Let’s make this a real’ leap’ year, and go fossil fuel-free | Naomi Klein

The Leap Manifesto is an unashamedly radical plan to convert the world to 100% renewable energy, fast. And you can be a part of it

Leap day is coming up at the end of the month remember this one?

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the remainder have thirty one,
except February, on its own,
which has twenty eight most times.
And in a leap year, twenty nine.

I get interested in leap years a few months ago when a group of us in Canada were trying to come up with a title for an independent political platform we had just drafted. The document launched during our recent federal election and signed by thousands and thousands of Canadians was a roadmap to get the country entirely off fossil fuel by the mid-century or sooner, in line with what many scientists are telling us we must do, and what technologists are telling us we now can do.

And we wanted to go further: the plan argues that in the process of fundamentally changing our country to make it green, we also have a once-in-a-century opportunity to make it fairer. We could redress terrible incorrects done to indigenous peoples; radically reduce economic, racial and gender inequalities; eliminate legal double the criteria for immigrant workers; and create a whole lot of stable, well-paying tasks. In very un-Canadian fashion, we even dared to hope that the manifesto might become a model for similar broad-based confederations in other countries.

The text we came up with was unabashedly radical, and it went on to be endorsed by more than 100 organisations. An array of Canadian celebrities also added their names: Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page, among others.

Our first challenge was what to call it. We wanted to convey the necessity of achieving speed, since as Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, said recently: Where capital goes in the next five years will decide what kind of world we have.

One suggestion was The Leap. And yes, we worried about inevitable comparings to Mao Zedongs disastrous Great Leap Forward. But what ultimately tip-off the balance in its favour was when we realised that 2016 is a leap year.

It wasnt just good timing, we supposed, but a powerful analogy. After all, we periodically add an extra day to our calendars because if we didnt, the seasons would gradually fall out of alignment and eventually the seasons would go wacky. Imaging New Yorkers doing their Christmas shopping in T-shirts( oh right, that happened ).

It was Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, who decided to bring the 365 -day solar calendar to the Romans, throwing in that extra day every four years. He wasnt known as a humble man, but even a dictator in perpetuity realised that it was easier to change regulations written by other humen than it is to change the laws of nature.

Thats a lesson worth re-learning and fast. Like the Romans with their failing calendar, we find ourselves trapped within multiple failing systems: economic, political, even spiritual. And all these system failings have put humanity on a collision course with countries around the world, which warms and writhes the more we refuse to recognise its limits.

UN

To much fanfare, our governments unveiled a global climate handled in Paris. Photograph: Francois Mori/ AP

We all received a vivid reminder of this problem a couple of months ago in Paris. To much fanfare, our governments unveiled a global climate bargain that pledged to keep warming levels to 2C or better yet, 1.5 C. Then many of those politicians went home to hand out new drilling rentals, new pipelines, and new highways.

Thats why we chose The Leap as the name for our manifesto: the gap between where we are and where we need to be is so great, and the time so short, that small steps simply will not cut it.

With this in mind, the manifesto not only calls for a rapid change to 100% renewable electricity, it insists that these new energy projects should be democratically controlled and that indigenous peoples should be first to receive public is supportive of their own clean energy projects. So should communities currently dealing with heavy health the health effects of polluting industrial activity.

To pay for all this, we called for dramatic changes to how public revenues are collected and spent, from an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and higher royalty rates on fossil fuel extraction, to cuts in military spending. And those are just a few of its 15 demands.

The plan captured the imagination of many Canadians. Burned out by decades of the struggle against what they dont want tar sands pipelines, explosion petroleum develops, draconian security bills they seized on the chance to rally around a vision for the world they actually wishes to. On leap day later this month, there will be sessions, teach-ins and other events across the country, all of them pushing our new government to adopt a holistic approach to the twin crisis of climate change and inequality.

And as we had hoped, it is spreading beyond our own borders. Platforms partly inspired by The Leap have been launched in Denmark and across the European Union, and others are in the works in England and Australia. Even one in Nunavut. Several groups in the US are looking at drafting regional leap manifestos.

Two millennia ago, Julius Caesar realised that there was something even more powerful than his empire: the planets revolution around the sunlight. Today, we need a different kind of solar revolution, one that doesnt only change how we generate our power, but also who benefits.

Heres the good news: we have the momentum to make that leap from the recent victories against Keystone XL and Shells Arctic drilling, to the surprising strength of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

So take a minute or two to be considered the extra day at the end of this month. Its a reminder that people can indeed are working together to change a failing decide of rules. The the statutes of nature , not so much.

Then lets make this 2016 the year we started to bridge the chasm between what is, and what must be. Lets make it the year we started to leap.

The Leap Manifesto, along with a listing of its original signatories, can be read in 10 languages here. To find out about leap year activities visit leapyear2 016. org. On Friday 5 February, Naomi Klein is co-hosting a leap year-themed Google hangout with Bill McKibben of 350. org, Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth and others. Register here.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The Dows Biggest Loser Last Year Was Its Biggest Winner This Week

After a disastrous 2017, General Electric Co. kicked off this year with the best start on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The topic is whether the gains will last.

With no major developings specific to the company, the shares probably got a boost from investors foreseeing a rebound after last year’s selloff, told Deane Dray, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. While that’s a welcome respite for long-suffering stockholders, GE still faces an arduous turnaround effort.

Standout Stock

After a poor 2017, GE was the top musician in the Dow during the first week of 2018

Note: Chart includes top and bottom 2018 YTD stocks on DJIA

” There is this reflexive dogs-of-the-Dow bias ,” Dray told.” There are still too many negatives and unknowns to give anyone the clear signs that the worst is behind them .”

GE is grappling with weakness in the markets for its power-generation and oilfield equipment, and Chief Executive Officer John Flannery is selling assets and cutting billions of dollars in costs. The manufacturer is also contending with a pension deficit and challenges from a long-term-care insurance portfolio.

But at least for the holiday-shortened first week of the year, GE dedicated off a faint glimmer of its former stock-market glory. Shares gained 6.2 percentage, their biggest weekly increase in more than a year. That followed last year’s 45 percent plunge, which wiped out $128 billion in shareholder value and was the worstdrop on the Dow.

GE is likely to rise 10 percent in the next 12 months, according to the average of analyst calculates compiled by Bloomberg. It should at least get a boost from broad economic health, said Nicholas Heymann, an analyst with William Blair& Co.

Demand Recovery

” The macro environment for the global industrial economy is shaping up in 2018 to perhaps be the best in so far this century ,” Heymann said in a report Thursday. Rising oil prices and strength in commercial aerospace are eligible to lift sentiment for GE this year after a” horrendous 2017 ,” he said.

” We sense forward expectations have been taken down to the level where they can be achieved in a’ sleep-walking’ surrounding ,” Heymann said. Still, the turnaround” will require an endless amount of heavy lifting .”

GE still needs to demonstrate its ability to reduce its pension deficit, improve cash flow and pull off asset sales, Heymann said. Dray pointed to pending reserve charges related to long-term-care insurance as its concern. GE has been studying the impact of that on the finance business and announced that dividends pay off GE Capital to the parent would be suspended as a result.

The Boston-based producer will announce its fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 24 and may provide additional details on expectations for the year.

Shut old nuclear reactors, says unprecedented alliance of EU cities

Communities and campaigners in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg lobby for closure of two ageing 40 -year old Belgian nuclear reactors close to borders

An unprecedented alliance of 30 major cities and districts from three countries has joined forces to try to shut down two ageing Belgian nuclear reactor close to their borders.

Cologne and Dusseldorf in Germany, Luxembourg City and Maastricht in the Netherlands are among the cities co-funding a lawsuit to close one reactor Tihange 2 and calling on the European commission to prepare a separate example at the European court of justice.

More than 30 districts have adopted resolutions to support us, and want to join the lawsuit, said Helmut Echtenberg, the mayor of Germanys Greater Aachen region, who is leading the campaign.

Only one plaintiff may appear in court, but we will ensure that Tihange 2 is no longer attached to the grid in the future, Echtenberg said. This is my honest conviction.

Around 60% of Belgiums electricity comes from seven reactors in the countrys Tihange and Doel plants. Two of the reactors Tihange 2 and Doel 3 – reopened in December after a mend process that lasted 21 months. But Doel 3 on the Dutch perimeter had to be shut down again one week afterwards.

A
A view from a graveyard of the nuclear power plant in Tihange, Belgium. Photo: Julien Warnand/ EPA

The 40 -year old reactors have been plagued by a litany of problems such as reactor pressure ship micro-cracks, fire and one mysterious suit of sabotage.

These have sparked what Echtenberg calls existential anxiety in Aachen, which lies 60 km upwind of the plant. Anxiety is rife that home prices and business activity could soon suffer.

Anti-nuclear posters festoon the shops in Aachen town centre, stickers adorn car windows and tales about Tihange are regularly splashed across local papers.

Hartmut Falter, the owner of Aachens oldest bookstore, Die Mayersche, has put up a 10 m x 3m anti-nuclear poster in his storefront. The hazard of a nuclear accident is not very high but if it happened, the damage would be extreme, he told the Guardian. Unfortunately, nuclear dangers do not stop at the frontier.

So far the situation has not had an economic impact on the region but it definitely could, he added.

Aachens
Aachens oldest bookstore, Die Mayersche, has a 10 m x 3m anti-nuclear poster in its storefront. Photo: Arthur Neslen for the Guardian

As a groundswell of opponent meets force, Echtenberg says he will not rule in mass protests at the Belgian border.

If our lawsuit is rejected, that might happen because then the political will would clearly need to be articulated, he told the Guardian. Once[ the people of] Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany and the NGOs all say this is just not safe, it will of course have an impact on the Belgian state.

For Germans to be exposed to nuclear dangers after shuttering their more modern plants because of the Fukushima disaster was an absolute irony of history, he added.

Last week, it was announced that Frances oldest reactor in Fessenheim, on the German border, would close after complaints by Germany and Switzerland.

Lawyers are already working on a second nuclear suit, which may be filed in Belgium by the Dutch city of Maastricht. The regional governments of North Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland Palatinate are taking separate suits against the reactors to the UN and European commission.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, is said to be a supporter of the campaign and may add heft to its call for the release of allegedly missing documents authorising the opening up of the two reactors.

The debate about their safety revolves around the thousands of micro-cracks or hydrogen flakes measured at up to 18 cm long that were found in reactor pressure vessels at Tihange 2 and Doel 3.

The plants operator, Electrabel, blames the damage on the ship original design and the comparatively unsophisticated visual testing of that time.

Anne-Sophie Huge, a spokesperson for Electrabel told: In the 1980 s the tests were internationally acceptable but the technology has evolved since then. There are no reasons to be afraid. Our power plant are some of the most safe and secure nuclear power plants in Europe.

Environmentalists and anti-nuclear academics counter that the original tests used ultrasonic technology which would have detected the flaws, unless they emerged and grew bigger later.

It is not comprehensible that a less sensitive ultrasonic technique should not detect big flaws, wrote Ilse Tweer, a former consultant to the Austrian government. The reverse observation has to be expected.

Jean van Vyve, Electrabels project director for reactor pressure boats, used to say the original ultrasonic exams were done manually and that, while some flaws may have been assured, they would have fallen within perfectly acceptable restrictions.

We may regret that there was not a detailed report but at that time, 40 years ago, there was no record, he told. It was strictly manually done.

In the Tihange 4 pub opposite the reactor site, Sebastian De Proot, a 24 -year-old barman, was sanguine about any potential risks.

It is not very dangerous here, he says. They stop the plant whenever someone gets even a little injury so I think we are safe. Its not like Fukushima.

Sebastian
Sebastian De Proot, a barman at a pub opposite the Tihange nuclear plant. Photograph: Arthur Neslen for the Guardian

Industry advocates often point out that nuclear power emits less CO2 than coal a possible substitute gasoline if Tihange 2 is shut. Coal also has damaging cross-border health impacts of its own.

De Proot said he agreed with the anti-nuclear case but: the plant is the only thing for people here. If it closed there would be a lot of trauma. Unemployment in Belgium is very high.

Not all local people agree. In the nearby township of Huy, Marie Duschen, a 19 -year-old student said: The plants should be closed down because they are dangerous. I have friends working in Tihange. They are afraid that an accident may happen.

Such sentiments are music to the ears of German anti-nuclear activists who worry that they could revive ghosts of history if they are perceived to be dictating energy policy to their neighbours.

I do not have the right to demand that a Belgian creates energy my way but there is areal menace from these two reactors and I do have the right to protect my health, said Jorg Schellenberg, a key activist in the Aachen coalition for action against nuclear power.

The group is trying to reach out to Belgian activists and the next of a rolled series of regional protests will take place in Liege on 17 April.

But the heartland of the new anti-nuclear motion is clearly in Aachen where the Tihange reactor is discussed in every family and political group, according to the towns local mayor, Marcel Philipp.

It is a defining issue, he said.

Cooling
Cooling towers of Belgiums Doel nuclear plant. Concerns over the safety of Belgiums seven ageing nuclear reactors has built in bordering Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/ AFP/ Getty Images

More than half a million people live in “the worlds largest” Aachen district and Jorg Schellenberg, a resulting anti-nuclear activist, says that Echtenbergs tough anti-nuclear stance has been a vote winner.

It is very strange that the Greens are part of the North Rhine Westphalia government but they have done nothing against these reactors while a conservative is leading the fight against them, he told. There is likely to be elections next year and I suppose the Greens will be punished.

Echtenberg is an unlikely rebel, a career legislator in Angela Merkels CDU who has been pushed to the forefront of the new anti-nuclear movement by popular anger.

Merkels silence on the issue so far had been disappointing, if understandable in light of the refugee crisis, he told the Guardian. We would have a further refugee problem if there was an accident, he said. Then we would all be refugees.

In a worst case scenario, Germans would only hear of of a nuclear accident in Tihange after a circuitous phone chain. Electrabel would call the Belgian government, who would contact officials in Berlin, who should alert the government in North Rhine Westphalia, which would then call Aachen.

Social media or text messages could speed that process, but some local physicians question what would happen next. Public health plans in Aachen do not go far beyond the distribution of 130 mg iodine pills, to protect against thyroid cancer.

Helmut
Helmut Echtenberg, the mayor of the Greater Aachen region, who is leading the campaign to close two ageing Belgian nuclear reactors. Photograph: Arthur Neslen for the Guardian

For the time being, there are no cement plans for evacuation, Echtenberg told. Advice that citizens should stay indoors and await instructions from the authorities concerned would probably not be followed.

North Rhine Westphalias interior ministry drawn up contingency plans after being pushed by Aachens mayors, but these will not happen overnight.

Philipp said that he had a blueprint ready to act on but that the limited alternatives in the case of an emergency still devoted him sleepless nights.

In a situation where everyone is leaving the city and there is a nuclear rainfall over Aachen, you cannot do anything that would help, he said. It is a really big problem.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Environmentalists call these 12 chemicals the Dirty Dozen. Here’s why.

You may have heard of the Dirty Dozen 12 chemicals that activists have identified as potentially harmful that we regularly come in linked with in our home, health, and beauty products.

Over the past decade, a lot of science and research has gone into figuring out the long- and short-term health effects of products we use in our homes and on our bodies. The jury is still out on the majority of members of them, but some of the findings are worth a closer appear.

In 2010, Canada’s David Suzuki Foundation did a study on the 12 chemicals and compounds they felt consumers should try to avoid. Since such studies was published, some governments have banned some of the chemicals and some companies are reformulating their products so they don’t contain them.

Are the Dirty Dozen hanging out in your home somewhere? Here’s why these ingredients are on the listing:

1. BHA( butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT( butylated hydroxytoluene)

These two preservatives can be found in moisturizers and cream makeups. Image via iStock.

These two synthetic antioxidants are often used as preservatives in cosmetics( mostly lipsticks and moisturizers) and as food preservatives. They’re also potentially allergenic, particularly on the scalp .

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA and BHT as possible human carcinogens, and the European Commission on Endocrine Disruptors listings BHA as a Category 1 priority substance, quoting evidence that it interferes with hormone function in mice and rats.

Neither BHA nor BHT are restricted in the United States. California includes BHA on its listing of chemicals that must be listed on product ingredient labels as potentially cancer-causing.

2. Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colourings listed as “CI” followed by a five-digit number

Coal tar( shown above) is a petroleum byproduct mixed with other chemicals. Image via iStock.

Coal tar dyes( chemical name p-phenylenediamine) are very popular in the cosmetic industry particularly in hair dye since they are provide rich, long-lasting colouring. But, like a lot of petroleum-based products, some researchers and activists fear “theres been” health risks from exposure to them .

Research has connected coal tar dyes to tumors in laboratory mouse, and other researchers may have found a connection between long-term use of hair dyes and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration( FDA) is unconvinced; it’s waiting to see more research before making a firm decision on how to classify coal tar dyes.

The European Union( EU ), by comparison, has taken a precautionary approach and classifies coal tar dyes as reasonably toxic to humans. Helpful hint: If you’re looking at labels, you can tell if a coal tar dye is used in a product by looking for the the name p-phenylenediamine or the abbreviations FD& C or D& C followed by a five-digit color index number .

3. Diethanolamine( DEA ), cocamide DEA, and lauramide DEA

Some shampoos get an extra kick from DEA. Image via iStock.

Consumers love creamy or sudsy personal care products. DEA helps with that. For personal care products, it’s most common in moisturizers, sunblocks, and shampoos. As a cleaning product additive, it can be found in soaps and soaps looking for an added bubbly kick.

Activists became concerned about DEA after some research found that DEA can cause skin and eye annoyance, and some high doses have caused liver cancers in to laboratory animals . There are no restrictions on the use of DEA in the United States, but the EU does not allow its use in cosmetics , citing the risk of long-term exposure.

4. Dibutyl phthalate( DBP)

Some “no-chip” nail polishes may get their staying power from DBP. Image via iStock.

Dibutyl phthalate has lots of uses. It can maintain nail burnishes from chipping, help keep PVC flexible, and be a solvent for dyes or fragrances. The reason activists put it on the list of ingredients to keep an eye on is because in a laboratory analyze, researchers observed it absorbs through the scalp and can “enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause mutations.” Other research detected it interfered with hormone function, maybe even for pregnant women. There’s still a lot of research to be done, so the U.S. hasn’t put any restrictions on DBP; the EU, though, does not allow it in cosmetic products.

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

These are medical sutures stored in formaldehyde, but lots of beauty and personal care products use chemicals that may release formaldehyde over hour. Image via iStock.

Formaldehyde has a lot of uses in personal care, cleaning products, and industrial building. It is discovered as a preservative in cosmetics and an active ingredient in some toilet bowl cleansers. It can also be released from a wide range of industrial products including some permanent-press fabrics and vinyl and wood-laminate flooring.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency( EPA) limits the amount of formaldehyde in some building materials because on its own, formaldehyde is a carcinogen and is toxic to humen if ingested.

When personal care products or cosmetics are said to contain formaldehyde, what they usually contain are actually formaldehyde-releasers. It’s unclear whether they are harmful; the FDA doesn’t curtail the use of them in cosmetics or personal care products, preferring to require disclosure on ingredient labels instead. The EU has strongly limited the use of formaldehyde in industrial and consumer products since 2014, quoting its carcinogenic danger .

6. Parabens

Parabens help some cosmetics stay fairly longer. They may also be dangerous. Image via iStock.

If you drink fruit juices or use cosmetics or fragrance products, you likely have encountered parabens, an extremely popular preservative.

Some activists are concerned by parabens, quoting research that it potentially has adverse health risks when it’s absorbed through the skin. Some surveys have shown that parabens can mimic the effects of estrogen, the female sexuality hormone which could lead to a possible increase to breast cancer risk or potentially interfere with male reproductive function. Despite activists’ concerns, more definitive research is required.

7. Parfum( aka fragrance)

Lots of products use the catch-all words parfum and fragrance for the proprietary mixture of chemicals that make up their signature smells. Image via iStock.

Since there are no regulations requiring companies to disclose the ingredient lists of their signature smells, many of them simply tell parfum or fragrance on the label. This can be misleading because the smells that make up a fragrance can come from any number of essential oils or chemical compounds.

For people with chemical sensitivities, these unlisted ingredients can trigger allergic reactions, migraines, or cause asthma. Environment Canada has also found that some synthetic musks being implemented in fragrances can build up in the fatty tissue of fish and other water-bound organisms. Other fragrance additives, like DEP( see# 4 above) assistance odors stay in the air longer, but have been shown in laboratory environments to potentially interrupt hormone functions.

Unfortunately, it is hard to know whether a specific fragrance or parfum contains potentially unsafe ingredients. If companies say their product fragrance is a trade secret, they aren’t necessitated to list what’s in it on the ingredient label.

8. Polyethylene glycol( PEG)

PEG compounds can be found in some cosmetic cream basis and laxatives. Image via iStock.

Polyethylene glycols are petroleum compounds most often found helping makeup and face creams deliver moisture. If perfectly pure, they are considered generally safe, though they’re not recommended for employ on broken skin. In rare cases, polyethylene glycol compounds can become contaminated with ethylene oxide, and that’s when activists get concerned. Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen that has also been shown in some research surroundings to cause developmental problems. All of this considered, the Environmental Working Group rates the overall hazard of using polyethylene glycols as “low.”

9. Petrolatum( aka petroleum jelly or Vaseline)

Some glossy lipsticks get their shine from petrolatum. Image via iStock.

Tyra Banks swears by mineral petroleum jelly as her holy grail makeup product. It’s an excellent moisture barrier to keep scalp hydrated and is often added to scalp care and hair care products.

But, because it is petroleum-based, there’s a risk it could be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Research has shown a is connected with long-term exposure to these petroleum byproducts and cancer. Based on that evidence, the EU classifies petrolatum as a carcinogen and merely allows its use “if the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.” There are no such restrictions in the United States at the moment.

10. Siloxanes

. Two siloxanes in particular, cyclotetrasiloxane( D4) and cylcopentasiloxane( D5 ), have been studied by researchers in Canada and the EU extensively.

Environment Canada concluded that both D4 and D5 may build up in fish or other aquatic organisms but did not pose a threat to human health. The European analyze reached a similar conclusion, rating the chemicals as “high concern” but of no risk to human health.

11. Sodium laureth sulfate

Sodium laureth sulfate helps some shampoos remain foamier for longer. Image via iStock.

If you like lots of bubbles when you wash dishes or employ shampoo, you may have sodium laureth sulfate to thank. It’s a common foaming agent used in dish soaps, cleansers, and foamy beauty products. But, like polyethylene glycol (# 8 on this list ), sodium laureth sulfate can on rare occasions become contaminated with the known carcinogen ethylene oxide. Fortunately that’s very unlikely to happen, so the Environmental Working Group rates the overall hazard of sodium laureth sulfate as “low.”

12. Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical sometimes found in alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Image via iStock.

Triclosan is a very effective anti-bacterial chemical found in lots of common consumer products, including toothpaste, hand sanitizers, laundry detergent, and facial tissues, among others.

As we’ve written before, research has shown that triclosan sticks around in the environment long after we’ve finished use it, killing helpful algaes and even accumulating in the bodies of other organisms.

Triclosan was banned in personal care products ibanned in personal care products in the EU earlier this year. The EPA currently has it under review, and the FDA is reserving decision until further research is done.

For a lot of these products, the research into their possible health impacts is still very new. Much is still to be done, and the definitive answers for what’s safe and what’s not may not be known for years maybe even decades.

Until there is a scientific consensus, the smartest thing you can do for your health is what you’re likely already doing: read product labels, following warnings, and learning what companies are required to say( and sometimes don’t tell ).

Read more: www.upworthy.com

M& S falls cauliflower ‘steak’ amid ridicule from clients

Costing doubled the price of a whole vegetable and shrouded in layers of plastic, clean feeing product fails to make the cut

Marks& Spencer has withdrawn its” cauliflower steak” product from sale after it was ridiculed by customers for its “excessive” plastic packaging and inflated cost.

The sliced cauliflower, which comes in plastic packaging with a separate sachet of lemon and herb drizzle, was being sold for twice the price of a whole, single cauliflower at the supermarket chain.

The product had come under fire on social media, with critics describing it as “wasteful” and “ridiculous” and complaining about the volume of packaging used as well as the inflated cost. Whole, untrimmed cauliflowers are sold at M& S for PS1- typically for even less at other supermarkets- while the single-slice “steak” version cost shoppers PS2.

Confirming its decision to stop selling the item, a spokesperson for M& S told:” Once we’ve sold the stock that is currently in stores, we won’t be ordering any more of this product. We work hard to create rapid and convenient meals for customers; however, on this occasion we didn’t get it right. We have launched many other vegetarian dishes that are already demonstrating popular with clients .”

The product was part of the store’s new “Veggie” scope, and was first spotted on Twitter by Rachel Clarke @rachclarke27, who triggered a lengthy thread after tweeting:

Another( Kathryn @ katie2 779) said:” People who buy this must have more money than sense! What a wasteful item. The sum of plastic and processing involved in this is ridiculous. Like you say, buy a cauliflower, clean it and cut( and use all of it ).”

Rival Sainsbury’s also sells a similar product– a pack of two” cauliflower steaks in a herb and spice marinade” for PS1. 80, which is still on its shelves.
Trewin Restorick, chief executive of environmental charity Hubbub, told:” The public is increasingly concerned about potential impacts plastic packaging has on the environment, and social media devotes them a chance to voice their concerns immediately to companies. The too packaged, too priced cauliflower steak shows what happens when companies don’t get things right and hopefully it will lead to more environmentally sensible answers in the future .”

With so-called ” Veganuary” under way and shoppers opting to reduce or cut out meat consumption in favour of ” clean eating “ choices, supermarkets have been pulling out the stops to offer clients a range of ready-prepared spiralised veggies- and even “mince” made of pulverised mushrooms and cauliflower and beetroot “rice”- to help them get back into shape after the festive season blowout. But this year has assured a backlash from shoppers complaining on social media about excessive packaging.

The U-turn from M& S arrives as the governmental forces prepares to announce a crackdown on excessive packaging and plastics on Thursday. A Defra spokesperson said:” Everyone has a role to play in tackling the scourge of plastics garbage, and industries need to make sure their packaging does not outstrip what is required to make sure that the products are safe, hygienic and acceptable for both the product and for the consumer.”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Is Russia Ruining the Worlds Oldest and Deepest Lake?

The road from Irkutsk to the resort town of Listvyanka curls for about an hour through a white wood frozen under thick snowfall. My driver, Sasha, turned down his favorite techno music:” Here it is ,” he said blithely and slackened the car, pointing at the wonder of Siberia, Lake Baikal. It is the oldest and deepest lake in the world and sits at the southern edge of Siberia, near the Mongolian perimeter.

Icy cold northern sunshine poured through the trees at this city at the mouth of the shiny Angara River, powerful, turbulent and never freezing as it flows out of the enormous lagoon. Puffs of white steam rose from water of Father Baikal, as people here lovingly address their precious lagoon.

For centuries, ancient Baikal has inspired arts and religion among all ethnic groups living peacefully around Baikal–Shamanists and Buddhists here tie up colorful ribbons to trees in gratitude, with wishings whispered; Orthodox believers build churches on the lake’s banks. Some residents pray to the planet’s holy pearl, to preservation of their Siberian sea.

Others do not care whether the lagoon will stay clean for thousands of years, and have taken to dumping sewage into it. The road to Listvianka objective abruptly at a cliff, outside a red brick, multi-story hotel called Gold, of dubious reputation. Last February, locals watched a disgusting scene: yellow liquid was running right out onto Baikal’s ice from a hose that stretched from the hotel. This time, it was dirty laundry water.” cleaning powder that contains phosphate was dangerous for the lake’s species ,” Marina Rikhvanova, a senior ecologist from Irkutsk told The Daily Beast.” The pollution causes overwhelming growth of Spirogyra algae, which pushes out Baikal’s endemic sponge, the key cleanser of Baikal’s water, and destroys invertebrate organisms, the main food for Baikal’s fish .”

Today Lake Baikal, like a huge mirror, reflects Russia’s core challenges of indifference to human rights, neglect for a threatened surrounding, and the power of corrupt practices and authoritarian pressure on independent voices that are crucial for increasing public awareness.

Five years ago, the Russian Justice Ministry listed 29 environmental groups as “foreign agents” for working on foreign grants and being a threat to Russia’s security. Conservationists, previously working on increasing public environmental awareness, became tied up with solving legal issues, struggling to prove that they were no harm to Russia’s security. As a result of the new law’s pressure, 14 green groups labeled as “foreign agents” have stopped their activity, Human Rights Watch reported last year.

One of them was Rikhvanova’s once well-known NGO, called Baikal Ecological Wave, a group of activists who had devoted more than two decades of “peoples lives” to supporting environmental education and organizing scientific expeditions to Lake Baikal.” The law spoiled our reputation, we spent time and efforts to defend the working group in the tribunals and eventually closed down the old Baikal Ecological Wave .” Rikhvanova, the co-founder of the NGO and win of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2008, told The Daily Beast in a recent interview.

Winter days are short in Siberia. By 3 p. m. on my visit, the northern sky turns purple over the peaceful waves of Lake Baikal. Angela, a local street vendor of smoked, salty fish and tea, gave her samovar a friendly looking, as to an old friend. The tea ceremony looked shamanic. Pursing her lips in the frosty air, Angela put cranberries in the teapot, then black tea and in the end a pinch of Sagan Dalya, a native herb grown in the hills around the lagoon. Angela lifted her eyes to the horizon, where gentle clouds puffed over the lake’s turquoise surface in fresh frosty air:” See, Father Baikal is steaming, like my samovar ,” she joked and then grew serious.” This tea will revive you, but first try some of my omul, it might be the last fish on sale ,” Angela offered her smoked Omul, a salted, fatty delicacy that savor like fishy salami.

Until recently, omul made business opportunities for local residents, and lots of gastronomic pleasures for Baikal visitors. Every morning, in spite of icy winter gust, anglers in their waterproof gear strolled towards the shore and fishmongers set up their oily, black fish smokers along the road, so visitors like us could have omul for lunch. But due to poaching violations and increasing pollution, the population of omul in the pond has dramatically dropped in the last few years. The harvest fell from 50,000 tons down to 10 -1 3,000. So, since October, authorities limited omul fishing to 5 kilos or about 11 pounds of fish per person–a crucial change for locals largely dependent on the Omul industry.

“Posledny,” or the last one, is the word you often hear around Baikal these days.” We have many concerns about Baikal getting sick: Omul vanishes, dozens of Baikal seals die, tons of Spirogyra algae rottings on the shore in summertime ,” Maria Moreva, a guide at Baikal Museum at Listvianka told The Daily Beast.

Spirogyra always existed in the lagoon but not in the disastrous volumes of the past two or three years. Expeditions organized by Irkutsk Limnological Institute in 2017 discovered pollute reeking heaps of dirty, dead algae rinsed by the waves onto the coast on the northern coast of Baikal.

But new hotels grow as mushrooms after the rainfall in Listvianka. Local families living near one new hotel said when they boiled water from their well it smelled strongly of ammonia.

” Chinese entrepreneurs arrive in large numbers and develop the hotel businesses, even on Alkhon Island. Authorities should oblige every hotel to construct and use sewage treatment plants ,” Moreva told The Daily Beast.

Meanwhile, the lagoon is ringing its alarm bell: In late October, 132 Baikal seals died and cleaned ashore, to be found by locals on the beach. Some seals were pregnant. It is still unclear what could have caused such a mass calamity- some scientists suggest that it was a natural process, that the seal population is too large, others insist that there is not enough food for seals in the pond. But nobody is denying that the lake is in danger.

Pollution of Baikal was a core issue at a recent session of Vladimir Putin’s supporters, All-Russia People’s Front, in the republic of Buryatia.” The scale of violations – worn down cleaning facilities, illegal dumps, cutting down trees just amazes ,” State Duma deputy Nikolai Buduyev said at the meeting, adding that all ships sailing in Baikal dump the waste into the lake. The participants agreed to work on a legislative project to stop violations. To watch the implementations of such legislation around the 395 -mile-long lake, the region would need an army of environmental groups for protection. But the number of independent activists is shrinking in Russia faster than the Omul.

” The worst peril is people’s unwillingness to self-organize, to form communities for protecting Baikal’s purity ,” Rikhvanova said. In Russia today, the newest peril is one of apathy.

Read more: www.thedailybeast.com

‘Political watershed’ as 19 countries pledge to phase out coal

New alliance launched at Bonn climate talks hopes to signal the end of the dirtiest fossil fuel that kills 800,000 people a year with air pollution

A new alliance of 19 nations committed to quickly phasing out coal has been launched at the UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany. It was greeted as a” political watershed”, signalling the end of the dirtiest fossil fuel that are now provides 40% of global electricity.

New pledges were constructed on Thursday by Mexico, New Zealand, Denmark and Angola for the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which is led by the UK and Canada.

” The suit against coal is unequivocal ,” said UK climate minister Claire Perry, both on environmental and health grounds- air pollution from coal kills 800,000 people a year worldwide.” The alliance will signal to the world that the time of coal has passed .” The UK was the first nation to commit to ending coal use- by 2025- but the electricity generated by coal has already fallen from 40% to 2% since 2012.

” There is a human cost and an environmental cost but we don’t need to pay that price when the price of renewables has plummeted ,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister.” I’m thrilled to see so much global momentum for the transition to clean energy- and this is only the beginning .” The alliance aims to have 50 members by next year.

Asked about Donald Trump’s US administration, whose only event in Bonn was to promote coal, McKenna pointed out that renewable energy already utilizes 250,000 people in the US, compared to 50,000 in coal, and said this is the clean growth century:” The marketplace has moved on coal .”

But McKenna said it was very important that communities dependent on coal jobs received help. Mohamed Adow, at Christian Aid, said:” It is a admonition to Trump from the UK and Canada, two of America’s closest friends .”

The current alliance includes a few nations like Fiji that do not use coal and does not include any Asian countries where much of the world’s coal is employed. Australia, the region’s biggest supplier of coal, has refused to join. But Nick Mabey, chief executive of the E3G thinktank, said:” The launch of this new confederation is a political watershed moment. Governments have now grasped the reality that coal utilize can objective, and fast. The only way for coal is down .”

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who led the UN climate talks in Peru in 2014 and is now at WWF, said:’ We greet the first step countries have taken today but this is only the beginning .”

The alliance was also welcomed by the most vulnerable countries.” I can’t stress enough that coal is by far the biggest single obstacle to staying within 1.5 C of warming, and dedicating vulnerable countries like mine a chance of survival ,” said David Paul, environment minister from the Marshall Islands.

Earlier the Marshall Island’s President Hilda Heine said the country was very disappointed in Australia’s continued quest of coal:” We’re neighbours: they should be aware of the issues that are facing small island countries .”

The Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt said the nation was ” posing an existential threat to many of our neighbours” and that the countries backing coal phase outs came from across the political spectrum:” A doorway has been opened for the Australian government here .”

But Australia’s environment minister Josh Frydenberg, said coal was expected to remain the bedrock of Asia’s power supply, providing about a third of electricity in 2040. At the moment, coal produces about 75% of Australian power.

Greenpeace UK lauded the alliance, but Rachel Kennerley, from Friends of the Earth UK, said:” It’s a profound unplug that the UK is positioning itself as an atmosphere leader but simultaneously green-lighting fracking, which will open up a whole new fossil industry .”

Germany is not part of the new alliance and the pressure for it to announce the phase-out of its large fleet of heavily polluting coal power stations intensified on Thursday. New OECD data shows that its fossil fuel subsidies have increased each year from 2014 -1 6, to EUR3. 9bn. Another new report, part of the G20 peer review process, depicts Germany believes merely two of its many fossil fuel subsidies need to be removed- both are already being phased out under EU rules.

Shelagh Whitley, at the Overseas Development Institute in the UK, said:” Germany is subsidising climate chaos and is saying it won’t stop .” Alex Doukas, at Oil Change International in the US, said:” Germany should be ashamed of itself .”

Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the climate summit on Wednesday, saying the response to climate change would determine the destiny of humankind and exhorting faster action. But she was heavily criticised for not announcing a coal phaseout. Michael Schafer, at WWF Germany, said:” Internationally, Merkel is often still view as an atmosphere champion. But she will lose that reputation if she does not finally act at home .”

That could happen imminently. Merkel’s CDU party is negotiating a three-way coalition to form a new government and talks are due to end on Thursday night. The CDU and Free Democrat have offered to close 10 coal power station by 2020 but the Greens want 20 shut down to enable Germany to meet its carbon target.

Asked about Germany’s coal, Perry said:” We are not trying to tell other countries what to do, we want to show them it can be done. Every country is different[ but] we all know we need to move beyond coal .”

The alliance will work by encouraging new commitments and using financing and shared technology and best practise to encourage others to phase out” unabated coal”- plants where carbon dioxide is not captured and interred below ground. Its national members are Angola, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

California’s coal war pits economic survival against environmental justice

Proposed terminal to export coal to Asia generates tense showdown in port city as key players cite potential health risks, yet industry could offer required jobs

Margaret Gordon will not get out of the car. She is in the shadow of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge on a triangle of land where a bustling maritime terminal is planned.

The pollution is too bad, the 70 -something activist proclaims, and the terminal isnt even built yet. She rummages through her purse for an inhaler. I got a sore throat. I have allergy attacks Ensure the crane operating over there? All thats going to be OBOT.

Formally known as the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, OBOT will be able to handle up to 15,000 different commodities when it opens in early 2019 on the site of a decommissioned army base. But only one of them coal is forcing a tense showdown from Oakland city hall to the California capitol, a fight with echoes along the west coast and implications around the globe.

Environmentalists refer to California, Oregon and Washington state as the thin green line, a hurdle they hope will prevent coal from being exported to more polluting countries in Asia.

At stake in the Oakland fight are, on the one hand, the citys green reputation, Californias standing as an international climate leader and the west coasts very sense of itself. And on the other? The survival of a fighting industry and much-needed local chores that pay a living wage.

The west coast doesnt see itself as suppliers of coal and oil and gas to the world, said Eric de Place, policy director at Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based sustainability thinktank. We consider ourselves as innovators and environmental leaders. Theres a visceral, nearly existential rejection of the idea that we will be a superhighway for coal and oil.

Oakland is one of seven marine terminals that US coal producers would like to use to transport their wares to Asia. The proposals four in Oregon, two in Washington state and one in California cropped up after the domestic marketplace for coal plummeted about five years ago.

The
The decommissioned Oakland army base and site of the proposed coal terminal. Photo: Wiil Whipple for the Guardian

Benchmark Australian coal costs have dropped from $132 per ton to $52 since January 2011. Fifty coal companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since 2012, including the two largest in the US. Arch Coal filed in January, followed by Peabody Energy earlier this month.

Coal producers condemn a war on coal beyond the economic drubbing. To some extent they are right. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have launched anti-coal campaigns, drumming up local support to shut the terminal proposals down.

Legislatures from Canada to Mexico have legislated new regulations to move their energy supplies away from coal. In October, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed Senate Bill 185, necessitating the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System to sell their constrains in coal-producing companies.

At the moment, the Oakland battle is the most heated of the west coast terminal battles. The four Oregon proposals are off the table for a variety of reasons, De Place said. On 29 April, the clash will intensify over a terminal in Longview, Washington, when a draft environmental effects statement is released.

Betsy Monseu, chief executive of the American Coal Council, said her industry is deeply concerned about a piling on of the rules of procedure that wont have any benefit and will have an extreme level of implications for the economy, for energy costs, for American households. She declined to comment on any western coast terminal battle, but said that, if necessary, there are ways to move coal other than through Washington, Oregon and California. If the price levels supported it, then those coals would move, she said.

In some styles, the fight over Oaklands marine terminal is intensely local, a kind of he-said-she-said oppose between city government and the terminals inventors with little agreement on even fundamental matters, such as whether coal will even be processed in Oakland and whether its really bad for health.

But even the most local aspects of the proposed terminal have larger implications, pitting economic survival against environmental justice, living-wage tasks against youngsters lungs in west Oakland, among the Bay Areas most downtrodden neighborhoods. No matter who wins, person will lose.

West Oakland is ringed by freeways and situated hard by the busy Port of Oakland, where hundreds of diesel trucks drive in and out all day. Virtually half of its population is African American; 85% are people of color. For the last half-century, at least a fifth of the population has lived in poverty.

Near
Near the army base in Oakland. West Oakland is one of the Bay Areas poorest neighborhoods. Photograph: Wiil Whipple for the Guardian

The neighborhood is sicker and poorer than nearly any other in Oakland. Its residents on average live 12.4 years less than their wealthier equivalents in the Oakland Hills, according to a 2015 report by the Alameda County public health department. There is more asthma, more lung cancer, more stroke and more congestive heart failure.

Jerry Bridges is president of Terminal Logistics Solutions, the Oakland-based company that will operate the proposed marine bulk commodity terminal. During a recent interview, he flashed describes of the facility on to the TLS conference room wall and sang its technological praises.

Even if coal is handled there a big if because of the ailing market, it will not hurt the neighborhood, he said.

All of the commodities coming through the terminal will be in encompassed rail cars, dumped into enclosed underground units with dust control, Bridges said. Bottom line is the products will never see the light of day.

And then there is what Phil Tagami, developer of the terminal, calls the community benefit.

This projects about taking a former military base as a peace dividend and transforming it into a facility that will not only deliver much-needed jobs to Oakland that are good-paying chores, but it was also about restoring a running waterfront.

Five of Oaklands eight city council members did not respond to requests for remark. The three who would discuss the project were uniformly opposed.

Coal has no place in Oakland, whether its transported, stored or shipped to China, said councilman Noel Gallo. Poor communities pay the brunt when it is necessary to health and safety issues. I dont watch them running the railroad through rich neighborhoods. They put it through poor black and brown neighborhoods.

If the terminal runs forward as schemed it would become the largest coal exporter on the west coast, unless one of the Washington proposals comes on line.

At this point, said Jessica Yarnall Loarie, a Sierra Club lawyer involved in the anti-coal campaign, Oaklands proposed terminal is closest to becoming a reality of anything schemed along the thing green line.

It could ship 10 m tons of coal annually, which, when burned, is equal of 7 average-sized power plants in a state that does not burn coal, Yarnall Loarie said. Californias climate leadership is on the line with this project.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Pollution-hit Delhi to ban drivers on alternating days

Indian capital devises controversial measures in bid to to tackle worlds worst air quality

The Delhi government has announced a plan to curb its choking pollution levels, among the worst in the world, by limiting drivers to alternative days beginning next month.

From 1 January, residents in Indias capital city, which had been suffocating under a blanket of smog in recent days, will only be able to drive on alternate days based on their licence plate number; odd numbers on one day, even on the other.

The plan, likely to be controversial, was announced after a Delhi high court issued a directive last Thursday ordering the state and national government as well as Delhis pollution control committee to devise a plan to address rising air pollution levels by 21 December. It seems like “were living in” a gas chamber, the court said.

Delhis air a noxious combination of deplete, dust, smoke from wood and dung-fired staves, burning foliages and industrial output surpassed Beijings last year as the dirtiest in the world, according to a study by the World Health Organisation. Last Friday, its concentration of PM2. 5 particulate matter( the small airborne particles that enter lungs and pose a health threat) was a hazardous 652 at one point compared with an unhealthy 180 in Mumbai and Hyderabad. Officials hope Delhis measures will reduce pollution levels by 50%. They also plan to shutter Delhis large coal-fired power plant and induce Euro VI emission norms mandatory for vehicles from 2017. This is being done for the interests of the citizens and the public, Delhis chief secretary, KK Sharma, said in a meeting with reporters. We expect the public to cooperate.

Delhis most recent effort to regulate polluters a ban on diesel vehicles more than 10 years old descended into chaos earlier this year, with traffic jams at checkpoints.

We must move toward reforms, but we have to be practical, said Harsh Vardan, a doctor who is Indias minister of science and technology. Also, dont say something you cant implement.

The citys smog, always bad in winter, has been unusually thick lately, worsened by fireworks for the festival of sunlights, Diwali, on 11 November. Air quality worsened sevenfold between October and November, according to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi, which showed that 3% of days in October had severe air quality but jumped to 73% of days in November.

Clearly there has been a huge increase, said Anumita Roychowdhury, the centres executive director for the investigations and advocacy and head of its air pollution and clean transportation program. These levels are several times higher than the standard. This has serious health impacts. She said that the new plan would be a catalyst for drivers to begin thinking of alternative ways to commute, by car pooling, limiting trips or by foot or bicycle.

Delhis last significant push for cleaner air began in the late 1990 s, when the governmental forces shuttered small polluting mills and switched all buses and auto-rickshaws from diesel to compressed natural gas. But the gains made after the switching began to erode around 2008, when the number of vehicles began to increase, Roychowdhury said.

The concept of restriction passenger traveling via road-space rationing has been practised in big cities in Latin America and elsewhere for more than two decades. In Beijing, for example, drivers cannot drive in the city centre one day a week. London invokes a congestion charge, a levy of about $17 a day on driving in the city centre.

Some environmental activists said imposing these limitations is very hard in the Indian capital, with 16 million residents and 2m registered automobiles. Although Delhi officers said they would increase bus services and extend periods for Metro service, they continue to about 10,000 bus short of demand, says Amit Bhatt, a sustainable transport expert in the city.

It will be very challenging, said Bhatt, the head of transport at Indias Embarq program, a World Resources Institute sustainable transport initiative. When a system of alternative days was launched in Bogota, Colombia, he said, many just bought second cheap cars with a different licence plate. Bogota eventually switched the odd-even number system to peak hours merely, which has been more successful, Bhatt said.

Yet such moves do reduce the harmful particulate matter in the air, Bhatt said. For instance, the working group has co-created voluntary car-free days in Delhi and Gurgaon, a suburb. Gurgaon currently has voluntary car-free Tuesdays in four major corridors. During that time, the PM2. 5 matter goes down 50%, Bhatt said.

This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from the Washington Post

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Read more on efforts to reduce pollution: https://www.airpollutioncontrolequipment.com/industrial-air-pollution-clean-up-is-on-its-way-in-2018/

Air pollution as bad for wellbeing as partner’s death, say researchers

Authors of Can Clean Air Make You Happy? say exposure to nitrogen dioxide can be as damaging as big-hitting life events

The impact on wellbeing of exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a gas mostly produced in diesel fumes, is comparable to the toll from losing a undertaking, ending a relationship or the death of a partner, research suggests.

The study determined a significant and negative association between life satisfaction and high levels of the pollutant, which causes lung problems. These consequences were substantive and comparable to that provided of many big-hitting life events, according to the researchers behind Can Clean Air Make You Happy ?.

Sarah J Knight and Peter Howley of York University took life satisfaction data from the British Household Panel Survey and UK Household Longitudinal Survey and compared it with detailed air quality records from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Given that far more people are exposed to to nitrogen dioxide than suffer unemployment or aim a relationship, Knight and Howley suggest that the benefits to society from reducing such emissions would be substantive.

Read more: www.theguardian.com