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World Environment Day 2013

World Environment Day 2013. Photo: Think.Eat.Save

“Think, Eat and Save”, this is today’s celebration theme for the World Environment Day 2013, promoted by the United Nations (UN). This year’s event is an anti-food waste and loss campaign with the objective to raise awareness of the impacts of food waste and loss to the environment and encourage us to reduce our food print.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is either lost or wasted every year. This amount is equivalent to roughly one third of the world’s food production for human consumption. Additionally, food waste is a drain of the world’s natural capital, as food depends on many resources, such as fresh water and others, to be produced.

Given these facts, the UN invites us to take action and rethink our lifestyles. “Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference”, said the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

You can register individual or group activities done in order to help the environment on a special mural dedicated to the World Environment Day 2013.

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As I’m sure you would know it’s not the easiest to grow your own food in some climates due to lack of rain or not enough sunlight but that wasn’t the situation for the McClung family

In 2007, the McClungs decided they wanted to change how they lived. “Our goal sounded simple,” McClung wrote on his blog, “to live as self-sufficient as possible by January 2012.” They achieved that and then some. They began to build what they soon would call “The Garden Pool.”

By doing this they save money on food every week and it’s more environmental friendly. It took them only two days to set up and cost around $1,5000 and the Garden Pool has an an aquaponic farming system using a tilapia pond, which uses 80 percent less water than traditional farming and the resulting vegetables and herbs get grown in reusable clay pellets, which require no tilling.

This idea has spread very quickly around the world with thousands of families looking to cut their costs on food every week and become more self-sufficient. In 2012, The Garden Pool became an official nonprofit, tasked with teaching people the ways of sustainable backyard agriculture.

“The Garden Pool has evolved from an empty swimming pool into a movement,” McClure says. Their main objective will continue to be about feeding the family self-sufficiently, but what started off as a simple idea has now grown well beyond its original scope. This is an inspiring story of choosing to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

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Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services are provided to us free by nature and contribute invisible or unaccounted for economic value to our global economy, including such simple things as clean air, clean water and the ability to grow crops.

Inspired by the 2006 Stern Review for Climate Change, the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) initiative, a G8+5 commissioned project, has taken on the challenge to draw attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity, and highlight the growing cost of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

TEEB provides guidance to important policy makers, national governments, local governments and regional decision makers, to help them internalise the value of nature in proper policy making frameworks, in order to properly account for these valuable services.

The top 3,000 businesses are estimated to have externalities of almost $2.1 trillion, which is equivalent to 3.5% of global GDP, every year. These significant externalities can be described as third party (or external) effects arising from the production and/or consumption of goods and services, for which no appropriate compensation is paid.

It is believed that accounting for these externalities and our preciously-limited Natural Capital now, will result in significant cost savings in the future. If we continue our current consumption levels of these valuable services, without accounting for them, the cost of replicating them once they have been exhausted, is almost incalculable.

To find out more, see this video where the TEEB Study Leader and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Special Adviser introduces and explains the project.

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Research by the Centre for International Climate & Environmental Research in Oslo, has addressed the conflicting goals of protecting the Amazonian Rainforest and the consumption of agricultural products, leading to more deforestation. They looked to the reasons why these trees are being cut down.

The paradox of some countries both paying for the Amazon Rainforest to be maintained and proving the catalyst for its loss due to increased buying and consumption of agricultural products, which result in detrimental land use change occurring, is now sadly evident.

Lead author, Jonas Karstensen explains that, “Countries are putting more and more pressure on the Brazilian Amazon by consuming agricultural products; and by doing this they are undermining efforts of protecting that same forest. This needs to change. Brazil’s problem is now our global problem.”

They concluded that approximately 30% of deforestation has been a result of trade, in particular the demand for Brazilian soy beans and beef, which dominate the country’s agricultural sector.

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Ireland's Countryside. Source: IDB.ie

Ireland’s Countryside. Source: IDB.ie

Ireland is a country that is often thought of as “Green” to the core, owing to its lush green rolling countryside and its affectionate unofficial name abroad, the Emerald Isle. It seems as if Ireland is now determined to not only look green, but actually be green, in a concerted effort to improve their environmental consciousness and sustainability credentials.

Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board confirm this green status, noting that…

“Ireland is a country supremely well suited to sustainability. Our climate is temperate; our lush, green countryside is perfect for farming; ours seas are teeming with fish.

Our dairy industry shares the lowest carbon footprint in the EU with Austria. Our beef industry, the largest net exporter in the northern hemisphere, is also among the lowest. And with our rainfall, in a world facing water shortages, and agriculture requiring 70% of freshwater supplies for irrigation, our water stress index, unsurprisingly is one of the lowest in the world.”

They continue on, explaining that “it is the proper management of these resources now that matters, and which will further enhance and demonstrate our green reputation, around the world.”

This growing reputation and expertise, is also acknowledged in a recent article from The Guardian, which notes that Bord Bia have “developed tools to assess beef farm emissions and also the carbon emissions generated (in the process), to help identify carbon hotspots where potential improvements may be possible.” These tools have been developed during the organisation’s unique sustainability development programme, called Origin Green.

Changing Ireland’s sustainability colours will not be easy, but a determined, collective effort is a necessity in the ongoing global fight against detrimental climate change.

Bord Bia's Origin Green Campaign Logo. Source: Bordbia.ie

Bord Bia’s ‘Origin Green’ Campaign Logo. Source: Bordbia.ie

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april22earthday2013

For those of you who didn’t know today is Earth Day, which celebrates its 43rd birthday today. Earth Day’s goal is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable environment.

US Senator Gaylord Nelson conceived the idea for the event in the wake of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. The first Earth Day began in 1970 when 20 million Americans took to the streets to demand a sustainable environment and it is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement

Today Earth Day is a big deal with more than one billion people across 192 countries now participating in Earth Day activities, with planting trees being one of the most popular ways to show support. The numbers involved also mean that it is the largest secular civic event in the world.

Even Google Doodlers are getting involved by featuring a colourful and interactive doodle on its homepage to mark the cycle of seasons.

Watch this video about the Earth Day Network, and the education & sustainability activities which people are engaged in, around the world.

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Green Plan

Source: earthtimes.org

You don’t have to have a rough night in the woods just to have a green holiday, for those of you who want to be Earth-friendly while on the road, this doesn’t have to mean trading a comfortable hotel bed for a tent.

Whether you want to go completely off the grid while still retaining some luxuries and comforts or you simply want to make your travels as green as possible, there are many of Earth-friendly renewable energy vacation spots and it doesn’t just have to be your location that has to be eco-friendly, you can also offset your carbon emissions.

Worldwide, the tourism industry plays a part in contributing to carbon emissions, which in turn are contributing to global warming. By practising sustainable tourism you can contribute towards making sure that tourism doesn’t cause hardship for people and animals and their habitat in more vulnerable parts of the world.

You can find two particular favourites of mine below:

  • Blue Lagoon Resort and Spa is one of the most famous spas in Iceland, it takes advantage of the geothermal energy found in the country in several different ways; including the use of locally sourced power to heat its facilities and to provide all of its electricity. Additionally, the resort is completely powered by renewable energy, making this destination very Earth-friendly.
  • Majahuitas Resort, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico’s Bay of Banderas. I like this one because it is only accessible by a boat, and has no TVs in their private cabins; so you know you are going to get all the peace and quiet you need for a relaxing Eco Friendly holiday. They also provide locally sourced dinner by candlelight every evening.

To see the full list of Eco Friendly destinations on the Huffington Post website, click here – http://tinyurl.com/cfjomro.

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