A report released recently by World Health Organisation claims that air pollution is still a major threat to humans causing cancer, strokes and other serious health issues with one in eight global deaths being linked to toxic air pollution, making it “the single biggest environmental health risk in the world” according to the organisation spokesman.
It’s not just outside air pollution that causes concern but indoor air pollutants too. The World Health Organisation claim that a staggering 3.3 million people died in 2012 from illnesses directly related to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths were attributed to outdoor air pollution with the low and middle income countries bearing the brunt of these figures.
World Health Organisation’s Dr Maria Neira stated “The risks from air pollution are now much greater than previously considered or understood, particularly for illness such as heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution. The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe. Reducing air pollution both indoors and outside could potentially save millions of lives worldwide.”
I have often thought that if the fumes we omit from the rear of our cars were bright red so we could clearly see them would we still drive?, cars or vehicles are a major contributor to air pollution outside as is industrial pollution but what causes indoor air pollution? Many of us would not even consider indoor air being a problem to our health but the list of causes is quite extensive. Outside air, second hand cigarette smoke, air bourne bacteria, moulds and dead skin cells even some air fresheners are just a few of the things that can cause internal air pollution and be detrimental to our health.
The World Health organisation claimed that the deaths related to air pollution were linked to cardiovascular diseases and illnesses.
40% – heart disease
40% – stroke
11% – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
6% – lung cancer
3% – acute lower respiratory infections in children.
For deaths related to indoor pollution, it found:
34% – stroke
26% – heart disease
22% – COPD
12% – acute lower respiratory infections in children
6% – lung cancer
Clearly more needs to be done to tackle these important issues by world governments and local councils alike, we can all do our bit by considering what we do and how we do it, after all one thing we have in common regardless of race, colour or creed and regardless of rich or poor is the air we breathe…. It’s everyone’s problem.
Greenpeace’s Lawrence Carter today hit out at UK’s Prime Minster David Cameron following the announcement that UK government expect to see 20 to 30 new fracking wells in the north of England. Councils allowing the fracking will be paid a slice of the action
“This is a naked attempt by the government to bribe hard pressed councils into allowing fracking in their area” claimed Lawrence, and no doubt there will be lots of opposition to this controversial industry adding “Cameron is effectively telling councils to ignore the risks and threat of large-scale industrialisation in exchange for cold, hard cash”
So what is Fracking and why is it causing such a stir? And why is “Dodgy Dave” as he has been called by protesters so keen to get the local councils involved?
Fracking is a term used to describe a type of mining for Gas and Oil; Hydraulic Fracturing is the correct term is a technique used to recover Gas and Oil from shale rock. The ground is drilled from the surface into the shale rock underground then a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas or oil inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. Forcing the high pressure liquid into the shale rock causes the rock to fracture and release the fossil fuels, hence the nick name of fracking.
(image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)
Fracking is causing a stir with protesters such as Greenpeace for various reasons, the process of fracking involves huge amounts of water being pumped into the ground to fracture the shale rock and release the fuels within, it is the transporting of water as well as the waste water being contaminated that causes concern, also recent fracking tests in Blackpool, Northern England was reported to cause earth tremors measuring 1.5 and 2.5 magnitude on 2011.
The issues has hit the headlines again after French company Total revealed that it is the first company to pledge funds up to £30m to help drill two exploratory wells in Lincolnshire in the North of England. It is the first major fuel company to pledge investment but no doubt others will follow with the UK government’s advisers claiming that an estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England this could be very lucrative investment indeed.
There will be many protests, not just from Greenpeace but local people too; David Cameron is trying to sweeten the deal for local councils that allow fracking to take place by offering them great incentives. The fracking company will pay local communities an estimated £100,000 plus 1% share of any potential revenues from the mining activity, on top of this Cameron expects that local councils could trouser an extra £1.7m per year by charging the fracking companies business rates etc. The UK’s Energy Minister Michael Fallon said local councils could benefit by up to “£10m per wellhead” if shale gas was successfully extracted in their communities, through the 1% levy on revenues alone, as well as it bringing many jobs into the areas. It is this that protesters feel is being used as a bribe by the Government.
Protesters feel that the government should be using money to invest into renewable resources; fracking just continues the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Ever-longer working hours, diminishing real earnings and the increase of the internet have made lazy-bones out of us after a day’s work, and that has actually been excellent information for the pizza shipment company.
Britain’s largest pizza delivery chain, Domino’s– which as recently been opening nine brand-new outlets a month and now has 777 stores– announced “remarkably strong” UK sales on Wednesday for the three months to the end of December. Total sales were up virtually 16 % to simply over 170m, and, leaving out brand-new branches sales, increased 11 %.
The appeal of an American Hot Double Decadence pizza turning up at the front door after a quick telephone call, or a few clicks on a mouse, seems unstoppable. Also in the depths of the 2009 economic downturn Domino’s thrived as cash-strapped consumers exchanged dining establishment meals for an evening in.
Britain’s Domino’s routine started in 1985 with a single branch in Luton, Bedfordshire. A decade later there were ONE HUNDRED stores and in 1999 the business became the first home-delivery company to drift on the London stock exchange’s Objective market.
Sales soared as the company used greater need for ease and the popularity of just remaining in and watching telly. Sponsoring Saturday evening TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and Splash! just increased the lure for consumers.
Such is the chain’s ubiquity in the UK, it is simple to fail to remember that Domino’s is American. In 1960 Tom and James Monaghan opened their DomiNick’s pizza delivery establishment in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
A year later, Tom exchanged his Volkswagen Beetle for his sibling’s share of the company and established himself the goal of broadening to three stores. The rest is fast-food history.
Monaghan spread all over the world making use of the franchising design. Domino’s in the UK pays 2.7 % of sales to Domino’s US to utilize the brand name.
Individual shopkeepers pay the UK business at least 280,000 for a licence upfront, plus a share of sales, and get their products from the company, prepped at 3 huge “distribution centres” at Milton Keynes, Penrith in Cumbria and Naas in Ireland.
Domino’s has 26 % of the UK pizza market, merely ahead of the longer developed Pizza Hut at 25 % but with considerably better dominance of the growing market.
Wayne Brown, an analyst at City brokers Canaccord Genuity, said Domino’s prominence is down to “first-mover benefit”– it introduced and rode the home-delivery surge earlier compared to any person else.
However it has actually likewise kept up with its customers, browsing the web as far back as 1999, welcoming social networks and releasing a mobile phone application in 2010.
We have all become accustomed to the annual Comic Relief event, many of us actually look forward to watching the show on TV and enjoy donating our hard earned cash to the good causes it supports hoping to help make a difference to someone’s life somewhere in the world so you may be surprised to learn that the people behind the charity not only invest the money they collect but have made some really bad investments.
Comic Relief has raised many millions of pounds over the years for charities here in the UK and also abroad. As well as direct donations they also pass funds to smaller charities to assist them in their causes, sometimes in one off donations but often in a maintained schedule that can see some charitable causes receiving funds over a period of years, this means that Comic Relief are constantly managing a revenue stream of many millions of pounds.
To leave this kind of money sat idle in a bank account could be seen as a wasted opportunity as interest rates are dismal at the moment so to try and make the money they are holding some large charities like this use investment funds to grow the pot, and here lies the problem. A recent BBC show has uncovered that some of the funds collected by Comic Relief had been invested in companies that go against the cause these organisations are trying to combat which is a huge contradiction in terms.
For instance amounts totalling several millions of pounds have been invested in companies such as BAE weapons manufactures, Diageo who supplies alcoholic drinks and even tobacco companies. None of this would have been on the mind of donators when they made their pledge on red nose day.
Like most people I would have expected that the funds this kind of event generates goes direct to good causes, the actual fact that these funds are invested first is not an issue as long as good business decisions are made and the investments are made with full knowledge of who and where the money is going and that all the profits are released back into the charity and not into the pockets of greedy investment brokers. Sadly this kind of behaviour casts a shadow over the hard work that charities do and will no doubt leave many people reluctant to donate in this way in the future.
The worrying thing that future donators may want to consider is that rather than come out and apologise for the mishap Comic Relief have refused to comment on where the funds are currently invested and have changed the way they present their annual accounts, this means it is now impossible to see where they are actually putting the investments and could also be construed as a ‘ducking and diving’ act, not the kind of behaviour one would expect from a apparently charitable organisation.
Panorama, the BBC investigative show that revealed this story spoke to Helen Wildsmith who as an ethical fund manager looks after the cash of thousands of charities said that she was surprised that Comic Relief would risk its integrity, reputation and future donations in this way, she went on to say
“If people who’ve been giving them money, after watching the television, next year think twice and don’t give that money, because they’re concerned about their investment policy, then that could be argued to be a breach of fiduciary duty.”
If you usually make a pledge or donation then maybe it’s worth looking at charities at local level from now on rather than donating to what seems to be another cooperate organisation capitalising on its position.
The argument for plain packaging on cigarettes and tobacco products rumbles on and on here in the UK. The government delayed a decision back in July on whether or not all cigarettes should be sold under plain packaging; many people think that it’s merely a delaying tactic as the UK government comes up with a way around the pressurised situation they are in. On one hand they are being pressured by the EU and health organisations to do all they can to discourage smoking and protect the young and on the other they are under pressure from the tobacco companies which are big business, big business that pump a lot of money into the UK economy in revenue and taxes, big businesses that have a lot of political clout. You could argue that Cameron and his pals are stuck in between a rock and a hard place on this issue!
Apparently our Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government, that no one actually voted into power, is waiting for the outcome of trials being held in Australia on packets that are almost plain unbranded and just carry health warnings before they make a decision whereas Labour, the opposition, saying that action is needed now and not another review.
Regardless which side the fence you are on here, the outcome is probably irrelevant. In my view the sale of cigarettes is nothing short of legal drug dealing on a massive scale. It doesn’t matter which political party happens to be in power now as all parties have taken part in this appalling situation over the decades and have stood by and watched these drugs be readily available and sold for profit to its very own people.
Cigarettes and tobacco are a massive health and safety problem; we know the damage they do to passive smokers that is why smoking in public buildings and work places was banned years ago in the UK and Europe. We know that smoking causes cancer and a whole manner of nasty diseases hence the reason to have warnings on the packets; my question is why aren’t they banned totally?
If we can legally sell these things to our fellow citizens and make a fortune in taxes for our government’s coffers then why are other substances like cannabis illegal? Millions if not billions of people around the world die or are suffering from illnesses directly related to smoking tobacco, none have ever died from using pure cannabis. It just doesn’t make sense does it?
I know I am not in a position to put the world to rights but it’s my view that any member of parliament in any government that condones the legal sale of tobacco products should be arrested and charged with dealing in a dangerous substance known to cause death. What makes our government and others around the world different from say the Columbian Cartel that trade in Cocaine or the Afghani war lords that trade Heroin?, all supply dangerous drugs knowingly and all make huge profits from the illicit trade.
The government is seen to be almost two faced when it comes to the sale of tobacco, they are happy to receive the revenue that this can generate (which could be construed as immoral earnings) and allow the tobacco companies to trade freely and even protect this revenue stream by not allowing any general member of the public to sell or produce tobacco without a license(something that would never be granted) but imagine what would happen if you or I decided to set up shop selling drugs or even tobacco, our doors would be off the hinges and our homes raided in no time at all….double standards!
Do we need plain packaging on our tobacco products?, I personally don’t think it will make a difference, it’s no coincidence that the majority of smokers are from the lower end of the social scale, surveys done over the years on this and other health issues have shown that the people who find themselves at this end of the social scale are less likely to be aware of health issues or less likely to be in a position to care.
Amazon, the internet giant has been accused of pushing staff too far and putting them at risk of stress associated illnesses as they gear up for the Christmas period. According to an article released today Amazon staff that work in the eight distribution depots across the UK are expected to pick a parcel every 33 seconds, and walk distances up and down the warehouse that equal 11 miles of walking per shift.
This was brought to light during undercover filming for a popular BBC topical news show which airs tonight. Under cover reporter Adam Littler applied for a temporary post in one of Amazons giant 800,000 square feet Swansea based distribution depots as a picker. He was assigned a trolley and a hand held computer/scanner which relayed information telling him what item he should pick and where it is located and was counting down from the moment the order was received. An average of 33 seconds was allowed per pick with an audible alarm being sounded, if a mistake was made or he took too long locating the item then the handheld terminal would basically report this to a member of the management team who would then demand to know what is causing the delay.
Health experts think that added to the long hours this kind of pressurised job could lead to increased number of stress related illnesses due to its high demand nature. Amazon employs many staff through employment agencies at peak times with most working for the average hourly rate of £6.50 per hour rising to over £8 pounds for 10 hour evening shift.
The undercover agency reporter/agency worker said he felt like a machine that was not encouraged to think for himself and just follow the computer, he said he had walked approx. 11 miles during his 10 hour night shift and that his feet were left feeling painful and sore.
Amazon hit back claiming that new recruits are warned of the active nature of the roll stating that many staff actually enjoy the exercise with employees volunteering for the roles especially because of the activeness of the job. The also went on to say:
“Amazon said it had invested £1bn in the UK and created 5,000 permanent jobs. It added that it relied on the good judgement of thousands of employees. The company said: “Together we’re working hard to make sure we’re better tomorrow than we are today.”
The full programme is available now in the UK on BBC iplayer: Behind the click is part of the Panorama series aired earlier this evening at 20.30.
Tensions are rising as the world’s biggest gaming titles go head to head with the Xbox One gamer console’s imminent release in the UK and around the world at midnight tonight, 22nd November. The release of Sony’s latest gaming console the PS4 follows a whole week later in the UK on the 29th November, although it is already on sale in the US and Canada.
Both consoles are hotly anticipated by gamers around the globe and the current financial situation shows no signs here with gamers seemingly happy to cough up an eye watering £349.00 for the PS4 and a budget busting £429.00 for the Xbox One. Gamers will be forced to part with more cash as each console only comes with one controller as standard in the box.
Sony’s early release in the US and Canada saw the new PS4 flying of the shelf with a reported 1 million sales in 24 hours, making it the world’s fastest selling console ever!. It’s unlikely that UK sales will come anywhere near so many so quickly for either of the new arrivals but people will literally be queuing out the doors to get their hands on what is surely going to be the most wanted must have gift this year regardless of the high price tags.
The upcoming games and entertainment Expo in 2014 will be the place to be in the coming New Year, with the release of these two new games consoles, surely all eyes will be on this event as the rivals showcase their new titles for the future. The E3 2014 held in Los Angeles is the must-attend event where the video game industry unites to debut, showcase, and experience the future of games. This trade Expo convention will be held on June 10th-12th 2014.
Both consoles have the big titles ready to run on the new platforms, games such as Fifa 14, Assassins Creed, Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty-Ghosts, all red hot releases for this year, and worthy titles too. Along with these generic releases both the PS4 and Xbox One have exclusive titles too. Microsoft’s Killer Instinct and Sony’s Resogun certainly look like good fun titles whilst PS4’s Killzone looks to outshine Xbox’s Ryse: Son of Rome although to be fair they are both amazing games when showcased on the new respective platforms.
Gamers around the world have an exciting year ahead with many Expo and convention meetings being held around the world. Here is a few exhibitions, conferences and Expo to look out for in 2014
Global Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014 AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong, Date: Tue 18th Feb – Thu 20th Feb.
Amaze/Interact 2014 Venue TBA Berlin Germany
New Media Expo Las Vegas USA January 2014
Pocket Gamer Expo-Conference London UK January 2014
Global Game Jam (multiple venues) January 2014
Independent Games Festival and Expo- San Francisco March 2014
Gamescom Cologne August 2014
Eurogamer Expo London UK Sep 2014
There are many more events going on around the world, from games developer’s conferences to gamer fan events so there will be probably one near you, search online for local and national events.