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Archive for October, 2009

Resource: Climate Change Map

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 30th, 2009

Source: Met Office, UK

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Image: Met Office

A new map illustrating the global consequences of failing to keep temperature change to under 2 °C was launched [last week] by the UK Government, in partnership with the Met Office.  The map was developed using the latest peer-reviewed science from the Met Office Hadley Centre and other leading impact scientists. The poster highlights some of the impacts that may occur if the global average temperature rises by 4 °C above the pre-industrial climate average.  Ahead of December’s international climate change talks in Copenhagen, the Government is aiming for an agreement that limits climate change as far as possible to 2 °C. Increases of more than two degrees will have huge impacts on the world.

The poster shows that a four degree average rise will not be spread uniformly across the globe. The land will heat up more quickly than the sea, and high latitudes, particularly the Arctic, will have larger temperature increases. The average land temperature will be 5.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.  The impacts on human activity shown on the map are only a selection of those that may occur, and highlight the severe effects on water availability, agricultural productivity, extreme temperatures and drought, the risk of forest fire and sea-level rise.  Agricultural yields are expected to decrease for all major cereal crops in all major regions of production. Half of all Himalayan glaciers will be significantly reduced by 2050, leading to 23% of the population of China being deprived of the vital dry season glacial melt water source.

“The map’s release marks a significant shift in political discourse on climate change, with many politicians until recently unwilling to discuss the possibility of a failure to hit the 2C target “, David Adam and Allegra Stratton, guardian.co.uk.

Read the full article.


Take the train: BBC Worldwide bans short-haul executive flights

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 28th, 2009

Source: GreenRazor, the GreenPages Newsletter

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Image: dmitri krendelev via flickr CC

From “BBC Worldwide bans short-haul executive flights” by James Murray, BusinessGreen, 02 Oct 2009

Staff at BBC Worldwide have been banned from taking domestic and short-haul flights as part of one of the most wide-ranging green travel programmes yet attempted in the UK. Executives have been told they can only fly when travelling by train adds more than three hours to the journey. The edict, from the BBC’s commercial arm, means that staff have to take the train to all domestic locations, as well as European cities as far afield as Strasbourg, Amsterdam and Bordeaux.

In addition, they must formally explain why a meeting cannot be held using one of the company’s five videoconferencing suites before they can book a long-haul flight.

“For some people it has been a bit painful,” admitted David Halford, head of ethical sourcing and environmental policy at the company. “But we consulted with the baird {sic} before we introduced the policy and took the view that if we are really serious about cutting emissions it will be painful at times.” The company’s environmental department also undertook a study of all journeys taken in the year prior to introducing the policy and found that switching to the train would save the organisation money. “One of the complaints was that rail travel would be more expensive than flying, but we analysed the data from an entire year and that was just not the case,” said Halford.

Read the full article.


Blurring boundaries: farmland and vegie gardens

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 26th, 2009

Source: The Ecologist, from “Room to grow: turning farmland into allotments by Dorienne Robinson, Oct 6

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Image: net_efekt via flickr CC

David and Kay Hicks run a small family farm, “Chyanhall”, in Cornwall (UK) with their daughter Carly. Just over two years ago they decided to look for an alternative income from the land and considered such things as moutain- and quad-biking tracks. Realising that there was a growing demand for allotments, they decided to research this area instead.

Eighteen months ago the first allotment was fenced for the first tenant, now there are 120 allotments on 8 acres, which cover three small fields, and a waiting list of another 40 interested people.  A full size allotment costs just £1.92 per week.  Prior to the allotment scheme David and Kay’s eight acres were generating around £700 per year, mostly as grass keep for livestock, or producing a cut of silage or hay. It does not take too much time with a calculator to discover that the income from this ground has risen from £700 per year to around £12,000.

There are no CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] subsidies operating here, no top down European directives, no skewing of world markets to generate activity, just pure common sense and responding to local demand.

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350 October 24th: International Day of Climate Action

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on October 23rd, 2009

Source: Climate Action Calendar
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Image: 350 org via flickr CC

On October 24, join people all over the world to take a stand for a safe climate future.

This will be the most widespread day of climate action ever, with 158 countries participating and 3000+ actions planned to help ‘uncook the planet’ by setting a safer target of 350 parts per million CO2 in our atmosphere.

Visit www.350.org/map to find and RSVP for an action near you.

This movement has room for everyone

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New approaches: travel agent shifts from offsetting to reduction

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 23rd, 2009

Source: The Ecologist
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Image: Joanne Probyn via flickr CC

One of the first travel companies to offer carbon offsetting to customers has decided to remove the facility from their website.

Responsibletravel.com, which introduced an offsetting option in 2002, said the travel industry’s priority must be to ‘reduce carbon emissions, rather than offset’.   ‘Too often offsets are being used by the tourism industry in developed countries to justify growth plans on the basis that money will be donated to projects in developing countries,’ said managing director Justin Francis. ‘Global reduction targets will not be met this way,’ he added. Mr Francis said his company was now advising its customers to fly less, travel by train and take holidays closer to home. ‘We will continue to offer a more responsible choice of overseas holiday so that when tourists do fly they can ‘make their holiday count’ by choosing a more responsible holiday,’ he said. It is not clear whether other travel agents will follow responsibletravel.com’s lead.

Read the full article,  “Eco travel agent ditches carbon offsetting” on The Ecologist website.


Paul Hawken Interview: WorldChanging

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 20th, 2009

Source: Worldchanging

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“Paul Hawken Shares His Thoughts with Worldchanging About Optimism, Doomers and What’s Next”, by Kamal Patel

To the sustainability and the social justice crowd, environmentalist, entrepreneur and author, Paul Hawken, requires little introduction. He has written six books, including “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution,” a book Bill Clinton calls ‘the fifth most important book in the world today.’

Hawken was this year’s Sustainable Industries: Economic Forum keynote speaker. During the event, Hawken asked the 300 plus sustainably-minded business leaders, entrepreneurs and political heads to truly look at the data: dangerous levels of atmospheric CO2, peak oil, peak soil – peak everything. Despite this, he said he remains optimistic. He focused much of his talk on solutions such as innovative solar design and collaborations, like linking green banking with affordable, green housing, food and transportation.

“What kind of economy would it be if we were to maximize the production of natural capital, rather than maximizing the capital of people? When you maximize the productivity of people, you use less people. Well we have more people than there are jobs. Basically we are using less and less of what we have more of, and with natural capital, using more and more of what we have less of. And we are using more of it (natural capital) to make people more productive, to use less people. So this is upside down and backwards, we should be using more and more people to use less and less natural capital.”  Paul Hawken

Read the full article by Kamal Patel on Worldchanging.


BuilderScrap: FreeCycle for the Building Industry

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 14th, 2009

Source: Springwise

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Image: Bryn Pinzgauer via flickr CC

More than 90 million tons of construction and demolition waste are generated each year in England and Wales alone, and at least 13 million of those tons are surplus new materials that could have been reused. Hoping to keep such waste out of landfills, BuilderScrap is a free site for the construction trade that aims to connect builders who have extra materials with those who need them.

UK-based BuilderScrap was established by builders for builders as a way to use up surplus new and high-quality second-hand material in the supply chain. Users begin by registering and then uploading any extra building materials they’d like to sell or give away. Allowable items include timber, doors, floorboards, stair components, joists, tiles, window frames and office furniture, to name just a few. Other users who are interested in an item then contact the relevant user via the BuilderScrap website, which in turn notifies the listing member, who can respond to work out the details. Once the item has exchanged hands, the original listing member then de-lists it from the site.

Read the full article on Springwise.

(What’s Freecycle?)


Intention-based Shipping

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 12th, 2009

Source: Springwise

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Image: anemoneprojectors via flickr CC

Shiply, which set up shop in 2008, is a free online marketplace where transport companies bid for listed shipments.

After creating an online account, consumers list what they need to ship and provide details about pickup, delivery and shipment dates. Anything from a pet carriage to a car can be listed. Transport providers then bid for the shipment, potentially turning unused space in their trucks into profit. Shiply’s system means that as companies try to outbid one another, users typically save about 75% on their shipping costs. Users can contribute and read feedback left by other customers, and accept the bid with which they feel happiest.

The company states that 25% of European lorries run completely empty. By filling up this space, Shiply makes sure trucks get extra cash for unused space, and saves consumers money. Of course, it’s hugely beneficial in terms of reducing carbon emissions and congestion, too. (Shiply was awarded a EUR 100,000 runner-up prize in this year’s Green Challenge).

Read the full article on Springwise.


Victor Civita Plaza: living with a site’s history

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 9th, 2009

Source: MetropolisMag

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Image: Victor Civita Plaza via treehugger

An urban park in São Paulo, Brazil, has taken a different approach to addressing site contamination.  Victor Civita Plaza opened last year on the site of a former municipal incinerator.  The facility had been used for hospital waste disposal, among other things, and the city authorities decreed that the contaminated site would need to be covered by about half-a metre of clean soil to protect the public.  The cost of doing so would have stopped the project altogether, if not for the park’s designer, Anna Dietszch. Instead of covering the site with soil, she covered it with a floating timber deck which allowed the “landscaping” to be designed into the form.

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Supply Chain Transparency: evolving Online Tools

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 6th, 2009

Source: Worldchanging

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Image: Sourcemap

From Kirstin Butler’s The Backstory of Stuff: New Sites Enable More Transparency in the Supply Chain

Until recently, visualizing global goods’ sourcing was the domain of contemporary artists and technoactivists. Tracing an object back to its origins could be a time-consuming and frustrating process that meant doing solitary research and creating original interfaces. But the increased accessibility of online mapping tools and wiki-style collaborations have changed the cartography of consumption.

Enter Sourcemap, an open-source application for collective supply chain research and mapping. When WorldChanging first reported on Sourcemap last year the project had yet to launch; now its users have already traced the global travels of products as diverse as cars, granola, and lace (even though the site is still in beta mode).  An MIT-based team built Sourcemap’s applications around Google Earth, and its geotagged food, travel, and product maps will look familiar to anyone who has called up a set of road trip directions. Still, while not the exclusive province of programmers, Sourcemap does require some skill with computing language to manipulate data. Most visitors to the site will probably gain the most from viewing supply chains in progress.

Even the pinpoint accuracy of a global map, however, can lack the immediacy of a human story. That’s where high-profile advocacy can take up the charge of transparency for more just and sustainable sourcing practices. A great example is the Enough Project’s Come Clean 4 Congo campaign, which seeks to connect the points between your cell phone and conflict minerals.

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