Environmental Issues

rynner2

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Anger as Swanpool 'polluted' by dumped garden waste
7:30am Saturday 19th July 2014

Swanpool Nature Reserve in Falmouth has “fallen victim to pollution from indiscriminate dumping of garden waste”, according to a group set up to manage it.

The Nature Reserve is protected by Natural England and hosts a variety of flora and fauna, however the “dumping of garden waste into the area behind the pool” has seen Japanese knotweed re-introduced to the pool, and it is “spreading at an alarming rate”. :evil:

Pete Lochrie from Swanpool Beach, chairman of the Swanpool Management Forum said: “Unfortunately we have witnessed the re-introduction of Japanese Knotweed through the dumping of garden waste into the pool.
The site is SSSI protected and it is a criminal offence to dump garden waste here; anyone caught doing so could face prosecution.
It’s such a shame that after years of working to eliminate knotweed we face this problem again. The nature reserve is protected by Natural England and very precious to the local people is the variety of wildlife it supports.

“While I’m sure the people who dumped the garden waste did not believe they |were doing anything destructive, we urge those who live around the pool to be vigilant and those responsible to cease from dumping grass cuttings and hedge trimmings into the Nature Reserve to protect the resident species.”

Japanese knotweed, is a large, herbaceous perennial plant native to the far east. Classified as an invasive species, it forms thick, dense colonies that completely crowd out any other herbaceous species and is resilient to cutting, vigorously sprouting from the roots.

It is an offence under section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to "plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild" any Japanese knotweed. It is also classed as controlled waste in Britain and requires disposal at licensed landfill sites.

http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/fp ... den_waste/
 

rynner2

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It seems we have created a new eco-system:

Seals 'feed' at offshore wind farms, study shows
By Michelle Warwicker, BBC Nature

Some seals prefer to forage for food at offshore wind farms, a study suggests.Researchers found a proportion of GPS tagged harbour seals repeatedly visited wind turbines in the North Sea.

They deduced the mammals were attracted to these structures - which may act as artificial reefs - to hunt for prey.
"As far as we know this is the first study that's shown marine mammals feeding at wind farms," said research team member Dr Deborah Russell from the University of St Andrews, UK.
The team's findings are detailed in a correspondence article published in the journal Current Biology.

Dr Russell and colleagues tracked dozens of harbour - or common - seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) living around the British and Dutch coasts of the North Sea. They observed 11 harbour seals visiting wind farms - Sheringham Shoal in the UK and Alpha Ventus in Germany.
"Out of the individuals that we tagged a proportion of them preferentially went to these [wind farm] structures," Dr Russell told BBC Nature.

A number of the mammals moved in a "grid-like" pattern, making straight lines between the turbine bases.
Dr Russell explained: "The animal basically travels from wind turbine to wind turbine, almost like he's checking out, 'OK is there any foraging opportunities at this turbine?' And then he stays there for quite a long time, presumably if there are foraging opportunities."

The study also found seals from both species visited man made pipes along the sea floor, which are also thought to act as artificial reefs and foraging sites.
The researchers do not know what species of prey the seals are eating at these hunting grounds. But they may be attracted by fish such as cod or whiting which in turn feed on invertebrates living on the reefs.

Dr Russell said more research was needed to understand the ecological consequences of seals' behaviour around wind turbines.
"There are some issues of course with having animals more in the vicinity of anthropogenic activities, because you've got maintenance vessels in the area, you've got some noise from the wind turbines, so that could be negative.
"But on the other hand it's obviously quite successful in terms of foraging for these individuals, because they're choosing to go back to these anthropogenic reefs time after time," said Dr Russell.

The Marine Conservation Society charity, which was not involved in the study, said it was "not surprising" if seals feed around offshore wind farms because the structures are often built on sand flats that are "also important seal breeding, pupping and feeding sites".
A spokesperson for the charity added: "It may be that engineering structures provide more opportunities for predators such as seals in foraging for food, although this doesn't necessarily mean that the structures make an area more productive - seals have been present in significant numbers in the areas studied already."

The team behind the new study now want to find out whether or not wind turbines' artificial reefs have resulted in an increase in number of prey species.
"If [wind turbines] increase the number [of prey species] then that may be a good thing in terms of they're providing foraging opportunities for seals," said Dr Russell.

"But if they simply concentrate the number of prey... it means that instead of being distributed sparsely throughout the environment, they're actually being concentrated and very vulnerable to being 'hoovered' up by predators. So that could actually have a negative effect on those prey species."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/28375794
 

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A sad tale:

Family of six swans killed in Dorset weir

A family of six swans have been killed after becoming trapped in a boarded up weir near Dorchester.
The two adults and their four cygnets were found in Sydling Water after a member of the public alerted Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Wildlife rescuer Steve Trewhella, who helped retrieve the bodies, said the weir "would trap and kill any animal".
The Environment Agency said it would investigate the structure to see if it posed a danger to wildlife.

Mr Trewhella said the adults were ringed and "have been known as a breeding pair since 2009, producing five or six cygnets a year".
It is believed the swans had dropped through gaps in the weir and landed in the small pool of water with concrete on three sides and wooden boards on the front. :(

Dorset County Council said it was "investigating to find out what happened and what can be done to ensure this doesn't happen again".
It is as yet unclear which body is responsible for the weir.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-28425125

(Sydling Water is a couple of miles west of Cerne Abbass, and just north of Sydling St Nicholas.)
 

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That is unpleasant. :cry:

Have they lost anything or anyone else recently?
 

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A happier story:

Once derelict land at Tuckingmill now among best green spaces in the country
12:00pm Sunday 27th July 2014

Tuckingmill Valley Park has been recognised as being amongst the best green spaces in the country, joining seven other parks and open spaces in Cornwall to receive a prestigious Green Flag Award.

The national Keep Britain Tidy award which recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country is a "sign to visitors that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities".

Tuckingmill Valley has been transformed over years from a derelict into an award winning park.
Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for environment, heritage and planning said: “Huge congratulations to everyone involved with Tuckingmill Valley Park and to all of our Green Flag winners. This is a prestigious award and I’m delighted that seven popular parks and open spaces in Cornwall have retained their Green Flag status.

"This is great recognition for staff and volunteers who work so hard to make sure these well used and much loved locations can continue to be popular with local residents and visitors of all ages.”

Tom David, senior project officer at The Conservation Volunteers, based in the Conservation Centre at Tuckingmill Valley Park, said: This Award is very good news for Tuckingmill Valley Park. Many local people help to look after the park, including through volunteering with The Conservation Volunteers. It is nice that people’s voluntary efforts have been formally acknowledged in this way and that the park continues to be valued as a place for wildlife and recreation.”

http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/11 ... ry/?ref=mr

Let's hope the developers don't get to hear about this, or there'll be planning applications for "desirable and affordable housing" swamping the council. :(
 

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I've heard of norovirus affecting hospitals and cruise ships, but this is a disturbing development:

Norovirus outbreak closes River Dart Country Park

A country park has been temporarily closed after dozens of people fell ill with suspected norovirus.
The River Dart Country Park, in Ashburton, Devon, said that since Friday 91 cases of sickness had been reported.
On its website it said the park would be closed until 18 August to "enable further investigations".

It added that about 600 people would leave the site later and apologised for the disruption caused.
Mark Simpson, managing director, said the decision to close was made after discussions with Public Health England.

On its Facebook site, Emily Rudd said: "We camped last week and this bug wiped my two little girls, myself and my husband out!
"Our tent and bedding was ruined from all the sickness and in the end we cut our holiday short and came home. We are also hoping for compensation.
"Disappointing as we have visited before and had a great holiday and wish to do so again in the future. We hope those affected are reimbursed and the river dart team can rectify the problem quickly."

Jason Grout posted: "When are the people not on social media going to be informed? And are you going to refund your customers who were booked in for this weekend??"

Andrea Lamberti said: "Just had a knock on my van from the RDCP team with news of the site closure and to vacate in the morning.
"It's sad news but understandable. It's still a great place for kids and we will he back!!"

In the statement on the park's website, Mr Simpson said: "Our primary concern is naturally for the welfare of our visitors and we have not taken this very difficult decision without serious consideration.
"I fully appreciate that this will cause unforeseen disruption to many holiday and day visitor plans for which I can only apologise."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-28768362
 

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Whitebait glut causes sea to 'boil' off Dorset
[Video: Kerrie Gardner from Lyme Regis filmed the fish on her phone

Unusually high numbers of whitebait have been causing the sea off west Dorset to apparently "boil".
Fishermen reported a sudden glut starting a week ago. Mackerel chase the whitebait for food, causing them to jump in the air.
It is usual for the fish to come into shore during the summer, but locals have described the numbers in the last week as "phenomenal".
The Environment Agency said the whitebait were probably herring.

Steve Sweet, secretary and boat skipper of the Lyme Regis Sea Angling Club, said: "This year has been unusual because of the winter storms we had in February - it held everything up - and the mackerel, until two weeks ago, were very scarce.
"Suddenly, there's been a big explosion and the numbers of whitebait have been phenomenal. I've never known anything like it."

Kerrie Gardner, a photographer from Lyme Regis, said she first noticed the fish when she went swimming in Charmouth.
She said: "There are so many little fish in there at the moment, they were leaping out all around me like scaly shooting stars."

Mr Sweet said: "Off Lyme Regis, we've got a floating pontoon and the boats have parted the whitebait in the water.
"People have been down, scooping them up in buckets and nets and going away with buckets full.
"You do get periods like this every year but I've never seen them in those numbers."

Unusually high numbers of barrel jellyfish and bluefin tuna have also been recorded off the south-west coast as sea temperatures have hit record highs.
Mr Sweet said: "We would normally expect sea temperatures to peak in early October at about 16 or 17 degrees so we could still find sea temperatures higher.
"The highest temperature I have recorded so far has been 19 degrees." :shock:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-28894739
 

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Mackerel shoals close to shore 'because of storms'

Winter storms could be the reason for large shoals of mackerel feeding close to the South West's shores, an expert has said.
The National Marine Aquarium said the storms could have released more nutrients that were supporting the whitebait, which feed the mackerel.
During the winter huge waves and strong winds battered coastal communities across the south-west of England.

During the summer, shoals have been seen off Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
James Wright, assistant curator at the National Marine Aquarium, said: "We've seen big shoals of whitebait attracting the mackerel. This year they seem to be very close to shore.
"The whitebait have a very short lifespan and are prey for a lot of other species."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-28983591

Just earlier this morning I was reading that mackeral shoals are just outside Newlyn Harbour, which is very handy for the small-craft fishermen there! 8)

In my early sailing days, in the 1970s, I sometimes saw fleets of small hand-liners out off Lands End after the mackeral. But that fishery was destroyed when big boats from Scotland and even Russia appeared, and hoovered up the shoals.

But what goes around comes around, and now the mackeral are back! :)
 
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Why Coal Is (Still) Worse Than Fracking and Cow Burps
Geoscientist Raymond Pierrehumbert argues that carbon dioxide is always worse than shorter-lived pollutants like methane.
—By Chris Mooney | Fri Aug. 29, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

To understand the pitched fight over this question, you first need to realize that for many years, we've been burning huge volumes of coal to get electricity—and coal produces a ton of carbon dioxide, the chief gas behind global warming. Natural gas, by contrast, produces half as much carbon dioxide when it burns, and thus, the fracking boom has been credited with a decline in US greenhouse gas emissions. So far so good, right?

Umm, maybe. Recently on our Inquiring Minds podcast, we heard from Anthony Ingraffea, a professor of engineering at Cornell University, who contends that it just isn't that simple. Methane (the main component of natural gas) is also a hard-hitting greenhouse gas, if it somehow finds its way into the atmosphere. And Ingraffea argued that because of high leakage rates of methane from shale gas development, that's exactly what's happening. The trouble is that methane has a much greater "global warming potential" than carbon dioxide, meaning that it has a greater "radiative forcing" effect on the climate over a given time period (and especially over shorter time periods). In other words, according to Ingraffea, the CO2 savings from burning natural gas instead of coal is being canceled out by all the methane that leaks into the atmosphere when we're extracting and transporting that gas. (Escaped methane from natural gas drilling complements other preexisting sources, such as the belching of cows.)

"Methane mitigation is like trying to stockpile bananas to eat during retirement," says University of Chicago geoscientist Raymond Pierrehumbert.
But not every scientist agrees with Ingraffea's methane-centered argument. In particular, Raymond Pierrehumbert, a geoscientist at the University of Chicago, has prominently argued that carbon dioxide "is in a class by itself" among greenhouse warming pollutants, because unlike methane, its impacts occur over such a dramatic timescale that they are "essentially irreversible." That's because of carbon dioxide's incredibly long-term effect on the climate: Given a large pulse of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, much of it will still be there 10,000 years later. By contrast, even though methane is much more potent than carbon dioxide over a short timeframe, its atmospheric lifetime is only about 12 years.

Applied to the debate over natural gas, that could mean that seeing gas displace coal is a good thing in spite of any concerns about methane leaks.

To hear this counterpoint, we invited Pierrehumbert on Inquiring Minds as well. "You can afford to actually have a little bit of extra warming due to methane if you're using its a bridge fuel, because the benefit you get from reducing the carbon dioxide emissions stays with you forever, whereas the harm done by methane goes away more or less as soon as you stop using it," he explained on the show. You can listen to the interview—which is part of a larger show—below, beginning at about 4:40 (or you can leap to it by clicking here):



Pierrehumbert's arguments are based on a recent paper that he published in the Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, extensively comparing carbon dioxide with more short-lived climate pollutants, like methane, black carbon, and ozone. The paper basically states that the metric everybody has been using to compare carbon dioxide with methane, the "global warming potential" described by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is deeply misleading. ...

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/ ... ring-minds
 

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Uncut grass a big hit with park users
First published 06:00 Wednesday 24 September 2014in News

A PARK area has become more attractive after the grass was left uncut to encourage flowers and wildlife.
Researchers from The University of Sussex Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) monitored an un-mown section of the Saltdean Oval park for a year.

They discovered a three-fold increase in the density of flowers and up to five times higher numbers of flower-visiting insects such as bees, moths and butterflies. A survey showed more than a quarter of visitors to the park said their enjoyment of the park had increased since the sections of grass were uncut and 64% stated their enjoyment was unaffected.

Pathways have been cut into the grass to allow for easier access.
Lead researcher Mihail Garbuzov said: “These results present an encouraging example of a potential win-win situation in urban land management changes, where the interests of humans and wildlife are aligned.”
Park users told The Argus it now offered more enjoyment for their children and animals.

Professor Francis Ratnieks, the head of LASI, said: “We have shown that the new grass management scheme started by the parks department of Brighton and Hove City Council really works.
“The longer grass really does result in more flowers, bees and butterflies, and the public response is very positive.” 8)

The study aimed to illustrate how urban areas can support the increase of pollinating insects.
A council spokesman said: “We are involved in the research that has been conducted at Saltdean Oval for the South Downs Way Ahead Nature Improvement Area initiative.
“Councillors will be visiting the university in the near future to meet the research team to find out more first hand.
“It’s too early to say how this research may affect future council policies on grassland management.”

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/11491203 ... s/?ref=rss
 

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World wildlife populations halved in 40 years - report
By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.
The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.
The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.
Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

Compiling a global average of species decline involves tricky statistics, often comparing disparate data sets.
The team at the zoological society say they've improved their methodology since their last report two years ago - but the results are even more alarming.

Then they estimated that wildlife was down "only" around 30%. Whatever the numbers, it seems clear that wildlife is continuing to be driven out by human activity.

The society's report, in conjunction with the pressure group WWF, says humans are cutting down trees more quickly than they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb.

It catalogues areas of severe impact - in Ghana, the lion population in one reserve is down 90% in 40 years.
In West Africa, forest felling has restricted forest elephants to 6-7% of their historic range.
In Nepal, habitat loss and hunting have reduced tigers from 100,000 a century ago to just 3,000.
In the UK, the government promised to halt wildlife decline - but bird numbers continue to fall.

The index tracks more than 10,000 vertebrate species populations from 1970 to 2010. It reveals a continued decline in these populations. The global trend is not slowing down.

The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by what WWF calls unsustainable human consumption.

The report notes that the impacts of climate change are becoming of increasing concern - although the effect of climate change on species until now is disputed.

WWF is keen to avoid despair. It points to conservation efforts to save species like:
A Gorilla Conservation Programme in Rwanda, promoting gorilla tourism
A scheme to incentivise small-scale farmers to move away from slash and burn agriculture in Acre, Brazil
A project to cut the amount of water withdrawn from the wildlife-rich River Itchen in the UK.

Previously, the Living Planet Index was calculated using the average decline in all of the species populations measured. The new weighted methodology analyses the data to provide what ZSL says is a much more accurate calculation of the collective status of populations in all species and regions.

A ZSL spokesman explained to BBC News: "For example, if most measurements in a particular region are of bird populations, but the greatest actual number of vertebrates in the region are fish, then it is necessary to give a greater weighting to measurements of fish populations if we are to have an accurate picture of the rate of population decline for species in that region.

"Different weightings are applied between regions, and between marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments. We are simply being more sophisticated with the way we use the data."

"Applying the new method to the 2008 dataset we find that things were considerably worse than what we thought at the time. It is clear that we are seeing a significant long-term trend in declining species populations."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29418983
 
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Ten vids at link.

Aral Sea: How one of world's largest lakes turned into ship cemetery (VIDEOS)

The basin of Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, is now completely dry. The history of the sea, which derived its name from a Kyrgyz word meaning “Sea of Islands,” is revealed in a series of 10 videos.

http://rt.com/news/191952-aral-sea-dry-video/
 

rynner2

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Big robot fleet takes to UK waters
By David Shukman, Science editor, BBC News
[Video: The BBC's David Shukman: "We are now entering a new era of almost constant observation of the oceans"]

A fleet of marine robots is being launched in the largest deployment of its kind in British waters.
Unmanned boats and submarines will travel 500km (300 miles) across an area off the southwestern tip of the UK.
The aim is to test new technologies and to map marine life in a key fishing ground.

In total, seven autonomous machines are being released in a trial heralded as a new era of robotic research at sea.
Two of the craft are innovative British devices that are designed to operate for months using renewable sources of power including wind and wave energy.
The project, led by the National Oceanography Centre, involves more than a dozen research centres and specialist companies.
Chief scientist Dr Russell Wynn told BBC News: "This is the first time we've deployed this range of vehicles carrying all these instruments.
"And it's exciting that it's the first time we can measure everything in the water column and all the life in the ocean simultaneously.
"The ability to measure the temperature or the weather at the ocean surface, or dolphins and seabirds with the cameras on the vehicles - no-one's ever been able to do that at the same time hundreds of miles from the shore."

Data about the oceans is usually gathered by a combination of satellites, buoys and research ships, but all three have limitations in their coverage, and large crewed vessels are particularly expensive.
The motivation for exploring the use of massed robotic vehicles is to assess whether they can provide near-constant coverage at far lower cost - the equivalent of CCTV offering round-the-clock surveillance.

The target for the deployment is an area of ocean marking the boundary between Atlantic waters and tidal waters from the English Channel - what's known as an ocean front.
Fronts like this usually create upwelling that brings nutrients from the seabed towards the surface and encourages plankton to thrive. That in turn attracts fish, whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Most of the craft are being deployed from the Isles of Scilly for a three-week traverse of the ocean. The exact route of the journey is being withheld to avoid the risk of anyone interfering with the experiment.

Instruments will record key parameters of the ocean, ranging from the concentrations of plankton to the clicks and whistles of dolphins and porpoises. Cameras on the surface vehicles will also attempt to capture images of seabirds and other marine life.

According to Dr Wynn, the UK's 700,000 sq km of waters are highly productive as fishing grounds but the processes at work in them remain unclear.
"Actually understanding how that sea works and how the animals are distributed is a real challenge if you've only got a small number of ships and a few buoys dotted around.
"Having a fleet of vehicles that can go out, without humans on board, controlled by satellite, really gives us a chance to transform our ability to monitor the ocean.
"At the moment a lot of decisions about how we manage the oceans are based on very few data - relatively simple things like where do dolphins and seabirds go to feed? We actually have very little information on that."

Until now, companies developing robotic vehicles for use at sea have focused on military and commercial customers such as the US Navy and oil and gas companies, and American firms have dominated the market for automated submarines.

The British government's hope is that the UK may become a leader in unmanned surface machines - robotic boats - which can act as drones gathering information to help weather forecasters or do conservation work.

Ministers have identified robotics as one of the "eight great technologies" that can help rebalance the country's economy and drive growth.

Funding has allowed the National Oceanography Centre to support two UK companies, MOST and ASV, in developing their AutoNaut and C-Enduro robotic boats that are on trial now.
The first phase of the deployment is planned to end in three weeks' time, when the vehicles will be retrieved from the ocean and the results analysed.

Partners in the project include the universities of St Andrews and Exeter, Cefas, the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the British Oceanographic Data Centre, British Antarctic Survey, UK Met Office, Royal Navy and DSTL. Corporate partners include MOST, ASV, J&S, RS Aqua and Liquid Robotics.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29464273
 

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Some double-speak, jobsworth-type comments from EA and SWW here:

Surfers campaigning against sewage spills at Gwithian told they are not classed as 'bathers'
By The Cornishman | Posted: October 04, 2014

OFFICIALS have told surfers fighting to halt sewage spills that they are "not classified as bathers". :shock:

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has been leading a campaign to prevent South West Water (SWW) allowing raw sewage to pollute the sea at Gwithian, near Hayle, when the drainage system is overloaded, such as after heavy rain. Untreated sewage was released twice during the summer, turning the waters brown and forcing a surf contest to be called off.

The Environment Agency (EA) said tests on the waters showed excellent results but SAS insisted samples were misleading as they were taken from a point too far from the source of the pollution. In a recent letter sent in response to a request by a local resident under the Freedom of Information Act, the EA said it was simply following guidance by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The letter said: "Bathing water quality compliance is assessed at a location on Gwithian beach used most often by bathers. Surfers and other water users are not classified as bathers."

Andy Cummins, campaigns officer at SAS, said the bathing water sample spot is in an area that avoids the pollution from the Red River, far from entrances to the beach and car parks.
He added: "If the sample spot is moved to ensure that the bathing water samples are reporting on the area of the beach that is influenced by the Red River and heavily used by swimmers, surfers and other water users – and where the RNLI often has the swim and surf zones – we would understand the true nature of the water quality in the area."

The EA tests the water according to the Defra bathing water directive, which says the monitoring point should be "where most bathers are expected or the greatest risk of pollution is expected".
But this defines a bather as a "person in the water, not on a boat", excluding surfers. :roll:

The agency said the two combined sewer overflows (CSOs) on the Red River, which are regulated by permits, have not polluted the water.
The annual programme of 20 samples taken from May to September has shown the beach to have achieved "excellent status for the last five years", it added.

SAS has called on local MP and Farming Minister George Eustice to act, and is waiting for a formal response from North Cornwall Liberal Democrat MP and Minister Dan Rogerson.

Karin Howey, a local businesswoman who was made ill after using the water along with residents in her holiday cottage, is one of a number of people currently not paying their water bills in protest.
"There are a handful of people that have withheld the sewage element in protest," she added.
SWW was asked how it planned to treat the bills boycott but simply said: "We expect all customers to pay for services they have used and will take action to recover any unpaid bills."

http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Surfers-cam ... story.html

I can understand why SAS is spitting mad about this. Comparing a surfboard to a boat is ludicrous - most surfers spend a large proportion of their time as immersed in water as any bather.

And the EA's insistence on taking water samples from a clean area of beach is like investigating an accident black-spot by looking at statistics from a nearby road with free-flowing traffic!
(They conveniently ignore the part of the directive that says samples should be taken where "..the greatest risk of pollution is expected")
 

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Mysterious 'green alien balls' wash up on Australian beach
These strange spherical algae balls have been puzzling locals since they began appearing on Australia's Dee Why Beach in September
By Telegraph Video, video source ITN
10:37AM BST 03 Oct 2014

Thousands of extremely rare mossy green balls have been washing up on Dee Why Beach near Sydney, Australia. The phenomenon is believed to have been caused by algae being rolled into balls by the movement of the waves.

Associate Professor Alistair Poore from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of NSW said the balls were probably a rare type of living green algae, which has only been seen a handful of times around the world.
"I’ve seen similar things - sometimes dead sea grass can roll around and form balls like underwater tumbleweeds but that’s made of dead material and these look to be living," he told the Manly Daily. "It is a habit known as "aegagropilious", where the algae is free living (not on rocks) and forms into spherical balls. They’re pretty interesting," Mr Poore said.

Warringah Council spokeswoman said lifeguards discovered the balls had returned to the beach on Thursday and the environment team was having a look at them.
“They’re pretty excited because they are so rare,” the spokeswoman said. “They have caused great interest from UFO watchers.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... beach.html

I just hope the Jolly Green Giant and his friends are OK!
 

rynner2

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This is at the WTF! end of the spectrum for this topic:

...Perhaps a more perplexing case of animals being expected to be more like humans is reported in the Daily Telegraph and elsewhere.
Picturing a cow in an outsized nappy, the paper reports an angry protest by Bavarian farmers who say new EU fertiliser rules have banned their herds from leaving their characteristic pats in the Alpine meadows they roam.
The EU law, the Telegraph explains, aims to prevent nitrates from fertilisers on steeply sloping land leeching into water supplies.

Farmer Johann Huber has fitted home-made nappies to his herd to avoid losing subsidies which might be withdrawn if he breaches the ban.
"We have no standard nappies, they have not been developed commercially yet," he tells the Telegraph.
The EU suggests the problem has been down to the German authorities' rigorous interpretation of the regulations, the paper notes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-29547081
 

rynner2

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Science chief warns on acid oceans
By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

The UK's chief scientist says the oceans face a serious and growing risk from man-made carbon emissions.
The oceans absorb about a third of the CO2 that’s being produced by industrial society, and this is changing the chemistry of seawater.
Sir Mark Walport warns that the acidity of the oceans has increased by about 25% since the industrial revolution, mainly thanks to manmade emissions.
CO2 reacts with the sea water to form carbonic acid.

He told BBC News: “If we carry on emitting CO2 at the same rate, ocean acidification will create substantial risks to complex marine food webs and ecosystems.”
He said the current rate of acidification is believed to be unprecedented within the last 65 million years – and may threaten fisheries in future.
The consequences of acidification are likely to be made worse by the warming of the ocean expected with climate change, a process which is also driven by CO2.

Sir Mark’s comments come as recent British research suggests the effects of acidification may be even more pervasive than previously estimated.
Until now studies have identified species with calcium-based shells as most in danger from changing chemistry.
But researchers in Exeter have found that other creatures will also be affected because as acidity increases it creates conditions for animals to take up more coastal pollutants like copper
.

The angler’s favourite bait – the humble lugworm – suffers DNA damage as a result of the extra copper. The pollutant harms their sperm, and their offspring don’t develop properly.
“It’s a bit of a shock, frankly,” said biologist Ceri Lewis from Exeter University, one of the report’s authors. “It means the effects of ocean acidification may be even more serious than we previously thought. We need to look with new eyes at things which we thought were not vulnerable.”
The lugworm study was published in Environmental Science and Technology.

Another study from Dr Lewis not yet peer-reviewed suggests that sea urchins are also harmed by uptake of copper. This adds to the damage they will suffer from increasing acidity as it takes them more and more energy to calcify their shells and spines.
This is significant because sea urchins, which can live up to 100 years, are a keystone species - grazing algae off rocks that would otherwise be covered in green slime.

Dr Lewis found that at the pH expected by the end of the century, sea urchins will face a constant damage from copper to 10% of their DNA.
Urchins are in an unfortunate group of creatures that look most likely to suffer from changing ocean chemistry.

At the bottom end of the marine animal chain, tiny creatures like plankton and coccolithophores reproduce so fast that their future offspring are likely to evolve to cope with lower pH.
At the other end of the scale are fish and crustaceans which are able to control their internal chemistry (even though some fish are affected in unexpected ways by acidification).

But the long-lived urchins are too simple to control their own body chemistry and will find it harder to adapt. They’re likely to be in trouble, along with molluscs like mussels - which provide food for predators and also perform vital services to the eco-system.

Tough boulders corals may survive the changes, but many of the branching and table corals which provide shelter for tropical fisheries are judged unlikely to last out the century.

The recent meeting of the UN’s Convention on Biodiversity warned that it can take many thousands of years for marine life to recover from acidification.
Dr Lewis said that it was straightforward to forecast future chemical changes to the ocean. She said predictions of future pH had drawn few of the criticisms levelled at the much more complex models of climate change.
But she warns that the biological effects of the chemical change in the oceans are harder to predict.

In her Exeter lab she is currently subjecting ill-tempered crabs to the end-of-century challenge. She plunges her hand into a seawater tank to seize the shell of one feisty specimen that does not want to be moved. It grips the water feedpipe with a vicious-looking claw.

“We think crabs should fare better with low pH than urchins do,” she tells me. “We don't know yet how they will respond to extra availability of copper.
“Our work means we are under-estimating effects of acidification for coastal invertebrates. We are now realizing there are many indirect impacts of ocean acidification on other processes. It could be that we are facing a lot more surprises ahead.”

Dr Lewis has set herself a mission to explain the science of ocean acidification to children. Along with other ocean experts she wrote to the government urging the education department to guarantee a place for the oceans in the school science.
It’s unacceptable that pupils can go through their entire school science career learning nothing about the oceans which cover 70% of the planet,” she says. “Ocean acidification is a fact – children should know that.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29746880
 

rynner2

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rynner2 said:
rynner2 said:
And right now, Rome is not a good place to live:

Italy: Rome drowns in bird droppings as austerity bites
News from Elsewhere...
...as found by BBC Monitoring

Rome is facing a "guano alarm" as millions of starlings leave the city covered in a thick layer of droppings, Italian media report.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-fr ... e-24939386

Rome has long been famous for its flocks of starlings, and the fantastic swirling patterns they make when congregating for the night-time roost:

They sparked a debate on Weird Weather which went on for a page or two, starting here:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 813#599813
More starling pics here:

In pictures: Murmuration of starlings near Gretna

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-s ... d-25104625
...and here:

Starlings: Mapping and modelling the ballet of the skies
By Jonathan Webb, Science reporter, BBC News

The beautiful, baffling seasonal spectacular is back for another year: starlings, swirling in their hundreds and thousands, in shapes that defy mathematical description.

...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29599792
 
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rynner2

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How almonds are sucking California dry
By David Willis, BBC News, Los Angeles

California's worst drought for more than a century is causing huge problems for farmers, who need a trillion gallons of water per year for their almond orchards alone. But it also leaves homeowners facing difficult choices about what to do with their lawn.

I have a neighbour, Deborah, and ever since I've lived here, her front lawn has been luxuriant and green.
But wandering by the other day I did a double take. Mounds of earth were piled up where the grass had once been, and an army of workmen had set about installing succulent plants and ground cover, and the kind of prickly cactus you normally see in children's cartoons.

By the time Deborah had finished explaining why she was doing it, I could hardly believe I hadn't done the same thing myself.
Aside from the satisfaction of knowing you are planting something that is actually meant to grow in these desert-like conditions - as opposed to grass, which sucks up water with the zeal of an inebriate who has stumbled upon the keys to the drinks cabinet - she also stands to save a fortune on her water bill.
She even avoids having to confront a sorry, burned-out apology-for-a-front-lawn every time she leaves the house.
Added to which, the city of Los Angeles actually paid her to do it - generously too, by all accounts.
And if paying people to rip up their lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant plants strikes you as an odd use of government resources, then all I can say to you is that desperate times call for desperate measures - and these are desperate times.

California is now in its third year of drought. The reservoirs are running dry and so too are the ground water supplies.
While comedians joke that it's so dry in California these days that the longest lines at Disneyland are for the water fountains - or ponder replacing the bear on the California state flag with a camel - what this place is witnessing is a dust bowl of truly Steinbeckian proportions.
It's so dry, in fact, that officials were reportedly thinking of adding a fifth level to the current four-tiered drought scale, which currently rates 99% of the state as "abnormally dry".

But while replacing your lawn with plants does help save water, the vast majority of the water used here goes not to households but to support California's economic mainstay - agriculture.
So water-intensive is the industry that the benefits of planting the odd cactus here or there start to seem a little modest in comparison.

Take almonds. In recent recent years the little nut with the hard brown shell has been touted as the holy grail of healthy snacks. Whether you're seeking a slimmer body, or a smoother skin, or you just want to spend a little longer on the planet, almonds are for you.
They've been touted as a remedy for cancer, arthritis, heart disease and even Alzheimer's. Not surprisingly, perhaps, given their growing fan base, the farmers of California's Central Valley have been planting them like there's no tomorrow.

Getting on for a million acres are now given over to almond trees, and such is the nurturing nature of California's Mediterranean climate that this state now accounts for more than 80% of the global supply.
The problem is that California's entire almond crop commands a stunning 1.1 trillion gallons of water every single year
.
That's twice as much as it takes to grow cotton or tomatoes, and enough - I am reliably informed - for you or me to take a 10-minute shower every day for the next 86 million years. 8)

Added to which, it's not as if this nutty elixir is being produced to satisfy local demand. Nearly 70% of the almonds produced in California are for export. And where do most of them end up? China.
This does little to quell criticism that the Chinese - with their booming economy - may soon, quite literally, be sucking this place dry.

Predictably perhaps, there have been calls to scale back on almond farming - at least until the rains return.
Due to a lack of water, some farmers have decided to shred some of their almond tree As for those front lawns, my neighbour Deborah may have started a trend. Now that weekly watering restrictions have been introduced, others in the street are considering cashing in and planting cactus and succulents instead.

In the meantime, "brown is the new green" around here. I have to admit, however, it's painfully difficult to stop watering your grass.
Hence the "dawn chorus" in these parts is not so much the sound of birdsong, as the subtle hiss of sprinkler systems engaging in a furtive nocturnal ritual.
Judging by how lush some of the lawns are around here one might almost be tempted to think some are bending the rules. "Almost" being the operative word - I have to live here, after all.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30052290
 

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Ocean rubbish increases invasive marine species to Dorset

Floating rubbish in the ocean is causing an increase in rare invasive marine species to the Dorset coast.
Several species, including tropical scallops and crabs, have been found on Chesil Beach by Steve Trewhella, a conservationist from Wareham.
Mr Trewhella said his finds, all attached to fishing-related litter, highlighted the "dramatic increase in marine litter".

Their arrival has also raised concern from Dorset Wildlife Trust.
The charity said the finds highlighted "the mountains of plastic litter washing around".
The creatures had travelled about 5,000 miles across the Atlantic attached to bait pots and buoys.

Julie Hatcher, of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: "There is so much man-made litter in the oceans that there is no end of objects for these animals to live on.
"The plastic litter in our seas could result in the introduction of new and invasive species to the UK and to countries and islands all around the world."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-30035424
 

rynner2

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Rame Peninsula campaigners aim to make bottle-top statement to parliament
By CGMikeS | Posted: November 24, 2014

CAMPAIGNERS in South East Cornwall are hoping to make a unique statement to parliament to highlight the damage plastic caps are doing to the marine environment.

Claire Wallerstein, who is the driving force behind Rame Peninsula Beach Care (RPBC), is urging groups around the region to get involved in the scheme which she hopes will make legislators and manufacturers wake up to the damage being caused.
She said the idea was simple: pick up and collect the most common item of litter found on the beach – bottle tops – then string them together in an eye-catching way to show the sheer numbers involved.

“If everybody buys into this I am quite sure we will collect well over 100,000 bottle tops by next summer,” she said.
“I picked up over 1,200 bottle tops on Tregonhawke beach the other day, and at another beach clean in the same place we picked up nearly 1,700.
“This is really the time of year when they start to be spewed out of the sea in massive numbers.”

“Next summer we will join all the strings together to create a truly enormous trail of bottle tops, which could be taken to parliament, or maybe stretched along a length of the Cornish coast path.”

Ms Wallerstein said that marine litter is more than just a problem caused by visitors leaving rubbish on the beach.
She said it had many sources, including items cast overboard from merchant ships, losses from fishing vessels, deliberate dumping at sea, poor terrestrial waste management systems and even decades-old waste being washed out of sand dunes.

At a beach clean at the end of October, around 45 people turned out at Tregonhawke beach, Whitsand Bay, where they collected 64 sacks of rubbish weighing in at over half a tonne.
Ms Wallerstein said after a quiet summer with calm seas washing much less litter onto the beach, it was now “wrecking season”, when stormy seas would start to deposit large amounts of debris.

Anyone who wants to join the bottle top initiative is asked to contact [email protected]. or see the group’s Facebook page.

Read more: http://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Rame-P ... z3Jyp7z2A1
 

rynner2

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Greenpeace and Cornish fishermen lobby George Eustice MP over unfair fishing quota
First published 07:00 Saturday 6 December 2014in News

Greenpeace volunteers and Cornish fishermen will be meeting George Eustice on Saturday morning at his constituency office to express their concern over the "unfair fishing quota system". They are handing in a petition from over 2,000 people from or near his constituency of Camborne, Redruth and Ha[y]le.

The petition signatures were gathered over three weekends on Camborne High Street. The petition is calling on George Eustice, who is also the Fisheries Minister, to overhaul the fishing quota system. The signatories are demanding that George Eustice changes the way that quota is allocated so that more is given to local, sustainable fishermen, who "protect the marine environment and make a real contribution to the Cornish economy".

George Eustice will be met by a constituent and Cornish fishermen who are struggling to make a living because they are not given enough fishing quota.
After the meeting, they will present the signatures gathered from his constituents in two ‘captain’s log’ books surrounded by a colourful banner, fishy figures, and sea shanties will be sung by a local band.

Nina Schrank, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace said: “There is new European fisheries legislation that is designed to reward sustainable fishermen; it’s a golden opportunity that the government must not miss. If implemented properly, it will boost fish stocks, bolster home-grown sustainable fishing and breathe new life into our coastal communities up and down the country.

"It’s time stop destructive, foreign owned vessels hoovering up fish stocks while lining their pockets with the sale of fish caught from our shores. The reform of this legislation was not won easily, now it’s up to the government to turn it into a reality here in Cornwall and along the UK’s coasts.”

Greenpeace's new campaign, ‘Our Net Gain’, which launched a month ago, is urging the government to reclaim fishing quota for local, low impact fishermen in the UK. Greenpeace carried out an investigation revealing that 43% of England’s fishing quota is held by foreign controlled, fishing businesses.
It also exposed the high concentration of quota in the hands of a few industrial fishing companies:

• Five largest foreign controlled vessels hold 32 per cent of the English quota

• One Dutch-controlled vessel holds 23 per cent of the English quota

• The small scale fleet in England has just 6 per cent of the UK’s quota

http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/11 ... ta/?ref=mr
 
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ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world's top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.

About a third of the world's soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.

The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming. The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers, experts said.

"Soils are the basis of life," said Semedo, FAO's deputy director general of natural resources. "Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil."

Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation. ...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... continues/
 

rynner2

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Why is diesel now bad news?
By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

The Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo wants to ban diesel cars and the pollution they bring from the streets of the French capital. But not long ago, diesel engines were thought to be environmentally friendly. What could have gone wrong?

Opinion on diesel cars has swung widely over the years.
Diesel is a more efficient fuel than petrol, but in the past diesel engines were often noisy and dirty.
Then, with growing concerns over climate change, car manufacturers were urged to produce cleaner, quieter diesel cars to capitalise on their extra fuel efficiency.

The cars were fitted with a trap to catch the particles of smoke associated with the fuel. Several governments rewarded the manufacturing improvements by incentivising the purchase and use of diesel cars.

But the policy has backfired.
First, there have been problems with the particle traps - some drivers have removed them because they sometimes don't work properly unless the car is driven hot.
Second, the diesels are still producing nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which irritates the lungs of people with breathing problems. Diesels make several times more NO2 than petrol cars.

Now, in order to meet European air pollution laws, politicians are being forced into an embarrassing U-turn, telling drivers that they've decided they don't much like diesels after all.
MPs in the UK have mooted a scrappage scheme for diesel cars, while the mayor of Paris has called for a ban.

Several European nations are currently in breach of EU clean air laws.
The EU’s NO2 limit was exceeded at 301 sites in 2012, including seven in London. The concentration on Marylebone Road was more than double the limit.
Districts in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Paris, and Rome are also exceeded the ceiling.

According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is the top environmental risk factor for premature death in Europe; it increases the incidence of a wide range of diseases.
Particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone (O3) are the most harmful pollutants.

Vehicles are by no means the only source of pollutants – some industries are major polluters too, and shipping in some places. But the politicians who run Europe’s biggest cities have protested that they cannot control pollution from industry elsewhere that drifts into their area.

With so many nations failing to meet pollution laws, the EU is under pressure to relax air standards.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30381223
 

Mythopoeika

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I have one of these low-emission diesels. I bought it when diesel was cheaper than petrol and the government was pushing low-emission diesels as the next big thing.
This news has got me pretty annoyed. If I have to replace my car or get a new petrol engine retrofitted, I'm going to be pretty pissed - and I'm going to expect the government to compensate me accordingly.
 

rynner2

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Mythopoeika said:
If I have to replace my car or get a new petrol engine retrofitted, I'm going to be pretty pissed - and I'm going to expect the government to compensate me accordingly.
Well, good luck with that! You could try voting Labour next time - they might reimburse you! :twisted:
 
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