Hourglass Newspaper

The relentless pursuit of profit

The other day I noticed some Lego kits in a shop window showing Arctic landscapes that included a mini Lego figure drilling into the ice, industrial vehicles and ice cutters. I was shocked. What do we want to tell our children about the Arctic? Perhaps about biodiversity, wildlife, Indigenous people, and maybe that the ice caps are melting because of human activity? So why would Lego create a theme that appears to focus on the industrial extraction of the Arctic? I vaguely recalled a campaign against an oil company partnering with Lego and looked it up. In 2014 the environmental…

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THE IMPACT OF LAND USE FOR DIET

Studies estimate that food production accounts for 19-29% of greenhouse gas emissions, 80-86% of which are agricultural. Agriculture is itself a threat to biodiversity and increases the risk of soil degradation. Modern society and the rise of capitalism has seen the middle classes expand within developing countries and this leads to increasing demands for foods with high environmental impact. The national recommended diets (NRDs) of many countries provide a guide to healthy eating. In high- income countries, NRDs are moving towards increased vegetable use. Yet NRDs in such countries, like the UK, go no further than being a qualitative suggestion.

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Tring to Cheddington, Ashridge in the Chilterns

The West Coast Main Line, on its last push into the built-up South East, rises through a tantalising swathe of rolling, yearning countryside. The trains breast the scarp in minutes. Then this narrow ribbon of the Chilterns is gone. How many travellers, since Robert Stephenson built the line in the 1830s, must have thought: ‘If only I had time,’ or ‘One day I shall…’ On behalf of those unrequited millions, I take the stopping train to Tring and charted a walk to the preceding station Cheddington (8 miles, 12km). Tring Station has a rare distinction. The Ridgeway National Trail actually…

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Hastings to Rye

I feel the tug of the sea as I exit Hastings railway station. No need for a map. Just follow the wheeling seagulls downhill to the beach. What does the town forever linked, with geographical imprecision, to England’s biggest home-defeat do to erase 1,000 years of hurt? It turns instant recognition to its advantage, rebranding itself and its pretty Sussex hinterland as ‘1066 Country’. There is an attractive alternative whistlestop walk on the 1066 Country Walk 6 miles to the actual site of the showdown, on Senlac Hill, at Battle, but today I head east along part of the Saxon…

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END THE CRAZY PAVING

Imagine you are trying to create inhospitable conditions for wildlife. Cut down any plants, dig out the soil, compact the ground and concrete it over. This is what millions of people in the UK choose to do when they raze their front gardens to the ground for reasons such as ‘ease of maintenance’ and ‘convenient parking’. Recently my home city, Bristol, became the first place in the UK to declare an ecological emergency, calling for drastic action to halt and reverse the decline of wildlife in the city. While Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, should be commended for this declaration, his…

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No, I have not been brainwashed

‘What do you think of climate change?’ I often ask people. If they reply ‘a hoax, and if it is true it’s natural’ – I think, ‘seriously’? Then I run out of words! Or they may reply, ‘we’ve left it too late’, which I can stomach but still I’m puzzled. To put this into context, I usually hear this response from older people, and it sounds like they’re really thinking, ‘well it won’t bother me anyway so…’ They are telling the truth bar one solitary word – the word is ‘too’. It’s late to act, but it’s not ‘TOO late’.

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The planet needs actions, not words

The environment and the health of our planet are in the hands of you and I. Every single thing we do affects what happens. Even when we walk to school or work, most of us are wearing shoes that have been created from leather from a cow, which, over time, will wear down and then we will be compelled to buy another pair. Leather shoes, causing cows to be even more in demand than they are already, produces methane: greenhouse gas. Products bought by so many people, all containing plastic of some sort. What have we done? A generation…

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Palm Oil: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The words ‘palm oil’ make my heart drop. This usually occurs when I help do the weekly grocery shop. For some years I was aware of palm oil’s impact on our environment, but it’s only in the last eighteen months that the scale of the problem has hit home. The Good Derived from the fruit of the African Palm plant, palm oil naturally grows in sub-tropical regions. From biscuits to lipstick and bread to shampoo, it is one of the most versatile oils in the world. Due to its high melting point the oil provides a variable consistency making it…

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WHAT ABOUT CHINA?

Is it reasonable to demand that the UK government take drastic action to address the climate emergency, when China’s emissions far outweigh our own? As someone who works in the media, this is a question I’m asked a lot. It is clear that seismic shifts will have to take place globally if we are to transition to a carbon-free economy, and that includes China, as well as India, the US, the EU, the UK and all the major emitters of C02. But that’s not to say that China’s role is a straightforwardly negative one, or that protesting in the UK…

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Try a Plant-Based Vegan Diet

A plant-based diet isn’t just good for the environment, but also for our health and animal welfare. I’ve been vegan for 4 years and it’s one of the best life choices I’ve ever made. At first I found it hard to believe that I could live without meat, eggs and dairy. I needed protein – didn’t I? I did some research. Protein is found in most plant-based foods and the majority of us are consuming too much of it, and not enough fibre.A diet high in animal protein has been found to cause several diseasesand has a huge negative impact…

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