Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A diagram of destruction: Extinction stats

May 6, 2019

A short, easy to understand diagram of impending catastrophe!

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48104037

 

 

 

The Facebook Un-Dead!

April 30, 2019

Hugh Paxton’s Blog advises all readers! Read this! And don’t worry too much about it. LP Hartley wrote “the past is a different country”. He added “they do things differently there”.

They do. Did. I like Hartley!

We are unfortunately doing similar things.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/soon-the-dead-on-facebook-will-outnumber-the-living

Reminds me of Swiss banks! And many other things.

Cheers!

Hugh

 

Surprising climate change quiz (and getting your kids to eat their kale,foiled Nazis and carrots)

April 29, 2019

 

This is quite fun, educational and I did rather less well than I thought I would! Which is annoying!

Give it a shot!

If you have children who won’t eat their kale skip the ‘one million starving children dream of eating kale’ ploy. It doesn’t work and never has.

Instead, give them the relevant quiz result and tell em that if they don’t eat their kale they’ll be swept away by a tsunami, have their heads smashed in by freak hailstones the size of billiard balls, run out of water and be responsible for mass extinctions unparalleled since the death of the dinosaurs and the other horrors listed, for your convenience and your child’s education, at

https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/big-five-extinctions

That won’t work either. But it should give them nightmares and scar them for life.

Incidentally if your kids won’t eat their carrots don’t tell em it will help them see in the dark. This was a ploy used by the British to hide their invention of RADAR from the Luftwaffe. The Germans were wondering why the RAF kept shooting down their bombers on moonless nights, the Brits allowed them to decode secret messages exhorting The Few to eat carrots and carrots joined sauerkraut on the mandatory German aviator’s menu. I’m not saying your kid is aware of this cunning subterfuge and its role in the destruction of Nazi ambitions of conquest but in the internet age you never know. And you don’t want to risk your credibility. Stick with tsunamis/hailstones etc. and give em the quiz.

Here’s it is – the quiz!

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/04/specials/climate-change-solutions-quiz/index.html

Better luck than I had!

Cheers!

Hugh

Good news and bad from Vietnam: Dead tiger cub wine, freshwater sea turtle and pickled pangolins (as well as other things)

April 26, 2019

Hugh Paxton’s Blog visited Vietnam frequently while based in Thailand. I loved the country. If you feel similarly and like me were moved by its natural wonders and ongoing wildlife and environmental triumphs and tragedies the following may be of interest! 

Cheers!

Hugh 

From: env-friends-and-supporters@googlegroups.com <env-friends-and-supporters@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of Tom Edgar

Sent: Friday, April 26, 2019 3:33 AM

To: env-friends-and-supporters@googlegroups.com

Subject: ENV: Pangolin prosecution and wildlife rescues

Dear Friends & Supporters

April has been quite a month for us all at ENV.

Among the news headlines are:

Two sting operations that recovered a total of four dead tiger cubs. They were just months old and for sale on Facebook. Tip-offs to the ENV toll-free wildlife crime hotline enabled us to set up two illegal wildlife traders. We committed considerable time, energy and resources into luring them into the open. The tiger cubs were most likely destined for wine jars.

A hawksbill turtle rescued from a coffee shop pond after what is believed to be nine years of illegal captivity. The turtle had been in fresh water so long it was taken to an aquarium to reacclimatize to salt water with a view to later release.

Our national schools bear letter writing challenge has gone a bit mad. The deadline is May 2, but we have already received well in excess of 80,000 entries. The postman is getting a tad ticked off to be honest. The challenge to write letters to bear owners urging them to quit and surrender their bears has been accepted – and then some – by school students the length of Vietnam.

An ENV evidence dossier enabled cops in Thanh Hoa province to swoop on an illegal wildlife trader as he was delivering wildlife products. A subsequent search of his home turned up further body parts. The haul amounted to two leopard claws, a leopard canine, a wild pig skull, 12 wild pig tusks and a deer antler.

And the coordination of a voluntary transfer of a pangolin called in to the ENV wildlife crime hotline. We got a cock and bull story from the caller, but the priority was to get the pangolin to safety. Thankfully, the authorities in the city of Hue moved quickly for us and released the beyond precious pangolin back into nature after ensuring it was healthy.

Meanwhile, we have had a pangolin release of our own, so to speak, with the publication of a pangolin-themed Wildlife Crime Bulletin. As usual, the publication highlights some of the most prominent issues behind the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam – in particular the pangolin trade – and the efforts of ENV and the authorities as partners in conservation. Download your copy here

 

Please feel free to share this download link with your network –  http://bit.ly/WCBdownload

 

As ever, thank you so much for your ongoing support and words of encouragement. You, literally, keep us going.

If you would like to support our pangolin program, find out more about what we do in Vietnam to protect this amazing and unique creature on our appeal page:  https://www.gofundme.com/protect-the-pangolin 

Tom

 

Tom Edgar

internationalcomms@envietnam.org

Make a difference  Gift of Peace 2019

David Attenborough Rides Again! Climate Change – the Facts!

April 21, 2019

Hard on the heels of the knock-out Our Planet series Sir David swings back into the arena with Climate Change: The Facts. Two things surprised me about this. Firstly the speed with which it was broadcast. Was he risking an Attenborough overdose? Too much of a good thing? More, Heaven forbid! of the same? It wasn’t. It was different and a a whole lot more. And, given that he is 93 years old, time is of the essence. Number two. The following review. It’s one of the few times I’ve read a Guardian newspaper review/opinion piece and actually found myself in agreement with the writer!

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/apr/18/climate-change-the-facts-review-our-greatest-threat-laid-bare-david-attenborough

New York State Public Hearing on Climate Change by Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation

April 20, 2019

Kudos to New York for its response to climate change!

Wild Open Eye - Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye

New York's Manhattan Island as viewed from Brooklyn Bridge Park
New York’s Manhattan Island as viewed from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Here’s a link to a short video on the Facebook platform airing opinions about climate change that went before the New York State Public Hearing at Albany on Feb. 12 by the Committee on Environmental Conservation. They say that New York is prepared to act on climate change even if Washington isn’t.

I think it’s comforting news that in North America some local and state governments are willing and capable of acting independently when it makes good sense to them to do so. Well done, New York! This is video from Daniela Lapidous of NY ReNews shows in her words:

” …. New Yorkers from all walks of life, who testified at our state’s first-ever public hearings on climate change. These experts and community members came through with a strong show of support for the Climate & Community Protection Act!…

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Songs of Enchantment

April 11, 2019

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has a cousin, Adele, currently residing in an intriguing and by American standards ancient farmhouse in old woods overlooking a lake in Connecticut. I have only been there once but I find it pleasantly haunted. If you know what I mean, which you probably don’t! It’s quiet, mysterious, with creaky stairs, snug beds, and a mossy garden with winding paths. It’s the sort of place I imagine poet Walter de la Mare would have liked which brings me to the point of this blog!

Adele is a singer, and without being partisan, a very good one! She and her friend, Dennis ‘Mackie’ McCorkie, have just released an album, available at:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/mackieandme

If you like Enya or Bonnie Dobson (Walking in the Morning Dew, subsequently mangled, in my opinion, by The Grateful Dead) you will like Songs of Enchantment. Soothing, sometimes mournful or mysterious, occasionally jazzical feisty, the songs are all inspired by De la Mare’s poetry. Peacock Pie is one of my favourite anthologies and Adele and Mackie do him justice. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

Our Planet: One (very good) launch speech

April 10, 2019

Scene: London’s Natural History Museum

Occasion: Launch of new Netflix series “Our Planet.”

Speaker: Prince Charles

https//youtu.be/xzHhEZYUibE

Without wishing to belittle her numerous accomplishments I sometimes wish the Queen would step down and give him a crack at being King!

 

 

 

 

Re-wilding – the way forward

April 8, 2019

Hugh Paxton’s Blog watched an episode of David Attenborough’s  latest ‘blue chip’ wildlife documentary series, “Our Planet”on Netflix last night. It was, true to form, exceptional. 93-years-old and Sir David still doesn’t miss a beat! This particular episode focused on the Arctic and Antarctica and the impacts on both by climate change. Our Planet has the usual stunning visuals – the camera crews are super-human – but while all his recent series have carried a conservation message, Our Planet brings conservation more sharply into focus. The image of hundreds of walruses plummeting off cliffs to their deaths is one I will not forget. Neither, I suspect, will you. Why are walruses dying like this? Ice melt. They normally live on formerly permanent ice. In the last few decades the ice coverage has diminished to an appalling degree forcing walruses to congregate en masse on a few grotesquely overcrowded rocky islands or cliff tops. The results make this one of the few wildlife documentaries that I would not recommend for younger viewers.

Attenborough has set up a website offering solutions. Check Ourplanet.

Also on hand with ideas is George Monbiot, a veteran, award-winning environmentalist and author. Well worth following his blog! Check his latest below. Don’t expect to bump into George on your next visit to Indonesia – his rainforest advocacy there has earned him a life prison sentence (passed in absentia). George went to my Oxford college, Brasenose. To my shame, and regret, I never paid him much attention then. I no longer make the same mistake!

Rewild the World – monbiot.com

Rewild the World

Posted: 07 Apr 2019 09:04 AM PDT

We launch a new campaign to allow ecosystems to recover on a massive scale, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 3rd April 2019

I don’t expect much joy in writing about climate breakdown. On one side, there is grief and fear; on the other side, machines. I became an environmentalist because I love the living world, but I spend much of my life thinking about electricity, industrial processes and civil engineering. Technological change is essential, but to a natural historian it often feels cold and distancing. Today, however, I can write about something that thrills me: the most exciting field of research I have covered in years.

Most climate scientists agree that it is now too late to prevent 1.5°C or more of global heating only by cutting our production of greenhouse gases. Even if we reduced our emissions to zero tomorrow, we would probably overshoot this crucial temperature limit. To prevent a full-spectrum catastrophe, we need not only decarbonise our economy in the shortest possible time, but also to draw down carbon dioxide that has already been released.

But how? The best-known proposal is called bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This means growing wood or straw in plantations, burning it in power stations to produce electricity, capturing the carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases, and burying it in geological formations. If deployed at scale, it is likely to trigger either an ecological or a humanitarian disaster.

One BECCS proposal, favoured by certain governments, would cover an area three times the size of India with plantations. This involves either converting agricultural land, in which case BECCS would cause mass starvation, or converting wild land, in which case almost-lifeless plantations would replace 50% of the world’s remaining natural forests. Even so, it might not be effective, as any carbon savings will be counteracted by the use of nitrogen fertiliser and the release of greenhouse gases from the soil as it’s churned up for planting. BECCS can lead only to catastrophe, and should be immediately abandoned.

Another option is direct air capture: extracting carbon dioxide with machines. Aside from the expense, which is likely to be massive, the amount of steel and concrete required to build them could help to push the world beyond certain climate tipping points before the positive effects are felt.

None of this is necessary, because there’s a much better and cheaper way of doing it. Natural climate solutions draw carbon from the air through the restoration of living systems. They could help to solve two existential problems at once: climate breakdown and ecological breakdown. Their likely contribution is enormous – bigger than almost anyone guessed a few years ago – and it is still scarcely explored.

The greatest potential identified so far – as so much land can be used this way – is in protecting and restoring natural forests and allowing native trees to repopulate deforested land. The greatest drawdown potential per hectare (though the total area is smaller) is the restoration of coastal habitats such as mangroves, saltmarsh and seagrass beds. They stash carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests can. Peaty soils are also vital carbon stores. They’re currently being oxidised by deforestation, drainage, drying, burning, farming and mining for gardening and fuel. Restoring peat, by blocking drainage channels and allowing natural vegetation to recover, can suck back much of what has been lost.

These are the best-studied natural climate solutions. Others have scarcely been explored. For example, we currently have little idea of what the impact of industrial fishing might be on the seabed’s vast carbon store. By disturbing the sediments and lifting the carbon they contain into the water column, trawlers and dredgers are likely to expose it to oxygen, turning it into carbon dioxide. One study suggests that repeated trawling in the north-western Mediterranean has caused a reduction in carbon storage in the top 10 centimetres of sediments of up to 52%. Given the vast area trawled every year (most of the seabed on the world’s continental shelves), the climate impact could be enormous. Closing large parts of the seas to trawling could turn out to be a crucial climate strategy.

Scientists have only recently begun to explore how the recovery of certain animal populations could radically change the carbon balance. For example, forest elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia and tapirs in Brazil are natural foresters, maintaining and extending their habitats as they swallow the seeds of trees and spread them, sometimes across many miles, in their dung. White rhinos can play a major role in preventing runaway wildfires in African savannahs. If wolves were allowed to reach their natural populations in North America, one paper suggests, their suppression of herbivore populations would store as much carbon every year as between 30 and 70 million cars produce. Healthy populations of predatory crabs and fish protect the carbon in salt marshes, as they prevent herbivorous crabs and snails from wiping out the plants that hold the marshes together.

What I love about natural climate solutions is that we should be doing all these things anyway. Instead of making painful choices and deploying miserable means to a desirable end, we can defend ourselves from disaster by enhancing our world of wonders. However, nothing should be done without the involvement and consent of indigenous people and other local communities. Nor should damaging projects, such as monocultural plantations, be passed off as natural climate solutions. As a paper published this week in Nature shows, several governments are attempting this deception.

Today, a small group of us launch a campaign for natural climate solutions to receive the commitment and funding they deserve. At the moment, though their potential is huge, they have been marginalised in favour of projects that might be worse than useless, but that are profitable for corporations. Governments discuss the climate crisis and the ecological crisis in separate meetings, when both disasters could be addressed together. We have created a dedicated website, an animation, and a letter signed by prominent activists, scientists and artists.

We don’t want natural climate solutions to be used as a substitute for the rapid and comprehensive decarbonisation of our economies. The science tells us that both are needed: the age of carbon offsets is over. But what this thrilling field of study shows is that protecting and rewilding the world’s living systems is not just an aesthetically pleasing thing to do. It is an essential survival strategy.

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US Visa: An advisory

April 3, 2019

If you are planning to visit the USA Hugh Paxton’s Blog STRONGLY suggests that you have a visa. A physical visa. Not just a copy of your visa.

Here follows a cautionary tale!

From: Hugh Paxton <paxton.bkk@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 7:15 PM

Subject: Apologies for radio silence

Things have been a trifle busy the last couple of days! I was expecting my gals to arrive Thursday from Tokyo but on Wednesday night I got a phone call from Haneda airport. Annabel’s US visa is in her old passport, she took her new passport and a photo of her visa but US immigration obstinately insisted she bring her physical visa. Everybody knew she had a visa. Just not a physical one. The arguments lasted hours. US authorities remained obdurate. Both daughter, Annabel and my wife, Midi, had been up since 5 AM. Long pointless day!

Sending the passport by DHL  was not possible – the earliest they could deliver it was Monday which would have meant both Midi and Annabel having to book new tickets. Ludicrously expensive ones! Upshot? I bunged a couple of pairs of socks and books into a knapsack and flew to Haneda. There was the usual fooling around in JFK. Convincing them that I didn’t have a suitcase, that I really was doing what I was doing took some time. Eventually somebody said “This must have happened before.” It probably has. Then 14 hours flight. The Japanese authorities were surprisingly understanding. After we had all agreed that the situation was unusual I got through passport control. Customs was easy – I had no luggage and nothing to declare. Midi had organized a rather unusual airport hotel room that had the virtue of being only a short train ride away. A few hours kip then at eight AM it was back to the airport for another 13 hours in the company of All Nippon Airways. JFK was in chaos. Three major intl. flights had arrived at the same time and the queues were mind-bendingly long. We were told we couldn’t use our UN fast clearance visas and then fate smiled upon us. By happy circumstance Annabel’s Japanese teacher (who also has a UN visa) appeared about as magically as the shopkeeper in Mr Benn and we together skipped the queues and whistled swiftly through the G4 visa section. Because everybody else was still stuck in the queues (and probably still are) the taxi rank was blissfully deserted. Immediately hailed a cab. And have just made it successfully home. Our Louisiana neighbor stepped in at very short notice to feed the cat (which is still in a state of confusion).

Me gals are going through the throes of proper jetlag. I never had the opportunity to adjust to Japan time so I’m spared that!

Anyway, all’s well that ends well!

Love from us all!

Hugh

 

 


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