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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News: Solar panels used over canal systems

In recent news, researchers have been studying the idea of installing solar panels over the top of canal systems. In short, this can help reduce evaporation of water, help plant growth and be used as a space for renewable energy. An article published in the Nature journal also argued that the idea of installing solar panels over canal systems outweigh the ecological and financial alternatives of installing them elsewhere; concluding that this method produces 20%-50% more solar power than conventional methods.

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The benefits of Marine Protected Areas

Marine protected areas or no-take zones are areas designated by government where no extractive activity is allowed by law. Such activity includes hunting, fishing, logging, mining and drilling. These zones do not just apply to areas of water on certain oceans but also to bodies of water on land such as certain lakes or rivers. Unfortunately, these zones are often rare as sporting or commercial fishing often make up a large percentage of industry for coastal areas. No-take zones are often used to protect the spawning grounds for different marine life to prevent population extinction and conserve wildlife.

Due to current issues such as overfishing, the surreal amount of plastic in the ocean and decaying coral reefs; the importance of these protected areas are becoming more necessary as we progress through the 21st century. Therefore, it is integral that the benefits of these zones are understood so that we can increase their use and help protect marine life from further degradation.

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One of the major benefits of marine protected areas is obviously the increase in population size for all marine life. With nature allowed to reinstate itself, a healthy ecosystem is allowed to reform for the most part. These pockets of sustainable life help repair an ocean which is currently being riddled with plastic and overfished.

Some may feel that this is a considerable loss for the fishing industry or unfair to isolated fishing villages with no other source of livelihood. However, this is not the case at all. In time, as the population sizes grow in these marine protected areas, spill over occurs where different populations of marine life start to migrate. Therefore, allowing the continued fishing of these different species in the non-protected areas whilst also allowing a sustainable area to thrive.

Currently, only 2.7% of the ocean globally is protected. Protected areas are sporadically increasing however, with areas such as the Great Barrier Reef to smaller areas consisting in and around the United Kingdom. An atlas overview of the different areas can be found here.

In summary, as information on climate change continues to spread, one thing that is certain is that we need to start living more cooperatively with nature because if we continue to progress destructively without thought for other life then this will ultimately be the very thing which stops our progression altogether.

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How drone technology can aid people and the environment

The past decade has witnessed an increased use of drone technology within different environmental roles. From farmers to scientists, drones are now being used to reduce farming costs or help survey plant and animal populations in remote areas. Below is a short list consisting of the different tasks drones can be used to help the environment and scientific research.

Reducing the cost of farming

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Drones can help with farming tasks such as planting, crop spraying, monitoring and irrigation. Increasing the success rates of planting crops whilst also decreasing planting costs. In terms of crop spraying, drones can reduce the amount amount of chemicals that work their way into ground water whilst completing the task up to five times faster than traditional machinery.

Renewable energy maintenance

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Inspecting tall structures such as wind turbines are another way drones help reduce risk and increase efficiency. Drones are now used to help with maintenance surveys and collect data on solar panel installation as well.

Ariel mapping

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Drones can also help map and collect data on areas which may be hard to reach for people on the ground. For example, environmental scientists are using drones to help survey mangroves, coral reefs and tropical rainforests. Making the task more efficient and also safer for the researchers involved.

Population surveillance

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Drone technology is also used to monitor wildlife movement, track population numbers and survey habitats. This method makes it a lot easier for ecologists to get a more accurate number of a certain species whilst reducing the risks of interfering with the animals themselves.

Disaster relief

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Finally, drones are also used to help prevent and assess natural disasters such as wildfires or typhoons. For example, In the Philippines during 2013 drones were used to assess the damage of a typhoon and help migrate people whilst finding the most ideal places for reconstruction.

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News: Earth satellite to track climate change impact and disasters

NASA are working on a new satellite which will be used to track hazards as well as measure the rates at which land ice is melting. Their new project will help provide more accurate data and estimations for scientists and engineers to use to act upon this information.

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This joint project between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation has revolutionary aspirations:

‘By tracking subtle changes in Earth’s surface, it will spot warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions, help to monitor groundwater supplies, track the melt rate of ice sheets tied to sea level rise, and observe shifts in the distribution of vegetation around the world. Monitoring these kinds of changes in the planet’s surface over nearly the entire globe hasn’t been done before’http://www.climate.nasa.gov

This is hopefully going to be a big step forward into how we collect data from Earth and also the measures we can take to put large-scale action into motion.

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News: Case study in New Zealand show impact of climate change

A case study conducted on the islands of New Zealand have found that species which inhabit these islands are at risk of extinction due to causes such as the invasion of non-native species. The researchers also noted that conservation efforts must tackle indirect threats as these pose as much of a risk as the immediate threats. They warn that conservation efforts can easily be reversed or harmful conditions being exacerbated by global environmental change.

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News: Conservation of land outweighs the benefits of using land for profit

A recent study consisting of data from 62 sites globally has found that the conservation and restoration of land outweighs the benefits of using land for agriculture or logging. Although, they have stated that this did not provide greater net value across the board, conservation does benefit human prosperity overall.

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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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News: Scientists urge UK PM to shorten net zero target

Scientists Warning Europe (SWE) have written a letter to UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to cut the carbon neutral target by 20 years to 2030. The letter was backed by 20 renowned scientists, involving people affiliated with UNFCC and the IPCC. Demonstrating that more is needed in these desperate times in order to prevent the worse case scenarios from happening in the coming years.

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