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And Another Thing: Five Suggestions On UK Flooding



Storm Desmond brought record levels of rain, personal tragedy and misery alongside economic threat. 5.2 million people in the UK live at risk of flooding and 2.6 million live on land that will be below sea level or suffer chronic flood levels by the end of the century. We are in the top 20 most at risk countries.

The first duty of government is national security, protecting its people. Flooding represents an increasing national security threat. In Harvard University history professor Charles Maier’s definition of 1990, national security is: “best described as a capacity to control those domestic and foreign conditions that the public opinion of a given community believes necessary to enjoy its own self-determination or autonomy, prosperity and well being.”

Domestic floods in Cumbria (2005, 2009, 2015), South Midlands (2007), Cornwall (2010), Wales, Yorkshire and eastern Scotland (2012), South West England, the Midlands, Wales, Cumbria and Scotland (2012), East Coast (2013) have threatened the self-determination, autonomy, prosperity and well being of people in those places.

The government will rightly spend over £3bn to defend against terrorism which kills people. The government will reluctantly spend £383m per year to defend against floods which also kills people. This is not an either-or decision. We need to do both. Major storms kill innocent people as randomly as someone with a gun or bomb.

Here are five suggestions on how the UK could better cope with the rising probability of extreme weather and heavier rainfall.

1) Make COP21 really work. The world and UK need a binding agreement to bring global warming to 1.5 degrees or below. COP21 needs to commit to 100% renewables and for the rich world to fund the developing world’s leapfrog towards renewables.

2) Increase spending on UK flood defences. Current plans are based on an increase in temperature of 2 degrees, when COP21 looks likely to actually deliver 2.7 degrees. If one in a hundred year storms are now happening every few years, we must prepare appropriately. The UK is going to spend £383m per year on new flood defences. The Dutch government, already enjoying incredibly sophisticated flood defences, will still spend £858m per year.

3) Stop building property on flood plains. It’s plain stupid. Just make it illegal. In 2014, figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday revealed that [in 2013] local councils allowed at least 87 planning developments involving 560 homes to proceed in England and Wales in areas at high risk of flooding, that were formally opposed by the Environment Agency. 200,000 homes were built on flood plains between 2001 and 2011.

4) Ban any development with inadequate flood mechanisms (including hard surface drives). If you’re adding to the demands on our water infrastructure by removing natural drainage land, you should pay for greater water infrastructure.

5) Introduce local tax incentives for flood defences. These can be community-led and or outside investor-led. We don’t want to adopt the old-Dutch system of “Whom the water hurts, he the water stops.” We need a more collective response. In the face of an increasing threat combined with government underspending and inaction, we should incentivise and empower local communities to protect themselves.


Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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