A personal view by Dirk Campbell
|Because of the way life has evolved, organisms respond to immediate concerns rather than gradual ones – a threat from a predator, for example, rather than environmental change. Humans are like all other organisms in this respect. Because nature has bequeathed us the additional ability to imagine, we can also greatly inflate certain perceived threats and diminish others. Our criterion in any situation is: how does this directly affect my and my family's immediate safety and food supply? Most of us make our choices and decisions on that basis. So we ignore the dangers that we hope won't affect us directly, even constructing counter-arguments to prove that the dangers themselves are imaginary. Or acting in response to imagined dangers, and then regretting it. Such is the complexity of the human mind. Read more|
|Most of us only take one or two flights a year at most, but we’re taxed the same as the tiny minority who fly all the time.
Here’s a better way: replace the current tax on flights with a fairer system that taxes people according to how often they fly.
Afreeride.org is campaigning for this change.
|A new campaign aims to persuade Lewes District Council to stop using all toxic pesticides in Lewes District streets, parks, schools, and public spaces. There is clear evidence that pesticides used for weed control are harmful to human health (and especially harmful to children). Effective alternatives already exist which are not harmful to people, pets, and the environment. Furthermore, the use of non-toxic alternatives for weed control will encourage greater local biodiversity. Many cities have already become pesticide-free – in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, and the US – and Lewes District needs to follow their example.|
If you want to help the campaign, you can sign the petition or look out for one of the paper copies being circulated throughout Lewes District. If you'd like to get further involved in the campaign, contact email@example.com
Take a look at the Brighton-based Pesticide Action Network UK
In a long essay for the London Review of Books, author and activist Naomi Klein looks at the concept of "othering" and how it has allowed climate change to take place. Othering allows expulsion, land theft, occupation and invasion to happen. She writes: "Because the whole point of othering is that the other doesn’t have the same rights, the same humanity, as those making the distinction. What does this have to do with climate change? Perhaps everything."
|The Lewes Pound Group has launched a new smartphone payment trial with positive business and social benefits up for grabs…
15 of our great, independent Lewes businesses have already started the pioneering journey to change the way we keep money working harder for a more sustainable and fairer local economy; and the number of businesses taking an interest is growing.
|They are now accepting smartphone payments via Droplet Rewards, a new “Zero Touch” way to pay conveniently and to collect rewards at your favorite local businesses ….. AND with a few other benefits…|
Find out which businesses accept Droplet Rewards by trying out the app….
Everyone with an i-Phone or Android smartphone or tablet and a UK bank account is invited to claim their free £5 introductory reward... More
A new report from Greenpeace says the world can be 100% renewable in energy by 2050, and 65% renewable in electricity in just 15 years, reports Dave Elliott on the Environmental Research Web Blog.
The 2015 Energy [R]evolution report, the latest iteration in its global and local scenario series, says global CO2 emissions could be stabilized by 2020 and would approach zero in 2050. Fossil fuels would be phased out, beginning with the most carbon-intensive sources. Greenpeace claims that, at every point during the transition, there would be more energy jobs than before. By 2030, renewable energy will account for 87% of the jobs in the energy sector, with 9.7 million people working in solar PV, equal to the number of people working in the coal industry today, and 7.8 million in wind, twice as many as are employed in oil and gas today.
Read Dave's full blog post here...
The government has recently cut the payments they make to those that install solar panels and a frequently asked question is whether they are still worthwhile from a purely financial point of view.
|A typical domestic solar system is rated at 4 kilowatt (kW). This will consist of about 16 panels and occupy about 26 square metres of roof space. The Lewes district is a particularly favourable area for solar panels. On a good site, facing between south east and south west, angled up at normal pitched roof angles and, importantly, with little or no shading, such a system will generate about 4400 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. This is about equal to the average annual consumption of electricity of local domestic premises.|
This does not mean that you would not need to buy any electricity. Read more here...
You may have read about the recent extraordinary global average temperatures. To give you an idea of how extraordinary these are, the average so far for this year is shown below, superimposed on the famous hockey stick curve, the original Mann, Bradley and Hughes curve from 1999 and the more recent one from the Pages24 consortium from 2013 together with recent instrumental readings.
At the recent Paris summit there was pressure to set the target limit to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level as 2°C would in the long term mean massive flooding in low lying countries. It was only one month, but March 2016 was 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level. Other indications show that things are changing fast. The area of arctic sea ice is well below the area for this time of year seen in the 37 years that we have had satellite images and almost certainly for long before this. The level of carbon dioxide is not only the highest it has been for over 800,000 years, it has shown by far the largest year on year increase in the 58 years we have accurate measurements.
Later this year, TTL will be looking to explore ways in which we can all work together to mitigate the risk of flood in our town, whether from rivers or surface water. Inspiration could come from the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Project, which has just completed a pilot project to create the first ever 'Rain Garden' in the Biosphere area, with two schemes to be established in parks in Portslade.
A rain garden is simply a low-lying area of ground containing plants tolerant of wetter conditions, which is designed to receive and retain rainfall from surface water run-off from hard surfaces, thereby allowing the water to slowly drain away over time.
Left: Creating the new Rain Garden at Portslade village green (thanks to Gary Grant; photo by Rich Howorth).
With the EU referendum a month away, what would leaving the EU potentially mean for the Transition movement? Transition founder Rob Hopkins presented his personal thoughts in March
See the original article and reader comments here...
|With the Transition movement now being active in over 50 countries, it feels like a good time to pause and reflect on how that is working, what it looks like, and the many wonderful things, and the challenges, that arise from that. To kick off our theme, I want to offer some reflections on the forthcoming EU referendum here in the UK. During this theme, we will look at this from a variety of perspectives, both within the UK and outside. I want to start with some of my own reflections, and how the current debates, and the issues they raise, impact on me. More...|
As the project officer for the Sussex Flow Initiative (SFI) I was very pleased to meet with members of TTL recently to discuss ways that Natural Flood Management (NFM) can help reduce flooding across the Ouse catchment and help with flood resilience for Lewes town. SFI is hosted by the Sussex Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Environment Agency – a partnership that started in 2012 with the Trees on the River Uck (TrUck) pilot project.
|NFM is an approach to flood mitigation that’s been researched, developed and implemented relatively recently and which works alongside man made flood defences (rather than replacing them), harnessing natural processes to slow and store more water upstream to reduce the peak of flooding downstream. Natural additions such as floodplain woodland, across slope hedgerows and shelter belts or leaky dams have all been shown to help to slow the flow of water, making the landscape better able to cope with heavy rainfall and reducing the power and magnitude of flooding. With over 50 different NFM techniques to choose from, these natural enhancements can be tailored to fit a given site, providing a range of further benefits for wildlife, water quality and river health. Read more here...|
When the Lewes for a Living Wage group planned their round table discussion 'What is work worth?' for March 16th, they did not realise that it would fall on the same day as the Government's Budget. The outrage caused by the attempt to deprive disabled people of benefits to provide tax cuts for the better off was already hitting the headlines when we met that evening at the Elephant and Castle.
|Despite appearances, there is poverty in Lewes; many people attending the food banks are in work and cases of scurvy and rickets have been reported.
It is important to distinguish between the national living wage announced by the government, which is £7.20 per hour from April 1st, for over 25s, and the Living Wage calculated for the Living Wage Foundation, which is £8.25 outside London and applies to all employees over 18. This is based on a more realistic estimation of what people have to earn to sustain life for themselves and their families in a civilised society. More...
A house-owner in Lewes has become one of the first in this area to use state-of-the-art lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels. Jill Goulder, owner of an Eco House featured annually in the Lewes Eco Open Houses weekend, has installed a lithium battery storage system linked to her solar PV panels. These recharge during sunlight hours and provide power in the evenings – very useful for households who use most of their electricity outside sunlight hours. The system switches seamlessly between battery and mains supply as needed; a good system will cover a household’s normal needs, though of course major appliances such as washing-machines and vacuum cleaners drain the batteries rapidly and will need mains top-up. More...
Jill with her solar panel and lithium storage battery installations.
© Jill Goulder 2016
Following approval by the South Downs National Park for the redevelopment of North Street and the Phoenix Estate in Lewes to build 416 homes, three much-loved youth venues are looking for new homes.
The indoor Skatehouse, Dance Academy and Starfish Music are used by hundreds of young people every week from Lewes and surrounding towns and villages. Supported by highly-trained staff, youngsters can learn new skills, make new friends, work on their own projects and always have a safe and welcoming place to go. Now all three face eviction.
Phoenix Rising Youth - exploring relocation
|Phoenix Rising Youth has been set up to help the three community interest companies (CICs) find new premises. Relocation is most urgent for Skatehouse, which will lose its premises this May (Dance Academy and Starfish Music are located in phase 2 of the North Street development and so have a little more time).Short term and long-term ideas are being explored to keep the three venues in Lewes, including a crowdfunding initiative to finance Skatehouse's relocation, refurbishment and rental of temporary premises until a permanent affordable location can be found. But ideas for available long-term premises - whether for Skatehouse, Dance Academy or Starfish - are always welcome.|
Can you help?
If you have ideas for relocating any of these venues or would like to join the Phoenix Rising Youth mailing list to be kept informed of developments, please email Juliet Oxborrow on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also like the Phoenix Rising Youth Facebook page at:
|The River Ouse could be a focus of community life in Lewes, with riverside pedestrian/cycle routes linking shops and homes with the countryside to north and south. The Neighbourhood Plan is developing a River Corridor Strategy that could improve access to the river for walking and leisure, and link important wildlife habitats through the urban area. People could enjoy riverside pubs and cafes, something Lewes lacks at present. Wetland habitats to the north and south could be linked by green/blue corridors along the river. MORE...|
Groups in East Sussex have taken up the petition started by KIIGS to ask East Sussex County Council's pension fund to divest from fossil fuels. Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Chowney has tabled the divestment motion for the Full Council meeting of Hastings Borough Council on 13 April. Fossil Free Hastings has also published a list of members of the pension fund which includes Lewes Town Council and Ringmer Community College.
TTL propose to reduce the risk of local flooding by an extensive programme of tree planting and land management in the Ouse catchment. This may take quite some time, what with the size of the catchment (several hundred square kilometres), the number of agencies involved, and the difficulties of negotiating with a multitude of landowners. However, some excellent work has already been done by the Sussex Flow Initiative, which is an alliance between Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, and the Woodland Trust. We will do what we can to support their work; initially, by organising a public meeting at which we can tell people what is going on, and give them the chance to get involved.
We don't intend to do much tree planting over the next few months, for various reasons. It is best done with bare-rooted specimens, and these are usually planted in the autumn, when there is less need for watering. A great deal of research also needs to be done into what goes where: the idea is to reduce the rate of flow from high ground to river, but it is quite possible to slow storm water in a tributary to the extent that it hits the main river when the latter is in full spate. This is not recommended.
However, there are many other reasons for planting trees. They reduce atmospheric pollution, they sequester carbon, they enhance biodiversity, and, of course, they are quite beautiful. The image (left) shows the Meadow Minders, a team of conservation volunteers on the Lewes Railway Land, planting a belt of scrub beside the Heart of Reeds. This replaces a tangle of overgrown buddleia, and is intended to dissuade people from walking their dogs on a section of bank that is used by basking slow worms and grass snakes: it is made up of blackthorn and whitethorn, spindle, dog rose, guelder rose and wayfaring tree. Just out of shot to the left is the viewing mound, on the south face of which another team are planting wild flowers.
Developed economies around the globe have been experiencing a slowdown in economic growth in recent decades.
|Can our economies keep growing? And if not, what next?
NEF economist Olivier Vardakoulias joins Kirsty to discuss...
Dirk Campbell January 2016
|On Saturday January 9th Sacha and I went to the refugee camp in Dunkirk. We took warm clothes, blankets, gumboots and tents. They are mostly Iraqi Kurds, families living in unbelievable squalor - deep mud, freezing temperatures, flimsy tents, no heating or hot water. A few wood burning braziers. Not much choice for them: flight or death at the hands of Daesh. They have been ignored ever since they arrived; they want to come to Britain but Britain, it seems, doesn't want to know. Read more here...|
SMART PHONE PAYMENT PILOT STARTING WITH SEVERAL LEWES BUSINESSES IN FEBRUARY 2016.
This serves as one of the important stepping stones to learn about and test the provisional insights from our recent survey and will help us to achieve a grounded and confident design and investment case for an Electronic Lewes Pound with a potential launch in 2017 (when the main underlying new ESCU banking platform is expected to be up and running).
Who can take part? Everyone with a smartphone can take part (iPhone or and Android based internet connected phone)..
Are you an independent business owner or work for one in Lewes or Lewes District? We’d love to hear from you if want to take part in the pilot!
Do you want to give it a go? Why not let us know your favourite Lewes Independent businesses? Just send an email to email@example.com or call/message Ferrie on 07482626411 for more info and get your free £5 credit for you to spend in the participating Lewes businesses! The initial list of participating businesses will be announced early February.