Environmental Issues

rynner2

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This article came as a surprise to me. Despite my interest in all things nautical, I'd never heard of this before:
Nature studies: Pulse fishing is the 'marine equivalent of fracking'
The technique may be so efficient that it will cause whole areas to be “fished out”
Michael McCarthy

Conservationists are increasingly concerned about a radical new method of sea fishing being employed off the British coast, using electric shocks, which has been described as “the marine equivalent of fracking”.

Pulse fishing is claimed by its supporters to be the answer to many of the problems caused by traditional fishing with beam trawls in the same way as fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of underground shale rock formations to release the gas they contain, is said by its proponents to be the answer to our energy problems. Yet, just as fracking has triggered controversy about its side effects, the new fishing technique – which uses powerful pulses of electricity fired from towed electrodes into the seabed – has raised serious worries about its impact, especially as it has not been scientifically evaluated for damaging environmental effects, even though it is now going ahead on a large scale.
Pulse fishing’s electric shocks force commercially valuable bottom-dwelling fish and seafood such as sole and shrimps up from the seabed into the water column, and allows them to be easily caught in a trawl net. It has been taken up with enthusiasm by Dutch fishermen who fish in the southern North Sea and the English Channel, and has enabled them to increase greatly their catches of sole – their main target species.

It was brought in because it appears to have significant environmental advantages: it does much less apparent damage to the seabed than the heavy metal chains used in conventional beam trawling, and it is more selective with regard to target species, thus reducing the twin problems of bycatch (dragging up untargeted marine life) and discards (the throwing away of large numbers of unwanted fish, which has been one of the most heavily criticised aspects of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, or CFP). Most of all, because pulse fishing gear is much lighter than traditional trawling equipment, it reduces fuel costs by over half.

The fuel saving was the reason that Dutch fishermen applied to the European Commission to use the technique, even though electro-fishing was outlawed in EU waters in 1998. In 2009 the Commission issued a derogation, or exception to the regulation, which allowed member states to equip 5 per cent of their beam trawl fleets with pulse fishing gear, and in 2010 five Dutch trawlers converted to the new technique; the cost is about €300,000 a boat.

However, since 2011 the Dutch have dramatically increased the number of pulse fishing boats to more than 80, using an article in the revised CFP which allows projects “in support of avoiding unwanted catches in a fishery.” There are now more than 100 boats actively using the technique, including some Dutch-owned boats sailing under British flags – perfectly legally – which means they can fish in English waters.
The growing concern is that pulse fishing has been brought in so quickly that no proper scientific trials have been carried out on its possible side effects on wider marine life and the seabed – although the Dutch have promised this will be carried out as the fishing proceeds. “The problem is the scale of it,” says Jean-Luc Solandt of the Marine Conservation Society. “It’s OK to do a scientific trial with one or two boats in a completely scientific environment, but this is being carried out on an industrial scale. It’s gone way beyond what the original derogation allowed. It’s science being done on the hoof. It stinks.”

There are fears that the electric shocks may cause long-term damage to the sediments of the seabed and to non-target species, and that the technique may be so efficient that it will cause whole areas to be “fished out”.
“The nub of it is that we just don’t know what is happening,” says Jeremy Percy, director of Low Impact Fishers of Europe. “Yet The Dutch have just sprung it on the world. These guys have spent around €300,000 each converting their boats, so it’s not going away. This is the marine equivalent of fracking – it’s meant to be squeaky-clean and wonderful, but it may very well not be. The real problem is that we just don’t know.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says the EU regulations are designed to ensure pulse beams avoid adverse impact on our own waters and that it will consider evidence before supporting an EU decision to widen the use of this new technology.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices...e-marine-equivalent-of-fracking-a6930671.html
 

rynner2

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Rare hermit crab found at Falmouth's Castle Beach

A rare type of hermit crab has been rediscovered at a beach in Falmouth after a 30 year absence.
The tiny crab, known only as clibanarius erythropus, has not been recorded in Cornish waters since 1985.
It is a species found in warmer waters but can be found in the channel islands and along the French coast, according to Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

The find at Castle Beach was made by an amateur photographer who was taking part in a survey run by the trust.
Local marine experts said the ten-legged crustacean was occasionally found on the south coast of Cornwall but since the Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967 it had "virtually disappeared" from Cornish shores.
They believe the discovery shows Cornwall's marine life may now have fully recovered from the environmental disaster.

Clibanarius erythropus is from the Latin meaning soldier, clad in mail with red legs.
Finding the tiny crab was "the icing on the cake" during a fruitful rockpooling survey, Matt Slater, marine awareness officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said.
"Spectacularly low tides and stunning weather provided a unique view of Cornwall's fabulous coastline exposing sections of the shore which you would normally only see with a snorkel.
"We were all really excited by the find. Its scientific name is a bit of a mouthful so if anyone can think of a good name for the crab we would appreciate suggestions."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-35820443
 
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Ontario To Convert Nanticoke Coal Plant Into 44 MW Solar Farm

As part of Ontario’s phaseout of coal energy and commitment to a clean energy economy, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its partners, Sun Edison Canadian Construction LP and Six Nations Development Corp., are developing a 44 MW solar facility on and near the Nanticoke Generating Station site on Lake Erie.

The Nanticoke Generating Station, once considered the largest coal plant in North America, was closed for safety reasons last year. This endeavor, the Nanticoke Solar Project, will repurpose the site as an emissions-free energy generating facility.

“The Nanticoke project is a great opportunity for Ontario to take a former coal plant site and transform it into a clean and reliable solar power plant,” says Michelle Chislett, SunEdison’s vice president and country manager for Canada.

“The project aligns with our community values of sustainability and environmental prosperity,” says Matt Jamieson, president and CEO of Six Nation’s Development Corp. “Investing in clean energy benefits the people of Six Nations economically without compromising our children’s future.”

According to OPG, this is the power company’s fourth partnership with the First Nations, having produced renewable generation from the Lac Seul station, the Lower Mattagami River station and the Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station. ...

http://solarindustrymag.com/ontario...al&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
 
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Interesting, but 44MW at a load factor of 10%, compared with 4000MW with a load factor of 60%.

So overall, a net loss to the Canadian grid of 2400MW- 4.4MW = 2395.6MW. Call it 2400W.

Not exactly what I'd call re-purposing. More like down-grading.
 
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Ash tree set for extinction in Europe
The ash tree is likely to be wiped out in Europe, according to the largest-ever survey of the species.
The trees are being killed off by the fungal disease ash-dieback along with an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer.
According to the research, published in the Journal of Ecology, the British countryside will never look the same again.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35876621
 

rynner2

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£500,000 tree-planting project helped Yorkshire town miss winter floods
Slowing the Flow scheme, which saw 40,000 trees planted, reduced peak river flow by 20%, after 50mm of rain fell in 36 hours
Damian Carrington
Wednesday 13 April 2016 06.00 BST

Tree planting and other natural approaches have prevented flooding at Pickering in North Yorkshire over Christmas, at a time when heavy rainfall caused devastating flooding across the region.

An analysis of the Slowing the Flow scheme published on Wednesday concludes that the measures reduced peak river flow by 15-20% at a time when 50mm of rain fell on sodden ground in 36 hours. The scheme was set up in 2009 after the town had suffered four serious floods in 10 years, with the flooding in 2007 estimated to have caused about £7m of damage.

The work included planting 40,000 trees, 300 “leaky” dams and the restoration of heather moorland, all intended to slow the flow of water into the river and reduce its peak height. A new flood storage area was also set aside in fields near Newtondale. The project cost the government £500,000, significantly less than a proposed flood wall in the town.

The report concludes that the scheme prevented flooding that would otherwise have occurred to homes and the town museum. The work supports the calls for a more natural approach to flood risk management that followed a series of serious floods in recent years.

The government heavily cut flood defence spending in 2011 and the Guardian revealed a series of projects left unbuilt as a result. The recent budget saw an additional £700m given to flood defences.

“We wanted to understand fully whether our efforts in recent years in trying to hold back and store water in the catchment prevented flooding in Pickering in the days after Christmas,” said Slowing the Flow partnership chair, Jeremy Walker.
“This analysis by our hydrologists confirms that some flooding was avoided, although the measures were not fully tested. The key finding for us is that they appear to be working as expected and reducing the peak flood flow by up to 20%.”
“This is good news for the town, although we need to remember that the measures installed have their limits and would not be enough to prevent flooding in the event of rainfall on the scale experienced, for example, in 2007,” said Walker.

John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s executive director of flood risk management, said: “Natural flood risk management measures, when used alongside more traditional flood defences, can make an effective contribution to reducing flood risk, as demonstrated in Pickering. They can also deliver more benefits than just reducing flood risk, such as improving water quality, preventing erosion and in some cases storing carbon.”

The Pickering project was one of three natural flood management trials set up after the severe floods of 2007. Another was at Holnicote in Somerset and a report by the Moors for the Future Partnership for the Environment Agency in February estimated this could reduce peak river flow by 25%. The third project, in Derbyshire, was estimated to be able to reduce peak flows by 4%

In March, a study of a river catchment in the New Forest, upstream of the town of Brockenhurst, found natural defences including [?] could reduce the height of flooding in towns by up to 20%.

Simon Dixon, the study’s lead author from the University of Birmingham, said: “We believe that tree planting can make a big contribution to reducing flood risk, and should be part of a wider flood risk management approach, including conventional flood defences.
“Tree planting would represent an extra element that helps to slow down the arrival of rain water to vulnerable locations.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environm...ject-helped-yorkshire-town-miss-winter-floods
 

hunck

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Interesting radio prog today about Ascension Island & the sort of terraforming experiment which has been going on since Darwin & Hooker's time mid 19th century, in the form of a tree & shrub planting regime on Green Mountain, the highest point, the idea being that trees would trap moisture from winds, letting it drip downwards. There is now a mini cloud forest of introduced trees on the mountain although it has none of the biodiversity of a true cloud forest.

The downside is that what native plants there were are being pushed out, and human introduced animals have become pests.

When Darwin visited, it had little soil, no vegetation near the coast & no trees.

Some details:

It's the peak of an underwater volcano & is only about 1 million years old.
Until the British settled in 1815 it was uninhabited.
It has no running water & very little native vegetation.
It has no official inhabitants & residents are deemed temporary visitors.

Article here. The radio version is part of the 'Costing the Earth' series, probably available on iplayer.
 

rynner2

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Huge coral reef discovered at Amazon river mouth
Scientists astonished to find 600-mile long reef under the muddy water in a site already marked for oil exploration
John Vidal
Friday 22 April 2016 18.00 BST

A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.
The existence of the 600-mile long reef, which ranges from about 30-120m deep and stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was not suspected because many of the world’s great rivers produce major gaps in reef systems where no corals grow.

In addition, there was little previous evidence because corals mostly thrive in clear, sunlit, salt water, and the equatorial waters near the mouth of the Amazon are some of the muddiest in the world, with vast quantities of sediment washed thousands of miles down the river and swept hundreds of miles out to sea.

But the reef appears to be thriving below the freshwater “plume”, or outflow, of the Amazon. Compared to many other reefs, the scientists say in a paper in Science Advances on Friday, it is is relatively “impoverished”. Nevertheless, they found over 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, stars and much other reef life.

[Map]

Its discovery came as a complete surprise, says co-author Patricia Yager, a professor of oceanography and climate change at the University of Georgia. “I was flabbergasted, as were the rest of the 30 oceanographers. Traditionally, our understanding of reefs has focused on tropical shallow coral reefs which harbour biodiversity that rivals tropical rainforests,” she told The Atlantic.

But the reef, no sooner found, is said to be in grave danger. According to the paper, the Brazilian government has sold 80 blocks for oil exploration and drilling at the mouth of the Amazon and 20 of these are already producing oil – some, it is thought, right on top of the reef.

“These [exploration] blocks will soon be producing oil in close proximity to the reefs, but the environmental baseline compiled by the companies and the Brazilian government is ... largely based on sparse museum specimens. Such large-scale industrial activities present a major environmental challenge,” said the study’s authors.

The Amazon is the world’s greatest river, collecting water from an area over 7m sq km.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/22/huge-coral-reef-discovered-at-amazon-river-mouth

If they're already drilling for oil there, surely the oil company geologists had an inkling this reef was there? They don't plonk wells down at random. (And even after research to identify likely places to drill, most wells are dry, or unproductive enough to make it worthwhile to exploit them.)
 

rynner2

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Rio Olympics could spark 'full blown global health disaster', say Harvard scientists
Zika warning is latest in string of troubles for 2016 Games hosts
Harry Cockburn

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro could spark a “full-blown public health disaster”, doctors have warned.
Since the Zika virus was first identified in Brazil in May 2015, the disease's spread through Latin America has been declared a health emergency by the World Health Organisation and the number of suspected cases in Rio is the highest of any state in the country.

The continued presence of the virus ahead of the summer Olympics has caused athletes and health specialists to question the risks involved in allowing the Games to go ahead with hundreds of thousands of spectators travelling to the city.

Writing in the Harvard Public Health Review, Dr Amir Attaran said the Games could speed up the spread of the virus, and suggested the Games could be hosted by another city in Brazil where the illness is less of a threat.

He said: “While Brazil's Zika inevitably will spread globally, given enough time, viruses always do - it helps nobody to speed that up.
"In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the Games, potentially becoming infected, and returning to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks.
“All it takes is one infected traveller, a few viral introductions of that kind, in a few countries, or maybe continents, would make a full-blown global health disaster.”

With less than three months to go until the Games begin on 5 August, it is unlikely the continued presence of the virus will cause officials to take drastic action.

However, the warning will be yet another blow to Brazilian authorities, which are already mired in a string of controversies that have undermined confidence in the country’s ability to host the Olympics.
Brazil is currently grappling with steep economic decline, while a continuing presidential impeachment attempt alongside the country’s largest ever corruption scandal has caused national outrage.

Elsewhere, severe water pollution problems, the collapse of a new cycle path resulting in the death of two people and frightening reports of gang violence in upmarket shopping areas have fuelled scepticism about the suitability of Rio to host the Games.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...ka-virus-global-health-disaster-a7024146.html

I've been thinking that Rio is an unsuitable venue for quite some time, even before Zika appeared on the scene. Rio is dirty, polluted and generally insanitary, with poverty stricken townships available to foster the next epidemic that comes along. I am only surprised it has taken this long for someone to question the sanity of holding the games there.

I've not had occassion to speak up about it myself, because I don't know anyone going there, although I do worry about the contestants going there with exciting dreams of Olympic Medals - but who knows what else they may come back with?

Olympic Games have been cancelled before, during major wars. (London had to step in to run the games at short notice after WWII -
http://www.olympic.org/london-1948-summer-olympics ) Would the threat of an international pandemic be enough to cancel the Rio Games at this late stage?
 

rynner2

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Humans damaging the environment faster than it can recover, UN finds
Radical action is needed to combat increasing rate of environmental damage to water sources, land, biodiversity and marine life, report shows
Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Thursday 19 May 2016 17.56 BST

Degradation of the world’s natural resources by humans is rapidly outpacing the planet’s ability to absorb the damage, meaning the rate of deterioration is increasing globally, the most comprehensive environmental study ever undertaken by the UN has found.

The study, which involved 1,203 scientists, hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments brought together by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), concludes that without radical action the level of prosperity that millions of people in the developed world count on will be impossible to maintain or extend to poorer countries.

Water scarcity is the scourge of some of the poorest regions on Earth, the study found, leaving developing countries increasingly unable to feed themselves, and causing hardship for millions of people. There appears little prospect of this dire situation being remedied, according to the UN, without radical action being taken.
Water sources are under increasing threat from population growth, climate change, rapid urbanisation, rising levels of consumption, and the degradation of lands that previously provided a natural replenishment of water resources.

The study is intended as an aid to the world’s efforts to combat climate change and other environmental threats, as it highlights the difficulties of improving the lives of people in developing countries and tackling global warming, while food resources come under continuing pressure.
UNEP found the rate of damage to the natural environment was increasing globally, despite concerted efforts to persuade governments to take measures to improve the condition of vital natural resources, such as water, land and the seas.

“If current trends continue, and the world fails to enact solutions that improve patterns of production and consumption, if we fail to use natural resources sustainably, then the state of the world’s environment will continue to decline,” warned Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP.
He said the tools for improving the environment for millions of people existed in developed countries but were in danger of not being used.

The study, using decades of scientific data, found that basic measures to tackle some of the key causes of environmental damage were still not being taken. These included measures to reduce air pollution, such as changes to vehicles; the damage to marine eco-systems, which can have a huge effect on fish stocks on which hundreds of millions of people depend; and the degradation of land when modern agricultural methods were pursued without regard to the longer-term consequences.

Despite the recent global agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, signed in Paris last December, global carbon output continues to rise. The report argues this will put a long-term strain on the ability of developing economies to feed their own people as the result of changes such as increased droughts and floods.
Climate change is exacerbated by the emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture, including the leaching of nitrous oxide – a powerful greenhouse gas – from run-off emissions and incorrectly stored animal manure.
These sources increased by more than a quarter between 2000 and 2010, the report found.

etc...

http://www.theguardian.com/environm...nment-faster-than-it-can-recover-report-finds
 

rynner2

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MPs sound alarm on neglected soils
By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst

Ministers are failing to protect Britain's soils on farmland and in cities, MPs say.
The Commons Environmental Audit Committee warns that tracts of polluted soil are a potential health hazard in many towns because the government has stopped grants to decontaminate them.

And agricultural carbon emissions are said to be growing because careless farming allows soil to blow away.
The government said it was protecting soils, but would review the new report.
The committee says soil is a Cinderella subject - little mentioned but vital for food and flood prevention.
Soil also stores carbon in the form of organic matter - but if soil is handled badly, this carbon can escape to the air, contributing to climate change.

The MPs say to meet the UK's promises on the climate, the government needs a clear plan for protecting agricultural soil.
They complain that the government relies on soil protection rules linked to farm subsidies.
These rules, they warn, are weak, loosely enforced, and focus on preventing further soil damage rather than encouraging restoration of damaged fields.

Committee chairman Labour's Mary Creagh said: "Soil degradation could mean that some of our most productive agricultural land becomes unprofitable within a generation.
"Every tonne of carbon we can retain in soil will help us meet our carbon budgets and slow climate change."

A government spokesman replied: "The health of our soils and our 25-year plan for action on the environment will set out a comprehensive, long-term vision to protect and enhance our natural environment for generations to come."

But other experts reinforced the committee's concerns.
Prof Phil Haygarth, from Lancaster University, said: "Soils are arguably the most complex systems on Earth but are intimately linked to human security and the integrity of the wider environment.
"Any lack of recognition of this is just short-sighted and will inevitably lead to environmental and societal problems in the future."

The report says the UK's arable soils have seen a worrying decline in carbon levels since 1978.

The other focus of the report is on contaminated land. There was previously a limited national pot of cash to help local councils clean up polluted land, but this has now been closed completely.
The government says planning policy sets a clear framework for the clean-up of land to be developed.
But Ms Creagh countered: "Relying on the planning system to clean up contaminated land may be fine in areas with high land values, but it means that contamination in poorer areas will go untreated. Ministers must rethink their decision to phase out clean-up grants."
There were potentially now 300,000 contaminated sites in the UK, she added.

Prof Kirk Semple, also from Lancaster University, said: "Our industrial heritage means that hundreds of thousands of sites across the country are contaminated by chemicals, heavy metals, tar, asbestos and landfill.
"Often materials were disposed of on site without the environmental safety regulations we take for granted today.
"Defra's complacent decision to withdraw contaminated land grants presents a real danger that contaminated sites are being left unidentified with consequential public health impacts."

The government has declared an objective of safeguarding all soils by 2030, but the MPs say there are no policies in place to deliver that promise.

National Farmers Union spokesman Mark Pope told BBC News that it endorsed flexible and voluntary approaches to conserving soil. "Soil characteristics vary significantly in the UK, meaning there is no single method or panacea solution available to improve soil health," he said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36428361
 

rynner2

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Dead Sea drying: A new low-point for Earth
By Kevin Connolly BBC Middle East correspondent

The Dead Sea, the salty lake located at the lowest point on Earth, is gradually shrinking under the heat of the Middle Eastern sun. For those who live on its shores it's a slow-motion crisis - but finding extra water to sustain the sea will be a huge challenge.

If there's one thing everyone knows about the Dead Sea it is that you can't sink in it.
It is eight or nine times saltier than the oceans of the world - so dense and mineral rich that it doesn't even feel like normal water, more like olive oil mixed with sand.
For decades no holiday in the Holy Land or Jordan has been complete without a photograph of the bather sitting bolt upright on the surface, usually reading a newspaper to emphasise the extraordinary properties of the water.

But the Dead Sea is also a unique ecosystem and a sensitive barometer of the state of the environment in a part of the world where an arid climate and the need to irrigate farms combine to create a permanent shortage of water.

You may have read that the Dead Sea is dying. You can see why the idea appeals to headline writers but it isn't quite true.
As the level drops, the density and saltiness are rising and will eventually reach a point where the rate of evaporation will reach a kind of equilibrium. So it might get a lot smaller, but it won't disappear entirely.
It is however shrinking at an alarming rate - the surface level is dropping more than a metre (3ft) a year.

When you consider that the surface of the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the planet - currently 420m (1,380ft) below sea level - that means that the planet's lowest point is being recalibrated on an annual basis.
It is deep enough that journeying along the road that winds down to the shore causes your ears to pop as they do on an aircraft coming in to land.

The landscapes of the Dead Sea have an extraordinary, almost lunar quality to them - imagine the Grand Canyon with Lake Como nestling in its depths. And the people of the ancient world understood that there was something unique in the place, even if they couldn't be quite sure what it was.
...

And the health benefits appear to be real enough. The intense barometric pressure so far below sea level may produce atmospheric conditions beneficial for asthmatics - I am a sufferer and I noticed a degree of difference.
And people with the painful skin disease psoriasis also seem to find relief in the combination of mineral-rich water, soothing mud and intense sunlight. In some countries, health agencies and charities pay for people with the condition to come on therapeutic trips.

So even though the Dead Sea is shrinking and changing, it still has an economic value. Tourists can choose to visit resorts in either Jordan or Israel and both countries also export cosmetic products manufactured in the area.
Part of the shoreline is in the Palestinian West Bank under Israeli occupation so it's possible that in future Palestinians too will reap the economic benefits of the sea's unique properties.

But there's no doubt that the decline in the water level has been spectacular.
During the World War One, British engineers scratched initials on a rock to mark the level of the water. A century on, those scratch-marks are high on a bone-dry rock.
To reach the current water level you must climb down the rocks, cross a busy main road, make your way through a thicket of marshy plants and trek across a yawning mud flat. It's about 2km (1.25 miles) in all.

A few kilometres along the coastline, in the tourist resort of Ein Gedi, the retreating of the water has created a huge problem.
When the main building, with its restaurant, shower block and souvenir shop, was built towards the end of the 1980s, the waves lapped up against the walls.
Now the resort has had to buy a special train in which tourists are towed down to the water's edge by a tractor (another 2km journey).
For Nir Vanger, who runs the business side of Ein Gedi's tourist operations, it's an unnerving rate of change.
"The sea was right here when I was 18 years old, so it's not like we're talking about 500 or a 1000 years ago," he says. "The Dead Sea was here and now it's 2km away, and with the tractor and the gasoline and the staff it costs us $500,000 a year to chase the sea.

"I grew up here on the Dead Sea - all my life is here, and unfortunately in the last few years that's a bit of a sad life because you see your home landscape going and disappearing, and you know that what you leave for your children and grandchildren won't be what you grew up with.
"When we built a new house my wife asked me if I wanted a view of the sea and I said we should build it with a view of the mountains because they stay where they are and the sea keeps moving.'

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-36477284
 

rynner2

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An unusual event for Cornwall:
Firefighters still tackling 'significant fire' in St Erth

A "significant fire" which broke out at a recycling centre has continued to blaze throughout the night.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue said the fire at St Erth, near Hayle in Cornwall, started at about 20:15 BST and more than 70 firefighters are still fighting it.

Devon and Cornwall Police are also in attendance. There are no reports of any injuries.
A large diesel and oil tank was caught up in the fire, firefighters said.

Harry Hodgson, who was on a train which pulled into St Erth station, said the "huge black smog" could be seen from a mile away.
"It just erupted and basically took a huge building out within minutes and all of a sudden it was just an uncontrollable inferno, a massive blaze", he said.
Mr Hodgson said "the general mood was excitement" because no one had been injured and people were "enjoying the power and the beauty of the fire".

Great Western Railway said the St Erth station and the St Ives train branch would be closed all day. Disruption is expected on services between Truro and Penzance until the end of service.

People living in the area have been advised to close windows and remain indoors owing to the large plumes of thick, black smoke.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-37016913

Several photos on page.


 
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An unusual event for Cornwall:
Firefighters still tackling 'significant fire' in St Erth

A "significant fire" which broke out at a recycling centre has continued to blaze throughout the night.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue said the fire at St Erth, near Hayle in Cornwall, started at about 20:15 BST and more than 70 firefighters are still fighting it.

Devon and Cornwall Police are also in attendance. There are no reports of any injuries.
A large diesel and oil tank was caught up in the fire, firefighters said.

Harry Hodgson, who was on a train which pulled into St Erth station, said the "huge black smog" could be seen from a mile away.
"It just erupted and basically took a huge building out within minutes and all of a sudden it was just an uncontrollable inferno, a massive blaze", he said.
Mr Hodgson said "the general mood was excitement" because no one had been injured and people were "enjoying the power and the beauty of the fire".

Great Western Railway said the St Erth station and the St Ives train branch would be closed all day. Disruption is expected on services between Truro and Penzance until the end of service.

People living in the area have been advised to close windows and remain indoors owing to the large plumes of thick, black smoke.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-37016913

Several photos on page.
I foresee mutations resulting from this. Seven fingers per hand rather than the normal six.
 

rynner2

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Fire in St Erth blazes into third day

A fire that broke out at a recycling centre has continued to blaze into its third day.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue said the fire at St Erth, near Hayle in Cornwall, started at about 20:15 BST on Monday and more than 70 firefighters were called to fight it.
Ruptured fuel tanks have caused the fire to spread with another bursting on Wednesday morning, firefighters said.

The yard owners said safety checks were completed the night the fire started.
"We are devastated for our employees who have worked so loyally for us for over 12 years and devastated to have lost not only our livelihood but many personal effects," owners Kathy and Mark Bailey said on their Facebook page.
They said these included items that once belonged to Ms Bailey's dead parents, diaries dating back to 1884, photo albums spanning 90 years and a vintage car.

The pair thanked the emergency services and sent their thoughts to the residents of St Erth who "bore the burnt of the smoke".
Nobody has been seriously injured by the fire.

Great Western Railway said lines through St Erth station would be closed for a second day on Wednesday because the fire had spread.
Harry Hodgson, who was on a train which pulled into St Erth station on Monday, said the "huge black smog" could be seen from a mile away.
"It just erupted and basically took a huge building out within minutes and all of a sudden it was just an uncontrollable inferno, a massive blaze", he said.
Mr Hodgson said "the general mood was excitement" because no one had been injured and people were "enjoying the power and the beauty of the fire".

People living in the area have been advised to close windows and remain indoors owing to the large plumes of thick, black smoke.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-37031392

Several photos on page. The word 'arson' is not being used, but there have been several arson attacks in Cornwall, including some around Hayle...
 

OneWingedBird

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Is there a motive for arson? I'm thinking that structures tend to become particularly flammable when they're in the way of some sort of build or development scheme?
 

rynner2

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Is there a motive for arson? I'm thinking that structures tend to become particularly flammable when they're in the way of some sort of build or development scheme?
Most of the arson round here that I've read about seems to be kids or yoofs out for kicks, setting sheds or cars on fire. Could be this one started the same way, with the perps not realising what a prime site it is for a major fire.
 

rynner2

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Here's why the fumes from the St Erth fire are so toxic
By WBtgainey | Posted: August 10, 2016

Although the thick acrid smoke coming from the St Erth tyre fire has now dispersed, there's still a plume of smoke coming from the site, and residents have been warned to keep their windows and doors closed.
Multi-agency meetings are taking place to discuss the best way to move forward, but tyre fires are notoriously difficult to put out, and in extreme cases they've been known to burn for days - even months.

Tyre fires carry toxic chemicals, releasing dark, thick smoke which contains cyanide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, among other nasties.
They're also known to burn inside even if they have already been extinguished from the outside and can easily reignite when hot.

Happily in St Erth's case, environment experts are confident that what remains of the fire will soon be put out.
"The Environment Agency continues to provide support to the operational response on site," said EA communications manager, Paul Gainey.
"This has included providing advice to reduce environmental risks, and arranging for the collection of soil samples from areas affected by firewater run-off.
"There have been no reports of water pollution.

"The fire service are continuing to combat the fire and they are now using an excavator to help water penetrate into the burning material."
He added that overnight there had been a reduction in the amount of smoke from the site, and that the fire service are currently unable to predict when they will be able to scale back their activities.

Public Health England has said that some of the substances present in the smoke, which consists of a mixture of gases, liquid droplets and solid particles, can irritate the airways of your nose, throat and lungs as well as the skin and the eyes.
Symptoms to look out for include coughing and wheezing, sore throat, feeling short of breath, runny nose or eyes or chest pain.

"In general, exposure to smoke is more likely to affect people who have existing breathing problems, lung or heart conditions, for example asthma, bronchitis, chronic pulmonary disease or heart disease," said the Public Health England spokeswoman.
"The very young and very old, smokers and people with flu or flu-like illnesses may also be at greater risk after exposure to smoke from fires."
"People who are generally fit and well are unlikely to experience long-term health problems from temporary exposure to smoke from a fire."

It's recommended that people minimise their exposure to the fumes, to shelter as much as possible by limiting the amount of time they spend outside, and that people with asthma should carry their inhaler at all times.
If symptoms persist, Public Health England recommend that people seek medical advice by calling NHS 111 or by getting in touch with their GP.
In the case of emergency people should call 999.

South West Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team are also providing support and residents are being reminded to keep doors, vents and windows shut - especially if they have breathing problems.

http://www.westbriton.co.uk/these-a...d-to-shelter/story-29605202-detail/story.html
 

rynner2

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Recycling unit fire in St Erth needs 'babysitting' on fourth day

A fire that broke out at a recycling unit needs "babysitting" through its fourth day, firefighters have said.
The blaze at St Erth, near Hayle, Cornwall, has been scaled back significantly after it started at about 20:15 BST on Monday, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said.
Fire station manager David Carlisle said it had been a significant incident due to the "severity of the fire".
No one was injured but the yard owners' turtle was killed in the fire.

"There is still some smoke coming from this and we're in the stages of breaking apart the mounds of tyres and damping them down with copious amounts of water," Mr Carlisle said.
He added this would ensure there were "no further reignition" after ruptured fuel tanks caused the fire to spread, with another bursting on Wednesday morning.
He said while there was "very little life risk", it was likely to take at least another day "to finally extinguish the fire" and an investigation into the cause was "a few days off".

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-37042788
 

rynner2

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I was worried about this possibility:
Olympics: Belgian sailor Evi Van Acker taken ill after racing in Rio bay
• Coach says sailor contracted intestinal infection while training in Rio
• Olympic officials insist Guanabara Bay is safe for racing
Associated Press
Thursday 11 August 2016 18.27 BST

A Belgian sailor who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics has become sick after racing on polluted Guanabara Bay, the first competitor to fall ill after competing on waters that were subject to great scrutiny in the run-up to the Rio Games.

Evi Van Acker reported feeling sick after Wednesday’s races, the governing body World Sailing said. Her poor performances have put her at risk of missing out on a medal.
Her coach told the Belgian VRT network that he believes Van Acker contracted a severe intestinal infection while training in Rio de Janeiro in July.

“Evi caught a bacteria in early July that causes dysentery,” her coach, Wil Van Bladel, said. “Doctors say this can seriously disrupt energy levels for three months. It became clear yesterday that she lacked energy during tough conditions. She could not use full force for a top condition … The likelihood that she caught it here during contact with the water is very big.”

Van Acker was evaluated by the chief medical officer after her races on Wednesday and examined further by the Belgian medical team that night, the World Sailing spokesman Darryl Seibel said. Seibel added that this appears to be an isolated case and Van Acker is the only sailor who has reported feeling ill in the opening days of the regatta.

The poor water quality in Guanabara Bay was a concern in the buildup to the Olympics. An independent study by the Associated Press has shown high levels of viruses in the water as well as bacteria from human sewage.

etc...

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/11/olympics-evi-van-acker-taken-ill-rio-bay
 

rynner2

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Large tyre fire breaks out on Tresco, Scilly – a week after huge tyre blaze in Cornwall
By WBGayle | Posted: August 15, 2016

Firefighters have spent the night tackling a large tyre fire on the Isles of Scilly.
Crews from Tresco, St Mary's and Bryher responded to reports of a fire at Tresco at about 1.30am.
It comes less than a week after a huge fire broke out at a recycling centre in St Erth, Cornwall, which took three days to bring under control.

By 6am the fire had been extinguished but crews remained on scene dampening down hot spots.

http://www.westbriton.co.uk/large-t...-in-cornwall/story-29620377-detail/story.html

Coincidence? Or a copycat Arsonist at work?
 

rynner2

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A sad story:
Bodmin Moor ponies being poisoned by radioactive uranium and arsenic
By LBarton | Posted: November 24, 2016
(With photos and video clips.)

Ponies on Bodmin Moor are being poisoned by toxic heavy metals such as radioactive uranium and arsenic left over from the tin mining industry, according to campaigners who say a crisis in animal welfare is deepening.

Research by the charity People4Ponies suggests grazing on parts of the moorland is so deficit [sic] in basic minerals that ponies are suffering lingering ill health and dying needlessly.

However, the newly elected organisation which oversees the moor and is already working with a separate equine charity, said the real problem was not the soil but overstocking and abandoned horses.

People4Ponies founder Faye Stacey insisted their study must be taken seriously.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking what is happening," she said.
"Those ponies are being poisoned by their environment and action needs to be taken now."

The charity collected samples from the manes of ponies in two parts of Bodmin Moor, East Moor and the Minions/Caradon Hill area.
Specialist testing in the USA was able to help compile a picture of contaminants in the environment, as toxic metals like arsenic accumulate in the hair.

Minions and Caradon Hill are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of their rich mining history and they are also protected sites of special scientific interest.

Ms Stacey said it was not therefore a surprise to see toxins which are common on former mining sites - but the extent was shocking.
There were toxic levels of arsenic, iron, manganese, lithium, and aluminium in the tests, while highly poisonous elements like uranium and beryllium were also found.
Meanwhile the level of arsenic recorded in the one pony tested was so high, an expert suspected that it probably caused its death.

Tests on the water also revealed some worrying results with one sample returning a level of arsenic toxicity which was 182 times above the human limit and well above the recommended maximum livestock limits.
On East Moor the tests found the grazing was so nutritionally deficient, it lacked six out of seven major minerals for breeding and non-breeding animals.
Ms Stacey said some animals were found to have critically low level or non-existent levels of some minerals which were vital for them to survive and thrive.

She said these were not difficult or expensive problems to fix and called for a combination of year round supplements for the animals, extra feed at certain times of the year and fencing off some water.
The charity's patron is MP Neil Parish, who is pressing for a meeting with DEFRA, she added.

Julie Dowton, of the Bodmin Moor Commons Council, which took over its stewardship on March 1, said welfare of their ponies was one of their top priorities.
She said that in a few short months they had made huge improvements on the moor and their work was ongoing.

Nicolas de Brauwere, head of welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and chairman of the National Equine Welfare Council, said they were working hard to improve the condition of the animals on the moor.
He said the report by People4Ponies had made interesting reading and should not be ignored but he was concerned about some of the conclusions which were drawn.
"Our biggest problem on Bodmin Moor is the lack of accountability of owners and overstocking.
"I think we should be fixing the first before we start debating what's going on in the soil."

Mr de Brauwere said that since the Commons Council had been established hundreds of ponies had been taken off the moor and rehomed while numerous owners [were?] tracked down.
He said there had already been an improvement in the conditions of the animals and that this would continue.

http://www.cornwalllive.com/bodmin-...-and-arsenic/story-29929729-detail/story.html

Such pollution problems are not unique to Bodmin Moor but apply to most of the previous mining areas of Devon and Cornwall. Arsenic especially comes from the same geology as tin and copper, and there was once a mine near St Stephens which produced small amounts of Uranium!

Only a few miles from here, the lower part of the Carnon Valley is a wasteland because of the poisonous pollution from the many derelict mines that surround it. Very little grows there. But at least nobody grazes livestock there, and it does sound as if the problems with the Bodmin Moor ponies is down to overstocking.

There was once a mine at Swanpool which produced tin and silver, but the ore contained so much arsenic that it had to be smelted on a headland over the sea, still sometimes called Stack Point from the chimney that carried the poisonous smoke up away above the workers.

Funny how the tourist literature for Cornwall will show old mine-engine houses in scenic locations, but hardly ever mention the associated pollution! :(

But mining has not stopped in the West Country. There are always rumours about re-opeing South Crofty mine in Cornwall, while a new Tungsten mine near Plymouth has been given approval to carry on mining until 2036.
 

rynner2

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All you need to know about nature deficit disorder
By Helen Briggs BBC News
26 November 2016

It's tough to connect with nature at this time of year.
Your days are spent under artificial lights in an office, while the last of autumn's blooms are hidden beneath piles of decaying leaves.

NDD, or nature deficit disorder, has become a buzzword of late.
Although it's not a recognised medical condition, concerns about its effects on wellbeing are attracting widespread attention.
"I guess it's a symptom of current lifestyle," says Dr Ross Cameron of the department of landscape at Sheffield University.
"We're so clued into modern technology and things that we're less observant about the world around us and we're more likely to learn about wildlife ironically from a David Attenborough programme than maybe from a walk in the woods."

Richard Louv coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods.
He argues that all of us, especially children, are spending more time indoors, which makes us feel alienated from nature and perhaps more vulnerable to negative moods or reduced attention span.

Dr Cameron gave his views on the subject in a lecture at the Royal Horticultural Society this month.
"[The phrase NDD] has been used as a bit of a coverall to describe the thing of where we used to have natural processes, natural experiences in our life, and that seems to be becoming less common," he told the BBC.

There's "another throwaway term, which is 'nature knowledge deficit', where we don't understand as much about the natural environment as we used to, he explains.
And if we don't experience natural places or "tinker around in the garden", this can be bad for our mental health.
"As biological beings we are physiologically adapted to be in certain environments - to run, to play, to hunt, to be active basically," says Dr Cameron.
"The reality is we tend to have the lifestyle of a brick at the minute. We tend to sit for most of the day - we tend to be very sedentary."

His job is to think about how green spaces can be integrated into landscapes. So, could this be part of the solution?
"I've not sure I've got a cure," he laughs. "Landscape is obviously a very open-ended and undefined term.
"But basically any interaction with nature/green space seems to have some potential. I would argue that as you increase the scale and quality of it, the benefits also increase."

But he says even small and simple connections with nature can "give people a buzz", be it a robin at the front door or sitting in the garden watching a butterfly.
"We're quite interested to understand what those little positive effects have - those little things you notice in nature," he explains.
"You don't necessarily need to go to the Rockies or go to see blue whales off the Azores or anything like that.
"It's trying to see how much of these everyday things people notice, recognise and get a positive emotional response from."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38094186

This is something I'm very aware of. My previous flat was in a town, so most of the views from my windows were of brick and stone buildings, with very little greenery. It was such a relief to move here, where I'm surrounded by lawns, bushes, trees and flowers. Also wildlife, but there's less of that now than there once was since a nearby green space got covered with a housing estate... I haven't seen a fox here for some years now.

But on Friday I was able to post:

"It's sunny today, a little warmer, and less windy. The birds seem to like it - out of my bedroom window earlier I saw a small flock of finches (not sure which model) and another small flock of sparrows, plus a robin! But five minutes later they were all gone... Apart from gulls, we mostly get magpies in the garden in winter.

Makes me wonder how the small birds survived in the recent cold and stormy spell..?"
http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/day-of-the-animals.12552/page-143#post-1633322

That helped to reduce my NDD!
:)
 

rynner2

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Four major cities move to ban diesel vehicles by 2025
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

The leaders of four major global cities say they will stop the use of all diesel-powered cars and trucks by the middle of the next decade.
The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens say they are implementing the ban to improve air quality.
They say they will give incentives for alternative vehicle use and promote walking and cycling.
The commitments were made in Mexico at a biennial meeting of city leaders.

The use of diesel in transport has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, as concerns about its impact on air quality have grown. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that around three million deaths every year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution.

Diesel engines contribute to the problem in two key ways - through the production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Very fine soot PM can penetrate the lungs and can contribute to cardiovascular illness and death.

Nitrogen oxides can help form ground level ozone and this can exacerbate breathing difficulties, even for people without a history of respiratory problems.

As the evidence has mounted, environmental groups have used the courts to try and enforce clear air standards and regulations. In the UK, campaigners have recently had success in forcing the government to act more quickly.

Now, mayors from a number of major cities with well known air quality problems have decided to use their authority to clamp down on the use of diesel.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38170794
 
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