Recent Posts by Garrett Nagle

TreeSisters and reforestation

By Wednesday, July 24, 2019 No tags 0

In March 2019 the UN declared a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and aims to reforests 350 million ha (around 865 million acres) by 2030. The advantages of restored ecosystems are many – slowing down global warming by capturing and storing carbon, increasing rainfall, providing clean water, improving air quality and providing sources of natural capital. It is believed that some eco-system restoration could account for over one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction that are needed to keep global temperature ...

Carmichael coal mine, Queensland, Australia

By Monday, July 22, 2019 No tags 0

The development of the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin, Queensland, Australia was given the go ahead by the Queensland government in June this year. The mine is controversial for many reasons. First, it is on land that was home to an indigenous Aboriginal population, who have been forced off their land. Second, the Galilee Basin is one of the world’s largest untapped supplies of thermal coal (the type used in power stations). Burning it will release vast amounts ...

Soil Conservation

Soil conservation measures 95% of the world’s food is produced on soil One-third of the UK’s soils are degraded One million hectares (36% of arable land in the UK is at risk from erosion. According to the UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, in some parts of the country, the UK’s soils may only be able to support farming for a further 30-40 years. Conservation agriculture aims to restore soil quality by increasing biodiversity, organic matter and soil fertility. It does not involve any ploughing of ...

Penguins in St Kilda, Melbourne

With over 50% of the world’s population living in urban areas, urbanization is one of the main threats to biodiversity. Some plant and animal species may thrive in urban areas, whereas others find the pressures of urbanization challenging. Urbanization has been linked with local extinctions. The little penguin (Eudyptula minor) (AKA blue or fairy penguins) has colonized an area by the St Kilda breakwater in Melbourne harbour. The colony is only a few kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD. The birds are ...

Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in March 2019 affecting up to 2.6 million people. In Mozambique, some 1.85 million people have been affected and in Malawi around 900,000. Around 130,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique, and around 90,0000 in Malawi. The final toll of the cyclone will not be known for many months, perhaps ever. This was the worst cyclone to affect the area since February 2000 when the region was affected by three cyclone in just ...

Venezuela: How and Why Did It All Go So Wrong?

Venezuela was, until relatively recently, one of the richest countries in Latin America. Due to its vast oil reserves, and the revenue they brought in, they were able fund food subsidies health care and education programmes. Under the presidency of Hugo Chavez (1999–2013) unemployment and poverty halved and personal incomes doubled. Chavez nationalized the oil industry and used the profits for welfare programmes. Chavez dies in 2013 and was replaced Nicolas Maduro, who continued with the spending programme. However, the price ...

Falling Fertility – Good News or Bad News?

The global total fertility rate (the average number of children born to a woman during her reproductive life, at present rates) is now 2.4. According to Sarah Harper, former director of the Royal Institution, falling fertility is to be encouraged. She believes that artificial intelligence, automation (mechanisation) and a healthier, older population reduces the need for a large workforce for economic growth. In a post-industrial country (and even in industrial countries) machines do much of the work that manual labour used ...

Climate Change Talks at Katowice, Poland and Hothouse Earth

At the Katowice Climate Change Conference, December 2018, member countries agreed the ‘rulebook’ for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement into practice – in particular how emissions would be measured and progress in reducing emissions tracked. However, the Conference did not tackle the question of how countries would increase their targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. By 2020, countries must show how they have met the targets that they set back in 2008. Carbon emissions appear to be on the ...

Brumadinho Landslide in Brazil

The Brumadinho landslide occurred on 26 January 2019 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. To date, around 60 bodies have been recovered from the Brumadinho landslide but almost 300 are still missing. Although bodies were recovered it proved very difficult to identify them. The current disaster happened just three years after the collapse of another tailings (waste materials) dam, near the town of Mariana, also in the state of Minas Gerais. It killed 19 people, forced many people to ...

Polar Vortex

By Monday, February 4, 2019 No tags 0

Chicago has been affected by temperatures as low as -30°C in January this year. When the wind chill is added to this, it was said to feel like -50°C. The reason behind these unseasonally low temperatures is the polar vortex. The polar vortex refers to upper level winds which normally keep very cold winds in the region around the North Pole. (It is a winter equivalent to the mid-latitude jet stream which sometimes breaks down forming a blocking anticyclone that ...

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