All posts by DM

Clutter to treasure

Wivey Action on Climate are holding our third Give or Take for Free from 11am to 12 noon on Saturday, 7th October 2017 at Kingsmead School car park.

This time, there will be a focus on children’s toys, games and books, but any surplus items can be given away to others to put them to good use again. The events have proved great for exchanging many household goods, including tools, kitchen ware, ornaments, small furniture, garden pots, CDs, etc. Children’s items have proved particularly popular and, previously, items given away have included bikes, toys and sports equipment. All are welcome either to give or just take or both.

No electrical appliances are accepted as they can’t be tested for safety, but it is hoped this can be addressed at future Give or Takes. No money changes hands and items are given free for personal use only, so no traders.

These events help reduce waste and consumerism by extending the useful life of goods. Bring items in your car to display from the boot or bring on foot and display on the ground.

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Plastics pollution film

On 19 September 2017, about 30 people attended a showing at the primary school hall of A Plastic Ocean. This is a documentary adventure film looking at the global effects of plastics pollution and the technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.

The showing of this film reflects thought being given to widen our group’s remit, which will be considered at our AGM in November.

A Plastic Ocean (trailer on YouTube) showed the horrible problems being caused by plastic pollution throughout the world, which is killing wildlife and threatening our health.

Additional slides (click to view) were shown and discussed on the sources of plastics pollution and actions being taken to help prevent it. The slides included:

  • A landfill site near Bridgwater, which is typical of landfill operations in the UK and most European countries, which are well managed and regulated. The site has been lined with a membrane and clay and will be capped and covered when it is eventually full. Tipped waste is covered at the end of each day with inert material. Leachate (water from site) is treated and about half the gas produced is captured.
  • Studies of mis-managed plastics waste have found that over 60% entering the world’s oceans comes from five Asian countries, including China and Indonesia.
  • An action plan from Green Alliance for the UK suggests that the most effective measure would be a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles. The plan also calls for enforcement of bans on maritime waste and to stop pellet pollution from industry, treatment of waste water to catch synthetic fibres from washing clothes and a ban on microbeads in all products.
  • Previous proposals to extract plastics from giant circulations in major ocean gyres are now realised to not be feasible, as the waste breaks down into small fragments and falls to the sea floor. It is more important to prevent the continuing flow of plastics waste into our seas.
  • Plastic bank is an interesting solution to provide value for recycling plastic waste in developing countries to help stop it being thrown away.
  • WasteAid UK shares waste management and recycling skills, and aims to make lasting changes to keep communities healthy and plastic out of the oceans.
  • In the UK, charges for carrier bags have reduced use by over 80%, starting with Wales in 2011 and, eventually, England in 2015. In July 2017, Michael Gove announced there would be a ban for some microbeads in cosmetics within a year. In September 2017, the Scottish Government announced a deposit return scheme for beverage containers within a year.
  • Bristol-based consultancy, Eunomia have suggested some plastics pollution can more easily be cleaned up on beaches before it is broken into smaller pieces.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management – Addicted to plastic: Microplastic pollution and prevention (reports that more than half of microplastic losses remain on land and in soils, and calls for a new plastics’ strategy)

UK Government Office for Science – Future of the Sea: Evidence Review on Plastic Pollution (reports plastic pollution can harm wildlife, human well-being and the economy; and concludes plastic waste generated by society needs to be reduced)

European Commission – Plastic pollution (action and preparing a strategy to improve recycling, cut marine litter, and remove potentially dangerous chemicals)

The switch to renewables

Chris Goodall gave an excellent presentation on 26 June 2017* covering the subject of his latest book The Switch. He explained why a rapid transition to renewable energy is affordable and technically feasible, especially for solar power and storage. Click here to view notes and some slides from the meeting.

* Joint meeting at Taunton Quaker Meeting House by Transition Athelney, Forum 21, Taunton Transition Town, Transition Town Wellington and Wivey Action on Climate.

Fracking meeting report

We held a well attended film show on fracking, followed by a panel discussion, on 6 June 2017 at Wiveliscombe Primary School.

‘The truth behind the dash for gas’ (available on You Tube) showed views on previous proposals for exploration drilling in the Mendips and the reality of widespread drilling in Australia. The film highlighted the risks to our countryside from drilling operations and to our health from chemicals used in fracking fluid and from leaking gases.

For the panel discussion, we were pleased to be joined by Dr Julie Richardson, a local geologist and specialist in fracking issues, and Kevin Ogilvie-White, a local campaigner and founder of Frack Free EQS (Exmoor-Quantocks-Sedgemoor).

It was acknowledged the film was a little dated and some thought it may be sensationalist and scientifically questionable in parts.

Julie believed gas sources in Somerset were not deep enough for fracking and small, so were unlikely to be viable to develop. Kevin agreed they may be smaller than in other parts of the country, but we should still not allow test drilling and should show our support for the national campaign to stop fracking anywhere.

Discussion showed there was much concern about the damage and risks of fracking. It was thought regulation may be better in the UK, but the Conservatives have proposed permitting small-scale operations and, with public sector funding cuts, there were doubts whether regulation agencies would be sufficiently resourced.

It was questioned why more fossil fuel supplies were even being sought, when it is known that we need to move away from energy sources that add to carbon emissions in our atmosphere. Policy should prioritise energy saving, including through home insulation, and replacing all fossil fuels used for electricity, heating and transport as quickly as possible. Already some biogas was obtained from anaerobic digestion of food waste and specially grown crops, which should create a cycle by first absorbing carbon (during growing) and then releasing it when the biogas was used. Switching to the use of clean renewable power was essential and the Zero Carbon Britain research also proposed using crops to create both biogas and biofuel to substitute for gas and oil where still needed.

Some thought more nuclear power was needed, although it was noted this has risks too and renewable energy has been developed much more quickly, with costs that are lower and continuing to fall.

Shameful day for America

The world has been responding to Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“The science on climate change is perfectly clear: we need more action, not less. … “The US decision to leave Paris in no way brings an end to this unstoppable effort. China, India, the European Union and others are already showing strong leadership. 190 nations are showing strong determination to work with them to protect this and future generations.”

UN Environment chief Erik Solheim

“Removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a reckless and indefensible action. It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time. But make no mistake: if President Trump won’t lead, the American people will.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project

We “will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man.”

“Donald Trump has made a historic mistake which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality. Trump has abandoned the standard of American leadership, turned his back on the what the public and the market demand, and shamelessly disregarded the safety of our families just to let the fossil fuel industry eke out a few more dollars in profits. This is a decision that will cede America’s role internationally to nations like China and India, which will benefit handsomely from embracing the booming clean energy economy while Trump seeks to drive our country back into the 19th century.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

OTHER HEADLINES:

Report on 2017 general election hustings in Wiveliscombe

Four general election candidates for Taunton Deane attended the hustings organised by Wivey Action on Climate on 30 May 2017 at Kingsmead School.

Click here for a report on highlights from the hustings.

The 2017 result (with last time in 2015 shown in brackets) was:

Rebecca Pow (Conservative Party) – 33,333 (27,849)
Gideon Amos (Liberal Democrat) – 17,446 (12,358)
Martin Jevon (Labour Party) – 9,689 (5,347)
Alan Dimmic (UK Independence Party) – 1,434 (6,921)
Clive Martin (Green Party) – 1,151 (2,630)
Mike Rigby (Independent) – 2015 only (2,568)
Stephen German (Trade Unionist & Socialist) – 2015 only (118)
Bruce Gauld (Independent) – 2015 only (96)

County council candidates respond to questions

Wivey Action on Climate posed two questions to all the candidates for the Upper Tone division in the Somerset County Council elections on 4 May 2017. Their replies were very interesting and are worth reading.

Upper Tone covers an area which includes: Ashbrittle, Bathealton, Bradford-on-Tone, Chipstable, Fitzhead, Halse, Langford Budville, Milverton, Nynehead, Oake, Sampford Arundel, Stawley and Wiveliscombe.

The four candidates standing in Upper Tone and the results were:

  • Caroline Freedman – Green Party (256 votes)
  • James Hunt – Conservative Party (elected: 1,574 votes)
  • Janet Lloyd – Liberal Democrat (485 votes)
  • Steve Ross – Independent (890 votes)

Their responses to our questions can be viewed by clicking here.

 

2nd Give or Take for Free

Our second Give or Take for Free event on 22 April, 2017 at Kingsmead School car park was another success with plenty of givers and takers.

Unwanted household goods were cleared out and given a further recycled life by others. Items passed on included books, toys, DVDs, suitcases, tools, kitchen ware, small items of furniture, envelopes, pictures, pea sticks, games, paving stones and much else besides.

It was another lovely morning with plenty of pleasant chat. Don’t miss the next one!

Version 2

Leonardo Di Caprio climate crisis film

Before the flood, a Leonardo Di Caprio film about the climate crisis, was shown at Wiveliscombe Primary School on 6 April 2017 and with neighbouring groups in Taunton on 30 January 2017.

The powerful film features Di Caprio meeting world leaders and going on a journey to five continents and the Arctic to uncover the dramatic reality of climate change. The documentary also presents actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent the disruption of life on our planet, including to tax the use of carbon.

DiCaprio made the film before the 2016 American elections and urged voting for leaders who would fight climate change. Despite the outcome, a few slides were presented before the film in Wivey to show there were still reasons to be a bit cheerful.

After the film, actions to address climate change were discussed. The apparent lack of interest among the general public and difficulty in raising the subject were raised, as well as the lack of leadership from local and national politicians. It was noted that some have suggested we will only wake up sufficiently when more climate-caused disasters have occurred, but, by then, tackling the problem will be even harder.

It was observed that we should raise concerns about climate change whenever we can, especially with election candidates and our elected representatives. We need to make our feelings known and make some noise. It helps to be positive and it can make a difference if lots of us do a bit.

Local projects were agreed to be important and it was suggested these should aim for self-sufficiency. While agreed to be worthwhile, it was also questioned whether this would be enough given the scale of the problems and solutions needed.

The harm and risks that can be caused by very large scale projects were raised and from just using money to guide our decisions.

The importance of our lifestyles and consumption was powerfully raised in the film by Sunita Narain from the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi. She pointed out that each American uses 34 times as much electricity as each Indian and it was America’s consumption and lack of leadership that was “really putting a hole in the planet”. Di Caprio agreed but did not think Americans would reduce their consumption and he looked to improved technology, such as the falling costs of solar and wind power and electricity storage as the solution. It’s a challenging dilemma on whether both reduced western consumption and improved technology are needed or if just the later could be sufficient.

A final thought was that education in our schools could help create a safer and better future.