Monday, 30 September 2019

Glacier Wrecking?

The people of Coumayeur on Mont Blanc are fearful that the rapidly deteriorating Planpincieux glacier will fracture, sending an enormous mass of ice on to their hamlet (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/28/courmayeur-you-broke-our-glacier-mont-blanc-resort-climate-frontline). It is clear that they blame the government for not doing enough to ameliorate climate change. One placard says (in French) "You broke our glacier".

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Scaling down?

People might be surprised that the Pangolin, a harmless, ant-eating beast with scales (to protect it from the biting insects) instead of hairs is the most trafficked Mammal on the planet. A major reason for this is the use of those scales in traditional Chinese medicines. It may be helpful that the Chinese government has decreed that it will no longer support the use of such medicines in medical insurance (https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2019/08/pangolin-scale-medicines-no-longer-covered-chinese-insurance). It is, however, extraordinarily difficult to get people to accept that the beneficial effects of ground up keratin is just a placebo (see also rhinoceros horn). It might all be too late for some of the 8 species of Pangolin.

Polaxed?

It seems that the lack of sea ice is preventing Polar bears from feeding over a large part of their range (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/29/polar-bears-arctic-sea-ice-environment). Perhaps the loss of these creatures in the wild is progressing much faster than anyone anticipated? Having decades to reverse or contain climate change may be something we haven't got?

Saturday, 28 September 2019

To a Tea?

Workers in Montreal have shown that adding boiling water to a single plastic tea-bag releases almost 15 billion micro and nano particles (https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/sep/27/milk-sugar-microplastics-some-tea-bags-found-to-shed-billions-of-particles ). This scary number is way more than the number of plastic particles that one expected to consume in a year. I suspect that plastic coffee bags will be the same. Loose tea for me!

A Slight Inconsistency?

I know it's not much of an extinction-threatening action but it seems slightly odd for Environmental folk to produce a free newspaper on paper?

Friday, 27 September 2019

Vergers

It has been reiterated that road verges are an important location for encouraging wild flowers and their associated animals (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/27/uk-roadsides-verge-wildlife-corridors-guidelines-wildflowers ).This has actually been pointed out over several years and it has been noted that the area of land adjacent to roads and motorways in the UK is extremely extensive. Advice is offered in the report on appropriate ways to cut and manage the verges. I am personally not in favour of simply seeding such areas with garden annuals and one has to admit that the pollutant production and collision potential of motor vehicles can make vergers  precarious locations. One might suggest that gardeners might follow some of the advice for verge management when dealing with their lawns.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Seeing the Changes 1359

Lots of Lawyer's wigs (Coprinus comatus) in the grounds of Morriston hospital.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

What's New Pussy-Cat?

A study has suggested that domestic cats are actually less exploitative of their 'owners' than their reputation suggests (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/sep/23/cats-bond-with-owners-and-are-not-as-aloof-as-they-seem-study-shows). It is claimed that pet cats bond with their care-givers, and this is evident in their showing less anxiety and more exploration in the presence of their human side-kick. I (and others) are not too sure about this. I still believe that they only rub themselves against your legs, when you give them food, to odour-mark the member thus warning other cats off.  

Monday, 23 September 2019

Blasted Heath?

The plan to establish a 'spaceport' on North Uist is meeting some local opposition from folk who think it will damage wildlife tourism on the island (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/22/western-isles-spaceport-threatens-wildlife-tourism-north-uist). Plovers and geese are not likely to thrive with such disturbance but I think that people ought to seriously consider whether the extra release of 'greenhouse gases' (with their inevitable effects on climate change) is likely to be the more damaging consequence.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Amazon Burgers?

It has been claimed that some of the beef supplied to McDonald's and Burger King by a Brazilian company came from land where illegal deforestation had occurred (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/leading-burger-supplier-sourced-from-amazon-farmer-guilty-of-deforestation). Although it is now claimed that the practice has stopped and the farmer fined and blacklisted, the event does illustrate the nature of one driver that is leading to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Food Glorious Food

The UK imports more than 40% of its fresh food and a report by MPs suggests that its provisioning is threatened by a number of factors, including climate change and Brexit (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn). About 20% of food comes from areas currently viewed as being clearly at risk of environmental challenges (that area might actually be considerably larger than envisioned). One could argue that that might reduce the import of exotic items with their high carbon footprints but that wouldn't be much consolation to the producers. It seems likely that the British diet (as well as water usage) will have to be reconsidered.

Suborning Science

It is frightening to read of the apparently routine and systematic suppression of 'inconvenient' science on climate change and other environmental issues in the USA (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/whistleblowers-scientists-climate-crisis-trump-administration). If issues can be suppressed by political and commercial interests in 'the most scientifically advanced country on the planet', we are in a very dark place.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Subsidised Destruction

A report from the Food and Land Use Coalition (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/1m-a-minute-the-farming-subsidies-destroying-the-world) has noted that 99% of the £560bn annual subsidies to farming are for environmentally destructive purposes. Most are used to promote cattle production (with their high methane output- this effluent being a powerful greenhouse gas); forest destruction (removing major opportunities to store carbon and reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) and fertiliser use (with its tendency to pollute water systems). Unremarkably, they suggest that considerably more than the current 1% of subsidies should be used to encourage activities that are beneficial to our finite environment. Profits seem to be the be all and end all!

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Seeing the Changes 1358


In Loughor, Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) was flowering. Two shrews lay dead about 20cm apart.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Seeing the Changes 1357

At Llangennith on the Gower, masses of large jellyfish were washed up. This caused a feeding frenzy by the sandhoppers.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Anthropocene: The Beginning or the End?

It has been reported that plastics (mainly from clothing) are now being found in the sedimentary rock record (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/04/plastic-pollution-fossil-record) where fossils are found. The rise of human-generated plastics is also said to be evident in plankton samples taken over the decades and now reanalysed for micro-fibres (in earlier years, people would not have thought them worthy of comment). So this really does seem to be the start of the Anthropocene (human dominated) geological era. Whether it will continue or not largely depends on the health of the planet.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Seeing the Changes 1355


In Loughor, lots more fungi and a visit by a Treble bar moth (Aplocera plagiata.

Going Wild in Rural China?

The recent 'freeze' on the production of wild animals for human consumption in rural China appears to be meeting difficulties ( h...