One of the most exciting ways to teach your students about the natural world – and reduce ‘nature deficit disorder – is to take them outdoors.
One of the most exciting ways to teach your students about the natural world – and reduce ‘nature deficit disorder – is to take them outdoors.
We need something that can deliver emission reductions from existing fleets of planes – and the solution already exists. Ben Caldicott gives his views in The Guardian
As a small, maritime trading nation Britain has always been some distance from big international markets. Our ability to visit far-off places and people, and their access to us, has always been at the heart of our ability to punch above our weight in the world, whether that’s commercially, culturally or diplomatically.
In the past we were dependent on ships, now we are reliant on commercial airlines, as well as the Channel Tunnel and secure data networks. This infrastructure is critical for our future, particularly as we look to major economies like India, China and Brazil for export opportunities. But it is also vital for sustaining our outward facing society and culture; one that’s confident engaging with the world and welcoming of its diversity.
Rail and video-conferencing will help, but air travel will remain absolutely essential and more people are going to fly, especially to and from a networked, diverse, outward-facing island nation like our own.
We should embrace this, but we must also recognise that flying more will also have negative consequences, in particular greenhouse gas emissions. The positive progress on including aviation in Europe’s carbon trading scheme this week is welcome, but neither that nor more efficient aircraft will deal with the industry’s climate problem. As I will argue, only biofuels can do that. Aviation currently accounts for a relatively small proportion of global carbon emissions: 6% of UK, 4% of European Union and 2% of world. This will change fast though, with global aviation expected to grow at 5% a year for at least the next 15 years. If so, by 2050 aviation emissions will account for up to 20% of global emissions, making tackling global warming significantly harder.
Though new airport capacity in the UK is essential, plans for it must convincingly address this important pollution challenge.
Including aviation in the Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme is a step in the right direction, but at current carbon prices it will not spur the innovations needed to cut pollution. Some say the aviation sector has a good track record of improving the fuel efficiency of new aircraft, achieving an average annual improvement of about 1.5%. But these emissions savings will be completely overwhelmed by growing global demand for aviation.
So we desperately need something that can deliver a step-change in emission reductions from existing fleets, particularly as planes built today will be in service for many years to come. The only option is to replace existing jet fuel (kerosene) with an alternative that can deliver deep emission reductions and be used to current aircraft. Fortunately, this technology exists: sustainable bio jet fuels. Made from advanced feedstocks and able to provide significant life-cycle emission reductions and meet other stringent sustainability standards, these fuels can be produced today and have already received certification for use in commercial jet aircraft. They can also be produced now at costs not far above the high and volatile price of jet fuel, with Bloomberg predicting that they could potentially reach price parity with kerosene in 2016.
There is an opportunity for the UK to align its need to develop new airport capacity with the development of sustainable bio jet fuels at scale. We should work to ensure that any new airport provide airlines with the best biofuels available.
Airport operators should have to provide airlines with a blend of jet fuelthat has a significant and rising proportion of sustainable bio jet fuel. This would significantly reduce emissions from flights. The mandate should start at an achievable level, say where the blend would have to be 15% less polluting than jet fuel today based on the strictest sustainability standards. It could then ratchet up to reach a point where the blend was 60% less polluting within a reasonable time-frame.
Airlines would benefit from a genuine and cost-effective emission reduction strategy, which might even attract environmentally conscious flyers. Not many hubs would need to follow the UK before the majority of international flights used sustainable bio jet fuel blends, perhaps only New York, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore need change, in addition to London.
An ambitious blending mandate would send exactly the signal required to accelerate the development of sustainable bio jet fuels. Airport operators would be required to demonstrate they had a plan to meet the incoming mandate and would sign supply contracts with developers, which would spur innovation and investment. The UK government could also ensure that our leading biotech, aviation and university sectors work in unison to create solutions, through targeted research programmes and tax relief for collaborative work.
The luddite wing of the environmental movement will think such proposals sacrilegious – their only solution is to stop flying. But the reality is that there will be and should be more international travel, particularly to and from the UK. The challenge is to make this as least polluting as is possible, while also minimising local airport impacts. By aligning the debate about airport capacity sensibly with environmental objectives, we can make a significant dent in aviation emissions globally as well as guarantee sufficient airport capacity to keep UK plc open for both business and pleasure.
• Ben Caldecott is head of policy at Climate Change Capital and co-author of ‘Green Skies Thinking: Promoting the development and commercialisation of sustainable bio-jet fuels‘
I celebrated Earth Hour for the first time at the RIBI assembly dinner on 31st March: the lights were switched off and hundreds of candles illuminated the area. This was my first experience to a beautifully simple idea that has become a massive global phenomenon, which has successfully united an extraordinary number of people across the globe. This simple symbiotic act carries a huge environmental message.
Hundreds of millions take time to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday in March as they are driven by the thought of positive action to help tackle climate change and protect the natural world from the impacts of our ever consuming lifestyles. This is fantastic and inspiring and NAEE encourages people to go beyond just the hour and extend energy saving that can make such a difference into their daily lives.
The way we live has impacts that we can not always determine or haven’t yet experienced: these can range from weather changes such as droughts and flooding to food shortages, loss of species and deforestation. So, Earth Hour is not just about saving electricity, it is much greater than that. It is about realising that the actions we take; to the energy we use; the food we eat and the water we drink – all have an effect on our planet.
We all depend on our amazing world and need to care and look after it, not just for an hour, but for every single day of the year.
The analysis after tracking the total electricity demand during the day and comparing it with the corresponding profile of previous Saturdays in the UK showed that there was indeed a significant reduction in the mid evening peak when people often switch lights on. Overall, this translated to a massive saving of around 2,850 tonnes of CO2, an impressive figure
WWF reported that hundreds of millions of people in a record 150 countries and 6,434 towns and cities across the world took part to show they care about our brilliant planet. In the UK, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Clifton Suspension Bridge, HMS Victory, Edinburgh Castle, Parliament Building in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Assembly were just a few of the landmarks that took part.
Communities across the country also ran local events and thousands took part making this year’s Earth Hour the biggest yet, with an estimated 20,000 visitors per minute on its youtube channel and by the time the switch off had reached South Asia, Earth Hour was trending on twitter.
Gabrielle Back, CoChair, NAEE.
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Posted by Henricus Peters, Managing editor
There’s new evidence that our minds thrive away from it all. This report via Children and Nature Network
Read about this at Environmental Education blog by co-chair Henricus Peters
From Children and Nature
Want to make a decent living and a better life? Here’s one way. Get a job – a nature-smart job. Or better yet, be a nature-smart entrepreneur. By that, I don’t mean a career devotedonly to energy efficiency. That’s important, but there’s a whole new category of green jobs coming. These careers and avocations will help children and adults become happier, healthier and smarter, by truly greening where people live, work, learn and play.
Nature-smart workplace architect or designer. Studies of workplaces that have been created or retrofitted through biophilic (love of nature) design show improved product quality, customer satisfaction and innovation. Successful models include the Herman Miller headquarters building, designed for abundant natural light, indoor plants, and outdoor views, including views of a restored wetlands and prairie on company grounds. After moving into the building, 75 percent of day-shift office workers said they considered the building healthier and 38 percent said their job satisfaction had improved.
• Nature-smart residential builder. They’ll specialize in window-appeal (the view of nature from inside the home) — not just curb appeal. They’ll know how to place a new house in sync with the sun’s movements, use local materials to reflect the nature and history of the region, install a super-insulated green roof that can last 80 years, design for natural air-conditioning, and weave nature in homes and offices in even the most crowded urban neighborhoods.
• Nature-smart yard and garden specialist, who will help homeowners and businesses reduce traditional lawns, and replace them with bird-attracting native vegetation, butterfly gardens, chlorine-free natural swimming ponds, organic vegetable gardens, beehives, places to raise chickens and ducks and gather eggs. As local governments continue to loosen regulations on yard farming, and as nearby production of food becomes more important, this specialty will become more popular.
• Urban wildscaper. Urban designers, landscape architects, and other professionals who develop or redevelop neighborhoods that connect people to nature through the creation of biophilically-designed buildings and preservation of natural land will be increasingly in demand. They will design and establish biodiverse parks, urban forests and community gardens, wildlife corridors and other wild lands. Seattle recently announced plans for a massive urban forest that will produce free food. Wildscapers will also manage wildlife populations.
• Outside-In decorator, who will bring the outside in, creating or improving our homes to nurture health and well-being through nature: “living walls” of vegetation that purify air; indoor vertical vegetable gardens with automatic drip-irrigation systems; biophilic decorations such as twig furniture; fluorescent lights that adjust throughout the day via light sensors at the windows; bird-warning elements for windows; indoor water gardens and other living features. So will individual homeowners decorating their own homes. This goes way beyond Feng Shui.
• New Agrarian. Who’s that? Urban farmers who design and operate community gardens. Designers and operators of vertical farms in high-rise buildings. Organic farmers and innovative vanguard ranchers who use sophisticated organic practices to produce food. The focus is on local, family-scale sustainable food, fiber, and fuel production in, near, and beyond cities.
• Health care provider who prescribes nature. Ecopsychologists, wilderness therapy professionals, are going mainstream. Some pediatricians are now prescribing or recommending “green exercise” in parks and other natural settings to their young patients and their families. Hospitals, mental health centers, and nursing home are creating healing gardens. The Portland, Oregon parks department partners with physicians who send families to local parks, where park rangers serve as health para-profesionals. In the U.K., a growing “green care” movement encourages therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy, and green care farming.
• Green exercise trainer. Exercising indoors and outdoors seems to produce different results. Even when the same number of calories are burned. Outside exercise appears to have better results, especially for psychological well-being. Green exercise trainers can help individuals and families individually or by organizing “green gyms” and family nature clubs. “People walkers” can help the elderly take a hike.
• Natural teacher. As parents and educators learn more about the brain-stimulating power of learning in natural settings, demand will increase for nature-based schools and nature-based experiential learning, providing new opportunities for natural teachers and natural playscape and school garden designers. Librarians can be natural teachers, too, creating bioregional “naturebraries.”
• Bioregional guide. We’ll see the emergence of the citizen naturalist who, as professionals or volunteers, help people get to know where they live. One organization, Exploring a Sense of Place in the San Francisco Bay Area, guides groups that want to have a deeper understanding of the life surrounding them. Think of these guides as nature-smart Welcome Wagons who help us develop a deeper sense of personal and local identity.
The list of possible careers can go on. Stream restorers, law-enforcement officials who use nature for crime prevention and improved prison recidivism, specialists in nature-based geriatric services. Once the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, it’s easy to start thinking of products and services. And when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.
Richard Louv is chairman emeritus of The Children and Nature Network and the author of “THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,” from which this piece is adapted, and “LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” On April 16, he gave the keynote address at the first White House Summit on Environmental Education.
Related: It’s Time to Redefine Green Jobs
The White House convenes a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the importance of environmental education and the core concepts and principles that contribute the most to environmental literacy, including panel discussions with environmental education leaders, remarks from several Administration officials and a panel on the Federal government’s on-going commitment to the field of environmental education.
Water shortages set to continue until next year following a predicted third dry winter. The Independent reports. For the full report - click here
What can you do to prepare for Earth Day 2012? Here are some green ideas to help you – just click here!
Compiled by Henricus Peters, Co-Chair of NAEE UK, working with Children and Nature USA.