Anthropocene: The journey to a new geological epoch. FEATURES | October 5. 2016. 9:00 Anthropocene: The journey to a new geological epoch Over the last century, humans have littered the oceans with plastic, pumped CO2 into the air and raked fertilisers across the land. The impact of our species is so severe and so enduring that the current geological time period could soon be declared the “Anthropocene”. This was the recommendation of a group of scientists in August. The announcement was the product of years of work and, arguably, arrived on the shoulders of centuries of scientific and philosophical grappling with the idea of humanity’s role in shaping the world. Even so, the Anthropocene is far from becoming a formal piece of the geological jigsaw. While the idea has been seized enthusiastically by many in the fields of science and beyond, there are some who question the validity of naming a new epoch after humanity. History He wrote: “The age of man…is characterised by the reign of the mind.”
‘A dangerous shift’ The Anthropocene. River pollution puts 323m at risk from life-threatening diseases, says UN | Guardian Sustainable Business. A week before Russia’s Daldykan river was turned red by a leak from a metals plant, the UN issued a warning as chilling as it was overlooked: 323 million people are at risk from life-threatening diseases caused by the pollution of rivers and lakes. Cholera, typhoid and other deadly pathogens are increasing in more than half of the rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, according to a UN environment programme (Unep) report.
Salinity levels have also risen in nearly a third of waterways. Asia has been worst hit, with up to 50% of all rivers now affected by severe pathogen pollution caused by a cocktail of untreated waste water disposal, agricultural pesticides run-off and industrial pollution. In a telling footnote to the Russian Norilsk disaster, Nasa released satellite images on 15 September showing that far from being a one-off, the Daldykan river had turned red on multiple occasions in the past 20 years.
There is also a strong public interest involved. Aviation industry agrees deal to cut CO2 emissions. Image copyright Dan Kitwood The first deal limiting greenhouse gases from international aviation has been sealed after years of wrangling. From 2020, any increase in airline CO2 emissions will be offset by activities like tree planting, which soak up CO2.
The deal comes in a momentous week for climate policy when the Paris agreement to stabilise climate change passed a key threshold for becoming law. Scientists applauded both commitments, but warned that plans to cut emissions are far too weak. The aviation deal was agreed in Montreal by national representatives at the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO. Attempts have been made for nearly two decades to include aviation and shipping in the UN's climate agreements, but both sectors have managed to avoid firm targets. The amount of emissions from aviation worldwide are roughly the same as those produced by the whole of Germany - and they are growing fast. Image copyright Thinkstock Environmentalists were unimpressed. Canada will tax carbon emissions to meet Paris climate agreement targets | World news.
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Monday that Canada will impose a tax on carbon emissions starting in 2018 as part of its efforts to meet targets set by the Paris climate change accord. Trudeau made the announcement in parliament as debate started over whether Canada should ratify the Paris accord on climate change.
The House of Commons is expected to approve the Paris accord in a vote on Wednesday. Trudeau said provinces and territories can either put a direct tax on carbon emissions of at least $10 Canadian ($7.60) a ton or adopt a cap-and-trade system. If a province fails to do either by 2018, the federal government will implement a basic carbon tax of $10 a ton, rising by $10 a ton per year until it reaches C$50 a ton by 2022. “There is no hiding from climate change,” Trudeau told the Commons. “It is real and it is everywhere. We cannot undo the last 10 years of inaction. Canada’s most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, are joining in a cap-and-trade program.
Can a hashtag change the fashion industry? | Guardian Sustainable Business. Now in its second year, Fashion Revolution Day (FRD) is a hashtag campaign designed to keep the most vulnerable in the fashion supply chain in the public eye. Held on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, participants are encouraged to take a selfie showing the label on their clothes and ask the designer or brand #whomademyclothes. It’s an important cause, but can a hashtag campaign really bring meaningful change to the fashion industry?
Ruth Stokes, author of The Armchair Activist’s Handbook, says if a campaign is able to raise awareness and reach people otherwise not engaged, then it has provided something of value. The challenge is translating that increased awareness into real-world practical actions, whether that means changing individual behaviors or the laws made by politicians. FRD has changed the hashtag this year to #whomademyclothes after Pixar took over #insideout in anticipation of the Disney animation film Inside Out. #whocares #meaningfulchange. The EU referendum has caused a mental health crisis | Jay Watts | Opinion. In shrinks’ offices across the country, just as in homes, pubs and offices, people are trying to come to terms with the surprise and shock of the Brexit result. Strangers gather together to talk of how “the world is falling apart”.
Many people feel transported into a dystopian Britain that they “do not recognise, cannot understand”. Thousands are hatching plans to leave the country. Social media are full of suddenly violent flaming between former friends. Therapists everywhere are reporting shockingly elevated levels of anxiety and despair, with few patients wishing to talk about anything else. First, we need to consider what we were voting about. Anything connected with borders brings with it an association to the body, and the boundary between inner and outer.
The EU, of course, was formed as an antidote to the extreme nationalism that had devastated Europe, and cost so many millions of lives. The EU is thus a strange object. Britain banishes plastic bags as 5p 'tax' sees usage plummet by 6 billion. Fracking Water Pollution: Miami Pushes Ban To Protect Florida Water Supply. Citing concerns that fracking in their county could ruin the water supply, officials in Miami-Dade County, Florida, have formally proposed banning the natural gas extraction method outright. A county commission will debate the measure Tuesday during a public meeting. The potential ban comes just months after the state Senate failed to pass legislation that would have prohibited local governments from regulating fracking on their own. “This is about our water supply,” Daniella Levine Cava, a commissioner and the sponsor of the ordinance, told the Miami New Times.
“In this kind of acid fracking, the chemicals are potentially very dangerous and not disclosed. The risk of them entering into our water supply through our porous limestone substrate is too high.” Fracking is particularly controversial in Miami-Dade County because the whole place sits on top of the Biscayne Aquifer, which supplies water to a large number of Floridians. Fracking became formally legal in Florida earlier this year. Primark tackles fast fashion critics with cotton farmer project in India | Guardian Sustainable Business. When it came to the family business, Hetalbai Laktaria knew that it was best to keep her opinions to herself. In the village of Ranmalpur in western India, the men tend to look after the farms and the women stay at home. In Laktaria’s home, her husband and brother-in-law managed the cotton fields, while she cooked, cleaned and looked after the children.
“If my husband and his brother are talking about work, I can’t interrupt or start speaking,” she says. “I couldn’t tell my brother-in-law what to do on the farm. The men control this. We don’t intervene.” Three years ago, those unwritten rules started to change with the start of a new project aimed at female cotton farmers. In drought-prone Gujarat, the conventional wisdom is that more water means more crop. The new techniques worked. About 380 women from Ranmalpur have been attending the training camps in the village for the last three years. India is the world’s second largest producer of cotton after China. Illegal waste operators 'on the rise' The use of warehouses to store illegal waste has almost doubled in England since 2014, the Environment Agency has said. More than 1,000 waste sites were discovered without a legal permit between April 2015 and March 2016 - an increase of about 82% from 2013-14.
The agency said illegal waste activity costs taxpayers in England £1bn a year. Last month, a fire completely destroyed a warehouse in Nottinghamshire, which was storing waste illegally. More on this story and others from Nottinghamshire Image copyright Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service The blaze at Oakfield Farm, in Forest Lane, Walesby, which started almost two weeks ago, is still giving off smoke and an investigation is ongoing. Enforcement team leader Peter Haslock said: "We know the site did not have a permit for waste activity and we believe the waste was involved in the fire.
"Over the last three or four years we have seen an increase in these types of activity. Environment Agency It is illegal to: Source: Environment Law. 'Great Pacific garbage patch' far bigger than imagined, aerial survey shows | Environment. The vast patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is far worse than previously thought, with an aerial survey finding a much larger mass of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items than imagined. A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic waste at the northern edge of what is known as the “great Pacific garbage patch”, located between Hawaii and California.
The density of rubbish was several times higher than the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation part-funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated. “Normally when you do an aerial survey of dolphins or whales, you make a sighting and record it,” said Boyan Slat, the founder of the Ocean Cleanup. “That was the plan for this survey. But then we opened the door and we saw the debris everywhere. Every half second you see something. Harvard strengthens ‘living laboratory’ to help mitigate climate impact.
Credit: Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard Staff Healthy buildings and clean air keep people healthy. That simple premise is driving a series of studies being conducted by Harvard researchers, some of which have gathered insights from University dorms and office buildings. It is part of a multiyear partnership between the Office for Sustainability and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment to use campus spaces to inform public health research and apply the findings in capital projects and renovations. This partnership and another involving faculty and students working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being hailed as models for the type of collaborative work that the University wants to stimulate as it launches a reinvigorated “campus as a living laboratory” initiative.
The initiative announced on Oct. 5 includes two new, fully funded projects: Credit: Asia Kepka Clinical Professor Wendy B. Wendy Jacobs. Greener pastures: the dairy farmers committed to sustainability | Guardian Sustainable Business. It was a soil bacteria course in New Zealand that convinced Reggie Davis to change his farming methods. The fourth-generation Victorian dairy farmer had become increasingly concerned by the costs, chemicals and time involved in the use of nitrate fertilisers to maintain – what was considered to be – high-quality pasture for his dairy herd. “I’ve always regarded myself as a progressive farmer, open to new ideas,” he says. So when his dairy herd nutritionist mentioned that the US biological farming advocate Dr Arden Andersen was running a soil management course in New Zealand, Davis decided to go. He asked around to see if any neighbours might be interested. That collegiate interest in investigating new farming methods is reflected in figures published by the Australian Dairy Industry Council in its annual sustainability performance review.
There are some industry leaders. The current dairy crisis is taking its toll. Reggie Davis is a good example. Patagonia Gets Into The Sustainable Craft Beer Business. Patagonia, the all-purpose climbing gear company turned trendsetter and environmental savior, has joined the world of beer brewers. The company released its first foray into the beer world with a beer called Long Root Ale. The clothing company teamed up with Portland, Oregon’s Hopworks Urban Brewery for the project and is banking on a major selling point: agricultural sustainability via a branded perennial grain called Kernza. Kernza, which has never been used in a beer before, is a new wheat developed and trademarked by an agricultural research center called The Land Institute. It’s supposedly better for the environment because the soil doesn’t need to be tilled after planting (cutting down on carbon emissions), and the roots extend down 10 feet into the ground (hence the name), which allows the plant to grab more of its own resources rather than rely so much on irrigation.
It’s not just the wheat that is good for the environment, though. Washington Voters to Decide on Nation's First Carbon Tax. Washington lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to make polluters pay for their carbon emissions to fight climate change. Now, voters will get to decide. An initiative on the November ballot asks voters whether the state should impose the nation’s first direct carbon tax on the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline. Sponsors say residents have a moral responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and a carbon tax is the best way to do it. The tax encourages businesses to conserve or switch to clean energy by making fossil fuels more expensive, and it makes the tax system fairer by using the revenues to reduce other taxes, they say.
Businesses say the tax will drive up fuel and energy costs and put Washington companies at a competitive disadvantage. And in a move that has bewildered some, major environmental and other groups—including those that backed Gov. Why ExxonMobil Is Supporting a Carbon Tax Now “It does almost everything right for Washington,” he said. Brexit worries ‘affecting business decisions and EU exit will make things worse’ 09:53 10 October 2016 Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association Brexit worries are affecting business it has been warned. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire Finance chiefs have warned that Brexit uncertainty is impacting business decisions and expect conditions to deteriorate further once the UK leaves the EU.
A quarterly survey from accountancy giant Deloitte has shown that about 88% of chief financial officers (CFO) see business uncertainty as above normal to very high, while 65% expect the long-term business environment will be worse after Britain leaves the bloc. That marks a slight improvement from the 92% who said uncertainty was above normal in the second quarter, but still marks the second highest reading since the end of 2012. “Despite some improvement since the sharp, post-referendum deterioration, risk appetite and optimism remain close to previous lows and perceptions of uncertainty are elevated,” Deloitte said. The survey showed that risk appetite is still subdued.