threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Wake-up Calls on Climate Change

One of the reviewers of my book described it as a Wake Up Call  and this phrase is being used more and more in relation to climate change, especially as people have experienced extremes of weather in the last two years.

Now, the Guardian has published an article about the things that their readers have described as Wake Up Calls:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/21/the-heatwave-was-a-wake-up-call-readers-on-a-year-of-climate-change-anxiety?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTgxMjIx&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email

They include the following:

  1. The 2018 heatwave.
  2. Wildfires in California.
  3. The IPCC report, saying we have 12 years.
  4. The launch of Extinction Rebellion.
  5. Extreme heatwaves harming the poorest people.
  6. The’Beast from the East’.
  7. ‘The changing political landscape prompted me’

 

wildfires

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Solar Panels: the majority of the UK public want to install them

A survey, reported in The Guardian has shown that more than half of people in the UK would install solar panels on their homes, if there was Government support on the cost of installation.  62% said they wanted to fit solar panels and 60% said they would buy an energy storage device.  Many have made this decision because they want to break up the energy suppliers market dominance but less than 10% of those surveyed had already installed solar panels.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/aug/20/majority-of-uk-public-want-to-install-solar-panels-poll-finds

The survey was commissioned by Client Earth, an environmental law group: https://www.clientearth.org/

The survey also found that solar is the most popular energy source, with coal the least popular.  Nuclear energy and gas were almost as unpopular as coal.

Further data and graphs are given in The Guardian article.

how-much-roof-space-needed-for-solar-panels-1040x520

 


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A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife

Chris Packham, the well-known naturalist and broadcaster, has launched this manifesto, which can be found at:

http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/a-peoples-manifesto-for-wildlife

Also, this weekend, he is organising #ThePeoplesWalkFor Wildlife, in Hyde Park London.  People from across the country are joining this.

To accompany both, Chris has written an article – well worth a read – in The Guardian, entitled, “My manifesto could save Britain’s dying wildlife”.

Well done, Chris, and keep up the consciousness-raising.

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The Guardian article was published on 19th August 2018 and can be found at:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/19/manifesto-for-wildlife-uk-countryside-species-biodiversity?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+2016&utm_term=286174&subid=2617869&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

 


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More lost and endangered species are being reported

A new statistical analysis by Bird Life International has been reported by Patrick Barkham in The Guardian. It has confirmed that eight bird species are known to have become extinct this decade. Five species are from South America and their extinction has been caused by deforestation.  They include:

  • the Brazilian Spix’s macaw;
  • the poo-uli (black-faced honey creeper);
  • the pernambuco pygmy owl;
  • the cryptic treehunter;
  • Alagoas foliage gleaner.

Other extinctions have been small island species, vulnerable to hunting or invasive species.  90% of bird extinctions have been small-island species but now some species from large continents are disappearing.  See:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/04/first-eight-bird-extinctions-of-the-21st-century-confirmed?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+2016&utm_term=285147&subid=2617869&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

poo-uli

The Poo-uli, last seen in Hawaii in 2004


In another painstaking study, it has been found that hedgehog numbers in the UK have declined by 80% since the 1950s.  This is thought to be due to intensive farming methods and increasing badger populations (badgers eat hedgehogs but both species can co-exist in the same habitat).  The study has been published in Nature: Scientific Reports – 

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-30130-4

A number of rural sites were surveyed across England and Wales and, in many of them, no hedgehogs were found at all.  the South West of England seemed to be paricularly devoid of hedgehogs.

hedgehog map

The green dots in the map above show where hedgehogs were detected and the black dots where none were found; the large black spots identify the locations of badger setts.  The study was carried out by Ben M. Williams, Philip J. Baker, Emily Thomas, Gavin Wilson, Johanna Judge and Richard W. Yarnell.  Scientific Reports 8, Article Number 12156 (2018).

Damian Carrington of The Guardian has given a summary of this report:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/06/most-of-countryside-now-devoid-of-hedgehogs-study-finds?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+2016&utm_term=285147&subid=2617869&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

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The endangered hedgehog



An article in Nature has shown that all widlife species have declined by 58% in the past four decades and predicts that by 2020, populations will have declined by two-thirds from 1970.

https://www.nature.com/news/wildlife-in-decline-earth-s-vertebrates-fall-58-in-past-four-decades-1.20898

Activities such as deforestation, poaching and human-induced climate change are in large part to blame for the decline, with the main decline due to habitat loss.



 


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UK Government seeks to weaken commitment to Paris 2015 targets before Brexit

An article in The Guardian by Arthur Nelson (9th May 2018) claims that a secret plan, to stretch targets backwards to comply with the Paris 2015 commitments, has been leaked by MEPs.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/09/secret-uk-push-to-weaken-eu-climate-laws-completely-mad

The EU has committed to a 20% in energy use by 2020, as a first stage in its more ambitious promise to the Paris conference of a 40% emissions cut by 2030.

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1399375464230&uri=CELEX%3A32012L0027

The secret documents seen by The Guardian show that the UK plans to stretch its timeline backwards by four years, in order to use pre-2014 energy efficiences to be compliant with the EU directive. Then, once the UK has left the EU, it will no longer have to comply with the directive.

A member of the EU’s Environment Committee told The Guardian that:

“The UK’s proposal to widen ‘flexibilities’ is completely mad and undermines the principle of additionality, as well as the overall ambition of the energy efficiency directive. This approach would risk failure in our efforts to reach even moderately ambitious overall targets, while the higher – and beneficial targets – that we need to strive for could become lost altogether.”

According to the Shadow International Trade and Climate spokesman, the UN has asked countries to ratchet up their commitments on climate change in 2018.  Instead the UK government is weakening ours.

At present, almost all of the UK environmental policy derives from EU law but Michel Barnier, has insisted that a ‘non-regression article’ be included in any final EU-UK agreement to prevent backsliding.

what-is-climate-change

Sunday May 20th 2018

And now, the United Nations is getting in on the act.  In a report in the Huffington Post today, it is said that Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN’s environment programme, has said that Britain must keep its promise to deliver a green exit from the EU.  This story is also reported in The Observer.

Solheim has said that “Any dilution and the UK reputation would be damaged. People in government need to make sure that does not happen. We need to make sure they have those standards or improve them, or meet the ones under the European Union.”

 

 


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Dr Mayer Hillman’s contribution to knowledge about climate change reality

Dr Mayer Hillman is an 86-year old social scientist and he has been contributing articles about carbon emissions, global warming and climate change for much of his life.  A recent article in The Guardian sets out his current stance.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/26/were-doomed-mayer-hillman-on-the-climate-reality-no-one-else-will-dare-mention

In an interview with Patrick Barkham, published on 26th April 2018, he points out that, because humans are so dependent on fossil fuels, there is not much longer for this planet to sustain life here.  He believes that climate change is in runaway mode and that “we are doomed” (to quote The Guardian headline).

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Dr Hillman is a senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute and has contributed over the years to a number of policy decisions, one of which was a recommendation that homes should be energy-rated, finally adopted by Government in 2007.  He has also, for more than 40 years, challenged society’s preoccupation with economic growth.

He has been a keen cyclist, though cannot cycle at present for health reasons.  He is quoted in The Guardian article as saying:

“With doom ahead, making a case for cycling as the primary mode of transport is almost irrelevant,” he says. “We’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels. So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on.”

note-d-amour

Dr Hillman has done much work in the past on road safety and has written at length about society’s failure to challenge the supremacy of the car.

In 2016 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was confirmed as beyond 400 parts per million, the highest level for at least three million years (when sea levels were up to 20m higher than now). Hillman is quoted as saying, “Concentrations can only drop if we emit no carbon dioxide whatsoever. “Even if the world went zero-carbon today that would not save us because we’ve gone past the point of no return.”

Most of Dr Hillman’s comments are in line with the theme of my book, so I recommend readers to look at The Guardian article to learn more about his predictions.


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Dramatic decline in the number of European farmland birds

A recent article by Patrick Barkham in The Guardian, 22 March 2018, featuring two studies in France, gives evidence of ‘catastrophic’ falls in farmland birds, such as skylarks, whitethroats and yellowhammers, and suggests that the decline could be Europe-wide.

Farmland makes up 45% of EU’s land area.  Dr Benoit Fontaine of France’s National Museum of Natural History, and co-author of one of the studies, outlined the findings of a national survey of France’s common birds. A quarter of the population of skylarks has been lost in 15 years and a third of the total number of farmland bird species. Another study showed that 70% of meadow pipits have disappeared and 80% of partridges. The researchers believe that the declines have intensified over the last 10 years and think that the declines are related to a drastic reduction in insect life – a 76% fall in flying insects on German nature reserves over the last 27 years.  Scientists believe that the falls are related to an increase in the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, to control insects.

Of 39 species commonly found on European farmland, 24 have declined and only six have increased.  The species that have increased are those who also thrive in urban environments, such as chaffinches and blackbirds.

Populations have fared better in non-EU states in eastern Europe, where farming practices are less intensive.  Martin Harper, director of RSPB in the UK said:

“In the UK the situation is just as concerning.  Our beleaguered farmland birds have declined by 56% between 1970 and 2015, along with other wildlife linked to changes in agricultural practices, including the use of pesticides.”

skylark

skylark