Thursday, 29 August 2013

LA Times: "To heal the earth, put plastic in its place"

Link to web site

"... We discard far more plastic than we recycle or reuse, much of it into rivers, lakes, beaches and, ultimately, the ocean. It kills birds, turtles, dolphins and other marine life, creates navigational hazards, imposes costs on local governments and businesses (costs we all pay), and may even threaten human health.

"Plastic's durability, light weight and low cost make it a useful material for many long-term applications. But if one tallies the environmental and economic costs of using a highly persistent material for a single-use disposable item, it becomes abundantly clear that in most cases those costs outweigh the benefits."

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lynne Featherstone MP calls on rail bidders to protect local services

Link to web site

"Lynne Featherstone MP last week met with some of the rail companies who are currently bidding to run the new Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern Franchise – which covers rail stations in Haringey Borough.

"Funded by Government investment, the new Franchise aims to improve services by installing longer, more regular, and more reliable trains in and out of London.

"However, concern arose that smaller local stations, such as Hornsey and Harringay, could get fewer services as a result of the new Franchise – as the newer trains would be too long to stop at their platforms." [As indeed are Kentish Town, Cricklewood and Hendon on the other Thameslink branch.]

The Guardian: "The era of climate change 'denial' is over"

"... It rarely gets noticed that climate change sceptics have actually conceded a lot of ground over recent years when it comes to the science. Many have begun to adopt a so-called 'lukewarmer' position, which means they now accept the basics of climate science but don't think it's worth investing heavily today to prevent or limit a problem that will increasingly hit home in the decades ahead.

"As I have noted many times before, I think this is a profoundly risky and irresponsible strategy. But, then again, I'm not a politician whose survival depends on a four-to-five year election cycle. Nothing exposes our species' 'future flaw' more than climate change – rarely, if ever, have the history books demonstrated a generation acting selflessly, or with sacrifice, for the sole benefit of generations to come.

"We are an extraordinary animal in so many ways, but one of our weaknesses is that we operate firmly in the present tense. We jump only when we are in imminent danger ourselves. If not, we prevaricate, delay or turn our heads away. Climate change requires us to fast overcome this flaw."

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Independent: "Crews battle on after all-night efforts to control recycling plant fire"

Link to web site

"Dozens of firefighters have battled through the night to bring a blaze under control at a large recycling plant.

"Roads were closed and residents advised to close doors and windows as a precaution after flames swept through the plant on Stockport Road West in Bredbury, Stockport."

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Observer: " 'March of the incinerators' threatens drive to recycle more rubbish"

Link to web site

"A rush to build incinerators to burn waste and break the UK's reliance on landfill is threatening the country's commitment to increase its recycling rates.

"As new figures reveal that recycling rates have fallen for the first time in 30 years, experts warn that the UK is in danger of building far more incineration capacity than it needs. The controversial waste disposal systems are used to produce electricity and heat for homes and industry. But there are fears that the 'march of the incinerators', as some have called it, will act as a disincentive for councils to recycle waste.

"... Experts said the use of incinerators had consequences for recycling as local authorities were forced to divert waste to feed the plants. Adam Baddeley, principal consultant at Eunomia, said"
"The choice to invest in thermal treatment can hold back recycling efforts, At one level, the money invested in such plant simply isn't available to put into building recycling plants or collection infrastructure.

And once you've built an incinerator or gasifier, there's a strong incentive to keep it fed with waste, even if that means keeping on collecting as 'black bag' rubbish, material that would be economically practicable to collect separately for recycling."

Barnet Times: Trains to New Southgate, Arnos Grove, Alexandra Palace,...

Crossrail (precedes Crossrail 2 to Alexandra Palace!)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Scientific American: "As Asia Bakes, Scientists Predict Extreme Heat May Become the Norm"

Link to web site

"As the heat wave in East Asia drags on, hospitalizing thousands in Japan and straining power resources in South Korea, a new study by European climate researchers predicts that today's unusually high temperatures may become tomorrow's normal summer weather for many regions across the globe.

"Published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the paper projects that heat waves will become far more common by 2040, even if humans manage to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions before then.

"Beyond 2040, however, the possibility of the further increase of heat waves is 'strongly dependent' on whether or not emissions are reduced, the study states."

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Enfield Independent: "North London Waste Plan consultation affecting Enfield and Hairngey launched"

Link to web site

"A consultation about the future of how rubbish and recycling is dealt with in Enfield and Haringey has been launched.

"The new North London Waste Plan, which covers seven north London Boroughs, is due to be signed in May 2014.

"... For more information, click here."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Evening Standard: "Have the wheels begun to come off the Boris bikes?"

Link to web site

"It's not quite the birthday present Boris Johnson might have wished his bikes. Yesterday, days after the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme celebrated its third anniversary, the RMT union announced that members working for Serco, which moves around and repairs the bikes, will strike next week over shift patterns and pay.

"But it’s not the only challenge facing the chunky grey machines.

"Complaints about docking stations being either full or empty are commonplace, an impression borne out in official figures recently obtained by Lib-Dem Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon. I’ve stopped trying to ride hire bikes into the West End, so hard is it to find free spaces."

Monday, 5 August 2013

GLA Transport Committee on Crossrail 2 to Alexandra Palace

"London needs to build Crossrail 2, if it is to have sufficient high quality rail capacity to cope with a rapidly increasing population. Significant population and employment growth underpin the need for Crossrail 2. The most recent forecasts predict that London’s population will reach between 9.7 and 10 million by 2031.

"We must also recognise that London’s population growth has previously exceeded forecasts, and it is likely to again. TfL told us that its modelling for Crossrail 2 is based on population estimates that are already out of date because new data show that population growth has occurred at a higher rate than expected. Former Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, highlighted the fact that London’s rate of population growth far outstrips projections in other parts of the UK. We agree with his view that the nature of London’s expanding population provides a robust challenge to those who may argue that London has received sufficient investment in transport.

"... We have heard how Crossrail 2 could act as catalyst to develop new interchanges with other rail services, such as orbital rail in Barnet. For example, there could be a future rail link from the Crossrail 2 station at Alexandra Palace to Barnet. Equally, designing a Crossrail 2 station at Seven Sisters to interchange with South Tottenham station would enable passengers to connect with the London Overground. We would like to see TfL and Network Rail examine these opportunities in their on-going engineering feasibility work."

Report of North London Waste Plan Launch Consultation

Link to documents

"We received many very helpful and thorough responses as a result of the consultation and your comments will be used to inform the preparation of the new draft NLWP.

"A report on the launch consultation has been prepared to provide a summary of the consultation, responses received and information on the next steps in the plan-making process. The consultation report also sets out the main issues and any contrasting points of view. Full representations can be found the Appendices."

"Representations received to the launch consultation, alongside previous comments on the NLWP, will be used to establish the main issues for the new plan. This Report is being published so that the representations on the launch consultation are publicly available. The boroughs will consider all comments during the development of the draft plan.

"The next stage of consultation will be for the Draft Plan. This consultation is expected to happen in summer 2014.

"A formal Consultation Statement3 setting out how representations have been taken into account during the preparation of the Draft Plan will be published in November/December 2014.

"The new plan will require a robust evidence base to justify its policies and meet planning requirements. The evidence base will be assembled in three main ways. Firstly, through a review of the work undertaken for the previous NLWP to identify what material is still applicable and what needs updating; secondly, through a review of waste data to take account of any new information available; and thirdly, through an analysis of consultation responses and policy context.

"The need for new facilities will be considered in light of the forecast of waste to be managed during the plan period, an assessment of existing waste facilities and their capacity, and the gap between the two.

"Site selection criteria is a key issue for the new plan, and the North London Boroughs will consider this carefully in light of suggestions made through the consultation process and other factors such as planning policy requirements. We will be concentrating efforts to ensuring a new and robust site selection process.

"Boroughs will be updating the previous NLWP Consultation Protocol. The revised Consultation Protocol will build on the Statement of Community Involvement from each borough and create a consultation strategy which will form the basis of all NLWP consultation. The document will be published on the website in November/December 2013."

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Scientific American: "Today's Climate Change Proves Much Faster Than Changes in Past 65 Million Years"

Link to web site
"The climate is changing at a pace that's far faster than anything seen in 65 million years, a report out of Stanford University says.

"The amount of global temperature increase and the short time over which it's occurred create a change in velocity that outstrips previous periods of warming or cooling, the scientists said in research published in Science.

"If global temperatures rise 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next century, the rate will be about 10 times faster than what's been seen before, said Christopher Field, one of the scientists on the study. Keeping the temperature increase that small will require aggressive mitigation, he said."

Daily Telegraph: "The Queen's 'speech' and Wintex 1983: How not to lift morale at a time of crisis"

Link to web site

"Papers just released by the UK National Archives cast light on a major Nato military/diplomatic exercise, known as Wintex 1983.

"... Part of the Wintex planning included producing a text that the Queen supposedly might use to address the nation as hostilities began. As we have discovered, the speech was dismal. I suspect that the sensitivity of the policy issues involved meant it was drafted by someone who had no idea how to set about this momentous job.

"The tone of the text was all wrong. It made the Queen sound like a nervous health visitor, not the leader of a defiant nation ready to do what it might take to win: there was too much about the Queen and her feelings, and nothing on what the war was about or why our cause was just. It included this bizarre passage, with its cringing hint of mutually-assured blame for the unfolding conflict:
"The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns, but the deadly power of abused technology."

Link to web site

The Guardian:
"The Queen's unused nuclear war speech has a ring of Beyond the Fringe about it"
"Drafted by civil servants in 1983 as part of an extensive government exercise in precaution and preparation, it has a cadence, style and language that goes back to the early 1960s era of the cold war.

"Take this, for instance:
"Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds."
"And, even more so:
"The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology."
"Clearly, the civil servants responsible were fans of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller in their Beyond the Fringe revue, and, in particular, the civil defence sketch.

"Cook, Bennett and Miller play mandarins attempting to calm the nation's fears about mass extinction. 'The airman prowling the skies above our cities' is a fine echo of Cook's opening remark that:

"A lot of people in this country tend to think of the whole problem of the hydrogen bomb as being rather above their heads."

Beyond the Fringe:
"Cook as Macmillan recounting a summit meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy:
"We talked of many things, including Great Britain's position in the world as some kind of 'honest broker'.

I agreed with him when he said no nation could be more honest. And he agreed with me, when I chaffed him and said no nation could be broker."