October 2017 round-up What happened in GAP-mission related news in October Climate change, biodiversity and globalisation Monsanto banned from European Parliament Monsanto, the GM food giant, has been banned from European Parliament after refusing to participate in hearings about its efforts to influence regulations of its controversial glyphosate (herbicide) in the EU. Fracking in Scotland After overwhelming public opposition to fracking in Scotland, the Scottish government are pushing through legislation to rule out fracking for shale gas. The vote will go through Parliament at the end of October, but with (a small number of) Conservative MPs the only ones opposed to it, it looks likely to just be a formality. This is important to GAP's mission because it shows us that public awareness of an issue and motivation to engage with it can lead to a phenomenal triumph for our communities and natural world. Catholic commitment to end support for fossil fuel industry 40 Catholic institutions (including Caritas and the €4.5bn German Church Bank) have made a commitment to end their financial support for the fossil fuel industry this month, to mark the death of St Francis of Assisi. Car companies are behind on emissions targets However, in bad news for climate change and air pollution, most car companies are way behind on their emissions targets for 2021. The only three so far that will likely meet targets are: Volvo, Toyota, and Renault-Nissan. Are environmental conservationists really greener than everyone else? Here’s an article from the Telegraph on how environmental conservationists have just as big a carbon footprint as anyone else, even though they understand the dangers much better. They cite a Cambridge University study. Could you eat a computer? This is an unusual way to approach writing about the environmental impact of a computer, by asking, ‘Could I eat one?’ (6) Millions of deaths preventable by protecting our natural world At least 12.6 million people die each year - a quarter of all deaths globally - because of preventable environmental causes (mainly air, but also water and soil pollution) a new WHO report (7) details. Why is this important for GAP's mission? The majority of these deaths occur in countries where rapid industrialisation has compromised the quality of the natural environment. It can be argued that people in higher income countries have helped drive a rapid and unsustainable industrialisation in countries most affected by pollution such as in India, China, and Bangladesh – by creating and increasing demand for stuff or waste production in those countries. Consumption, trends and buying behaviour Project Just - a search engine to rate clothes on sustainability and ethics Greenpeace is asking us to live truly materialistic lives. According to the charity, we do not cherish our clothes enough. So to slow fashion cycles – and associated waste - right down, we should care for, mend and repurpose our garments and really value our possessions. The Upgrade Effect Researchers from University of Michigan, Columbia and Harvard have found that people are more likely to crack their phone screen or lose their phone when they find out about a (more appealing) newer or more enhanced version of their phone– accelerating the end of a product’s life even though it might be in perfectly good shape. Young People Children wish social media had never existed Children have indicated that they would have preferred if social media had never existed. A study from Digital Awareness UK, provides evidence of a growing backlash among disillusioned young people about the negative aspects of the technology, such as online abuse and fake news. Why is this important for GAP's mission? While the link between onscreen time and our environmental aims may feel tenuous, the harmful impacts on children’s health and wellbeing of increasing time spent using electronics media is clear. The more time spent using electronic media, the more exposure to advertising, which makes children want more stuff. Some researchers also believe that virtual time is ultimately anti-social time, weakening our intrinsic value of community. Wellbeing How long do you spend on your phone? If you would like to find out about your own onscreen habits and you have an android phone (sorry no iPhones), download the free Quality Time app. It gives you a picture of how long you spend on each of your phone apps, and how many times a day you unlock your screen. Air Quality Unilever, the world’s second biggest investor in advertising, has pledged to electrify its whole fleet of vehicles by 2030 (12).