In one of the UK’s biggest, most historic cemeteries on the edge of Epping Forest, headstones and memorials stretch across 200 acres. And it is full. With no prospect that people will stop dying, managers have had to take bold measures.
At the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, they reuse old graves. Campaigners say this could be the solution to a nationwide shortage of burial space.
Hundreds of families were contacted about private graves which had not been used for more than 75 years, and which were known to have depth for at least two more burials.
More than 30 of the plots have since been chosen by people for their final resting place. On one historic grave, the memorial even has one set of names on its reverse side — dating from 1902 and 1908 — and a fresh name on the front. In another corner of the site, remains have been dug up from more than 1,000 public graves so new plots can be created; 360 have already been used.
Emphasizing that with urbanization emerging as one of the most significant drivers of global environment change, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today said that those living in concrete dominated city environments cannot afford to remain apathetic or indifferent to the mounting degradation of our natural eco-systems.
President Patil, who inaugurated a one day seminar at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on the universalisation of the environmental initiative already in practice in the President’s Estate — ‘Roshni’, in her inaugural speech said: “The need to foster the spirit of ‘Roshni’ is necessary, as the impact of environmental degradation is clearly apparent today, whether it is the rise in the global temperatures; haphazard weather patterns; depletion of the ozone layer; change in the sea-levels or the growing spate of natural catastrophes.”
Expressing satisfaction about the ‘Roshni’ initiative, President Patil said: “From a humble start, today it encompasses a shelf of 13 activities. As Roshni spread its wings, we felt the need to institutionalize ‘Roshni’ as a regular environmental management system. We have in place an Environment Policy for the Estate.”
“All activities which impact environment have been put to audit, and our environmental practices have been subjected to external validation. We crossed the first milestone in 2010 when we received the ISO 14001 certification. Carbon-emission reduction is also being monitored, and carbon footprint reduction potential is being analyzed to show the way forward,” she added.
Australian sustainable population minister Tony Burke spoke to the Express on Friday about the Australian Government’s sustainable population strategy and what it will mean for communities like Canterbury-Bankstown.
The Sustainable Australia report, which was released at a housing industry conference on May 13, seeks to cap population growth in capital cities in favour of boosts in regional centres.
Mr Burke, who is also the Federal Labor Watson MP, described the strategy as a great initiative for working people living in outer suburbs of big cities.
“People in our community regularly face long commutes to and from work,” Mr Burke said when asked about potential impacts for the area of Watson. “We have communities where there are not enough workers and communities where there are not enough jobs a locally targeted approach to addressing population growth and change is needed.”
He said the strategy’s focus is on alleviating pressures in overstretched areas by supporting more local jobs, rather than setting “arbitrary” population targets.
“Population change is not just about growth and the size of our population. It is about the skills and needs of our population, how we live and where we live,” he said.
Brazilian Minister for the Environment Izabella Teixeira announced yesterday the creation of a cabinet post responsible for monitoring and addressing the deforestation crisis affecting Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The cabinet post will be filled by government specialists as well as by members of the Environmental Ministry and representatives from the states which have registered the highest levels of deforestation. According to satellite imagery, deforestation of the Amazon has increased from 103 square kilometers (64 square miles) in March-April 2010 to 593 square kilometers (368 square miles) this year — an almost 600 percent increase in one year. Minister Teixeira called the figures “alarming” while noting the concern as a main reason for establishing the cabinet position.
The increase in deforestation is occurring mostly in Mato Grosso state where nearly 25 percent of Brazil’s soybean harvest is produced. Experts say that increased demand for soy and cattle are key factors in farmers’ decisions to clear more forests from their lands. However, activists like Greenpeace’s Maricio Astrini believe the deforestation is due more to a lack of significant legal protections and penalties for land-clearing activities.
Growing populations and increased urbanization could reduce the 200 million acres of forestland in the South by about 10 percent over the next 50 years, according to a U.S. Forest Service study released Tuesday.
The multiyear study looks at the impact a variety of factors will have on the future of forests in 13 states stretching from Texas to Virginia.
“The diversity in Southern forests is unparalleled in North America,” said Dave Wear, the project leader on the report. But that diversity and the home it provides to a variety of wildlife is threatened by a combination of four primary factors: population, climate change, timber markets and invasive species.
But population growth and the ensuing urbanization are expected to reduce the amount of forestland in the South by as much as 23 million acres — about the size of the state of South Carolina — and stress other resources that forests depend on for survival.
“The growing population reduces the capability of forestry agencies to manage forests,” Wear said. About 90 percent of the region’s forestland is owned by companies and individuals, and the rest is owned and managed by U.S. or local government agencies.
Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has increased almost sixfold, new data suggests.
Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, Brazil’s space research institute says. Much of the destruction has been in Mato Grosso state, the centre of soya farming in Brazil.
The news comes shortly before a vote on new forest protection rules.
Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the figures were “alarming” and announced the setting up of a “crisis cabinet” in response to the news.
“Our objective is to reduce deforestation by July,” the minister told a news conference.
Analysts say the new figures have taken the government by surprise.
Last December, a government report said deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had fallen to its lowest rate for 22 years. However, the latest data shows a 27% jump in deforestation from August 2010 to April 2011.
Current extinction rate projections may be overestimating the role of habitat loss on species, a study suggests.
Current methods are too simplistic and fail to take into account the full complexity of what influences species numbers, researchers observed. Writing in the journal Nature, they said present figures overestimated rates by up to 160%, and called for updated, more accurate calculations. But they did add that habitat loss was still the main threat to biodiversity.
Co-authors Professor Stephen Hubbell, from the University of California Los Angeles, and Professor Fangliang He, from Sun Yat-sen University, China, said existing mathematical models were flawed.
“The most widely used indirect method is to estimate extinction rates by reversing the species-area accumulation curve, extrapolating backwards to smaller areas to calculate expected species loss,” they wrote. “Estimates based on this method are almost always much higher than actually observed.”
Biomass used to make biofuels must be carefully sourced, or the biofuels they produce may be no greener than conventional jet fuel. That’s according to a study that was published this week in the online version of Environmental Science and Technology and was conducted by a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
For the nearly four-year study, researchers conducted a life cycle analysis on 14 diesel and jet fuel sources made from feedstocks, and identified the key factors that make a difference in whether a biofuel is truly an environmental improvement over conventional jet fuel.
The team was led by James Hillman, principal research engineer, and a professor at the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.
The Australian Government has released its first population strategy which focuses on boosting growth in regional areas and alleviating pressures in the outer suburbs of cities.
The report — Sustainable Australia, Sustainable Communities — does not set a population target, saying adopting one would limit the Government’s ability to use the migration program to deal with skills gaps and labour shortages. The report says a balance must be struck between the principles of economic sustainability, making communities livable and environmental sustainability.
One proposal is to create more jobs outside major CBDs.
The Population Minister Tony Burke says the Government is aiming to encourage business hubs in the outer suburbs and regional areas so people can find employment closer to home. He cited the example of Springfield near Brisbane as an example of a self-contained community away from the inner-city, and said the National Broadband Network is integral to the new strategy.
Mr. Burke says the strategy centres on where and how people live, rather than population targets or caps.
The world is set to consume three times more natural resources than current rates by the middle of the century, according to a United Nations report. It predicts that humanity will annually use about 140 billion tonnes of fossil fuels, minerals and ores by 2050. The authors call for resource consumption to be “decoupled” from economic growth, and producers to do “more with less”. Growth in population and prosperity are the main drivers, they observe.
The report is the latest in a series by the UN Environment Programme’s (Unep) International Resources Panel.
“Decoupling makes sense on all the economic, social and environmental dials, ” said Unep executive director Achim Steiner. “People believe environmental ‘bads’ are the price we must pay for economic ‘goods’. However, we cannot and need not continue to act as if this trade-off is inevitable.”