Archive

Environmental Campaigns

Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and it seems that pesticides called neonicotinoids are the culprits. About three quarters of our food is pollinated by bees and other insects, so not protecting them could really affect our ability to grow food in the future.

A key EU vote is being held on Monday 29th April to determine whether to ban their use and take an important step in protecting the bee population.

Unfortunately, Britain’s environment minister Owen Paterson seems reluctant to take action on these damaging sprays. He recently refused to support a European vote to stop them being used.

Image

So how to get Mr Paterson to hear the plight of the bees?

Beekeepers, conservationists and environmental groups are taking to London’s streets with ‘The March of the Beekeepers’ this Friday 26th April at 10.30AM at Parliament Square. Swarms of people will be dressed in full beekeeper gear, draped in flowers and wearing all things bee and honey related, including a giant Winnie the Pooh! Full details.

There is also an online petition with nearly 300,000 signatures asking Mr Paterson to put bees first for good.

There are two important extreme energy resistance events coming up in the next few weeks to get involved with: Camp Frack 2 and The Extreme Energy Gathering.

But first off, what is extreme energy?

We are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels and they’re getting much harder to extract. The term Extreme Energy is used to describe the tremendous lengths we will go to ensure ‘we keep the lights on’ using fossil fuels. Fracking and tar sands – which we mentioned in a previous post – are prime examples of this kind of futile attempt to ‘scrape clean the fossil fuel barrel’.

And what is fracking?

Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth by pumping pressurized chemicals into the ground to displace the gas. Fracking has met widespread resistance in communities globally as it has been linked with damage to the local environment and aquifer, cause minor earthquakes (like in Blackpool last year) and maintain our dependence on fossil fuels at the expense of renewables.

Pumping money into these non-renewable resources doesn’t help hit our carbon emission targets and is strangling the green job market as a predicted 1 million jobs could be created with a large-scale renewable energy plan.

Worldwide, governments have declared that a two degrees rise in temperature is an acceptable benchmark for climate change. Although this doesn’t seem like much, it could be catastrophic for the environment causing sea levels to rise and make many parts of the Earth uninhabitable.

DO SOMETHING!

Camp Frack 2

Camp Frack in Lancashire (at the forefront of the fracking threat) is becoming an annual event and this year it has gotten bigger! The weekend festival is from 10th – 12th May with live music, film showings, talks, protests and most importantly a beer tent. LUSH hopes to have a stall there with Charity Pot and you can even have a go at making products to take home!
More info here: http://www.campfrack.org/

Image

Extreme Energy Gathering

The Extreme Energy Gathering is being held in Manchester at Merci Centre next weekend (27th – 28th April).  This is a fantastic platform for climate change groups, people affected in the community and activists to come together, discuss issues and share knowledge. If you’d like to get involved check out the Facebook event.

There have also been some very good articles recently from The Guardian on why we can’t quit fossil fuels and the looming ‘carbon bubble’ connected to this.

JC & SV

Tar Sands are the big issue for climate change as John Kerry; the man responsible for deciding the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline comes to London for a G8 meeting tomorrow, to be greeted by a vocal ‘No to Keystone XL’ demo.

Image

Tar sands are an extremely viscous type of petroleum; Tar sand oil is the worst type of oil for the climate, producing three times the greenhouse gases of conventional oil production.

Kerry has met opposition worldwide for the KXL pipeline that will run from Alberta, Canada all the way through to Texas carrying harmful tar sands oil. The pipeline will run for approx 1,700 miles(2,750km) through multiple states.

To build the pipeline through the proposed route will mean destroying large amounts of forest and natural beauty spots. Tar sands are extremely hazardous; if there was damage to the pipeline or oil tankerwhilst being transported across the Atlantic, it would be catastrophic for wildlife, water supplies and agriculture.
Tar sands are non renewable, furthering our dependence on fossil fuels and putting more profit into the pockets of the large oil companies, whilst we should be looking for alternatives.

A number of groups will be protesting along the route that John Kerry will be taking to the G8 summit tomorrow in London, including the UK Tar Sands Network. Apologies for the late notice but if you’d like to join in or find out more here’s a link to the event on good ol’ Facebook.
LUSH have campaigned with UK Tar Sands Network previously If you’d like to know a little more here’s a link to that.

surfers-against-sewage__large

Protect our Waves

Today is International Water Day, an annual day marked by the UN to promote the value and sustainable management of water around the world; it’s also an opportunity to raise awareness for important water-related campaigns. We had a chat with Andy Cummins, Campaigns Director for our friends Surfers Against Sewage, about their Protect Our Waves campaign and why waves matter for all of us.

How did you get involved with SAS?

I’ve been surfing for 20 years now, 20 years ago the coastline was in a terrible state. As a 15 year old kid I didn’t really care about the environment, because before I started surfing the environment was a football field and a youth club. But with surfing the environment widened to include the beach and the sea, and I’d get ill and sick from going in the water. Surfers Against Sewage was an organisation that could represent me as a 15 year old kid and make my voice heard down the corridors of power.

We’ve watched the Killing Waves film, what was it like to be part of that?

It was one of our more enjoyable filming experiences mainly because we got a mixture of everything, there was a lot of detail on the day to day work that we do, we were lucky enough to have Carlos Carneiro ( film director) attend one of our reps events where 20 odd really passionate volunteers from around the country were present. We make sure that they are best equipped with representing SAS all over the UK, and we also got some great waves as well!

You’ve marked out London as one of your “brown spots”. Do you think that because a lot of people live in cities they feel disconnect to the impact that they have on nature, and if people aren’t surfers, why should they care that the Thames is a brown spot?

Its iconic to the city, historically it was seen as a dumping ground and a mode of transport to take pollution away from the city to the coast and that’s obviously had an impact an we’ve seen that reverse slowly but surely.

In the city there is less of a sense of community and less of a sense of ownership, but it doesn’t have to be that way, small changes can make a big difference. If we look at places like New York, it’s one of the highest murder capitals in the US.  There was a campaign run for zero tolerance on broken windows and graffiti. Rather than concentrating on preventing murders, they tackled the other end of the spectrum, and looked at knocking out anti-social behaviour, and we can see the benefits working from the bottom up, rather than the top down. It’s that principle that can work for the environment as well. If we all work to tackle the little problems, change our own behaviour, then then those benefits can permeate on a massive scale.

Tell us more about the Protect Our Waves Campaign.

This campaign goes beyond surfing, it’s about ensuring that the environment is improved with the reduction of marine litter, and we need some sort of legal framework that can actually tackle the problem long term because it’s getting worse year after year and we haven’t got a coherent strategy from government to successfully tackle that.

Under POW we are also looking to reduce the amount of sewage overflow that discharges into our rivers and seas. Thames Water have been found guilty by the European Court of Justice for abusing their combined sewer overflow network- what that basically means is millions of gallons of raw sewage are flowing into the river. Examples of the health risks that are associated with that are e-coli and Hepatitis A , so it’s very important that this practice is brought to an end.

What the POW campaign looks to really focus on as well, is promoting waves as a valuable resource. We have national parks that we can understand the value of, we can walk up Snowdonia, look around and be in awe of its beauty. If you turn up to the beach on the right day- the waves can be just as phenomenal. They are incredibly to the country, surfing brings around 16 million to Cornwall alone, and facilitates 1600 jobs all year round, and its relatively small region with about half a million people living here with limited industry, so that’s incredibly important. We see that it touches all the different corners of the country as well. Surprisingly there is a healthy surf scene in London, because it is so central, and surfers can escape to any coast healthy event when the surf’s good at any time.

What can people do to get involved and make a difference?

Sign the POW petition! We are aiming for a 100,000 signatures, and we need another 80,000 this year. Then, we’ll take it to Downing Street and call for a political debate into the value of waves, the environment and restricting those sewage discharges and marine litter. When we have that debate we can then look at reforming current legislation to ensure that the valuable surf spots and the environment are protected for this generation and for future generations to come.

You can also attend one of the many SAS Big Spring Beach Cleans near you this weekend, you can also check their Facebook page for more information.

 

Lush's Tamsin at the Combehaven protests

Lush’s Tamsin at the Combehaven protests

On Monday, Team Lush Campaigns jumped on a very early train to show support for the roads protests just outside Hastings. Locals have taken to the trees and built tunnels in the woodland falling foul of the proposed three-mile link road between Hastings and Bexhill.

We had been following events closely through the brilliantly creative campaigns-blog: Combe Haven Defenders. The blog is managed by a few dedicated local campaigners. The campaign has also managed to achieve some good coverage in national newspapers through the striking image of local grannies taking to the trees.

But as soon as we stepped off the train at Crowhurst and wandered into the countryside, it became apparent that all the blog following in the world could not prepared us for the clear reality of the battle facing the Combe Haven Defenders: building this road will be have disastrous and destructive consequences. This sleepy village of one pub, no shop and few human inhabitants barely registers for the animal and plant neighbourhood nearby.

We found Camp Decoy after crossing the boggiest of fields. The eviction had begun. Those steely enough remained high up in trees earmarked for destruction. The site below was fenced off and surrounded by disinterested looking security and bailiffs.

Stuck on the wrong side of the fence, we watched as the camp was slowly dismantled and shouted support for those being forcibly removed. One spirited defender (later arrested) clung to stumps and branches as he was ripped away by six or seven bailiffs.

Throughout our visit, we spent time chatting with two of the resident local campaigners, Derek and Andrea. They told us that the proposed three-lane road will carry some 30,000 cars day, mere metres from two ponds inhabited by protected great crested newts. It will also boarder several clumps of ancient woodland and run over a small stream that attracts wild eels to the area.

Despite this imminent destruction, neither were all doom and gloom. They stressed the huge public opposition to the road that still exists as well as the remaining chances to prevent its being built in the coming months.

Check out this video from the Guardian featuring Andrea.

So, the Combe Haven Defenders may be out of the trees but the battle to stop the road rages on.