Thursday, June 30, 2011

Optimism on sorting Bristol's transport problems

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The Bristol Evening Post says 'Bristol's metro is not as far off track as you might think'. I hope they are right and can help build up momentum for change on this issue. As many of my blog posts show I'm in favour of a Greater Bristol Integrated Transport Authority that implements a sustainable transport plan. History points to lack of agreement and cooperation between the local authorities though. If agreement and cooperation is reached they still need to get the process of decision making right: exploring the situation; formulating problems, opportunities and systems of interest; identifying feasible and desirable changes; taking actions; and re-exploring etc as appropriate. They need to fully involve as wide a range of people as possible right from the start, ensure good quality, comprehensive information is widely disseminated, get genuine cross-party and cross-organisational cooperation, agree the right goals, get finances sorted, assess technologies fairly and broadly, find a combination of technical, behavioural and socio-economic change that will consistently take us in a firmly sustainable direction... Its nothing like as straightforward and obvious as this Post report - which has a strong technocratic, techno-optimist slant - suggests.

Ocean dumping that fights climate change

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Really interesting article in the latest Green World magazine called Save the whale, Save Ourselves? by Dr Luke Rendell from the University of St Andrews. It turns out that saving whales would not only protect magnificent species themselves - it would also help protect the human from climate change. Nice example of joined up, systems, thinking. Oceans absorb an awful lot of climate changing carbon emissions. However, the amount absorbed depends in part on the amount of iron present in sea water. Experiments where iron has been dumped into the ocean have shown increased, temporary plant growth and thus increased carbon uptake - but such artificial dumping could itself be highly damaging and unsustainable. If only there was a good source of iron, naturally available in-situ - there is and its called whale poo! Whales eat eg krill, or squid...concentrate and naturally make available iron to plants in the sea in their poo (eg Humpback Whale poo pictured). So, protect whales, whale numbers increase, whale poo increases, ocean plant growth is improved, more carbon is taken up and this helps fight climate change, which helps us through...natural carbon capture and storage. We should protect whales whatever mind you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fair pensions

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..."I believe that fair pensions are worth fighting for, so I will be joining the picket lines in solidarity with my constituents who have been abandoned by the other main Westminster parties.

"This isn't something I do lightly. I regret the disruption caused by industrial action and think it must only be used in special circumstances - and would urge trade unions to work hard to ensure support from the wider public...

Caroline Lucas "Fair pensions are worth fighting for"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Community Energy: 29 June Meeting in Knowle

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Joining up Bristol’s local community energy groups’ - Bristol Energy Network and the Centre for Sustainable Energy Present….

A meeting to hear a talk from Dan McCallum, Awel Aman Tawe Community Energy Successes from South Wales and to discuss what community groups can learn from their experiences

· Learn from what other groups across Bristol and the South West about what they are doing to help reduce energy use in their communities
· An opportunity for groups and individuals to share their projects and experiences
· Meet people from other energy groups across the Bristol and across the South West
· Find out how the Bristol Energy Network and CSE can support your project

Wednesday 29th June 2011 6.30 to 9pm, Knowle West Media Centre, Bristol. Refreshments and light food will be provided.

To book please e-mail Kirsty Mitchel, or phone 0117 931 4100
All community groups are invited

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ramble to celebrate Civic Society Day, 24 June, 10am, starts at KWMC Leinster Ave

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Received from Len of the Northern Slopes Initiative today - Knowle West Media Centre have just sent us the following:

“Join us for a fun, free walk around the green spaces of Knowle West, to celebrate Civic Society Day Friday 24th June, 10am, meet at Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), Leinster Avenue.

On Friday 24th June we invite you to come for a ramble and take a fresh look at our community, remembering that it isn’t just brick after brick of houses and streets – it has some beautiful green spots too!

We will photograph the locations on our mobile phones and later upload them to an online map. The walk will be led by resident Karron Chaplin. Karron is involved in the Happy Hearts Walking Group, who are always pleased to welcome new members.

The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours, taking in the Northern Slopes (Bommie part pictured), Filwood Fields, Black Path, Knowle West Health Park and many more of our delightful green spaces. Please wear appropriate footwear and bring water and a hat. For more information contact Karron on 0117 907 7038 / 07760 895371.”

Many thanks


May all your weeds be wildflowers - for information, resources, news, blog and events. The Northern Slopes - one of Bristol's brilliant green spaces for people and wildlife - now and in the future

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Living a one tonne life: update on research

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Update on this research received: Could a ‘One Tonne Life’ Make it Possible for Households to Reduce CO2 Emissions to a Level That Would Avoid Climate Change?

· Transport emissions drop more than 90%

· CO2emissions produced in the home halved

· Food carbon emissions reduced 84% by going vegan

· Manufacturing of house and goods prevents ‘One Tonne’

Stockholm, Sweden; Monday, 13thJune 2011: “One Tonne Life”, a collaboration project between A-hus, Vattenfall, Volvo Cars and other partners has shown that households could reduce their carbon output from 7.3 tonnes per person to a stable 2.5 tonnes per person, living a comfortable everyday life. Furthermore, more extensive changes prove that it is possible to get this figure down to just 1.5, a level that could help us become carbon neutral and avoid serious climate change according to
‘A One Tonne Future’.

In January 2011, Swedish family, the Lindells, embarked on this six month groundbreaking project to find out if they could reduce their carbon emissions to hit this important target. They were helped in a variety of ways, not least with a climate-smart house featuring solar cells on the roof that were used to recharge the electric car parked in the driveway. The family – father Nils, mother Alicia and children Hannah and Jonathan – undertook this inspiring journey which involved moving to a new, climate smart house and examining each of their everyday habits to find out where they could reduce or, indeed, eliminate their carbon emissions.

The family report that with their energy smart house, appliances, energy meter and electric vehicle, reducing their emissions to 2.5 tonnes did not require any major compromise in their everyday lifestyles. After that, however, things got tougher and living at the 1.5 tonne level was a tough compromise.

The family made most progress in transport and electricity consumption. Emissions from transport dropped by more than 90%, mainly due to the family’s Volvo C30 Electric being recharged with electricity from hydro-power. The family’s house, built by A-hus, produces its own electricity and,with supplementary renewable electricity from hydro-power, carbon dioxide emissions from purchased electricity reduced to almost zero. All told, carbon dioxide emissions from the family’s home were more than halved compared to their emissions level in their previous home.

The family also made immense progress through their eating habits. By meal planning and being more informed about the food we eat, varying the choice of meat and eating more vegetables, it is possible for people to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Towards the end of the trial period, the Lindells ate only vegetarian dishes, and dairy produce was replaced with soya and oat-based alternatives.

In order to reduce their emissions still further, in the final 1.5-tonne week the family reduced the size of their home by closing off one room. They went without TV, shopping and eating out. However, their “rucksack” of 900 kilograms stopped them from reaching the one tonne target. This “rucksack” consists of the CO² emissions that take place when various products are manufactured, such as the house, solar panels, car, furniture and clothes. However, they demonstrated that it is possible to get very close to one tonne, however it does involve a change in lifestyle and the information to make the right changes.

Key features of the One Tonne house

The wooden “One Tonne Life” house has triple-layer walls with exceptional insulation, minimal air leakage and low-energy windows and doors. Through its solar photovoltaic system the house is a net producer of energy. All electricity not consumed by the family was fed into the national grid or used to recharge the electric car. The family’s Volvo C30 Electric emits no carbon dioxide at all when recharged with renewable electricity.

Household appliances account for up to half of a normal household’s total energy consumption, the house is equipped with the latest energy saving appliances from Siemens. To help track progress the Family had an ‘Energy Watch’ system that registers the power usage and compiles data for analysis. This allows consumption to be followed in real time or over a selected time period and learn how their personal habits influence electricity consumption. Experts from the Chalmers University of Technology followed the family in order to ensure a reliable calculation of the family’s carbon dioxide emissions. Methodology can be found here.

Further information and access to the project’s Flickr and Youtube account can be found here

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On: Bristol's unfair handling of a town green application and 'ignorance and stupidity' from senior council officers

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Blistering - and correct - attack by the Bristol Blogger here on the [un]fairness with which Bristol City Council officers and councillors are dealing with the Ashton Vale Town Green application process. The phrase 'judge and jury' is certainly apt, as are the words - council: bias; prejudice; skewing; fixing; partiality; preference; unfairness; favoritism; predisposition; preconception; injustice; one-sidedness...

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the sheer scale of the ignorance and stupidity that characterises Bristol City Council’s ruling senior officer clique. In their latest wheeze we find some effete little public sector accountant has awarded themselves the powers of an expert lawyer!

The publication of the report on the Application to Register Land at Ashton Vale as a Village Green for the council’s Public Rights of Way and Greens (PROWG) Committee to consider on Thursday finds the Council House’s chief bean counter, Will Godfrey in this new starring role as judge and jury.

The crucial part of this report into whether greenbelt land in south Bristol should be made a Town Green – as an experienced and qualified barrister advises – or whether the city’s wealthiest man should be allowed to build his football stadium...

...At the very least, surely this compelling so-called “new evidence” needs to go back before a legally qualified inspector and be tested under cross examination before Godfrey forms a view to present to the PROWG committee?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Doing business with illegally logged timber

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Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP, is renewing her calls for a ban on illegally logged timber in the UK via a Private Member's Bill, which is on the agenda for its second reading this Friday. The Illegally Logged Timber Bill (Prohibition of Import, Sale or Distribution) would make it illegal in the United Kingdom for a person or company to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase timber or timber products illegally taken, harvested, possessed, transported, sold or exported from their country of origin; and for connected purposes. Why have this and previous governments not already dealt with this matter??

For more details, please visit