All Posts By

Roger Heppleston

Let’s stop buying black plastic containers

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Every week we dutifully wash out used plastic containers and put them in the recyclable waste bin for collection by the council. It now transpires this is largely wasted effort.

The Local Government Association says that two thirds of plastic is unrecyclable and being sent to landfill. This is a scandal. Even industry sources say that most packaging could be made to be recyclable. But yet again the government and industry leaders are letting us down. No one is looking at the big picture and ensuring that we do the right thing. Simple  inexpensive solutions that would drastically reduce plastic waste are not being applied.

What can we do as consumers? Well, for a start, we can stop buying anything in black plastic containers. The only reason black plastic is being used is that it makes the food look good.  However black is the only colour that can’t be easily scanned by recycling machines; as a result, all black plastics are being sent to landfill.

Stopping buying black plastic is just a first step, but we need to make a stand and take action to show we care about our environment.

Articles web-page

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The Articles web-page is launched today.

It will aim to a library of articles and books that show the development of human evolutionary change.  It will show how global warming, the destruction of the natural world, the headlong pursuit of technological development and economic growth combined with the misuse of political power is creating a divided world that is destroying the planet

If you think it’s hot now – just you wait to see what’s coming

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With extreme temperatures being reported across the world, this could be the year when the public at large finally believe that climate change is happening. Belief is one thing, doing something about it is another. The first reaction seems to be to cope rather than to address the fundamental problem. In the UK we are talking of installing air conditioning into our homes and workplaces. This will only make matters worse.

This is just the beginning; as we continue to pump green house gases into the atmosphere, temperatures will rise further. We need preventative action now if we are to mitigate the worst effects of climate change

Defeatism in the face of climate change

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The world is sweltering in a massive heat wave causing wildfires, drought and distress. The scientists told us this would happen if we didn’t cut back on the emission of greenhouse gases. Climate change is happening before our eyes and, so far, little has been done to prevent the continuing deterioration of the biosphere.

But where is the anger and alarm? There is a Dad’s army mentality around of muddling through. It seems the human instinct is to accept what is happening and make the best of it. We seem to be prepared to accept the direction that evolution is taking us. This is defeatism. We can only preserve the planet if we insist on sustainability as a critical moral principle and develop actions accordingly.

Only when the public response to heat waves is outrage rather than passive acceptance will we begin to mitigate this impending disaster.

The benefits of not eating lamb and beef

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The benefits of not eating lamb and beef extend beyond  the reduction in greenhouse gases to  preserving the environment.

According to the Rainforest Partnership https://rainforestpartnership.org/the-beef-industry-and-deforestation/  the production of beef is without question the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon. With millions of acres of land devoted to the cultivation of soya beans for animal feed as well as the animal pastures created by clearing the forest, Brazil has become the biggest exporter of beef in the world.

 

 

Hence cutting down your consumption of hamburgers can help save the rain forests.

 

As to sheep, according to George Monbiot

Sheep have reduced most of our uplands to bowling greens with contours. Only the merest remnants of life persist. Spend two hours sitting in a bushy suburban garden and you are likely to see more birds and of a greater range of species than in walking five miles across almost any part of the British uplands. The land has been sheepwrecked.

 

By cutting back on your lamb kebabs you can contribute to the spread of biodiversity and the return of the natural world

Dish the meat

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Our love of eating meat has long cultural traditions. The initial evolutionary success of the human species was based on our ability to catch and eat large mammals. We have since learnt to domesticate cattle, sheep, pigs, chicken and many other species purely so we can eat their flesh.  But the chickens are coming home to roost. Livestock farming now accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and according to the latest UN report, this number is set to increase 75% by 2050. This problem can’t be solved by just switching to green energy sources. Cattle and the other ruminants emit methane, a much more potent source of greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; over a 5-year period methane traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere.

It is possible for humans to change their eating habits. For thousands of years Hindus have avoided eating beef. Brahmins are vegetarian.  Jews and Muslims have been taught to avoid pork. If we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change we need a new moral initiative to dish the meat and become vegetarian.

The young will pick up the bill for climate change

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The BBC reports today how the UK is falling behind on meeting its carbon dioxide emission targets and how the young will pick up the bill for climate change ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44634122).

To reverse the trend many government sponsored initiatives have to be speeded up, but what can we do individually to make a change? In a telling comment at the end of the article it states that:

People committed to personally tackling climate change can avoid flying and eating meat – two of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

Becoming a vegetarian or a vegan is a very difficult decision for most of us. However, dietary based taboos are common amongst religious groups, many of which are based on ancient and obscure religious texts. It can’t be morally right for us to continue to pollute the environment and cause suffering to future generations. Wouldn’t it be good if religious groups modified their food related ideas of fasting and meat avoidance to make them more relevant to the modern world? The combination of religious impetus and climate change science might just be the spur needed to change our eating habits for the good of us all.

Drawdown- (2 Reduce food wastes)

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If the number one concern of Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever devised to reverse global warming was surprising, the number three issue is amazing. One third of the food that’s produced goes to waste. ‘Ranked with countries, food waste would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, just behind China and the United States’. The reasons are many: food is left rotting in the field because it is not worth harvesting, poor refrigeration causes food to rot in transit, misshapen fruit and vegetables are left unsold having been rejected by the supermarkets, best before dates mean that perfectly eatable food is taken from the shelves, bought food is left uncooked and finally cooked food is left uneaten.

How do you tackle such a vast problem? Part of the issue must be to do with failures in the capitalist system. Why isn’t there a market for misshapen vegetables or perfectly eatable food that is beyond its best before date? Surely this is a marketing opportunity for someone?

According to Drawdown ‘up to 35% [of] food in high-income countries is thrown out’. The one thing we all can do is eat the food we buy. ‘Eat up your food dear, someone in Africa is starving’, was the mantra I grew up by. Very little food was thrown out, then. Somehow, we have to get back to that principle.

Drawdown- (1 refrigeration)

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Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever devised to reverse global warming 

is a review not just of green energy sources but all the other human activities that effect our carbon footprint. This includes building design, transport efficiency, recycling, population control and food use. A total of 80 actions are analysed for their potential to reduce carbon emissions.

 

I found the number one concern surprising – refrigeration. The coolants that refrigerators use are hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs). Their capacity to warm the atmosphere is one to nine thousand times greater than carbon dioxide.  An international agreement (the Kigali accord) is in hand to phase out HFCs by 2028. However, in the meantime disposal of old refrigerator units represents a great threat to global warming and the process of safe disposal is expensive.

Surely this is one area where the polluter ought to pay. Refrigerator manufacturers should have to receive and recycle old fridges. Refrigerator costs will rise but we will all be better off.

 

Relaunch of eco-humanity website

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The Eco-humanity website is being relaunched following the publication of Compete or Cooperate – the evolutionary choice that will determine our future. Its new mission is to mobilise people of all nationalities and religious views who have eco-friendly ideals, and believe in the liberal humanist principles of freedom, equality and rationality.

The future of our children is being threatened by a combination of new technologies, an aging demographic,  climate change, the destruction of the environment, and the growing divide between rich and poor. Since 1990  globalisation has altered the way society operates. The liberal humanist values of an egalitarian and  caring society have come under increasing attack from the disaffected. Libertarian and neo-liberal attitudes have celebrated the success of the rich and marginalised those living in penury.  There has been an increase in national and racial intolerance, known as populism.

When society changes there are always two options; either retrench, rally round the flag, try to prevent change and look after one’s own, or reach out and co-operate and try to make the new society work for the good of everybody. Right now, everything seems to be pointing towards the first alternative.  Populist politicians are rejecting the rational approach of liberal humanism. Global warming is not happening, according to the populists, even though records prove that average temperatures are rising inexorably every year.

Right now evolutionary forces are creating an increasingly divided world that is destroying the planet. It doesn’t have to be that way. By inspiring all those  who espouse eco-friendly liberal humanist views to co-operate and work together  across national and religious divides, we humans can create a society that works for  the good of all.