Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Bitter Seeds - Review of Take One Action Screening

Take One Action marked International Women’s Day on 8th March by screening the film Bitter Seeds and I, Oyunn Anshus, was there on behalf of Eco-Congregation Scotland!
The film draws attention to the plight of Indian cotton farmers through one woman’s story.

Take One Action describe the film (
A billion people go to bed hungry every night around the world. Women are often hit hardest with climate change, agricultural pressures and land grabs combining to make the current food system untenable. Marking International Women’s Day, Bitter Seeds offers an "affecting, character-driven portrait" (Variety) of Manjusha Amberwar, a young Indian who hopes to get her debut article published in the local paper. Taking her first step as a journalist is not easy for the village girl, whose entire family opposes her ambition, and her chosen topic provides even less reason for joy. Her father was one of many Indian cotton farmers who have committed suicide because of the pressures heaped on rural farmers by changing food systems. Manjusha hopes that by drawing attention to their plight, she can bring an end to this epidemic. But where do the real solutions lie?

The film was introduced by Archbishop Desmund Tutu who supports the Take One Action campaign, and was followed by a discussion with Sarah Watson, Oxfam Scotland Campaigner and Joanna Blythman, an award-winning investigative journalist and author of six landmark books on food issues.  
The conversation with the audience highlighted the huge difficulties and challenges facing small-scale farmers around the world, and how we can make a difference to people’s lives by choosing to buy for example Fairtrade products. 
You can access a Bitter Seeds review by clicking on the link: 
Frequently Asked Questions about Bitter Seeds by TeddyBear films:
Take One Action is Scotland’s global action cinema project. Find out more by accessing their website:

Monday, 19 March 2012

Junk for Jesus: a church built out of trash

Interesting Article about Colston Milton Parish Church  Building project:
the herald
Sunday 4 March 2012
Junk for Jesus: a church built out of trash
exclusive By Rob Edwards Environment Editor
It sounds like a cross between Scrapheap Challenge and Blue Peter, with the blessing of the Almighty and a huge heap of ingenuity.
And it's definitely not rubbish.
An artist's impression of how the new building will look when it is completed by April 2014
Old beer cans, car tyres, shipping containers, industrial pallets and straw bales are being used to build a new church, theatre and community centre in Glasgow with the help of local people.
The cans are being used to construct walls and furniture, the tyres to form foundations, the containers and pallets to create buildings and the straw bales to provide insulation. It's one of the most ambitious recycling projects in the country.
With the backing of grants from the Scottish Government, the lottery and Glasgow City Council, work is under way on the first phase of the project – an "energy hub" and community centre in Milton, north Glasgow.
After that, the plan is to build a church, a café, a theatre, a gallery and offices, set within a landscaped public park. Further grants of £2.2 million are being applied for with the aim of completion by April 2014.
"We are creating our new building ourselves – one can, one tyre, one straw bale at a time," said Reverend Christopher Rowe, minister of Colston Milton Parish Church.
"The people of Milton will be building out of material commonly regarded as rubbish, things that people throw away but which in reality could be given another life in all sorts of ways."
Recycling will create a "wonderful resource", as well as cutting pollution from landfill dumps, Rev Rowe argued. "Our aim is to create a building with as many recycled materials as possible to use less energy and create fewer emissions."
The project also has an important social aim, he said. It will be built by "people who are often regarded as rubbish by society, one of the poorest communities in Western Europe, in a culture which is quite good not just at throwing away physical or energy resources but human ones as well."
People love the idea that old beer cans can be used to make a church, Rowe maintained. "I think they find something ironic and rather amusing about it."
Hundreds of local people have so far collected more than two tonnes of used aluminium cans, and aim to gather a further two tonnes. Some will be used to construct walls and furniture, and some sold to raise money for the project.
The new community building will also make use of more than 500 worn car tyres, 300 timber pallets from local industrial estates, 12 shipping containers, old roofing tiles and disused scaffolding planks.
"We plan to transform the tyres into foundations, cans into walls and shipping containers into a sustainable community space," said Lee Ivett, the project's co-ordinator and architect. "In turn we are saving raw materials and money.
"It will demonstrate the value of recycling in a building project that will ultimately be a much-needed resource for the people of Milton.
"A hands-on approach is the most appropriate way of demonstrating the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle that has recycling and re-use as a key component. Our projects provide a means of empowering the community in a manner that is economic, resourceful, sustainable and enriching."
Environment Minister Richard Lochhead said: "This shows just what can be achieved. Scotland's households already recycle nearly 44% of waste, but there's still a lot more we could be doing and I encourage everyone to go that bit further and recycle more to make Scotland a true zero-waste society."
Link to article:

SEPA Tree facts!

For more information see SEPA website:

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Green Investment Bank

The announcement by the UK Government that the Green Investment Bank will be established with its HQ in Edinburgh has been generally welcomed.  

However what is the Green Investment Bank and what will it do?
The website tells us that it will be the world’s first investment bank dedicated to greening the economy; and that it will raise £3 billion to invest in green projects.  The bank has been set up to fill a gap in the market identified by the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons in 2011.  The committee reported that the UK could not meet its climate change commitments without huge investments in low carbon businesses, amounting to at least £200 billion in the next decade alone and that traditional sources of finance were not likely to meet this need.

What will it invest in? 
The UK Government has identified energy projects including new sources of renewable energy, energy efficiency and support for the ‘Green Deal’ as priorities.  The investments will be in the business sector rather than the domestic sector.

Is this a good thing?
There is increasing awareness that we need to change how we manage the economy and natural resources to reduce our carbon footprint and to use natural resources in a less profligate manner.  Churches including the Church of Scotland have called for a reduction in carbon emissions and the Scottish Government has set a target of an 80% reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases by 2050. The Green Investment Bank could help deliver on these objectives by investing in new low carbon (renewable) technologies.

Is there a downside?
The renewable energy industry in Scotland is now big business.  The large energy companies including Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern dominate electricity generation.  However in many parts of rural Scotland communities struggling with depopulation and economic decline find it difficult to take advantage of the renewable resources that surround them.  Wind farms, hydro schemes and biomass proposals are planned, funded and developed by large energy businesses outwith the local area.  Will the new bank help rural communities profit from the development of locally owned renewables?  This is not certain, but the initial signs suggest are that the bank may well target large projects developed by big businesses rather than for community business projects.  

Adrian Shaw

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Video - Interactive Recycling Bank

The Scottish Government’s fun, interactive recycling bank visited five cities across Scotland, to raise awareness of the benefits of recycling more items, more often and show people what common household items such as paper, plastic, glass, metal and cardboard can be transformed into through the recycling process.

Watch what happened here…

Monday, 12 March 2012

Funding for Tree Planting

From the Woodland Trust website:

The Woodland Trust provides free help and advice to all those interested in planting new native woodlands in Scotland.

A simple scheme from the Woodland Trust to help you create beautiful new native woodland.
With our expert help and advice in just 12 years you could be walking through your own flourishing young forest of native trees; oak, ash, hazel or rowan.
Specialist woodland creation advisors are in place and can offer site visits and advice based on four decades of planting expertise.
Previous MOREwoods schemes have created some 210 hectares of new native woodland across 160 sites, with planting motivated by a range of uses from shade for livestock to a legacy for future generations, to shelter for crops and game cover.
Native woods are a haven for wildlife and beneficial for our health and well being.  They can also provide excellent game cover, produce timber and woodfuel, help with pollution control, reduce soil erosion and can make an important contribution to addressing the challenges of climate change.
MOREwoods is available to landowners throughout the UK with a minimum of one hectare (2.5 acres) but that could comprise a number of smaller areas.
Your application will be favoured if you can
contribute towards the scheme or do some of the work
yourself or if you are happy for your scheme to go forward for Forestry Commission funding.
For more information see their website:

Thursday, 8 March 2012

How do we know how warm or cold it was in the past?

A frequently asked question is about changes in temperatures in the past.  This short article in The Guardian provides a quick introduction to the science  and the  sources of evidence that are used to piece together past climates.  The record from weather stations goes back 200 years at best.  Before that there are a range of proxies that can be used to assemble a picture of climate change in historical and geological time. 

Follow this link for the full article:

Monday, 5 March 2012

Win an Energy Saving Trust Recommended boiler

From the Energy Savings Trust:

About the prize

Linea One is the latest advancement in condensing gas boiler technology from Vokèra. The boiler has one of the lowest emissions rating in its field and boasts one of the highest efficiency performance when installed with the external sensor that is included with the appliance, helping to save fuel. And has been designed for exceptional end user comfort and control.
  • Up to 93.1% efficient when installed with the external sensor provided with the appliance
  • Combi boiler for instantaneous heating and hot water
  • High domestic hot water flow rate, suitable for properties with multiple bathrooms
  • LCD Display helps you to view the current status of the appliance
  • Boasts the latest technology for maximum energy saving and comfort
  • No need for a water cylinder or tanks, saving you space
  • Energy Saving Trust Recommended
For more information visit the Vokèra website.
Enter the competition