Thursday, 31 July 2014
Migratory, wading birds have a risky life-style and are very vulnerable to environmental changes and there arehttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/30/wetland-bird-survey-wading-birds-britain-climate-change recent indications of dramatic declines in populations of these animals in the UK (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/30/wetland-bird-survey-wading-birds-britain-climate-change). One could, to some extent, reverse the calculation and suggest that the population declines indicate that recent environmental changes are substantive and challenging.
Monday, 28 July 2014
I must admit to being more than a little unhappy (even with the so-called 'safe-guards' for National Parks) about the giving of the green light to companies to apply licences to frack over many areas of the UK, whether the residents like it or not (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/28/fracking-expansion-uk-drilling-national-parks-safeguards). I suspect that this move was always on the cards, especially given the current arguments with Russia and our dependence on 'their' gas. The apparent boom in energy provision by fracking in a much larger as less populous USA must also have played a role. My objections broadly remain the same:-
1. I am not convinced that the process doesn't at least carry a risk of contaminating water courses.
2. If the hydrocarbons are removed, that certainly changes the nature of the underlying rocks and possibly their stability.
3. The product, when burned, exacerbates global warming and I would prefer a greater emphasis on solar energy and improved insulation.
4. I am certainly not convinced that the licences mean more jobs (always a selling point to politicians).
Sunday, 27 July 2014
There has been much comment about the 'recovery' of Britain's wildlife as a consequence of the prolonged, hot summer (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/26/nature-recovers-in-traditional-summer). People seem to have had differing experiences with butterflies. Until yesterday, I had seen very little activity of these insects on Butterfly bush blossom and other insect-attracting flowers. Even yesterday, numbers were low and the Butterfly bush way past their best. The only butterfly that appears to have done well here is the Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria tercis) much in evidence in many locations. I have not seen a single Painted lady (Cynthia cardui) and relatively few Red admirals (Vanessa atalanta).
Saturday, 26 July 2014
Monday, 21 July 2014
Saturday, 19 July 2014
An interesting debate has started concerning London Zoo's decision to open in some evenings to attract in an older client base with teenagers and 20+ year olds (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/18/london-zoo-party-night-animal-welfare). Animals in zoos can certainly be stressed by visitors. Enlightened zoos actually incorporate a number of design features to enclosures that minimise this but they can't apparently cope with some of the 'wilder' behaviour of the late night visitors (including pouring beer over tigers and trying to get into locations with the animals). This is a difficult one as stress certainly impairs the health and breeding efficiency of the animals but many animal-orientated attractions have great difficulty attracting visitors from the 13-30 age groups. We tend to visit zoos as children or with children/grandchildren of our own. This is not simply a question of improving the finance of the establishments but a reasonable desire to interest the cohort (and possibly get them to support) in conservation. I do think the zoos ought to continue with such attempts but need to watch carefully the behaviour of their visitors. Perhaps people who are clearly drunk, should be refused entry to this type of place.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
I must admit to be mildly irritated by the promos for the new BBC series entitled 'Talk to the Animals' (http://www.boundlessproductions.tv/news/read_talk-to-the-animals-for-bbc-one_item_100135.htm) and I never did like 'Dr Doolittle'. It's seemingly based on the view that one ought to find it surprising that animals communicate with each other. There is a long-established literature on the senses (visual, auditory, chemical, and pressure waves/touch) that animal species use to pass on information (or, in some cases, disinformation) to members of their own and other species. I do think that looking at everything from an anthropocentric viewpoint is, to some extent, 'Disneyfying' a well-established body of behavioural studies. I am not sure how much will be added over and above what was dealt with in the earlier 'Supersense' series and note that many of the species 'investigated' appear to be 'the usual suspects'.
There seems to be enormous, undiluted excitement about the possible siting of a UK Spaceport in Llanbedr North Wales (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28305814). The port would, apparently, cater for space tourism as well as for the deployment of small satellites. People are bullish about the potential for employment and commercial value. No one seems, however, to consider the impact of such a development (in any location) on global warming and climate change. The energy per person required to pump anyone rich enough to fancy a trip into zero gravity is likely to make traditional air travel look ultra modest by comparison. I can't help feeling that such a development would be more than a little self-indulgent- it's probably the last thing we really need!
Sunday, 13 July 2014
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Monday, 7 July 2014
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Lots of new stuff between Loughor and Machinys. At the lake Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) and an oddly coloured Prickly sow thistle (Sonchus asper) were in flower. At Penclacwydd, spotted Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) and Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium). On the latter, Rhagonycha fulva beetles roamed. In Loughor, visited by a Lilac beauty moth (Apeira syringaria).
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Had a tweet (#fredbrain) from a journalist about a claim from the National Trust that Autumn was coming early this year. It did feature in Walesonline.co.uk. Things do seem to be a bit odd in their timing (the point of this blog) but I did try to tell them that it is difficult to establish that what we are seeing is a trend (needs masses of observations over an extended period). I guess, however, that it is difficult to put complex ideas over in 120 letters and spaces!
Yet another example of the tension between people and conservation is seen in the recent responses of people in rural Romania to a hunti...
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A study ( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/01/special-spit-is-the-secret-of-uniquely-sticky-frog-tongues-study-reveals ) has...
It is always sad to hear of problems occurring at places you have used for teaching and the outbreak of h5n8 avian influenza at Abbot...