Emerging #4

July 23rd, 2020

Amazon forest fires are raging over even more vast areas this year than last….

Greta Thunberg has been awarded a Gulbenkian prize for humanity, for the way she “has been able to mobilise younger generations for the cause of climate change and her tenacious struggle to alter a status quo that persists”.

She’s donating all of the prize money to climate & ecological crisis groups.

€100,000 will go to SOS Amazonia, led by Fridays for Future Brazil, to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the Amazon. The indigenous and riverside communities in the Amazon are the biggest defenders of the forest, fundamental players in the fight against climate change. The health system in Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas in Brazil and the main health centre for most of the Amazon Rainforest’s traditional peoples, has collapsed. The city’s press officers have announced over 100 deaths per day due to Covid-19. SOS Amazonia is helping both the rural and urban populations to contain the spread of the virus and protect the heart of the Amazon from destruction.

Another €100,000 of Greta’s prize money will go to the Stop Ecocide Foundation, to support their work to make ‘ecocide’ an international crime. This group, making it illegal to damage and destroy Nature (why isn’t that already a crime?..), the key to the success of all our other campaigning, grew out of Ecological Defence Integrity, based in Stroud, Gloucestershire (near where I live!). The visionary UK lawyer, the late Polly Higgins, founded it with the environmental activist Jojo Mehta. It’s now in the Netherlands and has charitable status. Watch Jojo Mehta’s powerful video, ‘Imagine’! Claire Dubois, of Tree Sisters which I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, is on the advisory board.

Greta Thunberg is one of the signatories of a letter being delivered to the EU tomorrow – it says the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that most leaders are able to act swiftly and decisively, but the same urgency has been missing in politicians’ response to the climate crisis.

“It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business nor finance. And the longer we keep pretending that we are on a reliable path to lower emissions and that the actions required to avoid a climate disaster are available within today’s system… the more precious time we will lose.”

(I’ve just heard on today’s radio news that Brexit is likely to be delayed until at least September, so we still haven’t left the EU… ?!)

But we need to get on with pressuring our UK government separately – Extinction Rebellion is planning actions in London, Manchester and Cardiff from September 1st. They/we’ll probably be accused of being irresponsible, but social distancing, mask-wearing and all the precautions will be observed – and we all need to remember that this pandemic is a wake-up call, a warning from Nature….

The UK’s carbon emissions have begun to rebound following the easing of lockdown, causing the ‘carbon savings’ triggered by the coronavirus to halve within weeks. Chloe Depigny, at Sia Partners who made the analysis, said the data underlines the fragility of the UK’s short-term carbon savings during the pandemic, and the need for ambitious fundamental changes to the economy if the government hopes to meet its long-term carbon targets. Where have I heard that before?

Another piece of depressing news – ‘the masks you throw away could end up killing a whale’.

More and more protective equipment is ending up in the sea….I’m sure all of you are wearing re-usable masks. Oxfam has teamed up with the PeoplesMask initiative to provide work for some of the thousands of artisans in Asia who have lost their jobs because of the lockdowns in their countries. I think the masks have sold out here, though…

I just want to acknowledge an amazing tiny group of determined activists in Malaysia – when illegal factories sprang up around Jenjarom, choking the town with toxic fumes and tonnes of plastic waste from Western countries, they fought back. Sadly, I think they’re still fighting (there’s a video, by Tessa Wong, on the BBC News online). They say they’re saving the town ‘from your Western rubbish’ – we should be ashamed.

Pink snow has been observed on parts of the Presena glacier, in the Italian Alps – it might look pretty, but it’s believed to be caused by algae (ancylonema nordenskioeldii) that accelerate the effects of climate change. Normally ice reflects more than 80% of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere, but as algae appear they darken the ice so that it absorbs the heat and melts more quickly.

Well, now a few little glimmers of hope! 

Dover clifftops are ‘buzzing with wildlife’ after a National Trust takeover. This piece of the British landscape had become depleted of flora and fauna because of years of intensive farming. Now, butterflies, birds and bees are back. And poppies – so many poppies this year, so cheerful!

Red kites are thriving in England 30 years after their reintroduction. Jeff Knott of the RSPB said: “It might be the biggest species success story in UK conservation history.”

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said he had ‘enormous high hopes’ that white-tailed eagles (placed on the Isle of Wight) would follow the success of the red kites. I’ve already referred here to Isabella Tree’s project with white storks, and the beavers project in Cornwall featured on Springwatch. But I’ve only just realised that these are not permanent features….

The government has yet to authorise their return. That doesn’t really fill us with confidence, I imagine…! ‘Coronavirus delays’ seem to be being used again as an excuse.

Another project to preserve wildlife that I’ve noticed this week, is along the Kenya-Somalia border, Africa – hirola, or Hunter’s antelope, are now listed as at critical risk of extinction. Abdullahi Hussein Ali talks about his conservation programme on BBC News online.

Now back to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of sustainable human living. The Green Homes Grant will be launched in England in September. But the chair of Parliament’s business select committee, Darren Jones MP, has expressed concern about how people will be protected from poor quality work.

Mr Jones warned that under previous government programmes, a number of consumers had work done on their homes by suppliers who failed to meet required standards, with many unable to get the redress they deserve. More than 13 million homes in the UK have had cavity wall insulation but industry insiders have told the BBC that insulation will have failed in at least 800,000 homes….So it’s difficult to have faith in the government’s commitment to retrofitting homes…

New developments should be legally obliged to incorporate sustainability, of course.

If you’re interested and able to convert to sustainable heating, I’d like to recommend the company who installed our solar system (our own little planet…?!) – http://www.thesolarpeople.co.uk

I’m not going down the ‘road’ of getting sponsors (?!) – no money is changing hands! I simply want to support businesses that are also ‘doing the right thing’ for our world.

We’re generating plenty of electricity in this sunshine…. 

PS Please read my tweets as well – #grandmaglobal

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