Burying Radium and your head in the sand

Not too far from Edinburgh, on the East coast of Scotland in Fife lies Dalgety Bay, a area of some beauty which is close to many residences of people who work in Edinburgh. It lies on the North side of the Firth of Forth. The beach is a wonderful place and in summer children can play on it, older folk can catch the sum there and you can even fish from the shore. But underneath the sands lies danger. Continue reading

Wheelie Bins

All over the developed world there is one thing that you see on almost every street. The thing is instantly recognisable whatever language you speak and spends usually twenty to forty hours a week on pavements. They stand like Daleks and litter the streets. They are the wheelie bin. Continue reading

Climate change scepticism

There is plenty of disbelief in the theory of human made climate change in the United Kingdom according to a survey by the University of Cardiff in Wales. It is not hard to understand the reasons for climate change scepticism. Continue reading

Rubbish, wheelie bins and recycling

For years the United Kingdom had a very unhealthy attitude towards its rubbish compared with its European partners. There were weekly rubbish collections from the home; some places allowed you to put your rubbish out in plastic bags, whereas others insisted that you place it in a traditioanl cylindrical bin. When the dustman came they hurled the contents of a bin into a waste compactor truck, or else threw the plastic bags into it. I remember that my part of London introduced wheelie bins in 1987. They held much more rubbish than the traditional dustbin but made it easier and faster for the dustmen, who no longer had to lift heavy rubbish. The wheelie bin seemed to fill itself up every week; clearly there is a law of waste: rubbish expands to fill the size of the receptacle provided for it. Continue reading

Do not breathe too deeply in the city

I was brought up in Poplar, which is in the East End of London and is now part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. My school was separated from a main road by a very narrow pavement. The road was dirty and dusty because it carried mainly lorries and commercial vehicles going to and from London’s docks, around the Isle of Dogs and further east at Tilbury. The noise from the traffic was such that being taught in some rooms was a trying experience and it was disturbing, mildly so, when we took examinations, but the traffic dirt was the worst problem. Tower Hamlets has not changed much, in terms of traffic since then; I suppose that there is now more traffic but the traffic is less polluting with higher emission standards and catalytic converters. Continue reading

Supermarkets are super creators of greenhouse gas

The Environmental Investigation Agency is a small campaigning organisation that was established to prevent trade in endangered species and, naturally for an organisation that seeks to prevent the loss of species it has turned its mind to climate change and in particular the role of supermarkets in climate change.

Most people from developed countries spend most on their food and household shopping in Supermarkets. In the United Kingdom and in the United States these businesses have become Leviathans; there are few of them, and as such they wield significant influence over businesses from which they buy goods, like farmers, and people to whom they sell goods. Continue reading

North of the chemical equator

If you live in the northern hemisphere, and most people do, you will be breathing a different and poorer quality of air than if you live in the southern hemisphere. Researchers from the University of York have found that roughly coincident with the equator (but not completely) there is another imaginary line – a chemical equator – which divides air with poor quality in the north from air with better quality in the south. This is probably the only north-south divide that favours the south. Continue reading

Plastic bottles and a Junk made out of junk

Two brave eco warriors, Marcus Eriksen and Joe Paschal from San Francisco built a thirty foot vessel from junk. They salvaged a mast from another vessel, the cabin was made from a fuselage of a Cessna aircraft and the floating arrangements comprised of 15,000 used plastic bottles bound together to create pontoons.

They wanted to raise awareness about plastic debris and ocean pollution so in order to grab the publicity these brave souls sailed 2,600 miles from Long Beach in California to Hawaii in their aptly named “Junk”. Continue reading

Low energy light bulbs may put mercury into the fish we eat

Millions of low energy light bulbs are being given away to British home occupiers. It, along with insulation, is the Government’s virtually only policy to reduce carbon emissions in households. Low energy light bulbs consume less electricity and so reduce the carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The reason why they require less energy is that they contain mercury, the molecules of which bounce around inside the low energy light bulb, enhancing the light. But we risk, while reducing our carbon footprints significantly increasing our toxic mercury footprints. Continue reading

How much to let me put a nuclear dustbin in your back yard?

The Business Secretary, John Hutton, has ambitions that the United Kingdom should become the number one place for nuclear energy generation in the world. It is the only policy that he thinks that will make up for decades of neglectful energy policies centred around the short term with no vision of the long term problems that a lack of an energy policy will bring. Nuclear generation however creates dangerous nuclear waste which will be dangerous for ten thousand years. Where should the waste go? Continue reading