31 August 2009
So why make the switch? Firstly it saves you money as each bulb uses a quarter of the electricity and lasts up to 20 times longer, so replace a 150w traditional bulb with one of the latest low energy bulbs and you could save as much as £20 / year as well as reducing your carbon dioxide output by half a ton. The switch saves resources too. Think of all the glass and metal that goes into making 20 tungsten bulbs compared with one low energy bulb.
Find out more about the pros and cons of the different low energy light bulbs here: http://www.ableduk.com/alternatives.html
27 August 2009
Another idea is the use of bioreactors. Bioreactors contain green algae and they photosynthesise, taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to starch and sugar. The algae could be harvested and put to a number of uses, not least as a source of carbohydrate and protein. This idea is not new and there are a number of companies, especially in California that are pioneering bio-reactors, biofences and the like. However the engineers envisage tubes of algal being attached to the outside of buildings where they could take up carbon dioxide generated by traffic.
These and many other ideas will not solve the problem of global warming but they will reduce the rate at which the carbon dioxide levels are rising, giving us a bit more time to tackle the real issues.
18 August 2009
10 August 2009
As a country we produce less food in the UK that we did in the 1980s, especially fruit, vegetables and beef. Its all very well saying we can import food, but crop failures caused by drought, or flood can easily change that. Countries will soon stop their exports if there is a shortage of food for their own people, as seen by the shortage in rice last year. Variabilities in oil price can push the price of cereals and fertilisers sky high and this is reflected in the rising costs in the shops.
So can the UK be self sufficient in food by 2030? At the moment about half the food we eat is home-grown. Of the rest, about two-thirds comes from the EU, the rest is sourced elsewhere. Reversing the trend is going to be a tall order and I think its going to mean changes in our attitude to food. For starters, we are so wastful of food - and thats the whole food chain - not just the consumer. As much of 40 per cent of the crops in the fields does not get to the shops because of damage, spoilage in storage, or failure to meet quality standards. Then there is wastage at the processors, distributors and in the shops. Finally the consumer comes along and throws away as much as one-third of the food they buy. That's a massive 6.7 million tonnes worth more than £10 billion.
One way forward is to improve the consumer's connection with their food and this is where the wonderful trend to 'grow your own' is going to help . I'm lucky as I have a small organic farm and we are self sufficient in eggs and meat, and for most of our vegetables. I know that I use all the veg I grow, even the mis-shaped carrots and nibbled cabbages, and all of the vegetable waste goes into the wormeries or the pig pens. Raising your own animals changes your attitudes too. Having cared for them for many months, you don't like the killing, but you are determined to make sure their meat is put to good use, otherwise you feel you have let them down. Consequently we have learnt new skills to process their meat into bacon, ham, pate etc, while the vegetable gluts are frozen, dried, or processed into chutney and the like. Then you discover that food excites you again and you want to experiment with new recipes, and grow more! It is addictive. So hopefully the great stories that I read about people growing veg on every available space, about community supported agriculture, pig-sharing and villages becoming self sufficient in eggs etc., mean that we will reduce our dependency on imported foods.
6 August 2009
So what can you do to help bees?
1. Become a bee keeper
2. Plant bee friendly plants such as foxgloves, hollyhocks, mint, sunflower, alliums
3. If you don't want ot keep bees, but have a bee-friendly garden or rooftop, offer space to a local bee keeper, in exchange for some honey!
4. If you see a swarm contact a local bee keeper
5. Support bee charities.
6. Sign the Soil Association petition to ban pesticides known to harm honey bees
What is Ecoscene doing? For every honey bee image sold during the month of August we will donate £10 to Bees Abroad. This charity works with communities in developing countries, helping them to establish bee hives. www.beesabroad.org.uk. The sale of honey from one hive raises enough money to put one child through their primary education while a donation of £15 buys the materials to make one hive.
Did you know there are more than 300 different species of bee in the UK including honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees?
Ecoscene has photofeatures available on the honey bee plus a supper collection of images on bee keeping, bees in flight and life cycle of the honey bee. www.ecoscene2.captureweb.co.uk/lbshow.php?lightboxid=387429465654
3 August 2009
The disease, a highly contagious form of plague, can be treated with antibiotics, but only if given early. It is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is spread by rats and other rodents via the fleas which live on them. Unlike bubonic plague, this plague can be spread by human-to-human contact.
Ecoscene has a selection of images showing rats that could be used to illustrate this news item.