Category Archives: peat

The Soapflake Scale of Clean and Dirty Energy

The Soapflake scale of energy for cleanliness.

snowflakescale

In the usual binary and mutually exclusive discussions over energy, certain forms of energy are lauded as “clean” and others denigrated as “dirty”. The former are GOOD and the latter are BAD, and no one should challenge that. Fossil fuels are always dirty , hence dirty fracking is bad and renewables are always good,- even turbines planted on peat bogs, wrecking the bog system and emitting loads of Carbon into the atmosphere.

However this binary division overlooks many things. It never mentions all the carbon-spewing resulting from the concrete used in the bases for wind turbines, or in the construction of the blades. EVs are “clean” as they have no emissions at the point of use, but what about their construction? 

So looking at each in turn, not that this is an impressionistic view and not accurate in absolute detail.

10. Peat, lignite

One of the wonders in Germany has been the closing down of lethal nuclear power stations (so far no fatalities) and their replacement with lignite-fuelled power stations. Lignite, or brown coal, is a messy fuel and makes coal seem very clean. The cost has been high carbon emissions and the strip-mining for lignite and even the razing of whole villages. Complete folly. 

image-3

Lignite must win the prize for sheer dirtiness, whether for emissions or good old-fashioned pollution.

Peat and peat bogs are wonderful things. They trap more carbon than trees or meadows, yet they have been ripped up for fuel and horticulture. Fortunately many are being restored at present, but there is a long way to go. (make you sure you only buy peat-free compost and make your own.) Above all they do not make good sites for wind turbines.

9.  Coal

Ole King Cole is the baddy and just saying the word raises the heart rate of some. When it was first widely used in 1800 it was a saviour as it meant woodlands could be preserved and deforestation halted. Despite its pollution, it increased longevity, living standards and health for many. No wonder the geologist William Buckland saw coal as a blessing from God.  The cost was increasing air pollution, acid rain, ill health and CO2 – the last only realised in recent decades.

Coal, or rather coke, is still needed for steel-making. Hence the new mine in Cumbria, which isi better for emissions than importing steel.

No one will mourn its demise – provided there are alternative forms of energy.

8.Wood

Until the mid 19th century the main two forms of energy were wood and muscle, the latter provided by humans , horses and oxen. It would be good to bring back the first of the three for local travel, but at times it seems whips for wimps will be needed.

A major problem of the use of wood for fuel is deforestation, which hit a maximum in Britain in 1800 and is still increasing elsewhere. In Kigezi (SW Uganda) forests are shrinking at 2%  each year due to demand for fuel. A few miles away oil and gas production has started, which should be used locally to save the planet – at least in Kigezi.

Wood is only renewable when used in small quantities, but the use of wood pellets, often imported, in power stations like Drax, is far, far worse than coal. also, it can cause serious air pollution when burnt under non-ideal situations. For those in many parts of the world who cork with wood, the air pollution is terrible.

7.Diesel

Dirty diesel was the preferred green fuel of two decades ago, but has been found wanting, with far too many particles emitted. Yet there has been little switch ing to gas – oh yes, the greens stopped that!

6. Oil , Imported Natural Gas, Hydro

Oil has been the fuel for transport for the last century and more. It’s downsides and convenience don’t need stating.

Why have I put Imported Natural Gas here? Quite simply when gas (fracked, of course) is imported some gas is lost in transport, thus increasing emissions and making it dirtier. Local fracked gas would reduce that impact.

Hydro seems to be the perfect renewable, but there is a cost. First it can causes earthquakes rather than tremors. Secondly it causes problems to the river systems to the detriment of wildlife.

5. Local Natural Gas,  Solar, Wind, Geothermal

This four-fold equivalence will give some a heart attack. After all, gas is dirty and the others clean.

Solar and wind are only clean in the final production of energy. The construction is very dirty. Vast quantities of cement are used in the foundation of turbines and many rare metals for solar panels. Both are unreliable and produce nothing on a cold windless night, when power demand is at its highest. 

solarpanalturbinebldg

Geothermal has many advantages but like fracking has associated earth tremors, which are overlooked by greens.

Natural Gas, – methane – is the cleanest of fossil fuels as it has the lowest amount of carbon. There are vast resources but it needs to be fracked, which is a no-no to some. Yet converting power stations from coal to gas has reduced emissions. It is now a hate-fuel by the Tory government, who need to realise that Roman oratory is no substitute for hard science. 

4. Biogas, Nuclear

A few years ago Ecotricity claimed to provide biogas in the mains. The ASA told them to correct their ads. Biogas can be a a green fuel is the biomass used would otherwise just rot. But there is a limit on how much gas could be produced. Some reckon no more than 10% of our needs. Using specially grown biomass takes away the green credentials.

010

Nuclear has long been a green bogeyman and has been effectively stifled for decades due to perceived risk. In fact it is safer than most forms of energy. The trouble is now there is much catchup needed whereas more nuclear plants should have been opened throughout the world. Again own goals by greens.

3. Hunter gatherer e.g bushmen

Nothing is as inspiring as the old Bushman style of living in the Kalahari, but it is dependent on a very low population density.

2. Hunter gatherer eg Patagonia

Some of the most evocative descriptions in Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle are of the the residents of Tierra del Fuego living in semi-nudity and frugality in a cold wet climate. I am wary of following their example.

fossilfree

  1.  Adam and Eve before they went scrumping

Maybe the only time of Net Zero was in the Garden of Eden, before the nudists went scrumping.

0. Dead

I sometimes wonder if this is the ultimate aim of some greenies, who seem to want the human race to go extinct. They even have a rebellion for it. 

 So ends my rather impressionistic analysis of clean and dirty fuels. I reject the Manichean dichotomy of clean and dirty. All are dirty to some degree. Carbon emissions are not the only test. Materials used in construction need to be considered and that immediately dishes the dirt on wind, solar and EVs.

Copper and other metals shortages

Just consider the problems of shifting to EVs. EVs require so much more in the way of rarer metals than fossil-fuel vehicles but most only consider the emissions at the point of use.

If by 2030 32% of vehicles are EVs that has an imme4nse demand on metals needed, with the attendant emissions of extraction. To get to 32% for building vehicles and extending the electric grid and additional 40,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually and that is over and above the 120,000tons used at present. Recycling will not make a big impact so it will have to be mined.

40,000tons of copper is a lot of metal, which would require a great increase of mining. If 2% copper ore is used that is 2.000,000 tons of ore, and if  0.25%  (more typical of a porphyry deposit) that is 16,000,000 tones ore. That is every year. Thus Britain would need access to a large mine overseas. Just imagine if it were 100% EV.

If you multiply this throughout every country throughout the world that would require copper production to go up by about 50%. It is difficult not see copper shortages.

No wonder some are looking to sea-bed mining.

 I’ve only mention copper, but there is also Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and an alphabet soup of rarer metals

So ends my rather impressionistic analysis of clean and dirty fuels. I reject the Manichean dichotomy of clean and dirty. All are dirty to some degree. Carbon emissions are not the only test. Materials used in construction need to be considered and that immediately dishes the dirt on wind, solar and EVs.

Just consider the problems of shifting to EVs. EVs require so much more in the way of rarer metals than fossil-fuel vehicles but most only consider the emissions at the point of use.

If by 2030 32% of vehicles are EVs that has an imme4nse demand on metals needed, with the attendant emissions of extraction. To get to 32% for building vehicles and extending the electric grid and additional 40,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually and that is over and above the 120,000tons used at present. Recycling will not make a big impact so it will have to be mined.

40,000tons of copper is a lot of metal, which would require a great increase of mining. If 2% copper ore is used that is 2.000,000 tons of ore, and if  0.25%  (more typical of a porphyry deposit) that is 16,000,000 tones ore. That is every year. Thus Britain would need access to a large mine overseas. Just imagine if it were 100% EV. (To be personal. When working for a mining company I assessed some old mine workings and the target for a viable mine was 2 million tons at 2% Copper. After drilling it was clear there was only 500,000tons of ore, so that was that. Most exploration geologists thought themselves lucky if one of the prospects produced a mine in the course of their career.)

If you multiply this throughout every country throughout the world that would require copper production to go up by about 50%. It is difficult not see copper shortages.

No wonder some are looking to sea-bed mining.

 I’ve only mention copper, but there is also Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and an alphabet soup of rarer metals

These two links indicate some of the problems;

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/press-releases/leading-scientists-set-out-resource-challenge-of-meeting-net-zer.html

or on a world perspective

https://www.mining.com/much-copper-nickel-cobalt-electric-vehicle-world-needs/?fbclid=IwAR0AliU-1JxFPUlmOCDBfjlBdFeastmvSedCz7yuEszwrnpVB4ooGijz97g

This is only looking at problems associated with EVs but it needs to be applied to all renewable forms of energy as these require vast quantities of materials from concrete to metals. Add to that issues over tailings dams, limited water supplies, and political instability, the hurdles are all but insurmountable, if they are.

I am more than aware that this blog is no more than impressionistic and gives only the general order of the problems facing any attempt at going Net Zero by 2030 or even 2050. The first thing to do is to reject wishful thinking and a naive belief that there is clean and dirty energy. Every form of energy is filthy rather than just dirty.

The next is to assess what metals and minerals are needed to effect any policy and whether hopes for totally electric will be limited by the earth’s resources.

Perhaps the first thing need to “save the planet” is to realistically assess all the problems of even approaching Net Zero and to reject green virtue signalling and impossible hopes. 

What next?

Issues too big for individual and need to be considered from all angles including metals!

Also we don’t want navel gazing climate grief but first to look at oneself to see how our individual impacts can be reduced. 

 Looking at this book is better than climate grief

 

More than 13.9 million trees felled in Scotland for wind development, 2000–2019

I have no doubt that some will say I am re-blogging anti-environmental propaganda, as this comes from a group which blows hard against wind farms. My suspicion is that this blog is just that

BUT

We can ignore the blog and its comments and go behind it to the FOI (Freedom of Information) request.Here it is so you needn’t read the blog

https://docs.wind-watch.org/Scottish-Forestry-FoI-19-02646.pdf

They asked for two things

  1. The number trees felled
  2. The area of felled trees

Here is part of the answer

I enclose some of the information you requested.
Specifically data covering renewable developments on Scotland’s national forests and lands,
which is managed on behalf of Scottish Ministers by Forestry and Land Scotland.
The area of felled trees in hectares, from 2000 (the date when the first scheme was developed, is  6,994 hectares.

Based on the average number of trees per hectare, of 2000, this gives an estimated total of 13.9M.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish
Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Namely data on
renewable developments on privately owned woodlands.

Thus , excluding wind farms on privately owned woodlands, we end up with figures

6994 hectares were felled

13.9 million trees were felled.

I suggest another FOI request be made for windfarms on peat bogs, especially in the Flow Country.

Now this is just Scotland.

It would be interesting to get the figures for England  and Wlaes on how many trees have felled, hectares of farmland lost, and hectares of moorland and peatbog affected.

This raises some serious questions with the encouragement from all quarters at present to plant millions of trees, whether from Green Groups, the Government or even Scottish golf Course owners like a certain Mr Trump.

There is something very concerning about this and it is scarcely very green!

*******************************************************************************

Here’s the original blog if you want to read it!!!!

More than 13.9 million trees felled in Scotland for wind development, 2000–2019

 

Thank you for your request dated 26 November and received on the 5 December and the clarification dated 19 December 2019 under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs). You asked for: a) the number of trees felled for all

Source: More than 13.9 million trees felled in Scotland for wind development, 2000–2019

Happy Christmas!Climate Change won’t kill you, BUT…..

For the last fifteen months we’ve been filled with forecasts of doom by Extinction Rebellion and teenagers wagging it off school. It has become green orthodoxy for most green groups, including religious ones. It is summed up in this protest by British youngsters and mums.

Extinction Rebellion Protest In London

There have been interviews of teenage girls sobbing because they thought they would die young because of climate Change.

This article by Michael Shellenberger gives lie to all that scare-mongering as it does not have the support of Climate scientists. He is fully aware of the problems of Climate Change and the need to do something ( or rather a lot of things about it). Rather than wave placards, gluing yourself to trains, smashing windows of government buildings, he prefers a host of more useful things. These range from personal economy, tree-planting, wetland restoration,energy saving, NUCLEAR ENERGY, changes in farming etc. Sobbing that children will die helps no one.

It is the case that Climate alarmism has attracted many followers, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, various celebs  (some of whom have their own yachts and planes – I do confess to having three bicycles.) and have got the ear of too many politicians and other opinion formers. Too often Climate Change is taught badly and sensationally in schools. In Britain the churches seem to have fallen for it. Very few seem to realise that dealing with climate change is a very slow process and that we cannot go Net Zero by 2025, or 2030 and aiming for 2050 will be damn difficult.

I hope you enjoy this article which is very constructive. I hope you don’t sit in a corner and sob, but rather do something about it like those things I indicated above. Climate alarmism seems to reduce people to despair as this article points out, rather than actually doing something. Ultimately the major part will have to be led by world governments, but personal behaviour and actions can make a difference whether reducing energy usage, or volunteering for green solutions like tree planting.

For myself I am growing grown 40 tree seedlings to be given away, successfully planted sphagnum in moors where there has been peat restoration over the last 5 years. I think I am fairly green!! Not to mention other things which are not directly  on Climate Change .

I do wonder whether Climate Alarmists are counter-productive and will slow down the rate of change needed.

Note how Dr Tamsin Edwards put Rupert Read in his place for scaremongering.

This is from a recent Forbes article

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/12/04/why-climate-alarmism-hurts-us-all/#59050ddd36d8

 

Why Climate Alarmism Hurts Us All

In July of this year, one of Lauren Jeffrey’s science teachers made an off-hand comment about how climate change could be apocalyptic. Jeffrey is 17 years old and attends high school in Milton Keynes, a city of 230,000 people about 50 miles northwest of London.

“I did research on it and spent two months feeling quite anxious,” she told me. “I would hear young people around me talk about it and they were convinced that the world was going to end and they were going to die.”

In September, British psychologists warned of the impact on children of apocalyptic discussions of climate change. “There is no doubt in my mind that they are being emotionally impacted,” one expert said.

“I found a lot of blogs and videos talking about how we’re going extinct at various dates, 2030, 2035, from societal collapse,” said Jeffrey. “That’s when I started to get quite nervous and worried. I tried to forget it at first but it kept popping up in my mind.”

Today In: Business

In October, British television aired repeated claims by spokespersons for Extinction Rebellion that “billions would die” from climate change.

“In October I was hearing people my age saying things I found quite disturbing,” says Jeffrey. “‘It’s too late to do anything. ‘There is no future anymore.’ ‘We’re basically doomed.’ ‘We should give up.’”

Leading celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Olivia Colman, Ellie Goulding, Tom Yorke, and Bob Geldof have all promoted Extinction Rebellion in recent weeks.

“I did research and found there was a lot of misinformation on the denial side of things and also on the doomsayer side of things,” said Jeffrey.

Since early October, Jeffrey has posted seven videos to YouTube, and joined Twitter. I discovered her videos after googling “extinction rebellion millions will die.”

“As important as your cause is,” said Jeffrey in one of the videos, an open letter to Extinction Rebellion, “your persistent exaggeration of the facts has the potential to do more harm than good to the scientific credibility of your cause as well as to the psychological well-being of my generation.”

Why There’s No Apocalypse in Science 

In my last column, I pointed out that there is no scientific basis for claims that climate change will be apocalyptic, and argued that environmental journalists and climate activists alike have an obligation to separate fact from fiction.

If you haven’t read that column yet, I hope you do so before continuing.

Part of what inspired me to write that column is that I am concerned by the rising eco-anxiety among young people. My daughter is 14 years old. While she herself is not scared, in part because I have explained the science to her, she told me many of her peers are.

In 2017, the American Psychological Association diagnosed rising eco-anxiety and called it “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” Studies from around the world document growing anxiety and depression, particularly among children, about climate change.

“One of my friends was convinced there would be a collapse of society in 2030 and ‘near term human extinction’ in 2050,” said Jeffrey. “She concluded that we’ve got ten years left to live.”

For the last two years, British and international news media have published and broadcast claims by Extinction Rebellion founders and spokespersons that “billions will die” and “life on Earth is dying” from climate change, often without saying explicitly in the stories that such claims are not scientific.

I wanted to know what Extinction Rebellion was basing its apocalyptic claims upon, and so I interviewed its main spokesperson, Sarah Lunnon.

“It’s not Sarah Lunnon saying billions of people are going to die,” Lunnon told me. ”The science is saying we’re headed to 4 degrees warming and people like Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Center and Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research are saying that such a temperature rise is incompatible with civilized life. Johan said he could not see how an Earth at 4 degrees (Celsius) warming could support a billion or even half-billion people.”

Lunnon is referring to an article published in The Guardian last May, which quoted Rockström saying, “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that” at a 4-degree temperature rise.

I pointed out that there is nothing in any of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that has ever suggested anything like what she is attributing to Anderson and Rockström. Why should we rely on the speculations of two scientists over the IPCC?

“It’s not about choosing science,” said Lunnon, “it’s about looking at the risk we’re facing. And the IPCC report lays out the different trajectories from where we are and some of them are very very bleak.”

To get to the bottom of the “billions will die” claim, I interviewed Rockström by phone.

He told me that the Guardian reporter had misunderstood him and that he had said, “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate eight billion people or even half of that,” not “a billion people.”

Rockström said he had not seen the misquote until I emailed him, and that he had requested a correction, which the Guardian made last Thursday. Even so, Rockström stood by his prediction of four billion deaths.

“I don’t see scientific evidence that a four-degree celsius planet can host eight billion people,” he said. “This is, in my assessment, a scientifically justified statement, as we don’t have evidence that we can provide freshwater or feed or shelter today’s world population of eight billion in a four-degree world. My expert judgment, furthermore, is that it may even be doubtful if we can host half of that, meaning four billion.”

Rockström said half of Earth’s surface would be uninhabitable, people would be forced to migrate to the poles, and other shocks and stressors would result from heatwaves and rising sea levels.

But is there IPCC science showing that food production would actually decline? “As far as I know they don’t say anything about the potential population that can be fed at different degrees of warming,” he said.

Has anyone, I asked, done a study of what happens to food production at 4 degrees warming? “That’s a good question,” said Rockström, who is an agronomist. “I must admit I have not seen a study. It seems like such an interesting and important question.”

In fact, scientists, including two of Rockström’s colleagues at the Potsdam Institute, recently modeled food production.

Their main finding was that climate change policies are more likely to hurt food production and worsen rural poverty than climate change itself, even at 4 to 5 degrees warming.

The “climate policies” the authors refer to are ones that would make energy more expensive and result in more bioenergy (the burning of biofuels and biomass), which would increase land scarcity and drive up food costs.

“Although it is projected that the negative effects of climate change will increase over time, our conclusions that the effect on agriculture of mitigation is stronger would probably hold even if moving the time horizon to 2080 and considering the strong climate change scenario RCP8.5,” the scenario that IPCC says would lead to a 3 to 5 degree warming.

Similarly, UN Food and Agriculture concludes in its report, “The Future of Food and Agriculture” that food production will rise 30% by 2050 unless “sustainable practices” are adopted in which case it would rise just 10% to 20% (pp. 76 – 77).

And technological change significantly outweighs climate change in every single one of FAOs scenarios.

What about the claim IPCC author Michael Oppenheimer made to The Atlantic that a 2 foot 9 inches sea level rise would be “an unmanageable problem”?

“There was a mistake in the article by the reporter,” Oppenheimer told me. “He had 2 feet nine inches. The actual number, which is based on the sea-level rise amount in [IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway] 8.5 for its [Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate] report is 1.1 meters which is 3 feet 7 inches.”

But what exactly would be “unmanageable” about a 3 feet 7-inch sea-level rise between now and 2100? I asked.

Oppenheimer pointed to failures by the cities of New Orleans and New York to prepare for big hurricanes like Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012.

But couldn’t places like Bangladesh simply do what the Netherlands did? One-third of the Netherlands is below sea level, and some parts of it are seven meters under sea level.

“The Netherlands spent a lot of time not improving its dikes due to two World Wars and a depression,” said Oppenheimer, “and didn’t start modernizing them until the disastrous 1953 flood.”

The 1953 flood killed over 2,500 people and motivated the Netherlands to rebuild its dikes and canals.

“Most of humanity will not be able to avail itself of that luxury,” said Oppenheimer. “So in most places, they will accommodate flooding by raising structures or floodable structures. Or you retreat.”

But is retreating from communities built along the coast really “unmanageable”? I asked.

“People moved out of New York after Hurricane Sandy,” acknowledged Oppenheimer. “I wouldn’t call that unmanageable. Temporarily unmanageable. Meaning we wouldn’t be able to maintain societal function around the world if sea level rise approaches those close to 4 feet. Bangladeshis might be leaving the coast and trying to get into India.”

But millions of small farmers, like the ones on Bangladeshi’s low-lying coasts, move to cities every year, I pointed out. Doesn’t the word “unmanageable” suggested a permanent societal breakdown.

“When you have people making decisions they are essentially compelled to make,” he said, “that’s what I’m referring to as ‘an unmanageable situation.’ The kind of situation that leads to economic disruption, disruption of livelihoods, disruption of your ability to control your destiny, and people dying. You can argue that they get manageable. You recover from disasters. But the people who died didn’t recover.”

In other words, the problems from sea level rise that Oppenheimer is calling “unmanageable” are situations like the ones that already occur, such as in the days following Hurricane Katrina, where societies become temporarily difficult to manage. (Katrina killed over 1,800).

We should be concerned about the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations, without question. There is nothing automatic about adaptation.

But it’s clear that there is simply no science that supports claims that rising sea levels threaten civilization much less the apocalypse.

Tipping Points?

After I wrote my last column, several people asked me about climate “tipping points,” such as the collapse of ice sheets from Antarctica and Greenland, the escape of methane gas from melting tundra, the slowing of circulation in the Atlantic ocean, and the drying out and burning up of the Amazon.

In response I pointed out that nowhere does IPCC predict any of those things would be catastrophic to human civilization much less apocalyptic.

If the Greenland ice sheet were to completely disintegrate, sea levels would rise by seven meters, but over a 1,000-year period. Even if temperatures rose 6° Celsius, the Greenland ice sheet would lose just 10% of its volume over 400 to 500 years.

The Nobel-winning economist, William Nordhaus, calculates that the total loss of the Greenland ice sheet would increase the optimal cost of carbon by just 5%.

As for the Amazon, the IPCC says “the likelihood of a climate-driven forest dieback by 2100 is lower than previously thought.”

In my last two columns, I discussed how non-climate factors outweigh climate change when it comes to fires around the world. The same is true for the Amazon.

“There is now medium confidence,” IPCC writes, that climate change alone will not drive large-scale forest loss by 2100, although shifts to drier forest types are predicted in the eastern Amazon.”

What will really matter is how much deforestation, fire, and other changes to landscapes there are, just like in California and Australia.

As for the circulation in the Atlantic ocean, the IPCC notes, “There is only limited evidence linking the current anomalously weak state of [the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation] AMOC to anthropogenic warming.”

While AMOC may likely weaken 11 to 34%, says IPCC “it is very unlikely that the MOC will undergo an abrupt transition or collapse in the 21st Century.”

In her new book, student climate activist Greta Thunberg warns of “unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops, like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing Arctic permafrost.”

But if methane gas escaping the permafrost were “unforeseen,” then Thunberg wouldn’t have forseen it.

In reality, climate scientists closely monitor the release of gases from the permafrost and take the additional warming from them into account in estimating temperature rises.

Last week, a group of scientists including Rockström argued in an opinion “Comment” at the journal Nature that “evidence is mounting” that the loss of the Amazon rainforest and West Antarctic ice sheet “could be more likely than was thought.”

What they described, however, would take place over hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. At no point do they predict “billions will die.”

Last week, when I interviewed the lead author of the Nature Comment, Professor Timothy Lenton of the University of Exeter, I asked him about a verb tense I found curious.

Lenton notes that the West Antarctic ice sheet “might have passed a tipping point” but goes on to say “when this sector collapses, it could destabilize the rest of the West Antarctic ice sheet like toppling dominoes  — leading to about 3 metres of sea-level rise on a timescale of centuries to millennia.”

“When you say ‘when,’” I asked, “does that mean it’s an inevitability that it will collapse?”

“Well, we can’t rule out that it’s on the way out,” he said. “Any glaciologist specialist will tell you that we really want more data. Because it’s not trivial to monitor what’s going on in West Antarctica.”

“So the right word in your view is ‘when’ not ‘if’?” I asked.

“We can’t be absolutely sure,” Lenton said, “but if it is, it will have knock-on effects. With the limited data, it’s hard to rule out that it’s already collapsing.”

I wasn’t the only person who felt confused by the multiple “ifs” and “coulds” in the commentary. “The paper has a strange array of rising risks lumped as ‘tipping points,’” noted Columbia University Earth Institute’s Andy Revkin.

Justin Ritchie, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, highlighted 11 conditional statements in the four paragraphs summarizing the complicated causality for a “global cascade” of tipping points.

“I might be the only one,” writes Ritchie, “but after reading it I’m actually less convinced about imminent climate tipping points. One example: if it takes 11 ‘if’ statements to support an opinion, then it’s time to revisit the opinion’s substance.” (The word “could” is used 26 times.)

I asked Lenton if he agreed with the IPCC that “the likelihood of a climate-driven [Amazon] forest dieback by 2100 is lower than previously thought.”

“To be honest, the problem is a majority of the climate models predicted the Amazon getting wetter,” Lenton said, “but the observations are showing a drying trend, particularly in the key seasons.”

Most everyone agrees that the risks of climate change, including from tipping points, are significantly higher at four degrees above pre-industrial levels than they are at two degrees.

The good news is that the world may already be headed to temperatures closer to two degrees than four. A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts carbon emissions in 2040 as lower than in almost all of the IPCC scenarios.

“The global energy system today, as modeled by IEA, is tracking much closer to 2˚ of warming this century than previously thought,” notes Ritchie, due to lower use of coal.

Does that mean there is nothing to worry about? Of course not.

We should reduce the risk of climate change, including from tipping points, by moving from dirtier to cleaner fuel and helping finance the water, electrical, and farming infrastructure that poor nations need to become less vulnerable.

I was surprised to be asked whether some amount of exaggeration about climate change wasn’t necessary to grab people’s attention. My response was, “Not if journalists and scientists hope for any trust with the public.”

I asked Jeffrey how she would answer such a question.

“Raising awareness of an issue is important,” she said, “but there’s a difference between raising awareness and telling children younger than myself that they might not grow up. Climate fear-mongering has become very child-aimed. I see a lot of mental health issues and fatalism.”

Climate Scientists Speak Out

The good news is that mainstream climate scientists are starting to push back against the fear-mongering.

Jeffrey said she got some of her information from scientists writing for a web site called Climate Feedback, which debunked Extinction Rebellion’s pseudoscientific claims last August.

Others are using social media to speak out.

“Rupert, I am shocked by this talk,” tweeted Kings College climate scientist Tamsin Edwards last October at an Extinction Rebellion activist named Rupert Read. “Please stop telling children they may not grow up due to climate change.”

The video was of a July talk given to school children as young as 10 years old by Read, who began by climbing on top of a desk at the front of a large classroom at University College London.

“People sometimes ask you, ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’” said Read. “But the question has to be, ‘What are you going to do if you grow up.’”

Dr. Jo House, a Bristol University climate scientist, tweeted at Read, “you spoke at our Net Zero conference in Oxford, you disagreed with the scientists while you made up untrue stuff, and said it was ok that [Extinction Rebellion] XR ‘stretched the truth’.”

On the same thread, a young man replied, “Thank you for speaking out against this. I am a young person and one of Read’s talks last year made my mental health spiral and I almost made some awful life decisions.”

Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among teenagers are at their highest levels in two decades in Britain and the United States.

At least some young people have decided to talk back to the climate alarmists.

“Adults tell young people the end of the world is coming and then have the nerve to ask, ‘Why is every teenager so depressed these days? Why does everyone have anxiety? Oh, it must be those terrible phones!’

“No — it’s you!” said Lauren Jeffrey. “It’s you people going around scaring the hell out of them with unscientific rubbish!”

The young man on Tasmin’s Twitter thread agreed. “Doomerism is honestly just about as dangerous as delay for the climate movement at the moment.”

Jeffrey hopes to be the first in her family to go to university next year. She has long enjoyed reading books about biology and says she may major in environmental studies.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk to kids about climate change,” she says. “I’m saying we should take better care of our ecosystems and the world. What kids don’t need is people telling them they’re going to be dead in a few years’ time.”

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” and Green Book Award Winner. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Washington Post, Wal

… Read More

The Garden Jungle? gardening to save the planet?

Recently Dave Goulson, a professor at the University of Sussex published, The Garden Jungle? subtitled gardening to save the planet? (Jonathan Cape 2019)

I loved the book as it spoke of so much which has been one of my concerns and loves for four decades – wildlife gardening. My gardens have always been a mess, but always have wildlife lurking.

Whenever our grandchildren come to visit us, the first thing they do is to check the baby frogs in our tiny pond. In less than a minute they each have a frog and only after that do they want to see us! They have their priorities right.

DSCF0316P1010629

Before anyone thinks we have a large garden, our garden is as small as any suburban garden can be. When we moved in six years ago, it was a wildlife desert. At the back was a tiny lawn along with an area laid down to slate. Most of the front was covered in golden gravel. There were two miserable cypresses, some hebe, forsythia and, best of all, a camellia. I had brought with us, some honeysuckle and various tiny shrub cuttings and a rowan, which I had found as a three inch seedling in our old garden. It is now 12feet high and bearing berries.

It was not a good beginning, but we bought various containers and filled them with lavender and other smaller shrubs. Our choice was governed by selecting bee and bird friendly plants. After a year the gravel had to go, and go it did! Once I removed the membrane I found clay, which was almost pottery quality – that was depressing.

Slowly plants were put in and mistakes made. A major problem was flooding after heavy rain, which killed our first primulas, though primroses and cowslips survived. I decided against costly preparation of the soil and opted for a slow, continual improvement. I applied some organic matter – horse manure, composted everything, put our tea-leaves and coffee grounds in the containers – and also eggshells in the front garden. Whenever we went near a Starbucks we collected their coffee grounds and put them in the front. So far no neighbour has complained of the smell of a coffee shop! For a more vertical garden I used old pallets with varying success. Succulents proved to be the best option. I found rushes, alder and willow appeared at times indicating that fifty years ago it was essentially marshland.

One of my aims was to make the garden wildlife friendly. That cannot be said for nearly half the gardens in Garstang as so many are hardscaped or turned over to plastic grass. Gardens, which a few decades ago had a variety of flowers, shrubs and, maybe, a small tree, now have few plants. A major problem was to change my perspective from a large vicarage garden to a tiny one, necessitating smaller shrubs.

After six years much is settled! We have two rowans, heavy with berries, a malus. I admit to being a buddleia freak; two globosas, which need pruning every two years, orange, white, deep purple and pale purple davidiis, a minature white davidii, and an alternifola!

P1010533P1010905

 

Others include berberi darwinii, Mock orange, lavateria and various others. Smaller ones include a variety of hebes and lavenders. On flowers spring bulbs, cowslips, primroses and other primulas, smaller aster, sedum,

P1010932P1010935

On the right is a tortoiseshell wrapped as fast food by a spider!

black-eyed susan, moon daisy, to mention some. And the pond – which is 2 ft 6in by 18in. In it I have marigold, iris and oxygenating plants. Last year frog-spawn appeared but none this year, but I was given some to save it from fish.

DSCF0771DSCF1153

So what has been gained? Initially very few birds visited the garden but have increased in the last three years. These are restricted to crows, pigeons, blackbirds, great tits, bluetits, robins and not much else. That has been disappointing. Butterflies are far better with an excess of whites, but also Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock and, especially this year, Painted Lady. On sunny summer days I expect to get up to twenty. Small moths are common but in 2017 and 2018 we were visited by a Hummingbird Hawkmoth. Most numerous are bees, hoverflies and wasps, who are remarkably noisy. Occasionally a hedgehog visits as do frogs but not toads or newts. I admit to not looking for the myriad other insects.

I know many will see more wildlife in their garden, but this has improved and in an area where nearly half of gardens have been de-gardened and hard-scaped.

I have never been a single-minded gardener and do too many other things like cycling and walking to spend more time in the garden. This is not my first attempt at wildlife gardener as I started when we moved into our first vicarage with a large garden in 1980. Then it was more eccentric than today and I noticed that most clergy ignored their gardens except to mow. Many were devoid of plants of any kind. Even so, in 1980 there were several books on wildlife gardening which guided me and, of course, my preferences took over.

The first garden was in Walton. Liverpool and was a haven to wildlife. There were numbers of frogs and toads and I recorded nearly 40 different birds. Our daughter had a habit of presenting toads to visitors! I bought relatively few plants and propagated like mad, scrounging cuttings. Some were then propagated and planted in the next two gardens and in my present one. Our yellow rambler roses are suckers of suckers of suckers of suckers of a rose my mother bought in the 60s! Nice to have a plant’s history.

From there we moved to Chirk in North Wales and took many small plants with us, including diverse sorbus grown from seed. I sunk an old bath (from a parishioner) as a pond which attracted frogs. We had a similar range of butterflies and birds, including a sparrowhawk, which came down and removed a sparrow I was watching eating honeysuckle berries. A less desirable form of wildlife gardening were the rabbits.

From there we moved to Lancashire and took many cuttings and seedlings with us. There my attempts at any gardening were thwarted by a dog, who dug everything up. Even so the garden was most hospitable to wildlife and, on one occasion, some local cows.

In each of these gardens I planted a wide range of shrubs, trees, bulbs and flowers and each bore fruit in wildlife.

DSCF2331

I am growing rowan from seed. Photo June 2018

Six years ago we retired and moved from large vicarage gardens to a smaller house with a tiny garden. Looking back I wondered why we chose it, but the house was suitable. The garden was dire. The back was a postage stamp, half put down to lawn and the rest to shale. There were no plants. Most of the front was “golden gravel”. On the side was a Camellia  – the best plant in the garden, two forsythia, and two decrepit cypress-type trees which I soon felled. For the changes I have described them above.

We live on a typical 1960s estate, where gardens used to be gardens. Now about half have been totally hardscaped in the front, with the removal of all larger shrubs and trees. Several have those lovely plastic lawns. This is done for a variety of reasons; less maintenance, more car parking are the two most common, but there is a negative side. Gone are the gardens which provided a haven for wildlife, even if the home-owners were not wildlife gardeners.  They inevitably reduce the number of urban mammals, birds, amphibians and insects. A garden absorbs more rain than a paved area, so hardscaping makes a contribution to flooding. They also absorb Carbon in the soil and in vegetation – again lost. That does not consider the beauty of the variety of gardens in a town – ok some were bad!!

So much for me, what about Dave Goulson’s excellent book The Garden Jungle? subtitled gardening to save the planet? It is not a handbook on how to wildlife garden, there have been a succession of those in the last four decades and now you can find much on-line on the RSPB or Wildlife Trust pages. The title and sub-title are to provoke thought. The book is clearly about gardening for wildlife but goes beyond that. Many still think gardening is where every plant has its place and is neatly manicured, and you could almost do that with the older style of wildlife gardening. I didn’t because either I was looking at insects instead of manicuring, or going out on a bikeride in the countryside or climbing a mountain. Or bone idle.

A garden is normally seen as fairly formal, like a park, or like an old-fashioned country garden, flower meadow or a gentle piece of English woodland. Much of English woodland is soft and gentle and can be epitomised by walking on a path through a beechwood carpeted in bluebells. It is restful, soothing, beautiful and safe and predictable. A jungle is not. Yes it is beautiful, but anything but predictable as when I found a very large snake lying on a jungle path in Uganda! (That was less scary than putting my foot six inches from a sleeping Cape cobra in a desert!) Not that would happen in an English country jungle, but there may be grass snakes or even adders! Wildlife gardening to produce a garden jungle will be full of surprises as creatures pop up in unexpected places. By that, most will think of animals, especially mammals, amphibians and birds, but it must include insects, fungi and surprise surprise – plants.

The subtitle gardening to save the planet is clearly provocative. In a sense it is daft. If every garden in the world was wildlife gardened that would not solve the problems of the environment and climate change. However I think Goulson realises that and chose that subtitle to make his readers think. There is no one magic bullet to save the planet and you would have to be a pedantic literalist to think Goulson meant that! Wildlife gardening would make a difference and anyone who practices wildlife gardening sees the benefits, if only in their own garden. It is ONE of the things needed for the planet and I won’t list the rest. It also has the effect of changing the person and making them more aware and then as a result is evangelistic – as happened to me tonight having advertised buddleia cuttings. Some people want them and that will mean more moths and butterflies in our neighbourhood. OK only a dozen or so, but multiply that a million times. The subtitle shows that we are not just given a Haynes manual for wildlife gardening (Haynes manuals were great when you could actually fix your own car with a few spanners.) but great writing on the subject with a certain impishness. I hope nobody who’s a humour amputee reads the book.

Having said that The Garden Jungle is easy to read, amusing and humorous and goes beyond usual didactic book.  The author takes it as read that his readers will have some knowledge of wildlife gardening, so he spends no time on the basics. For that there are myriad books and websites. He goes beyond the basics to consider the forgotten creatures, mostly biddies and wider issues. Thus he has no chapter on butterflies, though he frequently discusses them. When considering the creatures in a wildlife garden he goes for the less iconic ones with chapter on earwigs, moths, ants and worms. There is a reason for this. So often we only think of the nice, iconic species – pretty birds, fluffy mammals and gorgeous butterflies, but Goulson wants us to think more deeply about the “bad and the ugly” which are essential for life, and that includes us. These “nondescripts” are under real threat but stay under the radar. Hence chapter 3 is on Earwigs, animals I’ve never thought much about and frankly did not care about. Earwigs are often seen as pests to be sprayed but many gobble up aphids and thus do us a service. He puts earwigs in a new light as valuable creatures in the garden and beyond and that only rarely are they pests.  The main point of this chapter is not to squish or spray everything. However our culture is that we should spray or squish insects, even when they are doing no harm.

Moths are often overlooked, especially the myriad micro-moths, but recently we have been reminded of their decline in The Moth Snowstorm as not so long ago our windscreens and headlights always had loads of moths sticking to them. The decline of moths is manifold and include unintended consequences of urbanisation, insecticides, pesticides intensive farming etc. There is not one cause but many. His chapter on bees is almost counter-intuitive. He notes with favour the increase of people having beehives, but points out what should be obvious. There is no point in have more hives if there are not more flowers to give nectar. We have got it the wrong way round by having more hives!! Along with flowers bees of allsorts need somewhere to nest and he gives advice on bumblebee nests.

Some years ago we visited Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, the day after a year’s rainfall had fallen in an afternoon! (The annual rainfall was 4ins and 3.8 ins fell the previous afternoon.) Chatting to the rangers I happened to say worms are the most important creatures. Well, I was soon told that ants are more important!! It was very good natured, but it depends how dry or wet the soil is. Goulson devotes a chapter to each expounding the worth of both. Probably in drizzly Britain we are inclined to put all our support for the worm, as our worms are more ubiquitous and our land is not peppered with anthills. Goulson brings out the value of ants, if only to control aphids, and then fulminates against their destruction, pointing out the wealth of anti-ant “pesticides” available. (I just checked the B & Q site and noted the pesticides available.) Worms are far more popular, but all is not well. Farming practices reduce worm populations in arable fields. Goulson compares his measurements on his land and a nearby field and found that his land contained 16 times as many worms. His conclusion is obvious.

His chapter on “Toxic cocktail” is worrying. Any form of –cide whether pesticide or herbicide is inevitably dangerous as a –cide is for killing. Since WWII these –cides have been the first resort of farmers with government support and of gardeners. A visit to any garden centre should reveal that. I will not forget a churchwarden spraying moon daisies in a churchyard and many more examples can be given and not all as bad as spraying Naled in a county of South Carolina just in case some mosquitos were carrying the zika virus. I feel Goulson has over-stated the case in this chapter, but all –cides should be a last resort not the first and applied with a sniper’s rifle rather than a AK-47. I admit to using glyphosate sparingly and to certain pesticides after washing up liquid has failed. There is a case for GMOs here, which, to some, puts me beyond the pale. But I am an environmental heretic far worse than Arius who got punched by Santa Claus. (AD325 at Nicaea)

The final chapter “Gardening to save the planet” is far more reflective, yet still written in his mischievous style. The garden centre gets some stick for often being Tatshops selling “pointless and beautifully presented tat”. I went to one today for a card and puked at the Happy Holidays tat (I won’t say Christmas).

DSCF1635 (2)

Toilet at garden centre

Away from that was everything in the arsenal against ants and any other perceived pests. He makes valuable comments on plants sourced from the continent (thus less good in Lancashire for a start), sprayed excessively, grown in peat and put in plastic pots. Clearly a good money spinner but it is better to grow your own and propagate. I went to a friend’s vast neglected garden today and planted 8 buddleia, load of buddleia cuttings, a few cotoneaster and hebe and a load of willow cutttings for a boggy patch. The cost to me was that of driving to his house. Now if I’d charged £5.95  per buddleia………..

His section on growing food was not for me as I do not have room for two rows of potatoes! Growing food in gardens and allotments has declined for many reasons. Goulson revels in it but I do not, partly from laziness and partly from cycling and walking.. From there he moves to food waste – 33% in the UK and 505 in the USA – the figures say it all. And so to emissions from farming as well as the chemical-drenched monocultures.

And now for the sermon!

He ends with an appeal to look after soil, grow a variety of crops, encourage  pollinators, and natural enemies, minimise or eliminate pesticides and fertilisers, compost  and recycle.

Perhaps the best way of visualising the loss , and especially the loss of soil (or peat) is to consider a post at Holme Fen in East Anglia which was driven into the peat soil in 1851 – the year of the Great Exhibition and is now four metres in the air , due to the loss and sinking of the soil. It is similar on Hawthornthwaite Fell in Lancashire. Both bring the problem home in the starkest way.

 

You have been warned

 Each chapter begins with a recipe, none of which I have tried!

At the end of the book he comes down to practicalities and gives a list of 16 favourite pollinators and 12 to provide berries for birds, along with instructions for a wormery. Maybe I have been lucky but I always seem to have lots of worms, As for plants I relied on older lists going back to 1980 and the RSPB provides useful advice on the website today. I admit to having strong preferences for certain plants.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/

The book, and even my blog, will be a success if readers reconsider what they plant and grow things according to the needs of wildlife, and possibly our food, rather than pretty and garish colours which do not attract insects, which attract insectivores, which attract predators AND ensure our future as well.

This could have been a very depressing book as it presents the sorry state of our planet. Too much environmentalism today is all doom and gloom, offering no hope or future for the young. “You have stolen my childhood.” With this and the apocalyptic fear that the young will die not of old age but the effects of climate change and that the world is on fire, so much activism is full of despair without even one flicker of hope. I will fail to identify them! Against this Goulson writes in a jovial style with a certain style of humour. He no more denies the seriousness of  problems than Churchill did in 1940. But rather than lying down in a lock-on of despair, he encourages his readers to fight in the gardens. Realistically,wildlife gardening will not actually save the planet, but it is great for morale as was the Dambusters’ raid. However wildlife gardening gives hope, even just flickers of hope, and that is contagious. Many, who would not consider themselves wildlife gardeners or desperately green, do have a sneaking fear over the future of the planet with all the news on Climate Change. I would suggest Goulson’s main targetare those who are already green(ish) and to challenge them to do more.

Locally in my town as I write this, I have done more than I hoped for by accident. Far too many gardens in my town are being hardscaped or laid down to (bacteria-ridden) plastic grass, with plants and shrubs simply ripped up. There are two local Facebook pages, one on general issues and one on local wildlife. Being November I had to prune back my buddleias of which I have too many and of four different colours. Rather than put the cuttings to green waste, I offered them and put them in several buckets according to colour. At least ten people have taken them and it got lots of FB “likes”. The hard-nosed will dismiss it as ineffectual, but probably more important than the slight increase in insects next year is increase in awareness. Now I’ve got to get rid of 30 teasels in the spring……… Perhaps one does need to say it with flowers.

The Garden Jungle is a challenging book and really aimed at those already somewhat green! Wildlife gardening will NOT save the planet, but will help to do so if it makes people think more about the planet.

 

 

The government isn’t putting its money where its mouth is on the environment

Another useful blog on peat restoration and the dire need for it

 

 

Inside track

Dormouse wikimedia commons_Danielle ShwarzThis post is by Alistair Taylor, senior policy officer at the RSPB.

The news that substantial areas of the Amazon rainforest have been set on fire crystallised opinion on the need for urgent and effective action to protect our environment and climate. Prime Minister Boris Johnson went as far as stating:

“In a week where we have all watched, horrified, as the Amazon rainforest burns before our eyes, we cannot escape the reality of the damage we are inflicting on the natural world.

View original post 963 more words

Much of Britain is covered with peat bog. Many don’t regard as valuable and much has been drained and wrecked in the last century.

But peat bogs lock up carbon, clean water and provide havens for wildlife.

You can even get stugged in them

Photos mostly from the Forest of Bowland showing both damage to peat bogs and also the beauty of them

Please look at the article linked after the photos. It says it all

 

DSCF0376DSCF0363DSCF0373003DSCF3617024DSCF9119 (1)

After my photos please read this semi-technical blog

via FAQs

The Saddleworth fire and the importance of restoring our peatland habitats in tackling climate change – Martin Harper\’s blog – Our work – The RSPB Community

The RSPB and the vital need to restore peat bogs

First my photos of peat damage and restoration in the Forest of Bowland

DSCF3547DSCF3557DSCF3573013DSCF0363

 

Source: The Saddleworth fire and the importance of restoring our peatland habitats in tackling climate change – Martin Harper\’s blog – Our work – The RSPB Community

Moorland degradation in the Forest of Bowland

One of the joys of living on the edge of the Forest of Bowland is being able to explore it on foot and cycle. Much was only opened up by the CROW act of 2000 and the paths are often not well-defined. One of my common walks is up Hawthornthwaite Fell from Catshaw. The fell, seen from below Jubilee Tower, has a castellated appearance due to peat erosion as is clear on the left of the photo (sept 2016)

DSCF9715

Edit 27/4 from EU http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-1045_en.htm Which highlights my concerns.

Nature: Commission calls on the UNITED KINGDOM to protect blanket bog habitats

The Commission is urging the United Kingdom to stop burning blanket bog habitats within upland Natura 2000 sites in England and to take measures to restore the damaged habitats. Blanket bogs are considered to be priority habitats under the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) when they are active (i.e. non-degraded), and their conservation status in England is seriously declining. For a number of years, the UK authorities allowed the damaging practice of burning blanket bogs within the English Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), without the appropriate assessment required by the Habitats Directive. The Commission warned the United Kingdom of those breaches of the Habitats Directive in a letter of formal notice sent in April 2016. As the burning of blanket bog habitats within the protected sites still continues, a final warning is now sent. The UK has two months to provide a response; otherwise, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

I went up on a windy day in early April using a shooters’ track. The hillside was typical heather more demonstrating burning of heather, which takes several years to re-grow. The signs and smell of recent burning were evident.

DSCF0353DSCF0354

As I left the end of the track, I found some serious burning , which has shown no re-growth since autumn 2015. There has been much erosion in heavy rain.

DSCF0356DSCF0357DSCF0358

More recent burning.

DSCF0359

The path upwards was ill-defined over rough grassy moorland. As I reached the fence at the watershed I was met with squawking sea-gulls worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. That required a video. It is a major nesting ground for sea gulls and sadly there are not enough raptors to gobble up the chicks and eggs. I so rarely see even a buzzard, though 10 years ago I was heckled by three hen harriers, and was probably close to their nest.

Every so often the moor was replaced by a small pool, with the beautiful emarld green of sphagnum.

DSCF0360DSCF0363

In summer , cotton grass flowers

DSCF9119 (1)

And so to the top of Hawthornthwaite Fell with its felled trig point. When I first came up in 2003 the Trig point was 10 ft in the air as a monument to peat vandalism but was toppled a few years ago. The area is now a hollow as up to 10 foot of peat has disappeared in the century since the OS planted their trig point with a deep base. Then you would be walking above the height of the white post to be on the same level as the peat behind.

DSCF0365

There are a few small pools like this one which even has some sphagnum. I confess to damning it up in 2016 and note the improvement. The problem is to be seen from the post looking north where the peat has eroded into channels. This is the castellation of the first photo.

DSCF0367DSCF0370

On the RH of the fence United Utilities has done some peat restoration but the effects are hampered as the peat has disappeared down to the mineral base, almost exposing the Pendle Grit below. Some grasses grow and there are a few pools

DSCF0371DSCF0372

a close up of the toppled Trig Point, which should be an icon to peat degradation

DSCF0373

And finally four more shots to show how the peat has gone.

DSCF0374DSCF0376DSCF0377DSCF0378

There are many places in the Forest of Bowland where peat restoration has started with slow and steady results. On one fell  I could walk dry shod at any time of the year, whatever the weather as the peat had dried out. Now it is superbly soggy even in summer and is getting soggier.

On the principles of peat restoration I am most definitely an amateur as my background is geology, but am passably informed on mountain landscapes and vegetation. It is fantastic the way peat restoration has been done all over the Pennines, but like planting trees the best time is 30 years ago.

The gains are tremendous and with time the sphagnum could gobble up some carbon too.

Already in places wildlife has benefited .

024.JPG

To follow this up the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme (twitter; @IUCNpeat ) gives much technical stuff and gives both hope and an indication of the task ahead. 

As an amateur I shall not comment scientifically lest I truly put my foot in it !!!!

DSCF0379

I may have trodden on some toes too……………..