This post is by Erik van Sebille, lecturer in oceanography and climate change at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, Alyssa Gilbert, head of policy and translation at the Grantham Institute and Dustin Benton, head of energy and resources at Green Alliance.
Plastic is a great material. It’s lightweight, durable, cheap, and over the past 50 years it has become embedded in every part of modern life. Unfortunately, it’s now embedding itself in the earth’s largest ecosystem, the ocean. The visibility of plastic pollution has put it onto the agenda of campaigners, scientists and policy makers alike. But, unlike climate change, air pollution or deforestation, we don’t yet have a grasp of many of the basic questions about marine plastic pollution.
This piece is taken from issue 36 of our journal, Inside Track.
It is summer, at some point around 1987. I and my mum and dad are on holiday in Skegness. We sit on the beach, my dad wheezing slightly from the effort of blowing up my new inflatable dinghy, a bargain purchase. We look nervously out to sea.
This post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
The Greener London report, published last week, is an excellent menu of options for making our capital cleaner, safer and more biodiverse. And, at the Greener London hustings on Friday, we saw mayoral candidates vie with one another over a wide selection of ideas, and over who would commit to finish them faster: Read more
This post is written by Alex Townsend, economic advisor, Adaptation, Committee on Climate Change. It first appeared on the CCC blog.
Green Alliance launched a report on Wednesday 12 February to promote greater water efficiency as a way to reduce water bills, particularly the benefits for low income households. Water bills are set to fall slightly in the next five years. Over a longer time period, climate change and population growth will put upwards pressure on bills if appropriate action is not taken. Managing water demand, and adopting more flexible approaches to improving resilience, will help maintain affordable bills and secure water supplies over a longer period. Read more
This post is by Andy Cummins, campaigns director at Surfers Against Sewage.
Britain is and always will be heavily influenced by its coast. The furthest we can get from it on our beautiful island is a little over 70 miles. And the coast has always been more than a bucket and spade destination. It feeds us and powers our homes. It supports healthy tourist economies, fisheries and various other maritime and offshore industries. The coast is ingrained in the very fabric of our society. Read more
This post first appeared on The Staggers, the New Statesman’s politics blog.
Economics is not called the dismal science for nothing. As we watch the shocking images of filthy water pouring into homes and distressed residents leaving in rubber dinghies, economists are already debating what this means for the next GDP figures. This highlights the shortcomings of GDP as a measure of economic progress, but looking at the wider economic impacts can help us deal with the challenges posed by the floods. Read more
This post is by Gwynne Lyons, director of CHEM Trust.
Fracking has brought environmental activism out onto the streets of the home counties, with a protest movement unprecedented since the days of Swampy. The concerns of residents living near proposed drilling sites are many, but particularly include the potential for water contamination. Should people be worried about this pollution? Read more
To mark world water day, here are 5 water-related facts, courtesy of Waterwise.
1. In the UK we flush 2 billion litres of water down the toilet every day.
2. In Abu Dhabi, average per capita household water consumption is 3,300 litres per day; in the UK it’s 150 litres, and to survive a human being needs about 4 litres. Read more
This is a guest post by Nicci Russell, Policy Director at Waterwise
After the wettest ever June, the average total rainfall for July had already fallen by the middle of last month. And the drought earlier this year was dubbed the wettest ever. But drought it was, and groundwater levels were at record lows in many areas. Water companies are planning now for the possibility of a third dry winter, which really would put the cat amongst the pigeons. These increasing extremes of weather mean it is vital for us to get a grip on how much water we all use – and waste – every day. Read more
This is a guest post by Hannah Griffiths, head of policy and campaigns at the World Development Movement. She argues that measures to value nature and ecosystem services will only serve to undermine progress.
The battle for the meaning of the words ‘green economy’ at the Rio+20 summit will be every bit as fraught as the battle for the meaning of the words ‘sustainable development’ was twenty years ago. And the outcome is likely to encompass an ‘all things to all people’ type approach. This is leading to some contradictory policy measures being proposed under the heading green economy.
There are many positive proposals in the green economy agenda, such as tax reform and regulation. But one key policy measure – the valuation of natural resources and ecosystem services – threatens to undermine any progress made in other areas. Read more