human activity and the destruction of the planet

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Rights for Mother Nature

The following has been pasted from the website of Avaaz:

“Nature is being annihilated everywhere – pollution, overfishing, logging, mining. There’s no end to the massacres. But what if nature had its own set of rights?

A legal revolution could give nature its own voice – a bold vision that would grant trees, oceans, animals and mountains the same rights people and corporations have, allowing citizens to take polluters to court — a recognition that all life is connection, balancing what’s good for humans against what’s good for other species and the planet.

And here’s the kicker: The UN said if we get 1 million signatures, we’re invited to present the idea at the General Assembly. This amazing opportunity could kickstart support for an entirely new global treaty.

Let’s get all in and bring this revolutionary proposal to the UN and inspire world leaders to action.”


The following is a petition being developed by Avaaz. You can go to the website to sign it and please share it with your friends:

To all governments::

As global citizens worried about the collapse of our ecosystems and concerned about the sustainable management of our planet, we urge you to recognise nature – in all its life forms – as a legal entity by adopting a Declaration of Rights of Nature. It’s time to restructure our relationship with nature and set a long term goal of protecting at least 50% of our lands and oceans so that humanity can flourish in harmony with nature – as part of nature.

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Cities with the biggest carbon footprints

The World Economic Forum has published on its websites those cities with the biggest carbon footprints.  The top twenty include:

  1. Seoul, South Korea.
  2. Guangzhou, China.
  3. New York City, USA.
  4. Hong Kong, SAR.
  5. Los Angeles, USA.
  6. Shanghai, China.
  7. Country of Singapore.
  8. Chicago, USA.
  9. Tokyo, Yokohama, Japan
  10. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  11. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  12. Wuxi, China
  13. Johannesburg, South Africa
  14. Tehran, Iran
  15. Moscow, Russia
  16. London, UK
  17. Benha, Egypt
  18. Beijing, China
  19. Jakarta, Indonesia
  20. Al-Almadi, Kuwait



Seoul, South Korea – has the biggest carbon footprint

The list was compiled by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Their study showed that 18% of all global emissions come from just 100 cities. Researcher Daniel Moran said he was surprised at how carbon footprints are concentrated into a small number of dense, high-income cities and affluent suburbs. And that might make curbing the absolute levels seem more achievable, with the power in the hands of a relatively small number of local mayors and governments.  Full details can be found on the World Economic Forum website:

Calculated on a per capita basis, Hong Kong was top of the list, followed by Mohammed Bin Zayed City and Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Calculated on this basis, four Chinese cities were in the top 10 per capita and two US cities –  New Orleans and Detroit.


Hong Kong – has the biggest carbon footprint per capita

Hong Kong has responded to the Paris Agreement  by setting out plans to lower their carbon emissions by 2030.

The Norwegian researchers said, “The confluence of high concentration of global GDP and global carbon footprints augurs well for future development of innovative strategies to reduce footprints. The fact that carbon footprints are highly concentrated in affluent cities means that targeted measures in a few places and by selected coalitions can have a large effect covering important consumption hotspots.”


London is 16th on the list of cities with the biggest carbon footprints


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The truth about heatwaves: 1

Summer 2018:

Here in the UK we have been experiencing an oppressive heatwave for the last 7 weeks, with temperatures reaching into the 30s and staying there for several days on end, with up to 36°C predicted for this week. Yet, back in April, we were rueing the fact that the winter seemed to be going on for ever and were fed up with rain, more rain and yet more rain.  And perhaps we should not have criticised so much rain, as it filled up the UK reservoirs, enabling the country to survive this long dry spell.

These extremes of weather are all part of a trend that we must expect to see more  and more, as climate change bites deep into our world. Unpredictable and more extreme weather patterns.

Yet, as bad as temperatures have been in the UK, we are not the only ones experiencing extreme weather events. It would appear that much of northern Europe has been experiencing similar high temperatures. A recent article in The Times, “A worrying trend of heatwaves” by Paul Simon (20th July 2018) gives further details.

Yes, records are not just being broken in the UK and Europe but across the world. At Quriyat on the coast of Oman the world’s hottest ever night on record was measured, with an overnight lowest temperature of 42.6°C on June 25.

The highest reliable temperature in Africa was recorded at 51.3°C in Algeria on July 5th. Many countries in Europe have also had their warmest average April and May on record, and Norway set a national high temperature record of 33.5°C  and Finland hit 33.4°C.  Temperatures in the Arctic circle have also reached 30°C.


New Zealand, in the southern hemisphere, has its summer whilst we are in winter and, last December to January was the hottest summer ever recorded.

Other parts of the world, which are usually pretty sultry, are also suffering:

Taiwan: highest recorded temperature of 40.3°C on July 10;

United Arab Emirates: 51.4°C on July 10;

Pakistan: highest temperature for April recorded at 50.2°C.

Japan: highest ever recorded temperature of 41.1°C in Kumagaya, as the country struggles to recover from its worst flooding and landslide disasters for years.

Heatwaves are becoming more extreme and more frequent.

A recent piece on the Quartz website reiterates much of these findings:

Perhaps people (climate change deniers) can shrug their shoulders and explain it away as an interesting phenomenon but nothing significant.  But it would appear that, in addition to record daytime temperatures, there is also a significant change in night time temperatures too. Makkaur in Norway has had a record-breaking overnight temperature of 25.2°C on 18th July.  According to an article in the International Journal of Climatology (cited in The Times piece), temperatures during the night are increasing faster than those in the day, so there is little respite for anybody from the oppressive daytime heat.

Cities tend to suffer the most, as buildings retain the heat longer.

Farming in the UK is also being affected: livestock are now being fed winter feed, as summer grass has withered away; reservoirs for watering vegetables are running dry and crops such as spring barley and sugar beet are being hit.

Hospitals without air conditioning are becoming extremely hot, affecting nurses and patients alike (nurses are not allowed to carry water bottles).  In one Hampshire hospital, the extreme heat set off the fire alarm.

Another report from Unearthed describes how heat waves and record temperatures are occurring across the northern hemisphere.  In Quebec, Canada, 34 deaths have been attributed to a heat wave.  Record temperatures have been recorded too in Northern Siberia.

And, accompanying heat waves of course, there are very often wild fires or bush fires burning out of control – and probably adding to the overall effect of global warming. Damaging homes and property, as well as killing people and many of the endangered species that we care about.


In the UK, as well as in other countries, there have been a series of wildfires, which have been difficult to bring under control. And today, as I write, we have heard about devastating fires in Greece, with homes destroyed, 60+ killed or missing and people fleeing into the sea to get away from the flames. Sweden has also experienced 50 forest fires burning in mid-July.

And last year, Portugal, Canada and Australia, among others, also experienced wild fires out of control.

See also, an earlier blog and heat waves and human survivability. This cites a Lancet article about how high temperatures can reach before people start dying – this depends on the level of humidity.


2nd August 2018

Today, I have received details of two articles, which both state that there is now no doubt that human-induced climate change is responsible for the current heat waves.

The first is from The Guardian, with the headline, “Extreme global weather is ‘the face of climate change’ says leading scientist.” It cites the comments by an eminent climate scientist, Prof Michael Mann, who “declares that the impacts of global warming are now ‘playing out in real-time’“.  See:

“Other senior scientists agree the link is clear. Serious climate change is “unfolding before our eyes”, said Prof Rowan Sutton, at the University of Reading. “No one should be in the slightest surprised that we are seeing very serious heatwaves and associated impacts in many parts of the world.”

The second article is from Media Lens today and is a compilation of articles from various places.  It is entitled “World on Fire: Climate Breakdown” and starts with the following paragraph:

“What will it take for society to make the deep-rooted changes required to prevent the terrifying and awesome threat of climate breakdown? This summer’s extreme weather events are simply a prelude to a rising tide of chaos that will be punctuated by cataclysmic individual events – floods, heatwaves, superstorms – of increasing severity and frequency. How long before people demand radical action from governments? Or, and this is what is really needed, how long until citizens remove corporate-captured governments from power and introduce genuine democracy?”

The article gives details of the extreme temperatures recorded across the globe this summer but then gives an analysis of some of the things still being said by a climate-sceptic press, when reporting on the current heat wave: the Daily Mail; the Sun and even the BBC.  All are failing to properly acknowledge that it is caused by climate change.

The Media Lens writer does not mince any words.



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Research shows that a Carbon Tax helps achieve Paris Targets without harming the economy

In Chapter 7 of my book (pages 160-162), I describe the carbon tax and how it has helped reduce carbon emissions in the countries that have introduced it.  I particularly cite the the example of Australia, which introduced a carbon tax in 2012, whilst led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, under a coalition with the Greens. In Australia, the act was very unpopular, particularly amongst business leaders, and it was repealed two years later by Prime Minister, Tony Abbot.  In my book, I provide a figure (Figure 67 in chapter 7), showing that during the two years of a carbon tax being in operation, carbon emissions in the country fell, only to start rising again after the act was repealed.

An OECD Environmental Review, published in 2014, describes how Sweden introduced a carbon tax in 1991. Since that time, their economy has grown by 50% and their emissions of greenhouse gases have declined.  See:

Now, new comprehensive research has shown that a carbon tax has the effect of reducing carbon emissions of a country and, at the same time, enabling the growth of the economy in that country. An American study on the effects of a carbon tax has been reported in detail in the Guardian by Dana Nuccitelli on 16th July 2018.  See:

The study was carried out by the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) project and involved 11 teams who examined the economic and environmental impacts of a carbon tax.  The findings consistently showed that a carbon tax is effective at reducing carbon pollution and that it has a very modest impact on the economy, as measured by GDP.

The study looked at four different types of carbon tax policy and the following quote is included in the Guardian article:

“in every policy scenario, in every model, the U.S. economy continues to grow at or near its long-term average baseline rate, deviating from reference growth by no more than about 0.1% points. We find robust evidence that even the most ambitious carbon tax is consistent with long-term positive economic growth, near baseline rates, not even counting the growth benefits of a less-disrupted climate or lower ambient air pollution”

They found that coal power plants would be the biggest losers if the carbon tax were implemented, which may explain the resistance encountered in Australia.  In addition, there were substantial cost savings in relationship to health improvements.  Some of the pollutants released by burning coal (eg soot, mercury) have a severe impact on health.


The article also argues convincingly that curbing global warming, in line with the Paris agreement, also has a positive economic effect.

So, it sounds like a WIN WIN situation.

The following website gives details of those countries which have implemented a carbon tax:





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Help for bees as Environment Agency trials pollinator project

Press release published on 11 July 2018

The project seeks to create more habitat for mining bees - like this one - as well as bumblebees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators


The beloved bumblebee is one of dozens of species set to benefit from an Environment Agency project to improve habitat for pollinators.

A pioneering pilot scheme in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire sees Environment Agency teams adapting their routine work in a bid to boost biodiversity.

The teams, who maintain thousands of kilometres of river and reservoir banks that serve as flood defences, have been experimenting with the frequency and timings of maintenance work, like grass-cutting, on the banks to see what best preserves the wildflowers and herbs bees need.

They have also compared the results of removing the grass-clippings or leaving them in situ – and have found that removing them helps plants like clover, ox-eye daisies, dandelions and buttercups flourish.

Tapping into expert guidance from a consultant botanist and entomologist, the trial aims to increase the native bee population including bufftail, solitary, carpenter, mining and leaf-cutting bees, as well as butterflies, moths, and other pollinators.

This season marks the third year of the 5 year pilot – and also marks the third annual Bees Needs Week, an initiative by government, conservation groups, industry and retailers to raise awareness of simple things anyone can do to support pollinators, like growing more flowers and leaving patches of their garden to grow wild.

At the same time, biodiversity officers have also been making the most of EA-owned buildings like pumping stations and unused land to install bee boxes, hotels and havens made of natural scrap material – many of which were occupied almost immediately.

Nikki Loveday, biodiversity officer with the Environment Agency, said:

It’s our mission to protect people and wildlife and this is a brilliant example of how being flexible and innovative can help us achieve more for our environment.

We’re adapting how we carry out vital maintenance on our flood defences and looking for any opportunity to support our precious pollinators and the wider ecology.

Ultimately, if we can make small changes at no cost we’ll aim to share our learning and inspire others to do the same to have a big impact.

Meanwhile, a series of workshops for staff are helping them learn more about pollinators and how to identify and create simple habitats. More than 50 staff have are already putting this training to use in their daily work – for example, drilling holes in wooden posts for carpenter bees when fixing fences.

Entomologist Steven Falk, an expert in bees, hoverflies and other pollinators, who has delivered the training and advised on the project, said:

Bees and other pollinators put approximately a third of all the food we eat onto our plates, and it’s so important we support them by protecting and enhancing their habitat.

We know from experience that doing the right things, like enriching their nesting and foraging spaces, will increase the population of our pollinators. Even small changes can make a big difference of lots of people do them at lots of sites.

The Environment Agency is in a good position to contribute since it oversees so much land and it gives me great pleasure to work with them to give a boost to our bees.

For more on small actions you can take to support pollinators, visit

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Ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic

News out today from Greenpeace states that the majority of the krill fishing industry has agreed to voluntarily stop fishing in sensitive Antarctic waters and back the campaign for ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic.

This is not just a welcome relief for penguins and other Antarctic wildlife that feed on krill. It also means that, when the Antarctic Ocean Commission meet in October to decide on a massive Sanctuary, the influential krill industry won’t be standing in the way.

The industry body represents nearly every krill company working in the Antarctic – including Aker Biomarine – the main supplier of krill oil to the UK.

Greenpeace started campaigning on the krill industry in April and a number of actions  helped to drive progress towards this unprecedented commitment. The campaign included:

  • over 45,000 emails sent to Holland & Barrett calling on them to ditch krill oil products fished from areas that needed protection.
  • over 11,000 tweets and Facebook messages sent to Boots, calling on them to stop sourcing krill oil products from sensitive Antarctic waters.
  • Stickered krill products with a Greenpeace message on Holland & Barrett and Boots shelves nationwide, raising the profile of the issue with UK customers.
  • Visited over 30 Boots shops across the UK, with ‘krill-o-meters’ that asked people to choose between an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary and industrial krill fishing.

Other stores that stock dodgy krill oil products were also contacted. Amazingly, Superdrug, Morrisons, Nature’s Best, and many more listened to the demands.

This is a major step forward on the road to protecting the Antarctic. With many krill fishing companies now joining the 1.7 million people across the globe already calling for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, we are looking ahead with hope to the Antarctic Ocean Commission’s meeting in October.

6th November 2018

An update from Greenpeace today shared the fact that the initiative for an ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic was not successful. The full text from their email follows:

Over the last two weeks, a group of governments tried to negotiate a new Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

I’m sorry to say they failed, leaving the incredible wildlife of the Antarctic exposed to growing pressures from industrial overfishing, pollution and climate change.

Although 22 governments supported an ambitious sanctuary, Norwegian, Chinese and Russian negotiators were able to stop it from going ahead. [1]

But this isn’t over. Together, we’re going to come back stronger than ever to protect the Antarctic – and ocean life everywhere. Are you in? Add a comment on this Facebook post to let us know.

Not on Facebook? No problem – just hit reply to share your comment by email.

People are sharing their personal reaction to the decision too. There’s lots of frustration and disappointment of course, but there’s also determination – to keep standing up for our oceans until we win. Check out the comments and add your own here.

It’s too soon to know exactly what the next steps look like, but here’s the big picture:

First, we’ll keep working to win this Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. But that alone isn’t enough.

To truly start healing our blue planet, we need to think bigger. That means changing how the system works – so it’s easier to protect large areas of our global oceans. 

Soon we’ll have a chance to do exactly that. There’s a new global ocean treaty on the table at the UN. If it’s approved it’ll open the door to create huge new protected areas covering at least a THIRD of the world’s oceans. If you’re ready to help make it happen, let us know.

Not on Facebook? No problem – just hit reply to share your comment by email.

Today is a sad day for everyone who cares about our blue planet. But this isn’t the end – it’s just the beginning. Together with 2.7 million others, you’re part of an amazing global movement to protect the oceans – and I can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve together.

Thanks for all you’ve done so far – and all the great things to come.


1. Governments have failed to protect the Antarctic – but this isn’t over – Greenpeace UK

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New environment law to deliver a Green Brexit

Environmental Principles and Governance Bill announced as consultation launches on new body to hold government to account.

A picture of rolling green hills

A new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will ensure environmental protections will not be weakened as we leave the EU, the government has confirmed.

consultation has started today on the contents of the Environmental Principles and Governance Bill, which will establish a world-leading body to hold government to account for environmental outcomes.

The body will support our commitment to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than that in which we inherited it. It will provide scrutiny and advice as we protect and enhance our precious landscapes, wildlife and natural assets and would be able to hold government to account on environmental legislation.

Subject to consultation, the new body could specifically be responsible for:

  • providing independent scrutiny and advice on existing and future government environmental law and policy;
  • responding to complaints about government’s delivery of environmental law; and
  • holding government to account publicly over its delivery of environmental law and exercising enforcement powers where necessary.

The Government is also consulting on its intention to require ministers to produce – and then have regard to –a statutory and comprehensive policy statement setting out how they will apply core environmental principles as they develop policy and discharge their responsibilities. Currently environmental decisions made in the UK – from improving air and water quality to protecting endangered species – are overseen by the European Commission and underpinned by a number of these principles, such as the precautionary principle, sustainable development and the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

While these principles are already central to government environmental policy, they are not set out in one place besides the EU treaties. The new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will ensure governments continue to have regard to important environmental principles through the policy statement, which would be scrutinised by Parliament. The consultation seeks views on whether or not the principles to be contained in the policy statement should be listed in primary legislation.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

As the Prime Minister has made clear, we will not weaken environmental protections when we leave the EU. A new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will ensure core environmental principles remain central to government policy and decision-making. This will help us to deliver a Green Brexit and the vision set out in our 25 Year Environment Plan.

But we will only achieve our aims by also creating a strong and objective voice that champions and enforces environmental standards. That’s why our Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will also create an independent and statutory watchdog. This will hold governments to account for delivering their commitments to the natural world.

The consultation, which will run for 12 weeks, seeks views on the most effective way for the new body to hold government to account, which would include, as a minimum, the power to issue advisory notices. The consultation asks what further enforcement mechanisms may be necessary.

The Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will be published in draft in the autumn. Public consultation on the environmental principles policy statement will follow in due course. The Bill will be introduced early in the second session of this Parliament, ensuring these measures are introduced in time for the end of the implementation period in December 2020. EU environmental governance structures will continue to apply during the implementation period.

The consultation is concerned with environmental governance in England and reserved matters throughout the UK, for which the UK government has responsibility. However, we are exploring with the devolved administrations whether they wish to take a similar approach. We would welcome the opportunity to co-design proposals with them to ensure they work across the whole UK, taking account of the different government and legal systems in the individual nations.


  1. You can respond to our consultation on the Citizen Space website
  2. Read ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’