Lockdown 3 #4

March 12th, 2021

This week I have been troubled by the roaring sounds of high winds – I am so lucky that I’m personally experiencing nothing worse than the sounds….

Some people might say these particular winds, in the UK, are technically weather, not climate, related; but surely they should remind us all of the seriousness of climate change, anyway?

We should all be doing whatever we can to increase sustainable living, as well as putting on political and financial pressure;

and some of us need help with preparing for future flooding….

The Environment Agency’s CEO, James Bevan, has said extreme flooding in the UK indicates an urgent need for change, if humanity is to survive – we are already hitting ‘worst case scenario’ levels….

When we hear news reports of flooding, why is the climate crisis still not routinely mentioned?

As Mr Bevan said, “Our thinking needs to change faster than the climate”.

Now I’ll return to the positive projects that are happening, in spite of desperately slow progress by governments and ‘big business’.

All these have been sent to me by friends and family. Thank you!

This year’s Cheltenham Science Festival will be exploring the theme of #BeTheChange. At the Festival will be a group of young activists, led by Gina Martin, including climate activist Daze Aghaji, ethical fashion blogger Tolmeia Gregory, conservationist Bella Lack, naturalist and conservationist Dara McAnulty (I love his ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’, written when he was 14 and 15) and ClimateinColour Joycelyn Longdon.

Gina Martin said, “We need science festivals to counterbalance all the misinformation, polarisation and politicisation we’ve experienced in the past 17 months.”

For further news of events (the festival is in June), visit http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.org.uk

An old friend pointed out this next organisation (a less than appealing name, but that’s the point of course…), ‘Who Gives a Crap?’. Founded in 2012, they make bamboo and recycled toilet paper, as well as forest-friendly tissues and paper towels – both to minimise environmental impact, and also to help build toilets for the 40% of the global population who don’t have access to a toilet.

During this week celebrating International Women’s Day, ‘Beekeepers for Life’ is helping female groups in rural Africa to alleviate poverty through beekeeping whilst adapting to the shifting demands of climate change. Beekeepers for Life is run by Bees Abroad, a UK based charity run by a global community. Since 2000, Bees Abroad have been working with, and building, beekeeping communities – it now has more than 34 active projects throughout Africa, in countries including Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. 

In many of these rural communities, beekeeping has typically been the preserve of the males. But with climate change forcing men to migrate further with herds in search of pasture, beehives are becoming entrusted to women.

Beekeeping generates income without destroying habitat, it encourages forest protection, uses poor land, and maintains biodiversity. The charity promotes locally appropriate beekeeping practices, through training and mentoring programmes lasting three years.

Back in England, my youngest nephew sent me the following news: Forest Green Rovers, based in Gloucestershire (and owned by Ecotricity’s Dale Vince), have continued in their bid to become more sustainable by launching a new shirt made from coffee waste. The League Two football club’s shirt is now made from a mix of coffee grounds and recyclable plastic. Mr Vince said, “This is a message for fans and people everywhere that the clothes we wear are an important issue.”

In Yorkshire, where we used to live, a group of volunteers has formed Scarborough Climate Action, with the first aim of planting trees – perhaps especially in parts of seaside town Whitby that have problems with attracting rubbish…. Scarborough Borough Council is getting ‘on board’ and the group has a Facebook page.

News from another of my nephews is a follow-up to the Climate.Sound.Change. music project I mentioned in an earlier blog post. Four works, responding creatively to ‘what is unequivocally the most urgent and far-reaching issue of our time’, have been chosen from more than 140 responses. You can check out all four winners at 

https://britishmusiccollection.org.uk/article/climate-sound-change-winners-announced

Very inspiring! Included is Gwen Sion whose work will be composed – using field-recordings, found objects and physical fragments of the natural environment as instruments – in response to HS2, in a political act to record and preserve UK woodland.

Outside our front door, two new homes are being built – I wonder if they’ll be anything like Solar Avenue in Leeds?! These new low-energy homes have been built in a factory across the road, from super-airtight timber panels stuffed full of wood-fibre insulation, with triple-glazed windows and solar panels on the roof, each erected in less than a week.  Using up to 10 times less energy than a conventional house, their heating demand is so low that they create excess electricity that is fed into a community grid and used to charge shared electric cars.

A few years ago these houses would have been experimental one-offs. But a green-design campaign group has calculated there are as many as 30,000 low-carbon homes in the pipeline – the industry is leading the way, crucially not waiting for the painfully slow government (have I said that before…?!).

Emma Osmundsen, director of Exeter Council’s housing company Exeter City Living which is on the seventh generation of its low-energy house design, said, “Passivhaus is really not complicated, and it doesn’t have to cost more than conventional construction.

Perhaps it’s because the building industry is so male-dominated, but there is a general reluctance to follow a new recipe.”

Another thought for ‘Women’s Week’….!

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