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Events & Actions

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.

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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.

Once upon a time on a small island off the coast of Cuba…

…Or more precisely in 2002, a detainment camp was set up to hold al-Qaeda and Taliban terror suspects. Since its opening, Guantanamo Bay has been famous for flouting the rules of the Geneva Convention with torture, water boarding and awful human rights violations a part of day to day life for the detainees.

Some 779 prisoners have been held in Guantanamo Bay against their will even after being cleared of any charges. Many of the legal challenges against this continued detention have been led by Reprieve, an organisation dedicated to “delivering justice and saving lives, from death row to Guantánamo Bay”.

During the last few years Reprieve have secured the release of 65 inmates from Guantanamo, including two British Citizens. This leaves just one remaining British Citizen: Shaker Aamer.

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Shaker Aamer continues to be held in Guantanamo Bay, despite never being charged with a crime or given a trial for 11 years. He has been cleared for release yet is still being kept there and subjected to extended isolation and abuse.

Shaker is a British citizen with a wife and four children, one of whom he has never met before. His family has had to live without a father, a husband, a son, whilst knowing he has been locked up as an innocent man in one of the most notorious prisons in the world.

In 2005, Shaker went on hunger strike with 300 other prisoners, after another prisoner had been beaten during his prayer time. As a result, he was thrown into solitary confinement; a room 6ft by 8ft with no windows that he still inhabits to this day. These injustices have received a lot of attention from the public and press alike, who have continued to fight for the release of Shaker Aamer with rallies, petitions and events.

Tomorrow will see a Free Shaker Aamer rally held outside Westminster at 9am, before an open parliamentary debate begins on his case at 11am. Please join them. More details here.

 

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/

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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

LUSH have joined forces with Animal Aid and are launching a nationwide campaign against the badger cull from tomorrow. Customers can sign postcards in store that will be sent to Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy to let him know that “Badgers have friends, and those friends have votes”. The campaign hopes to highlight the fact that voters will take the Government’s stance on the cull into consideration during local council elections on May 2nd.

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Badgers are again under threat as the planned cull is set to get underway this summer in Somerset and Gloucestershire. This is despite huge public and scientific outcry about the ineffectiveness of culling versus that of humane alternatives. Wildlife experts say that it is impossible to know the how many badgers there are which makes it very difficult to measure the impact of the cull. Badgers are a protected species and many believe it unethical to cull them on mass.

Badgers have been linked with the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis amongst cattle, although many eminent scientists have said that cow to cow infection is still the key problem and therefore a cull is not the answer, they call instead for more humane means like vaccination and better testing of cattle.

The cull has also met opposition from MPs and the public; an official government E-poll with 150,000 signatures demanded a debate to be held in Parliament regarding the cull.  After a four-hour debate in October 2012, MPs voted 147 to 28 in favour of scrapping the cull completely, which unfortunately only led to it be being postponed.

Now is the time to make your voice heard by coming into store and signing a postcard, signing the e-petition and supporting local badger groups – helping to Stop The Cull for good.

For further reading have a look at:

Animal Aid

Farmers against the cull

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.

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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.

APA Logo

Elaine here from APA, checking in to update you on our latest campaign news.  But before I do that, I’d like to entice you into your local pet shop! Because seeing first hand the problems associated with exotic pet shops gives you a taste of the issues that APA tackles on a daily basis….

If it’s a shop that sells animals then the chances are that exotic species (fish, frogs, reptiles, meerkats, unusual hedgehogs etc) will be on sale. The industry has boomed in recent years, particularly the sale of reptiles, although the range of exotic mammals has also increased and indications are that the primate pet trade has grown in popularity too.

Before we begin our pet shop tour, it’s important to bear in mind that the ‘exotic pets’ inside the glass vivariums, cages and aquariums are essentially wild animals. Unlike domesticated animals like cats and dogs, which have been bred over thousands of years to live alongside people, most exotic species are not  – and could not be – domesticated. This is because they lack certain genetic traits that would allow them to easily adapt to new environments, and as a result they often die prematurely as pets.

The first, and most obvious, problem is lack of space. Snakes are often unable to stretch out (which they need to do for their well-being). Finches and budgerigars rarely have space to fly and large parrots in standard cages cannot even fully spread their wings.

Captivity-stress in wild animals manifests in a myriad of behavioural problems – a few of which are easily spotted. Notice the lizard climbing and digging around the glass walls of its tank.  This sign of stress results from the reptile’s inability to recognise the invisible barrier (as they would never encounter glass walls in the wild!) Feather-plucking in parrots can be a sign of ‘boredom’, and bar-chewing by rodents is a sure sign they want out!

– APA has been working behind the scenes, alongside leading authorities in exotic animal biology and welfare, to help to modernise pet shop regulation in Britain improve animal welfare.

– Following the launch of our jointly-funded report on European reptile and amphibian markets, APA was instrumental in halving the number of UK reptile markets last year and we’re keeping up the pressure this year!
 
– Our research has shown that most pet reptiles, with natural potential lifespans from 8 to 120 years depending on species, die within just one year.
 
– Brussels, along with other European animal protection groups, we recently launched the report: ‘Wild Pets in the European Union’, detailing the animal welfare, environmental and public health problems caused by the exotic pet trade. We’re calling for immediate action to ban wild-caught imports and to ultimately introduce a ban on all trade in wild animals as pets.

For more information, visit: www.apa.org.uk 

Please join our communities on on Facebook and Twitter for news and campaign updates.

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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.