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For years, hundreds of North Korean fishing boats have been washing up on the shores of Japan with dead fishermen in them. How and why the boats ended up there was a mystery. A NBC News investigation may have the answer: They believe China is sending a previously invisible armada of industrial boats to illegally fish in North Korean waters, violently displacing smaller North Korean boats.

One of Britain's best-loved comedians, Romesh Ranganathan, is starring in a short film, 'Bat Sh*t', which challenges the misconception that bats are to blame for the coronavirus pandemic. (Watch the short film at the end of this article.)

bat shit Romesh Ranganathan as Rabbit Seated at Table copyThe tongue-in-cheek film, produced by Manchester based independent television production company, Chief Productions, highlights the real issues behind the Covid-19 outbreak including the destruction of natural habitats, the illegal wildlife trade and unchecked consumption.

‘Bat Sh*t’ gives a voice to some of the other animal species who have fallen victim to human behaviour over the years including pangolins, rats, pigs, birds, and rabbits.

Romesh, who plays a rabbit that has endured a lifetime of cosmetic testing in a science lab, provides the voice of reason in the short film. Speaking about the importance of the project, he said: “Conservation is an essential battle that often falls to the bottom of people’s priorities. It’s important to keep it consistently high on the agenda.”

‘Bat Sh*t’ is the latest in a series of short-form films from Chief Productions to raise awareness of environmental issues. The multi-award-winning TV production company, headquartered in MediaCityUK, Salford and with offices in Leeds, London, Sydney & Cape Town, gained global acclaim for its recent brand funded documentary work including Ubisoft’s ‘Wildlands’, Woolmark’s ‘Slowing down fast fashion with Alex James’ and ‘Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyong Yang’, with mainstream distribution across Netflix, Showtime, BBC iPlayer, Google Play and Amazon Prime. In 2015 Chief Production's 'Green Santa', a 12-part series designed to educate and entertain children about the ecological issues affecting our planet, was commissioned by CITV; leading Chief to receive a Bafta nomination.

faron sage wake up the world songsmallFaron Sage is a socially-conscious animation musician who produces original new music that attempts to grapple, by a 'revolution in groove', with the major questions at the heart of 21st century life.

Faron says: "Covid-19 has given us all a shock and, as elements of our old lives tentatively start to return, I would implore everybody not to simply lapse back into their old lives. We need to learn lessons from this and that means thinking about what we really want from life and then actually doing something about it - all together."

Have a look and listen to his 'Wake up the World' animated song below or visit his project's website https://faronsage.frb.io

hubbub Lava Hero 1 copyEnvironmental charity Hubbub has commended seven entries from up and coming designers to their Design By Nature competition. The initiative called on university students across the UK to design innovative solutions to the tough environmental challenges of fast fashion, water waste and air pollution by asking - how can design change the world?

The commended entries include a creative way to recycle water and a new product to protect outdoor workers from air pollution. The standout entry is a new sewing machine for Gen Z, to help tackle the culture of throwaway fashion. The stylish and foldable 'Sew Conscious' machine is the brainchild of Samantha Supan of Brunel University. Samantha is now in discussions with Hubbub on seed funding to take the idea forward. 

Over the years Hubbub has seen how impactful great design can be in nudging behaviours. Their playful, colourful recycling bins have almost tripled recycling rates in Leeds and are now having similar results in other cities. The boats they make from 99% recycled plastic not only tell a brilliant story of the circular economy but more importantly, they are durable, highly practical and look great. The 'Ballot Bin' cigarette voting ashtray, reduces cigarette littering by up to 46% and, prevents plastics and chemicals from entering our waterways.

www.hubbub.org.uk/design-by-nature

The commerical viability of zero emission maritime transport has moved a step closer as two companies have pooled their expertise around Belfast's rich maritime history.

Ford Research and Innovation Center have been melting a mixture of McDonald's coffee chaff and polymer to create car parts. Watch as Debbie Mielewski, Senior Technical Leader of Sustainable Materials for Ford, takes Ian Olson, Senior Director of Sustainability for McDonald's, on a trip to understanding the steps to using McDonald's coffee chaff.

To mark Valeport's 50th anniversary as a UK manufacturer of hydrometric and oceanographic instruments, the Devon based company is supporting a campaign to protect the vital 'underwater rainforest' of seagrass which is under threat off Tor Bay, at England's south west coast.

The #SaveOurSeagrass research project aims to secure its future for the next two years as well as providing instruments and expertise to the programme.

Valeport has partnered with a UK coastal zoo and aquarium to help protect seagrass, a remarkable plant that flowers underwater and forms dense meadows in shallow coastal areas. These meadows capture carbon at a greater rate than tropical forests, making them important in combating climate change. And like coral reefs and rainforests, these underwater gardens are full of life, but are under threat – with global estimates suggesting the planet loses an area of seagrass the same size as two football pitches every hour.

Dame Helen Mirren has helped renew efforts to keep plant disease Xylella fastidiosa out of the UK in 2020 – the UN's International Year of Plant Health - narrating a new animation (watch it at end of article) that warns of the devastation it causes, including the death of millions of olive trees in Europe.

Launched by BRIGIT, a consortium of 12 universities and research institutes led by the John Innes Centre and including the RHS and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the four-minute animation is intended to educate the public about the insect-borne disease, the symptoms to look out for, and the risks of bringing plants back from abroad. Helen Mirren has witnessed first-hand the impact of the disease on businesses and communities in Puglia, Italy and has previously urged gardeners to purchase plants sourced or grown in the UK.

plant disease warns dame helen mirrenXylella is a bacterium that infects more than 500 species of plant causing leaf scorch, wilt, die-back and plant death. There is no known cure for the disease. Xylella is not present in the UK but the public is being asked to look out for symptoms and to report them to the TreeAlert service (treealert.forestresearch.gov.uk) when the cause cannot be explained by other factors, such as frost damage, drought or other common pests and diseases.

If Xylella were found in the UK, all host plants within a 100m range would be destroyed and there would be a ban on the movement of a wider range of plants within a 5km range.

Advice to help prevent the introduction of Xylella includes:
• Source new plants carefully, where possible purchase plants grown in the UK
• Propagate your own plants from seeds or cuttings
• Check plants for signs of disease before purchase and monitor the health of new plants
• Never bring plants back with you from abroad

Dame Helen Mirren said: "Xylella is a dreadful plant disease that has devastated businesses, communities and entire landscapes. Understanding what you can do to help keep it out of the UK is an important first step in protecting our precious plants for the future."

Gerard Clover, Impact and Engagement Manager, BRIGIT said: "Government and industry have long warned of the threat to our landscape and economy from Xylella but we shouldn't be complacent. The disease continues to spread within Europe causing more than a billion euros worth of damage and gardeners must be vigilant and report changes in the health of plants in their gardens."

For more information about Xylella and BRIGIT visit: www.jic.ac.uk/brigit/

legacy of pennine minesThree projects to tackle the water pollution in North East England's major rivers caused by historical metal mining in the North Pennines are due to be substantially completed by the spring.

The works – at Garrigill culvert, Carrshield tailings dam and Nenthead car park – are part of the Water and Abandoned Metal Mines (WAMM) programme.They include stabilising river banks, reconnecting culverts and reshaping spoil heaps, to prevent several tonnes of lead, zinc and cadmium from entering the River Tyne each year.

Metal mines played a major part in Britain's history, but abandoned mines now pollute our rivers and harm aquatic wildlife, such as fish and river flies. In the Northumbria River Basin District they affect around 340km of watercourse, including the River Tyne, River Tees and River Wear, and their tributaries.

WAMM is a partnership between the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Non-profit organisation City to Sea is launching 'Be a Good A**hole,' a campaign taking a stand against the use of wet wipes and their damaging impact on the planet.

wet wipes flush campaignThe charity have partnered with world-famous actor and voice of Gollum, Andy Serkis, to voice over a short film featuring an animated talking a**hole that calls on people to dispose of wet wipes responsibly.

The campaign is raising awareness about wet wipes polluting our waterways and oceans, and pushing our sewage system to breaking point. While 'fatbergs' get the headlines, in reality they're made up of just 0.5% fat, and a whopping 93% baby wipes, and in 2018, the UK used over 10.8bn wet wipes. This inspired City to Sea to take action and call on people to Be a Good A**hole.

See the video  here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcaAeDrOwI8&feature=youtu.be

 

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