26 June 2010
Reposted in full from Warmer Bulletin, 4 June 2010
'Lamb curry ready-made meals eaten in the UK amount to an annual carbon footprint equivalent to 5,500 car trips around the world or 140 million car miles.
The figures were calculated using a new carbon footprinting tool developed by researchers at The University of Manchester.
The estimates are based on the figure of 30 per cent of adults in the UK who eat ready-made meals at least once a week. Curry is one of the nation's favourites, accounting for up to 10 per cent of ready-made sales - which have soared during the recession.
The academics found that the fast food meal generates the equivalent of 4·3 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per person.
The meal's ingredients are responsible for 65 per cent of the carbon footprint, with lamb contributing half of the total. Meal manufacture contributes on average 14 per cent and packaging 4 per cent of the total carbon footprint. The contribution of transport is small at 2 per cent. However, storage at the retailer contributes 16 per cent.
The £1m project is led by Adisa Azapagic, Professor of Sustainable Chemical Engineering at The University of Manchester, and funded by the Carbon Trust, the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council.
The previous work by the same research group showed that, surprisingly, the Christmas turkey meal prepared at home is a greener offering, coming in at only 2·5 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per person.
One of the reasons for this, they say, is that preparing food at home can help to reduce the carbon footprint.
"The same lamb curry prepared at home has a 20 per cent lower carbon footprint, mainly because of the elimination of the refrigeration stage at retailer needed for the ready-made meals," said Professor Azapagic.
In addition to food products, the CCaLC carbon footprinting tool can be used for estimation of carbon footprints of other products, including packaging, biofuels and various chemicals.
With respect to application to the chemicals sector, the version of the tool for estimating the carbon footprints of PVC is available for free on the CCaLC website.
The CCaLC tool will be launched in London, where the team will introduce the tool and demonstrate on a number of case studies how it can be used and what benefits can be gained.
The research was carried out as part of the Carbon Calculations over the Life Cycle of Industrial Activities (CCaLC) project at The University of Manchester.
Professor Azapagic said, "Measuring carbon footprints of industrial and other human activities is a first step towards a better understanding of our impacts on climate change. Because, what can be measured, can be managed.
"But the devil is in the detail - measuring carbon footprints is not a trivial task. Industrial and human activities are notoriously complex, so capturing that complexity is a challenge.
"It is particularly so if we expect businesses - and consumers - to make everyday decisions based on the estimations of carbon footprints of their activities.
"And yet this should be the ultimate aim, as only then can we hope to make a real contribution towards mitigating the effects of climate change.
"We have considered all life cycle stages in estimating the carbon emissions - including long-distance transportation for imported food and short distances related to food shopping.
"Food production and processing are responsible for up to three quarters of the total carbon footprint for most food products - so this sector is an important part of our work."'
Reposted in full from Warmer Bulletin, 7 May 2010
'Australia's first comprehensive report on waste and resource recovery has been released - the National Waste Report 2010.
The National Waste Report brings together for the first time a wide range of information on waste management and resource recovery. It draws on a range of published sources, commissioned research and information from states and territories. It is a first step towards establishing baseline data and developing a comprehensive account of waste issues which can be used by industry, government and the community to make informed and timely decisions.
As well as presenting national and state and territory waste data, the report discusses the impacts of landfill, recycling, hazardous waste, organic waste and litter, and describes how Australia managed its waste in the past, the current arrangements, and emerging issues and trends. The report also examines the quality of our data on waste and recycling.
The National Waste Report details trends in waste and resource recovery and is the first step in providing baseline data to inform policy.
Key findings from the National Waste Report 2010 are:
- 43,777,000 tonnes of waste were generated in Australia in 2006-07
- Per capita, Australia generated around 2.08 tonnes of waste in 2006-07, of which 1.08 tonnes was recycled
- The recycling and waste sector is valued at between $7 billion and $11.5 billion
- In 2006-07, 22,707,000 tonnes or 52 per cent of Australia's waste was recycled. Of this 42 per cent was from the construction and demolition waste stream, 36 per cent was from the commercial and industrial waste stream and 22 per cent was from the municipal waste stream
- Organic material made up 62 per cent of waste disposed to landfill
- 99 per cent of households undertake recycling
- 80 per cent of employees would like to see more recycling in the workplace.
To download a copy of the National Waste Report 2010, visit the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) website.'
Reposted in full from TruthDig, 17 May 2010
'Cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die. They ruthlessly exploit the natural world and the members of their society in the name of progress until exhaustion or collapse, blind to the fury of their own self-destruction.
The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, estimated to be perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels a day, is part of our foolish death march. It is one more blow delivered by the corporate state, the trade of life for gold. But this time collapse, when it comes, will not be confined to the geography of a decayed civilization. It will be global.
Those who carry out this global genocide - men like BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who assures us that "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume'' - are, to steal a line from Ward Churchill, "little Eichmanns." They serve Thanatos, the forces of death, the dark instinct Sigmund Freud identified within human beings that propels us to annihilate all living things, including ourselves.
These deformed individuals lack the capacity for empathy. They are at once banal and dangerous. They possess the peculiar ability to organize vast, destructive bureaucracies and yet remain blind to the ramifications. The death they dispense, whether in the pollutants and carcinogens that have made cancer an epidemic, the dead zone rapidly being created in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting polar ice caps or the deaths last year of 45,000 Americans who could not afford proper medical care, is part of the cold and rational exchange of life for money.
The corporations, and those who run them, consume, pollute, oppress and kill. The little Eichmanns who manage them reside in a parallel universe of staggering wealth, luxury and splendid isolation that rivals that of the closed court of Versailles. The elite, sheltered and enriched, continue to prosper even as the rest of us and the natural world start to die. They are numb. They will drain the last drop of profit from us until there is nothing left. And our business schools and elite universities churn out tens of thousands of these deaf, dumb and blind systems managers who are endowed with sophisticated skills of management and the incapacity for common sense, compassion or remorse. These technocrats mistake the art of manipulation with knowledge.
"The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else," Hannah Arendt wrote of "Eichmann in Jerusalem."
"No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such."
Our ruling class of technocrats, as John Ralston Saul points out, is effectively illiterate. "One of the reasons that he is unable to recognize the necessary relationship between power and morality is that moral traditions are the product of civilization and he has little knowledge of his own civilization," Saul writes of the technocrat. Saul calls these technocrats "hedonists of power," and warns that their "obsession with structures and their inability or unwillingness to link these to the public good make this power an abstract force - a force that works, more often than not, at cross-purposes to the real needs of a painfully real world."
BP, which made $6.1 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year, never obtained permits from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The protection of the ecosystem did not matter. But BP is hardly alone. Drilling with utter disregard to the ecosystem is common practice among oil companies, according to a report in The New York Times. Our corporate state has gutted environmental regulation as tenaciously as it has gutted financial regulation and habeas corpus. Corporations make no distinction between our personal impoverishment and the impoverishment of the ecosystem that sustains the human species. And the abuse, of us and the natural world, is as rampant under Barack Obama as it was under George W. Bush. The branded figure who sits in the White House is a puppet, a face used to mask an insidious system under which we as citizens have been disempowered and under which we become, along with the natural world, collateral damage. As Karl Marx understood, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force. And this force is consuming us.
Karl Polanyi in his book "The Great Transformation," written in 1944, laid out the devastating consequences - the depressions, wars and totalitarianism - that grow out of a so-called self-regulated free market. He grasped that "fascism, like socialism, was rooted in a market society that refused to function." He warned that a financial system always devolved, without heavy government control, into a Mafia capitalism - and a Mafia political system - which is a good description of our corporate government. Polanyi warned that when nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market, then human beings and nature are destroyed.
Speculative excesses and growing inequality, he wrote, always dynamite the foundation for a continued prosperity and ensure "the demolition of society."
"In disposing of a man's labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity 'man' attached to that tag," Polanyi wrote. "Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed. Finally, the market administration of purchasing power would periodically liquidate business enterprise, for shortages and surfeits of money could prove as disastrous to business as floods and droughts in primitive society. Undoubtedly, labor, land, and money markets are essential to a market economy. But no society could stand the effects of such a system of crude fictions even for the shortest stretch of time unless its human and natural substance as well as its business organizations was protected against the ravages of this satanic mill."
The corporate state is a runaway freight train. It shreds the Kyoto Accords in Copenhagen. It plunders the US Treasury so speculators can continue to gamble with billions in taxpayer subsidies in our perverted system of casino capitalism. It disenfranchises our working class, decimates our manufacturing sector and denies us funds to sustain our infrastructure, our public schools and our social services. It poisons the planet. We are losing, every year across the globe, an area of farmland greater than Scotland to erosion and urban sprawl. There are an estimated 25,000 people who die every day somewhere in the world because of contaminated water. And some 20 million children are mentally impaired each year by malnourishment.
America is dying in the manner in which all imperial projects die. Joseph Tainter, in his book "The Collapse of Complex Societies," argues that the costs of running and defending an empire eventually become so burdensome, and the elite becomes so calcified, that it becomes more efficient to dismantle the imperial superstructures and return to local forms of organization. At that point the great monuments to empire, from the Sumer and Mayan temples to the Roman bath complexes, are abandoned, fall into disuse and are overgrown. But this time around, Tainter warns, because we have nowhere left to migrate and expand, "world civilization will disintegrate as a whole." This time around we will take the planet down with us.
"We in the lucky countries of the West now regard our two-century bubble of freedom and affluence as normal and inevitable; it has even been called the 'end' of history, in both a temporal and teleological sense," writes Ronald Wright in "A Short History of Progress." "Yet this new order is an anomaly: the opposite of what usually happens as civilizations grow. Our age was bankrolled by the seizing of half the planet, extended by taking over most of the remaining half, and has been sustained by spending down new forms of natural capital, especially fossil fuels. In the New World, the West hit the biggest bonanza of all time. And there won't be another like it - not unless we find the civilized Martians of H.G. Wells, complete with the vulnerability to our germs that undid them in his War of the Worlds."
The moral and physical contamination is matched by a cultural contamination. Our political and civil discourse has become gibberish. It is dominated by elaborate spectacles, celebrity gossip, the lies of advertising and scandal. The tawdry and the salacious occupy our time and energy. We do not see the walls falling around us. We invest our intellectual and emotional energy in the inane and the absurd, the empty amusements that preoccupy a degenerate culture, so that when the final collapse arrives we can be herded, uncomprehending and fearful, into the inferno.'
24 June 2010
According to TFT, a billion people in developing countries face hunger and malnutrition; another billion in developed countries suffer from lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity caused by unhealthy eating habits. TFT was established in the fall of 2007 with the aim of addressing these imbalances.
TABLE FOR TWO Aims to Simultaneously Address Hunger and Obesity
TFT point-of-purchase (POP) displays in participating cafeterias help increase awareness about the global problem of starvation, and let people know that their 20-yen donation will go towards paying for school meals in developing countries when they purchase a TFT meal.
The name "TABLE FOR TWO" was inspired by the idea of people in developed countries and children in developing countries sharing a meal at a table - a concept that extends beyond space and time. TFT believes that participating in its program evokes in people a sense of unity as global citizens and deeper empathy for others, and that such a notion is inevitably essential for all people living in this global society.
Social Contribution Activities Originating in Japan
TFT was organized under the premise that "Japan should take the initiative in promoting social action that results in world-changing impacts." Michiko Ando, a TFT staff member, explains the reason why it wished to launch a program that originated in Japan, saying, "The majority of social contribution initiatives in the past began in the U.S. and Europe, and then branch offices were established in Japan. We wanted to reverse this trend by launching a unique project in Japan that would spread out to the world."
At the end of 2007, when TFT was established, only 11 companies and organizations participated in the program. The following year, in April 2008, a new medical care system was introduced in Japan requiring companies to institute specific health check-ups for employees between the ages of 40 and 74 years old, and to provide health counseling to those identified as having a metabolic syndrome, indicating a high risk of developing a lifestyle-related disease such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Because of the new health-check requirement, TFT began to receive many more inquiries from persons in charge of employee benefits looking for easy-to-accomplish health measures. As a result, the number of participating companies and organizations rapidly increased to 98 by the end of 2008, and to 212 by the end of 2009. As of March 2010, 241 groups were participating in the TFT program.
TFT Promotes School Meal Service in Africa
TFT is currently working on providing meals in cooperation with other organizations at schools in Uganda, Rwanda, and Malawi in East Africa.
In Uganda, for example, TFT provides meals jointly with the United Nations' project Millennium Villages. To support the school meals program in the project's target villages, the money donated to TFT, minus operating expenses, has been sent to the Millennium Promise, a U.S. non-profit organization working as a representative of Millennium Villages, and the other cooperating organizations, every quarter since April 2008. As of February 2010, TFT has been involved in providing more than 2.45 million meals to schoolchildren.
Millennium Villages http://www.millenniumvillages.org/
In Ruhiira, one of the TFT target villages in Uganda, the number of students increased dramatically after the meal support program started, while the incidence of infectious diseases decreased thanks to people following better practices of washing hands and dishes. In Mwandama, Malawi, the number of students increased from 450 at the launch of the meal service to 700 in January 2009, achieving an attendance rate of 70 percent. Of the 50 graduates from the school, 42 students passed the admission test for higher education.
TFT also provides money and training on how to operate the meal service, with the aim of encouraging local residents to continue the service by themselves after it starts working smoothly. For this reason, TFT uses the money from donations not only for buying raw ingredients but also for covering the expense of operating the meal service, such as the payroll for managers who provide training for parents to run the service by themselves, purchases of kitchen tools, and transportation costs.
The meals being provided by donations help fill the stomachs of hungry children. At the same time, the meal service is expected to help improve school attendance rates and academic performance, strengthen children's primary health and protection against disease, and build community by involving schools and parents, thus playing an important role in resolving the problem of poverty.
TFT started by offering its meal program in cafeterias at participating companies and organizations, and is now expanding its activities to get more people involved. In February 2009, for example, a group of university students established the TFT-University Association in order to spread TFT's program to Japanese university cafeterias nationwide.
In order to make supporting TFT easier for those who do not work for any companies or belong to any organizations participating in the program, it is making efforts to make TFT-licensed meals available at restaurant chains and hotels by forming alliances, and it started to sell products with its logo on them through convenience stores and online shopping websites.
According to Ando, products that offer added value in the form of a donation and contribution to society are increasingly attracting the attention of consumers, and data shows that sales of such products are seeing more growth compared to other brands in a similar price range that don't offer such values. TFT often receives testimonials from people in participating companies such as, "I felt really proud about talking to my children about my work for the first time ever since I joined this company," and "I received a message from a customer saying that we are doing a great job." To provide more opportunities for consumers to join, TFT plans further collaborations with various industries such as restaurants, home-meal manufacturers, retailers including supermarkets and convenience stores, and food and beverage manufacturers.
TFT's launched-in-Japan initiative is expanding to the world. Its first branch office was established in New York in 2008, and started operation in 2009. A cafeteria at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona in the U.S. is the first place to start participating in TFT's program, and the number of inquiries from businesses and other universities is increasing.
TFT's program has the strength of creating a win-win situation between the supporters and the supported, by encouraging better health for children in developing countries and people in developed countries at the same time.
Moreover, it leads to an improved social reputation as well as increased sales for participating companies. Individuals who buy TFT-licensed meals say they are filled with a warm feeling when they think of the happy smiles of children in Africa no longer hungry because of the donated meals. School lunches served in African schools gives students a stronger will to study, a chance for higher education, and finally, the ability to rise out of poverty.
TFT's program brings not only better health to participants, but also helps create a sense of happiness and wellbeing. We hope to see this program from Japan continue to bring such benefits and spread worldwide.'
22 June 2010
'It's a new socio-economic "big idea" promising a revolution in the way we consume. Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping redefined through technology and the latest social media and peer-to-peer online platforms.
After several years of researching this phenomena, Rachel Botsman is on a mission to "make sharing cool", convinced we may be witnessing a shift from the Culture of Me to the Culture of We.
From enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending (Zopa) and car-sharing (Australia's GoGet), Botsman outlines how Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.
New marketplaces such as Swaptree, Zilok, Bartercard, AirBnb, and thredUP are enabling "peer-to-peer" to become the default way people exchange—whether it's unused space, goods, skills, money, or services — and sites like these are appearing everyday, all over the world.'