Saturday, February 03, 2007
Freecycle is an international network of local groups. People can offer, or request items - for no charge, on the group's website. It's based on the principle that one person's waste is another person's need. We have had a futon mattress from the local group. People have had 3 bikes and firewood and we have offered and are waiting for collection of a film camera and some very small-capacity compact flash and SD cards.
A couple of people have asked for help with jobs like bricklaying. I have suggested to them that they contact the Potteries LETS group, but I don't think it's still running. One freecycle member has said she is interested in helping set up and LETS group again. Tone and I are considering joining her to do so. LETS is a local exchange trading system based on a non-monetary currency. You offer your skills and people pay you in LETS currency. You then pay other people to do things that you need with your LETS currency. Skills offered include babysitting, bricklaying, baking, music-teaching....... Good eh?!
Friday, February 02, 2007
The IPCC report was announced today. It's a vast report on the science of global warming written by the experts of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The science report is the first of three major IPCC reports this year; similarly weighty analysis of the impact and possible solutions will follow in April and May respectively. The full triumvirate will then be given a final once-over in November, in time for key UN climate talks in Indonesia in December.
The report states that the weather is likely to warm by between 1.8 and 4 degrees c in the next 90 years and it could be as much as 10 degrees. It forecasts a rise of between 18cm and 58cm (half a metre!) in sea levels by the end of this century, a figure that could increase by as much as 20cm if the recent melting of polar ice sheets continues.
"This is just not something you can stop. We're just going to have to live with it," co-author Kevin Trenberth, the director of climate analysis for the US-based National Centre for Atmospheric Research, said in the Guardian today.
Another article in the Guardian last week which pre-empted the report said "Crucially, the report points out that a lag in the global climate system means that average temperatures would continue to rise by 0.1C a decade even if all sources of emissions were frozen today. And it says various positive feedback effects - such as forests, oceans and soil becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide - could contribute another 1.2C of warming by the end of the century."
So no matter how much recycling and energy saving we do, the change is unstoppable - all we can do it to limit the scale of the change. The scale is very important. A 1 degree increase is frightening. a 3 degree increase means "In southern Europe, serious droughts occur once a decade. Between 1 billion and 4 billion people will suffer water shortages. Agricultural yields will be higher in mid-latitude countries such as Britain and the US, but there will be sharp drops in the tropics, putting 150-550 million people at risk of hunger. Between 1 million and 170 million more people will be affected by coastal flooding. One study suggests that between 20% and 50% of species will face extinction. On current trends, temperatures are predicted to rise 2C-3C by mid-century, which would result in 150-200 million climate refugees."
A 5C rise or above is called "Catastrophic impact - This is equivalent to the temperature rise since the last ice age. Most Himalayan glaciers will disappear, depriving 25% of China's population and hundreds of millions of Indians of water - melt water provides 70% of the water in the Ganges, for example. Sea level rise threatens cities such as London, New York and Tokyo. Rising ocean acidity will disrupt ecosystems and fish stocks. Feedback effects such as carbon dioxide release from soils and methane from permafrost kick in."
"This day marks the removal from the debate over whether human action has anything to do with climate change," Achim Steiner, the head of the UN environment programme, said - according to today's Guardian article.
This needs massive political commitment - it's useful to all do our bit, but we need to put our time and energy into calling for systematic change. December 2007 sees the UN climate talks in Indonesia. This will be the big chance for world governments to show that they understand the urgency of the problem.
We could not resist the blue sky and warm air, so we got out there and did lots of sorting.
Over the last week Tone has been going out there and doing a little bit at a time - trimming back the damaged trunks of pittosporum. Today he got his circular saw out for the first time in years and cut it all up. This is what's left of the tree and the space where it snapped off.
I loaded it all into the back of the car, except the thick trunks - which we realised would be good firewood for someone. I put the back seats of the car down - it's a hatch-back, and it was full to bursting. Then I popped down to the tip/ recycling centre and chucked it in the garden waste skip. It felt really good!
Whilst we were out there I saw 2 ladybirds and we heard a wood pigeon cooing. There are irises flowering. It is very strange. Is this Global warming?
Update - Tone has posted about this today - Sat 3/2/07 - even more strange and beautiful spring-like phenomenon.....