Letter from the Editor: science in the spotlight

This week it has been the turn of science to be illuminated by the media spotlight, with all eyes turning to the University of Leicester for the annual British Association Science Festival. Two stories from the event that have caught edie’s attention are giant Antarctic sea spiders that could be facing extinction because of climate change, and the storage of carbon dioxide in disused oil and gas fields.

However, science appears to be lacking in legislation emerging from Europe, some delegates at Leicester have complained. European officials assembling the new Water Framework Directive have left gaps that need to be filled by scientific know-how, such as what is ‘good quality’ for water?

There appears to be a slight echo here. Only at the beginning of this year, the then UK Environment Minister, and now Environment and Agri-Environment Minister (see this week’s story on DEFRA’s portfolio reshuffle), Michael Meacher, complained that the new European regulations on refrigerator disposal left too much to the imagination. The rest, as they say, is history (see related story).

The UK, meanwhile, is looking to give science and technology a helping hand. The Government’s Foresight programme is calling for help in deciding what areas of research and technology need assistance. Biomaterials, according to the Government-Industry Forum on Non-Food Uses of Crops, which is keen to see products such as compostable packaging made from wheat starch, and the use of straw bales as a construction material given assistance in development and in the UK and European markets.

And finally, the tables are turning for sustainable development, with two stories this week pointing out that environmental stewardship – or lack of it – is at least partly down to the way we as individuals live our lives, rather than being the responsibility of governments and business alone. Londoners, we are told, each have an ecological footprint roughly the size of eight football pitches – totalling an area twice the size of the UK for Greater London alone. The rest of the UK is not much better, with a couple of counties far worse.

You, dear edie reader, could reduce your own footprint by switching off your computer and monitor when you have finished with them, say insolvency and corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor (see this week’s UK Business Briefs) – but only, I hope, once you have read this week’s news.

Kind regards

Helen André


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