Articles Posted in the Green News, Lead category

350: Saturday’s climate change number

October 23, 2009
Posted in Green News, Lead

4017582490_99c5b0a97a_b350. It’s the amount of carbon dioxide that scientists believe is the safe upper limit for our planet. It’s also the name of a global movement that is mobilising the world to take action on Saturday October 24, the International Global Day of Climate Action. The day of action will include actions from almost every country in the world and will call on all governments to take action to reach achieve an “ambitious, fair, and binding global climate deal”.

Two years ago scientists issued a series of studies showing that a carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere of more than 350 parts per million (ppm) would be disastrous for life on earth. Right now the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 390ppm and the 350 campaign on Saturday will be to call on leaders to set goals to reduce this to under the 350ppm threshold.

Around South Africa there will be a series of events celebrating the 350 declaration. Johannesburg celebrations will include the Jozi 350 Climate Action Day at Emmerentia Dam, and the Tree planting for carbon offset. Cape Town events will include the Human 350 on Table Mountain and the 350 melting iceblocks on Muizenberg beach.

The campaign has also attracted support from a number of prominent people including Bishop Desmond Tutu, who penned an article in support of 350.org which has been published in major US newspapers. In Unity doomed apartheid. Next up: climate change, Tutu wrtites: “In South Africa, we showed that if we act on the side of justice, we have the power to turn tides. Worldwide, we have a chance to start turning the tide of climate change with just such a concerted effort today.”

A full list of SA events can be found on the 350.org website.

Public space, public fruit

October 20, 2009
Posted in Green News, Lead

In years gone by, village residents and even early city dwellers were familiar with the notion of “The Commons”, collaboratively owned and managed resources such as grazing land, rivers, forests and water sources. But gradually over time private ownership and corporate growth have whittled away at these all-important resources and today the idea of publicly-owned space and food is all but forgotten. There are, however, some that are trying rekindle an interest in public versus private space and the resources that can be developed in these.

Fallen Fruit

One of these is Fallen Fruit, a US-based artists project that offers a new way of rediscovering the Commons and aims to re-educate city dwellers on public versus private space.

At its heart Fallen Fruit is a mapping project that collects data publicly accessible fruit in various suburbs around Los Angeles. Most of the fruit mapped is on trees in private gardens and parks but which cross the border line into the public space of pavements and roads. Fallen Fruit – aka David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young – encourage residents of their suburb to pick these “public” fruits, tell friends there whereabouts and even plant fruit trees on their own property borders. The group also organises nightime “forages” involving residents who are educated about the public fruit available and the idea of public space.

Matias Viegener says that their are multiple motivations for the group, apart from its art origins. “One is ecological and environmental. We’re interested in changing the actual the organic shape of the city and suburbs. The other reason is social and cultural. We’re interested establishing relationship between people that don’t have existing relationships. LA is a very anonymous city. Most people don’t know their neighbourhood and their neighbours. It’s about walking, knowing your neighbours, knowing your neighbourhood.”

Guerrilla Gardening

Another project challenging the relationship between public and private space with horticultural tools is the UK-based Guerrilla Gardening.

Founded by London-resident Richard Reynolds, the Guerrilla Gardening website started life as a record of his own secretive night time gardening expeditions around his home. Frustrated with not having a garden of his own and by the generally poor state of public gardening in the area, Reynolds took to the street under cover of dark to plant flowers in land not owned by himself. He documented the progress of his garden on his website and quickly attracted other like-minded gardeners eager to improve their suburbs and cities with greenery.

Like the Fallen Fruit project, Guerrilla Gardening is as much about the plants as it is about public space and getting residents to get involved in improving their surrounds. In his recently released book, On Guerrilla Gardening, Reynolds talks extensively about the erosion of public space over the years and how there are few places left where citizens can simply enjoy being without being expected to pay for a drink or entrance fee. Using neglected public spaces, Guerrilla Gardeners aim to both make neighbourhoods more attractive as well as creating more spaces for residents to enjoy the outdoors.

Because guerrilla gardeners work with land that is not their own they technically fall foul of the law. Reynolds explains how this can very often bring them into conflict with authorities but how residents are generally more welcoming of the positive changes and very often get involved themselves.

Both the Fallen Fruit and the Guerrilla Gardening projects offer interesting approaches to challenging the perceived wisdom around food production, public space and community involvement.

‘No new coal’, says daring caped crusader

December 12, 2008
Posted in Green News


The cooling towers of Kingsnorth power station, near Nottingham in the UK. © Ed Clarke, iStockphoto.com

In an extraordinarily audacious and dangerous act of environmental sabotage, an unknown “caped crusader” breached the security of Britain’s Kingsnorth coal- and oil-fired power station and brought one of its 500MW turbines to a standstill last month. Then, after leaving a calling call which read “NO NEW COAL”, he simply disappeared.

The power station was brought to a halt for four hours. This means that the unknown saboteur single-handedly reduced Britain’s carbon emissions by 2 percent, the Guardian reports.

The hunt is now on for “climate man”. The police say they have no suspects and even seasoned climate activists say they have no idea who did it, but would really love to know.

A spokesperson for power utility E.ON was quoted in the Guardian article as saying: “It was extremely odd indeed, quite creepy. We have never known anything like this at all, but it shows that if people want to do something badly enough they will find a way.”

Read the full story here

(Thanks to Gavin for the link)