Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Time to End Tiger Farming

Chinese Tiger Farm

China is allowing people to ‘farm’ tigers in ‘battery hen’ like conditions and to trade their skins and body parts. I find this totally unacceptable and have signed the petition at www.bantigertrade.com which is part of the TigerTime campaign. www.tigertime.info.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Poaching: Demand and Supply

Over the past month I've tweeted frequently and blogged on water and sanitation, conservation of rhinoceros and tigers and solar electricity feed-in-tariffs, all of which are important issues in themselves but perhaps more important are the links between them.

China is now the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels as a direct result of our drive to reduce carbon emissions, for example by using subsidies such as the UK's feed-in-tariff system. This is part of the exponential growth in manufacturing in China and south east Asia to satisfy our demand for cheaply  manufactured products with off-shore carbon footprints. This growth has created many wealthy individuals, some of whom are using their newly found disposable income for the purchase of traditional medicines such as rhino horn and tiger parts. Of course such remedies do not work, but that knowledge hasn't stemmed demand.

Crossing the Indian Ocean to Africa and we find many people trapped by abject poverty. The rains have failed again; there is no harvest. This is the sharp end of climate change. There is no manufacturing and the wealth of mineral natural resources are being plundered by multinationals with only corrupt officials seeing any benefit. Desperate people will do desperate things. They know they may be shot and killed of caught poaching rhinos or elephants but the promise of rich rewards is too much. In a way, the poachers themselves are victims, similar  to drug mules. Catching them will only allow another desperate person to take their place. They need a viable alternative, opportunities to support themselves and their families. Improving security of water is a major step towards self sustaining communities.

To tackle poaching, therefore, we need to tackle both sides of the equation: we need to remove the desperation that leads people down the road to poaching and we need to remove the demand from those that can afford to buy the products.  This first can be achieved by supporting organisations such as WaterAID that are investing in infrastructure that will improve health, quality of life and sustainable communities that are less dependent on aid and through education regarding more sustainable ways to make a livelihood.  The second can be achieved through raising awareness that the products don't work medicinally and by applying pressure at government level to ensure all signatories of CITES are doing there utmost to prevent the trade. In addition, consumers can apply pressure by avoiding products, such as subsidised solar panels, manufactured in countries, such as China, which permit the trade in body parts of endangered species and participate in the campaign to ban the tiger trade.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tell the Chinese to stop trading Tigers

I’ve just spent a few seconds signing up to a vital petition that will help save the last 3,200 wild tigers on earth. Will you help the cause by doing the same?

When I first heard that there are only 3,200 wild tigers left, I was totally shocked. To put it in perspective, it means that all the wild tigers left on earth could all fit on just one soccer pitch. Added to this, we are losing them to poachers at a rate that means they will become extinct within a very few years.

The TigerTime campaign team need your help to save them.

The Chinese trade in tiger parts is one of the most serious threats to the wild tiger. The Chinese government says that it is committed to saving the wild tiger. However, it is continuing to allow the trade in tiger parts and skins from tigers bred in so called ‘tiger farms’. We think that the practice of ‘farming tigers’ is barbaric and should be stopped. Additionally, this trade is the perfect smokescreen for the continued poaching of wild tigers.

Please, urge others to sign our petition at www.bantigertrade.com and pass this request on to as many people as they can by forwarding this email. China is a powerful country so we need as many signatures as possible to make them listen.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Time to pull the plug on dirty water

WaterAid charity says global efforts
to increase access to clean water
ignore those most in need

Sanitation leads to cleaner, healthier water, leads to less disease and pollution, leads to less medical aid and vibrant self-sustaining communities, leads to better quality of life and a more just society.

We can't be having that can we?

No. We need to give the aid to countries that can afford to improve their own sewerage systems. That way they can use their money to buy goods and services supplied by more developed countries such as those in Europe and the US, to help stimulate the economy. We will probably ask them to use the aid money to buy design and construction services from the donor country. And let's face it: we don't want to be sending our people into countries that don't even have running water, do we?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Conservation, or not?

"@EcoWarriorMe Is it time to give up on tigers and pandas? http://t.co/QgrWaAx0 > I hope not."

According to an article in this morning's Independent, "A majority of professional conservationists believe it is time to consider shifting efforts away from some of the world's most famous species, such as the panda, to concentrate on others which have a greater chance of success.

Should we be more selective in our efforts? What animals should we choose? By what measure will we evaluate which lives and which dies out?

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Legacy of Extraction

When materials extracted from the earth we are creating a dangerous legacy for future generations.  Although not unique, Coal is the biggest culprit over large areas of the UK.  With several new proposals for adopting a new, relatively untried extraction process, it is worth thinking about the legacy of mining. There are many fundamental differences between hydraulic fracturing or fracking and any of the deep coal mining techniques but that does not mean that similar problems could not occur.

Problems such as subsidence and pollution may not be evident for years, decades or even centuries.  The older mines are the most troublesome in terms of subsidence as there are little or no remaining records of precisely where coal was worked and they are often at shallower depth, where the effect of collapsing mines is more severely felt at the surface.  Information technology should allow decent records of the boreholes used for fracking and the approximate extents of land affected as long as the digital records don't become obsolete - imagine they were stored on 5.25" floppy disks!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Solar Electricity Tariffs

"Homeowners will have to spend more to qualify - http://t.co/VMFcsHrc - but we do need to prioritise." @EcoWarriorMe

The recent announcement by the government to cut feed-in tariffs for solar electricity generated by householders has quite rightly faced heavy criticism. Installation of solar panels under the scheme has led to significant growth in the sector, creating employment as well as green electricity. Changing the goal posts at short notice jeopardises this genuinely sustainable economic growth but it also undermines confidence in any future initiatives.

Another part of the changes to the feed-in tariff is to restrict the scheme to homes that are already energy efficient but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

"Some 86% of the UK’s homes do not meet the ‘C’ energy rating standard that properties will need to qualify for the feed- in tariff"  The Guardian

In homes with a poor energy rating, it is cheaper to implement energy saving measures than to overall solar panels and the carbon reduction for a unit cost is significantly greater. Measures that can be taken start at a few pounds to draft proof windows and doors to several thousand to install double glazing with many options in between.

Part of the problem is that cost savings to the consumer ar
e only the marginal unit cost of gas our electricity (i.e. the cheaper rate on your bill) compared with a feed in tariff that is set at about three times the retail electricity cost, now reducing to one and a half times the cost.

A new scheme, The Green Deal, is due to start next November. As out stands this will allow people to take out loans for energy efficiency measures and pay them back with cost savings on energy but out still falls short of the feed-in tariff of paying more than the cost of energy saved.

A payment to not use as much energy may be the answer but it would undoubtedly fire up the climate change sceptics.