Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Carbon off-setting increasing child labour

In a bizarre twist on the viability of carbon off-setting, there is now evidence that some of the schemes are causing an increase in child labour in poorer countries. In an example of such a scheme, Climate Care is paying poor and impoverished families in India to stop using diesel-powered pumps to irrigate their fields and replace them with human-powered treadles instead. One family ‘benefiting’ from Climate Care’s scheme is the Ram family. Their six year old daughter and her four young brothers now work flat out in the searing sun to pump water into their family field. Climate Care is the company that sells off-sets to British Airways customers, so they can feel better about their long-haul flights.

Michael Buick of Climate Care admitted that children were working the pumps, but he said people had to focus on the benefits to the whole family. He went on to say his group was proud of its scheme, which had led to more than half a million foot treadles being sold, and had won several awards. Ashutosh Pandey of Emergent Ventures India, which advises companies on clean technology said: “The problem is the number of times child labour is involved… It’s not being monitored properly. It’s not reducing emissions. People are selling their diesel pumps to others who are using them.”
The effectiveness and overall impact of carbon off-setting needs to be reviewed. Carbon off-setting has to actually work, otherwise it is simply an exercise in assuaging people’s guilt.

First UK council to introduce new code of practice for Wi-Fi in schools

For the first time in the UK, Carmarthenshire County Council is drawing up a code of practice for the use of Wi-Fi in its schools. Councillor Ieuan Jones said: "We are going to monitor the situation as closely as we can because we all have these concerns. The dangers of these Wi-Fi connections are possibly along the lines of using hand-held mobile phones." Meryl Gravell, the council leader, said: "A code of practice is absolutely necessary. The safety of our children in school is paramount for all of us." The council is going to enforce this on all schools under its control, and hopes the code of practice will be adopted nationally. There is growing concern at the harmful effects of mobile phone and W-Fi radiation, especially to children. The government’s own health protection watchdog chief, Sir William Stewart called for an official review of the use of Wi-Fi in schools.

Unfortunately, the government has ignored Sir William’s advice, along with the mounting scientific evidence that shows radiation from Wi-Fi devices, mobile phones and their masts can cause numerous ill-effects, including cancer. Only last week the European Environmental Agency warned of the health risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields (from electrical devices and appliances) and electromagnetic radiation (from mobile phones and Wi-Fi) and recommended a reduction in the permitted levels of both. The German government is advising its citizens to use landlines rather than mobile phones and wired connections rather than Wi-Fi. And yet our government is telling us Wi-Fi and mobile phone use is perfectly safe. I know who I believe, and its not our government!