The Stern Review

The final version of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was released yesterday. It is a 700 pages long mammoth, so dont believe anyone that says that they actually have read it just yet, perhaps save Stern himself ...

Both Barroso and Blair now are tooting that the last arguments for inaction on climate change now at last have been blown out of the sky!

Let us see if this report actually will turn into action. The EU commission already had started on a plan for making EU more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly on all fronts. Lets see what the deny-climate-change-fundamentalist in the white house will to say about this.

Some of the highlights (from the First Post - see link below):

* The physical and human geography of the planet will be profoundly affected: 300 million people could become refugees as their homes succumb to drought or flood. Poorer countries will be among the worst affected.

* The world's economic growth will be cut by 20 per cent or more. Each tonne of carbon dioxide that we emit now is causing damage valued at $85 or more.

* The cost of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change can be limited to around one per cent of global GDP each year.

* Reducing emissions will make us better off. The long-term benefits of shifing the world onto a low-carbon path could be in the order of $2.5tr each year.

* Barriers to energy efficiency must be removed. People must be educated about what they can do to respond to climate change.

More in the media:
* Eupolitix.com
* BBC gives the highlights - they are not easy to find in the 700 pages long report ...
* The Fist Post
* Grist Mill
* EurActiv


Iceland has started whaling again!

I just joined this campaign

and ended up sending this email

To Directorate of Tourism and Overseas Business Affairs, Thorleifur
Thor Jonsson
Subject Iceland Whaling

Directorate of Tourism and Overseas Business Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Copies to:

Þorleifur Þór Jónsson
Iceland Travel Industry Association

Dear Sir,

I'm greatly concerned to hear of Iceland's plans to relaunch a
commercial whale hunt. I have pledged to seriously consider a visit to
Iceland, as have tens of thousands others, if whaling were to end. I hold to
that pledge.

The value of the pledges collected to date by Greenpeace are worth more
that US$80 million in potential tourist spending in Iceland. I
understand that the commercial value of the whale hunt, at its peak, was a
mere US$4 million per annum.

I believe you have a responsibility to raise with your government the
issue of the economic costs of whaling to a country which is so
attractive to nature enthusiasts and wilderness tourists.

I hope you can effectively speak for all of us who would like to visit
Iceland but find Iceland's whaling policy difficult to reconcile with
its otherwise very strong environmental and conservationist reputation.


Tell Starbucks to behave

I just took part in this Starbucks campaign by sending a letter to the CEO of Starbucks.

Tell Starbucks to Give Ethiopian Farmers Their Fair Share

Each year, coffee companies make billions of dollars. Starbucks alone earned almost $5.8 billion in net revenues during the first three quarters of 2006.

With as many as 15 million Ethiopians dependent on coffee, Ethiopia has decided to get its farmers more of what they deserve. The country's government has asked Starbucks to sign a licensing agreement that will allow Ethiopia to control the names of its coffees. That way, Ethiopia can help determine an export price that makes sure farmers see a larger share of the profits enabling them to feed their children, send them to school and get them better healthcare.

Oxfam and a coalition of allies are asking Starbucks to sign this agreement. According to one coalition member, control of the name brands could increase Ethiopia's coffee export income by more than 25 percent - or $88 million annually. This money could go a long way to help lift millions of Ethiopians out of poverty.

See also this article in the Guardian.


Common preservatives to avoid

Consumer products for extarnak use such as schampoo, soap, make up and skin creams etc usually contain a cocktail of chemicals. Some of the are used as preservatives. However, not all of the are necessarily good for your health. Here is short list of some of the worst offenders:

This is an abstract of this green guide article.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
It is reasonbly to consider it carcinogenic.
It also can cause contact dermatitis.

"Formaldehyde" Preservatives
diazolidinyl urea
DMDM hydantoin
imidazolidinyl urea
bronopol = 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
All can either contain, release or break down into formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen and neurotoxin as well as skin irritant.

Bronopol, when combined with triethanolamine (TEA), diethanolamine (DEA) or the sunscreen chemical PABA, can contribute to the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE):
Although natural 7 of 9 GSE preservatives contain either benzethonium chloride, a suspected hormone disruptor, or benzalkonium chloride, a skin and eye irritant.

Kathon CG
= methylchloroisothiazolinone
Highly irritating to skin.

Mercury (thimerosal)
Highly neuro-toxic and readily adsorbs through skin.
Mainly found in eye makeup

Parabens (methyl-, propyl-, butyl- and isobutyl)
Suspected hormone disruptors.
Cause chronic dermatitis and are irritating to the eyes.

Safer alternatives

Sorbic acid/Potassium Sorbate:
Could be irritating in the eye.
No other detrimental health effects have been found.

Tocopherols (vitamin E):
Have very little potential to irritate skin.
Pose no additional health threats.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) compounds
L-Ascorbic Acid
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Sodium Ascorbate
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Little risk of skin sensitization and no toxic effects.
Altough I would avoid phosphate since they are fertiliser.

Essential oils:
Some essential oils have inherent antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, such as lavender, rosemary, rose, thyme and tea tree oils.

Tea tree and lavender oils, and both have been linked to enlarged breasts in young boys. Parents should avoid these ingredients in children's personal care products.
I have seen articles about strong allergic reactions to tea tree oil. Could be due to contaminants in the products.

Of course avoid oils from plants that you are allergic to.

What You Can

Throw out old products:
Foundations and lipsticks = one year
Mascaras and eye makeup = three to four months
Powders = two years

Contact manufacturer of products that contain any of the bad preservatives.
Also, send them the list of safer alternatives.


20% less energy consumption by 2020

The EU commission has just launched an energy saving plan for the EU.
20% less consumption by 2020.
That is probably reasonably easy to achieve.
Why arent they more bold? Say 40% by 2020?
Anyway, 20% certainly will create plenty of jobs the coming years,
at least in contruction when all flawed buildings will be improved.


Urge MEPs to vote for a strong REACH

The final votes on the European Union chemical legislation REACH is getting closer to the final votes. You can encourage the MEPs of your contry to vote for a strong ersin of the REACH that includes as strong writing of the substitution principle.

The good people at FOE and Greenpeace give you a helping hand in their campaign chemicalreaction.org. site.

I have already written to the red flagged Swedish MEPs.


IKEA aim to destroy a national ecological reserve?

In the recent days the news broke that IKEA aim to triple their investments in Portugal. Two factories are planned for the north of Portugal. One just north of Braga. the second in Paços de Ferreira. The latter in a national ecological reserva (REN - Reserva Ecológica Nacional).

In a recent news letter from quercus the board of IKEA is demanded to reconsider this option since there are plenty of other industrial zones in Portugal that does not include the need for destruction of protected areas of national interest.

I cant agree more, it seems completely unnecessary and against any kind of environmental spirit that may exist within IKEA.


100M€ for sustainable energy

The EU environment commissioner just proposed to dedicate 100M€ to a risk capital fund for supporting sustainable energy and efficient use of energy in the developing countries over the next four (4) years.

The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF)

The developing countries and transition economies are in need for 9BN€! So the suggested 100M€ is a mere trickle, but hopefully it will encourage others to partake in this.

Maybe one should also think small as in on local scale. Perhaps microcredit institutes like the Grameen bank will come to the rescue?


Almost within REACH

Recently the European Unions Parliament Committee on Environment votes yes (42 out of 63) for the current version of the REACH which entails:

* Mandatory substitution of the most toxic substances whenever this is economically and socially acceptable;

* a review of authorisations granted to these chemicals every five years in order that they are eventually replaced;

* a 'Duty of care' principle to ensure that producers and importers of chemicals take responsibility for the safety of their products when the risks can be "reasonably foreseen";

* the introduction of a European 'REACH quality label', to be proposed by the Commission after REACH is approved, so that products complying with the EU law can be easily identified by consumers;

* the promotion of alternatives to animal testing, and;

* support measures for small businesses.

Now there are two more hurdles before it can come into force:
* 14 November 2006: Expected vote in Parliament plenary.
* 4 December 2006: Probable vote in Council (Competitiveness) and final approval of REACH.

We can only hope that the Parliament and Council will come to their senses in time ...

More Pandas

I just got this snippet of information of WWF:

"The measures implemented by the Chinese government, working closely with WWF, really have worked and in 2004 a new survey counted 1600 pandas, 40% more than were thought to exist in the 1980s. This is great news.

Threats to the panda's future remain however, including the loss and fragmentation of panda habitat and competing needs of pandas and local people.

But we are confident that with your continued support we can ensure a future for pandas in the wild.

To find out more about the recent successes in panda conservation please visit:


Today we start eating the planet itself

Today (2006-10-09) is Ecological Debt Day (or overshoot day) for 2006.

This means that as of today and for the rest of the year we are living above our means, that is our ecological resources. That from today we are depleting our resources ...



2 birch trees bought and saved!

I recently went for a conference in France.
I tried to figure out how much it cost to cancel the carbondioxide emission towards buying or planting trees.

According to http://www.terrapass.com/flight/ roughly twice the emitted carbon dioxide would cost ca 10 USD for planting new trees to cancel that amount of carbondioxide.

I would normally buy trees via Vi-skogen but this time I decided to support http://www.ettklickforskogen.se/ by buy donating enough money to buy two old birch trees (total 100 SEK).

Festa de comecio justo en Porto

There is a Fair Trade party in the weekends of October in Porto, Portugal.

For more info go to this blog http://fairtradefest.blogspot.com/


Sustainable Sushi

We all love sushi don´t we?
Problem is that tuna especially blue finned tuna it is the best for sushi also over fished.

I have read about a company in Hawaii that has sustainable like aquaculture in the ocean with a local variety. Apparantly it is popular in the San Fransisco but I live quite far away from SF and Hawaii. So what can we do to get good fish for our sushi?

Last we did sushi we used a small kind of tuna with the flesh wthat as more pinkish than deep red. (blue finned tuna is large and the fastest fish around).

More organic vegetables is of course a choice.
Use slices of tofu or smoked for more flavour.
A Korean girl I meet in Sydney used some kind of sausage in her maki (sea weed rools).

Of course it would be great if one could find fresh MSC labelled fish in Portugal but that will probably take a long while ...

Shrimp is of course always nice but stay away from the tiger shrimp (unless they are grown in the Netherlands). Otherwise the aquaculture of tiger shrimp will just destroy the mangroves and make coastal arrives more prone to tsunamis and hurricanes, and the coastal water will probably be oxygen depleted...

Salmon is also great in sushi, but most of it is farmed and sofar has detrimental effects on the surrounding environment. Atlantic wild salmon is on the Endangered Species List in the US...
In the same link farmed atlantic cod is a health concern, the best choice seems to be Alaskan wild or farmed or any other pacific salmon seems to be a better choice, but fat chance of finding that in Portugal.

Anyone have any good ideas for what fish to use for sushi in Portugal?

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