Beaver trials – as expected, benefiting ecosystem

There are a large number of different trials going on around the country into whether it is feasible to reintroduce Beavers and what they would do in the places that they would return. This question is important to answer for several reasons. The first of these is that there is a legal requirement in the EU to consider reintroducing any species that has been made locally extinct by humans. While we are leaving the EU this directive is actually a very good thing and therefore is worth following. The second reason that this question needs answering is because in places like the Tyne river basin in Scotland a large number of beavers have escaped and live in the wild and it is important to work out whether this is something that we wish to encourage or to reverse. Continue reading “Beaver trials – as expected, benefiting ecosystem”

Climate change sceptics increasingly attacking the scientists rather than the science

In an interview last year Tucker Carlson bought in a physicist from MIT and then berated him over his, and the generally accepted, views on climate change. In this interview Tucker Carlson stated many facts that were totally incorrect.

It was an absurd interview, and would only be tolerated by a channel like Fox News. However while Fox News is more willing to openly state things that any reasonable person would be able to refute, the interview would be improved if an interviewee was allowed to appear and speak without being interrupted by the host. This behaviour is not restricted to far right wing news channels but unfortunately happens in many other places.

Many of these outlets, if challenged, will state that the numbers generated were changed in some way by the scientists. In recent years unfortunately there has been a climate scandal that started in the UK University of East Anglia.

This group edited a graph by smoothing out bumps in recent periods, to remove any drops in the average temperature. This was underhand and foolish, particularly as accepted for publication in a serious magazine the underlying data would have to be presented alongside the analysis done. Having said that, this was an attempt to make the graph look clearer than it was, but the underlying evidence is extremely clear. The fiddling of the data was not required.

The organisations that made the biggest fuss over this con have continued to point at this as a reason to not take action despite further mounting evidence showing that climate change is taking place and indeed accelerating, and that therefore we still need to take action as fast as possible.


News in Brief: The Persian Leopard, Accidental Death of one of the last male Marsican bears, and a mutant enzyme which eats plastics

The Persian Leopard

The Persian Leopard is only found in a few countries and only in very few small numbers. However the fact that it still clings on means that it is far easier to recover this species than it would be were the last few to have disappeared. This is similar to the Amur Leopard which dropped to only a population of perhaps 20 but has made an astounding recovery in the last 10 years where it has gained more than double its population. This is still a very small population base but is likely to lead to a growing population which, because of the support of the Worldwide Conservation Group, has huge amounts of money being thrown at it. Continue reading “News in Brief: The Persian Leopard, Accidental Death of one of the last male Marsican bears, and a mutant enzyme which eats plastics”

Reducing your carbon footprint without going vegetarian

As much as half of our carbon footprint comes from what we eat. There is a carbon price on virtually everything, there are very few foods, unless we grow them ourselves in our garden, which take in more carbon then it takes to grow and get them to us.

It is it a particular problem that in the West we eat a large amount of meat as this is far more carbon intense then eating vegetables. However not all meats are the same, and it is actually possible to cut your food carbon footprint significantly without removing all meat from it.

It should be it noted, numbers I have had to state are approximate. There are instances where some of the meat would have far higher carbon footprints than are stated. A particularly poor situation is in South America where large parts of the Amazon are being cut down to give grazing ground for cattle. The fact that the rainforest is being cut down would suggest that this beef has a extremely high carbon footprint, and far higher than these stated numbers.

Lamb come out the highest, with the equivalent of 91 miles driven for each portion eaten. Beef in general came second on about 63 miles per serving, but this can be higher depending on where and how the cattle was raised. It should be noted that in a time of not enough water in many parts of the world beef grazing is also a very poor efficiency use of water.

Cheese has the next highest footprint at about 31 miles per serving (assuming that servings are roughly similar size). At 28 and 25 pork and then turkey has a dramatically lower carbon footprint than lamb or beef which would suggest that while going vegetarian will cut your food carbon footprint in half you get half of this benefit simply by switching beef for pork or turkey. Chicken has an even lower carbon footprint, only 16 miles driven per serving, so halving your carbon footprint again. Eggs have a carbon footprint of 11, and potatoes have a carbon footprint of 7 so you cannot go carbon free on your food.

Unfortunately in the West, as with most other carbon emissions, we find that the way we live is the worst way in terms of reducing CO2. Other countries like India and China have rapidly rising CO2 levels and have or will soon overtake America and Western Europe. In terms of carbon per head India and China are still vastly lower then we have in the West and it is our responsibility to demonstrate a way of living without emitting so much carbon that the planet roasts.