Monday, November 30, 2009

Mount Everest to host Nepal cabinet meeting

Nepal is to hold a cabinet meeting on Mount Everest to highlight the threat global warming poses to glaciers.

On 4 December prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and those politicians physically fit enough will ascend 17,192ft (5,250m) to base camp. In October the Maldives held a cabinet meeting underwater to warn of the effect of rising sea levels.

This meeting, to be held before the Copenhagen climate conference, aims to highlight Himalayan glacier melt. With ice in the region melting at a rapid rate, lakes have been formed which could flood nearby villages.

Melted ice and snow also makes mountaineering routes more hazardous. At such a high altitude health is a major concern, so a team of doctors will accompany the politicians. They will fly to Everest's only airstrip, Lukla. Doctors will make a final health assessment before a helicopter takes the cabinet to base camp, at the foot of Everest. Once there they will hold a brief outdoor meeting.

Mount Everest is the highest point on earth, with a summit 29,035 ft (8,850 m) above sea level.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazon summit in Brazil

Brazil is hosting a regional summit to discuss climate change and ways of tackling deforestation in the Amazon.

Delegates from eight nations who share the Amazon basin, as well as France which has an overseas department there, have been holding talks in Manaus. They are discussing Brazil's plan on slowing deforestation with the financial help from rich nations.
The meeting comes ahead of a global summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is chairing the one-day summit. Delegates from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, are attending, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy is representing French Guiana.

'Ambitious message'

Presidents Sarkozy and Lula said richer nations must increase their aid to help the poorer countries fight global warming. "The poor need to be supported without any country giving up its sovereignty," President Lula said.

The BBC's Paulo Cabral reports from Manaus that for the past few days diplomats have been negotiating a common position to be presented by the Amazon countries and France at the conference in Copenhagen. He says most of the presidents invited did not come to Manaus, though diplomats say that the ministers and ambassadors sent in their place are in position to close a deal. Mr Lula's spokesman said the Brazilian leader hoped that the talks would yield "an ambitious message on issues of great relevance to the region".

"Brazil believes it is crucial for the [Amazon] region to have a converging and co-operative participation," AFP news agency quoted the spokesman as saying. Brazil is proposing to combat deforestation in the Amazon basin with financial backing from wealthy nations. "Let no gringo [foreigner] ask us to let an Amazonian starve to death under a tree," Mr Lula said in a speech ahead of the meeting. "We want to preserve [the forest], but [other countries] have to pay for that preservation."

At the summit, the Brazilian government was expected to present its efforts to reduce destruction in the Amazon as a key part of its strategy to combat climate change. Earlier this month, Brazil's government said the rate of deforestation in the Amazon had dropped by 45% - and was the lowest on record since monitoring began 21 years ago. It said that just over 7,000 sq km (2,700 square miles) had been destroyed between July 2008 and August 2009. Brazil is seeking an 80% reduction in the deforestation rate by 2020.

The environmental group Greenpeace has welcomed the latest drop but says there is still too much destruction in the rainforest. Earlier this month, Brazil said it aimed to cut its carbon emissions by at least 36% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama to vow greenhouse emissions cuts in Denmark

Putting his prestige on the line, President Barack Obama will personally commit the U.S. to a goal of substantially cutting greenhouse gases at next month's Copenhagen climate summit. He will insist America is ready to tackle global warming despite resistance in Congress over higher costs for businesses and homeowners.

Obama will attend the start of the conference Dec. 9, a week from next Wednesday, before heading to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. He will "put on the table" a U.S. commitment to cut emissions by 17 percent over the next decade, on the way to reducing heat-trapping pollution by 80 percent by mid-century, the White House said.

Cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by one-sixth in just a decade would be likely to hike energy bills, but the administration says there would be important health trade-offs. Slashing carbon dioxide emissions could save millions of lives, mostly by reducing preventable deaths from heart and lung diseases, according to studies published this week in The Lancet British medical journal.

The White House said Obama's decision to attend the international conference in Denmark was "a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change." But Obama's stopover on the conference's second day — instead of later when negotiations will be most intense and when most other national leaders will take part — disappointed some European and U.N. climate officials, as well as some environmentalists. Others said Obama's personal appeal will resonate with the delegates from more than 75 countries and help reset the U.S. image on the climate issue after eight years in which the Bush administration staunchly opposed mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

The president's first trip to Copenhagen — just last month — was less than fruitful. He made an unsuccessful pitch for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be held in Chicago. Obama's participation had been in doubt since it became clear that the Dec. 7-18 conference was unlikely to produce a binding agreement, The original goal of the conference was to produce a new global climate change treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But in recent weeks it became clear that delegates were likely to produce at best an outline for an agreement to be considered late next year. Administration officials don't want to repeat the mistake of Kyoto, when the U.S. agreed to emission reductions but never implemented them because of strong political opposition at home. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto agreement.

Most environmentalists hailed Obama's decision to go to Copenhagen, even if it's early in the conference. They said it will help set the tone of the talks and reverse America's image internationally on climate change. Said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University: "The U.S. has stood as the bad guy for so long that it's critically important for the U.S. president to set the tone for the meeting." But Kyle Ash, climate policy adviser for Greenpeace USA, said Obama should be even more involved, and later in the conference. "The Copenhagen climate summit is not about a photo opportunity. It's about getting a global agreement to stop climate chaos. President Obama needs to be there at the same time as all the other wold leaders," he said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not enough time for climate change deal?

China and the US say there isn't enough time left to agree a legally-binding agreement on climate change this year.

Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor at Greenpeace, argues that the vast majority of countries signed up to the convention are still clamouring for an agreement with
188 countries still wanting a deal in Copenhagen....

Radio Link

Monday, November 16, 2009

World Food Summit Opens Amid Charges It May Be ‘Waste of Time’

World leaders start a United Nations summit on food security in Rome today that international aid agencies say may be a “waste of time” because it won’t commit donors to provide more money to end world hunger.

A draft of the final declaration for the Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 “World Summit on Food Security,” promises no new financial commitments. Governments will “reinforce all our efforts” to halve the number of hungry by 2015, it says, and rich nations should reverse the decline of aid dedicated to agriculture, which fell from 19 percent in 1980 to 3.8 percent in 2006.

Jacques Diouf, who is hosting the meeting as director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, has urged governments to invest $44 billion a year to end chronic hunger suffered by 1.02 billion people and achieve “food security.” World hunger has continued to rise even with food prices falling from their peaks of last year, which coincided with FAO’s previous summit where donors pledged $11 billion in aid.

The lack of new funding requests prompted two aid agencies, Oxfam and ActionAid, to say on Nov. 12 the summit may be a “waste of time and money,” and that “governments are at risk of throwing away a great chance” to reduce the number of hungry. Francisco Sarmento, ActionAid’s food rights coordinator, called the declaration “just a rehash of old platitudes.”

Sixty heads of state and government plan to attend the meeting, which Pope Benedict XVI and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will address, FAO said.

Previous Crisis

Last year’s surge in food prices sparked riots in more than a dozen countries from Ivory Coast to Haiti, where the unrest prompted the dismissal of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis.

Prices for wheat, which supplies about 20 percent of food calories consumed in the world, more than doubled between the start of 2007 and a peak in March 2008. Soaring energy prices boosted costs of fertilizer and transport while also lifting demand for grain-based alternative fuels like ethanol.

Today’s summit opens as the Rome-based UN agency predicts world cereal stocks will expand by about 4 million metric tons to 509 million tons next year, the highest level since 2002. Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay the $2.5 million cost of the gathering.

The Group of Eight nations, at a July summit in L’Aquila, Italy, approved $20 billion in aid over three years to help farmers in developing nations grow and sell food.

‘Summit Fatigue’

“My biggest concern is that we have to make sure that there is no summit fatigue,” Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior FAO economist, said in an interview. “If FAO felt there was a need for another summit, it is probably because it felt that the previous ones haven’t achieved what they were supposed to.”

Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome, says the international community should use the summit as an opportunity to redefine how rich and poor countries work together to boost food production and cut poverty.

“When there is an opportunity, you don’t say ‘it is just another summit,’ you say ‘OK we are having this, how do we make it add value,’ and that was our goal,” the ambassador said in a Nov. 10 interview.

Developing countries must design their own plans and donor nations must work with them as partners, Cousin said.

“For us to suggest at the global level that we can have a patterned answer that is going to resolve all the issues on the entire continent of Africa of 54 countries is far too simplistic and very naïve,” she said.

Private Sector Role

At a FAO-organized meeting with food and agriculture companies, including Nestle, Unilever, and Bunge Ltd., in Milan on Nov. 12-13, private sector officials pledged to increase investment in farming in poor countries.

“We stand ready to invest meaningfully to help build national capacities in applied agriculture and food systems research and technology transfer in developing countries,” the companies said in a statement after the meeting.

Foreign direct investment in agriculture tripled to more than $3 billion since 2000, FAO said in report on its Web site.

Oxfam and ActionAid say the best way to reduce the number of hungry is to target resources on small farming families, who make up a third of the world’s population, FAO estimates.

Hunger Frontline

“Smallholder farmers, mostly women, are on the frontline in the fight against world poverty, hunger and climate change and we must not continue to ignore them,” said Frederic Mousseau of Oxfam.

While increased cereal production has slowed the rise in global food prices, Abbassian of FAO predicts future shortages and price hikes.

“The one certainty is that there will be a food crisis, and the reason is simple: we haven’t done much to prevent such a thing from happening,” he said. “We have talked a lot, we have committed a lot, but we haven’t really acted.”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to Be Green: Dishwashers

Water, energy, and and often chemicals are involved in the act of washing dishes. Increasingly, so is a dishwashing machine. To stay out of hot water with your dishwashing habits, you wash and we'll dry with our dishwasher tips!

Top Tips for Greening Your Dishwashing

Check Your Habits: As usual, going green starts with a re-evaluation of what we take for granted. For example, by using fewer dishes and utensils over the course of the day, you will end up doing fewer loads in the dishwasher, saving energy, water, and detergent. Of course, you could sometimes wash your dishes by hand.

Wash Wisely: The most efficient way to use your dishwasher includes waiting until you have a full load and then running it at off-peak hours, not pre-rinsing the dishes in the sink, using an earth-friendly cleaning product, and allowing the dishes to air dry.

Shop Around: Which dishwasher you buy and use naturally plays a role in the greenness of your kitchen. To find the right machine for you, check Energy Star ratings and look into compact dishwashers.

Did You Know?

- 80% of the energy used by dishwashers goes to heating hot water
- The amount of water saved by using a fully loaded dishwasher, without pre-rinsing, in relation to the water consumed by hand-washing all of those dishes: 35%
- 400 gallons of water can be saved each month by running your dishwasher only when it is full

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Punggol Waterway to have eco-friendly features

Singapore's first public housing project along the Punggol Waterway will have eco-friendly features and resort-like designs.

The 1,200-unit waterfront project will be launched in the middle of next year. The firm behind the winning design is a partnership between international architectural firm Group8asia and local design company Aedas.

They stole the crown with a distinctive sky terrace concept which creates public spaces along the waterway. More than 100 design firms from Europe and Asia took part in the Punggol Waterfront Housing Design Competition. They had to submit plans that matched the housing board's theme of "Green Living by the Waters".

HDB said the waterfront flats will be kept affordable. National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: "New HDB estates look like private condominiums, but don't cost as much as private condominiums.

"New innovative construction methods like pre-fabrication reduces cost and construction time. And that's one of the reasons why we are able to keep the cost of construction down."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Japan planning solar station in space!

It may sound like a sci-fi vision, but Japan's space agency is dead serious: by 2030 it wants to collect solar power in space and zap it down to Earth, using laser beams or microwaves.

The government has just picked a group of companies and a team of researchers tasked with turning the ambitious, multi-billion-dollar dream of unlimited clean energy into reality in coming decades. With few energy resources of its own and heavily reliant on oil imports, Japan has long been a leader in solar and other renewable energies and this year set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.

But Japan's boldest plan to date is the Space Solar Power System (SSPS), in which arrays of photovoltaic dishes several square kilometres (square miles) in size would hover in geostationary orbit outside the Earth's atmosphere. "Since solar power is a clean and inexhaustible energy source, we believe that this system will be able to help solve the problems of energy shortage and global warming," researchers at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of the project participants, wrote in a report.

"The sun's rays abound in space."

The solar cells would capture the solar energy, which is at least five times stronger in space than on Earth, and beam it down to the ground through clusters of lasers or microwaves. These would be collected by gigantic parabolic antennae, likely to be located in restricted areas at sea or on dam reservoirs, said Tadashige Takiya, a spokesman at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The researchers are targeting a one gigawatt system, equivalent to a medium-sized atomic power plant, that would produce electricity at eight yen (cents) per kilowatt-hour, six times cheaper than its current cost in Japan.

The challenge -- including transporting the components to space -- may appear gigantic, but Japan has been pursuing the project since 1998, with some 130 researchers studying it under JAXA's oversight. Last month Japan's Economy and Trade Ministry and the Science Ministry took another step toward making the project a reality, by selecting several Japanese high-tech giants as participants in the project. The consortium, named the Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer, also includes Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Fujitsu and Sharp.

The project's roadmap outlined several steps that would need to be taken before a full-blown launch in 2030. Within several years, "a satellite designed to test the transmission by microwave should be put into low orbit with a Japanese rocket," said Tatsuhito Fujita, one of the JAXA researchers heading the project.

The next step, expected around 2020, would be to launch and test a large flexible photovoltaic structure with 10 megawatt power capacity, to be followed by a 250 megawatt prototype. This would help evaluate the project's financial viability, say officials. The final aim is to produce electricity cheap enough to compete with other alternative energy sources.

JAXA says the transmission technology would be safe but concedes it would have to convince the public, which may harbour images of laser beams shooting down from the sky, roasting birds or slicing up aircraft in mid-air. According to a 2004 study by JAXA, the words 'laser' and 'microwave' caused the most concern among the 1,000 people questioned.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2009 MTV Europe Music Awards

Music industry leaders find time for charity too.

Major celeb-packed events like the EMAs are not exactly light in the consumption department. To put it in perspective, we're talking 600 false eye lashes, more than 25 different glitters, 60 eye shadows, 300 nail polishes, 20 pots of loose powder, 200 powder puffs, and 125 different shades of lipstick to get those faces in the limelight alone, reports Reuters.

The arena, which boasts an energy-efficient design, 400 bicycle stands, and a bicycle rental service, does have vocal green efforts. And while it would be better to ban the bottled water, staff will recycle the 24,000 bottles of water artists, crew and guests were predicted to drink on site during the event.

With precision-highlighted curly locks flying in the wind machine, Beyoncé Knowles cleaned up at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs), held at Berlin's O2 World arena. From four nominations, the 28-year-old Knowles took home three coveted awards: Best Female, Best Song, ("Halo") and Best Video, ("Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"). The Houston, Texas native gave a shout-out to hubby Jay-Z for "putting a ring on it" and a gushing thank you to friend and fellow nominee for Best Female, Shakira.

Now U2: Were the Environmentalists in the House; despite a tour said to have the same carbon footprint as a trip to Mars, U2 was probably the most environmentally active group in the house. The Irish rockers landed Best Live Act and gave a free show at the Brandenburg Gate the same night. With organic clothing company Edun, launched by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson to drive trade into Africa. Bono also wears recycled clothing, combats HIV/AIDS, and fights poverty and pushes for trade reform with One, the global activist organization he co-founded. Take that Beyoncé!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cambodia Relief Efforts Donation Drive

Hi everyone! I would like to raise awareness of donation drive from our good friends at Olive Ventures aimed at bringing some much needed relief to people afffected by floods in Cambodia.

Stuart from Olive Ventures will be heading to Cambodia on the 19th of November 2009 to provide relief efforts for the recent floods and as such we are organizing a donation drive for food, clothes and cash donations to purchase food and medical supplies there! Help spread the word and bring down your donations to our shop at 26A Sago Street S(059021). The donation drive is daily from 10am - 8pm and will close on the 13th of November 2009. Call us at 63230651 if you have any questions!

All support much apreciated - Thanks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Global warming could create 150 million 'climate refugees' by 2050

Global warming will force up to 150 million "climate refugees" to move to other countries in the next 40 years, a new report from the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) warns.

In 2008 alone, more than 20 million people were displaced by climate-related natural disasters, including 800,000 people by cyclone Nargis in Asia, and almost 80,000 by heavy floods and rains in Brazil, the NGO said.

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, who presented testimony to the EJF, said people in his country did not want to "trade a paradise for a climate refugee camp". He warned rich countries taking part in UN climate talks this week in Barcelona "not to be stupid" in negotiating a climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. Nasheed urged governments to find ways to keep temperature rises caused by warming under 2C. "We won't be around for anything after 2C," he said. "We are just 1.5m over sea level and anything over that, any rise in sea level – anything even near that – would wipe off the Maldives. People are having to move their homes because of erosion. We've already this year had problems with two islands and we are having to move them to other islands. We have a right to live." Last month, the president held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the plight of his country.

The EJF claimed 500 million to 600 million people – nearly 10% of the world's population – are at risk from displacement by climate change. Around 26 million have already had to move, a figure that the EJF predicts could grow to 150 million by 2050. "The majority of these people are likely to be internally displaced, migrating only within a short radius from their homes. Relatively few will migrate internationally to permanently resettle in other countries," said the report's authors.

In the longer term, the report said, changes to weather patterns will lead to various problems, including desertification and sea-level rises that threaten to inundate low-lying areas and small island developing states. An expert at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris recently said global warming could create "ghost states" with citizens living in "virtual states" due to land lost to rising seas.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts sea-level rise in the range of 18-59cm during the 21st century. Nearly one-third of coastal countries have more than 10% of their national land within 5 metres of sea level. Countries liable to lose all or a significant part of their land in the next 50 years, said the EJF report, include Tuvalu, Fiji, the Solomon islands, the Marshall islands, the Maldives and some of the Lesser Antilles. Many other countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Chad and Rwanda, could see large movements of people. Bangladesh has had 70 climate-related natural disasters in the past 10 years.

"Climate change impacts on homes and infrastructure, food and water and human health. It will bring about a forced migration on an unprecedented scale," said the EJF director, Steve Trent. "We must take immediate steps to reduce our impact on global climate, and we must also recognise the need to protect those already suffering along with those most at risk." He called for a new international agreement to address the scale and human cost of climate change. "The formal legal definition of refugees needs to be extended to include those affected by climate change and also internally displaced persons," he said.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A bit of humour....

Jim Carrey - Environmental Guy

With so many serious climate issues affecting us and our planet - sometimes a bit of humour can be a great tonic and raise just as much awareness in the process! Enjoy :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

5 Fun Green Ways to Manage Stress

Want to stop stressing? Then start swearing, kissing, getting dirty, cluttered and eating garlic instead!

Being "stressed" seems to be as trendy as being "on a diet." Everyone's doing it, throwing the terms around as if it's an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn't addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it green… naturally. No drugs, no chemicals, just good natural cures. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!

Touching, Kissing, Hugging

Touching, kissing, and hugging (or any other affectionate activities) are eco activities that stimulate the brain's release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.

Reduce Stress by Swearing it Off!

Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That's according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.

Reduce Stress by Eating Garlic

The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head and helps manage stress.

Reduce Stress by Eating Chocolate

Balance isn't just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff. And of course opt for organic chocolate.

Reduce Stress by Rubbing your Hoku

Your "hoku" is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It's also an acupressure spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%—that's according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.