We open Snippets with an article that looks at the recent major weather event in North America ‘Hurricane Sandy’. Anthropogenic climate change has been linked to the severity of the storm particularly the rise in sea water levels having caused the storm surge of water to have reached unheard heights of 10.5 feet or 3.2 metres! In anyone’s terms than is high wall of water. It was clear to see from the damage to roads, housing and the displacement of cars and boats that this was a very serious storm.

Hurricanes are going to happen regardless of human intervention but human impact on the world we live certainly appears to be heightening the severity of the weather related events that we are experiencing.

Interestingly enough our next story leads into smart metering. Energy utility companies are using their smart metering networks to great effect in mapping areas that don’t have power in a completely on -line situation. Effectively this avoids the need for employee’s to physically get out to the grid to check whether an area has power or not. No doubt there are plenty of general infrastructure issues around roading to contend with on the back of the storm so the ability to check remotely certainly seems to be a bonus. A common complaint from customers with smart metering is they can see few benefits in a meter upgrade. The ability to remotely check meters can only be seen as an added advantage to this type of metering.

For our next story we look at the European Union who is on track to meet its Kyoto emission targets. It certainly is positive to see countries collaborate in working towards achieving these goals. A particularly warm winter in 2011 may have favourably assisted those countries towards achieving their targets and notably the United Kingdom, France and Germany have all recorded drops in absolute terms. It is certainly commendable that these countries are not just talking the talk but actually walking it as well…

Our next story looks at the effects of severe drought on agriculture across Europe and North America. The UN has warned of raising food prices after years of extreme weather – for example the price of wheat has already risen by 20%. Global wheat production is expected to fall 5.2% in 2012 and many other crops grown to feed animals could be 10% down on last year. Basic but essential food types will be tight for the ever increasing world population that relies on this so heavily. The food security risk index map gives a pretty clear picture which geographical areas are most at risk from food security. As expected areas of great political unrest and extreme weather patterns are most at risk. Staying with food the future and security of agriculture may not be so bleak as discussed in our next article. The use of ‘vertical farming’ in major cities around the world to grow and produce food for consumption locally is a smarter way of living. It certainly seems like this process takes mother nature out of the food production cycle (no floods, no Hurricanes and no droughts). Scale wise it’s hard to imagine production in facilities like these reaching the levels of farm production but every little bit helps.

Scarcity of water is a growing problem particularly in agriculture, but also a growing opportunity. As with any process that involves use of a key resource, mitigating your risk is smart business. Our next article explains what Dynamax, AquaSpy and Capilix are offering in the water saving technology market. Dynamax has a system that monitors sap flow in plants allowing seed developers to better understand performances of new breeds. AquaSpy and Capilix both monitor field condition and are well placed for accelerating changes in the agriculture industry.

Still with the subject of food ,a study by the British research group Consultative Group on International Aquiculture Research has found food production accounts for 29% of human induced GHG’s. One of the key points to come out of the research was that Britain was better off importing lamb from New Zealand as kiwi farming methods produce half as much GHG’s as those of Britain. It certainly paints New Zealand farming processes in a good light, however it does not surprise that British farmers would not back the idea. What it really should do is spur them on to improve efficiencies and processes with their local farming circles, but in the meantime let’s keep it Kiwi.

Our last two articles look at plastic. The first looks at Levi’s jeans and how the company is using specifically recycled plastic bottles and food trays to contribute minimum of 20% recycled plastic going into each pair of jeans. It’s great to see such a well know brand effectively utilising a product that would ultimately end of in landfills. Plastic is such a useful day to day product but it has also turned into one of mans nasty legacies. It literally is everywhere and takes many years to breakdown even in the harshest environments with the world’s oceans being one of these environments. It had been thought up until recently that no plastic waste had made it to the Southern Ocean but a recent article published some startling findings following a two and a half year 70,000 mile (112,000 km) voyage. Traces of plastic at a measure of approximately 50,000 fragments per square kilometre, a rate comparable to the global average, exist in the wild and remote Southern Ocean. It was thought rates would be many times lower. It’s sad to know that nothing can effectively been done about it and it will hang around for thousands of years effecting all marine life that it comes into contact with.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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