Category Archives: Sustainability As If People Mattered

Saving Water, Saving Lives ~ WaterAid’s Big Dig And Fundraising Continues

Perhaps you’ve had a holiday this summer in a nice hotel (as I have!).
In that case you probably had a notice in your room from The Management, suggesting you might like to save water and other resources by not asking for new bedlinen every morning.  Fair enough, it’s your choice one way or the other.  But it does give pause for thought about how much water we all use, every day.  So here are a few ideas about how that moment of reflection can give rise to positive action:
Could you find time on 15 September just to go for a walk, to help WaterAid?

To read more about WaterAid, or to comment, please visit Hilary’s professional website here.

Beating The Safe Water Deadline In Rural Malawi: WaterAid’s ‘Big Dig’

One of the most memorable stories  I ever heard was from a civil engineer who was asked about the achievement of which he was most proud. He immediately said it was being invited to first turn on the tap which he had installed to deliver clean running water to an African village where there had previously been no supply. And now Water Aid has decided to share in real time their account of an even more ambitious project in Malawi, set against demanding deadlines…

To read more of this article and to comment, please visit Hilary’s professional website here.

Speed Limits And De-restricted Signs Don’t Add Up

All public roads in Britain have a legal speed limit. What then are so-called ‘de-restricted’ speed signs about?   I spend many hours every year on motorways and travelling between various towns (especially at Christmas: no trains – safest and greenest way to travel – so we have little choice but the car).   But must road experience be confusing as well as so un-eco?  Is it time to change the way vehicle speed controls operate?  And maybe also time to challenge current road culture?  More RoSPA, less Jeremy Clarkson perhaps?

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Green (Solar) Energy To Resolve Greek Debt?

Could the sun resolve Greek (and Spanish) problems with national debt? Some three years ago now Dreaming Realist lamented the inability or unwillingness to capture the power of Greece’s annual 2,000 hours of sunshine. Perhaps the current European economic crisis means the time is now right to revisit this omission. The Greek deficit is alarming. Carbon (sunshine) now has formal monetary value. Northern Europe needs much more energy. Investment in Greek solar energy infrastructure would benefit that national economy….

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Communities Are Much More Than Localities

map of a localitySummary: The new agenda in regeneration is beginning to emerge, and with it will emerge also a new lexicon. Each of us will have their own priorities for terminological redefinition. Mine is to re-examine the meaning/s of ‘community’. Communities are not just localities; they are as many and various as the individuals who describe them, but this is rarely reflected in thinking on regeneration or social policy.

Visit Hilary’s professional website here to read more and post your comments on this article.

Can Swans, Dogs, Families And Fishing Co-exist In Sefton Park?

10.06.21 Liverpool Sefton Park male swan & cygnets 037aa 160x115This male swan is father to his six cygnets, now surviving without their mother. The female of the adult pair was lost when a dog attacked her, and the fear is now for the safety of the swan family in her absence. So once again we ask the perennial questions about who our city parks are ‘for’. Can dogs and people mix? And how reasonable is it to permit fishing in this urban environment, given that it too destroys waterbirds and scares away young families?

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Wheelie Pretty

10.04.29 Islington bike park & flowers 075aa170x110 They say that going green keeps you healthy, so the owners of these bicycles in London must be doubly fit.
Not only are they getting exercise as they navigate the city using pedal power, but when they arrive they can enjoy these potted tubs of budding shrubs and flowers too.
Once the bulbs and cyclists are out, we know the Summer sunshine can’t be far behind.

10.04.29 Islington bike park & flowers 076aa 600x600

The Lighter Later Campaign For Single/Double Summer Time (SDST)

09.01.08  sunset & trees 021aa 160x160 Well, hardly had the Publish button been clicked on my last posting, than The Guardian newspaper arrived, announcing that the 10:10
Lighter Later campaign has been launched, to achieve what we have proposed for Daylight Saving and energy conservation on this website for several years. A whole range of politicians and many researchers and other organisations agree that we need to keep BST+ for entirely pragmatic reasons of sustainability, not to mention well-being.
The test now will be to see how soon these claimed good intentions are translated into reality. The more everyone supports such very sensible proposals, the easier it will be for the changes to happen. This is the text of the letter being sent to the Prime Minister:

Dear Prime Minister,

We the undersigned believe that the time is right to look again at moving the UK to “Single Double Summer Time” (SDST), with clocks set to GMT+1 during the winter and GMT+2 during the summer. A large and growing body of evidence suggests that this simple change would bring about a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits.

On the environmental front, aligning the hours of sunlight more closely with people’s daily routines would yield important reductions in energy use and carbon emissions. Recent research from experts at Cambridge University predicts that shifting to SDST would save around half a million tonnes of CO2 in the winter alone, with substantial extra savings expected in the summer period too.

The social benefits would be equally significant. The Department for Transport has accepted evidence from groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents that advancing Britain’s clocks forward by one hour throughout the year would avoid a hundred deaths and many more serious injuries annually by making the roads safer, especially in Scotland where the winter days are shortest.

Other expected social benefits include a reduction in crime and the fear of crime; an increase in the quality of life for elderly people; increased participation levels in sports and other outdoor activities that make people healthier and tackle obesity; and a reduction in the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The economic case for changing to SDST is strong, too. Industry groups predict a £3.5 billion boost for British leisure and tourism that would create up to 80,000 new jobs in the sector, while the NHS could expect large cost savings through a reduction in road casualties. SDST would also help reduce fuel poverty and lower energy bills by alleviating demand during the evening peak when the cost of generation is highest.

The evidence is clear that the advantages of a move to SDST strongly outweigh the disadvantages. And, as the Department for Transport has noted, the change would be relatively quick and inexpensive to implement. Supporters of the Lighter Later campaign are calling for a three-year trial of SDST in order to prove that we can make better use of the daylight hours.

We ask that you schedule the time to debate this proposal in Parliament at the earliest opportunity, and we very much hope that your Government will lend this positive and ambitious proposal its full support in the House.

You can sign up to support this letter here, at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has also been campaigning for SDST for many years (please see below).

You can support RoSPA’s campaign here.

This is their position:

    RoSPA’s Lighter Evenings Campaign

Proposals to amend the system of timekeeping have a long history in Britain, with RoSPA spearheading the campaign for a change that would bring lighter evenings all year round.


In the UK at present, clocks follow Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from October to March and British Summer Time (BST) which is GMT plus one hour from March to October.

RoSPA has been calling for many years for a move to a system called “Single Double Summer Time” (SDST), which would put the clocks one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead of GMT in summer. Complementing RoSPA’s campaign, a move to SDST has been the subject of a number of bills laid before Parliament.

Reducing the number of people killed and injured on the roads is the key aim behind RoSPA’s campaign. The most recent research found that a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 212 per year.

…a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 212 per year.
The Department for Transport’s consultation paper, “A Safer Way: Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World”, cited these figures in 2009. It also stated that while moving to SDST would involve a one-off cost of £5million to publicise the change, it would then result in benefits of £138.36million a year due to the reduction in road casualties. It said the cost-benefit case in road safety terms was “clear”, but that the issue went beyond the scope of the strategy consultation.

Also in 2009, the National Audit Office published a report called “Improving Road Safety for Pedestrians and Cyclists in Great Britain”. In a section looking at seasonal road casualty patterns from 2000-2007, the report stated that there were 10 per cent more collisions killing or injuring a pedestrian in the four weeks following the clocks going back than in the four weeks before the clocks changed.

And a report published by the Public Accounts Committee in 2009 stated that there was “substantial evidence” that fewer people would be killed and seriously injured on the roads if the clocks were put forward by one hour throughout the year.

…extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The latest findings confirm earlier research which showed that during an experiment which ran from 1968-71, when British Standard Time (GMT + 1) was employed all year round, around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries were prevented each year of the trial period.

The road safety benefits of SDST would be achieved because there are far more road casualties in the evening. Any increase in casualties in the morning during the winter would be outweighed by the reduction in casualties due to an hour of extra daylight in the evenings.

Extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists, making them more visible to motorists. Motorists are more tired after a day’s work and concentration levels are lower. Children tend to go straight to school in the morning but often do other things on their way home, increasing their exposure to road dangers. Social trips are generally made in the afternoon and evening.

In 2008, pedestrian deaths in Britain rose from 55 in October to 62 in November – the month in which the most pedestrian fatalities were recorded.

Tourism, leisure and sporting organisations generally support a move to SDST, welcoming the increased opportunities for activity presented by more daylight on weekday evenings – an increasingly important point given concerns about obesity and public health.

The environmental benefits of switching to SDST have also been cited in recent years. According to a Cambridge University study published in 2009, moving to SDST would cut carbon emissions by 450,000 tonnes each year. The energy saved would be equivalent to 85 per cent of all the power generated by wind, wave and solar renewable energy in England.

… it is time for the issue to come off the shelf and for the full implications to be considered.
Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA chief executive, said: “We need to keep the momentum behind this long-running campaign. In view of the reports published in 2009, plus casualty data, we will continue to call for a change which, we believe, would save lives and reduce injuries.

“More pedestrians are killed and injured in the afternoon and early evening than in the morning. Therefore, by moving to SDST, vulnerable road users like children walking home from school would have an extra hour of daylight in which to make their journeys.

“It is time for the issue to come off the shelf and for the full implications to be considered.”

RoSPA recommends a trial is run for 2-3 years to provide objective, up-to-date evidence about the effects of SDST. It would also enable the public and the industry and business sectors which would be affected to experience the change for themselves.

RoSPA continues to encourage pedestrians and cyclists to ensure they can be seen and motorists to watch their speed and keep an extra look out for vulnerable road users.

British Sustainable (Summer) Time

10.03.28  BST clock  045aa 130x160 British Summer Time (BST) starts this morning, Sunday 28 March 2010. After a long hard winter we are at last back to what I’d call British Sensible Time – or, to be more explicit, actually British (energy) Sustainable Time.
We know, all the established and critical benefits to health, safety and business apart, that using summer settings for our clocks the full year round would save energy as well.
We need to drop the silliness about Scottish cows (only a minority even of the Scots want to keep BST as it is, and they could do so anyway if they wished) and about not being like the continental Europeans (they’re human beings too), and start looking at the real, increasingly urgent, situation. The evidence has been examined over and over again (see here). In the energy stakes every little truly does matter.
Let’s put aside the urban myths and unsubstantiated dramatic demands when permanent BST was last tried, around 1970, for reflective waistcoats for children going to school. Something sensible must be done, and soon.
As they say, it’s time to get real and move on…. to permanent British Summer Time.

World Water Day (22 March)

10.03.21 Water fall 093aa
Today is World Water Day.
This year (2010) the theme is Clean Water for a Healthy World – something which we all want to see.
But it’s worrying that even now, when our awareness of environmental issues is so much more acute than it was, the United Nations feels the need to emphasise this basic requirement.
To borrow from the World Water Day website:
Every year, 1,500 cubic kilometres of wastewater are produced globally. While waste and wastewater can be reused productively for energy and irrigation, it usually is not. In developing countries 80 percent of all waste is being discharged untreated, because of lack of regulations and resources. And population and industrial growth add new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water to the equation. Human and environmental health, drinking and agricultural water supplies for the present and future are at stake, still water pollution rarely warrants mention as a pressing issue.

So what can we in the western world do about this, other than ask our governments to attend to leaking pipes, sun-parched land and flooding plains?

Obviously, we can try to conserve our water – attend to our own leaking taps, save that waste water for the garden and so forth. There’s even going to be a conference today in Scotland on how that nation uses one of its own main rivers.

But we can also help those in other places whose need for water is so much more pressingly immediate than anything we will normally experience. There are several organisations which help to get clean water to those who really, really need it.

One of these is Water Aid, and you can offer your support here.

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