Wednesday, October 28

Hyden Farm stay organic

Christmas joy!

Ok, maybe not for the turkeys. But after the fears expressed earlier this year that Hyden Farm may have to abandon being organic because of feed prices going through the roof, as Christmas approaches, they are still organic and their prices are the same as last year!

The order form is now on the web site.

Tuesday, October 27

Soap Dispenser produced by bacteria

soap dispenserHaving written about this Ecogen plastic in a previous post, I decided to actually buy something made out of it. My choice was a plastic soap dispenser. How boring! Well yes except the plastic was produced by feeding bacteria some corn starch sugars. It looks and feels like any other plastic product, but will biodegrade if buried in the ground for about 9 months.

I have had some thoughts about this, there is of course an issue highlighted by the use of biofuels, eg. using land to produce fuel, that could produce food, is a waste of resources. I agree with that. But this is a bit different I think. Although the plastic in this case requires corn to be farmed, the product is robust and will hopefully last many years, unlike ethanol or other biofuels that would be burnt with in a year after the crop had been harvested

Secondly the plastic is storing carbon for as long as it lasts, where as fuel would return the carbon to the atmosphere within a year. Hence the plastic is a carbon store, like wood. The turnover from crop, to product and back to the earth again is longer than biofuels.

Wednesday, October 21

Waterlooville Sainsburys - public forum

Havant Borough Council are staging a 'Development Consultation Forum' about the proposed Waterlooville Sainsburys at the Council Chamber, Havant Civic Offices on 5th November 2009.
The public will only be allowed to listen to the discussion, which starts at 6pm. A display of the proposal will be revealed at 5.30pm in the Council Chamber. Only councillors, officers and chairs of the local community boards will be able to speak.
Hence if you want to air your views, you need to attend one of the local Community Board or residents association meetings, so that they are passed on.

Waterlooville North Community Board
Waterlooville South Community Board

Sunday, October 18

Mixed news - paints and plastics

After a year or so trying out eco paints, two paints seem to be holding up well, whilst one isn't doing as well as the other two. Earthborn Emulsion used in the laundry room area and Auro gloss paint used on the kitchen woodwork (doors and door frames) are both doing well.

However the use of Nature Paint (the powder in a paper bag) in a steamy area is looking like it might have been a mistake. This was a bit of gamble since the paint wasn't designed for 'damp' areas, hence any fault is probably mine. In areas where steam has been present around the cooker and kettle, the paint has cracked and flaked a bit. It could be that next year I might have to consider replacing it with either standard emulsion suitable for kitchens or possibly a more robust eco-friendly paint.

I have recently come across some products made from a new robust biodegradable plastic. Called Ecogen, the plastic is a bio-engineered material produced using bacteria fed on cornstarch sugars in a fermentation process. The plastic is only biodegradable in soil or compost and takes 6 to 9 months to decompose (compared to hundreds of years (at least) for most petrochemical based plastics). However in normal household conditions the plastic remains robust.
Currently the company produces bathroom products (soap dishes, toothbrush holders etc.) which are available from Natural Collection.

Saturday, October 17

Winchester dumps another 1000 homes on Waterlooville

Grainger Plc is submitting its ideas to the public for 1000 homes in addition to the existing homes planned in the West of Waterlooville MDA. The plans will be on display at the Waterlooville Community Centre on 13th and 14th November. This isn't a planning application consultation, rather a preview of what Grainger are proposing. However opinions expressed by the public may influence Graingers eventual application, so it is important that people make their voices heard.

4 years of energy consumption

Decided to trace back through my old electricity bills this month, trying to work out how many units i'm using today compared to 4 years ago. Trouble is, I have some blank months in 2006 where I appear to have a bill missing. It is also made difficult by the fact that the billing periods vary from year to year and that I changed my supplier in the middle of 2006.

But I roughly estimate that my electricity usage is about one third of what it was in 2006! A 66% reduction in 4 years is good going, but I think it will be difficult to make similar big savings over the coming years, although I'll work on it.

I actually wonder what on earth I was using all that energy for in 2006?? In 2009 my computer stays on most of the day and I watch just as much TV. It's the gas guzzling appliances that make the difference, water heater, tumble dryer, convection heater, kettle etc. If you can change the way you use those things, or even cut them out completely (such as a tumble dryer), then it is possible to make big cuts.

Thursday, October 15

It's BAD!

It's Blog Action Day 2009. This year it is about climate change and creating awareness. Haven't really thought about what to write though!

Ah, yes. The Catlin Arctic Survey news today about the Arctic sea ice being only one years worth thick and disappearing in 10 to 20 years. That should worry anyone. When it goes completely and the albedo effect is removed, then the darker seas will reflect less sunlight and the rate at which the earth warms will increase (a feedback effect). That's a scary prospect.

Melting sea ice won't raise sea levels in itself, but indirect affects will speed up glacier melt and the melting of other land based ice, this will increase sea levels. Read through some of my eco friendly tips on this blog if you want to help stop the ice melting trend.

Catlin Arctic Survey

Maldives underwater cabinet meeting:

Sunday, October 11

South coast sea levels rising

Researchers at Southampton University have used data from numerous sources and show that sea levels along the South coast of England have been rising over the last century. A serious flooding event that would have occurred once in 100 years in 1900 would now occur once in 10 to 25 years.
As sea levels continue to rise, the events are going to increase (once every year or so) and obviously eventually it won't be possible to defend Portsmouth against the rising waters.

I wrote a post a while ago suggesting that Portsmouth would have to be abandoned as the seas continue to rise.
One assumes that such news would eventually affect property, land prices and insurance cover, one wonders when this would happen?
Portsmouth City Council won't discuss it or even mention it. Southampton is planning a large barrier to fend off the sea, but as an island, Portsmouth is doomed to become a modern Atlantis with the Spinnaker tower poking above the waters.

Saturday, October 10

Sainsbury plans for Waterlooville

Recently Sainsburys has revealed plans for a new supermarket store in Waterlooville, on the site of the now closed Salvador Caetano coach builders factory. The site had previously been occupied by Wadham Stringers.

There are a number of alarming issues about this proposal...

1. A lack of legislation and poor planning of the built environment has resulted in our bus network across the UK failing to get people out of their cars. As a result, companies like Caetano have not had enough business to keep the Waterlooville factory open. The Sainsburys proposal in fact just highlights this issue, the Sainsburys proposal for a big store and a car park for over 400 cars, effectively reverses the use of the site from an environmentally positive one to a negative one.

2. Waterlooville already has an Iceland, Asda, Waitrose, an Asda Hypermarket, a Co-op shop in Milton road and a Lidl in Cowplain. On top of this we have 3 butchers in the area, a greengrocer and numerous other shops. All are within cycling and driving distance. Most are actually within reasonable walking distance for anyone living near Waterlooville, with the exception of the Asda hypermarket which probably requires a bus or car to get to. There is basically plenty of choice and competition, the area doesn't need another supermarket. Any council approval for more supermarkets would be to help Sainsburys as a business (read into that what you will) rather than doing what is right for the community and environment.

3. The retail park near the proposed site already causes headaches for pedestrians and cyclists, adding more supermarket capacity will attract more traffic, creating more problems.

4. Supermarkets are dependent on car use. In an alternative history scenario where cars were never invented and people were dependent on their two 'pegs', the likes of Sainsbury, Tesco and even Waitrose would have had to limit themselves to small shops in rural and suburban areas. They could only really survive without cars in densely populated urban areas like Portsmouth. This basically means that their business models run contrary to modern accepted environmentally sustainable ideas, they encourage car use and car emissions.

That's just a few for starters.
We need to stop this endless expansion of the supermarket sector. Calling a halt to this expansion is one step towards returning Waterlooville to the local community and not allowing big corporations continue to take over the area.


Friday, October 9

Wormhole found in Havant

Whilst looking around for 'anomalies' in the region, I found this phenom... fenonimem... phenomenon along Wilverley Avenue in Havant (note when Google update the satelite images in the future, this 'live' view of the wormhole might disappear):

Tuesday, October 6

Alternative transport event at Havant

Havant Borough Council are displaying an electric car, electric bicycle, electric motorbike and an electric delivery truck at the Civic offices today. The idea is to encourage staff and the public to use alternatives to petrol and diesel cars. Other stuff will include Nordic walking, an eco-driving simulator, bike maintenance etc.

Event details

Monday, October 5

x42 bus route

Actually used the new bus service today. It is quite impressive, took about 10 minutes to get to the QA hospital. The route is different to what I had suggested in my previous post.

At Waterlooville you have a choice of taking the bus to South Downs College or to Portsmouth and Gun Wharf Quays. The buses to Portsmouth are 5 minutes past the hour and 35 minutes past the hour. The South Downs College buses are at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. These times are for most of the day, however the early morning and evening timetable is a bit different. All the x42 buses stop at the same bus stop, whether they are going to the college or Gun Wharf, so make sure you check the time or the destination on the front of the bus before getting on!

The journey is great, because the bus doesn't stop at many places and the route is direct. Basically if you're going to Portsmouth, you will only stop at Purbrook, QA Hospital, the Ferry Terminal, the City Centre and Gun Wharf Quays!

The motorway bit is from the Marriott hotel into the city. It means the bus avoids the city traffic and all those city stops. The journey time from Waterlooville to City Centre (Commercial Road) was about 25 minutes.

The bus also adds a service to South Downs College, supplementing the 37 and 39 that go to Havant. All in all, an excellent addition.

Saturday, October 3

Robert Llewellyn interviews Ecotricity boss

This is a really interesting video where the Red Dwarf and Scrap Heap Challenge star talks to Dale Vince about his wind farm electricity business and The Nemesis electric car:

On the journey of eco-friendly-ism

The term 'It's Not Easy Being Green' is highly appropriate in my journey through the maze of eco-friendlyness.

You come across some really strange ideas about climate change, energy, food etc. and encounter people with the odd screw loose. I have found that in the effort to being green, both the 'left' and the 'right' don't really like you that much. Or rather, by making some statements that are from a purely pragmatic green POV, anyone on the left of the political spectrum thinks you are a right wing person that doesn't care about the environment, whilst anyone on the right automatically thinks you are a part of a left wing conspiracy. It depends whose den you happen to be wandering through at the time. I have taken flak (and survived) from both sides of the political spectrum.

But that's the game really, we don't yet have political and economic 'theories' that can cope with the serious environmental problems we face today. It is gradually being worked through, but it's a long drawn out process which is at the moment being outstripped, speed wise, by the environmental changes we are witnessing.

I often come across people that believe in some sort of climate change conspiracy, fuelled by poor media reporting, or a poor understanding of science, or no real knowledge of the organisations that are really involved.

One typical mis-understanding centres around the IPCC and the data used in the analysis of climate. A person I recently came across was convinced that the 'scientists' kept their research and data secret.
This isn't at all true, in fact the data is some of the most publicly accessible, ice cores, tree rings, CO2, temperature records etc. are all freely available here and here.
Which means anyone with a little knowledge of computers can plot graphs and do what ever they like to them. Which also means that they can do some really bad science or some really good science, as can be seen in many discussions on blogs about the subject.

The other misconception is that the IPCC is the only source of science on the subject. It may get a lot of press coverage, but it isn't where the core of the science is born. The core science is researched in numerous university institutions around the world, then published in peer reviewed journals. Much of this science is actually far more worrying than the conservative IPCC reports suggest. Because the IPCC is a big body of people that tries to sum up the the climate science research as it stands, and is funded by many governments that have different motives, it tends to be cautious in its pronouncements. So this means that ever since the last IPCC report, the science has moved on.

Anyway, here's a histogram I created earlier this year from Hadcrut temperature anomaly data:

The graph shows the temperature anomalies for the globe since 1850, it has had no smoothing or processing applied to it, so you can make of it what you will. It's not exactly science and it took hours to produce, but it was very satisfying getting the raw data to actually display as a graph!

Friday, October 2

New Waterlooville to Portsmouth bus service (x42)

It's not often that a new bus service starts up. We are used to services being cut and other bad things. But a new service between Waterlooville and Portsmouth has started, using the motorway to speed things up.

The x42 takes a route between Waterlooville and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, the nice thing about the service is that it stops at South Downs College, a real plus point for any students that live in Waterlooville or Portsmouth.

As more details become available, the route info will become clear.
x42 timetable