News: UK government announces funding for electric vehicles ahead of COP26 summit

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Before the COP26 summit which is being held in the UK from the 31st October to the 12th November, the UK have announced a new plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The main concentration being increased funding into the transportation industry aimed at transforming toward electrical vehicles. Whether this will be a considerable change in the right direction or just another empty promise is obviously yet to be determined.

Earlier in the year the UK had plans to open a new coal mine which is quite contradictory to the COP26 summit that they are hosting this year. As the agenda of government and business is always difficult to determine without direct involvement in these areas, hopefully we can see more urgency and action from the COP26 summit being held at the end of this month.

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The characteristics of a biodiverse ecosystem

Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter‘ – http://www.worldwildlife.org

Illegal deforestation and the consequences of global warming continue to destroy our planet, making biodiversity harder to find on Earth. The natural world is interconnected through millions of complex relationships which depend upon lots of different species. With less biodiverse landscapes these relationships become unstable, creating mass extinction events such as the one we are currently witnessing. However, rewilding projects strive to amend this issue by recreating natural and biodiverse landscapes to help stabilise what we have destroyed. Below I have outlined some of the characteristics that create a biodiverse landscape.

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Genetic diversity
This focuses on the variety of different genetic material within a species population. Greater genetic diversity means a population will have an easier time adapting to environmental issues. This characteristic, like others, being essential for endangered species and conservation efforts. Although, some argue that due to the unpredictable climate, species cannot adapt fast enough to keep up with the environmental pressures.

Ecosystem diversity This is essentially the different biomes across the planet which hold specific climates with species directly related to that climate. For example, a tropical climate might hold more insects and exotic plants compared to a colder climate such as Antarctica.


Species diversity
This is the variety of different species found in the area which is being researched or maintained. This can range from a species of bird to a certain species of tree. Establishing a balance is key to maintaining a biodiverse landscape, without this the ecosystem becomes unstable. For example, palm oil plantations in Indonesia are detrimental to the local ecosystem as they only consist of one species of tree which creates an imbalance of species diversity.

Functional diversity
Can be summarised as the biological and chemical processes needed for the survival of species and ecosystems. For example, the nitrogen cycle or the carbon cycle.

Some of the most biodiverse places on Earth will share all these characteristics to varying degree. Unfortunately, due to the state of the natural world caused by human behaviour over the last two centuries these rich natural environments are declining at unprecedented rates. Therefore, It is important we understand what is meant by biodiversity and why it is needed if we are to aim at repairing the natural world.

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Grassroots approach to climate change

When considering the issues surrounding climate change one can easily become overwhelmed and conclude that the solutions are out of reach and beyond their control. However, communities in the UK and US can be found which empower local communities and restore faith in the future. Aside from international movements such as FridaysForFuture, more local groups can be sourced if you know where to look.

If you live somewhere in the UK, websites like Climate Action can be a great source of finding a local group near you. Or if you would like to join a more national body, The Conservation Volunteers is a great way to get involved.

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If you live in the US, organisations such as Bioneers or OceansGlobal may be more for you. There are obviously a lot more groups out there, you may want to refer to the this list. However, being from an unreliable source you may want to take this list of recommendations with an eye of scrutiny.

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Unfortunately, local climate change groups was not easy to find for other countries based in places such as Asia or Africa. However, from a broader more international standpoint this website article was a great source for examining climate change in different areas of the world and also providing the names of the international bodies focused on climate change in those areas.

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Sustainable ideas for homes

Making your home more sustainable can be achieved in various ways and can introduce some interesting and exciting new ideas. Below are some practical ideas as well as some experimental prototypes.

Sustainable heating systems: Switching from a gas boiler can improve the sustainability of your home and in some cases save you money. If you would like more detailed information then check the hyperlink above. Three alternative heating systems I found from the website were the electrical resistance heating, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps.

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Sustainable water systems: Again, for more in-depth information follow the hyperlink in the title. One important point I found from the website was that two central branches for sustainable water involve introducing water-efficient devices and/or using alternative water sources to supply the household.

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Tesla solar panel roofing: This involves replacing typical roof tiles with roof tiles that are also solar panels. Efficient as they maximise the space a roof can capture solar energy whilst demonstrating a modern style.

Solar panel windows: A new innovative design that replaces normal windows with clear solar panel windows. This idea is still in its infancy and being tested but could prove to be a valuable investment. Given time for transition, with enough buildings installing solar windows this could alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels for energy usage.

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Growing your own food: This is a fun and relatively easy way to reduce your dependence on supermarkets, all it takes is a little patience and saves a little money. Plastic used by supermarkets creates a lot of waste and vegetables tend to always be packaged in plastic wrapping. If you’re growing food indoors, growing near a window seal is beneficial or using artificial lights. Regardless of where you decide to grow your plants, there are sustainable techniques to growing food that are universal. Different techniques involve composting green waste, saving seeds from vegetables and mulching. Growing your own food whether in little pots by your window or in big planters in the garden is a simple solution toward being more sustainable.

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Hopefully this post offers some insight on how to make your home more sustainable, given you an activity to do during lockdown or at the very least been an interesting read.

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Why bees are integral to our ecosystems and how to restore their population

Whilst forests play an important part in maintaining habitats and provide carbon traps, bees help pollinate the food we eat as well as the trees and plants that make up forests. We rely on them to maintain a biodiverse landscape as well as pollinate 90% of food worldwide.

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We are experiencing a global decline in bee diversity and population which is a serious issue as they pollinate a large percentage of our food supply. The reasons for this loss can vary depending of geographical location. Generally, bee population decline is due to the use of pesticides, such as the ones recently allowed in the UK. Climate change also disrupts bee populations from unstable plant diversity and unpredictable weather patterns. Finally, monoculture such as palm oil plantations presents a lack of biodiversity and commercial development both impact bee populations and their chances of survival.

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There are many different ways the bee population can be restored. For example, the National Wildlife Federation has comprised a list of six different solutions:

  • Plant natives – These are accustom to your local ecosystem, provide bees with sustainable food and do not require fertilizer.
  • New garden areas – Add new garden beds and encourage others to plant more flowers.
  • Organic – Refrain from using insecticides and chemicals in your garden.
  • Water – Place shallow pools of water in your garden for bees and other pollinators to thrive.
  • Nesting places – Create nesting places in your garden to increase the likelihood of the bee population increasing.
  • Responsibility – Raise awareness of the issue and inspire others to follow the same list of resolutions.

Others suggest planting bee friendly plants to adhere more to their needs or even going further and advocating for bee protection at different levels of government.

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‘Slowing down and even reversing habitat destruction and land-conversion to intensive uses, implementation of environmentally friendly schemes in agricultural and urban settings, and programs to flower our world are urgently required. Bees cannot wait’ – Zattara, E. Aizen, M. (2021)

No matter what we decide to do in resolving this growing issue, it is undoubtedly vital that bees and other pollinators populations increase otherwise our food security and biodiversity of the planet will severely suffer.

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News: Urban gardens are crucial in conserving bees and butterflies

A recent study found that urban areas can offer hotspots of urban floral diversity. Stating further how the individual gardener has an important role to play in maintaining the population size of many different pollinators.

‘Urban nectar is supplied by a diverse community of flowering plants, heavily comprised of non‐native species. Residential gardens are the key land use underpinning nectar sugar production within urban landscapes, providing both an abundance and diversity of floral resources’ – Quantifying nectar production by flowering plants in urban and rural landscapes

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Sustainable forest management and adaptation to climate change

Sustainable forest management can be defined as ‘outcomes that are socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable – the three pillars of sustainability‘. Each pillar is needed in order for a forests to thrive, if one of these pillars is missing a forest cannot be protected.

Depending on the type of forest that is being managed, such as a rainforest or a boreal forest, the management of that forest will vary. Management needs to be specific to the type of ecosystem that the forest resides, tailor to the legal framework and socio-cultural aspects depending on what nation the forest is found in. Although, there are objective requirements that all forests should include.

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Climate change can present many uncertainties when managing forests, therefore a forest should be adapting to promote resilience against the threat of droughts, damage from pests, diseases and wild fire. One way this can be achieved is by practicing silviculture, which consists of controlling the structure and dynamics of a forest. In managing a forest one needs to take an adaptive approach as the climate is constantly changing. Additionally, aside from climate change other influences may include timber prices, land use change and recreational use. There are often extreme conditions one may have to plan for as well, such as extreme drought or rainfall, these are conditions that may need individual and adaptive plans for these issues.

‘Adaptive management is an iterative process in which it is important to test new systems and ideas and judge how these perform under extreme climatic conditions’ – Climate change: impacts and adaptation in England’s woodlands

It is important to focus on why and how a forest needs to be managed but also on the adaptive measures that need to be facilitated in order to prevent these issues from destroying forests.

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Current research suggest that the adaptation of forests must be tailored to local communities. This is important as adaptations strategies vary among geographical location and the type of forest present.

Some strategies involve planting drought-resistant trees to provide food security and reduce erosion. Other strategies invest in forest genetic research and breeding programmes. This improves forestry growth rates and resilience to disease. Alternatively, focusing on restoring biodiversity can increase the resilience of an ecosystem and restore habitat loss.

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Local adaptation methods may involve maintaining the quality of water surrounding a forest. In dry regions, sourcing scarce water sources can help maintain a forest by providing healthy sustenance. Another local strategy may be encouraging the increase of rare species of a certain tree to make the population more abundant. This can help particularly if that certain species is a valuable asset to the local community. However, local strategies has its limitations as local information is rarely documented and often preserved for a few members of the community. Also, a globalised market can impact the infrastructure of a local self-sufficient rural community.

In summary, adapting forests for climate change cannot be solved with one over-arching solution. Each forest, depending on region, will need to have specific adaptation strategies specific to that region. As climate change is a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes, adapting for a worst case scenario may be as complex as the issue itself. Therefore, in order to enable sustainable strategies which maintain the health of a forest, it is important to plan and put systems in place to better enable these adaptive strategies.

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News: Aquatic scientists call for urgency to protect marine life

Approximately 80,000 scientists from 7 continents have issued a statement urging world leaders to avoid further degradation of marine ecosystems.

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The societies which these scientists are a part of has call on world leaders and the public to act and protect aquatic ecosystems which we all depend on. Stating that these ecosystems are now under more threat than ever before in human history. In their statement. experts in the environmental, social and economic sectors have collectively realised that we are heading toward a drastic environmental and humanitarian crisis.

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Why climate change should be a core subject in schools

Society’s youngest generation has shown a strong concern for the environment in recent years, possibly owing its awareness to the vast information that can be found on the internet. This information is valuable in spreading awareness and educating people on the current state of our planet, however not everyone uses the internet in a productive way. Therefore, establishing a strong curriculum in schools to teach children about climate change and the environment may be more beneficial long term.


Teaching children about climate change may help set fundamental principles in most of the population as they grow older, such as the ways we need act in order to achieve sustainable goals. This can be seen in Japanese culture and the way they act at public events. These characteristics are what many aim to teach at an early age, not only can this benefit the individual but also the planet in becoming more sustainable.

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Educating children on climate change entails a multifaceted subject matter with potential to create sustainable lifestyle choices, ultimately creating a more sustainable planet long-term. One article by the UNCC states:

‘While the breadth and controversy of content related to climate change poses a challenge to educators, it is also one of the topic’s great strengths. The fact that climate change may be viewed on local, regional, and international levels — not to mention through scientific, civic, and cultural lenses — provides students with the opportunity to develop critical analysis skills and synthesize information’


‘Teaching on climate change means teaching on topics like environmental stewardship and collective responsibility — teaching students that they and those around them have a responsibility to something larger than themselves’


This helps the planet by spiking interest in children that may want to take a career focused on environmental stewardship but also teaches positive societal values at an early age.

Put more concisely:

‘Education and awareness-raising enable informed decision-making, play an essential role in increasing adaptation and mitigation capacities of communities, and empower women and men to adopt sustainable lifestyles’

UNESCO

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One scientific paper argued that schools will need to reflect sustainability as well as teaching sustainable development:

‘climate change education for sustainable development must be comprehensive and multidisciplinary; it must not only include relevant content knowledge on climate change, environmental and social issues, disaster risk reduction and sustainable consumption and lifestyles, but it should also focus on the institutional environment in which that content is learned to ensure that schools and education systems themselves are climate-proofed and resilient as well as sustainable and green’

Highlighting how climate change will need to be an in-depth part of a school’s curriculum which will encompass a range of topics and perspectives. Their evidence-based study focused on:

‘research based on scholarly methods and in-depth evidence published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals as well as monitoring reports, assessments and evaluations of climate change education projects’

‘evidence shows that educational interventions are most successful
when they focus on local, tangible, and actionable aspects of sustainable
development, climate change and environmental education, especially
those that can be addressed by individual behaviour’

Frequently focusing on climate change from a global perspective can seem overwhelming and leave one feeling powerless. However, as the findings suggest focusing locally on climate change and what one may be able to achieve in their immediate surroundings can better achieve an inspiration for change and sustainable lifestyle choices.

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