Saturday, 24 May 2008

Eyes on the Arctic

The enormous Arctic ice shelf is a clear indicator of the state of Climate Change. The polar regions of the planet contain enormous amounts of frozen water, which if they were to melt would cause sea levels worldwide to rise by an enormous amount.

Worryingly, this enormous ice shelf is showing signs of breaking up - at a much faster rate than previously expected. A report called 'The Big Melt' was completed by an organisation called Carbon Equity last year and exposed disturbing facts about the speed of melt, with the prediction that global sea levels could rise by as much as 5 metres by 2100 - and that's without further rises in greenhouse gases.

A report by the BBC's David Shukman confirms many of those fears - Arctic ice is breaking up very quickly and at an accelerating rate.

On Scilly we are extremely vulnerable to such sea level rises and it should be a big concern for everyone who lives here. All the more reason to engage in Transition Scilly and reduce your carbon footprint, and therefore your contribution to sea level rises.

There are many things you can do to move towards a low carbon lifestyle and they do not have to reduce your quality of life at all - from signing up to a renewable energy electricity tariff to massively reducing the amount of flying you do. The Guide To Low Carbon Lifestyles is an excellent place to start and lays out the facts very clearly.

Friday, 9 May 2008


Cooking from scratch with wholefoods, preferably local and organic, is the best food for human and planetary health. But this is something not usually the case in kitchens across the country, whether at home or in restaurants.

It is therefore particularly refreshing to hear Gordon Ramsey forcefully stating the importance of seasonal food. Not only has he rightfully slated Delia Smith's stance on food (not really caring about its freshness, provenance or method of production), but he goes as far as saying that restaurants should be fined for using out of season produce.

Food transport makes up a large proportion of the carbon footprint of food; air freighting of food, in particular, is incredibly damaging to our environment. To put this in to context, to move 1kg of strawberries from Kent to London creates 0.017kg of CO2. To move those strawberries all the way from Kent to Scotland creates 0.145kg of CO2. But if 1kg of strawberries are sourced (out of season) from Israel, the CO2 emissions rocket to a colossal 4.6kg.

Out of season produce is a luxury of rich countries and an oil-rich world - without excess money or oil this simply would not be possible. So next time you look at, for example, French beans from Kenya, asparagus from Columbia or apples from USA think how they got on to the shelf in front of you.

Eating seasonally is a much more rewarding way of cooking and eating food. Nature provides an incredible diversity of foods right through the year and there is no reason why you cannot have a diverse and interesting diet when eating purely seasonal foods. The taste of strawberries in June, new potatoes in May or even purple sprouting in January is simply unsurpassed.