Protecting the Planet:


LINKS:  Imagining Other Home Page


Week 1: introduction        Weeks 2 & 3: some key industries        Week 4: different strategies            Week 5: some solutions

Week 6: global warming (i) causes       Week 7: global warming (i) effects       Week 8: species decline           Week 9: energy choices and policies   

Week 10: the environment movement



#activists (including legal actions)         #agriculture/farming        #agroecology          #air quality               #animal rights         #Antarctica              #arctic

#bees             #biodiversity biomass – see ‘trees’       #books          #Brexit           #Britain's wildlife            #buildings

#chickens (eating them better than beef?)    #climate change and carbon emissions #climate sceptics                     #Climategate           #coral reefs

#dark money           #deep time   #Deepwater Horizon(oil spill)    #divestment from fossil fuel

#electric cars           #emissions trading schemes       #EU and UK government

#fashion industry (and climate crisis)   #fishing         #flying           #forests         #fracking

#glaciers       #global warming

#hydrogen cars



#NETs (Negative Emissions Technologies)       #New Zealand         #nuclear power

#oceans        #oil

#palm oil       #philosophies (Deep time, The Reality Bubble)         #plastics        #population (Paul Ehrlich)

#recycling     #renewable energy

#solar power

#trees            #55 Tufton Street

#war              #wildfires     #wind-power          #wolves        #WWF




20th March 2018, Damian Carrington: Action by 12 UK citizens reaches the high court today, and tomorrow in San Francisco the science of climate change will effectively be on trial. The UK group is called Plan B, and has the support of Prof Sir David King, the government’s former chief scientific advisor. In the US, the cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing big oil companies for damages. There will be a day-long hearing on the science. Other cases have been brought due to rising seas, and more than 1,000 suits are logged by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, NY. Others are seeking to block oil drilling in the Arctic. In Colombia, 25 young plaintiffs are taking to the courts to halt deforestation.

In 2015 in the Netherlands, the court ruled the Dutch state must increase its cuts to reduce emissions (the Urgenda case). In Pakistan a farmer won a judgement against the ‘lethargy’ of the state. In Peru a German energy company RWE is being sued over the melting of glaciers.

6th March 2018, Arthur Neslen – officials from 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries have signed legally binding pacts with measures to protect land defenders. Two years ago Berta Caceres was killed in Honduras. Last year almost 200 nature protectors were killed across the world, 60% of them in Latin America.

Most cases are in the US, including the Juliana case, filed by 21 teenagers in Oregon (Our Children’s Trust).

The argument is that these companies (like the tobacco companies in the past) knowingly sold products that cause damage. Like the tobacco companies, oil companies have tried to obfuscate and blur the issues.


20th Sep 2019. Beef and climate change:

NFU says British farming can become climate neutral by 2040 without cutting beef production or converting large areas into forest. Their suggestion is growing fuel for power stations and then capturing the carbon dioxide. Energy plants could them become our biggest crop after wheat. Agriculture causes about 10% of the UK’s climate-heating emissions, with 90% of that being methane from livestock and nitrous oxide from fields. Farmers are seeing the effects of climate change with extreme weather. The plan also includes feed additives to cut methane, gene editing to improve crops and livestock, and controlled-release fertilisers. [Good examples of ‘high-tech’ proposals...]

June 14th 2019. Ammonia from farming. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/13/revealed-uk-government-failing-to-tackle-rise-of-ammonia-serious-air-pollutant  causes 3,000 deaths a year

April 2019, from Ecowatch, on beef production: https://www.ecowatch.com/beef-and-climate-change-2634244134.html

25th June 2018. Catherine Bloomfield, who writes on farming and keeps cattle on a grassland farm in Devon, argues Brexit is an opportunity to have a national debate about farming. ‘For 40 years Britain has been subject to [the common agricultural policy]’s perversities, inefficiencies and unintended consequences... creating a generally dysfunctional relationship between farmers and the public.’

She mentions the 25 year environment plan, launched earlier this year, and its bold ambition ‘to leave the environment for the next generation in a better state than we found it.’ But will Gove actually do anything about this? How to keep feeding a growing population should not be left to Defra – it’s beyond farming, and there is a battle between NFU and ‘environmental zealots’ who indulge in ‘mutual myopia’!! But they need to work together. The premise of farming, she says, is to deliver health. The Defra consultation paper talkss about farming and the natural environment but not about health... Farming also has to speak less to itself and more widely with society. Problems also include declining soil fertility, over-consumption of food water and energy.

26th March 2018, Michael McCarthy: a quite optimistic assessment, that if we leave the EU’s agricultural policies we will have a lot of money to spend on ensuring our agriculture is sound for the environment. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/26/wildlife-modern-farming-insects-birds

17th Feb 2018 (Tom Levitt): Dutch cows are producing so much waste the authorities don’t have space to store it! The Netherlands is the fifth-largest exporter of dairy. It has 1.8 million cows and there are legal restrictions on where the manure can be deposited. Farmers are dumping it illegally, the country is breaking EU regulations on phosphates, and the high levels of ammonia are affecting air quality. WWF is calling for a 40% reduction in cow numbers over the next decade. Its Netherlands head says they have the lowest biodiversity in Europe after Malta, with only 15% of their original biodiversity left. 80% of farms produce more dung than they can legally use on their farms – the Dutch are already allowed to spread more manure on the land than the rest of the EU. Some political parties support restrictions on the number of cows.

8th Feb 2018, Fiona Harvey: level of antibiotic use on US farms is five times as much as in UK, and nine times in the case of beef cattle, according to Alliance to Save our Antibiotics. It is three times higher in chicken, twice in pigs and five times in turkeys. Europe has banned the import of beef from America, largely owing to growth hormone use. This issue obviously affects Brexit! The fear is of superbugs developing through the growth of resistance. Nearly three quarters of the total use of antibiotics worldwide is thought to be on animals.

Agroecology: https://theconversation.com/three-ways-farms-of-the-future-can-feed-the-planet-and-heal-it-too- 


Air quality:

18th Sep. 2019. Air pollution particles found in foetuses – showing the placental barrier can be penetrated by particles breathed in by the mother. Damage to foetuses has lifelong consequences. People should avoid busy roads when possible. Published in Nature Communications. In the mothers who lived near main roads there were 20,000 particles per cubic millimetre, while there were 10,000 per cubic millimetre for those who lived further away.

In 2101 black carbon particles were found in the urine of school children (10 million per millilitre) – particles go from the lungs all over the body.

More research is needed to determine the impact of the particles, but research has linked air pollution with heart and lung disease, diabetes, reduced intelligence, brittle bones and damaged skin... There are at least 8.8 million early deaths every year from air pollution. (Damian Carrington)


90% of the world’s population live in areas where air pollution is above WHO guidelines.

11th Dec 2019. Diesel cars emit more pollution in hot weather. Research in Paris by the Real Urban Emissions (known as True) initiative – emissions of NOx rose by 20% - 30% when temperatures rose above 30C. Emissions were many times higher than those declared in lab tests – the Dieselgate scandal found there was 40 times more NOx on the road than in tests. True uses a beam of light to examine the fumes, together with automatic number-plate recognition.

31st Aug. 2019. Leeds plans car-free school. If approved will be in a Climate Innovation District – a zero-carbon neighbourhood by the river Aire near the Royal Armouries Museum. Will include hundreds of homes – limited parking spaces (extra cost on the house) underground, with electric charging points at every space. Car access is limited. In the 1970s Leeds got a motorway through the centre – consequently Leeds had a street with the highest levels of NOx outside London. The school will share a building with a care home and flats. Communa;l courtyard, intergenerational living (which has been shown to have positive health benefits). ‘Living Streets’ welcomes the initiative. (Helen Pidd).

15th April 2019. https://airqualitynews.com/2019/04/15/car-emissions-down-17-since-2008-figures-suggest/ - largely due to developments in manufacture, so there is now a choice of different types of car, including electric, and emissions are reduced.

April 2019 UNICEF report: www.unicef.uk/healthyairnationalaction 

3rd April 2019. Fiona Harvey, Guardian: ‘the State of Global Air 2019’ reports that, in the world, on average, children born today will have their lives shortened by 20 months because of air pollution. In 2017 it was a bigger killer than malaria and road accidents, and comparable to smoking. In south Asia lives are shortened by 30 months and in sub-Saharan Africa by 24 months – one factor being cooking fires. Alastair Harper of Unicef warns that there is a relationship between exposure to toxic air and low birth weight, reduced lung development and childhood asthma.

In China the situation is improving as there is less reliance on coal, and control over the number of vehicles in some cities.

Last year’s study found that more than 90% of people were breathing in dangerous air. Air pollution has been described as a global emergency. Studies link it to dementia, miscarriages etc.

2nd April 2019. (G Arthur Neslen). Ryanair is the first non-coal company to become one of the top 10 carbon emitters, according to EU figures.


The Irish airline, which transports 130 million people a year, declared 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on last year and 49% over the last five years, according to data in the EU’s latest emissions trading system registry.

Andrew Murphy, the aviation manager at the European Federation for Transport and Environment, said: “this undertaxed and under-regulated sector needs to be brought into line, starting with a tax on kerosene and the introduction of mandates that force airlines to switch to zero-emission jet fuel.”

Aviation is responsible for about 3% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, but industry forecasts suggest this could rise by up to 700% by 2050 as the sector grows.

24th Sep 2018 (James Bridle, author of New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future). Researchers from Beijing and Yale show people living in polluted cities are losing cognitive functions. High levels of lead cause low scores in maths and language – equivalent in some cases to losing several years of education. High levels of CO2 also cloud the mind. Currently atmospheric levels are over 400 ppm. By 2100 they could be 1,000 ppm – and people could lose 21% of their cognitive abilities. Outdoors levels often reach 500 ppm, and sometimes indoors it exceeds 1,000 ppm – in Denmark studies found over 2,000 ppm.

Bridle suggests that since those who grew up between 1965 and 1985 have been found to have 20 micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood – they are suffering from cognitive impairment which may explain some of the irrational behaviour we see now! EPA in US has loosened restrictions on power-plant emissions, so there will be more mercury in the atmosphere too...

18th Sep 2018, Matthew Taylor: Q Mary Uni has found children are absorbing soot particles – black carbon – during the school day = more than 60% of the air pollution they take in each day. On the way to school and in classrooms and playgrounds. In one school in Holborn levels in the classroom were over three times above WHO limit for pm10 Swedish firm Blueair can provide air filters that reduce levels by 96%.

Murphy described aviation as “Europe’s biggest climate failure”. Europe’s airlines pay about €800m (£680m) a year for their rights to pollute. But some studies suggest this sum is eclipsed by the €27bn they would have to stump up if their fuel tax and VAT exemptions were ended.

Despite increased attention from policymakers, the sector receives up to 85% of its EU emissions trading allowances free, with Ryanair consequently saving €96.6m in 2018.

25th March 2019. Two letters in Guardian make good points: 1. (From scientific advisor (Dr Robin Russell-Jones) and chair (Geraint Davies) of APPG on air pollution): particulates from exhausts are more dangerous than from friction (brakes, tyres etc) – though government ‘likes to pretend that all particulates are equivalent, regardless of source.’ (It even brings in agricultural particulates...). 2. On modern cars, catalysts take time to warm up, so while CO2 will be reduced by not idling, it could be that more of NOx, unburned fuel, and CO will be emitted.

31st March 2019. Two book reviews reveal the ‘shocking damage’ done by atmospheric pollution:


In 1952, with smog, an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 eventually died. “The fog caused more civilian casualties than any five-day German bombing campaign had managed a few years before,” says Tim Smedley in Clearing the Air...

Our air today may not have the look of a peasouper. Nevertheless, its quality has been worsening relentlessly and is poisoning us as assuredly as it did in 1952, though the deadly airborne contaminants we now inhale consist of microscopically tiny particles rather than gobs of carbon. Polluted air used to stare us in the face. Today, it is an almost invisible threat...

Earlier this month, scientists put the number of early deaths attributable to this atmospheric poisoning at an incredible number: 8.8 million a year. Nine out of 10 people round the world now breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. As a result, nearly 600,000 children die every year from diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution.

Of the two books, Gardiner’s is the more descriptive, following the story of the harrowing impact of air pollution – from Brooklyn to Poland and Delhi to Berlin – in terms of its human cost. Smedley, by contrast, is more prescriptive and ends his book with a detailed blueprint for saving our cities. Suggested measures include a ban on all petrol and diesel cars in city centres; the replacement of diesel buses and trains with electric vehicles; and an end to the use of wood-burning stoves and coal fires. It’s an achievable vision, he insists. “However, whether it happens in 10 or 100 years is down to public pressure and political will.”

Clearing the Air: The Beginning and the End of Air Pollution by Tim Smedley is published by Blomsbury (£16.99).

Choked: The Age of Air Pollution and the Fight for a Cleaner Future by Beth Gardiner is published by Granta (£14.99).

July 13th 2018. ‘Park and stride!’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/13/uk-schools-move-to-ban-the-school-run-to-protect-pupils-from-air-pollution

14th May 2018. Manchester has a very bad problem of poor air quality. It costs the regional economy £1bn every year, and is reducing life expectancy in the region by an average of six months, according to an IPPR North report. Manchester doesn’t have the powers the mayor of London has to enforce clean air zones etc. Emergency admissions to hospital for asthma in Central Manchester are the highest in England, and more than double the national average. North Manchester is second highest. The bus fleet is one of the most polluting in the UK (only 15 electric buses, while more than 500 in London).

28th Feb 2018: German courts have agreed cities can ban diesels. 13,000 people are estimated to die from NOx each year. EU threshold is 40 mcg/m3 – it’s often 70 in some cities. There is some opposition, and no-one expects widespread banning just yet, as so many cars are affected. 15th Feb (Philip Oltermann and agencies): the government is considering temporarily scrapping fares for public transport in some cities. Berlin is struggling to meet EU targets and to avoid fines. Cities say they would need federal funds to make up for the losses. The proposal will be tried in five cities by the end of the year. Green Party politician Anton Hofreiter says the idea is vague and the government should concentrate on pressurising the car industry to free technical upgrades on some diesel cars.

UK taken to court: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/23/renewed-calls-for-uk-to-tackle-toxic-air-ahead-of-high-court-hearing - and found for the third time to be breaking legal requirements! Clean air in the UK will now be overseen by the courts rather than ministers, in what was described as  a ‘wholly exceptional ruling.’

27th Feb 2018, Matthew Taylor – ClientEarth has found that 60% of parents want traffic diverted away from schools at the beginning and the end of the day. 63% oppose new schools being built where pollution is high, 60% are worried about the effects of air pollution on children, and 70% in favour of the government alerting schools on high pollution days. British Lung Foundation declares the situation ‘simply unacceptable’. The two organisations are launching Clean Air Parents’ Network to work together on this.

16th Feb 2018, Ian Sample – scientists say that household cleaners, paints and perfumes have become substantial sources of urban air pollution, especially now that traffic pollution is being reduced. These are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which react in the air to form ozone or PM2.5. Ground level ozone is harmful to health, affecting breathing. ‘Between one quarter and a third of all particles are made up of organic compounds that originate as VOCs’. (A. Lewis, Prof of chemistry Uni of York). The problem is that many of these substances are not controlled.

Animal rights. Sophie McBain in New Statesman interviews Steve Wise, founder of the Nonhuman Rights Project. Quotes Peter Singer. Inda’s supreme court has ruled all animals should have constitutional and legal rights (2014), a judge in Argentina ordered a chimpanzee to be released using habeas corpus (2016), and in 2017 Colombia’s supreme court ordered a bear to be released under the same principle. Bees and wasps can recognise faces; octupuses use tools; grey parrots have vocabularies with hundreds of words; elephants can recognise themselves (in a mirror).



14th June 2018. (Matthew Taylor) Ice is melting at a record-breaking rate, faster than at any previously recorded time, according to a study in Nature, and another study warns it could contribute to sea-level rises of 25cm globally, which on top of other factors would lead to more than a metre rise by 2070. If the entire west Antarctic ice sheet melts, this would bring around 3.5m of sea-level rise. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/13/antarctic-ice-melting-faster-than-ever-studies-show

The Nature article shows that before 2012 the loss was 76bn tonnes a year – now it is 219bn (contributing 0.6mm sea-level rise per year).

The second study looks at different scenarios, and argues there are some changes that can be prevented.

28th March, Matthew Taylor: Holland and Barrett has agreed to remove krill-based products such as Omega 3 from its shelves, after activists sent 40,000 emails in 24 hours and put protest stickers on products in its shops. Campaigners are calling for Boots and others to follow suit. Boots say that their brands are in line with Marine Stewardship Council products from sustainable sources.  Last week Greenpeace campaigners boarded a Ukrainian trawler. (See Facebook https://www.facebook.com/greenpeaceaustraliapacific/videos/10155831450743300/?utm_term=EML2&bucket=Oceans-Antarctic&source=ca_Oceans-Antarctic__

15th Feb 2018, Matthew Taylor – climate change and industrial fishing together are threatening the krill population. George Watters, lead scientist for the US delegation to the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) warns that the penguin population could drop by almost a third by the end of the century because of changes in the krill biomass. (Published in Plos One). Some areas of krill could decrease by 40% in size. Ocean warming is the main problem, but fishing also affects it. Krill feed on algae and are a food source for whales, penguins and seals – they also remove CO2 from the atmosphere when they eat near the surface, and then excrete at lower levels. Krill populations have declined by 80% since the 1970s. Krill is fished for health products, and the industry is growing by 12% a year.

There is a campaign to turn 700,000 sq miles into a sanctuary, protecting wildlife and banning all fishing, in the Weddell Sea. Krill fishing companies say they are only taking 0.4% of the estimated biomass around the peninsula.

Arctic: 2nd Feb 2018, Oliver Milman - polar bears are sliding towards extinction faster than previously feared. Research by US Geological Survey and Uni of California Santa Cruz, published in Science, shows polar bears have a 50% higher metabolism than previously thought, and so require more prey to meet their energy needs at a time when sea ice is receding. There are some 26,000 polar bears in the arctic today. They are leading a feast and famine lifestyle. The arctic is warming at twice the average global rate, and has declined by about 13% a decade since 1979. In the past 10 years Greenland has lost two trillion tonnes of its ice mass.

Bees: 25th May 2019, 38Degrees, some useful references:

[1] Huffington Post: Recolouring The Countryside - Why We Need To Put Meadows Back On The Map:
ITV News: Wildflowers and insects under threat due to vanishing meadows, experts warn:
The Guardian: Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature':
[2] The Guardian: World's food supply under 'severe threat' from loss of biodiversity:
BBC News: UN: Growing threat to food from decline in biodiversity:
[3] BBC News: Nature crisis: Humans 'threaten 1m species with extinction':
New Scientist: Destruction of nature is as big a threat to humanity as climate change:

Books: Will mcCallum: How to give up plastic; George Monbiot: how did we get into this mess? Mark Cocker: our place; Simon L Lewis and Mark A Maslin: The human Planet; Mark Botle: the way home; David Wallace-wells: the uninhabitable earth; XR: This is not a drill; Thor Hanson: Buzz; James Lovelock: Novacene; ... Choked.



Jan 2020. Biodiversity – extraordinary inter-dependence:

The pale giant oak aphid (stomaphis wojciechowskii) has only recently been discovered. It is looked after by brown ants (lasius brunneus): The ants build structures on the trees out of mosses, lichens and the exoskeletons of beetles. These act as a ‘barn’ to keep the aphids in, where they are milked to extract sugary water for the ants. If the aphids are disturbed, the ants move them down the tree to their underground shelters – they carry the little ones in their jaws. They keep the aphids underground in severe weather, and march the aphids up the tree when summer comes. The ants are classified as ‘nationally notable’ and the aphids are probably rare, as there have only been a few locations where they have been found. (Patrick Barkham, 25th Jan 2020).


11th Dec 2019, Fiona Harvey. The Guam rail has been saved by captive breeding from the IUCN red list. It had been endangered by the brown tree snake, accidentally introduced from US at the end of WW2. The echo parakeet has gone from critically endangered (10 years ago) to vulnerable. There are 112,432 species on the list, of which more than 30,000 are on the brink of extinction. 73 species have declined despite conservation efforts.

In June 2020 the IUCN hold its four-yearly Conservation Congress, and in October the UN Biodiversity Convention will hold a meeting in China. Climate change is the main problem according to the head of climate change at WWF.

Aug. 2019. Story about rats on an Alaskan island (invasive species...): https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-rat-spill/?utm_source=Hakai+Magazine+Weekly&utm_campaign=cdaa5f33e4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_06_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0fc1967411-cdaa5f33e4-121612957

April 20 2019. ‘Deep life’: from ‘Up from the depths’ – see #deep time below... Last December scientists revealed their discovery of a vast ‘deep life’ ecosystem in the Earth’s crust, twice the volume of the world’s oceans, containing a biodiversity comparable to that of the Amazon, and teeming with 23bn tonnes of micro-organisms – hundreds of times the combined weight of all living humans.’

Red Squirrels: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150924-how-conservation-is-saving-our-red-squirrels? 

2nd July 2018. Steven Morris. The high brown fritillary, the UK’s most endangered butterfly, may be getting a boost from the warm dry weather. Over 200 have been seen, after a harsh winter which has helped knock back the bracken, then a warm May and June – all of which is ideal for the caterpillars. The butterfly lays eggs singly on leaf litter on dog violets or among moss growing on limestone outcrops. The larvae hatch in early spring and bask on dead bracken or in short sparse vegetation. It is only found at about 50 sites, such as Exmoor, Dartmoor and Morecambe Bay. The larvae have feathered brown spines which make them look like dead bracken fronds.

The things that have worked against the butterfly include the abandonment of coppicing. Other species which may benefit: heath fritillary, nightjar, Dartford warbler.

But the swallowtail could become extinct soon...

30th June 2018. Patrick Barkham.

The swallowtail, Britain’s biggest butterfly, could become extinct within four decades. It lives on milk parsley only, and this cannot survive in salty water. Rising seas will turn much of the Norfolk Broads into salt marshes. With a sea level rise of 50cm, at least 90% of the current swallowtail breeding sites will become salt marsh. Tidal surges and ‘salination events’ also cause problems. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads contain 1,500 species of conservation concern, including 66 that rely on the rivers and freshwater lakes.

In Victorian times, marshes elsewhere in southern England were drained, leaving the Broads as its only home. It has also become smaller and is now a subspecies.

It was reintroduced to Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire in the 1990s, but without success. Experts believe it needs a wider area.

14th June 2018. Some possibly good news: one new species of micro moth is found every year in the UK. However, their abundance is in decline. There will be a three-day ‘moth night’ – from 14th to 16th June - organised by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Atropos( wildlife publisher). Some new moths arrived from Australia and New Zeeland, via the horticultural trade. Others come here as a result of climate change. 27 of the new arrivals (out of 125 new species spotted this century) have started to breed here. (Patrick Barkham, Guardian)

11th April 2018. UK Butterfly Monitoring scheme reports that 2017 was the 7th worst year, and for 2 species – grayling and grizzled skipper - the worst ever. (Patrick Barkham) Long-term falls in population are due to habitat loss, but recently climate change, pesticides (such as neonics) and nitrogen pollution have been the causes. UK has 59 native species. Red admiral and comma have increased, and targeted management plus warm spring has helped the pearl-bordered fritillary. Food crops of the worst affected are harmed by increased nitrogen (transport and fertilizers) which helps more vigorous grasses to grow at expense of their food plants.


Will mcCallum: How to give up plastic;

George Monbiot: how did we get into this mess?

Mark Cocker: our place;

Simon L Lewis and Mark A Maslin: The human Planet;

Mark Botle: the way home;

David Wallace-wells: the uninhabitable earth;

XR: This is not a drill;

Thor Hanson: Buzz;

James Lovelock: Novacene;

Jillian Ambrose, Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/jillian-ambrose many useful articles


2019. See also DeSmog: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/11/11/election-2019-here-are-all-brexit-party-s-climate-science-deniers

12th April 2018. Risk Assessment by FoE:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/12/green-brexit-unlikely-despite-government-claims-report-concludes Main risk is a gap between policy statements and concrete regulations. A ‘non-regression clause’ which means that post-Brexit rules would not be weaker is asked for, along with a body to oversee environmental standards.

4th April 2018 Michael Jacobs, author of Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth – short piece 4th April warning of dangers if we do not replace existing EU legislation on the environment with something at least as good and preferably stronger. He suggests a new sustainable economy act, with a legal requirement on government to set environmental limits and to produce economic plans to achieve them. These should include: air pollution, soil degradation, resource depletion, plastics pollution and biodiversity loss. Each would need a long-term goal and shorter term targets and plans. These should be based on the advice of an independent expert sustainable economy commission, modelled on the climate change committee.

The Climate Change Act, he says, does impose limits etc, and in effect puts the UK under a sustainability constraint. Every five years the government must adopt a legally binding carbon target, and these must be set fifteen years ahead, and be on the trajectory to the goal of an 80% reduction by 2050 (relative to 1990 levels).

James Tapper, Observer 21st Jan 2018 quotes a coalition of green groups saying there is a significant risk that our environmental protections will be reduced after Bexit. Greener UK represents 13 groups including WWF, National Trust, RSPB, FoE, Green Alliance and the Wildlife Trusts. Chair Shaun Spiers says there is a lack of willpower to ensure high standards across the UK when we lose the common frameworks currently provided by the EU. MEP Julie Girling (who had the whip withdrawn when she supported an EU resolution saying the UK had not made sufficient progress in the talks) said the UK was no longer working effectively with the EU on environmental issues.

Britain’s wildlife:

Observer, 15th April 2018, review by Alex Preston of Britain: Our Place: can we save Britain’s wildlife before it is too late? By Mark Cocker. Argues that despite the British love of the countryside etc, we are destroying our wildlife: quoting the 2013 State of Nature report (by 25 British environmental organisations), of the 3,148 species studied, 60% had declined in the last 50 years; 31% had declined badly and 600 were threatened with extinction. We lost 44m birds between 1996 and 2008. We have lost 99% of our wildflower meadows, half of our ancient woodland, three-quarters of our heathland, three-quarters of our ponds. Yet there are 5m members of the National Trust, 1.2m in the RSPB, 800,000 in various wildlife trusts. These organisations are afraid to campaign (and the NT placates the landed aristocracy). The villains of the story are industrial agri-business, moneyed landowners, and the politicians who defend their interest (mostly conservative of course). Monocultures and grouse moors are destroying the natural countryside.

June 2019: Buildings: (letters 18/6/19) modern buildings are lightweight, unshaded, with overglazed walls, reliant on mechanical heating, cooling and ventilation systems, with no internal mass to absorb or release excess heat. (Susan Roaf, Oxford)


Carbon Taxes: Phillip Inman, 23/12/18, has an interesting slant: we need supranational bodies to get involved, as national governments have failed. The biggest emitters are the major steelmakers, smelters, and energy firms. In 2015, excluding road transport, 81% of emissions were untaxed. (According to OECD). The riots in France have shown that you can’t just slap a tax on fuel. Taxes on carbon will put up the price of .e.g. petrol and diesel. How to find a policy that encourages car-drivers to support it?


Chickens: farming contributes to destruction of forests: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/is-eating-chicken-better-for-the-environment-than-beef/?

Around the world, the amount of chicken being eaten has rocketed, almost doubling in the last 30 years. Today, more chicken is eaten than beef, and there are billions of chickens being reared for eggs and meat. 

All these chickens need feeding. Most are kept in intensive factory farms, where they’re provided with processed, concentrated feed made largely from soya. Much of this soya comes from South America, grown in areas which, not long ago, were forests or savannahs. Now, they’re huge soya bean plantations.

There are now 30 chickens for every 10 people on the planet. There are so many chickens, the balance of nature has shifted. Farmed chickens and other poultry make up 70% of all birds on Earth (measured by biomass, or the weight of living organisms). Rearing animals for food is literally squeezing out nature, leaving no space for wild animals.

As things stand, chicken consumption is only going to increase. Eating habits across the world are changing, and more people are eating more meat. Influenced by modern western diets, China, India and other countries are shifting from traditional balanced diets to ones heavy in meat and dairy.

Huge amounts of soya from Brazil end up in the EU, which is the second biggest importer of soya in the world. Most of this is used for animal feed, and half of that is fed to chickens. The UK alone imports over 3 million tonnes of soya per year.

The animal feed industry is doing untold damage to many of Brazil’s natural landscapes, including the Cerrado. This vast savannah, characterised by dry grasslands dotted with trees, contains a bewildering variety of plants and animals. It’s also known as the “cradle of waters” as it feeds most of Brazil’s major rivers, including the Amazon.

South America’s second largest forest, the Gran Chaco, is also being devastated by soya, as well as cattle ranching. Jaguars, armadillos and giant anteaters roam among the thorny shrubs of this dry tropical forest. However, the Gran Chaco is disappearing faster than any other forest as industrial agriculture expands into the region.

The Amazon rainforest is currently protected from being turned into soya plantations. In 2006, a ground-breaking deal ended the destruction of the Amazon by soya companies. The deal is still in place, but those same companies who signed up are now destroying the Cerrado and the Gran Chaco.


Climate Change:

And wildlife: 27th Dec 2019. Volatile weather led to an influx of migrant species in 2019, but also put pressure on other species. Painted ladies arrived in large numbers for the first time in a decade, also the Clifden nonpareil moth and dragnonflies such as the red-veined darter and vagrant emperor. Grey seals were thriving, and orchids did well.

But fires on the moors damaged habitat for curlew and twite. It was also a bad year for natterjack toads (where pools dried up) and water voles (because of flooding resulting in the loss of young). Arctic terns, guillemots and shags suffered significant losses because of rain in Northumberland. Other examples in article by Steven Morris).

10th Sep 2019. Climate change and Rivers in Australia:

In Australia, New South Wales government will move native fish from the Lower Darling river to safe havens, before temperatures rise in the summer. Last year there were mass fish killings. River mussels were in decline, and the river red gum trees were under severe stress. ‘If the river red gums die, and some are hundreds of years old, there will be a domino effect. Banks will collapse, there will be massive erosion and it will send sediments down the river’ said Prof Fran Seldon of Griffith University.

Last December and January fish began dying in their hundreds of thousands in the far west of the state, carpeting weirs and water holes with dead fish. Part of the problem is a lack of flow in the river because of drought and irrigation. Temperatures reached 40C.

Some Murray cod are at least 25 years old. Critics say it is a photo-op rather than a real solution.

Note there have been serious bushfires in Australia this year...

July 2019, brilliant summary from Aewa Mahdawi (Life and Arts 24/7/19):


every day seems to bring new record-breaking temperatures or extreme conditions. June was the hottest month recorded on Earth; July is on course to break that record. The Arctic is having a sweltering summer that has sparked unprecedented wildfires. According to the World Meteorological Organization, these fires emitted as much carbon dioxide in one month as the whole of Sweden does in a year.

As large sections of the Arctic burn, major cities sizzle. New York, where I live, has just emerged from a heatwave that the mayor declared a “local emergency”. The city’s infrastructure, which is held together by chewing gum and rat droppings at the best of times, buckled under the strain of millions of heaving air conditioners, leaving more than 46,000 New Yorkers without power on Sunday. Now it is Europe’s turn to swelter; the Met Office says temperatures could reach 37C (99F) in London on Thursday.

What makes this extreme weather even more uncomfortable is the grim realisation that we have done this to ourselves. The climate crisis has made heatwaves the new normal. You can’t turn to a colleague and remark: “Hot, isn’t it?” without thinking about the fact that, unless something drastic is done, it is going to get hotter and hotter. According to scientists at the Crowther Lab in Switzerland, nearly 80% of cities will undergo dramatic climate changes by 2050; London, for example, will feel like Barcelona does today. Residents of cities such as Jakarta and Singapore, meanwhile, will experience “unprecedented climate conditions” characterised by extreme rainfall and severe droughts.

As the implications of the climate crisis become impossible to ignore, many of us are growing increasingly terrified. The climate emergency isn’t just damaging the planet; it is also harming our mental health – a phenomenon called “eco-anxiety”. As Alexandria Harris wrote in her 2015 book Weatherland, “small alterations in familiar places can disturb us more than dystopian visions”.

We need to significantly change our behaviour and, even more importantly, overhaul our economic system. After all, only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. You know all this already; we all do. But our politicians still are not taking meaningful action. Capitalism is carrying on with business as usual. The world is literally on fire – and it feels as though we are fiddling with paper straws while it burns.

June 2019, vicious circle as changing climate causes more demand for energy: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/11/energy-industry-carbon-emissions-bp-report-fossil-fuels

Carbon emissions climbed by 2% in 2018, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy.

China accounted for a third of the world's energy growth in 2018


China 34.4

US 20

India 15.1

Other developing Asia 9.8

Russia 6.8

Middle East 5.4

Africa 3.3

Rest of world 5.2


20th April 2019 (Daniel Grossman, Brazil, Guardian). Experiments are being carried out to see how the Amazon rainforest reacts to increased levels of CO2. The last time levels were as high as now was in the Pliocene, and then beech trees grew at the South Pole... Will the extra CO2 harm the trees or protect them? It seems to depend on other factors... Chambers are being built round some of the trees, and CO2 is pumped into the chambers, to the level predicted for 2050 (50% higher than now, and when temperatures are predicted to be up to 3.5 above now). 

19 April, AP: polar bears are prowling in Kamchatka peninsula, hundreds of miles from their usual habitat. The ice is receding and the bears are looking for new sources of food. Ice off the coast of Greenland, normally frozen even in summer, has been melting – twice last year. The bears are sedated and removed to their normal habitat. The oldest ice has melted by 95% over the past 30 years according to the Arctic Report Card last year.

April 2019. Link to Ecowatch article on letter to Guardian, signed by George Monbiot, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and others on restoring nature to capture carbon:


30th March 2019. Ice cores: Beyond Epica project aims to extract samples from a 1.7 mile think ice sheet in Antarctica, which will reveal temperatures as far back as 1.5m years ago. In 2004 they drilled a two-mile long core that was 800,000 years old. We know from this that today’s CO2 concentrations are much higher than anything that has been seen in the past 800,000 years. ‘We are on the way to push the climate system outside its natural boundaries.’

11th March 2019. Greta Thunberg and school strikes for climate:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/11/greta-thunberg-schoolgirl-climate-change-warrior-some-people-can-let-things-go-i-cant - interview by Jonathan Watts.

27th Feb 2019. Guardian editorial: Recent survey data shows that while 93% of British people know climate change is happening, only 36% believe that humans are mainly responsible, and only 25% describe themselves as very worried. UK’s target is to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, which is more ambitious than many comparable countries.

Dec 2018:

COP24 at Katowice, 2018:




18th Sep 2018. Adam Vaughan coal-fired power stations are being used more now that gas prices have risen. In Sep. Coal-burning increased  by15% = 1,000 extra tonnes of CO2 per hour. If the trend continues the sector’s emissions will rise by 1.2m tonnes this year – report by Imperial College London. We need a 80% cut by 2050 to meet target set by Committee on Climate Change. Coal could account for 10.5% of electricity generation this winter, up from 10% last year. In 1990 energy sector produced 200m tonnes. Now roughly 75m? [Diagram in article]

12th April 2018. Changes to the Gulf Stream are more dramatic than first thought:


‘The new research shows the current is now 15% weaker than around 400AD, an exceptionally large deviation, and that human-caused global warming is responsible for at least a significant part of the weakening.

The current, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), carries warm water northwards towards the north pole. There it cools, becomes denser and sinks, and then flows back southwards. But global warming hampers the cooling of the water, while melting ice in the Arctic, particularly from Greenland, floods the area with less dense freshwater, weakening the Amoc current.

Two studies have been carried out, [both published in Nature – see links in original article] and ‘both studies found that Amoc today is about 15% weaker than 1,600 years ago, but there were also differences in their conclusions. The first study found significant Amoc weakening after the end of the little ice age in about 1850, the result of natural climate variability, with further weakening caused later by global warming.

The second study suggests most of the weakening came later, and can be squarely blamed on the burning of fossil fuels. Further research is now being undertaken to understand the reasons for the differences.

However, it is already clear that human-caused climate change will continue to slow Amoc, with potentially severe consequences. “If we do not rapidly stop global warming, we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” said Alexander Robinson, at the University of Madrid, and one of the team that conducted the second study. He warned: “We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this unprecedented process – but they might be disruptive.”

A 2004 disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow, envisaged a rapid shutdown of Amoc and a devastating freeze. The basics of the science were portrayed correctly, said Thornalley: “Obviously it was exaggerated – the changes happened in a few days or weeks and were much more extreme. But it is true that in the past this weakening of Amoc happened very rapidly and caused big changes.”’

27th Jan 2018, New Scientist, Michael Le Page – scientists do not agree how much warming will result from a given increase in CO2, known as the equilibrium climate sensitivity (equilibrium because there is a time-lag before the temperature settles). The consensus is that if we double the amount, the rise would be between 1.5 and 4.5C. But Peter Cox has narrowed this down to between 2.2 and 3.4 (Nature, doi.org/gcsmn4). Other studies put it higher (e.g. between 3 and 4.2C). There is agreement that the low values are unlikely, but the higher values may be wrong since it takes thousands of years for temperatures to stabilise. In the long run the true figure could be 6C or more. If we continue to emit CO2 at current levels, it is agreed the world will heat by 4C by 2100 – this is a projection of the actual warming, not a measure of sensitivity

Jan. 2018, Damian Carrington: At current rates of tree planting it would take a century to plant the 70,000 hectares of trees promised for 2025.



Climate sceptics: see DeSmog on the Brexit party: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/11/11/election-2019-here-are-all-brexit-party-s-climate-science-deniers

also on funding to the Tories: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/11/19/election-2019-boris-johnson-conservative-party-climate-science-denial-funding

Climategate, 2009. Article by Brendan Montague of Desmog and Resurgence:


Links between Nigel Lawson, Christopher Monckton, S Fred Singer, Heartland Institute, GWPF

The target of the hack attack had been Pennsylvania State University Professor Michael Mann, the author of the first ‘Hockey Stick’ graph which showed a dramatic uptick in average global temperatures following hundreds of years of a fairly stable climate. Professor Phil Jones was collateral damage: accused of academic dishonesty, hauled in front of a powerful Parliamentary committee to answer these trumped up charges, his life’s work unfairly called into question. He considered suicide.

Climategate should have been a storm in a teacup. The emails revealed nothing new. A few choice phrases were taken out of context, twisted, and presented as damning evidence. It was Lord Lawson who turned it into a crisis for climate science.

He launched the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) in Parliament just in time to make best use of the faux scandal, toured the newspaper offices using his reputation as Thatcher’s one time chancellor to persuade editors to take the event seriously, and called on his Tory friends to open their cheque-books to fund his opaque think tank.

Singer worked with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (now Atlas Network) in the United States. The foundation was primarily concerned with promoting free market, neoliberal economics. Friedrich von Hayek was the intellectual inspiration. He argued that any regulation would distort the market, leading to hardship.

Singer... had previously worked with the tobacco industry deliberately creating smoke and mirrors around the increasing scientific consensus that smoking caused cancer. The foundation received money from the oil industry, including Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, and was instrumental in founding the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in the UK. It was a trustee of the IEA — David Henderson — who first approached Lord Lawson at an event hosted by the London School of Economics and persuaded him to take up the cause of climate denial.

Lawson did not advise fake news, but it encouraged a distortion of reality that has seriously undermined our politics. It opened the floodgates.

Along the way, the GWPF has gotten into bed with the wildest of right-wing neoliberal think tanks, becoming intimately entwined (*) with those responsible for serious spin and corporate lobbying around Brexit.

Lawson himself was instrumental in the Vote Leave campaign (before applying for residency in France). He was happy to appeal to reactionary populism to settle scores within the Tory party.

One consequence of this is that Nigel Farage long ago adopted the tactics of his namesake. Farage has dabbled in climate denial. He has gone further in stirring up populism. He is the master of scapegoating. And he is forever throwing “dead cats” into the political arena, keeping us constantly focused on our relationship with the EU. And in doing so, his Brexit Party — a party riddled with a Lawsonian brand of climate science denial — came close to destroying Lawson’s Tory party while continuing to push the UK towards the hardest of Brexits.

See also, on funding of Conservative \party MPs: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/11/19/election-2019-boris-johnson-conservative-party-climate-science-denial-funding

Johnson, Hancock, Mitchell, Hunt and Fox all received between £20,000 and £30,000 from climate change deniers....

The Brexit Party, and the Spiked connection https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/11/11/election-2019-here-are-all-brexit-party-s-climate-science-deniers :

The Spiked group of academics and writers who regularly publish articles attacking efforts to tackle climate change are well-represented in the Brexit Party’s candidate list. DeSmog previously revealed that the group was funded by Charles and David Koch, billionaire American industrialists and infamous funders of climate science denial.

James Woudhuysen (Carshalton and Wallington), a professor at London South Bank University, has written extensively on the issue. He acknowledges its existence but opposes what he considers the “misanthropic green ideology of restraint”, backing high-carbon projects like Heathrow expansion and dismissing renewables as “nowhere near viable”.

Stuart Waiton (Dundee West), a sociology professor at Abertay University who has been writing for Spiked since 2001, has described supporters of Greta Thunberg as a “cult”. He told DeSmog he accepted that “mankind is having an impact on the environment” but dislikes environmentalists’ “culture of limits”

Kevin Yuill (Houghton and Sunderland South), a history professor, has cast doubt on the impacts of climate change, decrying “eco-doomsayers”, while Paddy Hannam (Islington South) has described achieving “net zero” emissions as a “waste of money”.

Dr Alka Cuthbert (East Ham), another regular contributor to Spiked, does not appear to have made any public comments on climate change.

James Heartfield, who has blamed the Grenfell tragedy on climate targets and written a book arguing that attempts to “green” the economy are about “manufacturing scarcity to boost prices”, is no longer standing in Islington North for the Brexit Party. He did not know who he had been replaced by when asked.

(*) 55 Tufton Street: https://www.desmog.co.uk/55-tufton-street

Key  People

Building Residents

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) exists to combat what it describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies” designed to mitigate climate change and regularly publishes reports rejecting the scientific consensus on the issue. It was founded in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 by former Conservative Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson. Several of the GWPF's members and funders are affiliated with other groups located at 55 Tufton Street. [1], [3]

Civitas is an educational charity and publisher specializing in health, education, welfare, and economics. The think tank has published reports arguing against policies to tackle climate change, including a 2013 report by current Energy Editor of the GWPF John Constable. It claimed a shift to renewable energy would mean “more people would be working for lower wages in the energy sector, energy costs would rise, the economy would stagnate, and there would be a significant decline in the standard of living”. Sir Alan Rudge, an advisor to the GWPF, and Lord Nigel Vinson, a GWPF funder, are both trustees. The group has been criticised by Transparify for its “opaque” operations. [4], [45], [5], [6], [3], [7]

The TaxPayers’ Alliance is a pressure group and think tank formed in 2004 by Matthew Elliott to campaign for a low tax society and advocates the removal of various measures designed to reduce emissions, including the Climate Change Levy. In 2016 the TaxPayers’ Alliance, along with U.S. climate science denying lobby groups the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held a free trade event at the Conservative Party Conference. The group was, as of November 2015, a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a climate science denial umbrella group run by the CEI, but is no longer listed on its website. The Taxpayers' Alliance belongs to an international coalition of anti-tax, free-market campaign groups called the World Taxpayers Associations. Other members include the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform, the Austrian Economics Center and the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation. [8], [9], [10], [35]

Business for Britain is a pro-Brexit campaign group for business leaders founded in 2013 by Matthew Elliott to push for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. In 2014, it released a briefing paper on ‘Energy Policy and the EU, claiming that EU regulations and policy had driven up the cost of energy in the UK and recommending that the government should consider opting out of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Matt Ridley, an advisor to the GWPF, launched the Business for Britain North East branch, and Lord Vinson has acted as an advisor to the group.

The European Foundation is a high-profile think tank formed in 1993 to oppose the Maastricht Treaty and chaired by Conservative MP Bill Cash. The group published a report in 2009 during the Copenhagen climate summit, entitled ‘100 reasons why global warming is natural’ ... Members of the group’s advisory board in clued Matthew Elliott, Richard Smith, owner of 55 Tufton St, Roger Helmer (former UKIP member), David Davis (Cons. MP), Oliver Lewtwin, Bernard Jenkin, John Whittingdale, Graham Brady and iain Duncan-Smith. Owen Paterson, former environment secretary is also on the advisory board.

Leave Means Leave is a pro-Brexit campaign group formed following the 2016 EU referendum to “ensure the UK makes a swift, clean exit from the EU”. It backs a “hard” Brexit, with the UK leaving the European Single Market, the Customs Union and the European Court of Justice, and supports the UK reverting to World Trade Organisation rules. The group was co-founded by Richard Tice, a property developer and now Chair of the Brexit Party, and John Longworth, former Director-General of the British Chamber of Commerce and now Chair of Leave Means Leave. Its advisory board includes MPs Sammy Wilson, Owen Paterson, Graham Stringer, Kate Hoey and Peter Bone. On a now-deleted page on the group's website, Nigel Farage was listed as its Vice-Chair, along with Tice.

Global Vision is a Eurosceptic campaign group launched in 2007 by the Conservative peer Lord Blackwell, Chair of Lloyds Banking Group and a former Board Member of the Centre for Policy Studies, and Ruth Lea, Trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and an advisor to the TaxPayers’ Alliance.  According to its website, the group “promotes a constructive new relationship between the UK and Europe based on free trade and mutually beneficial cooperation, whilst opting out of the process of political and economic integration”. Its Economic Advisory Panel includes Neil Record, Patrick Minford (Chair of Economists for Free Trade) and Eamonn Butler (Founder/Director of the Adam Smith Institute). A now deleted webpage listed MPs and peers belonging to the “Parliamentary Friends of Global Vision”, which included Bill Cash, Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Peter Lilley and Lord Vinson. Its “Business Supporters” include oil and minerals businessman Algy Cluff, GWPF donor Michael Hintze, and Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.  

UK2020 is a right-wing think tank which has been compared to the American “Tea Party” movement and was set up by Owen Paterson in 2014. Among the policy recommendations the group calls for is “a robust, common sense energy policy that would encourage the market to choose affordable technologies to reduce emissions.” These technologies include shale gas and small modular nuclear reactors. It seeks to strip back regulations and subsidies in the energy sector designed to combat climate change. Matt Ridley of the GWPF is a policy advisor for UK2020 and Tim Montgomerie, founder of the ConservativeHome website and a former senior fellow at the Legatum Institute, is their political adviser.

The New Culture Forum is a right-wing think tank working to change cultural debates it believes are dominated by “the left”. According to the ConservativeHome blog, Matthew Elliott serves as an advisor to the forum, while Michael Gove, former UK Environment Secretary, has spoken at its events. Its founder and director is Peter Whittle, former UKIP leader in the London Assembly and Culture and Communities Spokesperson for the party.


Coral Reefs see also plastics.

Ecowatch, Jan 2020: https://www.ecowatch.com/coral-reef-replanting-2644924347.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

Ecowatch report, 5th April 2019 https://www.ecowatch.com/coral-bleaching-great-barrier-reef-2633671617.html?rebelltitem=6#rebelltitem6: 

A study published in Nature Wednesday found that the death of corals in 2016 and 2017 has significantly decreased the ability of new corals to grow and thrive. In 2018, there has been an 89 percent decline in the number of new corals on the reef compared to the historic record.

Bleaching occurs when warm water forces corals to expel the algae that gives them color and nutrients. Reefs can recover from such events, but it takes about a decade. The Great Barrier Reef has suffered four since 1998 and, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current levels, there could be two bleaching events every decade beginning in 2035.

The extent of the most recent bleaching events — covering 900 miles of reef — also made it harder for baby corals to replenish impacted coral populations, BBC News explained.

Feb. 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/25/can-tourist-ban-save-dicaprios-coral-paradise-thailand-maya-bay-philippines-boracay

Dark Money...

Koch brothers – see DeSmog: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/11/11/election-2019-here-are-all-brexit-party-s-climate-science-deniers

April 2019 link to Left Foot Forward article on Taxpayers’ Alliance working against Southampton clean air plan:


The TPA though regarded these penalties as a “stealth tax” and claims it campaigned against the charges by taking volunteers to Southampton and telling visiting football fans that their coach tickets would be more expensive.

The TPA’s campaign was supported by Royston Smith, the Tory MP for Southampton Itchen who said the clean air plans were anti-business.

Labour-controlled Southampton City Council eventually backed down on plans to charge vehicles. Instead, they opted to make the buses greener and allow taxi drivers to try electric vehicles before they buy them.

Deforestation: booklist: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/nov/17/further-reading-the-best-books-about-deforestation?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0Jvb2ttYXJrcy0xODExMTg%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Bookmarks&CMP=bookmarks_email

Electric vehicles: letter from Sustrans points out ‘building a battery pack for an EV is incredibly energy-intensive, and it takes significant mileage before the EV has worked off the CO2 released during its manufacture. Also particulate matter (45% of it) comes from tyre and brake wear in London. We should be doing all we can to promote walking and cycling.

Emissions Trading schemes: https://leftfootforward.org/2019/04/brexit-is-an-opportunity-to-improve-on-the-eus-failed-emissions-trading-system-but-the-tories-arent-taking-it/?mc_cid=06e3915a5d&mc_eid=dea8023bf6

Environmental Performance Indicators: link: https://epi.envirocenter.yale.edu/epi-country-report/USA


EU: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/10/eu-priorities-climate-buzzwords-critics

UK: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/18/uk-climate-plan-unclear-says-european-commission

Fashion (and climate crisis): https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jun/18/ministers-reject-charge-of-1p-an-item-to-clean-up-fast-fashion

Some astonishing figures here: fast fashion, which sees 300,000 tonnes of clothing burned or buried in the UK every year. textile production contributes more emissions to the climate crisis than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and microplastic pollution.  Report by cross-party group of MPs: Environment Audit Committee.

Fishing: worried by the pro-Brexit anger of our fishermen, I’m not sure what the best view is of the common fisheries policy etc, but here is a charity/NGO that seems to me to have the best line: http://www.bluemarinefoundation.com/about/what-we-do/  

Flying: generated 7% of Britain’s greenhouse gases in 2017 Number of flights expected to double in next 20 years  - while IPCC has recommended net zero emissions by 2050. Aviation contributes about 2% of emissions overall... (Jasper jolly, on electric planes, 15th June 2019)

Forests: frightening piece by Simon Jenkins Guardian 27th April 2018:

Forestry Commission has a partnership with a commercial body Forest Holidays, which has been allowed to build chalets in Mortimer Forest outside Ludlow. The agreement allows the company to expand as much as it wishes, and there are clauses which stop publicity. The chalets are very expensive to rent, and part of the profit goes to the Forestry Commission.


And Network Rail is cutting down up to 10million trees alongside railway lines... during the nesting season!


Fossil Fuel Divestment:

15th June 2019, Jillian Ambrose: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/15/climate-crisis-coal-asia-power-generation-fossil-fuels.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is preparing to leave fossil fuels behind. Last week, Norway’s parliament confirmed by unanimous vote that its $1tn sovereign wealth fund would dump $13bn of fossil fuel investments. Wind and solar renewable power is the world’s fastest-growing energy source: it grew by 14.5% last year, led by a surge of investment in China. But the strides do not go far enough, fast enough. “You have to run very fast just to stand still,” Dale says.

22nd Jan 2018: Lloyds of London plans to stop investing in coal companies. Insurance is one of the industries worst affected by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in recent years. Lloyds offers a marketplace for almost 90 syndicates of other insurers (it doesn’t underwrite operations directly). Big insurance companies have moved £15bn away from coal in the past two years, says the Unfriend Coal network (NGOs, Greenpeace, 380.org). AXA has dropped companies with at least 30% coal, and Church of England uses 10% as criterion. Analysis by ClimateWise shows that the ‘protection gap’ – the difference between the costs of natural disasters and the amount insured had quadrupled to $100bn a year since the 1980s.


11th Dec 2019. Greenland’s ice loss greater than thought (Fiona Harvey). Ice is being lost 7 times faster now than in the 1990s – much faster and at greater scale than predicted by IPCC. Sea level rises are likely to reach 67cm by 2100 (7cm more than IPCC predicted). 400 million people would be at risk of flooding every year (instead of 360 million) by 2100. Sea-level rises add to risk of storm surges. Andrew Shepherd (Leeds university) is a lead author of the new study, in Nature. Comparisons are made between measurements taken by the UK, Nasa and European Space Agency.

Greenland has lost 3.8tn tonnes of ice since 1992. In the past decade it lost 254bn tonnes a year (33bn in 1990s). There has been a slowing since 2013, after a peak in 2011, but this summer showed more ice melting. Ice from on top of land contributes to sea-level rise, whereas floating ice doesn’t (as in Arctic). Warming seas also expand.

Ian Sample adds: Arctic sea ice shrank to the second lowest level on record this summer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports. Averge temperatures were 1.9C above the long-term average – second highest since 1900. Sea ice was at its lowest extent in 41 years.

19th July 2018, Ashifa Kassam, Toronto (Guardian): Hundreds of glaciers in Canada’s high Arctic are shrinking – using satellite imagery in new research 1,700 glaciers on Ellesmere Island were examined. Journal of Glaciology last month showed they had shrunk about 650 sq miles over 16 years – i.e. a loss of about 6%. A previous study showed slower rate of loss. Average temperature in Ellesmere Island rose by 3.6C between 1948 and 2016. Between 1995 and 2016 there was a ‘sudden increase in warming’ with temperatures rising about 0.78C per decade.

Global warming;

14th June 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/14/africa-global-heating-more-droughts-and-flooding-threat (Robin McKie) - “Essentially we have found that both ends of Africa’s weather extremes will get more severe,” ... Last month levels of carbon dioxide reached 415 parts per million, their highest level since Homo sapiens first appeared on Earth –

3rd April 2019. Guardian, Leyland Cecco, Toronto: Canada is warming faster than the rest of the world (apart from the Arctic): Global temperatures have increased by 0.8C since 1948, Caanada has seen an increase of 1.7C (more than double the global average). In the Arctic, temperatures are up by 2.3C. Melting ice (sea ice and glaciers) is leading to positive feedback – which may be affecting Canada too. The country is mired in political battle over climate: Trudeau tried to put taxes on fossil fuels, but four provinces have refused to co-operate, so he may impose taxes. Conservatives say they will reverse the policy if they win the next election.

The global impacts of rising temperatures—including more hurricanes, sea-level rise and drought—will probably sound familiar. But a temperature change of just a couple of degrees can also have dramatic effects locally. Studies have shown that a single-degree rise in temperature can increase local levels of air pollution, allow disease-carrying ticks to expand into an area, cause the local extinction of native species and even cause enough heat stress to increase rates of mental illness. (Ecowatch Sep 2018)

Category 6 superstorms –highest category now is 5, but now there is from 5% - 8% more water vapour in the atmosphere than a generation ago, and warmer global temperatures and warmer oceans, and dry conditions in the parts of the world where superstorms originate means it is only a matter of time before one hits the US. Jeff Nesbit, Guardian 17th Sep 2018. Author of ‘This is the Way the World Ends’ (pub 25th Sep.)


Unearthed reveals lobbying by farmers is funded by ‘Red Flag Consulting’


GM: Nov 2018 worrying article on GM potatoes:


Insects: (Damian Carrington G 2nd April 2019):

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/01/insects-have-no-place-to-hide-from-climate-change-study-warns Study published in Global Change Biology.

Woodlands and open grasslands are both affected – woodlands could have protected insects from rising temperatures. Aphids are emerging a month earlier, and birds are laying eggs a week earlier. Animals then become ‘out of synch’ with their prey. On farms, aphids are attacking younger plants because they come earlier, and young plants have not developed immunity.

In farmland, however, insects and birds were emerging later in the spring – perhaps because of changes to habitat: loss of wild areas, and changing crop types, along with declining food availability.

Populations of birds that rely on insects fell by 13% across Europe from 1990-2015, and by 28% in Denmark (which was a case study).

Researchers are increasingly concerned about dramatic drops in populations of insects, which underpin much of nature. In February it was said that these falls could lead to a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems ”, and in March there was further evidence of widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades in Britain.

Other studies, from Germany and Puerto Rico, have shown falling numbers in the last 25 to 35 years. Another showed butterflies in the Netherlands had declined by at least 84% over the last 130 years.

In February, when the weather was unusually warm, rooks were nesting, ladybirds mating and migratory swallows appearing all a month ahead of schedule.

Kenya, 15th Feb, Jonathan Watts: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/14/kenyas-erin-brockovich-defies-harassment-to-bring-anti-pollution-case-to-courts  problem of lead pollution from a metal plant – the Center for Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action has forced closure of the plant in Mombasa, and is now seeking compensation and a clean-up. This could be a landmark case for environmental groups across Africa. Led by Phyllis Omido who was co-winner of the Goldman environmental prize in 2015 with Berta Caceres, a Honduran activist who was murdered a year later. The EPZ refinery was closed, and two other companies are being pursued in a class action.

Meat production and global warming.

Increasing awareness of veganism, some of which is based on research led by Joseph Poore, Oxford Uni, published in May 2018: ‘A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet earth. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.’


Monbiot, George:


(See also activism: Extinction Rebellion, and climate change) ‘Only one of the life support systems on which we depend – soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity – need fail for everything else to slide.’ Radical change can be brought about quickly, as when the US joined WWII in 1941. Control by oligarchs is the main problem – says prof. Kevin MacKay. Even the IPPR wants ‘growth’! As Jason Hickel points out: while 50bn tonnes of resources used per year is roughly the limit the earth’s systems can tolerate, the world is already consuming 70bn tonnes – and at current rates of growth this will rise to 180bn tonnes by 2050.

New Zealand: not the pristine environment we might think!


Oceans: Sep. 2019, from sumofus and earthworks: - 220 million tonnes. That’s the appalling amount of toxic waste that mining companies dump directly into our oceans, rivers and lakes every year.

A Credit Suisse-financed mining company is about to dump 30 million tonnes of toxic heavy metals - Chrome. Nickel. Copper -and chemicals into a beautiful Norwegian protected fjörd -- a natural reserve for many salmon.

Oil industry:

27th Jan 2020. Total: 14 French local authorities and several NGOs will take court action to order Total to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  They will act under a French law the ‘duty of vigilance’ – large corporations must set out measures to prevent human rights violations or environmental damage arising from their activities. (Angelique Chrisafis)

Oil, war, climate change. Sep 18th 2019. Bill McKibben writes of the link between oil and war, after missiles struck Saudi oil facilities over the weekend. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/18/climate-crisis-oil-war-iraq-saudi-attack-green-energy

He Includes this: ‘Thanks to great investigative reporting, we now know that the oil industry knew all about climate change decades ago, but instead of acknowledging it and helping us move to a new energy future, they instead spent billions building the scaffolding of deceit and denial and disinformation that kept us locked in the present paradigm. Just as they have profited from sea-level rise and Arctic melt, so they will profit from the war now starting to unfold. (Right on schedule, the share prices of fracking firms and oil majors all jumped perkily northwards on Monday morning.)

Deepwater Horizon.

17th Jan 2018: BP has had to make another payout of $1.7bn for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The total compensation is likely to be $65bn (£47bn). The total for 2017 is $3bn (it expected only $2bn). Eight years after the disaster, BP has processed nearly all the 390,000 claims made under the court-supervised settlement, and hopes to complete the process in coming months.

The spill, at the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and affected fishing and tourism.


Timothy Morton: Being Ecological.

(1) Review by PD Smith:


Calls for a paradigm shift in our relation to the world, saying it is counterproductive to deluge readers with scary facts about global warming – it’s ‘guilt-inducing’… Our scientific age is characterized by an epistemological gulf between objects and data. Critical of a scientistic approach - the world can be grasped only by moving to a viewpoint that is experiential and reflexive. ‘being ecological includes a sense of my weird inclusion in what I’m experiencing.’

(2) And from another book (Humankind) reviewed by Stuart Jeffries; our thinking became binary (especially when we developed agriculture) and this led to ‘a Severing.’ ‘Our task is to become haunted beings again, possessed by a spectral sense of our connectedness to everything on this planet.  He adheres to ‘object-oriented ontology, the argument that nothing has privileged status’.(*) We must learn to have solidarity with non-humans – but how? One way, Morton suggests, is to abandon the anthropocentric idea that thinking is the leading communication mode. “Brushing against, licking or irradiating are access modes as valid (or as invalid) as thinking,” he writes. He draws on Buddhism, and anarchism (especially Kropotkin).  He writes of the importance of ‘kindness’ (though it seems more like the co-operation of ants etc which is instinctive rather than an ethical position).


(*) object-oriented ontology, or OOO, which holds that every being, including humans, can only ever grasp the world in its own limited ways. (In other words, we will never know what flies know, and vice versa).

(3) An earlier book was ‘Dark Ecology’ and perhaps his ‘most discussed book’: ‘Ecology Without Nature’

See an earlier article on Morton, dealing especially with anthropocentrism:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/15/timothy-morton-anthropocene-philosopher by Alex Blasdel

The Anthropocene idea is generally attributed to the Nobel prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and the biologist Eugene Stoermer, who started popularising the term in 2000.  Crutzen set out the idea in Nature in 2002.

In the Anthropocene, Morton says, we must wake up to the fact that we never stood apart from or controlled the non-human things on the planet, but have always been thoroughly bound up with them. We can’t even burn, throw or flush things away without them coming back to us in some form, such as harmful pollution. Our most cherished ideas about nature and the environment – that they are separate from us, and relatively stable – have been destroyed.

The chief reason that we are waking up to our entanglement with the world we have been destroying, Morton says, is our encounter with the reality of hyperobjects – the term he coined to describe things such as ecosystems and black holes, which are “massively distributed in time and space” compared to individual humans. Hyperobjects might not seem to be objects in the way that, say, billiard balls are, but they are equally real, and we are now bumping up against them consciously for the first time. Global warming might have first appeared to us as a bit of funny local weather, then as a series of independent manifestations (an unusually torrential flood here, a deadly heatwave there), but now we see it as a unified phenomenon, of which extreme weather events and the disruption of the old seasons are only elements. 

See another book of his: Hyperobjects hyperobjects, in their unwieldy enormity, alert us to the absolute boundaries of science, and therefore the limits of human mastery. Science can only take us so far. This means changing our relationship with the other entities in the universe – whether animal, vegetable or mineral – from one of exploitation through science to one of solidarity in ignorance… we can’t transcend our limitations or our reliance on other beings. We can only live with them.

If we give up the delusion of controlling everything around us, we might refocus ourselves on the pleasure we take in other beings and life itself. Enjoyment, Morton believes, might be the thing that turns us on to a new kind of politics. “You think ecologically tuned life means being all efficient and pure,” the tweet pinned to the top of his Twitter timeline reads. “Wrong. It means you can have a disco in every room of your house.”

 “Don’t hide under a rock, for heaven’s sake,” Morton had said to me at one point. “Go out in the street and start making any and as many kinds of political affiliations with as many kinds of beings, human or otherwise, that you possibly can, with a view to creating a more non-violent and just, for everybody, ecological world.”

Critics say he doesn’t understand contemporary science (and is mis-using ideas from quantum physics etc – not the only one?), that his philosophy wouldn’t be taken seriously in an academic context (is that a criticism?!), or from the left that he talks about ‘humans’ damaging the planet, while the main problem is with the wealthy white western capitalists (there’s a point!).

And: His PhD thesis, which is recognised as an important contribution to the study of Romanticism, showed that the vegetarianism of Percy and Mary Shelley was intimately entwined with their politics and art. 

Palm Oil: 8th April 2019:

Environmental groups want a company removed from the London Stock Exchange’s investment index of environmentally friendly companies – because of tis environmental damage, plus a string of allegations of corruption and unsustainable business practices. Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) is on the FTSE4Good indices. Two of its senior executives have been arrested, and it has been accused of polluting a lake in Indonesia. It also produces palm oil and therefore causes deforestation


Deep time. Taken from ‘Up from the depths’ by Robert Macfarlane, Guardian 20 April 2019.


‘This is a phrase coined by John McPhee in 1981’ – deep time is measured in units of millennia, epochs and aeons, as with geology – deep time is kept by rock, ice, stalactites, seabed sediments and the drift of tectonic plates.  It is ‘the catalysing context of intergenerational justice; it is what frames the inspiring activism of Greta Thunberg and the school climate-strikers, and the Sunrise campaigners pushing for a Green New Deal in America. [It] requires us to consider not only how we will imagine the future, but how the future will imagine us. It asks a version of Jons Slk’s arresting question: “Are we being good ancestors?”’

Other thoughts from this fantastic article:

(i) William Gibson: ‘the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed’ – because our toxic legacies are being imposed on some of today’s people already..the affluent experience the future in terms of technology, while the poor experience the future in terms of calamity’

(ii) the challenges of the anthropocene (from Ghosh: The Great Derangement):

- how to represent unfolding of actions and consequences in deep time

- how to recognise the aliveness of the more-than-human

- how to come to terms with the profound decentring of human presence

Note that Macarlane also refers to the Deepwater Horizon disaster (and the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, the entrapment of 33 Chilean miners and of the boy footballers in Thailand... These stories carry with them all sorts of resonance for us and always have – see Gilgamesh etc!).

On 20 April, 41 miles off the Louisiana coast, the borehole of a semi-submersible oil rig called Deepwater Horizon burst. The rig-level blowout killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball that could be seen on shore. The rig sank two days later, leaving oil gushing from the seabed at a water depth of around 1,500 metres. More than 200m gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, rising as a slick on the ocean that was visible from space. It would take until the autumn to cap and seal the well successfully so that it could be declared “effectively dead”. The consequences for the ecosystems and coastal communities of the gulf persist today.

Jan 2020. ‘The Reality Bubble’ by Ziya Tong – (review Nesrine Malik 4th Jan 2020). Our blind spots are responsible for the destruction of our habitat.  95% of all animal species are smaller than the human thumb. 0.2kg of body weight is bacterial cells. One handful of soil contains more microbes than there are people on Earth. One of our biological blind spots is meat slaughter and processed food: ‘anywhere from 700,000 to 1 million chickens a year are still conscious when they are scalded to death in the scalder.’ The drive for efficiency and more profit has swallowed up time, space, ownership, leisure...

Population growth – Paul Ehrlich strikes again! https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/22/collapse-civilisation-near-certain-decades-population-bomb-paul-ehrlich - ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’ – to start with we must: ‘make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities with men.’ This will take a long time to reduce the world’s population, which he estimates should be 1.5 – 2 billion, or 5.6 billion fewer than at present...

However, a letter 28th March, from Prof. John MacInnes argues Ehrlich’s views are ‘discredited’ – ‘the birth rate in the developing world is now lower than it was in rich countries a few decades ago. ... the carrying capacity of our planet ... is almost certainly well above the likely peak of population that will be reached in the second half of this century. Reducing the vast global inequalities in energy consumption will do far more for the environment than the ultimately racist idea that the poor have too many children.’ 


18th June 2019: Example of city where there is maximum recycling: Eskilstuna, Sweden – article by Ammar Kalia

8th April 2019 (Severin Carrell, Scotland Editor Guardian) – disposable cups and the ‘latte levy’ (a charge on single-use cups)...

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/07/is-the-future-compostable-scotland-greens-argue-as-sales-soar Vegware has been doing very well from compostable food cups and biodegradable food boxes, but questions have been raised by Scottish Greens about the practicality of composting coffee cups etc: they need to be disposed of in specialist composting plants, or in council food composting bins at home... The CEO of Vegware retorts that there are many other sources of single-use plastic such as sandwich packaging, home takeaway deliveries, lids and stirrers on coffee cups: it would be better to increase the cost of landfill. Supermarkets pay £91.35 a tonne (in Scotland?).High costs would make producers avoid waste.

Vegware is proposing closed loop contracts, where it supplies its products to businesses and then disposes of them. But this only covers Scotland and south-west England. Commercial composting covers only 38% of UK postcodes. FoE Scotland chief executive Richard Dixon suggests a lower ‘latte levy’ for disposable cups.


At this late stage, powerful vested interests are fighting to derail the deposit return system and water it down. They want the government to agree to the option of a restricted system, limited to smaller drinks containers of 750ml or less – even though recent research suggests that larger bottles could make up as much as 58% of littered drinks containers.

We must make sure the government does not bow to industry pressure for a restricted system. It would mean that billions of bottles will continue polluting our rivers, beaches, fields, parks and hedgerows for years to come.  And industry would once again be able to avoid taking responsibility for the mess they create.  

Nothing less than an ALL-IN system, that includes drinks containers of ALL sizes and materials, will truly combat the growing problem of litter in our countryside.


Dec 2019: planting trees must be done in the right way:


If the 350m hectares of reforestation are all natural forest, they can capture as much as 42 petagrams of carbon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes that to keep global warming below 1.5C 199 petagrams must be removed from the atmosphere this century, so that is a significant contribution from the world’s forests. However, if the trajectory of the plans already submitted carries on, at least 45% of that cover will be commercial plantation. If our natural forests are protected under that scenario, the storage potential will be 16 petagrams. But if we continue to chop into them in the same way that we do at present, the storage potential will dwindle to just three petagrams. One possible attempt to staunch some of the flow that is being seriously considered in the EU is a due diligence law. France already has a law that places a civil liability on large companies that fail to monitor their supply chains for human rights and environment issues, and support for Europe-wide regulation – although not necessarily in that form – is coming from the oddest quarters such as Nestlé and Mondelez.

9th July 2019 letters on tree-planting and climate crisis:

Storing carbon in vegetation is OK but it must not be burned, but stored e.g. in products made of wood; also composting is good.

1.7bn hectares of new land would be needed to remove one third of CO2 - = 1.2tn trees and = 11% of all land, and equivalent to the size of US and China combined. But what about the albedo effect? (Reflecting heat from bright surfaces). Wouldn’t forest cover be dark and absorb heat rather than reflect it?

Must not be planted on bogs, which better at absorbing CO2. Is the cost quoted unrealistically cheap? What about local knowledge?

Cost quoted (£240bn) is only marginally more than Trident replacement (£205bn)...

The plan will take 50 – 100 years: we only have 11!

Closed canopy forests will destroy biodiversity. Savannah/steppe also absorb carbon, and are more ‘natural’ (i.e. how the land has been in the past).

Mature forests stop absorbing CO2, as when their leaves fall and rot it is released. Forests need to be grown the cut down and used (for timber) so that new natural tree-cover springs up, and not the ‘serried rows’ favoured by the Forestry Commission. (Dr David Corke, Director, Organic Countryside CIC.

1st July 2019: FoE analysis of how to double tree cover in England: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/insight/finding-land-double-tree-cover?  

14th June 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/13/tree-planting-in-england-falls-72-short-of-government-target

The total tree cover of the UK is unchanged at 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 8% in Northern Ireland. To avoid climate breakdown, we have to act. If the framework is in place, meeting the ambition of 17% tree cover [for the UK] is achievable.” (Abi Bunker, director of conservation at the Woodland Trust).

May 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/19/130000-trees-planted-england-english-cities-global-heating

25th May 2019, from Ecologist:


31st Dec 2018. Willow trees and flood mitigation, also biomass:


Network Rail and tree-felling (from Change.org petition).


[1] http://www.stobartgroup.co.uk/stobart-group/stobart-energy
[3] Biofuel/Biomass – Stobartrail http://www.stobartrail.com/item/network-rail-s-vegetation-management-specialists-2
Network Rail 5G - 'Ministers now looking at “future proofing” rail connectivity to help pave the way for a 5G rollout'.https://www.gov.uk/government/news/better-mobile-and-wi-fi-connectivity-for-rail-passengers

Trees in Sheffield:


War and its impact on the environment:

1st Nov 2018, Michael McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm – Nature and Joy: damage to nature is usually a secondary consideration – except for agent orange spread on 12,000 sq miles of forest in the Vietnam war, or the mass oil pollution from the Sea Island terminal in Kuwait during the Gulf war 1991. In the second world war 60 million people or 3% of the world population (2.3 billion at the time) died... but the amount of shipping sunk in the battle of the Atlantic was the equivalent of about 250 Brent Spar oil rigs (Greenpeace forced Shell not to sink it but move it for breaking up). Professor Tim Birkenhead of Sheffield University, in the journal British Birds, suggests the war badly affected breeding of guillemots on Skomer Island off the west coast of Wales. He estimates there were 100,000 individuals in 1934, but only 4,856 in 1963, a reduction of 95%. Now the numbers have gone up to 23,746. The worst decline was between 1940 and 1946, and oil pollution is the most likely cause. The ocean is far less resilient than we have thought.

Waste and recycling:

31st Dec 2018. Food waste: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/31/food-waste-chief-to-target-scandal-of-250m-binned-uk-meals

250m meals a year = 100,000 tonnes of food is sent to generate electricity from waste, for anaerobic digestion, or for animal feed – even though it is still edible...

43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers.

19th Dec. 2018: government has come up with new rules on waste etc.:



Wildfires. 30th June 2018.

Fires are burning on the moors near Manchester, and hundreds of fire-fighters are trying to deal with them. Experts are warning that more fires are likely in future as the climate warms. Guillermo Rein, prof of fire science at Imperial College says fires will be more frequent and more severe, especially in northern Europe, including the UK and Ireland. Dr Richard Payne of Uni of York agrees, and warns that such fires will exacerbate climate change as peat stores masses of CO2.

Prof Susan Page of Uni of Leicester says the peat fires release toxic chemicals and small particulates with long-term health implications, especially for children. (Matthew Taylor).




WWF. (Guardian 30th Dec 2019). Tanya Steele is the first female chief executive. The organisations support base grew by 23% last year – partly because of XR. Aims: decarbonising the worlds, ending deforestation, reforming the food system. They have 7,662 staff across 83 offices, and 3,000 projects underway at any one time. Covers advocacy, campaigning, research, fundraising and communication. UK HQ is in Woking. ‘We still have to show milestones or it could be disheartening.’  They recently added Tesco to their portfolio of commercial partners, aiming to halve the environmental footprint of the average shopper’s basket. They also work with John West to reduce the environmental impacts of fishing, and have been criticised for working with Coca Cola on usage of water.

In 2019 it spent £54.5m on charitable activities – members and donations provide £34.9m of its £66.3m income. Corporate donations and sponsorships: £9.4m ‘Fundamentally this is about protecting both these businesses’ supply chains in the future and much of the planet beyond their lifetime.’