Friday, 30 March 2012

London Olympics - The Greenest Games??

The Olympics are coming! Coaches are training Olympians worldwide to ensure they achieve the best possible result, whether it’s a podium finish or a personal goal. The Olympics is one of the only sport events that reaches all corners of the globe and a truly worldwide audience. This is a unique opportunity for many, and it’s also a time to address a global audience on important issues, and London is doing this in the realm of the Environment.

London is aiming to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the Olympics to create positive change and it has set new standards for the future. London’s bid to host the Olympics incorporated environmentally friendly objectives, for example, it will use many pre-existing venues where possible and will only build permanent structures that can be used for many years to come, and where this is not possible, create ‘temporary structures’ that will only be used for a specific amount of time. All venues incorporate sustainability into their production, with the Olympic stadium being the front runner which is constructed using multiple techniques, using recycled materials and lighter material to reduce its carbon footprint.  Further, the London Olympics will bring significant environmental change to areas that were previously known as ‘brownfield sites’ meaning they were derelict or contaminated - and they are creating one of the biggest new parks in London.      

By highlighting 5 main interest areas London is trying to become the greenest games possible. In recognition of Climate Change London Olympics is positively minimising it’s greenhouse gas emissions, it will not send waste to landfills, encourage Biodiversity at Olympic venues, promote inclusion from people across London and the UK and healthy living, to encourage people to be more active and think more sustainably. The Olympics is on track to deliver the first sustainable games

However there’s still room for improvement. In the Olympic bid London explained they would be investing in a wind turbine to create 20% of the energy necessary for the games, however this was scrapped as it was a little too ambitious. 

Further, pollution in London will be a concern to many. Similar to the Beijing Olympics, there has been warnings about the unacceptably high levels of air pollution in London, and this can be especially so during the summer months. The effect of this is that athletes could suffer pulmonary irritation, decreased lung capacity and shortness of breath. London is the biggest city in the EU, and has previously been warned about its high levels of toxic gases. Whereas Beijing took the drastic measure of banning half of the cars in the city and shut down many industries, it will be unlikely that the Olympics organisation or government will take the same measures, and this could be to the detriment of the games. London will certainly be in the global spot light.
Odyssey 2050 intends to attend the London Olympics as it will be a great opportunity to engage young people from around the world in the environmental debate.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Comic book, Climate change

The Odyssey 2050 climate change comic book is nearing the end of its production - to be launched in London in the coming weeks. then worldwide release.

For excellent climate change debate and environmental issues, go to HuffPost Green

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Water water everywhere....?

Water is the only substance on earth that occurs at ordinary temperatures in all three states of matter – gas, liquid and solid. As a gas it is in the air around us, as vapor, steam, fog, mist and clouds. As ice it forms snow, hail, glaciers and freezes lakes and rivers. As liquid it covers the world in lakes, seas and swamps, or is found deep in underground reservoirs. Depending on variables such as age, health and geography, any human constitutes about 60% water. Humans can survive weeks without food, but without a reliable water source our bodies start to shut down after a few days.

Water covers approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface, of which only 2.5% is freshwater, and of this small percentage, only 0.3% freshwater is available in lakes and rivers.

Growing up in England and living in Europe there has never been a time when I've feared for my own water security. If I was thirsty I’d merely turn on a tap or go to the shops. Such access to water is a first world luxury and must not be taken lightly.  Water scarcity is a serious problem for millions of people worldwide.

Carrying water across the dry-bed of Neyyar resevoir, the main source of water for Trivandrum city, India. 

In 1999 the World Bank Institute Water Policy Reform Program outlined how water is essential for all aspects of life. It highlighted that globally water availability is reaching a ‘crisis level’ with more than 40% of the world’s inhabitants facing water shortages, with over 1 billion people without access to safe drinking water and 3 billion without clean sanitation infrastructure.

In the past decade this situation has not improved and availability of freshwater continues to be a global concern. In March 2012, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova of the World Water Forum in Marseilles explained that fresh water continues to be a core issue for sustainable development and that "if we fail today to make water an instrument of peace, it might become tomorrow a major source of conflict." 

The future of the world’s water supply is uncertain due to rising population, increasing urbanization and the pressures of climate change. Consequently, the World Water Development report explains that no country is guaranteed ‘uninterrupted access to water supplies’ and the report warns that it will affect key developmental sectors including agriculture, energy and health.

While global efforts have been made to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people that do not have access to safe drinking water by 2015 there is still much ground to cover. By 2050 the world’s population is forecast to reach 9 billion. Rising population levels coupled with the pressures of climate change compounds the importance of ensuring greater water sustainability. 

With encroaching climate change, water in some countries will increase in the form of flash floods or rising seas levels, while other countries will have unprecedented low levels of rainfall, droughts and dry rivers. Further, lakes, wetlands and rivers are under increasing pressure from multiple use, pollution and habitat degradation. Climate change and fluctuations in the levels of water will undoubtedly have a great effect on the global production of agriculture and our ability to create food and safe water for earth's rising population.

As it stands, there is great uncertainty surrounding the amount of water necessary to sustain our planet. Owing to climate change there is great uncertainty about what the future will hold. To ensure worldwide water sustainability a global effort must be made by the international community. Emerging global initiatives that have been implemented need to be bolstered and carried out to ensure that there is significant investment in technologies and urban water planning for the future. Water transends both local and national concerns as everyone shares a vested interest in a dependence on water. Water it is central to every aspect of life on Earth and it must lie at the heart of our vision for sustainable development for the coming century.

Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen; this simple chemistry is holding our world together and we need to protect it.