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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Seven landowners join forces to create the largest lowland heathland nature reserve in Purbeck, Dorset UK

This report is taken from The Guardian 17th March 2020 by Steven Morris:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/17/uks-first-super-national-nature-reserve-created-in-dorset

Purbeck Heath in Dorset. Seven landowners are joining forces to create what they are billing as the UK’s first ‘super national nature reserve’.

It is a rich, complex landscape, a mosaic of heaths, woods, mires, reed beds, salt marsh and dunes that are home to a myriad of flora and fauna from rare birds, butterflies and bats to carnivorous plants.

Seven landowners have now joined forces to created what is being billed as the UK’s first “super national nature reserve” (NNR) on Purbeck Heaths in Dorset.

The idea is that by combining the disparate chunks of land, a more dynamic landscape easier to manage in a more natural way – and much simpler for wildlife to navigate through – will be created.

A stonechat, a bird the size of a robin with a call like two pebbles being hit together, provided the backing track as experts from the National Trust, RSPB and Natural England pointed out the features of the new super reserve from a vantage point high above the heathland.  Other rare species of birds, reptiles, butterflies and insects can also be found there.

A major aim of the super reserve project is to help such creatures spread further so they do not rely on just one tiny area – and so face being wiped out if disaster strikes their home patch.

Purbeck Heaths is one of the most biodiverse places in the UK – home to thousands of species of wildlife, including 450 that are listed as rare, threatened or protected.

All six native reptiles are to be found here, including endangered smooth snakes and sand lizards. As well as the smaller birds such as the stonechat, raptors including hen harriers, marsh harriers, merlins, hobbies and ospreys hunt the heathland. It is also one of the last strongholds for many specialist insects and other invertebrates, such as southern damselflies and the Purbeck mason wasp.

damselfly

the Southern Damselfly



 


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Nuclear Fallout From Chernobyl and Fukushima Disasters are Stored In Melting Glaciers

This report by Ted Ranosa was published a year ago in the Tech Times:

https://www.techtimes.com/articles/241378/20190412/nuclear-fallout-from-chernobyl-fukushima-disasters-stored-in-melting-glaciers-are-ticking-time-bomb.htm

glacier

Irradiated glaciers from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters threaten the environment as they could release their stored radiation particles at any moment.

In a study presented at the European Geosciences Union’s General Assembly, researchers discussed how ice and snow in glaciated areas can capture fallout from nuclear accidents and store them for long periods of time.

However, these glaciers are starting to melt at a rapid pace as a result of climate change. They are now at risk of releasing their contaminants into the environment, which could poison humans and wildlife alike.

Chernobyl

Chernobyl

Nuclear Fallout In Glaciers

Dr. Caroline Clason, an expert on physical geography from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, led an international team of researchers in examining the effects of nuclear radiation on glaciers.

They focused their work on particles known as fallout radionuclides, which are the byproducts of nuclear weapons testings and accidents. These contaminants are often stored in ice surface sediments called cryoconite.

Clason and her colleagues traveled to different sites around the world, such as Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Antarctica. The FRNs detected in these environments have orders of magnitude that are higher than those found in non-glaciated areas.

The team’s discovery underscores the role of glaciers, particularly the interaction between cryoconite and meltwater, in collecting contaminants in the atmosphere from various human activities.

The researchers also found that FRN buildup is not restricted to areas directly affected by nuclear activity such as in Chernobyl and Fukushima. This highlights the impacts of nuclear fallout and other atmospheric pollutants on the entire planet.

Clason said previous studies on nuclear accidents mainly focused on their impacts on humans and ecosystems in non-glaciated areas. However, evidence suggest that cryoconite on glaciers are more adept at collecting and storing dangerous levels of FRNs.

While high concentrations of FRNs have already been detected in the past, not much is known about how they could potentially impact the environment yet. This is something that Clason and her colleagues have been trying to explore in their research.

“Our collaborative work is beginning to address this because it is clearly important for the pro-glacial environment and downstream communities to understand any unseen threats they might face in the future,” Clason said.

Effects Of Radiation Exposure

The high levels of radiation produced after a nuclear disaster can cause long-lasting effects on human health. The longer the body is exposed to the energy, the more cells and tissues are damaged.

One of the most visible health effects of radiation is hair loss (Alopecia), which often occurs when people are exposed to 200 rems or higher.

The brain is also susceptible to damaging from nuclear exposure. Radiation with 5,000 rems or higher can destroy small blood vessels and nerve cells, resulting in seizures and even immediate death in extreme cases.

High amounts of radioactive iodine can seriously damage the thyroid and other cells related to the gland. However, when used properly and in controlled doses, radioiodine can help treat thyroid cancer.

People exposed to 100 rems of radiation may experience a lowering of their lymphocyte cell counts. This leaves them more vulnerable to various infections.

Data from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing suggest that symptoms of this form of radiation sickness can last up to 10 years, and can increase the risk of developing lymphoma and leukemia.



 


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Earth Day Switch: 22.4.20

Our planet is rapidly heading towards climate breakdown & ecological collapse, while financial institutions continue to invest in fossil fuels & similar extinction-driving industries. You are invited to change this.

Earth Day Switch is a cross-organisational consumer-led international campaign to divert money from these industries through switching banks, insurance, pension and energy providers, en masse on the 50 year anniversary of Earth Day. This campaign will:

  • Facilitate urgent change by mass moving billions out of fossil fuel finance on Earth Day 22.4.20
  • Align environmental groups with an international campaign that fits all
  • Mobilise the millions of supporters of environmental groups to engage in action
  • Disrupt the grey economy financial market & facilitate the green transition
  • Drive media attention with a focused narrative and timeline

Earth Day Switch is simple and broad making it a suitable campaign for individuals, groups, NGOs and companies to engage in. The action can be applied to these areas, giving participants autonomy of their involvement:

Energy providers – Banks – Insurance companies – Managed funds  – Pension companies

The website EarthDaySwitch.org will offer a resource to find out which service providers have fossil fuel investments and how to switch to a better one if they do. It will also act as a clear landing site to share campaign updates and convene information from partners. It will enable easy navigation to the facts of finance and sources of external advice. It will be guided by a legal team to ensure messaging and content does not breach regulations by the Financial Conduct Authority. The website can also be used to capture key performance indicators: number of people participating, a live tally of money pledged for divestment, breadth of engagement.

The same day switching will enable better data gathering for quantifiable results and impact assessment, demonstrate the global appetite for action and deliver a strong message to those businesses and institutions who continue to finance extinction-driving industries. 

Earth Day Switch will run independently from any organisation, by doing so, this will allow organisations that all have the same goal to work together on this campaign. Earth Day Switch organisers are already in discussions with: 

Greenpeace – Mobilize.Earth – Extinction Rebellion – Sierra Club – Friends of the Earth – Earth Alliance BankTrack – Ethical Consumer – Fridays for Future – Ethex – Moral Money – Good With Money – 350.org – The Finance Innovation Lab – Greenhouse – Possible (formally 1010) – Positive Money – WWF – Green Faith – The Wildlife Trust – RSPB – WarOnWant.org

For more details contact earthdayswitch@protonmail.com



 

 


Letters to the Earth

One of the ways that people have been encouraged to cope with the Covid-19 lockdown is to write letters to the earth.

In these moments of separation, stillness and unknown, Letters to the Earth is an opportunity to reconnect and for a new story to emerge.

What do you want to say? What needs to be heard?

 For our key workers, neighbours, faraway friends and family. For yourself, for others and for the Earth: Letters of love, support and hope are needed.

Take a moment, from wherever you are.
And write your Letter to the Earth.


The deadline for posting these letters has now gone but ones that were written will be available for reading on Earth Day, 22nd April 2020.

To see them go to the Letters to the Earth website.

https://www.letterstotheearth.com/respond-to-covid-19



 


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Tropical forests losing their ability to absorb carbon

tropical forest

A study of African and Amazonian forests has been published in Nature:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2035-0.epdf?referrer_access_token=FQX2PQbaGMYb4uHGovG9LtRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NOJ2x2BsrUNZyzCBuuL0UUqQjPW2euF71wbnss7bZVTypLc0eJu3wcwXkQBGokyA9HW2k-okTMHDdectG92AB7UCaAEYubgKcBIjfvWwAarBHNAQlggxcW6gKC8EBuatXyyNG4lsNoKGBuz6jwneDBL85C6ZibPhm8YlwdenuepVVP3nfandk-FdksbHp95BP77rMnstxyIbI75g2_nzJEQoEcaAqNNt7khmfudgMbXhiHqzvnmckcEcsSU60ImPmO4Qx-rym_TVbKyPZczrAfKyQInghQEk3hEnvAXjAkeI2PI50rx1bw45tFDkXAgSDy-RE7MB8TdOcULr7OI8TXlmV41375p0xC_5rHuhbcUPafKjd0GKGt8uVvrWV4LX7HFVFIp6FQIFCs0tn_Sq_KkE7Ax4Yz1fqPu5ThWmAM2SSTqwH1PwCPRErYU0QQ8N-MJXGQfIlAwgTeX2uJ711X&tracking_referrer=www.theguardian.com

and summarised in a Guardian article by Fiona Harvey on 4th March 2020:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/04/tropical-forests-losing-their-ability-to-absorb-carbon-study-finds?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMjAwMzEx&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=greenlight_email&utm_campaign=GreenLight

The detailed study of tropical forest trees has shown that, the uptake of carbon from the atmosphere peaked in the 1990s, when about 46bn tonnes were removed from the air, equivalent to about 17% of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. By the last decade, that amount had sunk to about 25bn tonnes, or just 6% of global emissions.

This means that the property of these forests to act as carbon sinks is declining, mainly due to the clearance of land to grow crops. Forests lose their ability to absorb carbon as trees die and dry out from drought and higher temperatures, but the loss of forest area from logging, burning and other forms of exploitation is also a leading factor in the loss of carbon sinks.

Climate scientists have long feared the existence of “tipping points” in the climate system, which when passed will condemn the world to runaway global heating. There are many known feedback mechanisms: for instance, the melting of Arctic ice leaves more of the sea uncovered, and, as it is darker than the reflective ice, it absorbs more heat, thus leading to more melting.

These feedback mechanisms have the potential to accelerate the climate crisis far ahead of what current projections suggest. If forests start to become sources of carbon rather than absorbers of it, that would be a powerful positive feedback leading to much greater warming that would be hard to stop.



 


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UN experts warn that the world is way off track in reaching climate targets

Targets set through the Paris Agreement 2015 are not currently being met on a global basis, at a time when actions to limit global warming are off track, and climate change damage becomes more apparent.

Increasing heat, accelerated sea level rises and extreme weather in 2019 were all indications of failure to rein in carbon emissions, according to a report compiled by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Their report had input from national meteorological services, international experts, scientific institutions and other UN agencies and the trends have continued into 2020.

AustralianBushfire

Every year, WMO issues a Statement on the State of the Global Climate. It is based on data provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and other national and international organisations.  Further details of the report can be found at:

https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/climate/wmo-statement-state-of-global-climate

Last year was the second hottest year on record, with a global average temperature of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. Each decade since the 1980s has been hotter than any preceding decade.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to increase their action this year to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.

In a foreword to the report, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said, “We are currently way off track to meeting either the 1.5° or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for. This report outlines the latest science and illustrates the urgency for far-reaching climate action.”

He thought it would only be a matter of time before a new world record hottest temperature was reached, perhaps within the next 5 years.

Alongside temperature increases, rainfall changes are having a major impact on several countries and sea levels are rising at an increasing pace, exposing coastal areas and islands to a greater risk of flooding and submersion.

Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise in 2019 and carbon emissions from fossil fuels grew by 0.6% last year.

There were two major heat waves in Europe in June and July, with new national temperature records set in UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

Climate change is facilitating the spread of dengue fever, with around half of the world’s population being at risk of infection.

World hunger also increased, with an estimated 22 million people forced to leave their homes by events, such as storms and floods.

Drought or low rainfall hit many parts of the world, including Australia, which also saw its hottest year, with an exceptionally long and severe season of wildfires.

Greenland ice melt

The Greenland ice sheet lost 329 billion tonnes of ice in 2019.

A map showing all the countries with weather extremes can be found at:

https://wmo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=56fc71ac6dcf4bcf826dea2adf94c255

Another report from the WMO, entitled “The Global Climate in 2015-2019” can be found at:  https://library.wmo.int/index.php?lvl=notice_display&id=21522#.Xmj5J6j7TIV

as well as previous WMO Reports.

 



 


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Zero Carbon Schools Project in The Marches

Zero Carbon Schools in The Marches (Herefordshire)

The Marches Climate Education Group are inviting all schools to take part in a Marches-wide programme that will support schools to write their own carbon reduction plan. Pupils, parents and teachers at schools in The Marches, are asked to encourage their school to take part!
Marches
The following invitation is also being sent to all schools by Herefordshire Council. West Worcestershire and South Shropshire schools are also going to be invited.
The Marches Climate Education Group invite you to attend

‘ZERO CARBON SCHOOLS’

A FREE one day event for Headteachers, Eco Leads and Eco reps,

in partnership with Herefordshire Council

Friday 19th June 2020 (09:00-14:00)

Venue: Hereford Shirehall, HR1 2JB

Aim of the event: how to write & implement your school carbon reduction plan

To book your free places copy this link into your browser
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/zero-carbon-schools-workshop-tickets-95516527505

Up to 4 places per school – eg 1 adult and 3 eco reps.

(Students must be accompanied by an adult!)

The Marches Climate Education Group is a group of likeminded schools

who care about the climate crisis and want to take action.

Run by teachers, for teachers.

To join, or for further information about this event, email Bryony John
bjohn@orleton.hereford.sch.uk

To find out more about the Green Schools Project within the Marches and to receive regular newsletters, email
beth@greenschoolsproject.org.uk



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The impact of bushfires on coastal and marine environments

This is a report, published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Bushfires Impacts on our oceans report Australian Marine Conservation Society

It can be found at:

Bushfire-Report_February-2020_Final-full-for-web-1.pdf

Bascially, what the report outlines is that the full effects of the summer of disasters will take months to materialise. The report shed light on the dangers to guard against in the critical months ahead.

  • Sediment slugs harming habitats and wildlife: Nutrients, ash and debris released by bushfires can damage habitats and form into sediment slugs following heavy rains – which slowly work their way to our oceans, harming aquatic life along the way.
  • Contamination: Metals and other contaminants released by bushfires in sediment, smoke and ash can change the physiology and behaviours of marine animals and work their way into the food chain.
  • Algal blooms killing fish: Harmful algal blooms caused by nutrient enrichment can kill fish and contaminate oyster farms, forcing their closure;
  • Damage to protective vegetation: Debris, sediment and ash washed into seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and reefs could further burden these already pressured environments.

Critically, the research report has uncovered alarming gaps in the monitoring of waterways and a lack of infrastructure and resources for responding to the threats. Unless these gaps are addressed urgently, many species face an uncertain future in the face of intensifying bushfire seasons.

The report recommends:

  • Monitoring of waterways: a comprehensive and integrated monitoring program for coastal and marine environments, that builds understanding of bushfire impacts and informs responses.
  • Urgent rehabilitation funding: Increased support will be vital for programs targeting the rehabilitation of the most vulnerable catchments and restoration of damaged coastal environments.
  • Rapidly cut carbon emissions: leaders must deal with the root cause of intensifying bushfires – rising temperatures – including swift and effective action to cut carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.