Monday, March 12, 2012

Climate and carbon

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This week is Climate Week. I'm all in favour of raising awareness of climate change and the need for urgent action on a significant scale though I find that many of these sort of initiatives provide more opportunities for greenwash and greenspeak than real, concerted green action. I note that significant contributors to climate change such as Tesco, EDF, H&M...are sponsors of the week!!! I have serious doubts about the policies of Govt, councils and business on carbon reduction and climate change - they are too small scale and too slow and so dont match best science. We are missing out on good, sustainable economic development as a result too. Many approaches dont show joined up thinking eg more products are being marked with their carbon footprint but shoppers dont have any information to tell them what is too high or too low a footprint and there is no requirement for them to stay within a carbon budget in any case. Anyhow, here's a screencast I've made giving an essential guide to carbon footprinting - call it one of  my contributions to the week:


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People far too often resort to unjustified labelling in debate. Accusations of being a NIMBY (not in my back yard) are common in discussions for and against development for instance. Using the term implies that those accused hold narrow, selfish, short-sighted views in opposing change. I've found that people labelled in this way usually dont hold such views and often have a developed case with a range of reasons so, whatever the rights and wrongs of the instance, the label is unfairly applied.

Here's one example, involving  plans to redevelop a Network Rail site by building nine three story homes at Bellevue Terrace, Totterdown, Bristol. Just down the road from me. One commenter on the story thinks objecting to this development is '...the purest example of NIMBYism I've seen in weeks..' even though one resident, backed by her local councillor, describes how the space is green and good for wildlife. Suzanne Ferris said: "The former allotment site was a verdant space bright with nature in a heavily built-up area. The urbanisation of this wildlife pocket will remove forever part of the green corridor from the railway line to Arnos Vale Cemetery.”

You can have a look for yourself at the place here (and in the photos above). Its hardly the Amazon (!) but if we are serious about issues such as: the value of green spaces to our relaxation and health; obtaining and maintaining healthy populations of wildlife eg garden birds like sparrows and starlings; the value of green spaces as a temporary 'store and release' mechanism for water when it rains heavily; green spaces as carbon absorbing...then at some point we surely have to stop concreting over every bit of local, small-scale greenery?      

Opposing development that would change a space from pollution absorbing and biodiversity providing to pollution producing and biodiversity cutting is perfectly reasonable. Its not NIMBYism because all that would say is 'not here' in a narrow, selfish and short-sighted way and people in this area clearly have more reasons than that! If you are going to use the tactic of labelling people you need to give justification for doing so.