proportion – if any – of cattle TB cases are caused by badgers. The scientific consensus is that cows and badgers pass the disease between them but the precise method of transmission is also not known. Epidemiologists believe it is most likely via animal faeces.

Cattle TB has risen steadily since the 1980s and cost £500m in compensation to farmers in the decade up to 2013. That year, badger culling began in two “zones” in Gloucestershire and Somerset. It has since expanded to 21 zones in England. Ireland, the only other country with a bTB problem, also culls badgers.

Pro-cull farmers argue that reducing badger numbers will reduce bTB in the environment. No data has been published on the impact of four years of badger culling on cattle TB, but many scientists question the cull’s effectiveness.

Appetite For Destruction

https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2017-10/WWF_AppetiteForDestruction_Summary_Report_SignOff.pdf

A lot of people are aware of the impact a meat-based diet has on water, land and habitats, and the implications of its associated greenhouse gas emissions. But few know the largest impact comes from the crop-based feed the animals eat.  Go to the above WWF link and take a look!

 

Green Groups and MPs Calling for Amendments to the Repeal Bill

http://www.ciwem.org/green-groups-and-mps-are-calling-for-an-amendment-to-the-repeal-bill/

July 7 2017.  The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management,  (CIWEM).

 

Green Groups and MPs are calling For an Amendment To the Repeal Bill.

Thirteen major environmental charities in the Greener UK coalition have begun working with a cross-party group of MPs to ensure the Repeal Bill does not “dilute” the force of environmental law in the UK

The MPs that back the amendment so far include Ed Miliband, former Labour Party leader and secretary of state for energy and climate change, and Caroline Lucas, Green Party co-leader.

The government has said that existing UK mechanisms, primarily judicial review and the role of parliament, are enough to replace all the functions currently carried out by EU agencies and the European Court of Justice (ECJ).  But these UK mechanisms do not compare to current EU arrangements, the groups say.

Currently, EU agencies play important roles in monitoring the state of the environment, checking governments comply with environmental law and, where necessary, enforcing the law by initiating investigations into possible breaches, including in response to complaints from citizens and civil society organisations. If breaches of the law are identified, remedies and sanctions can be applied, including fines.

Shaun Spiers, chair of Greener UK and executive director at Green Alliance, said: “No one voted for dirtier beaches or worse air quality. The government has promised to bring all environmental protections into domestic law, but laws are only effective when there are strong institutions to enforce them.

“The ultimate risk of fines imposed by the European Court has led the UK government to clean up its act several times – for example, when it stopped pumping raw sewage into oceans on a regular basis and, more recently, being ordered by the courts to publish stronger air quality plans.

“To secure the high level of environmental protection that the public overwhelmingly wants and needs, UK governance institutions must be sufficiently resourced, independent and expert. Otherwise, environmental law will fail.

“The government will protest its good intentions, but it should be establishing systems that are proof against any future government that may want to weaken environmental and other protections.”

The Greener UK coalition formed in response to the EU referendum, united in the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment. It brings together 13 major environmental organisations, including the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, and WWF.

The Great Repeal Bill will end the supremacy of EU law and return power to the UK.

Amendments.  The text of Repeal Bill amendment the groups are recommending the following:

(1) The relevant Ministers must, before the UK’s exit from the EU, make provision that all powers and functions relating to the UK that were carried out by an EU institution before the date of the UK leaving the EU will—

(a) continue to be carried out by an EU institution; or

(b) be carried out by an appropriate existing or newly created domestic body; or

(c) be carried out by an appropriate international body.

(2) For the purposes of this section, powers and functions relating to the UK exercised by an EU institution may include, but are not limited to—

(a) monitoring and measuring compliance with legal requirements,

(b) reviewing and reporting on compliance with legal requirements,

(c) enforcement of legal requirements,

(d) setting standards or targets,

(e) co-ordinating action,

(f) publicising information including regarding compliance with environmental standards.

(3) Within 12 months of the UK’s exit from the EU, the Government shall consult and bring forward proposals for domestic governance arrangements to ensure equivalent provision of the regulatory, monitoring, oversight, accountability, enforcement and other functions relating to the UK currently provided by EU institutions, by providing for the establishment by primary legislation of—

(a) a new independent body or bodies with powers and functions equivalent to those of the relevant EU institutions in relation to the environment; and

(b) a new domestic framework for environmental protection and improvement.

(4) For the purposes of this section ‘EU institution’ includes but is not limited to—

(a) the European Commission;

(b) the European Environment Agency;

(c) the European Chemicals Agency; and

(d) the European Court of Auditors.

(5) Responsibility for any functions or obligations arising from EU-derived UK law for which no specific provision has been made immediately after commencement of this Act will belong to the relevant Minister until such a time as specific provision for those functions or obligations has been made.

 

This article was originally posted on CIWM Journal Online.

New Threat to Ozone Layer

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/27/ozone-hole-recovery-threatened-by-rise-of-paint-stripper-chemical?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco

Ozone hole recovery threatened by rise of paint stripper chemical.  [Abridged].

Damian Carrington Environment editor, Tuesday 27 June 2017.

Dichloromethane, found in paint-stripping chemicals, has a relatively short lifespan so action to cut its emissions would have rapid benefits. Photograph: Justin Kase/Alamy

The restoration of the globe’s protective shield of ozone will be delayed by decades if fast-rising emissions of a chemical used in paint stripper are not curbed, new research has revealed.

Atmospheric levels of the chemical have doubled in the last decade and its use is not restricted by the Montreal protocol that successfully outlawed the CFCs mainly responsible for the ozone hole. The ozone-destroying chemical is called dichloromethane and is also used as an industrial solvent, an aerosol spray propellant and a blowing agent for polyurethane foams. Little is known about where it is leaking from or why emissions have risen so rapidly.

The loss of ozone was discovered in the 1980s and is greatest over Antarctica. But Ryan Hossaini, at Lancaster University in the UK and who led the new work, said: “It is important to remember that ozone depletion is a global phenomenon, and that while the peak depletion occurred over a decade ago, it is a persistent environmental problem and the track to recovery is expected to be a long and bumpy one.  Ozone shields us from harmful levels of UV radiation that would otherwise be detrimental to human, animal and plant health.”

The new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, analysed the level of dichloromethane in the atmosphere and found it rose by 8% a year between 2004 and 2014. The scientists then used sophisticated computer models to find that, if this continues, the recovery of the ozone layer would be delayed by 30 years, until about 2090.

The chemical was not included in the 1987 Montreal protocol because it breaks down relatively quickly in the atmosphere, usually within six months, and had not therefore been expected to build up. In contrast, CFCs persist for decades or even centuries.  But the short lifespan of dichloromethane does mean that action to cut its emissions would have rapid benefits. “If policies were put in place to limit its production, then this gas could be flushed out of the atmosphere relatively quickly,” said Hossaini.

If the dichloromethane in the atmosphere was held at today’s level, the recovery of the ozone level would only be delayed by five years, the scientists found. There was a surge in emissions in the period 2012-14 and if growth rate continues at that very high rate, the ozone recovery would be postponed indefinitely, but Hosseini said this extreme scenario is unlikely: “Our results still show the ozone hole will recover.”

 

There are other short-lived gases containing the chlorine that destroys ozone, but few measurements have been taken of their levels in the atmosphere. “Unfortunately there is no long-term record of these, only sporadic data, but these do indicate they are a potentially significant source of chlorine in the atmosphere,” said Hossaini, adding that further research on this was needed.

Anna Jones, a scientist at BAS, said: “The new results underline the critical importance of long-term observations of ozone-depleting gases and expanding the Montreal protocol to mitigate new threats to the ozone layer.”

Overall the Montreal protocol is seen as very successful in cutting ozone losses, with estimates indicating that without the protocol the Antarctic ozone hole would have been 40% larger by 2013. Scientists discovered four “rogue” CFCs in 2014 that were increasing in concentration in the atmosphere and contributing to ozone-destruction.

Tories and Labour Not Being Honest With Voters

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40057115#

Tories and Labour not being honest with voters: IFS  [Abrided].

By Chris Johnston, May 26 2017.

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour are being honest with voters about the economic consequences of their policy proposals, an influential think tank has warned.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the Tories had very few tax or spending commitments in their manifesto.

Labour, in contrast, was proposing very big increases in tax and spending.  However, the IFS said Labour’s plans for paying for its proposed expansion in state activity would not work.

IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said neither manifesto gave voters an honest set of choices or addressed the long-term challenges the UK faced.

“For Labour, we can have pretty much everything – free higher education, free childcare, more spending on pay, health, infrastructure. And the pretence is that can all be funded by faceless corporations and ‘the rich’,” he said.

“There is a choice we can make as a country to have a bigger state – that would not make us unusual in international terms. But that comes at a cost in higher taxes, which would inevitably need to be borne by large numbers of us.”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives offered spending cuts the party had already promised, Mr Emmerson said.  “Additional funding pledges for the NHS and schools are just confirming that spending would rise in a way broadly consistent with the March Budget,” he told a briefing in London on Friday.

“Compared with Labour, they are offering a relatively smaller state and consequently lower taxes. With that offer come unacknowledged risks to the quality of public services, and tough choices over spending.”

The IFS said the Tory plans “imply at least another five years of austerity, with the continuation of planned welfare cuts and serious pressures on the public services including on the NHS”.

Labour’s calculations that £49bn a year could be raised from the wealthiest individuals and companies were flawed and would raise £40bn at most in the short term, and less in the long term, it said.

Which Are the Healthiest Oils to Cook With?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33675975?post_id=1281307675222529_1350253378327958#_=_

Which oils are best to cook with?

28 July 2015

From the section BBC Magazine

 

Choosing the right oil to cook with is a complicated business, writes Michael Mosley.

When it comes to fats and oils, we are spoiled for choice. Supermarket shelves are heaving with every conceivable option. But these days it is extremely confusing because there is so much debate about the benefits and harm that come from consuming different types of fats.

On Trust Me, I’m a Doctor we decided to look at things from a different angle by asking: “Which fats and oils are best to cook with?”

You might think it is obvious that frying with vegetable oils has to be healthier than cooking with animal fat, like lard or butter. But is it really?

To find out, we gave some Leicester residents a variety of fats and oils and asked our volunteers to use them in their everyday cooking. The volunteers were also asked to collect any leftover oil which would then be analysed.

The fats and oils they used included sunflower oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, cold pressed rapeseed oil, olive oil (refined and extra virgin), butter and goose fat.

Samples of oil and fat, after cooking, were collected and sent to Leicester School of Pharmacy at De Montfort University in Leicester, where Prof Martin Grootveld and his team ran a parallel experiment where they heated up these same oils and fats to frying temperatures.

When you are frying or cooking at a high temperature (at or close to 180C or 356F), the molecular structures of the fats and oils you are using change. They undergo what’s called oxidation – they react with oxygen in the air to form aldehydes and lipid peroxides. At room temperature something similar happens, though more slowly. When lipids go rancid they become oxidised.

Consuming or inhaling aldehydes, even in small amounts, has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and cancer. So what did Prof Grootveld’s team find?

“We found,” he says, “that the oils which were rich in polyunsaturates – the corn oil and sunflower oil – generated very high levels of aldehydes.”

I was surprised as I’d always thought of sunflower oil as being “healthy”.

“Sunflower and corn oil are fine,” Prof Grootveld says, “as long as you don’t subject them to heat, such as frying or cooking. It’s a simple chemical fact that something which is thought to be healthy for us is converted into something that is very unhealthy at standard frying temperatures.”

The olive oil and cold-pressed rapeseed oil produced far less aldehydes, as did the butter and goose fat. The reason is that these oils are richer in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, and these are much more stable when heated. In fact, saturated fats hardly undergo this oxidation reaction at all.

Prof Grootveld generally recommends olive oil for frying or cooking. “Firstly because lower levels of these toxic compounds are generated, and secondly the compounds that are formed are actually less threatening to the human body.”

His research also suggests that when it comes to cooking, frying in saturate-rich animal fats or butter may be preferable to frying in sunflower or corn oil.

“If I had a choice,” he says, “between lard and polyunsaturates, I’d use lard every time.”

Lard, despite its unhealthy reputation, is actually rich in monounsaturated fats.

Our study also threw up another surprise because Prof Grootveld’s team identified in some of the samples sent in by our volunteers a couple of new aldehydes that they had not previously seen in the oil-heating experiments.

“We’ve done some new science here,” he says with a smile on his face. “It’s a world first, I’m very, very pleased about it.”

I’m not sure that our volunteers would have been quite so thrilled to discover their cooking had managed to generate new, potentially toxic compounds.

So what is Prof Grootveld’s overall advice?

Firstly, try to do less frying, particularly at high temperature. If you are frying, minimise the amount of oil you use, and also take steps to remove the oil from the outside of the fried food, perhaps with a paper towel.

To reduce aldehyde production go for an oil or fat high in monounsaturated or saturated lipids (preferably greater than 60% for one or the other, and more than 80% for the two combined), and low in polyunsaturates (less than 20%).

He thinks the ideal “compromise” oil for cooking purposes is olive oil, “because it is about 76% monounsaturates, 14% saturates and only 10% polyunsaturates – monounsaturates and saturates are much more resistant to oxidation than polyunsaturates”.

When it comes to cooking it doesn’t seem to matter whether the olive oil is “extra virgin” or not. “The antioxidant levels present in the extra virgin products are insufficient to protect us against heat-induced oxidation.”

His final bit of advice is always keep your oils in a cupboard, out of the light, and try not to reuse them as this also leads to the accumulation of nasty side-products.

Know your fats

 

  • Polyunsaturated fatsContain two or more carbon-carbon double bonds. When eaten in as food such nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens, they have clear health benefits. However, the benefits of consuming sunflower oil and corn oil, although rich in polyunsaturates, are much less clear.
  • Monounsaturated oilsContain just one carbon-carbon double bond. They are found in avocados, olives, olive oil, almonds and hazelnuts, and also in lard and goose fat. Olive oil, which is approximately 76% monounsaturated, is a key component in the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Saturated fatshave no double bonds between carbon atoms. Although we are encouraged to switch from eating saturated fats, particularly dairy and other fats derived from animals, the benefits of doing so are being challenged.
  • The percentages of each in the oils below varies somewhat but these values are typical
Type of oil or fat Polyunsaturated (%) Monounsaturated (%) Saturated (%)
Coconut oil 2 6 86
Butter 3 21 51
Lard 11 45 39
Goose fat 11 56 27
Olive oil 10 76 14
Rapeseed oil 28 63 7
Sesame oil 41 40 14
Corn oil 54 27 12
Sunflower oil 65 20 10

 

New ‘Low Sugar’ Chocolate

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/01/nestle-discovers-way-to-slash-sugar-in-chocolate-without-changing-taste

Nestlé says it can slash sugar in chocolate without changing taste.

Haroon Siddique, Thursday 1 December 2016.

ABSTRACT.  Nestlé says it has found a way of slashing the amount of sugar in some of its chocolate bars by 40%, without compromising the taste.

The Swiss food company, whose products include Kit Kats, Aeros and Yorkies, said it has achieved the reduction by discovering a way “to structure sugar differently”. The new process is said to make sugar dissolve faster so that even when less is used, the tongue perceives an identical level of sweetness.

choco

It plans to patent the process, discovered by its scientists, which it says will enable it to significantly decrease the total sugar in its confectionery products.

Visit the above link for the full story.

Red Meat Triggers Toxic Immune Reaction Which Causes Cancer

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11316316/Red-meat-triggers-toxic-immune-reaction-which-causes-cancer-scientists-find.html

Red meat triggers toxic immune reaction which causes cancer, scientists find.

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor, 29 Dec 2014.

Red meat has been linked to cancer for decades, with research suggesting that eating large amounts of pork, beef or lamb raises the risk of deadly tumours.

But for the first time scientists think they know what is causing the effect. The body, it seems, views red meat as a foreign invader and sparks a toxic immune response.

Researchers have always been puzzled about how other mammals could eat a diet high in red meat without any adverse health consequences.  Now they have discovered that pork, beef and lamb contains a sugar which is naturally produced by other carnivores but not humans.

It means that when humans eat red meat, the body triggers an immune response to the foreign sugar, producing antibodies which spark inflammation, and eventually cancer.  In other carnivores the immune system does not kick in, because the sugar – called Neu5Gc – is already in the body.

Scientists at the University of California proved that mice which were genetically engineered so they did not produce Neu5Gc naturally developed tumours when they were fed the sugar.

“This is the first time we have directly shown that mimicking the exact situation in humans increases spontaneous cancers in mice,” said Dr Ajit Varki, Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of California.

“The final proof in humans will be much harder to come by.  This work may also help explain potential connections of red meat consumption to other diseases exacerbated by chronic inflammation, such as atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.”

“Of course, moderate amounts of red meat can be a source of good nutrition for young people. We hope that our work will eventually lead the way to practical solutions for this catch-22.”  Red meat is a good source of protein, vitamin and minerals, but an increasing body of research suggests too much is bad for long-term health.

Health experts recommend eating no more than 2.5oz (70g) a day, the equivalent of three slices of ham, one lamb chop or two slices of roast beef a day

A study published by Harvard University in June suggested that a diet high in red meat raised the risk of breast cancer for women by 22 per cent.  In 2005 a study found those who regularly ate 5.6oz (160g) of red meat a day had one third higher risk of bowel cancer.

The average person in the UK has 2.5oz (70g) meat a day 3oz (88g) among men, 2oz (52g) among women) but 33 per cent have more than 3.5oz (100g) a day.

Previous research has suggested that a pigment in red meat may also damage the DNA of cells lining the digestive system.

The new research was published online in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Victory in Campaign to Widen Gatwick Flight Paths

https://www.timesoftunbridgewells.co.uk/victory-in-campaign-to-widen-flight-paths/

Victory in campaign to widen flight paths.

13th July 2016.

Anti-noise campaigners were celebrating last week after Gatwick airport agreed to bring in flight paths operating across a wider area from the end of this month.  Local groups have fought for two years to stop the constant stream of incoming aircraft at the Sussex airport being concentrated on a narrow strip of landscape.

The swathe of the flight paths has now been increased from two nautical miles to six, bringing it back in line with the dispersal that was in operation until 2013.

Gatwick

The decision was made at the inaugural meeting of the Noise Management Board (NMB) on June 21. The airport also recently agreed to increase the number of public representatives allowed to sit on the board from two to four.

The umbrella body was set up after being recommended by the Independent Arrivals Review in January. It includes the main aviation stakeholders and local community action groups.

Gatwick Airport Ltd issued a statement which said it ‘has been able to confirm that the proposal to widen the arrivals swathe will create a fairer and more equitable distribution of aircraft noise, more closely emulating that experienced by communities prior to 2013’.

While the move is significant, there was a word of warning from Graham Lake of the Arrivals Review team, who said: “It would be prudent, while acknowledging the very good progress made to date, to remind your readers that it’s not done until it’s done.”

Protesters are remaining cautious while further changes are awaited, not least because Gatwick had said in March that it ‘has accepted or is minded to accept all of the recommendations of the Review’.

One example of the work remaining to be done is the implementation of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA), which refers to how smoothly an aircraft descends, thereby reducing the noise it makes.

The Review has called for the CDAs to start at a higher altitude with a smoother descent, and for the airport to implement a more consistent quality threshold.

UK Poorly Prepared for Climate Change Impacts, Government Advisers Warn

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/12/uk-poorly-prepared-for-climate-change-impacts-government-advisers-warn?CMP=share_btn_tw

UK poorly prepared for climate change impacts, government advisers warn.

Damian Carrington, Tuesday 12 July 2016.

climate

A Cumbria road destroyed in floods during storm Desmond, which scientists found had been made more likely by climate change. Photograph: Ashley Cooper / Barcroft Media

The UK is poorly prepared for the inevitable impacts of global warming in coming decades, including deadly annual heatwaves, water shortages and difficulties in producing food, according the government’s official advisers.

Action must be taken now, according to the report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published on Tuesday, with more widespread flooding and new diseases among the risks in most urgent need of addressing.

The CCC further warns that climate-stoked wars and migration around the world could have very significant consequences for the UK, through disrupted trade and more military intervention overseas.

The 2,000-page report is a comprehensive assessment of the dangers of climate change to the UK, produced over three years by 80 experts and reviewed by many more. The main analysis is based on the temperature rise expected if the global climate agreement signed in Paris in 2015 is fully delivered and also takes account of plans already in place to cope with impacts.

The worst case scenarios in the CCC report – if action to tackle climate change completely fails – foresees searing heatwaves reaching temperatures of 48C in London and the high-30s across the nation.

“We are not sufficiently prepared and we need to do more now, even for the [Paris deal] scenario of 2.7C of warming,” said Lord John Krebs, chair of the CCC’s adaptation sub-committee. “Many impacts are affecting us now, as climate change is already happening.”

“What we now think of as an extremely hot summer, where people are dying of heat stress and it is extremely uncomfortable in homes, hospitals and much of transport, that is likely to be a typical summer by the middle of the century and would be a cool summer in the 2080s,” he said.

Krebs said critical facilities, such as hospitals and care homes, are particularly at risk: “Many are not designed to be resilient in terms of overheating.” Many are also in already flood prone areas, the report noted, with the risk of flooding set to rise further.

While most of the key risks are fairly well understood, the dangers posed by new diseases and pests invading the UK as the climate gets warmer requires urgent research, the CCC said.

“The impacts are potentially high for otherwise healthy people, animals and plants,” the report states. “Higher temperatures will lead to an increased risk of the Asian tiger mosquito, the vector of

Chikungunya virus, dengue fever and Zika virus. The current risk remains low, but may increase in the future.”

There could be some benefits to the UK from climate change including exports of products and services such as flood defence expertise, the CCC said, and UK tourism may also increase. A longer growing season could boost crops, the report said, but only if the impact of climate change on water supplies and soil fertility can be overcome.

“Already 85% of the rich peat topsoils of East Anglia has disappeared,” said Krebs, due to drainage and erosion. “We have lost a lot of the natural asset that allows us to grow cereals and climate change will accelerate the rate of loss. We could lose the remaining fertile soil within the next 30-60 years and that would be a huge negative impact on the food production capacity of the UK.”

Food supplies will also be affected by the impact of global warming around the planet, as the UK imports 40% of its food. “But it is not an expectation that there will be supermarket shelves with nothing on,” said Matthew Bell, CCC chief executive. “It is more likely that food becomes more expensive, particularly with spikes in prices as some supply chains are affected.”

The report warns of other overseas risks to the UK, including a rising need for military intervention: “There are uncertain but potentially very significant international risks arising from climate-related human [migration], and the possibility of violent inter‑state conflict over scarce natural resources.”

“These impacts are transported to the UK through the movement of people and capital, through international supply chains and also through the demands upon the UK in terms of overseas military effort,” said Daniel Johns, the CCC’s head of adaptation.

Climate change is becoming more apparent today, with temperature records being smashed amid a succession of record hot years. Amber Rudd, energy and climate change secretary, said at the end of June that global warming is “one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security”.

A government spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure the UK is prepared for the challenges of climate change. That is why we are investing record amounts in flood defences and developing a long-term plan for the environment.”

UK law requires the government to use the CCC report to develop its adaptation plan, although spending on the issue halved under the coalition government.

“The CCC report is a tour de force,” said Prof Chris Rapley, a climate scientist at University College London. “It is a hugely valuable instrument for seeking to keep our government honest and true to its responsibilities of protecting the interests of UK citizens and businesses now and in the future.”

Climate change increased the chance of last winter’s devastating floods by 40%, noted Prof Joanna Haigh, at Imperial College London: “That is why this report is so important, as it starkly sets out the challenges we face and the urgency of addressing them. Some impacts are now inevitable.”

Friends of the Earth’s Guy Shrubsole said: “This is a stern warning for squabbling politicians that the biggest threat to our future is from massive climate disruption. Theresa May must make climate change a top priority.”

“The CCC’s analysis shows red and yellow lights flashing all over the dashboard,” said Tom Viita, at Christian Aid. “The new Prime Minister [May] must chair a Climate Cobra Committee to handle these risks more effectively and with the urgency required.”

Marylyn Haines Evans, at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes said: “This report is worrying because it shows just how close the risks of climate change really are for all of us. We cannot leave this problem as a legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

Five ways that climate change will affect Britain:

Heatwaves

The deadly heatwave of 2003, which peaked at 38.5C in the UK, will be a normal summer by the 2040s, leading to related deaths more than tripling. There are currently no policies to ensure homes, schools, hospitals and offices remain tolerable in high heat.

Floods and coastal erosion

Flooding already causes £1bn of damage every year on average but the risks will rise yet further as climate change leads to more intense rainfall, bringing floods to places not currently in danger. The number of households at significant risk of flooding will more than double to 1.9m by 2050, if the global temperature rises by 4C.

Water shortages

Severe water shortages are expected as summers get drier and, by the 2050s, will extend across the UK. If temperatures are driven up significantly, many places in the UK will have a demand for water 2.5 times greater than that available.

Natural environment

The proportion of prime farmland is expected to fall from 38% to 9% with significant warming and crop growing in eastern England and Scotland could be ended by degraded soil and water shortages. Warming seas are pushing key species northwards, which may affect the entire marine food chain.

Food

Climate change is likely to drive food prices up, with extreme weather leading to lost crops and price shocks. About 40% of UK food is imported, making the UK vulnerable to droughts and floods driven by climate change around the world.