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August 27, 2009

First UK eco-village wins planning permission

by David Masters
Sustainability Environment

A proposed eco-development in south Wales was awarded planning permission Thursday following a two-year battle. The Pembrokeshire eco-village will feature nine eco-smallholdings, a community hub building, and a seasonal campsite. Houses in the village will be built with local, natural materials, including earth, timber, turf, and straw, and will incorporate sustainable technologies such as passive solar heating, rainwater harvesting, and renewable electricity generation. The village will be fully independent of all mains services. ...

June 4, 2009

Climate change death toll hits 300,000 per year

by David Masters

Climate change is responsible for 300,000 deaths per year, a new report by the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) revealed this week. The report, 'The Human Impact Report: Climate Change The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis', is the most comprehensive ever on the human impact of climate change. Research for the report found that 325 million people are already seriously affected by climate change through damage to homes, crops, and livelihoods, at a ...

June 1, 2009

Climate change has affected 325 million people

by Alan Harten

According to the Global Humanitarian Forum, climate change has affected approximately 325 million people across the globe, causing about $125 billion of costs to the economy every year. The study, which was governed by Kofi Annan, studied information about the change in weather patterns and looked at how damaged crops, disease, starvation, and livelihoods have been affected. There was worse news however, as climate change is expected to cause .5 million deaths ...

May 19, 2009

Growth of urban slums increases ‘megadisaster’ risk

by David Masters

The rapid growth of urban slums in developing countries coupled with extreme weather linked to climate change have significantly increased the risk of 'megadisasters', a UN body warned yesterday. Nearly a billion people worldwide live in shantytowns or makeshift developments in cities vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding, cyclones, and earthquakes, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction said in its new 200-page report. The report, which outlines strategies to reduce the ...

May 15, 2009

Farmers to have environmental stock exchange?

by Alan Harten

In order to encourage farmers and landowners to maintain unpolluted water and wildlife, the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) proposes that those who follow environmental regulations should receive credits. These credits would be exchangeable for stocks and funding that would be used to further protect rural areas of the countryside. Additionally, if the programs were to work, the CLA hopes that the ‘green stock exchange’ system could be extended to proper ...

May 8, 2009

New housing on Southern greenbelts

by Alan Harten

In an effort to produce more affordable housing in England and to fulfil housing quotas, the Government has agreed to allow building in green belt areas in the Rural South East. The Government’s plans were met with both approval and disapproval, as country people worried about the adverse affects this will have on rural towns in the future, while economists praised the move. There are 654,000 homes included in the plans that ...

May 7, 2009

Solar powered social housing opens in San Diego

by David Masters

A newly opened affordable housing apartment block in San Diego, USA, is 100% powered using renewable solar energy. The $17.6 million project - formerly a dilapidated motel - houses 42 state-of-the-art green apartments, with the first new residents moving in this week. Lights accidentally left on will automatically be turned off, and bathroom fans will run until steam has cleared to prevent mould. Apartments are kept cool through natural ventilation and ceiling fans ...

April 30, 2009

South Africa demands 75% UK emissions cut by 2020

by David Masters

South Africa this week told the UN that it expects the UK to cut carbon emissions 75% by 2020. This is more than double the UK's current target of a 34% reduction by 2020. Together with China and India, South Africa also demanded $200 billion a year from rich world countries to combat global warming. The three countries - some of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters - told the UN they need ...

April 29, 2009

Eco-centre opens in California

by David Masters

The Brower Center, a $28 million eco-building in San Francisco, is set to open this week. The state-of-the-art four storey office building will be home to at least 10 environmental charities. According to the building's designers, it is 'a powerful model of sustainable mixed-use development'. Over half the materials used in construction were recycled, and the building has been awarded the highest rating for green construction. Eco-technology at the centre includes photovoltaic panels, rainwater ...

April 28, 2009

Mercenary military approved by government

by David Masters

War on Want this week attacked foreign secretary David Miliband for leaving mercenary troops to regulate themselves. Despite repeated calls from MPs and social justice charities for government regulation of private military companies, Miliband said the industry should self-regulate. He said that privately employed soldiers play a 'positive and legitimate role' in war zones, ignoring widespread reports of human rights abuse by mercenaries. Mercenary companies based in the UK - of which there ...

Sea shells clean up toxic water

by David Masters

Scientists working in Vietnam have discovered a method of removing toxic metals from water using sea shells. Heavy metals such as cadmium, zinc, lead, and iron dissolved in water can be removed by pouring the water over a bed of crushed clam or mussel shells, found researchers from Austra's Graz University of Technology. The shells, made from a form of calcium carbonate, readily swap their calcium atoms in exchange for heavy metal ...

March 23, 2009

UN warns peacekeepers on environmental damage

by David Masters
Sustainability Environment

UN peacekeepers and aid workers have been told to minimise their environmental impact or risk exacerbating the problems they're trying to solve. The United Nations urged its blue helmet peacekeepers and aid agencies to adopt a green approach to their work after studies found that peacekeeping forces use significant levels of vital resources such as water and wood. Better planning and management would help to curb waste and promote energy and water ...

March 20, 2009

World Cup to give street children a voice

by David Masters

A coalition of social justice charities have teamed up with footballing legend Gary Lineker to launch a new football World Cup for street children. The Street Child World Cup will bring together street children from eight countries around the world for a football competition at the same time as the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It aims to raise awareness of the situation of street children, as well as giving them an ...

February 27, 2009

African mobile masts go solar-powered

by David Masters

Telecoms company Ericsson has announced plans to install over 100 solar powered mobile phone masts in rural Africa. The solar base stations will be used by the Orange mobile network in Guinea, and will replace base stations that currently run on diesel fuel. No moving parts such as cooling fans will be contained in the base stations, reducing energy consumption by 50%. In the daytime, the masts will be completely fuelled using solar ...

February 26, 2009

Bristol is runner-up at European Green Capital awards

by David Masters
Sustainability Environment

Bristol has failed in its bid to become the first Green Capital of Europe. It was shortlisted as one of eight cities, two of which were chosen for the 2010 and 2011 award. Sweden's capital, Stockholm, has been granted the accolade for 2010, whilst the German city of Hamburg will hold the title in 2011. European environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "With their measures to tackle air pollution, traffic and congestion levels, greenhouse ...

February 23, 2009

Biotech Company’s Hampering Research Into Crop Destruction

by Alan Harten

In Thursday's New York Times, Andrew Pollack reported that research into the environmental effect, and the potential success of genetically modified crops, is being hampered by the companies involved in biotechnology, causing scientists from several universities to joint together to complain. In a submission to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the scientists say that totally autonomous research cannot study many important questions. The problem has long existed but dissatisfaction has forced ...

February 13, 2009

Worldwide 20,000 tweeting for water justice

by David Masters

People in over 175 cities around the world were Tweeting for charity yesterday, in a Twestival to raise awareness of the need for clean drinking water in majority world nations. The Twestival was expected to raise $1 million for the 1.1 billion people around the world who can't access clean drinking water. Money raised from the Twestival will go to charity:water - a nonprofit organisation bringing clean water to people in ...

February 9, 2009

Shanty towns sustainable future of urban design

by David Masters

Shanty towns like those seen in award winning film Slumdog Millionaire provide an excellent model for affordable and sustainable urban planning, Prince Charles said last week. Speaking at a Foundation for the Built Environment conference, the Prince said that the Mumbai slum Dharavi, a 520 acre home for up to million people, has "an underlying intuitive grammar of design". Buildings in the district use locally sourced materials, whilst residents are employed in ...

January 21, 2009

Affordable paper house for refugees

by David Masters

Swiss inventor Gerd Niemoeller has designed a new low-cost house made from recycled cardboard and newspapers. Costing £3,500, the Universal World House is aimed at shanty-town dwellers and long-term refugees. Weighing just 800kg, the paper house is lightweight and easily assembled. Made from resin-soaked cellulose recovered from used cardboard and newspapers, it's both waterproof and environmentally friendly. A honeycomb structure in the walls - similar to that used in aircraft and high-speed ...

November 17, 2008

Terminator Cannot Hold Back the Sea

by Alan Harten

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, has admitted that even the Terminator can not hold back the sea. On Friday he ordered executives in his state government to begin immediate planning to deal with what he sees as an inevitable and not too distant rise in sea levels. The state's coastal areas are under imminent threat from the sea, which could cause irreparable damage to natural habitats as well as devastating ...

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