Ariadne's Thread

Environmental Studies at the University of Essex

Tag: environment

Visiting and Volunteering

by jacobbhunter

A hoverfly on Sisyrinchium flower at an RSPB Garden.

Some of us have been talking recently about visiting interesting places and doing some environmentally-oriented volunteering. Although I’m not an expert on either subject, I do think that there’s little more inspirational than people actually DOING SOMETHING GOOD, and being one of those people is great fun. Hence, I thought I would take a moment to pass on my experience of these things and maybe in the process encourage others near and far to share their favourite green spaces and fun places.

So, I’m going to start by talking about my own voluntary work, because it’s what I know best.

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Beyond the Bubble – Climate Change and Corals

by jacobbhunter

Soap Bubble with Sky by Brocken Inaglory

Image: Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0.

I’ve decided to have a look at climate change stories this week, partly because we are discussing it as a class, but mostly because we’re only a week away from the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference in DOHA.

Aside: Before we begin it might be worth reacquainting yourself with the soon-to-expire Kyoto protocol, as it gets brought up whenever the possibility of international agreement on climate change arises. Fortunately the Guardian have a brief and handy guide as part of their ‘ultimate climate change FAQ’  it reflects, sadly, that “the two biggest emitters of all – the United States and China – churned out more than enough extra greenhouse gas to erase all the reductions made by other countries during the Kyoto period. Worldwide, emissions soared by nearly 40% from 1990 to 2009”. There is more information here and a brief article on criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol here.

Construction in Doha

Image of Doha, April 2009, by Amjira, sourced from the Wikimedia Commons under the creative commons attribution share alike 3.0.

Climate change is undoubtedly the biggest collective action problem of them all, and this Reuters article outlines some of the problems facing this round of negotiation, and this Guardian piece includes some more, while arguing that a global treaty is still worth fighting for. The Guardian’s catch-all-page on climate talks will be worth checking over the next couple of weeks to see how things pan out.

What would it mean to give up on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, or to just not do enough? Surely not coincidentally there have been various reports issued this month, including one by the World Bank reported in The Independent and an analysis by PwC – a huge accountancy firm – neither are exactly positive.

A Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) resting on hard Acropora coral. Lighthouse, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef

Image of a section of the Great Barrier Reef including some Acropora coral. By Richard Ling, sourced from Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence.

I included FOX news in my search for climate-change related stories, and while I didn’t find anything of interest on that topic, I did find a story on human influence upon the Great Barrier Reef.   To (mangle) a quote from the paper on which it’s based:

“[the authors] report a previously undocumented historical collapse of Acropora assemblages at Pelorus Island central … this collapse occurred between 1920 and 1955 … [p]rior to this event, our results indicate remarkable long-term stability in coral community structure over centennial scales”

The paper demonstrates much of what was discussed in one of our recent classes, it’s well worth at least a glance!

On the subject of Proceedings of The Royal Society B you’ll find the current issue useful for its review of the methods by which climate change causes extinction. Even if you only read the abstract it still highlights the complexity of ecosystems, and the inherent difficulty in predicting how such systems will respond to change.

One final thing – a design competition “High Line for London”  released its results recently. It aimed to stimulate green infrastructure ideas along the lines of the Manhattan High Line park, which was converted from a disused railway line. I really like the idea of bringing innovative green spaces into cities, for all kinds of practical reasons, but also because bringing people into touch with green and pleasant land is key to encouraging people to care about nature, and the spaces can be real sources of community well-being.