Here’s what caught my eye in the Guardian this week…
Monday – Rome Facing Water Rationing as Italy Suffers Driest Spring for 60 Years
I could have picked two or three stories this morning; there were a few that merit further reading (I recommend the pseudo public places, the death of the oldest manatee and the images of Fukushima) but I settled for this one. It has been hot in Europe recently, with record temperatures in Spain and parts of Italy closed to tourists because of the heat. These are poor countries that really need the income from tourists, but if it’s too hot to go out and see the sights, they are going to suffer. Italy, already quite an arid nation, faces drought and water rationing, something only seen in desert nations or science fiction novels, which can only damage the tourist income – and native infrastructure – even more.
Tuesday – Extreme El Nino Events More Frequent Even If Warming Limited to 1.5C
Yet again, I could have picked two or three stories here, but I plumped for this one because, being British, I’m pretty obsessed with the weather. What this story tells us is that even if we restrict our carbon emissions and limit global warming, we’ve still done enough damage to ensure droughts, floods, hurricanes and goodness knows what else. However, before you think “oh what’s the point then?” – it’s a question of scale. Yes, the effects will be felt but they won’t be as severe as they would be if we did nothing and let global warming run rampant, so it is still incumbent upon humanity to endeavour to keep global warming to a minimum. This means planting more trees, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources and rethinking our relationship to the environment – and quickly.
Wednesday – Call for Action to Protect Scotland’s Endangered Capercaillie Birds
Fifty five years ago, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a classic of environmental literature in which she demonstrated how the uncontrolled use of pesticides on farmland was having a detrimental effect on the bird population. The silent spring of the title was one where no birds sang, because they had all died. In 2013, Conor Mark Jameson published Silent Spring Revisited, where he used his personal diaries and journals to reflect on how things had changed. The short answer is – they haven’t much; bird populations are still in decline and intensive farming is still the main way to work. It’s not really good enough and the loss of any species will devastate an ecosystem. The loss of a species as talismanic as the capercaillie should stir people into looking at the environment differently. What would they film on Springwatch otherwise?
Thursday – The Ick Factor: Dutch Project Making Bike Lanes and Bottles from Used Loo Roll
Oh get over yourselves! They clean it first! Besides, I think sooner or later we are going to have to get used to the idea of recycling pretty much everything, so sewage and other waste may as well be fairly high on the list. It’s not like we want it laying around, is it? I applaud the Dutch for their forward thinking and hope others take the hint.
Friday – Climate Change Drawing Squid, Anchovies and Tuna into UK Waters
This makes a pleasant change, a story about climate change that doesn’t involve species extinction – yet. Mediterranean species, such as calamari squid and anchovies are moving northwards, because the temperature of the ocean is better for them – meaning it’s too hot in the Med and cold-water fish such as cod and herring are going to move even further north. So while on the one hand it’s nice to read – especially as I love squid, they are beautiful creatures and highly intelligent – there’s that nasty, niggly little dark side. Warming oceans are not a good thing, no matter how many lovely little cephalopods they bring my way.
Have a good weekend!