Pinner – VIJAY SHAH via ADAM SHAW and Harrow Times
Local authorities in the north-west Greater London borough of Harrow have given assent to a new development of flats despite local residents of a busy road objecting to the project and vetoing it three times, the Harrow Times newspaper reported today.
The Northcote development, in the Pinner area’s Rickmansworth Road, will consist of eight brand-new flats in addition to an existing estate of 24 homes now at the site. The eight apartments will be housed in a single two-storey complex, and the plans were approved by Harrow’s council, the Times reports.
New flats approved despite objections: Plans for a new block of flats along a busy Harrow road have been approved at the third attempt, despite concerns over loss of green space. https://t.co/laDp3ex4v4
Pinner locals however have rallied against the proposed development, saying that there will be a loss of green spaces, as well expressing serious concerns about access issues for vehicles and the presence of extra council-issued refuse bin facilities that could attract vermin and create foul-smelling communal areas.
Harrow Council’s planning committee however rejected the residents’ objections for the third time in a row, saying that the area and Harrow in general needed more housing as its population continues to rise, a theme common to many outer London areas. Four of the council’s members spoke out against the Northcote development, but failed to sway the vote on the planning application, according to the Harrow Times. A total of 44 rejections of the proposal were counted by the council, with anti-development councillors appealing to the local government to take them into consideration.
One local resident who objected against the new flats, Majd Kilani, told the Times: “We don’t have the time and resources to keep battling these development attempts, which have caused significant stress.
‘It has taken away time and energy that would otherwise be dedicated to our families and the community.”
Santa Monica – VIJAY SHAH via FOX News and other sources
The U.S. state of California is well known for being at the vanguard of revolutionary new technologies, especially if they are environmentally friendly. Its also the birthplace of many a technological trend that has spread across the world. According to Fox News, however, there is one new eco-transport trend that has not only irritated some locals in the Golden State, it’s pushed them to commit vandalism against the objects fuelling that same trend.
Electric two-wheeled scooters, usually popular with youngsters, have become the latest must-have kind to the environment mode of transport. A firm called Bird even has public banks of scooters you can pay to borrow for the day, just like the bicycle docks found in many world cities. But some Californians in the south of the state, sick to death of the new vehicles appearing in random locations and getting in their way, have taken to setting them on fire or throwing them into the Pacific Ocean, Fox News reports.
Another report from local paper the Los Angeles Times claims that city hygiene workers in Santa Monica have found several scooters left for dead amidst the spray of the sea and abandoned in public bins. A policeman in the city of Venice even claimed to have seen dumped scooters stacked up high in piles of ten, but the dumping has not been reported to authorities.
Most of the scooters found dumped are branded ones issued by Bird. Marked with the company logo in simple black and white livery, the company rents out the scooters to the public for as little as US $1 a day and the firm currently operates across the United States and in Paris, France. The problem of scooters being dumped and vandalised has become so commonplace that one wit opened up a Instagram account, Birdgraveyard (@birdgraveyard), that chronicles and celebrates the various unfortunate final resting places of the two-wheelers across California.
A spokesperson with the scooter firm told Fox: “We do not support the vandalism or destruction of any property and are disappointed when it takes place,’
‘Nor do we support the encouragement, celebration or normalization of this behavior.”
Bird appealed for people who spot damaged vehicles to report the sightings to the company directly.
Opponents of scooter rental schemes like Bird’s say the vehicles are often carelessly left in public places and they are an eyesore. Some cities in the US originally opposed Bird expanding into their streets but relented and allowed them in, due to their enviro-credentials. The Californian town of Beverly Hills, however voted to ban scooters for six months, citing safety concerns. The town’s council member, Lili Bosse, said last month: “If you imagine just walking on the sidewalk and somebody on a scooter at 15 miles an hour hits you, it can be fatal…”
Hainault – VIJAY SHAH via AARON WALAWALKAR and Ilford Recorder
Redbridge environmental campaigners are protesting against plans to construct a ‘haul road’ for heavy-duty lorries near the scenic Fairlop Waters nature reserve in Ilford, Essex, in the UK, according to a report published by their local newspaper, the Ilford Recorder.
They fear the constant stream of large and noisy trucks carrying gravel on the new route will destroy the peace and feel of the Fairlop Waters Nature Park, which lies in the Hainault area, close to the A12 road and is Redbridge’s largest nature reserve and leisure spot. The park is home to species of rare birds like the long-eared owl and indigenous trees, which the campaigners say will be affected by the new road.
The borough council had authorised a map, seen by the protesters and the Recorder newspaper, which appears to show a 13-metre wide road snaking through the south-western reach of Fairlop park, a reserve protected by national law. The road would be used by lorries carrying minerals for construction and was being planned by the council since early 2016, it was reported.
Leading the protest is wildlife group Fairlop Birders. The group’s spokesperson, Chris Gannaway, told the Ilford Recorder: “This is a terrible state of affairs when one group of council officers take the trouble to develop and go through the Local Nature Reserve registering process with Natural England, while the planners allow developers Brett Tarmac to run roughshod over what is now a mature wildlife site.”
Redbridge’s local government have been accused of hiding the true extent of the plans for the road and operating with a lack of scrutiny regarding the future building of the slip route. The council’s planning committee are known to have given conditional planning permission to the road’s builders, Brett Tarmac Limited, as part of plans to extend Fairlop Quarry, in Hainault Road, on the 5th of June this year. Representatives of the council countered by saying the Brett Tarmac application was made through normal rules included site notices, advertisements in the local press, letters to Fairlop’s neighbours, public consultation and a planning committee meeting.
“Before development can proceed, we will be working closely with our partners and environmental agencies to ensure that the relevant planning conditions relating to biodiversity and vehicle movement are discharged.”, a council representative told the Recorder. Brett Tarmac also claimed that they also undertook responsible environmental surveys and public permission seeking before setting about plans for the new road.
Smog is probably one of the most useless… and dangerous things known to humanity. The thick all-enveloping clouds of chemical particulates, water vapour, smoke and other atmospheric ingredients kills thousands of people globally per year, causes disruption to traffic and the economy and is an inescapable hazard to sufferers of breathing problems such as asthma. But now, in the notoriously polluted cities of China, they are not only fighting back, but are making a tidy profit from it too.
China has some of the most polluted aerial environments on earth. With a 1 billion-plus population and rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, as well as a determined quest to become a major world superpower, the country’s citizens pay the price for China’s great march to prosperity, enduring extremely high smog levels owing to the proliferation of factories, industrial units and slash-and-burn farming creating smoke which blows in from the countryside. In some large cities, including the capital Beijing, smog occurs almost on a daily basis, and is particularly evident in the summer months. One nationwide smog incident in late 2015 sparked red alerts and health warnings in ten cities, and the dirty air is thick enough to reach California, thousands of miles away in the Pacific.
However an artist from the Netherlands has proposed a novel solution that could not only rid cities in China, and in other rapidly developing nations, of their peasoupers, but also provide a boost to the diamond industry, turning a killer into a sparkler.
Dutch national Daan Roosegaarde is the in-charge of the Smog Free Project. The premise of the project is simple. First erect a seven metre tall tower which looks like it was made from window blinds and resembles a portly windmill. The tower draws in the polluted air and purifies it. As it does so, the carbon from the smog is extracted and compressed into carbon, the building blocks for organic life and the core ingredient of diamonds. The tower transforms the carbon dust into valuable gems, in a process that takes just thirty minutes. Beijing’s smog alone is 32 per cent carbon particulates, which will mean a lot of gems. The towers are, not surprisingly considering the background of their designer, influenced by Dutch architectural styles, and are intended to not look too obtrusive or space-consuming, a form of functional urban sculpture.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Roosegaarde told the assembled delegates and press: “It started with a dream,”
“The dream of clean air for everyone.”
The idea for the Smog Free Project first formed in Roosegaarde’s imagination when he was observing Beijing’s notorious smog from a hotel window.
“On Saturday, I could see the world around me, the cars, the trees, the people. But on Wednesday it was completely covered in smog, with pollution, and that image made me a little bit sad.”
Determined to free people from being forced to stay inside during smoggy days and to give them freedom to breathe safe air, he began planning the project.
Tests done in Beijing have shown the technology does work. Areas where the towers were tested were found to have air 70 to 75 per cent cleaner than places which did not have them. The success of the tests was picked up on by Beijing’s city government who have decided to endorse the artist’s project. Roosegaarde will now tour other cities in China to display the virtues and benefits of the towers.
The diamonds produced by the Smog Free Project will be used in jewellery making and the profits made ploughed back into the project, particularly in funding the construction of more towers.
A group of scientists have said that the rapid trend of declining wildlife populations could lead to ’empty landscapes’, the science and environment team at British public broadcasterBBC has reported today.
According to population figures published in the scientific magazine Science Advances, there has been a worrying 60 per cent drop in the number of large herbivores (plant-eating animals) such as giraffe, elephant and rhinoceros, leaving them at greater risk of extinction. The figures covered 74 herbivore species and attributed much of the decline to poaching and other forms of illegal hunting, as well as destruction of natural habitats.
A study on large carnivores such as lions, tigers and wild dogs also reported similar declines in population.
The population research was led by Professor William Ripple of Oregon State University. His research covered large herbivores with a weight above 100 kilograms, from the reindeer up to the African elephant.
He explained in the research: “This is the first time anyone has analysed all of these species as a whole,”
“The process of declining animals is causing an empty landscape in the forest, savannah, grasslands and desert.” he said.
“The big carnivores, like the charismatic big cats or wolves, face horrendous problems from direct persecution, over-hunting and habitat loss, but our new study adds another nail to their coffin – the empty larder,” he said.
“It’s no use having habitat if there’s nothing left to eat in it.”
The research indicates that much of the population decline in both prey and predators is being driven by various causal factors, including habitat loss, unregulated hunting and poaching, particularly the killing of large animals for ‘bushmeat’ or body parts in Far Eastern medicine, and pressures on their habitats from livestock, involving competition for resources and the swallowing of their habitats by farmland. This problem is being escalated by a rapidly increasing human population with its greater demand for resources and land.
The various species of African rhino were one particularly sad case reported by the BBC. With ivory made from rhinoceros horn worth more than gold, cocaine, and diamonds on the black market and with increasing and illegal demand from nouveau riche buyers in Asia, it is feared that under current levels of population shrinkage, the wild rhino could cease to exist in the wild within 20 years, the researchers claim.
The consequences of large wild herbivore decline include:
*Loss of habitat: for example, elephants maintain forest clearings by trampling vegetation.
*Effects on the food chain: large predators such as lions, leopards, and hyena rely on large herbivores for food.
*Seed dispersal: large herbivores eat seeds which are carried over long distances.
*Impact on humans: an estimated one billion people rely on wild meat for subsistence while the loss of iconic herbivores will have a negative impact on tourism.
The impact of the extinction of large herbivores, and the large carnivores that feed on them, could see the collapse of food chains globally. Many African countries rely on these animals heavily for tourism purposes, leading to huge economic fallouts if they were to vanish.
The report places particular concern for large animals residing in South East Asia, India and Africa. These areas have long-established populations of big animals as well as increasing human habitation. Many governments are struggling to protect animal habitats due to increasing demands for homes and land to build on, as well as lax regulation of national parks and wildlife reserves.
Europe and North America lost many of their own large mammals after the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Animals such as the mammoth, woolly rhino and sabre-toothed tiger were wiped out by early hunters or changing habitats as the ice sheets retreated. More recently, the wolf, lynx and some species of deer have all but disappeared from the United Kingdom, after being hunted to extinction. There has been some success in reintroducing smaller mammals, such as the beaver, to Britain, centuries after they vanished.
and the earth in your bones returns to the ground,
perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you,
it is you who belong to this land.”
The above picture and moral saying comes courtesy of the Facebook page “The Mind Unleashed” and was shared by my friend Sevim Tonbul, a duty solicitor who went to the same sixth-form college as I did. This page is self-described as an ‘education website’ which seeks to break the chain of conventional thinking and to engineer a global change in awareness. A healthy mix of information related to activism, awareness, and personal growth is a regular feature of the Mind Unleashed page.
The picture includes an vintage sepia photograph of a Native American chieftain. Although I am unsure as to what people he belonged to, or his name, he does remind me of the great chief Sitting Bull, who was famed among non-natives for his sayings and quotes.
We live in a highly materialistic world where people are marked and judged by what they own and the riches they acquire. Whether it is the woman who spends £500+ on a Louis Vuitton handbag, the man who wins the lottery and splashes out the winnings on fast cars, or the child at school who is bullied because their parents cannot afford to kit them out in the latest designer trainers, our society places a significant value on not just what people own but what type of things they own. Certain, usually fashionable or luxury brands carry an aura of respect among trend admirers.
The need to acquire is not just limited to moveable objects. Even land has acquired a monetary value, to be exchanged and sold at will. This has been standard and unquestioned for centuries. However it is only in the last two centuries, that the land we live, walk and eventually die on has become such a valuable commodity. You only have to look at the prices of prime real estate in the world’s major cities to realise how ridiculous this has become.
For example in the tiny principality of Monaco, $1 million USD will only buy you 15 square metres of space, due to the country’s size, population density and its prestige among the global jetset.
I live in London and as one of Europe’s (and the world’s) leading financial centres, a piece of land in the centre of town can cost more than £3,000 per square metre and even in the poorest parts of the city, an average three or four bedroom dwelling house can cost in the region of £250,000 thanks to rising house prices and lack of availability. We have streets in central London affectionately named ‘Millionaire’s Rows’ as every single, usually mansion-sized, habitation on them costs at least a million pounds.
The irony is that, while investors slug it out over speculating on rising land prices and potential homeowners are required to take on a lifetime of debt just to put down roots, the Native Americans traditionally had no concept of land ownership. They believed that the land was a blessed provider and traditional societies lived in tandem with their environment, allowing of course for tribal titles on particular areas which were fiercely guarded. This was probably more to ensure enough food and resources were available for each family or First Nation, than any concept of ‘this land is mine, that land is yours‘ that led to the development of nation-states across the Atlantic in Europe. They had a holistic and respectful relationship with the forests, prairies and rivers that surrounded them, and depended on the land for their survival, therefore according it a sacred respect in their cultures and religions. It was the arrival of those same Europeans whose descendants began occupying and grabbing the lands that sustained Native Americans that made the previous inhabitants begin battling to save their homes and ultimately themselves. Most Native Americans peoples are now essentially collective landowners of the reservations designated to them by the U.S. government.
The fact of the matter is, regardless of how much land you own, when you pass away, you will not take that land with you. People are buried in the graveyard or cremated on a piece of ground. Their bodies become part of the ecosystem in the soil around their resting places or their ashes intermingle with the world to which they have been relegated. While we use and abuse the Earth and squabble over buying up overpriced parcels of territory here and there, there is a subtle irony that ultimately it is the land that claims us back, a fate no amount of money or prestige can keep at bay.
Ultimately, we all need the land to survive, for our food and water and of course for our homes, so we all need to take care of the land and world that nourishes us and is the guardian of our existence.