Tag Archives: Star

Fictitious petrol receipt - illustration: Janos Borbely

CO2 Accounting and Other Wicked Tricks

Fictitious petrol receipt - illustration: Janos Borbely

Motto 1: There’s no news like bad news.
[Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Elliot Carver]

As COP21 in Paris is approaching, bad news started to appear. Bad?! – Horrific!

The window of opportunity for human beings to set the trajectory of the global surface mean temperature increase to a less devastating course is closing rapidly. And by unfathomable will of destiny in these days terrorist attacks at the very same place of COP21 led to banning of public marches, including those which had been prepared since months by some many civil activists and conservation organizations.

Reading the comments on these publications it is impossible not to recognize how divided, confused, and bitter the commenters are. Perhaps the only one common denominator among them is the waiting for the miracle. The miracle that one or another party on COP21 will be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat, and our planet together with us will be saved from the devastating effects of Climate Change. But it won’t happen.

Motto 2: The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when…but why.
[Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Elliot Carver]

Why it won’t happen?

Like in a Greek drama, the causes are many and they can amplify each others’ effect.

Governments (most of them) follow the rules dictated by the financial world (financial world: nickname of Game Changers). The financial world is set to grow. If tomorrow stock markets learned that global consumption fell by 6.6% each year during the next 15 years period, there would be a global financial collapse. It must not happen! Let’s rather bravely face with the Climate Change!

Governments are elected to bring prosperity and growth for each of us. That is why they don’t even want to hear about reducing consumption. Geoengineering is much more easy approach. It is true, that it takes a while to invent all those new technologies which possibly could bring us some expected outcome. By the time these experiments will be successfully or unsuccessfully completed, members of the recent governments will spend their retirement in their small bungalow by writing their memoirs.

The said truth is that in order to avoid worst case scenario and keep the global mean temperature increase below 2 Celsius (with acceptable probability), our global society must decrease GHG emission by 6.6% on average every year to reduce it to (nearly) zero within the next 15 years. Due to the fact, that whatever we consume (beef, chicken, bottled water, etc) costs energy to produce and to transport, and wast majority of energy production is still based on fossil fuel, the only way to reach the goal is to reduce consumption.

What is the first step and the secret to reduce something effectively? The secret is to measure it. Our CO2 emission must be measured through measuring our consumption. It is not a rocket science. There are huge number of various tools available already providing ways for offsetting CO2 emission. Airlines, NGOs offer online tools to calculate our CO2 emission when we fly, drive, travel by train, or purchase a T-shirt.

T-Shirt CO2 Emission Labeling from Switcher

T-Shirt CO2 Emission Labeling from Switcher

But, it is not enough to measure only, it needs to be added to our individual CO2 account to make it visible – every day. This is really a bad news. Just like how bad is it for a smoker to see the effect of smoking on the box. Measuring and accounting or CO2 emission is not a guarantee for lowering our consumption. It is just an indispensable step towards to goal.

Without making individual contribution to the global CO2 emission visible, there will be no success. Governments are just to busy with securing our well-being to invent such ideas. However, they can be pushed to help us to make the infrastructure available for everybody to measure and account individual CO2 emission. The know how and the technology is available to make it happen, it is the question of will only.

Are you ready to support CO2 Accounting?

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There are some who rightly point to the fact that by eating (much) less meat, especially beef and pork, it is also possible to save huge amount of CO2 emission and sewage production.

By pushing our government to make CO2 accounting infrastructure available everywhere and by eating much less meat we can individually contribute to GHG emission reduction targets.

If you like the idea of CO2 accounting, please vote on the poll above and share this content with everybody in your network. If you don’t like the idea of CO2 accounting, please propose another way with which we can monitor and lower our consumption effectively.

Leigh Phillips and the 'eco-austerity'

Eco-Austerity: The Greens and The Left vs Digging and Values

Recently The Guardian presented the readers with real gem from Red Pepper science writer and journalist WordPress: Leigh Phillips titled “The Guardien: Why eco-austerity won’t save us from climate change“.

In this writing Mr. Phillips, lumping wide variety of eco-friendly and conservationist movements together with political ideologies on the left, arrives to the conclusion that talking about unnecessary and resource wasting consumption (over-consumption) is not only inappropriate, as the wast majority of people living in the so called ‘developed’ countries consume much less than they need, but also harmful for the prosperous future of humanity. He confidently states that “The truth is that we can stop climate change and deliver expanding wealth for all.”

What seem to be missing from his train of thoughts are only the appropriate reasoning and any scientific evidence supporting his discovery. The apparent contradiction between living in a finite system and delivering expanding wealth for ever growing population is something which does not even worth to think about.

The term ‘eco-austerity’ in his writing is intended to serve as a stigma on everything and everybody, which and who do not support and in favour of growth- and profit-centric view of the world. In his interpretation the secret to saving the world from climate change is “above all, large amounts of cheap capital”. Because “An entrepreneurial, risk-taking, mission-oriented public sector got us into space, and it’ll be the same sort of public sector that saves the planet.” The globally recognizable Tragedy of the Commons seemingly does not concern Mr. Phillips.

There is another humble, nearly undiscoverable writing titled Cultural values of digging from Farida Vis and her team from 2014 January is also about the subject eco-austerity, referring to it from completely different aspects. It highlights the fact how important it is to use scarce resources wisely and how it can create cultural values. This study is much less propagandist and more thoughtful to find long lasting values.

Card Payment Activated

Card Payment Activated

Credit and Debit card payment is activated and operational on our website.

After the registration process by the Swiss Authorities has completed and we obtained our official identification number, every precondition has been given to activate this feature which allows the rest of the world to support our efforts in favour of protecting biodiversity.

At the top menu there is a page YOUR IMPACT > DONATE where bank card transfers can be initiated.

There is no lower or upper limit for the transfer, for which any VISA, MATER CARD, AmEx card or PayPal account is accepted.

Should you wish to donate by using other systems currently not available, please drop an email to us.

The bank card transfer functionality is provided and processed by secure 3rd party applications and interfaces. We, The Biodiversity Alliance do not access, process or store any information required for the identification and validation process.

Registered by HRA in SHAB and ZEFIX

We are a legal entity


As the process of registration finally has rolled through the Swiss Commercial Registration Office (HRA – Handelsregisteramt) I’d like to share the brief list of steps we were required to accomplish to reach this important milestone.

Logged-in visitors will be able to see a pretty table below. Register here if you don’t have your ID yet.

For those non-(native)-German speakers, who might wish to found an organization in Switzerland, it might be especially interesting to know about some of the steps in this process.

The cost of the above process will be published in the financial report of The BA during the coming weeks.





Thanks for this. Let me directly come to the point.

After having seen
– the encyclical from Pope Francis about Climate Change and protecting our environment,
– the speech from the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury also about Climate Change and lately
– the speech from Prince Charles about the pressing necessity of rewiring the global economy to halt the destruction of our planet

probably best moment could not be expected to direct the attention of NBSAP Forum members to the fact that their main objective: “Supporting countries in their critical work in reversing the global loss of biodiversity by 2020.” will be nothing more than an empty slogan unless all the stakeholders combine all their capacity to address the single most important cause for biodiversity loss: Anthropogenic pressure on this planet.

To tackle this issue I can see the following “sub-tasks”
– Work out the framework for a new global economic model replacing the current growth and profit centric exercise;
– Educate nations all around the globe about the finite nature of our planetary resources, and as part of this also educate them about their responsibility in the exploding population;
– Propose a mechanism to be implemented worldwide for Carbon Labeling every products and services.

Infrastructure for teaching, education are given in much more places than such kind of information is distributed in any way, so education can be started right now.

We, The Biodiversity Alliance can act as a facilitator to contact and communicating with stakeholders to deliver the above message.

I hope to see your thoughts on this. 🙂

Please introduce yourself

It is a good practice I guess to have such a post on our website for the new joiners. As we saw it elsewhere it can function very well as a first ‘ice-breaker’. I encourage every new joiner to comment it with few sentences providing some insight for the rest of us what he or she interested in most.

Nuno Alves: Environment & Me - EEA

Are Natura 2000 directives the first visible victims of TTIP?

: Nuno Alves: Environment & Me - EEA


Below I scratch the surface of the EU Commission’s public survey on Natura 2000 Habitats and Bird directives, and uncover several substantial weaknesses of the EU Commission’s public survey with examples and make the case for withdrawing the survey and rework it extensively to make compliant with survey crafting general principles and make it usable for further improving conservation capabilities of the EU and its member states. Finally I highlight the potential connection with this case and TTIP objectives.


The topic is not new, you most probably have read about it on The Guardian, on LinkedIn, on WLT or on Euractive. There are several aspects though which have not been mentioned so far, at least not on these portals, and which I found important to highlight.

First of all please visit Birdlife International’s Naturealert campaign, where you can support protecting Natura 2000 directives, currently under investigation by EU Commission and EU’s REFIT program, by participating in the public survey of the EU Commission.

After this you might find it surprising that below I will reason that the best way towards strengthening the EU’s nature conservation ability would be to stop the current process, revoke and substantially rework the survey, and launch it again only if and when it can truly be used for serving the objectives of conservation. If you agree please sign our petition!

EU Commission statements

First let me cite few quotes from Arthur Neslen’s post and realize that the process we are seeing might not be transparent enough.

As Mr. Enrico Brivio, a spokesman of the environment commissioner Karmenu Vella put it “They [the Natura2000 directives] ain’t broke but they are a bit old.”

Probably being a directive a bit old is not a proper reason itself to modify it. Especially if we are talking about scientifically prepared and founded, decades old, matured instrument for conservation.

More importantly “EU’s president Jean Claude Juncker instructed Vella to “overhaul the existing environmental legislative framework to make it fit for purpose.”

The question is for what purpose Mr. Juncker meant? The purpose of nature conservation, the purpose of business, or the purpose of something else?

On what ground Mr. Juncker arrived to the implied conclusion that the existing framework does NOT fit for that purpose? What are the real reasons behind his order? Has Mr. Juncker received any requests to modify the directives? If so, from where? From conservationits or from the business who might face with inconveniences caused by conservation related directives?

The announced objective of the revision which is “The idea is to reduce certain administrative burdens without compromising the directives’ main purpose.” is quite alarming.

Which administrative burdens need to be reduced? Who’s interest is to reduce these burdens?

The interest of decades long nature conservation in the EU needs clear facts on the table to see what is going on and why.

The Nature Conservation Commission of the EU

Now take a minute to meet the EU Conservation Commission behind and backing this process.

The EU Commissioner is Mr. Karmenu Vella, his profiles are available to visit on wikipedia, on the EU Commission website, his own website or on LinkedIn.

Among the positions held by Mr. Vella throughout his career the one which probably the most strongly related to conservation was, when he served as Minster for Tourism in Maltese government. This is how Mr. Vella spoke about it on his EU Commission hearings: “Most recently, as Minister for Tourism in Malta, I was responsible for the country’s most important economic sector, a multifaceted industry that required me to engage and cooperate with the full range of stakeholders.” Tourism and nature conservation are, in the majority of cases, do not walk hand in hand.

Does Mr. Vella, for example has ever made an attempt to stop the traditional spring hunting of wild birds, especially swallows, in Malta? Or did this hunting some contribution to tourism? The Gurdaian posted an article about a campaign led by conservationists to halt stop this tradition not too long ago. I couldn’t find information about Mr. Vella’s effort against it in any of his above mentioned profiles.

Mr. Vella is supported by his team.

The spokesman, Mr. Enrico Brivio’s profile is available on the EU Commission website and on LinkedIn for example.

The public survey questions

Let’s observe the public survey itself crafted and conducted by Mr. Vella and his team. As an example I pick three questions of the survey to observe several deficiencies of them. Next to each question the predefined answer set can be seen.

Q6. Have the Directives been effective in protecting nature?

  • not effective
  • somewhat effective
  • effective
  • very effective
  • I don’t know

Q7. How important is the Natura 2000 network for protecting threatened species and habitats in the EU?

The Natura 2000 network comprises some 27,000 protected areas with a high biodiversity value covering approximately 18% of the EU and over 4% of its seas.

  • not important
  • somewhat important
  • important
  • very important
  • I don’t know

Q8. How do the costs of implementing the Birds and Habitats Directives compare with the benefits from their implementation?

  • The implementation costs are more or less equal to the benefits
  • The implementationcosts are somewhat greater than the benefits
  • The benefits of implementation are somewhat greater than the costs
  • The implementation costs far exceed the benefits
  • The benefits of implementation far exceed the costs
  • I don’t know

I can observe the following with regard to these questions ambiguity:

Q6: The definition of the term “effective” is not provided. Effective in terms of what? Financially? From the viewpoint of the number of saved or protected species?  Or business-wise? Should it be considered local, national or EU level?

Q7: The background information required to judge the importance of Natura 2000 network is not provided. The survey taker has no chance to understand the importance of Natura 2000 without knowing other protective measures, if any at all, including their characteristics.

Q8: In order to pick the proper answer the survey taker should possess the knowledge of a) the costs of implementation of the directives; b) the benefits from their implementation converted to financial terms, though I doubt if there is a single person on Earth who knows this; c)whether or not these two measures are to be considered on local, regional, national or continental level, d) if their aggregated or average (per species, per area, per inhabitant) value should be taken into consideration.

Vast majority of the other questions suffer from similar deficiencies.

Survey result usability

Now let’s just observe a hypothetical result set of say Q6, and lets pretend that the survey will end up with the following data:

Q6. Have the Directives been effective in protecting nature?

  • not effective: 11%
  • somewhat effective: 19%
  • effective: 27%
  • very effective: 21%
  • I don’t know: 22%

So than what?

What conclusion can be drawn from such an (hypothetical) result? Will the Commission end up by saying that the directives are good enough, because according to 48% of the answers they were effective or very effective? Or will they say the opposite, that the directives need to be changed because 52% of the answers does not classify them as effective or very effective?

General survey considerations

Observing these questions from the viewpoint of general principles of scientific survey making, I can arrive to the following conclusions:

Survey makers should always bear in mind that with inappropriately designed survey, like this one, they would compromise not only the quality of collected data but also the efforts of all those individuals and organizations who would participate in the survey. This is the most fundamental ethical principle of survey making. It has been breached.

One main principle of data collection is “Garbage in – garbage out” meaning that if the data being collected is unusable – i.e. the questions and the answer sets are wrongly designed – the result of the survey will necessarily be unusable as well. This principle was not taken into consideration.

The hypothesis which is aimed to be proved or to be denied by the survey is at best, not clear, or there is none at all. So one can even suspect that the data, being ambiguous enough, could be used to support a variety of objectives, not necessarily those ones which are favorable from conservation viewpoint.

Generally the following questions also can also be asked:

Who designed, verified and approved the survey so that it has been made without considering a numerous quality standards?
Who can use such data resulting from this survey?
What such ambiguous data can be used for?
Are there any thresholds defined already to make judgments based on resulting data?
Are these thresholds public?

At the EU Commission hearings Mr. Vella stated that “I will … seeking always to ensure broad consultation and presenting sound data to support the conclusion.” The Natura 2000 public consultation survey does not seem to support this commitment.

Furthermore, it is widely know that effectiveness of any regulation is assessable only together with its enforcement efficiency. Therefore the investigation of the directives themselves without investigating the enforcement system behind the directives does not make sense.

I would like to believe that the obvious deficiencies of this survey were the result of flurry and were not made by purpose. Still the survey seems to be unsuitable for appropriately collecting data usable for truly supporting the interest of nature, species and habitat protection.

Final observations

The timing and the defective implementation of the survey seems to be even more strange in the light of the fact the study titled “State of the nature in the EU” by the European Environment Agency published on 20th May 2015, quite soon after launching the public survey.

Could it be that Mr. Vella and his team were not aware of that such study will be published?

What is the point of conducting a survey suffering from all the above mentioned deficiencies while there is one, which has been prepared and crafted by scientific preciseness, based on validated and analyzed data collected through many years?

Can it be that the survey launched by Mr. Vella’s team is aiming to weakening the key message of the study, which is “When implemented well, conservation measures work and improve the status of habitats and species on the ground. Such improvements remain limited and patchy, and unfortunately Europe’s biodiversity is still being eroded overall and the pressures continue.”

So it says that the directives can work effectively but their enforcement has to be strengthened and the habitats involved has to be extended.

Having all that said I return to the bird-eyes view of this survey, and I agree with Ms. Jennings’ view from Birdlife: “This review is clearly part of a wider ideological deregulation agenda that is going on,”

And that is the point where this subject becomes much more worrying to me. The information available to the public about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the efforts of the groups behind that agenda, underline that global business power seek for deregulated environment, in which regulations if any, are managed on country level. That would allow them to override country level regulations quite easily based on the planned Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). You can find more info about it and its relation to TTIP at the European Citizens’ Initiative campaign website.

If that happens nature protection, conservation, biodiversity and, at the end life of millions of creatures remain unguarded and unsheltered. And that we must not allow.

If you agree please share this post and sign our petition!

Association of Journalists and Writers for nature and ecology

Pangolin campaign shared on JNE’s fb public group

: Association of Journalists and Writers for nature and ecology

A big thank you for Marie Paule and Laurent Samuel for sharing our Pangolin campaign on the fb group of JNE: “Association des journalistes et Ă©crivains pour la nature et l’Ă©cologie” (Association of Journalists and Writers for nature and ecology)

Since Marie first shared our page on her fb, two days ago, 10 person signed our petition, 7 of them already confirmed their signature as well.

More importantly, this is the first time – I am aware of – when anything from our website has been shared on a social media portal independently from us.

For those of you who are not on fb here how it’s look like there:

JNE Public fb group: Pangolin campaign shared

JNE Public fb group: Pangolin campaign shared


The Guardian and Gates

: TheGuardian

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

…with assumptions and with ignorance of potential risk and consequences.

I can understand the biased ardour of The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground team towards the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as they also funds the Guardian’s global development coverage.

What I can not understand is the lack of understanding the causative relationship between Climate Change and the global economical and financial system of which Bill Gates is one of the best representative figure.

The system in which he believes so fanatically and which allowed him to pile up his wealth is determined to destroy the biosphere of this planet for the shier personal interest of figures like Gates.

According to Forbes, the 1,826 members of the billionaires club owns “an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion, up from $6.4 trillion a year ago” possessed by 1,646 people. These guys are interested only in increasing their wealth further by taking as mach as possible and as quickly as possible from the biosphere, either directly or indirectly.

During the same period of time the population on Earth grew by more 80,000,000 people. Wast majority of them has literally nothing but they wear. To reduce the growth of human population which is the major and most fundamental reason of the climate change is not the interest of billionaires and of the current incarnation of capitalism.

In my view, The Guradian’s Keep it in the Ground team should have chosen a person to lead this campaign more wisely. They should have chosen someone who is committed to protect this planet rather than to make his profit from it.

Is Bill Gates a suitable person to "lead the fight against climate change"?

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Tongareva Atoll: we are going solar!

Kia Orana everyone, very exciting news from this extremely remote atoll in the South Pacific. Last Friday a ship arrived with everything required to build a solar-power station on our island (in fact there will be two as the other village is far away across the other side of the atoll ~ so it will get a smaller set-up too).

It will take about a week to offload all the cargo by barge, but we may start laying out the site tomorrow and begin excavations. I’ll document the project as it unfolds, but we expect it will make a huge difference & ~ most importantly ~ think how much fuel it will save? To bring 1 litre of diesel here requires a voyage from Auckland to Rarotonga, then another from Rarotonga to the Northern Cooks; plus road haulage in NZ and electricity any place the fuel is pumped. Crazy, especially when the sun shines most days.

The build is by PowerSmart in NZ, and the project funded through NZAID [Aotearoa ~ New Zealand ~ has provided NZ$ 20 million to set up solar arrays on all the Northern Cook Islands. The scheme is called “Uira Natura ke Tokerau”. EU & NZ have formed an Energy Access Partnership].

Thank you, and very much appreciated. 🙂