Tagged: Environment

Official: Britons waste energy

EarthBritish people waste more energy than the inhabitants of any other major western European nation, hastening climate change and adding £2.5bn to annual fuel bills, according to research.

Link: Independent Online Edition > Environment

An ICM poll conducted in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, showed that the British seem less concerned about global warming that our European neighbours.

  • 71% leave appliances on standby
  • 67% boil more water than needed in kettles
  • 65% leave chargers plugged in
  • 63% don’t turn off lights in empty rooms
  • 48% use the car for short journeys
  • 44% wash clothes at 60F
  • 32% leave the engine running while the car is stationary
  • 32% use the tumble dryer when the washing line could be used
  • 28% have the central heating on in an empty house
  • 22% turn up the thermostat instead of reaching for a jumper

If you’re not one of the culprits, good for you – Humanists should care for the environment. But have you considered everything?

Too hot?

SunThink before you enjoy it. The near-record temperatures expected today are a sign of things to come, and will become commoner and hotter in future years as man-made global warming takes hold, scientists predict.

Link: Independent Online Edition > Environment

The planet appears to be cooking as a result of human activity. If it’s hot here, imagine how hot it will be in sub-Saharan Africa in the next few decades. Elsewhere, rising sea levels will flood large areas of land, including coastal areas and the Fens of East Anglia. Millions of people will be displaced through drought and flooding.


CloudsI’ve been trying to avoid joining things because I’m already a member of too many organisations to give them all the attention they probably deserve. By joining an organisation you might feel obliged to participate in some way, so if you don’t, you feel guilty. However, I’ve recently joined an organisation that won’t make me feel guilty because I’m already doing what it stands for, every day. I’ve joined the Cloud Appreciation Society.
All that being a member of the society involves is appreciating the beauty of clouds and rejecting what its founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, calls ‘blue sky thinking’. In a previous thought for the day, I’ve spoken about my irritation with weather forecasters who apologise for wet weather. What is there to apologise for? And isn’t an unbroken blue sky boring?

Should traditional light bulbs be banned?

Light bulb

Humanism isn’t just about challenging the religionists, or faith schools, or funerals. It’s also about values – about doing the right thing – so if we’re serious about saving the planet (and most would say we are), should we be using traditional light bulbs? Shouldn’t they be banned? Have you got rid of yours?

A 2001 survey of public attitudes to Quality of Life and to the Environment showed that only a third of the respondents regularly used low energy bulbs, which use 67% less energy than traditional bulbs. You can buy low-energy bulbs from all good home supplies retailers, or online from Energy Savers Direct, amongst others. They don’t just help to save the planet – they save you money too.

What do the faiths teach about the environment?

The East of England Faiths Agency arranged and hosted a half-day conference on ‘What do the Faiths teach about the Environment?’ on Sunday March 5th at the University of Essex. The theme was chosen after a consultation on the Faiths and the Environment with staff from the Environmental Agency, who attended the conference. There were contributions from some of the faiths and philosophies in the region, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, and Sikhs. Margaret Nelson, supported by Michael Imison and Nathan Nelson, offered a Humanist Perspective.

Elmsett’s woodland

I’ve always been keen on trees. I’ve planted them whenever I’ve had the space. Thirty years ago, I lived near Oxford, where I planted a balsam poplar. It smelt gorgeous after it rained. I’d love to know if it’s still there – someone might have cut it down.

A year ago, the Green Light Trust had a stall at our village fete. The trust supports and encourages those who want to establish community woodlands – woods planted by and for local people. I registered an interest in establishing one in Elmsett.


StarlingFrom 1911 to 1986 coalminers relied on canaries to warn them of dangerous gases. The birds were taken down the pits in cages and if they showed signs of distress, the men knew they must get out quickly. Canaries react to very small quantities of deadly carbon monoxide. They were made redundant when cheaper and more reliable electronic gas detectors were introduced. The miners missed the canaries, which were treated as pets

In a way, our wild birds fulfil the same function as those canaries, because their behaviour can warn us of changes in the environment. Rachel Carson wrote her book ‘The Silent Spring’, published in 1962, to warn about the damage caused by the indiscriminate use of agricultural pesticides. If all the birds were poisoned, what would that mean for us? Not just a silent spring, but serious damage to human health. Although there are much tighter controls on pesticides now, we still rely on birds to warn us of danger, though now it’s more to do with global warming and loss of habitat.

Silly seasons

It’s August bank holiday – the end of the summer holidays and the beginning of autumn. Keats wrote, ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, not ‘Season of soggy cereal crops’. You used to know where you were with the seasons. Not any more. Everything’s topsy-turvy, seasonally. We’ve had warm winters and soggy summers, early springs and late autumns. The birds and beasts don’t know if they’re coming or going. There are lots more bugs about, because there haven’t been the hard frosts to kill them off, while seabirds off the Scottish coast have failed to breed because the small prey they feed on have all swum north in the milder seas. We may not face the same sort of flooding as those unfortunate people in Cornwall did the other week, but the seas are rising, and our Suffolk coastline is retreating.