Friday, 31 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/28/french-and-british-fishermen-clash-in-scallop-war-skirmish). The English are incensed because they are legally fishing (albeit in a very destructive way) as they are in an area not too close to the French coast. The French are incensed because they have been banned from taking scallops from this very same area to enable the species to recover (something that won't happen with their competitor's blitz). It is difficult enough to get fishing communities to look after the species they ultimately depend on, without engineering such a conflict of interest.
Thursday, 30 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/29/ban-sale-energy-drinks-to-children-uk-government-combat-obesity). This is mainly advocated as a move against the obesity challenge but it has also been reported that a can of such drink is the sole 'breakfast' of some children (grabbed on the way to school?). Such concoctions are also likely to increase the incidence of diabetes and to damage the attention spans in their drinkers, Given the ease with which the manufacturers have convinced the general public of their 'benefits' (providing, in a simple sense, energy and reducing sleep), it will be interesting to see how effective any new regulation is. I suspect that some adults will buy these items for children (as families of football-playing children, in my experience, seem prone to do). Will purchasers need proof of age?
Wednesday, 29 August 2018
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rhossili-and-south-gower-coast/trails/rhossili-headland-walk). The intentions (by recreating boundaries that fell into disuse with a fashion for bigger fields and monocultures) appear to be to a) improve interest in and the appearance of the area; b) demonstrate that the system can be economically viable and c) make the location more supportive of pollinator species. It is reported that the crop of Sunflowers (intended to generate saleable bird food) has proved very popular with visitors but I seriously doubt that this crop was present in this region in medieval times. In one sense, however, this doesn't really matter.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/28/tiger-injured-poacher-to-get-fake-paw-india). This is technically interesting but will not do much for the survival of this species in the wild.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/27/air-pollution-causes-huge-reduction-in-intelligence-study-reveals). China, admittedly, has some pretty impressive and chronic air pollution, especially in its cities but the finding certainly has resonance in the UK (and elsewhere) to locations that are well-frequented by cars and trucks (including many inner-city schools). Yet another reason why government should be pressured to 'clean up its act'?
Monday, 27 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/aug/27/one-in-five-vanilla-ice-creams-has-no-vanilla-cream-or-fresh-milk). Prior to 2015, when labelling laws were changed, this would have been illegal. It is implied that the change was to enable vegan and reduced-fat products to acquire the label (to facilitate 'healthier' eating?). I can understand why cream and fresh milk might be replaced but surely (in spite of its expense) vanilla ought to be an ingredient of an item with this label.
Saturday, 25 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/24/procter-gamble-bids-to-trademark-lol-wtf-and-other-acronyms). I really don't see what LOL and WTF have to do with soap manufacturers! It seems wrong, to me, that terms (and even phrases) that are in the public domain can be 'grabbed' in this way for commercial exploitation. At least the Smiley Face and Jersey, however, have so-far resisted attempts to have them trademarked by other folk.
Friday, 24 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/24/kelp-dredging-proposal-criticised-by-conservationists-scotland). The kelp is desirable to the company as commercially viable 'alginates' can be extracted from it. Although this stripping represents less than 0.2% of the kelp beds and the proposal aims to be 'sustainable' (by, for example, not returning to locations for 5 years), a number of conservationist organisations have expressed concerns. They are not convinced that we have sufficient knowledge of the ecology of the Scottish kelp beds to judge whether the proposal is genuinely sustainable (to the kelp and its associated animals) and point out the importance of this 'seaweed' in taking up carbon from the atmosphere.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/23/russian-trolls-spread-vaccine-misinformation-on-twitter). Apparent 'pro' and 'anti' material is posted seemingly with the intention of fuelling conspiracy theories in a manner not too dissimilar from that used to advance political views.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/23/thieves-rob-four-giant-tortoises-from-dorchester-using-wheelbarrows). The animals were all 'chipped' (although these could be surgically removed) and one has to presume that they were either stolen for the illegal 'pet trade' or to be ransomed. Either way, it is a sad comment on current society and its values.
Thursday, 23 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/sweden-reindeer-herders-risk-starvation-climate-change-arctic). This appears to be a consequence of a severe drought in the area, presumably triggered by disruption of the typical weather patterns (i.e. climate change).
Wednesday, 22 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/21/arctics-strongest-sea-ice-breaks-up-for-first-time-on-record). This will have several negative effects including a) less sunlight being reflected back into space, increasing global warming and b) encouraging more shipping in the seas of this area, together with further opening the possibility of hydrocarbon (and other mineral) extraction. If you take this together with reports that the US is to encourage more coal burning to generate electricity, things don't look too good for the planet.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/aug/22/forget-survival-of-the-fittest-the-laziest-will-inherit-the-earth). The study is largely based on an examination of marine invertebrates but one can see that a lower metabolic rate could well benefit animals (such as those limited to a relatively small sea) who might well find it difficult to ingest large numbers of calories.
Tuesday, 21 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/20/low-mmr-uptake-blamed-for-surge-in-measles-cases-across-europe). The highest incidence was in the Ukraine with 23,000 cases. Worryingly, two countries also with high measles incidences (France and Italy) have political parties that advocate 'parental choice' for vaccination programmes (this sounds good but who pays for any resulting medical consequences?). England is not quite in the top 7 for measles incidence but, reportedly, the majority of 'our' cases were teenagers and young adults who missed out on MMR treatment when they were young. A chief MMR antagonist is now said to be US-based.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/19/bedbugs-heatwave-sparks-plage-pest-infestation). High temperatures apparently speed up the life cycle of this opportunistic ectoparasite that feasts on our blood whilst we snooze. The little suckers can reportedly be found in all grades of accommodation from fancy hotels to doss houses. London is said to have a particular problem, as a number of tube lines appear to be 'well infested'. The Circle line and the routes from The Elephant and Castle towards both Lewisham and Croydon are reportedly hot-spots. Rather obviously, the carriages need some basic repeat fumigation to prevent people bringing little 'pets' home with them. I suspect that this is resisted as it means delays to services.
Sunday, 19 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/18/endangered-birds-farming-uk-brexit). Somewhat remarkably, even interested parties appear to currently have very little idea what will be in the bills (except for a little 'mood music') and the control of agricultural practices (a major factor in bird loss) will depend on them, especially if Brexit goes ahead (resulting in our being outside any current EU protections).
Saturday, 18 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/17/relaxing-e-cigarette-laws-would-cut-smoking-deaths-say-mps). Having said that, there is little doubt that tobacco companies see this as a way of maintaining their profits at a time with declining cigarette sales. There are remaining problems as a) vaping may not be without negative health effects (a recent study suggests an impairment of the immune system); b) passive breathing of vaping fumes may influence the health and enjoyment of people in the immediate vicinity (including children) and c) making vaping possible in public areas may encourage its use (and even lead to eventual cigarette smoking). I am note that it has recently proved very difficult to get a relaxation of cannabis-derived medications in the UK to treat serious medical conditions (such as some types of epilepsy). If nicotine was a recently utilised drug, rather than one that has been around for centuries, I suspect that it would be hard to get vaping concoctions licensed for use anywhere.
Friday, 17 August 2018
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45195474). Diets with too much carbohydrate, however, also reduced longevity. This really underlines the point that what you really need is a balanced diet with about half your calories coming from healthy carbohydrates (although nuts appear to be good options).
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-44524898) that Birmingham is to introduce charges for people entering specified clean air zones with high polluting vehicles (particularly certain cars, trucks and buses) on the calculation that the polluter should pay. Although this is a reasonable step (air quality causes premature deaths, expensive-to-manage illnesses and lost economic activity) it might well be seen by the relatively wealthy as simply a local 'tax' (and people in some shops have already complained that it might hit trade). Certainly, there needs to be a rapid improvement in non-polluting public transport in the area. The Scandinavians, as is often the case, established this type of arrangement years ago!
Wednesday, 15 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2018/aug/14/plastic-warm-seas-propellers-cornwall-turtle). Necropsy confirmed that the turtle had, in deed, consumed some plastic. Wounds on its 'shell', however, revealed that this animal was probably terminated by collision with a boat's propeller. So that's alright then?
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/14/china-rainbow-trout-and-salmon-the-same-thing). This is in spite of the two species having completely different life-styles, one being a migrant between salt and fresh waters and the other limited to riverine/lake environments. I suppose it makes as much sense to reclassify wheat and barley as 'rice' (after all, all are grains)?
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/aug/15/millennia-of-human-activity-heatwave-reveals-lost-uk-archaeological-sites), revealing, from the air, unsuspected locations of farms, settlements, burial grounds, Roman manors et cetera. This is due to slight variations in the heights and types of vegetation occurring in such locations, creating patterns that can be viewed from slow flying aircraft. As at least four more years of hot summers are predicted, this will only increase our knowledge of human activity in these islands.
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Monday, 13 August 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/12/warming-seas-10-new-shark-species-british-waters-great-white). Although this is in some senses disappointing (the top predator is an impressive beast), it might at least stop our newspapers going ballistic about the dangers to innocent tourists. The shark is much less dangerous to humans rather than vice versa.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/aug/09/salt-not-as-damaging-to-health-as-previously-thought-says-study). People have been trying for some time to get food producers (who use the compound as a taste enhancer) to greatly reduce the salt content of their products. They have done this because it has been claimed that salt increases blood pressure, a risk factor in both coronary heart disease and stroke. The study suggests that the benefits of reducing salt are only evident in countries with very high levels of salt in their foods (such as China). In countries with less salty food (like the UK), it is claimed that there is little point in seeking the elimination of this compound (I am sure this will go down well with many food producers).
Sunday, 12 August 2018
Bees are very important insect pollinators. Some species are, of course, also commercially-important because they produce honey and bees-wa...
A combination of night rain and day-time sun has resulted in more Bynea blooms. The Southern marsh orchid ( Dactylorhiza praetermissa...
Flies (Diptera) can be quite impressive on a snow-white back drop. I show a number of candidates I have encountered on my travels.
The fuss about allegedly suspect data emanating from the East Anglia University Climatic Research Unit and the 'theft' of emails fr...