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Blue elephant.jpgThis Saturday March 23rd at 8.30pm marks Earth Hour when people are supposed to switch off their lights to show, albeit symbolically, how much we need to protect the planet, but carry on using our mobile phones of course! (for more information go to http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/).

To mark the event, WWF Wildlife Mobile is giving all new and existing customers 60 minutes of free calls so they can tell their friends about Earth Hour (or anything else for that matter).

According to the WWF, every conversation you have helps conservation so, for example, 24 hours of chatting could pay for 36 tree seedlings to help critical areas of Tiger habitat.

Wildlife Mobile gives 10% of the net call revenues for conservation and is open to anyone - not just existing WWF members.

The new, SIM-only, mobile network from WWF promises 99.7% UK wide coverage through the Vodafone network.

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Today sees the launch of the first mobile network that also helps with conservation, WWF Wildlife Mobile.

The new mobile network will enable people in the UK with a passion for the environment and wildlife to generate funds for conservation projects every time they use their mobile phone - and it won't cost them a penny extra to do so!

The service, in partnership with operator Digital Spring Mobile and Vodafone UK, works on a SIM-only, with cheaper standard Pay As You Go rates than any other major networks and a range of competitive bundles of calls, texts and data. This certainly gives another meaning when talking about 'calls for conservation'.

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How does it work?

Rates are highly competitive; Pay As You Go rates start from 5p minute and customers get double call credit every time they top up. WF Wildlife Mobile also offers great value bundles - Penguin, Aardvark, Hippo or Rhino - giving hundreds of calls and texts and large data allowances starting at just £9.50 per month.

How much will be donated?

Wildlife Mobile will give 10% of the net call revenues for conservation and is open to anyone who has an interest in or a concern for the environment and wants to help. In other words, you don't have to be a WWF member to join the new network and help safeguard the natural world.

How will my calls help with WWF conservation projects?

The hope is that through tapping into something people do every day millions of pounds will be raised for conservation by simply talking to each other. The target is to reach 2 million minutes of call by the end of 2013, all which could make a tangible difference to wildlife:

- A 10 minute call on WWF Wildlife Mobile could pay for six tree seedlings to help restore critical areas of Tiger habitat.

- Just two weeks of regular usage on WWF Wildlife Mobile could cover the costs of a three-person community based anti-poaching patrol in the field for one day, protecting Tigers and Rhinos in Nepal.

WWF's Communications and Fundraising Director, Tobin Aldrich said: "Most people use a mobile phone, so this is an innovative and easy way for people to do their bit for conservation. If you're passionate about the environment and wildlife, it won't cost you anything, to raise vital funds for WWF whilst you use your phone."

To sign up to the new SIM only WWF Wildlife Mobile visit www.wildlifemobile.co.uk.

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As New York City and the East coast of the US and Canada waited for Superstorm Sandy to hit last night we couldn't help to conjure images from disaster movies such as The Day After Tomorrow and (the rather aptly named) 2012.

Fast-forward 24 hours and Sandy (again a film springs to mind, but this time it's John Travolta looking all smug while trying to woo Olivia Newton-John in Grease), and we're now beginning to see how the city and its people fared.

Images and stories were shared on social networks in real-time, and Sandy's not been the nicest: at least 18 were killed, 7.5 million have been left without power across the eastern coast, buildings have been destroyed and the NYC subway tunnels have been drowned by sea water.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "Damage across the city is clearly extensive and won't be fixed over night."

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It is almost like Bane has been let loose in Gotham City again, but this time it was something even The Dark Knight couldn't have fought off. This was Mother Nature on speed.

This wasn't an act of God, nor was Sandy solely down to climate change - hurricanes and stormy weather come and go each year - but this story on The Guardian raises the point that so many will have thought over the past hours: Was Hurricane Sandy supersized by of climate change?

While Twitter is happily sharing funny photoshopped images of the storm and Lady Liberty hiding, the world is indeed changing and our actions have been part of making these superstorms. And we're likely to see more of them in the years to come.

The ocean temperatures are rising and polar ice melting. This is fact, not fiction. On average the September ocean temperatures were the second highest on record, only surpassed by 2003 - both, which in the grand scheme of things, happened very recently. How can we say our actions and pollution have nothing to do with this?

Science and statistics cannot be completely wrong. It is time we all start to listen to what they are telling us. Like all living creatures before us we must adapt in order to survive.

But one positive thing in all the devastation: The world did not end in 2012... so far.

Images: Press Association

This is a great piece of environmental awareness art! Rubbish Duck appeared on our radar this morning as Camden Lock Market shared a spotted photo on Facebook. Making its way down the Regent's Canal, Rubbish Duck 'symbolises the disregard towards the local environment' while drawing 'attention to a larger problem plastic pollution causes globally'.

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The brainchild of Ferdinand Povel and Essi Salonen, Rubbish Duck was created using 2,000 plastic bottles picked up from the Thames and Regent's Canal and has been floating on the canal since July.

The project works closely with environmental charity Thames21, which organises clean up events of waterways. The bottles for Rubbish Duck were collected with the help of these clean ups and the participating volunteers.

London's canals and rivers are fantastic public spaces, and it is a shame to see all the rubbish floating there at all times. It is great that someone has made the effort to visualise the sheer volume of the environmental nastiness that is threatening local wildlife through art, and in such a fitting form: the bath ducky.

mother and toddler flickr-db Photography Demi-Brooke.jpgWith global warming, food shortages and impendent doom looming, chances are the world as we know it will be a distant memory in not too long unless we do something drastic pretty soon.

Some of us are already trying to live as sustainable as possible helping the earth one recycle at a time, but it's safe to say that most of today's grown-ups who haven't yet seen the greener picture are a lost cause. So what can be done?

In order have a future we need at the future citizens of the earth. Enter the 'Green Baby'.

Your tiny tot may grow up to one day become the leader in environmental advancement, but their little feet actually leave a larger carbon footprint than you may realise and can have a considerable environmental impact. So just how can you be a greener parent?

If you dress your baby in cotton (who wouldn't?), it's worth remembering that the main carbon and environmental impact of cotton clothing is in its production. Ask around for hand-me-downs or visit your local charity shop to diminish the clothes' carbon impact. This also goes for toys, cribs and anything your toddler may need in their first years.

Breast is best. Not only is nutritionally beneficial, but it's also a green source of food for your baby. A mother's milk is environmentally friendly as it doesn't need to be processed, packaged and shipped to the shops.

Once your baby is off the milk and eating solids, try to stick to seasonal fruit and vegetables. These are less likely to have been grown in a greenhouse that requires a lot of energy, and therefore have a smaller carbon footprint.

Most importantly, start your child's environmental education early. Talk to them about the importance of a low carbon lifestyle and explain why you think this way. They will grow up to follow your example and will pass the message on to their friends and their own children.

If you're interested in discovering how you can make your baby's future a greener one, the Science Museum in London is hosting a discussion with environmental experts where you can dive into the complex issues around green parenting.

Green Babies; 27 September 2012, 11am to 1pm; The Science Museum's Dana Centre, South Kensington, SW7 5HD; Booking required - 02079424040 or email tickets@danacentre.org.uk.

Image provided by PR / Photographer Demi Brooke

save-the-arctic.pngFormer Beatle and life-long animal and environment friend Sir Paul McCartney has joined Greenpeace's campaign to help Save the Arctic. In a statement, the musician writes about 1968, a year revolution was in the air - much like 2012 - and when a single image of delicate Earth was captured from space, Earthrise. As McCartney writes 'that single image made such an impact on the human psyche that it's credited with sparking the birth of the global environment movement - with changing the very way we think about ourselves.'

Forty years later, and with the polar ice rapidly melting, McCartney has joined the Greenpeace movement to fight the oil giants moving in to digging up the Arctic seabed in search of find fossil fuels.

"Since Earthrise was taken we've been so busy warming our world that it now looks radically different from space. By digging up fossil fuels and burning our ancient forests we've put so much carbon into the atmosphere that today's astronauts are looking at a different planet."

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Speaking about his dedication to the cause McCartney notes: 'Here's something that just baffles me. As the ice retreats, the oil giants are moving in. Instead of seeing the melting as a grave warning to humanity, they're eyeing the previously inaccessible oil beneath the seabed at the top of the world. They're exploiting the disappearance of the ice to drill for the very same fuel that caused the melting in the first place. Fossil fuels have colonized every corner of our Earth, but at some time and in some place we need to say, "No more." I believe that time is now and that place is the Arctic."

To date more than one million have signed up at www.savethearctic.org to show their support for the campaign. As an Arctic native I've already signed it. And I think you should too.

And you can, like Sir Paul join the Arctic Rising online movement, which gives you the chance to be one of five Arctic animals - a polar bear, a snowy owl, an Arctic fox, a walrus or a narwhal. No prize for guessing which one Sir Paul is...

[via Huffington Post]

You might have noticed a flurry of activity on Twitter and in the news last week as Greenpeace occupied Shell across the globe in protest of the drilling for oil in the Arctic.
Using the slogan Save the Arctic, the activists are not stopping there and will fight this summer to raise awareness.

Another digital activity, Arctic Ready - which we've written about previously - first appeared a few months ago. The hoax Shell website set up by Greenpeace asked people to create spoof Shell adverts and now a winner has been crowned. The winning entry on a massive billboard graced the Houston skyline recently, and only a short drive away from One Shell Plaza... Oh how awkward for Shell.

Here are the top ten entries as voted by the digerati.

Pukka-WFF-tea.jpgCelebrating ten years of tea making, organic herbal tea brand Pukka has teamed up with the world's leading animal and environmental conservation body WWF to raise over £50,000 to support the charity's conservation work across the world.

The new partnership sees Pukka launch a specially blended tea, Peppermint & Licorice, of which 20p of each packet sold go to the UK division of the WWF. The new blend is made from organic peppermint tea and FairWild certificated licorice tea, a standard which WWF was involved in creating to ensure the sustainable use of wild collected plant ingredients.

Commenting on the partnership, Rachel Bloodworth from WWF-UK said: 'We are delighted to be working with Pukka Herbs in their tenth birthday year - their dedication to supporting the natural environment and creating a beautiful world aligns with our goals. Over the past 50 years, WWF has achieved countless successes from preserving some of the world's most iconic species such as mountain gorillas and giant pandas, to helping the development of international agreements for the protection of the planet. The continued support of people and companies like Pukka is essential to our work to create a future where people and nature thrive.'

As part of its tenth year anniversary and to reaffirm their commitment to creating a beautiful world in everything they do, Pukka and the WFF are also looking to Create a Beautiful World. Inviting people to share a piece of their own personal beautiful world via Facebook, Pukka and WWF are collating images and videos that will be made into short films which show what a beautiful world we live in - one that is so important to preserve. To showcase the campaign, Pukka is also bringing out exclusive ethical merchandise, of which profits from the sale will go to WWF-UK.

Look for the famous panda logo on the Pukka tea packet to show your support and contribute to the important work WWF is doing across the world.

As someone who grew up in the Arctic regions, I often joke about polar bears roaming the streets of my small home town when meeting people of a more southern latitude. This is of course not true, but could it be the future when polar bears and other Arctic animals are driven out of their natural habitat as the polar ice melts..? Or will they simply become extinct?

'The melting Arctic is under threat from oil drilling, industrial fishing and conflict', Greenpeace UK writes on its website as they are looking for people to sign their Save the Arctic petition.

Accompanying the campaign is a short video of a homeless polar bear roaming around London, ignored by everyone, as she looks for food. The video which highlights the plight of the Arctic is voiced by actor Jude Law and comes with a Radiohead soundtrack.

The Arctic ice is melting, facing threat from both climate change and oil drilling. As more of the ice disappears oil companies are moving in to get their hands ion the fossil fuels that are behind the devastating polar ice melting in the first place. Greenpeace, among others, is working to halt climate change and avoid the catastrophe waiting to happen.

You can help by signing their Save the Arctic petition - once it has reached 1 million signatures Greenpeace will plant all names and a Flag for the Future on the bottom of the ocean at the top of the world.

I have signed it and so have over 500,000 others - will you?

Ahead of the Rio+20 - the United Nations conference on sustainable development - the push to end fossil fuel subsidies became the second most talked about topic worldwide on Twitter yesterday.

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The #endfossilfuelsubsidies hashtag was introduced to the micro-blogging site, which has over 100 million active users, by 350.org, a global climate campaign and it is estimated that the hashtag was tweeted once a second. We certainly saw it show up in our Hippyshopper and personal feeds throughout the day!

Taking part in the campaign were active Tweeters, from politicians and journalists, to high-profile activists and celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Robert Redford.

The EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, who is expected to play a key role at the Rio+20 negotiations, tweeted, "Fossil fuels subsidies have no place in today's world. They must be phased out as the G20 pledged. #EndFossilFuelSubsidies #Rioplus20."

According to figures by Oil Change International, countries are combined spending as much as $1 trillion dollars annually on fossil fuel subsidies. That is twelve times as much in subsidies as the world is providing to clean energy, like wind and solar. The International Energy Agency estimates that by cutting these subsides the world can reduce global warming causing emissions by 50%. This will significantly contribute to preventing a 2 degree temperature rise, the number most scientists say is needed to prevent runaway climate change and the destruction on our planet.

As part of the campaign, tweets were projected onto famous landmarks around the world, including London's Marble Arch, St Paul's, Battersea Power Station and the Houses of Parliament.

The current draft of the Rio+20 agreement released on Saturday includes a paragraph on ending fossil fuel subsidies, but negotiations now hang in the balance as oil exporting countries led by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela attempt to delete any references to the proposal.

Follow the Twitterstorm at endfossilfuelsubsidies.org and take part by tweeting #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

All images by Stephen Brown.

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Reverse graffiti, where you remove dirt from urban areas, is a great way to show the impact pollution has on the environment and cities.

Today, fifteen members of eco-activist group Climate Rush, armed with brightly coloured feather dusters and pinnies, cleaned the message 'We object to dirty air' onto the pavement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The activist wanted to make a statement as today is the first day of a hearing where the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) action on air pollution will be scrutinised by the judicial system.

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The case was brought to the High Court in December by law firm ClientEarth, resulting in DEFRA admitting to breaching EU laws on air quality. Sadly, the judge didn't force DEFRA to adapt its plans to improve air quality in the UK to address the breach of EU law at that point, and the case is now being heard again.

Long overdue their 1 January 2010 deadline, the air quality plans currently in place mean that 17 UK cities and regions, such as Manchester, London and Glasgow, will not achieve legal limits for air quality until 2020. It gets worse for those dwelling in the capital; safe breathing in London is postponed until 2025! Just another 13 years of smog and breathing in fumes then.

A spokesperson for Climate Rush, Andrew Tobert, said "We've cleaned a message outside the Royal Courts of Justice today to let DEFRA know that they need to clean up their act for the hundreds of thousands of people who are forced to breathe toxic air. This is a public health epidemic and our government should be doing all they can to improve air quality by improving public transport services, investing in cycling safety and banning the most polluted cars from the most polluted places."

Air pollution is linked to the early deaths of 29,000 people in the UK, childhood asthma and permanent reduced lung capacity in children as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease in people over 65. It is a public health epidemic that we simply cannot just ignore anymore - and neither should DEFRA.

red-meat.jpgTwo weeks into my newfound pescetarianism, I've had some negative comments (mostly from people who don't really eat much greens or fish in general), but I'd like to think that's just ignorance. Overall most of my friends and family have been extremely supportive, and when I said no to lamb for Easter lunch at a friend's place they dished up salmon instead.

I am now doing my part and am feeling much better for it (am not missing meat much to be honest), and this latest piece of research will certainly make me think more than twice about returning to my carnivorous past.

New research warns that meat eaters in developed countries will have to cut their meat consumption by 50% to avoid the worst consequences of future climate change.

According to guardian.co.uk, a study published in Environmental Research Letters warns that we have to make drastic changes in both food production and at the dinner table by 2050 to prevent 'catastrophic global warming'.

Food production and the fertilisers used in farming are responsible for a significant share of the global warming that causes climate change. Only by cutting the use of fertilisers by 50% and persuading consumers in the developed world to stop eating so much meat can climate change be prevented, researchers are now warning.

As most people in the developed world consider meat a staple part of their diet (see mention above) it will not be an easy task to change this behaviour. Even more worryingly, in developing economies like China and India meat consumption is now rising along with prosperity.

Artificial meat could be a solution, and the fact is that, with a rapidly expanding population, we simply can't afford to continue to consume the volume of meat as we're currently doing.

While I'm not saying that everyone should stop eating meat altogether - some of my friends have said they never could - I do wish people did think more about where their food is coming from, how farming is impacting our planet and be more aware of their actions. It is all part of a chain: eating less meat would reduce the demand for fertilisers to grow feed crops for cattle and pigs. A reduction in demand for meat would reduce the number of farm animals required, which in turn would reduce the amount of manure produced - fertilisers and animal manure causes nitrous oxide which is the most potent of the greenhouse gases causing climate change.

What can be done to reduce meat consumption? What should governments do?

I, personally, can't help but think now that steak, as yummy as I still think it can be, was once a bull like Ferdinand...

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Irish rocker Bono is mostly known for going on the occasional world tour with his band U2 to entertain his disciples. But Bono is also a savvy investor in media, entertainment and technology entities, which is now elevating him to new heights.

Back in 2000 Bono co-founded Elevation Partners, a private equity group, which later went on to invest $270 million in the world's biggest social network over three instalments between 2009 and 2010, when Facebook was valued at $16 billion. Fast-forward a couple of years, Facebook is reportedly preparing to float for an expected $100bn (£64.4bn) in a couple of months and Bono and his fellow investors are set to reap an estimated $1.4 billion from their investment.

Bono has become one on the world's best-known philanthropic performers and is actively involved in social and political causes. He also runs eco-fashion label, EDUN, with his wife Ali Hewson.

So our question today, since he has clearly made enough money of official band merchandise sales and as an occasional hotelier (he owns Dublin's Clarence Hotel with The Edge), should Bono use his Facebook profits to save the world?

What could $1 billion do?

A 'meagre' $1bn will not even make a dent into the global debt crisis, but it could help provide debt relief to some of the poorest countries in the world.

Bono could invest the money into his sustainable fashion label EDUN, which strives to stimulate trade with poverty stricken countries.

Every year over 700,000 children die needlessly from malaria in Africa. Bono could buy enough malaria nets, for only $5 a piece, to prevent these unnecessary deaths and still have money left to stock up on sunglasses.

He could invest in green energy solutions to create a more sustainable future.

And what about Facebook in all of this? With its around 850 million monthly active users, Facebook now has nearly as many 'inhabitants' as there are malnourished people in the world (925 million). If Facebook was a real country it would be the 3rd most populated in the world.

Should the social network give some of its impending profits to environmental and humanitarian causes to ensure a more sustainable future for the real world?

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Ahead of Earth Hour 2012, WWF has launched an interactive website - Foodstory - that highlights some of the problems the world is facing when it comes to food sustainability and global hunger. These include:

Producing the meat and dairy we eat causes 30% of the loss of our natural world

30% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from the food we eat

1.5 billion people worldwide eat too much while a billion people go hungry, which is quite ironic as enough food to feed the world and to create a healthy future for people and the planet

In the words of the WWF, 'If we want to keep our world brilliant we have to change how and what we eat.'

It is time to take action and call for the UK Government and its Food Ministers to develop a strategy to meet the challenge.

Take action at wwf.org.uk/foodstory/

Earth Hour takes place at 8:30pm on Saturday 31st March 2012.

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Former California governor and actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has launched a new environmental initiative, Sustainia, that hopes to help people visualize a sustainable future using low-carbon resources.

With the support of the UN, Terminator star Schwarzenegger and Europe's climate chief, Connie Hedegaard are spearheading the virtual environmental campaign that encourages people to live a greener lifestyle.

The Sustainia initiative aims to show new and developing technologies, such as renewable energy and hydrogen-powered buses, on a virtual platform that will show people what an environmentally friendly world would be like.

Schwarzenegger says: "Being a champion in body building, in movies and in politics where I was able to lead California to renewable energy, energy efficiency, green jobs ... I believe it is important to demonstrate that sustainability is the better choice for all of us."
"For communities around the world and for the individual, the Sustainia award offers a multitude of benefits in terms of better health, more liveable regions and cities and increased productivity. But we need to actually see it to understand it. And this is what we will make possible."

Over the coming months, people will be able to visit, inhabit and help build the new world on a virtual construction site.

The project also comes with an accompanying book 'Guide to Sustainia, which was developed by Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning in a collaborative effort with 16 global companies, including Microsoft, Philips, Tetra Pak, and Cisco.

Visit www.sustainia.me for more information.

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