Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Too Shy, Shy?

A Cambridge questionnaire study has suggested that people with similar temperaments tend to cluster in the UK ( The authors suggest that London is full of lazy, unconscientious extroverts, whereas Scotland is awash with 'friendly, emotionally stable folk' and the poor, old Welsh are replete with 'shy and neurotic' people. I must admit to some reservations about such studies. It is based on a large sample of circa 400,000 subjects responding to an online survey quiz. Perhaps people accessing that kind of thing on computers varies regionally? How honestly to do people answer such items? Does the full range of people living in the area get accessed in appropriate numbers in such a survey? Given the looming general election it was interesting to see that voting intentions were also apparently linked to personality traits.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

All That Glisters (Is Not Gold)

Research from Arizona State University has suggested that human sewage could be fruitfully 'mined' for gold, silver and platinum ( They reckon that the precious metals (from shampoos, detergents and clothes) reach the levels indicative of 'a minimal mineral deposit" and could be safely extracted in sewage plants using chemicals termed leachates. This has two advantages namely a) the leachates are not used in the wider environment where they can be very damaging (as in traditional mining) and b) the removed metals render the remaining biomass safe for use as fertilisers or for burning to generate electricity. They reckon that a city of around a million inhabitants currently flushes away almost 9 million pounds worth of precious metals in a year. There's gold in them there hills!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Out of Africa?

Disturbing news about the intensity of poaching on Africa's unique mammals ( it seems that numbers of elephant, rhinoceros, gorilla etc are in marked decline. Drivers seem to include a new affluence in China (increasing the demand for items used in 'medicine') and the technologies now available to poachers. The incidence of capture and successful prosecution of 'Mr Bigs' in the poaching world is also disappointing. It could be the case, that many of these important animals will disappear from our world.

A Leg Up For the Trees?

News that the Eden Project is to receive saplings derived from cuttings obtained from Giant redwood trees in California ( is welcome but this species of tree is already well represented in several arboreta and parks in the UK. Much is made of these clones being potentially identical to the donor trees but it is an alien species so far as this country is concerned (see e.g. the fire-resistant bark of the mature tree, protecting against forest fires). The saplings will take quite some time to develop into impressive items but, I suppose, the more examples we have the better (although 'conservation' in this fashion is a bit like putting an animal into a zoo).

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Seeing the Changes 945

More flowers out in the sunshine. Common field speedwell (Veronica persica) was in flower in Bynea. In Loughor, Common chickweed (Stellaria media) and Common dog violet (Viola riviniana) were both in bloom.

Ecogrumpy Manifesto (but not looking for Followers)

Prior to the UK general election, everyone seems to be coming up with their party manifestos. I thought my 'party' of one (as recommended by Groucho Marx, I wouldn't want to belong to a party that would have me as a member) ought to state its positions. I am (almost) despairing of democracy along with all the other political systems as a vast majority of people appear a) too ignorant; b) too self-serving; c) too supportive/frightened of organisations (economic or religious) and/or d) too keen to be elected or to stop other people from being elected) to genuinely evaluate what really should be done about environmental issues. Even some of the 'environmentalists' are a) too obsessed with their own animal/plant/location; b) failing to recognise that they are making anthropocentric choices and/or c) making a living/career out of the issues. It is, however, incumbent on me to keep 'poking' the issues because that's what grumpies do! There might, in deed, be intelligent life out-there (whether it chooses to remain on this planet or not).

Friday, 20 March 2015


There is news of a 50% increase in the numbers of wet-wipes washed up on UK beaches ( These, increasingly-used items, are flushed down toilets and can emerge with sewage (apparently especially in over-flow conditions). The wipes are said to contain plastic as well as paper and do not quickly decay. There are also fears that they may damage marine life such as turtles who could mistake them for jelly-fish on which they feed.