Labour fails on the environment (again)
I do try to find good environmental news, really I do, but the bad news keeps coming thick and fast.
First, finally, the Labour Government is having to admit its much-trumpeted environmental policy is in tatters:
Labour had set a target of reducing CO2 levels by 20% by 2010, but Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, will say it is no longer possible. The totemic policy has been an important weapon in Tony Blair's claim to be a world leader willing to go further than others on climate change...
Publishing the government's much delayed climate change review today, Mrs Beckett will say the government believes the UK can achieve only a cut of between 15% and 18% of the 1990 UK emissions.
Ministers will say this still means the government will reach its separate commitment under the Kyoto protocol of cutting CO2 emissions by at least 12.5%. But even reaching the 15-18% reductions depends on the outcome of complex EU negotiations on caps on emissions by heavy energy users in industry, including the electricity generators.
And in Africa, one of the areas where all of that heating is likely to cause the most immediate damage, a lake that is an important hippo habitat is threatened by supermarket demand for out-of-season vegetables and flowers in the West:
According to scientists, the increasing demand for water to irrigate Kenyan farmland is draining Lake Naivasha and destroying the habitat of the hippos that live there.
They say that within five years the lake may be nothing more than a putrid, muddy pond, and that most of its hippos could be dead.
In the past two years hippo numbers have slumped by more than 25 per cent because of the fall in water levels. In 2004 there were 1,500 but this year there are only 1,100.
But the good news: there are plans for a contraceptive pill that will reduce cancer risk AND be designed for a life without menstruation. Sounds brilliant to me. That's provided, of course, the anti-abortion types don't manage to scuttle it, because it happens to contain the same drug as that used for chemical abortions.
Hello! You don't want abortions? That means you need contraception ... (Although of course what you really want, we know, is to stop people having sex, except when they are planning babies, and then only in the missionary position, with no pleasure for the woman whatsoever... because you think that is what a white-bearded man in the sky wants.)
Finally, a fascinating, if sad, piece about a woman who lived as a man for two years, after having allegedly kidnapped her children after a custody dispute. Until the 20th-century this could be surprisingly easy - as cases from Hannah Snell to James Barry show, but today, with largely androgenous clothing, it must be a lot harder to carry off.