Here in the UK we have just had the hottest day of the year and we're moving towards an even hotter one, with predicted temperatures of up to 33°C. What our Australian listeners would probably call a bright winter’s day. Nevertheless we have warnings from the NHS and a heat-health warning from the Met Office.
Short-term pressures are building. Although the conflict has gone off the headlines, we are all concerned about the continuing situation in Ukraine. In the UK, and no doubt throughout the world, the cost of living is generating headlines, driven by the rise in energy prices. The pressure is particularly acute at the pump because many people have to fill their cars just to get to work. There's inflation at levels not seen for 20 or 30 years and while food prices have gone up there are fears that there could be shortages and prices might be driven still higher.
...but I haven't made up my mind about the Prince of Wales yet.
Is the Monarchy Sustainable?
I warned you last time that I might get political so I'll be commenting on the monarchy versus republicanism which leads onto questions of ownership of land and that in turn leads to agriculture and food production.
UN Climate Conference
A UN climate conference opened in Bonn this week amid warnings that we should use no excuse to justify expanding fossil fuel production; a warning which appears to be falling on deaf ears. It could all end in tears, or stranded assets. Amid rapidly rising fuel costs, electric car manufacturers are trumpeting how cheap it is to refuel their cars. Forget the capital cost, but is that electric car as clean as you thought? A new report casts doubts.
I talk to Tinia Pina, CEO of Re-Nuble, about how her organisation uses commercial vegetable waste to produce a nutrient feed for hydroponic farmers. They use sea-food waste from fish processors too. It makes a biodegradable substrate to support the hydroponic plants.
There is a new government in Australia. Will it reverse the climate scepticism which seems to have been a hallmark of the previous administration? Here in the UK a responsible investment manager at a major financial institution takes an interesting slant on his job and gets suspended as a result. Questions are asked whether a charity with a view on climate science is in fact a charity or could it be a lobbying group? UK ministers have decided that now is not quite the time to require corporate environmental disclosure, inviting the question if not now, when? There's more bad news from Hinkley C, (I keep having to remind my spellchecker that there’s no ‘C’ in Hinkley - is that an omen?) but there’s a ray of sunshine from Oberlin, Ohio in the United States.
We’re talking about protecting the environment, in particular protecting it from plastic waste. Incidentally, there’s a detailed analysis of the impact of plastic pollution, including the number of decades or centuries it takes for common plastic products to degrade, on the Happiness Without website. There’s a link below.
Today I’m talking to Jake and Amee, creators of the S’wheat reusable plant-based water bottle. Very special thanks to them for going through it all twice, because first time I forgot to turn the recorder on.
It's World Bee Day. This week, should the Guardian’s Carbon Bombs be defused? There’s a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation on the State of the Global Climate 2021, I learn about a country where supermarkets accept Bitcoin while IEMA warns about the energy cost of Bitcoin mining, and there’s a prospect of new pandemics.
Blockchain. What is it? Is it important? Is it sustainable? How does it relate to crypto-currency like Bitcoin, and is that just for money-laundering or for wild speculation? I’m hearing more and more about blockchain, so I thought it was time for the Sustainable Futures Report to talk to an expert.
Friday 13th. Bad news for some, but generally the world goes on much the same.
Many of the stories that I cover in the Sustainable Futures Report come from the Guardian newspaper. Wherever possible I aim to find the original source behind their articles and bring you the original detail as well as a link to the paper or press release or organisation concerned. This week the Guardian published a special report by its own journalists, “Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown”. I shall quote from it unashamedly and you’ll find a link below so you can read the whole article yourself. I recommend you do.
Also this week, more greenwash; elections, floods and climate controversy in Australia; retrofitting - how they do it in Italy, mining for gold (and other minerals) in e-waste dumps, and the effect of the moon on the climate.
...and catching up on good news and bad from the past few days.
Roll up! Roll up! Get your bad news here! I'm concerned that there is bad news. There's always bad news. The climate crisis has certainly not gone away. We need to do something about it and we need to encourage people to do something about it but I'm increasingly concerned about warning them of the risks and privations that are likely to occur some years in the future. It's not going to work where people are increasingly concerned about the cost of living, the cost of mortgages, the cost of petrol, and whether there will be food on the table tonight.
In the spirit of working out how to communicate the climate crisis message I’m talking today to Manda Scott.
Manda is a long-time patron of the Sustainable Futures Report and has joined me previously, though that was a few years ago. Manda started off as a veterinary surgeon - becoming a midwife to racehorses - before switching to writing novels at the turn of the millennium. Her first novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, her most recent, the fourteenth, for the Saltire Award.
If things go wrong and we fail to overcome the climate crisis there will be profound consequences for society and humanity. The Deep Adaptation Forum exists to help people prepare for this worst case scenario, and you may find some of this interview disturbing or depressing. My guest is Fernando Garcia Ferreiro and he has offered to talk personally to anyone who is upset or concerned by the ideas we discuss. His contact details are at the end of this text, together with links and references.
This conversation was recorded in the week before Easter.
The Sustainable Futures Reportaims to bring you news and insights into the ongoing climate crisis, but other such podcasts are available. On this occasion I bring you an interview with the founder and presenter of the Sweaty Penguin, Ethan Brown.
The British Energy Security Strategy was published at the end of last week and although it runs to only 15 pages it has caused a lot of controversy. This is Easter Week so there will be no Wednesday Interview this week and no edition on Friday 15th or Friday 22nd. The next Wednesday Interview will be on the 27th of April and I'll tell you about that at the end of this episode.
This is edition No. 400. Thank you for listening and supporting the Sustainable Futures Report since I started podcasting back in 2007.
The big news this week, overshadowed by Ukraine like everything else, is the publication of the latest part of AR6, the climate report from the IPCC. It’s been all over the news, so what can I tell you that you don’t already know?
This week’s theme is Australia. For a while I've been promising you a review of what's been going on from an environmental point of view since Anthony Albanese's Labor government took office in May....
This week the United Nations climate conference, COP 27, opened and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres set the tone with the warning that, "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still...