Tara Gould, Contributing Writer

November 11, 2013 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, England

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Tara Gould is a writer, blogger and journalist covering ethical business, sustainable living, politics and culture. She is based in Lewes, East Sussex, U.K., and you can find her at @EthicalBizTara.

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Why Being Green Can Save You Money

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We all know that driving an economical car can save money both in tax and petrol, but what can you do in your home to keep carbon dioxide from the air and money in your wallet?

Thankfully, there are many incentives in Britain to keep your home green and your wallet healthy.

One such government scheme is the Green Deal, which helps homeowners and business managers afford energy-saving improvements for their house or business.

Homeowners can buy various energy-saving improvements for their homes, including:

Insulation, such as loft and cavity insulation
Heating measures
Draught-proofing
Double glazing
Renewable energy technologies …

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Why Electric Driving is an Affordable Reality in Britain

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Ford, Renault-Nissan, and Daimler have announced that they are joining their knowledge, technology and resources to create the world’s first mass-produced, affordable fuel cell car. The big three have set themselves a deadline of 2017 to have the model and its technology up to scratch and ready for the market.

This news brings with it the proof that the auto industry are finally becoming more environmentally aware, working with governments and scientists to create a green driving experience that doesn’t have its revolution lodged firmly in a space-age future.

Fuel cell cars work by replacing petrol with hydrogen. The fuel cells convert the chemical energy produced from combining hydrogen and oxygen in the engine to electrical energy to power the motor. You may be surprised to learn that fuel cell cars are not a new concept. In fact, the first fuel cell car came about in 1959. Unfortunately, due to the cost of developing the technology, fuel cell cars have never really become much more than a distant ideal…

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Solar in the Community – Creating a Greener Britain

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Grey skies, wind, rain and no sign of the sun. That’s the British Winter, most of the Autumn, much of the Spring, and a good deal of the Summer too! But, regardless of the climate, there is clearly enough sunshine for solar energy to thrive, and in recent years the UK has witnessed an unprecedented […]

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VW Feels the Force of Greenpeace — Time and Again

December 1, 2012 by  
Filed under 2012, Blog, Car, Carbon, Europe, Front Page, Industries, Slideshow

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With Star Wars back in the news, thanks to the recent Disney purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd., it looks like the intergalactic legend will continue somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. Somewhat closer to home, the Star Wars iconography has been effectively used by environmental campaigners Greenpeace to launch their own assault on the lack of eco-credentials of many car manufacturers, with Volkswagen firmly in its sights.

What could be called the “Car Wars” saga began as a Superbowl ad in 2011. VW premiered a Star Wars themed commercial for the Passat packed with cute kids in the costumes of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, C3P0, et al. Greenpeace was, at the time, involved in campaigning against VW’s continued opposition to proposed changes to CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations in the States and to European laws seeking to impose stricter limits on the C02 emissions of new vehicles. Greenpeace claims that VW and other car manufacturers are lobbying against worldwide initiatives to reduce emissions and, whilst boasting of their latest eco concept cars, are failing to bring truly accessible greener cars to market….

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Notes from the UK: Climate Change Is Here

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It’s fair to say that everyone has noticed the weather changes here in the UK — the heavy rainfalls, gale force winds, flooding, and even the reduction in snow. Every year, we notice more visible changes to the climate — which many believe is the result of climate change — and they appear to be getting progressively worse with each new year.

Heavy rainfall for extended periods is expected to increase the flood risk in the coming years. We have witnessed freak levels of flooding already this year, especially during September. With major flooding throughout the country, holidaymakers in Wales had to be airlifted to safety, and homes in the south of Devon were flooded. Northern areas of the country, such as York and Newcastle, didn’t get off lightly either, with many residents claiming to have experienced the most severe flooding in recent memory.

In fact, Meteogroup released figures showing a 14.25 inch (362mm) rainfall in June, July ,and August, making 2012 the wettest summer seen in the UK since 1912. One explanation is that the flooding is due to unusual circulation patterns in the atmosphere, which can sometimes become fixed on a certain cycle. Depending on whether the circulation is pointing away or towards the country, this can either lead to the UK experiencing excessively dry or wet conditions. This theory could certainly go some way to explaining the drastic alterations in weather that have been experienced in recent times….

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Diversely Sustainable Cities: Naples and SongDo

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Sustainability may not be a new global trend, but it’s certainly growing. Long-standing environmental heroes, like Curitiba, Brazil; San Francisco, California; and Oslo, Norway, have inspired citizens across the globe to begin sustainability projects in their own cities.
Though “green” cities all far surpass environmental performance goals, they each have unique approaches and innovations, demonstrating that a collective commitment to the environment, paired with creativity, really can change the world.

Today, we’ll look at two diverse cities that are making huge environmental strides: Naples, Italy, and SongDo, South Korea….

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Fox Elipsus Shares Music, Fun, and Serious Messages on Free US Concert Tour

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In many ways, Fox Elipsus reminds me of a wandering minstrel from the days of yore. He travels alone from town to town, singing and playing his music to delight the local folk. He is also a messenger, sharing serious thoughts about the environment, peace, education, and so much more, mixed in with light-hearted fun, engaging banter, and an awesome musical performance. And he does it all for free.

Joe and I were privileged Monday night to attend one of Fox’s 250 concerts on his 2010 Momentum tour — his third annual tour, with many more to come. His shows are all held in coffeehouses, bookstores (we saw him at Borders in Davenport, Iowa), and other congenial meeting places that allow him to set up and play without charging him for the space.

Born and raised in Oxford, England, 29-year-old Fox Elipsus (born Fox Salehi [SAL-uh-hee]) was caught by two fevers as a very young boy — music and the state of the planet.

“When I was about three or four,” he told me in a phone interview on his way to his next gig today, “I was extremely concerned with what is going on in the world. And I was crazy about a musician who concentrated on environmental themes. So I started writing my little four-year-old songs about the environment. I was also really into the Live Aid Concert for Africa.

“Throughout my education, I was motivated to try to fix the world. I found so much that was depressing, and I wanted to do something about it. As long as I can remember, it has been an innate need. And, now, I want to inspire other people to help, too, through my music.” …

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Ecotourists Save the World

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If you could help save wildlife and their habitats from destruction, would you do it? What if it involved traveling to a far-off location to live in relatively primitive conditions, work long hours, and complete difficult, sometimes dangerous, tasks? Oh, and you might have to pay to do it.

Is that your idea of a good time? Then Ecotourists Save the World is a book you’ll want to read.

In partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, writer Pamela Brodowsky has compiled an extensive resource of volunteer opportunities to protect wildlife around the world. You’ll find, as the subtitle says, “More Than 300 International Adventures to Conserve, Preserve, and Rehabilitate Wildlife and Habitats.”

In the introduction, Brodowsky writes,

“Did you know … one in three amphibians, nearly half of all turtles and tortoises, one in four mammals, one in five sharks and rays, and one in eight bird species are now considered at risk of extinction? Habitat destruction, exploitation, pollution, and climate change are taking their toll on our world’s species and the places that they inhabit.”

The cool thing is, you can do something about it….

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My 5: Anthony McCann, Creatition and Founder, Crafting Gentleness

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked Anthony McCann, who describes himself as the “creatition and founder” of Crafting Gentleness, two questions we ask the people we interview. McCann is also an accomplished musician and singer, as well as a lecturer at the University of Ulster. His responses, written using his native British spelling and punctuation, follow….

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

McCANN:

1. Stop trying to save the planet. This sounds a little counter-intuitive, but there are a few things behind my answer. The first is the idea that it’s not our job to save the planet — the planet doesn’t need us. It was here before us and will be around long after we go (and I’m guessing we eventually will). Second, trying to save anybody or anything often ends up with well-intentioned blindness, where I become so convinced that I’m on the Side of The Angels that I don’t think to question myself. That, then, all too easily comes with shoulds, musts, and have tos, directed at other people….

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Chorlton Big Green Festival Celebrates “All Things Eco & Ethical”

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Community members and visitors in South Manchester, England are gearing up for the second-annual Chorlton Big Green Festival, to be held March 27. In 2009, an estimated 4,000 visitors gathered at the first festival where they learned about livign lighter on the planet and celebrated the green lifestyle.

The 2010 event, which begins at 11:00 AM on Saturday, the 27th, will include a mix of entertainments and exhibits, a bicycle race, and a wide variety of organic foods. “The idea behind Chorlton’s Big Green Festival,” say the organizers, “is to offer local people the chance to sample sustainability in fun and friendly surroundings.”

Several types of events are promised for the day, but don’t miss the lead-off Thursday evening at the What Next? Forum…

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Reflections on Copenhagen

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The Copenhagen conference ended, for the most part, disappointingly. The Copenhagen Accord, the climate change agreement reached at the last minute, doesn’t effectively address climate change. While it may have been a step in the right direction, it was only an incremental step when the world needed a leap at this moment in time.

In the aftermath of such a disappointing effort, many have sought to place blame. Fingers have been pointed at China, predictably at the US, at Danish political leadership, and even at the UN. All of these narratives are partially correct, but only partially. The blame is plenty and should be spread far….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Friday, the Final Day

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COPENHAGEN – On the final day of COP15, the process of negotiations has moved from talks between delegates to direct communication between heads of states. As I write this, President Obama is in talks with other leaders over the remaining unresolved issues. CNN’s Ed Henry tweeted that President Obama has scuttled his schedule and is in a meeting with Ethiopia (representing China) Russia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Norway, and Colombia. Accompanying President Obama to Copenhagen is a renewed sense of optimism for the prospects of success at COP15….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Wednesday, Two Days Remaining

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COPENHAGEN — The anxiety and anticipation rising in the conference center are palpable as the fault lines become more distinct and several entities attempt to resurrect negotiations. It’s Wednesday morning in Copenhagen, there are far fewer NGOs, a lot more press, and sightings of presidents and prime ministers scuttling to meetings. It’s difficult to make sense of everything that is taking place at these talks. But one thing is clear, the sense of urgency has heightened, and time is running out for nations to strike a deal….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Sour and Souring

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COPENHAGEN — The climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen are on life support. One week in to the conference, and with one week to go, progress towards a worthwhile climate change deal has been slow. In order to salvage COP15, negotiators will have to double down in order to reach a deal.

Monday’s major news was a group of African nations walking out on negotiations, then, in dramatic fashion — late in the evening hour — choosing to come back to the negotiating table. The story behind the walkout is that, last week, the Danish government reportedly had met with a group of wealthy nations, including the US, outside of the formal process. The parties agreed to a draft “text” that could eventually become the agreement that the Copenhagen conference produces. Several poor nations were angered by what they perceived as a backdoor deal that favored rich nations. The mood has been sour — and souring— ever since, culminating in today’s walkout….

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Join the Fun – Help Plan Chorlton’s 2010 Big Green Festival

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The wheels are in motion once again for the second Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, which will take place on Sat 27 March 2010.

Nobody could have predicted the success of April’s festival, which brought in more than 1,500 festival goers, and saw the likes of a bicycle parade around Chorlton, wheelie bin displays, a solar/wind powered sound system, swap shops and a foot stomping ceilidh, as well as guest speakers, eco workshops and live entertainment…

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Surfers Against Sewage Sponsors “Barefoot Friendly Beach Cleaning Tour”

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Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is a volunteer organization dedicated to “clean, safe recreational water, free from sewage effluents, toxic chemicals, nuclear waste and marine litter.” Even landlocked folks like Joe and me, here in the Iowa Heartland, are joining the cause. We all need clean water. And we want beaches that are safe enough to walk on with bare feet. But clean beaches are growing scarce. Stories of medical waste, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, raw sewage, and disposable diapers make walking even remote beaches potentially unsafe and, often, unappealing.

In the next few days, SAS and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly will be hosting a beach cleanup tour on the shores of Britain. Join fellow environmentalists from 3 to 5 P.M. at the sites listed below. According to SAS’s Andy Cummins, as posted on the SAS website, “[V]olunteers can expect the afternoon clean-up sessions will kick off with a full introduction and briefing from the respected eco-campaigners at SAS. Each volunteer will then be given gloves and a rubbish bag and the marine litter-picking will commence. All volunteers need bring is suitable clothing for the weather”…

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Swishing – A New Green Craze for Frugal Fashionistas

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“That’s so cute! Where did you get that?”

We’ve all said it to our friends, admiring a blouse, a skirt, a purse, or a pair of shoes. And they’ve said it to us. But we all get tired of our own clothes after a while. Instead of running out to the store to pick up a new item for yourself, consider swishing — swapping before shopping — as an environmentally friendly way to get those super-adorable clothes your friends own. Swishing is easy to do, and a fun way to enhance your wardrobe without spending a dime.

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Big Green Festival to Promote Sustainable Living (and Fun!)

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Lest anyone labor under the false impression that going green has to be deadly serious business, we wanted to pass along the following announcement about what promises to be a fantastically fun eco-event. Should you happen to be in the the South Manchester area the first weekend in April, you won’t want to miss this delightful day of festiviities. — Julia Wasson

Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, a brand-new date in South Manchester’s calendar, is inviting local residents to get on their bikes and join in Chorlton’s first-ever Big Green Bike Parade….

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Polar Bear Sculpture Floats Down Thames

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London 26th January 2009:

A stark reminder of the dangers of global warming arrived in London today, as a life-like 16ft high sculpture of an iceberg featuring a stranded polar bear and its cub was floated on the Thames. The sculpture was specially commissioned to mark the launch of the new Natural History Television channel Eden, which starts today and features programming including Planet Earth and Attenborough Explores Our Fragile World at 10pm.

Broadcaster and eminent wildlife conservationist, Sir David Attenborough says: “The melting of the polar bears’ sea ice habitat is one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time. I commend Eden for highlighting the issue; we need to do what we can to protect the world’s largest land carnivores from extinction.”

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