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Stewardship of Creation

The Waster's Guide to Water

We’re all wasters when it comes to wastewater. Every time we use water, we produce wastewater. And instead of reusing it, we let 80% of it just flow down the drain. We all need to reduce and reuse wastewater as much as we can. Here are three ideas for all us wasters!

  1. Turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth or doing dishes or scrubbing vegetables. Otherwise you’re just making wastewater without even using it!
  2. Put rubbish, oils, chemicals, and food in the bin, not down the drain. The dirtier your wastewater, the more energy and money it costs to treat it.
  3. Collect used water from your kitchen sink or bathtub and use it on plants and gardens, and to wash your bike or car

 

Climate change facts

Over the next 20 years, up to 200 million people will be at risk of hunger - if the planet sees the possible 2-3 C rise in temperature.

95% certainty that human activity is the main cause of climate change. (Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the lead authority on climate change science)

Pollution from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas make a huge contribution to climate change.
(source: CAFOD website)

Take Action on Climate !

1) SIGN AND PROMOTE THE CATHOLIC PETITION

urging world leaders to commit to ambitious climate action and solve this urgent crisis. SIGN THE PETITION

2) LIVE SIMPLY: REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

Your “carbon footprint” is the amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support your everyday activities, mostly by burning fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide (CO2). At a personal level: follow these tips to reduce your carbon footprint.

3) JOIN MEATLESS FRIDAYS & MONTHLY FAST

You are invited to abstain from meat on Fridays (a long Catholic tradition) to reduce our climate impacts from meat production, and/or to join the interfaith “Fast for the Climate” the first day of each month. Learn more and sign up.

5) PRAY

pray for the human family to take bold action to solve the climate crisis, caring for God’s creation, for the poor and for future generations. Check the prayer resources.

 

Global Catholic Climate Change Movement

The Global Catholic Climate Movement is a community of thousands of Catholics like you, responding to the Pope’s call to action in the Laudato Si’ encyclical. We are lay people, priests, religious, bishops and a global network of partners working together on the climate change crisis.

United by our Catholic faith, we came together as a movement of almost 100 Catholic organizations to care for God’s creation, for the poor–who are the most vulnerable to climate disruption–and for our children, who will face the worst impacts in the coming years.

We encourage Catholics to renew our relationship with creation and with our brothers and sisters in poverty, and we urge our political leaders to commit to ambitious climate action to solve this urgent crisis and keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius (relative to pre-industrial levels).

INITIATIVES TO ADVANCE OUR OBJECTIVES

  1. Praying and Fasting in solidarity with those who are most affected by the changing global climate
  2. Educating about the climate crisis, how it impacts & sharing Catholic actions, best practices and case studies on climate change
  3. Advocating for the world’s policy makers
  4. Mobilizing Catholics on an individual, community and regional level
  5. Promoting interfaith dialogue and action


See more here

Ealing Transitions Group


Ealing's local and very active group for green and sustainable living. Go on nature walks, get tips for how to llive more sustainably, film showings, skills-training and debates - see their website .

Sustainability in Crisis:


Talks from the Cambridge Faraday Institute of Science and Religion. See "Talks and Books" page.

CO2 Data The Science of 350

Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. Learn more about 350—what it means, where it came from, and how to get there.

Read More »

Getting back to 350 means transforming our world. It means building solar arrays instead of coal plants, it means planting trees instead of clear-cutting rainforests, it means increasing efficiency and decreasing our waste.

To get this kind of treaty, we need a movement of people who care enough about our shared global future to get involved and make their voices heard.

Food for the Small Birds


It's beginning to get cold, and little birds are on the look out for high calorie grains. Buy a bluetit squirrel proof bird feeder from any DIY/ garden centre - it has a wire casing around it small enough for blue tits to get through, but green parrots, pigeons and squirrels will all congregate for a share of the left overs. B&Q sell large 10kg boxes/ sacks of birdseed that should last you a season.


The Carbon Rally Challenge


veggie

Producing one calorie from animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel input—releasing 11 times as much carbon dioxide—as does producing a calorie from plant protein.

The Carbon Rally Challenge asks you to not eat any meat for two days in one week. By not eating meat for those two days, you will reduce your CO2 emissions by 13.2lbs for the week. This Challenge lasts for one week and is repeatable. http://www.carbonrally.com/challenges/13

"Laudato Si": Top 10 Things You Need to Know about this encyclical.

See 4min video here, presented by James Martin, S.J., editor of "America".

Full text of the encyclical is available free for download from the Catholic Climate Movement here.

twitterFast Join the Twitter Campaign FastForTheClimate

Best and Worst Companies, ethically

Ethical consumer conducted a survey among its readers in 2014 to find out their perceptions about the most and least ethical companies of the last 25 years. Here are the results:

The top ten least ethical companies were:

  • Nestlé:
    • Nestlé is currently subject to the longest ever running consumer boycott. For over 20 years Baby Milk Action has called a boycott of the company for its irresponsible marketing of baby milk formula, which infringes the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. 
    • The company has also been criticised for its use of child labour and palm oil, and for not labelling GM ingredients. This is despite the company trying to greenwash its image by using Fairtrade chocolate in some of its products.

  • Amazon: the UK's number one tax avoider.
    • The worlds biggest online retailer is generating huge revenues in the UK but paying very little corporation tax. It does this by funnelling money through its holding company in the notorious tax haven of Luxembourg.
    • One of Amazon's suppliers is Foxconn - a notorious Chinese supplier hwith a record of appalling treatment of workers. Attempts are now being made to improve conditions.
    • Amazon has used a union-busting consultancy firm The Burke Group to undermine the work of trade unions at its UK operations to stop workers organising around it. According to the TUC, the tactics used frighten and intimidate workers away from joining the union.
    • Amazon has no detailed company information on environmental impact. There is no mention of energy use or shipping methods and no dated targets for future improvement.
    • Amazon sells cosmetics, that have been tested on animals. It also sells whale meat products on its Japanese website.
    • Boycott Amazon for its tax avoidance - click here

  • Barclays: tax avoidance, rate and investment fixing, and until recently, speculating on food - thankfully, owing to pressure, this has now stopped.

  • Tesco: Tesco scored 2/20 in Ethical Consumer score on a number of issues:
    • it has no policy on use of toxics in its garments production chain eg use of HCs and sandblasting.
    • has been criticsed by Greenpeace for selling unsustainable "dirty" tuna
    • sells factory farming products (not labelled organic or free range)
    • episodically seems to have problems stocking fairtrade bananas & chocolate
    • promoted New Zealand lamb in peak British season,
    • tolerated hygiene failings as a poultry supplier, following a Guardian investigation of a spate of food poisoning cases.
    • it has no policy on conflict minerals or defending rights of Bangladeshi garment workers to form unions
    • it uses slave labour in its prawn supply chain.
    • on the positive, it tops up foodbank collections from shoppers by 30%

  • Coca Cola:
    • as the world's largest buyer of sugar, Coke leads the way on respecting land rights and scores higher on policies related to worker’s rights, climate change, transparency and the treatment of women, but is left trailing the top companies due to poor performance on support for farmers.
    • This is thanks to pressure from Oxfam, who found that Coca Cola scored only 2/10 on how its policies lead to land grabs, kicking locals off their land so big companies can grow cash crops. Since then Coke has made big improvements in this area.
    • There is no evidence that Coca Cola is addressing any difficult issues such as payment of living wages and freedom of association in countries where it is effectively illegal
    • An investigation by The Ecologist in February 2012 uncovered squalid conditions and low pay for some African migrant workers harvesting oranges in Calabria, Southern Italy, run by gangmasters.

Primark:

    • the company has a good supply chain policy which even contains a commitment to paying workers a living wage. It attempts at tackling a number of difficult issues in its supply chain including homeworking.
    • However the reality of the situation appears to differ from the policy pronouncements. A report in May 2011 shows garment suppliers in India exploiting  young unmarried women as a cheap, captive workforce. There was widespread evidence of excessive overwork, low wages, no access to grievance mechanisms or redress, restricted freedom of movement and limited privacy. Primark has said it is now working hard to rectify the problem.
      • it has Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its environmental reporting. It also scores badly for the use of unsustainable palm oil in its products.
      • it has no animal testing policy
      • Two executive directors of the company earn above the upper limit of £1 million considered by Ethical Consumer to be excessive directors' remuneration.
  • Wal Mart
  • Shell
  • Exxon
  • Monsanto

The top five biggest actions people have taken to reduce their environmental impactover the last 25 years include:

Changing electricity suppliers, going vegan, installing solar panels, starting to cycle for transport and stopping flying. 

Asked what was their most difficult ethical shopping decision, the top five answers were: Stop using Amazon; stop flying; boycotting unethical clothing retailers; not upgrading my mobile phone; stop eating meat.

 

Ethical Clothing

fashionHave you ever wondered which high street shops can be trusted to conduct their business ethically? Ethical Consumer ranked some well known retailers on criteria of product susainability (eg disposal of hazardous chemicals in production), supply chain management (having and following ethical policies), animal rights and cotton sourcing. There are some surprising results.

Overall, H&M clothing, Zara, M&S, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, Jane Norman, Next clothing, Peacocks, Matalan, New Look and Debenhams come out well (7 out of 10 and over). Worst are John Lewis clothing, Littlewoods, Primark, TK Maxx (all at 4.5), River Island (4), Tesco clothing (3), Sainsbury TU range (1.5) and ASDA (0.5 score).

In terms of supply chain management alone however, which includes policy, transparency, auditing and reporting, M&S, Next, Primark, Topshop and Tesco came out top, but Asda,TKMaxx, Matalan, Edinburgh Woolen mill came out bottom.

What this means, is that several of the companies with the highest ratings scored less on supply chain management ie had fewer effective policies in place to monitor their suppliers on a range of criteria, but the sourced more ethical products than companies that scored higher on paper, but failed to put their policies into practice.

 

Petition: BAN FUR SALES ON EBAY


Ban Fur Sales on eBay The fur trade is a brutal industry. I used to be an eBay customer until I saw how much real fur is sold on the site, including new fur products from China, a country with no animal welfare legislation. There is a lot of evidence about the suffering the fur trade causes to animals and the damage to the environment. Ivory products are not allowed to be sold on eBay because of the cruelty the ivory trade causes to animals. eBay should also ban fur sales on the site -- no one should be allowed to make a profit from this cruel trade. Farmed in tiny cages, clubbed to death or skinned alive - the fate of millions of Chinese animals bred for their fur.

Sign this petition on change.org

Fr James' Horticultural Tips

frJamesDid you know that we grow special bee and butterfly plants
which flower at almost all times of the year
in order to feed our bees and butterflies?

Why not grow these plants in your garden to help the environment?

January Iris unguiculata, Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), Lenten hellebore (Helleborus orientalis), Helleborus corsicus, Stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidusJasminum nudiflorum.
February  Iris unguiculata, Snowdrop, Rosemary, Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus corsicus, Helleborus foetidus, Crocus
March Primrose, Celandine, Winter Aconite, Iris unguiculata, Iris reticulata, Viola odorata, Helleborus niger, Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus corsicus, Helleborus foetidus
April Goat Willow, Cowslip, Anenome pulsatilla, Cherry
May Apple, Pear, Quince, Hawthorn, Mulberry (Morus nigra)
June Clematis species, Pumpkins, Marrows, Linden tree (Tilia europea), Oxeye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum), Mint species, Papaver orientale, Papaver brachtylatum, White Clover, Elder (Sambucus niger), Red Hot Poker (Kniphophia), Clematis alpina, Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria),
July Honeysuckle, Marigold (Calendula), Geranium, Clematis tanguica, Clematis viticella, Red Clover (Trifolium rubra)
August Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Marigold (Calendula), Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Clematis tanguica, Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)Clematis viticella
September Michaelmas Daisy (Aster novae-angliae), Summer Heathers (Calluna spp), Clematis tanguica, Clematis viticella
October Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), Winter Erica (Erica spp)
November Ivy (Hedera helix), Winter Erica (Erica spp.), Silk-tassell bush (Garrya ellyptica), Rosemary
December Wych Hazel, Winter Erica, Iris unguiculata, Silk-tassell bush (Garrya ellyptica), Rosemary

James Leachman, O.S.B.,  10 June 2013

How We Use Water


Pressure for water as a resource is predicted to rise sharply in the highly water-consuming and population-increasing south-east of the UK. In 2005, groundwater levels were lower than they have been for 20 years, affecting the wildlife that depends on rivers and wetlands - fish, birds and rare plants. By using less, you can save money and lessen the impact of drought on our environment.

ukwateruse

Average daily consumption per person in the UK is 150L (global use ranges from 100L - Danes, to 250L - Americans). In developing countries, and in the 19th century, it was 20L.

The government has long-term plans to introduce a water efficiency standard for new homes of 80L per day (currently 120L).

Effective ways to reduce consumption are to insert a brick or inflatable plastic pillow in the toilet cistern; to limit showers to 4mins; to install aerated taps; not to have continuously running water when washing teeth or washing up; to make use of rainwater butts for collecting rainwater for the garden. Avoid power showers, as they pump out as much as 136L per 8 minutes. Washing machines use 50L a time.

Check to see what your water consumption is, and if you could save water, and money, by switching to a water meter: click here

salmonSave Our Fish

fish

The world's oceans are faced with an unprecedented loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory. The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, because of the cumulative stresses of global warming, overfishing, and the acidification caused by pollution and fertiliser run-off. Current levels of fish consumption are unsustainable. While herring recover quickly once overfishing is prevented, cod and haddock do not, even after 15 years.

Avoid these 10 fish

MSClogoor only buy them where you see the Marine Stewardship Council certification logo.

fishtoavoid

For alternative species to those above, download this factsheet. For responsibly farmed fish, buy where you see the Freedom Food logo. To Campaign with the World Wildlife Fund for a more robust Fisheries policy, click here.freedomfoodlogo

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE:
Is it really happening ?

Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

• The rate of warming is increasing. The 1980's and 1990's were the hottest decades in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia, according to a number of climate studies.

• The Arctic (Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia) is feeling the effects the most: average temperatures have risen at twice the global average.

• Arctic ice is 40% less than was seen in the first pictures of earth from space. The region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040 or earlier. Polar bears and indigenous cultures are already suffering from the sea-ice loss.

• Glaciers and mountain snows are rapidly melting—for example, Montana's Glacier National Park now has only 27 glaciers, versus 150 in 1910. In the Northern Hemisphere, thaws also come a week earlier in spring and freezes begin a week later.

• Coral reefs, which are highly sensitive to small changes in water temperature, suffered the worst bleaching—or die-off in response to stress—ever recorded in 1998, with some areas seeing bleach rates of 70 percent. Experts expect these sorts of events to increase in frequency and intensity in the next 50 years as sea temperatures rise.

• An upsurge in the amount of extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heat waves, and strong tropical storms, is also attributed in part to climate change by some experts.

What are the effects?
Sea levels rise: 18 to 59 cm by the end of the century. Rises of just 10 cm could flood many South Seas islands and swamp large parts of Southeast Asia. Much of the world's population is concentrated in vulnerable coastal cities.

Glaciers around the world melt, causing sea levels to rise while creating water shortages in regions dependent on runoff for fresh water. The Tibetan plateau, which has been called the world’s third largest ice store, has now melted to the extent that surrounding lakes have dried up, lush grassland has turned to desert, livestock is dead, and the farmers impoverished. Greenpeace said recently that if the glaciers vanished, it would put at risk water supplies for 900m people in China and India alone.

Freak weather events & natural disasters become commonplace. The growth of deserts may also cause food shortages in many places.

More than a million species face extinction from disappearing habitat, changing ecosystems, and acidifying oceans.

The ocean's circulation system, known as the ocean conveyor belt, could be permanently altered, causing a mini-ice age in Western Europe and other rapid changes.

At some point in the future, warming could become uncontrollable by creating a so-called positive feedback effect as rising temperatures release additional greenhouse gases by unlocking methane in permafrost and undersea deposits, freeing carbon trapped in sea ice, and causing increased evaporation of water.

Are humans causing it?

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2007 report, based on the work of some 2,500 scientists in more than 130 countries, concluded that humans have caused all or most of the current planetary warming.

Industrialization, pollution and deforestation have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth's surface.

Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it.

Source: National Geographic

 

Eco-News Fracking - the next worst thing in energy production ?


Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.

In 2011, France became the first nation to ban hydraulic fracturing. The US has the longest history of fracking, and some states have introduced legislation that protects citizens from exposure to pollutants from hydraulic fracturing by protecting residential areas.

frackingSign the Friends of the Earth petition to ask the Secretary of State to authorise a risk assessment of this industry - find the petition here.

The Process of Fracking and Risks Explained

Millions of gallons of water need to be transported by trucks to the fracking site, and the water brought in is mixed with sand and chemicals to create fracking fluid. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing, which include lead, uranium, mercury, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, radium, hydrochloric acid .

The fracking fluid is then pressure injected into the ground through a drilled pipeline. The mixture reaches the end of the well where the high pressure causes the nearby shale rock to crack, creating fissures where natural gas flows into the well.

During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater.

Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells. Contaminated well water is used for drinking water for nearby cities and towns.

There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.

Only 30-50% of the fracturing fluid is recovered, the rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable. The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone.

More info: Guardian article