Air Quality Survey from TfL

In recent years, a number of studies have established the link between poor air quality and health in urban areas. Road, air and rail transport, shipping, domestic, commercial heating, industry and power generation all generate polluting emissions; while natural sources including wind-blown sea salt, sand or soil also contribute to air pollution levels. Continue reading

The Fracking Files

In December New Internationalist  decided to put the entire main story of the current issue online for everyone to read and share for free. Like many of you, NI is concerned that the industries behind fracking are putting the countryside, water and health at risk.
NI would like the facts and information that have been put together to play their part in the resistance. It’s time that we sort the myths from the reality.

Saving Elmo: Why we fought to protect one urban tree

When a tree that stands in the city’s way is designated for the chop, many of us just stand by and watch it fall. We shouldn’t be so resigned

IT BEGAN with three large letters: R.I.P. Normally on such a freezing night I’d have rushed straight by in my hurry to get home, but something caught my eye. Pinned to the trunk of a tree I had passed countless times was a scrap of paper – and those three letters.

I hadn’t taken much notice of the tree before. It stood tall and solitary at the edge of a notorious roundabout, a welcome living thing in a sea of tarmac. It was a large elm with deeply fissured bark and sturdy upswept branches. I stretched my arms around its trunk: they scarcely reached half way. What did that ominous message mean? Continue reading

Screening of “More Than Honey”

Sunday 15 September, 7.30pm at St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s Road. Ealing W5 5RH.

Ealing Transition and Ealing Friends of the Earth will host a screening of More Than Honey, the new documentary by Oscar-nominated Markus Imhoof.

The multi-award winning film tells a provocative yet touching tale of what might happen if our bees became extinct. It takes an in-depth look at honeybee colonies, examining what’s behind the current bee crisis and why we rely on bees for so many things.

“…filled with gorgeous cinematography and fascinating details about bees’ complex behavior and anatomy” Washington Post.

In recent years many species of British bee have been declining, placing our food supply and economy under threat. Research by Friends of the Earth shows that without bees, it would cost the UK at least £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate our crops.

After the film, Friends of the Earth will say a few words about their Bee Cause campaign, and beekeepers from Ealing BKA and Ealing Transition Community Bee Project will be on hand for discussion over tea, coffee and cakes.

All welcome

Free entry (donations to help with the costs of the screening appreciated)

Climate Radio

 Climate Radio is back in 2013 with a new monthly programme. The first two shows are available now to listen online, download or subscribe to in iTunes. You can also check out the programmes on the New Internationalist website.
 
 
Starting the series in our traditional way with a look at the science, we speak to Professors Tim Lenton and Peter Wadhams about the surprising rate of change we are now seeing in the Arctic’s natural systems.
 
“In the absence of urgent action on climate change, there may be a number of tipping points in climate-driven systems in the Arctic, which threaten to rapidly escalate the danger for the whole planet. A collapse of summer sea-ice, increased methane emissions from thawing permafrost, runaway melting of the Greenland ice-sheet, and a collapse of the thermo-haline circulation, may all be approaching in the Arctic and will have disastrous consequences for global climate and sea levels. These together comprise a wake-up call to reinvigorate efforts to tackle climate change. A lack of consensus on precisely how fast any tipping points are approaching in the Arctic should not be used as an argument for inaction.” (Environment Audit Committee, Protecting The Arctic, September 2012, p.21).
 
 
Where scientists see warning signs, oil companies and their friends in government see only economic opportunity. Last September a cross-party parliamentary committee of MPs in the UK called for a moratorium on drilling in the Arctic – concerned about the potential impact on climate change and about the lax safety regime surrounding this high-risk activity. In January this year, the UK government rejected the committee’s key recommendations using old science to suggest that Arctic drilling could be compatible with avoiding dangerous climate change. At the same time a Freedom of Information Act request discovered the government had been lobbying against EU legislation designed to make Arctic drilling safer.
 
Over the course of 2012 Shell’s claims that they were “Arctic Ready” collapsed after a succession of calamities while investors and other oil companies started getting cold feet. We look at how Shell’s Arctic drilling plans pose a risk to your pension and what you can do about it. Featuring Joan Walley MP (Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee), Charlie Kronick (Greenpeace), Louise Rouse (Fair Pensions) and James Marriott (Platform).
 
Full descriptions of the programmes can be found at: http://climateradio.org/
 
You can follow Climate Radio on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClimateRadio
 
Many thanks to Artists Project Earth for their support for these programmes

The Big Tree Plant

The aim is to support community, not for profit, groups to plant one million trees in towns, cities and residential areas throughout England over the next four years (2011 to 2015).
Grants of between £500 and £25,000, for up to 75% of costs, are available to projects that:

  • plant trees in neighbourhoods in England where people live and work;
  • involve the local community and provide benefits to people in the neighbourhood;
  • plant individual street trees, small groups of trees in greenspaces, or other neighbourhood tree planting; and
  • have in place a method for ensuring the trees are cared for in the future.

 

The fund can cover the costs of goods and services such as: trees and material for tree planting; preparatory work such as utility searches, test pits, and planning applications; local community engagement; contract labour for running the project and undertaking works; time of staff spent on running the project; expert advice; hire of machinery; and small items such as tools or protective clothing for tree planting – however, these must remain the property of the group or organisation.

The closing date for applications is 15th March 2013

For more information and to apply click here

Hedgehog population in dramatic decline

The once common sight of hedgehogs in gardens could become a thing of the past, with the spiny species having suffered a dramatic decline in recent years on a par with the loss of starlings, red squirrels and other British wildlife.

Ecologists this week published figures suggesting hedgehog numbers declined by over a third between 2003 and 2012.

Read full article on Guardian website

Cindy Gardener is BRAG’s 2012 Green Champion

Cindy Gardener, Waste and Recycling Officer at Hounslow Council, was presented with BRAG’s third Green Champion award at last month’s AGM. Cindy, the liaison officer for communications between Hounslow Council and BRAG since 2010, was honoured for her commitment to recycling and the initiatives she has spearheaded in her work at the council.

Cindy receiving her Green Champion award from BRAG members Patti Horsnell and Hugh Picton

Cindy receiving her Green Champion award from BRAG members Patti Horsnell and Hugh Picton

Last year, for example, Cindy’s team introduced a service for schools whereby food waste produced in the kitchens of the borough’s primary schools is collected and sent for anaerobic digestion rather than ending up in landfill. The food is collected on the same vehicles as the food waste from nearby homes, saving unnecessary trips by the recycling fleet.

Another initiative, launched this year, is a programme for mothers and mothers-to-be aimed at reducing nappy waste. Mums and pregnant women are being offered a free ‘taster pack’ to give them an idea of what it would be like to use washable nappies instead of disposables. As a result, 16 mums so far have made the switch to cloth nappies and said good-bye to nappy waste.

Cindy's Green Champion prize

Cindy’s Green Champion prize

Cindy’s Green Champion prize was a hamper of (mostly) locally produced goodies, including a cotton shopping bag made by BRAG member Rukmini West; jams from Abundance London in Chiswick; chocolate honeycomb, apple-and-chilli jelly, apricot-and-cashew biscotti, and bay leaves from Brentford’s Hen Corner; apple chutney from Chiswick farmers’ market; green tomato chutney and Ealing honey from Angela Malik in Acton; Brentford Dock honey;  Ringden Farm apple juice; Richmond blackberry jam; and some Turkish Delight labelled “Brentford Delight.”

BRAG reckoned that the prize was a chance to showcase the abundance of fine products available in and around Brentford as well as to honour Cindy for her efforts.

With characteristic humility, Cindy said the award had taken her by surprise. She added that every member of BRAG was a Green Champion in her eyes.
How our habits have changed
How our habits have changed – presentation (ppsx)

Rubbish Duck

Rubbish Duck is a sculpture made out of more than 2,000 plastic bottles, all collected from the Thames and Regent’s Canal. It can be seen at various locations on the canal, on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/RubbishDuck or on Twitter  @rubbishduck.