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UK inquiry launched to protect vulnerable Arctic region

The Environmental Audit Committee has opened a new enquiry into shielding the Arctic from the tempering fires of climate change. Alex Blackburne looks into what being done.

Preserving the threatened regions of the Earth against the effects of global warming is imperative. One of the most exposed areas to rising temperatures is, predictably, the Arctic.

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The Environmental Audit Committee has opened a new inquiry into shielding the Arctic from the tempering fires of climate change. Alex Blackburne looks into what being done.

Preserving the threatened regions of the Earth against the effects of global warming is imperative. One of the most exposed areas to rising temperatures is, predictably, the Arctic.

A vast mirror planted right on top of the planet, the icy region reflects the sun’s rays, keeping the Earth cool.

But the effects of global warming are devastating the area. Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as anywhere else in the world.

For an area made almost entirely of ice, this isn’t good.

Realising the dangers that the world’s northern-most tip has suffered and is set to suffer, a group of MPs have taken matters into their own hands.

Members of the Environmental Audit Committee, whose remit is to assess how government policies will affect sustainable development and the environment, have launched an inquiry into how climate change might allow new commercial opportunities.

It is also examining what Britain can do to further protect the already vulnerable region against future global warming effects.

Joan Walley MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said, “Rising global temperatures – caused by the burning of fossil fuels – ironically look set to clear the way for a new oil and gas gold rush in the Arctic.

“We will be looking at what the UK Government can do to ensure that the Arctic is protected and whether it is even possible to drill for oil and gas safely in such remote regions.

“Concerns over climate change should be recognised internationally as a limiting factor on any new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.”

In November last year, investment giants Guggenheim Partners announced a multi-billion dollar fund that invested solely in the Arctic.

The proposed fund was met with scepticism by many environmental lobbyists, who feared that it would just speed up the already quickening effects of climate change on the region.

Julian Parrott, chair of the Ethical Investment Association, responded to the plans, telling Blue & Green Tomorrow that it “is further evidence of big capitals’ headlong rush into previously untouched locations in a last gasp attempt to squeeze a profit with scant regard for the environmental or social consequences“.

The Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry includes investigations into the Arctic’s energy reserves, shipping routes and fishing grounds, as well as how other domestic and foreign policies might impact on the area.

It also pledged to use the UK’s global authority to promote positive advancements in the region.

The committee’s website reads that it will examine, “How the Government might use its place on the Arctic Council to influence resource exploitation and steer development in the region to a more sustainable path. And what other opportunities exist for the UK to influence politics in the region to ensure sustainable development of the region“.

Further exploitation in the Arctic is not what the world needs during these times of economic and environmental instability.

But the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry will, with any luck, help eradicate further mistreatment of the region, and instead, create longevity and sustainability.

Continue as we are, though, and soon enough, the ice plains in the Arctic will be entirely replaced by dark water, which will in turn absorb more heat.

As a result carbon, and the even more harmful gas methane, will be released into the atmosphere, triggering a rise in sea levels by as much as 20-feet.

Cue water wars, devastated major cities, widespread illness and an increase in natural disasters. All because we couldn’t look after the precious equilibrium we once had.

Our children’s future could be submerged if we don’t act now.

There are over 90 ethical funds that you can invest in – all of which are tailored towards individuals who wish to help reduce the effects of climate change and create a sustainable future.

To find out about how you can help your money make a difference, get in touch with your financial adviser. Don’t have one? Then fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with a specialist ethical one.

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What Does the Rising Alt-Right Movement Mean for Climate Change Propaganda?

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Time author Justin Worland penned an insightful post this summer about the increasingly divisive attitudes on climate change. Worland pointed out that concerns about climate science used to be a bipartisan focus, but have since become primarily the concern of the left.

The Alt-Right Gives Renewed Voice to Climate Change Denialism

Unfortunately, the battle is becoming more divisive than ever before. The rise of the alt-right movement has propelled climate change denialism into overdrive. The election of Donald Trump illustrates this perfectly. In 2012, Trump tweeted that climate change was a mess created by the Chinese. At the time, his statement was dismissed as a mocking jab at the current president. However, after millions of alt-right voters put Trump in office, these fears became more pronounced.

The alt-right movement is gaining steam across the Western World. This has created profound concerns about the inevitable future of climate change. Of course, not every alt-right group adheres to climate change denialism. A British paper writing service would likely publish more articles that are favorable to the climate change discussion, even if it was read primarily by right-wingers. However, that is of little solace to the rest of the world. While alt-right groups in mainland Europe may not share the American GOP’s hostility towards climate science, they will help reinforce their political capital.

Around the same time Worland published his article, his colleague at The Guardian, David Runciman wrote a piece that focused more heavily on recent developments driven by the alt-right.

“Not all climate sceptics are part of the “alt-right”. But everyone in the alt-right is now a climate sceptic. That’s what makes the politics so toxic. It means that climate scepticism is being driven out by climate cynicism. A sceptic questions the evidence for a given claim and asks whether it is believable. A cynic questions the motives of the people who deploy the evidence, regardless of whether it is believable or not. Any attempt to defend the facts gets presented as evidence that the facts simply suit the interests of the people peddling them.”

Does this mean that the quest to fight climate change has been lost? No. A new generation of right wingers are beginning to break the cycle of climate change denialism. According to recent polls, millennial conservatives are much more likely to be concerned about the future of climate change then they’re older conservative brethren. They may help turn the tide of the political discussion, so climate change can once again be a bipartisan concern.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of concerns:

  • Millennials are less politically active, so they may not have the influence necessary to temper the alt-right position on climate change.
  • The alt-right has significant control over the discussion. Trump has taken efforts to bar studies that contradict his position on climate change. Millennial attitudes on climate science make shift after being exposed to alt-right propaganda.

The biggest concern of all is that it may be too late to address the problem by the time millennials have any meaningful political influence.

So what can be done to address the issue? Climate change advocates must be more diligent than ever. They will be combating a group of climate change deniers with a lot more political support. They will need to make the case that fighting climate change is not a political concern, but a concern of human survival.

With concerns about climate change mounting, they will also need to make it one of their primary ballot points during coming elections. If they create enough of a protest, they may be able to turn the tide of discussion.

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Environment

How Home Automation Can Help You Go Green

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The holidays are an exciting, nostalgic time: the crispness in the air, the crunch of snow under your boot, the display of ornate holiday lighting up your home like a beacon to outer space, and the sound of Santa’s bell at your local Walmart.

Oh, yeah—and your enormous electric bill.

Extra lights and heating can make for some unexpected budgeting problems, and they also cause your home to emit higher levels of CO2 and other pollutants.

So, it’s not just your wallet that’s hurting—the planet is hurting as well.

You can take the usual steps to save energy and be more eco-conscious as you go about your normal winter routine (e.g., keeping cooler temperatures in the home, keeping lights off in naturally lit rooms, etc.), but these methods can often be exhausting and ultimately ineffective.

So what can you actually do to create a greener home?

Turn to tech.

Technology is making waves in conservation efforts. AI and home automation have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, not only because of their cost saving benefits but also because of their ability to improve a home’s overall energy efficiency.

Use the following guide to identify your home’s inefficiencies and find a solution to your energy woes.

Monitor Your Energy Usage

Many people don’t understand how their homes use energy, so they struggle with conservation. Start by looking at your monthly utility bills. They can show you how much energy your home typically uses and what systems cost you the most.

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Licensed from Shutterstock – By Piotr Adamowicz

The usual culprits for high costs and energy waste tend to be the water heater and heating and cooling system. Other factors could also impact your home’s efficiency. Your home’s insulation, for example, could be a huge source of wasted heating and cooling—especially if the insulation hasn’t been inspected or replaced in years. You should also check your windows and doors for proper weatherproofing every year.

However, waiting for your monthly bill or checking out your home’s construction issues are time-consuming steps, and they don’t help you immediately understand and tackle the problem. Instead, opt for an easier solution. Some homeowners, for example, use a smart energy monitor such as Sense to track energy use in real time and identify energy hogs.

Use Smart Plugs

Computers, televisions, and lights still consume energy if they’re left on and unused. Computers offer easy cost savings with their built-in timers that allow the devices to use less energy—they typically turn off after a set number of minutes. Televisions sometimes provide the same benefit, although you may have to fiddle with the settings to activate this feature.

A better option—and one that thwarts both the television and the lights—is purchasing smart plugs. The average US home uses more than 900 kilowatts of electricity per month. That can really add up, especially when you realize that people are wasting more than $19 billion every year on household appliances that are always plugged in. Smart plugs like WeMo can help eliminate wasted electricity by letting you control plugged-in items from your smartphone.

Update Your Lighting

Incandescent lightbulbs can consume and waste a lot of energy—35% of CO2 emissions are generated from electric power plants. This can have serious consequences for increased global warming.

To reduce your impact on the environment, you can install more efficient lightbulbs to offset your energy usage. However, many homeowners choose smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, to save money and make their homes more energy efficient.

Smart lights can be controlled from your smartphone, and many smart light options come with monthly energy reporting so you can continue to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take Control of the Thermostat

Homeowners often leave the thermostat on its default settings, but defaults often result in heating and cooling systems that run longer and harder than they need to.

In fact, almost half the average residential energy use comes from energy-demanding heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to fiddling with outdated systems, eco-conscious homeowners use smart thermostats to save at least 10% on heating and roughly 15% on cooling per year.

Change your home’s story by employing a smart thermostat such as the Nest, ecobee3, or Honeywell Lyric. Smart thermostats automatically adjust your in-home temperature by accounting for a variety of factors, including outdoor humidity and precipitation. A lot of smart thermostats will also adjust your home’s temperature depending on the time of day and whether you’re home.

Stop Wasting Water

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. About one-third of that goes to maintaining their yards. Using a smart irrigation systems to improve your water usage can save your home up to 8,800 gallons of water per year.

Smart irrigation systems use AI to sync with local weather predictions, which can be really helpful if you have a garden or fruit trees that you use your irrigation system for  water. Smart features help keep your garden and landscaping healthy by making sure you never overwater your plants or deprive them of adequate moisture.

If you’re looking to make your home greener, AI-enabled products could make the transition much easier. Has a favorite tool you use that wasn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments below.

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