human activity and the destruction of the planet

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FT: Shinzo Abe has called on all countries to join Japan to “act now to save our planet”

This piece is copied with acknowledgments to both the Financial Times, for whom Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe wrote a recent groundbreaking article, and to the editor (BP) of

for giving me permission to use her piece taken from the FT article, to which she added illustrations and emphases:

In the Financial Times, he writes:

The summer of 2018 broke meteorological records, devastating entire regions along the coast of western Japan. There were unprecedented levels of rain, heat, landslides and hurricanes. 

The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called on all countries to join Japan and act now to save our planet. In the Financie writes:

This summer western Japan was battered by the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 25 years. Unprecedented torrential rain and landslides ravaged the residents of western Japan this summer, killing more than 200 people, and ruining hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

Roads are cut off by a mudslide at a section of the Kyushu Expressway in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture (all pictures and emphases added)

Meanwhile, severe scorching heatwaves struck the country and resulted in approximately 160 deaths. Fierce heat also gripped North America and Europe, and hurricanes and typhoons hit the US and Philippines.

Global warming increases carbon dioxide and acidifies the ocean, damaging its ability to self-purify. Even worse, proliferating marine plastic pollution threatens marine ecosystems and eventually, our own health.

The international community has taken steps to address climate change with forward-looking and long-term goals. An agreement was adopted in Paris in 2015 with the participation of all major economies including China and India. The following year, I went a step further at the Ise-Shima summit in Japan, as G7 members committed to devising long-term strategies.

Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations, be it the elderly or the young and in developed and developing countries alike.

Rescuers help local residents to evacuate in the town of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture

The problem is exacerbating more quickly than we expected. We must take more robust actions. And swiftly.

The way forward is clear. We must save both the green of the earth and the blue of its oceans.

Our goals must be firmly based on the latest scientific knowledge. As we learn more, through the work and expertise of the scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the entire world should take appropriate measures accordingly.

All countries must engage with the same level of urgency. Some are still increasing greenhouse gas emissions and emit more than 2bn tonnes annually according to the International Energy Agency. All countries must put promises into practice. Developed countries should provide support to developing countries for fulfilling their obligations.

As part of their long-term strategies, governments should promote innovation to drive new growth and spread the net widely for new ideas.

No alternatives should be excluded. Japan has goals such as creating ultra-high-capacity storage batteries, further decentralising and digitising automated energy control systems, and evolving into a hydrogen-based energy society. Countries should also rank the competitiveness of a company based on its development and dissemination of future-oriented technologies. This would encourage companies to invest for the long term.

Momentum is already growing in the private sector. The number of companies engaging in environment, social and governance-focused investment or issuing green bonds is rising dramatically. Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund is one of them. Investors now require businesses to analyse environmental challenges and disclose potential risks as well as opportunities.

We must also focus on reducing emissions from infrastructure.

In Japan, our Shinkansen high-speed rail network prevents congestion and boosts the overall fuel efficiency of transportation nationwide. We also have set our carmakers a goal to cut the greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle they produce by 80 per cent by 2050 so as to realise “Well-to-Wheel Zero Emission”.

We must simultaneously boost economic growth and reduce the use of fossil fuels. That means cutting the costs and improving the reliability of renewable energy. In Japan, the volume of electricity generated from renewable sources has increased 2.5-fold in the past four years. Japan will host the world’s first ministerial meeting focused on hydrogen energy. We cannot overlook safe nuclear power generation and controls on emissions of methane and hydrofluorocarbons.

Manufacturers with large-scale greenhouse gas emissions should be encouraged to update their production methods. Countries should stop excessive steel production, which causes massive greenhouse gas emissions and creates imbalances in markets.

Finally we should tap data processing and communications advances to speed up the innovation cycle. Investing in energy transition and the sharing economy will ensure economic growth and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases.

Addressing climate change, marine pollution, and disaster risk reduction are critical pillars for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Japan will preside over the G20 next year and focus on accelerating the virtuous cycle of environmental protection and economic growth.

When the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development is held in Japan, we will extend support to African countries. We invite the rest of the world to join us in tackling this tough challenge.'”


PLEASE NOTE THAT IN ANOTHER BLOG ON THIS WEBSITE, “20 Countries Most At Risk From Sea Level Rise”, Japan features as having the 3rd highest risk in the world of exposure to sea level rise, with 10% of their population exposed by it.



Could the Sahara desert be used to provide energy for the rest of the world?

The Sahara Desert would seem to be a dream location for powering the rest of the world by the use of renewable energy, both wind and solar.

I have thought about this possibility for a long time and it would seem that I am not the only one.  The difficulty with this may be that the Sahara desert is part of a number of African countries.

It covers large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia, extends over 9 million square kilometres (3,500,000 sq miles), and covers about a quarter of the African continent.

Logically, to use solar panels and wind farms in the Sahara desert, or any other desert for that matter, would seem to be an ideal solution to reverse global warming and deal with climate change.  It might even help to reduce extreme poverty in Africa.  But, would the large energy companies ever allow it to happen?

So, what has been happening so far?  Morocco has already begun to install solar panels on is territory, with a solar park about the size of Paris.  It is called Noor, which is Arabic for ‘light’.  See:

There is also the Sahara Solar Breeder Project, a joint initiative between the universities of Algeria and Japan.  It is claimed that solar power plants there could supply half the world’s energy requirements by 2050.  It will begin by building a silicon manufacturing plant in the desert to transform silica in the sand into silicon of sufficiently high quality for use in solar panels. Solar power plants will then be constructed using the solar panels, and some of the electricity generated will supply the energy needed to build more silicon plants to produce more solar panels and then more electricity.  A short video explains the process:

Read more at:

The whole idea has been discussed by a number of groups:  See as follows:

One group feels that it would become a target for terrorist activity, especially as there is much political instability in this part of the world:

Many of these posts describe it as a tantalizing dream. But, to me, it is the most obvious option open to the global population.  If it is feasible, then we should find a way.


There is also a claim that wind and solar farms could make it rain regularly in the Sahara desert, through a two-fold increase in rainfall, enabling vegetation to take hold.



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Solar Panels: the majority of the UK public want to install them

A survey, reported in The Guardian has shown that more than half of people in the UK would install solar panels on their homes, if there was Government support on the cost of installation.  62% said they wanted to fit solar panels and 60% said they would buy an energy storage device.  Many have made this decision because they want to break up the energy suppliers market dominance but less than 10% of those surveyed had already installed solar panels.

The survey was commissioned by Client Earth, an environmental law group:

The survey also found that solar is the most popular energy source, with coal the least popular.  Nuclear energy and gas were almost as unpopular as coal.

Further data and graphs are given in The Guardian article.



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A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife

Chris Packham, the well-known naturalist and broadcaster, has launched this manifesto, which can be found at:

Also, this weekend, he is organising #ThePeoplesWalkFor Wildlife, in Hyde Park London.  People from across the country are joining this.

To accompany both, Chris has written an article – well worth a read – in The Guardian, entitled, “My manifesto could save Britain’s dying wildlife”.

Well done, Chris, and keep up the consciousness-raising.

Chris_Packham_thanku-lh (2)

The Guardian article was published on 19th August 2018 and can be found at:


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More lost and endangered species are being reported

A new statistical analysis by Bird Life International has been reported by Patrick Barkham in The Guardian. It has confirmed that eight bird species are known to have become extinct this decade. Five species are from South America and their extinction has been caused by deforestation.  They include:

  • the Brazilian Spix’s macaw;
  • the poo-uli (black-faced honey creeper);
  • the pernambuco pygmy owl;
  • the cryptic treehunter;
  • Alagoas foliage gleaner.

Other extinctions have been small island species, vulnerable to hunting or invasive species.  90% of bird extinctions have been small-island species but now some species from large continents are disappearing.  See:


The Poo-uli, last seen in Hawaii in 2004

In another painstaking study, it has been found that hedgehog numbers in the UK have declined by 80% since the 1950s.  This is thought to be due to intensive farming methods and increasing badger populations (badgers eat hedgehogs but both species can co-exist in the same habitat).  The study has been published in Nature: Scientific Reports –

A number of rural sites were surveyed across England and Wales and, in many of them, no hedgehogs were found at all.  the South West of England seemed to be paricularly devoid of hedgehogs.

hedgehog map

The green dots in the map above show where hedgehogs were detected and the black dots where none were found; the large black spots identify the locations of badger setts.  The study was carried out by Ben M. Williams, Philip J. Baker, Emily Thomas, Gavin Wilson, Johanna Judge and Richard W. Yarnell.  Scientific Reports 8, Article Number 12156 (2018).

Damian Carrington of The Guardian has given a summary of this report:

Helping-hedgehogs-prepare-for-hibernation-min (2)

The endangered hedgehog

An article in Nature has shown that all widlife species have declined by 58% in the past four decades and predicts that by 2020, populations will have declined by two-thirds from 1970.

Activities such as deforestation, poaching and human-induced climate change are in large part to blame for the decline, with the main decline due to habitat loss.


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The Pros and Cons for Electric Cars

I have wanted to change my car for an electric one for a long time but I cannot afford a new car and second-hand electric and hybrid cars are also expensive.  I would have thought that, with the threat of climate change looming over us, the motor car industry would have come up with cheaper models long before now, as well as advice about how to change to using one. The motor industry seems to be more interested in promoting driver-less cars than those that run on clean energy. What support is available to help potential buyers to choose the right electric or hybrid car?  And what do you need to know to adapt from a petrol car to an electric car and operate it successfully?  Very little information in this country – though some Scandinavian countries have embraced the era of electric cars much more readily than the UK.  (Norway, Sweden, Germany, China and the US all offer some kind of financial incentive to encourage the ownership of an electric car).

But now things have changed, thanks to the Financial Times.  An article published on August 31st 2018, by the FT, entitled “Should you buy an electric car?”, goes into all the ins and outs of it.  See:

It describes all the different kinds and their options and lists the disadvantages of them.  However, despite the disadvantages, it would seem that people who have bought an electric vehicle never want to go back to a petrol-driven one again. And, whilst they may be more expensive to buy, they are much cheaper to run – a figure of £3,000 per year savings has been quoted.

Do read the article.  It doesn’t answer all my questions but it’s a start. Well done Financial Times.  And, do catch up British motor industry!

But, before you rush out to buy one, do read the Which report, “How far can electric cars really go on a single charge?”  They tested a number of cars on the market and found that their ranges in almost all cases were not so far as those claimed for them.

Read more: – Which?

electric car charging


8th Sep 2018:

And now a new report from The Times, entitled “Around the world in an electric car”It lists the nine governments around the world which are offering incentives to people buying electric cars.  They include Norway, Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, USA.  Full details at:

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“Rise for Climate” global campaign 8 Sept is organising the Rise for Climate campaign, with demonstrations and events across the world. As many prepare for this next week, organisers and activists across Europe and the world have been sharing their personal stories.

Read the stories on why people in Europe are Rising for climate, and get inspired!

Woman holding a megathone, with a Fossil Free symbol on her cheek

Everyone has a different motivation for taking action, and that’s one of the reasons our movement is so unique and powerful — communities experiencing floods, wildfires and sea level rise, people of all ages and walks of life, those organising in communities traditionally closely linked to fossil fuels.

And even though the experiences that move each of us to action are different, we stand together in our solidarity and our vision for a Fossil Free future built from the grassroots up. Not just in Europe, but across the world.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to stop the climate crisis, you can still play a part. It’s easy: hundreds of people are already preparing their events, from rallies to picnics, from film screenings to climate brunches.

Your turn. Join or host an event near you:

Rise for Climate on 8 September

Julia and the #RiseForClimate team

PS. Rise for Climate is a global day of action. From Seattle to the Pacific Islands, from India to Ukraine, this is why we Rise on 8 September. is building a global climate movement. You can connect with them on Facebookfollow them on Twitter, and become a sustaining donor to keep this movement strong and growing.

Another email from

Just as we did before the Paris climate conference, we need to demonstrate that there’s a deep and wide demand from people around the world for climate action.

And if we can’t do it now — after the heatwaves, hurricanes, flooding and wildfires that have devastated many corners of the world in the past few weeks — then when?

Here are the events taking place near you:

WHAT: Coventry-Rise for Climate
WHEN: Saturday, September 8, 2:00 PM
WHERE: Bull Yard, Coventry


Technical note: If you click through to the event page above, you might see a grey “Host an event” button under the form. To join your local event, just keep on scrolling down and hit the red “RSVP” button.
We’re focused on 100% renewables (and the price of solar power keeps hitting record lows). We’re focused on stopping the build out of new fossil fuel infrastructure (and just last week came the news that yet another court has ordered yet another new review of Keystone XL). And we’re focused on stopping the flow of money to the fossil fuel industry (we’re still a little giddy from the news that the entire nation of Ireland is divesting, bringing the total commitments to well over $6 trillion).

But now we need you, in your community. If the past days of global action are any indication, this will be fun, moving, and extraordinarily useful. Find out what’s happening near you, and sign up. And see you in the streets. has also circulated an email about fracking and how local councils are supporting this through investing in companies involved in the fracking.  This is the text of the email:

“How much does your local council invest in fracking?

Our report – published today with partners [1] – has revealed that local council pension funds across the UK are investing over £9 billion in the global fracking industryFind out now what your council invests in fracking →

Fracking is a global industry, having global impacts. From Australia to Argentina – fracking projects are threatening communities, destroying local landscapes, and fuelling climate change.

In the UK, big companies like BP and Shell care too much about their public image to get involved in fracking. But they have no problem getting their hands dirty in other countries. Our councils are investing in these companies, and by investing they are supporting the industry.

Watch and share the #DivestFracking video on Facebook →

Lots of UK councils already understand the threat that fracking poses to communities, and have rejected developments in their areas time and again. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fracking has been effectively halted, but local councils still manage pension funds investing millions in fracking companies.

It’s time for our councils to stand up to fracking and divest from fossil fuel. Learn how you can take action.


Ellen –”