In the largest COST Action to date, 34 EU countries have banned together to find
a solution to stop Ragweed's spread on the continent. This invasive weed from
North America, now one of the most common air-borne allergens in the EU, causes
half of all asthma attacks in its regions, and costs the EU economy an estimated
€4.5B a year. CABI will join a consortium of over 120 biologists,
ecologists, economists, and medical
experts to explore sustainable solutions. Top on the agenda, biological control,
or using ragweed’s natural enemies to help stop its spread.
Today is World Environment Day, which is the day to
highlight awareness of the environment and promote political attention and
action to protect all environments each year, always on 5th June. The day has been celebrated since 1972 and this year’s official theme is ‘Think.Eat.Save: Anti-food Waste and Unnecessary Resource Consumption,’ which is a very
important point when considering the massive amount of food that is wasted, especially
in the western world, each year.
Image from Manataka™
American Indian Council - manataka.org
It was well
publicised in the media last week that we have reached the feared 400 ppm
carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration level in the Earth’s atmosphere. The World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported in a press
release last week that the 400 ppm threshold was recorded at several stations of the World
Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch network, and the threshold was reached earlier than the predicted
2015-16. The press release shows some dramatic graphic representations of the
changes in CO2 concentrations from ice core determinations, for the
last 800,000 years and 300 years, and from instrument measurements at Mauna Loa for data since 1957.
Extreme weather is becoming increasingly more common in the UK in recent years; for example, recent figures from the UK Environmental Agency (EA)
showed that 1 in every 5 days saw flooding in 2012, but 1 in 4 days were in drought. The EA reported that rivers like the Tyne, Ouse and Tone went from
their lowest to their highest flows since records began, in the space
of only four months. These stats indicate the UK must work on dealing
with such extremes. The Flood and Water Mangement Act (2010) and the Environment Agency Catchment Flood Management Plans promote working with natural processes where possible.
Today is Earth Day, which this year is on the theme 'The Face of climate change'. The Earth Day Network is the organization that coordinates
Earth Day around the world each year and their website www.earthday.org is encouraging people from
around the world to share their stories on the impact of climate change.
coppice willow photo courtesy of http://woodlands.co.uk
Some metals, such as zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) are
micronutrients needed in small amounts by plants, animals and humans alike, for
optimum health. Others, such as cadmium (Cd), aluminium (Al) and lead (Pb) are
not needed and can be toxic to humans, animals and ecosystems. Thankfully,
there are plants called hyperaccumulators that can remove these metals from the
soil and store them, usually in the vacuole, out of the way. The accumulated
metal serves no apparent purposes to the plant, but some believe (e.g. Rascio
and Navari-Izzo 2011) it serves as a defence against natural enemies, such as
Recently, I attended a conference on the theme of environmental conservation and sustainability, and during the questions
and discussion at the end of the presentations someone stated that ‘soil is the most
important thing!’ I thought: no, water has got to be the most important thing,
since without water there’s no life – look at the planet Mars, lots of soil, but no water
and no life!
Water is essential for life and it is an important resource to
virtually all economic activities, including food production, energy and
industrial outputs. Clean water is an indispensable natural resource for a
healthy life for humans and for freshwater ecosystems and, therefore, demands
careful management. A growing world population and climate
change are adding pressure to already scarce water resources.
To mark International Day of Forests, we brought together
three experts in the field to suggest their own thoughts on what lies ahead for
forests. Below they offer their hopes, and fears, for these vital ecosystems in
the years to come.
Rachel Carson has sparked the modern day environmental
movement with her book Silent Spring
published 50 years ago and Ruth Harrison’s book Animal Machines, also written 50 years ago, alerted
the public to the undeniable suffering of calves living in veal crates and
birds in battery cages. The second and final day of the conference revisiting
these two books was about the current challenges of conservation and animal
welfare and what the future holds. The two sessions comprised five
I’m attending the ‘Rachel Carson & Ruth Harrison 50
years on conference’, which is taking place on 12-13 March 2013, at the Oxford
University Biodiversity Institute. These two women whose books changed science
certainly deserve the recognition. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) was a wake-up call for the environment and
helped to turn conservation into the mainstream scientific and public concern
it is today. In Silent Spring, she described
how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in animals and human tissues, causing
cancer and genetic damage. Ruth Harrison’s Animal
Machines (1964) was also a wake-up call for the conditions of farm animals and
helped to turn animal welfare into the mainstream scientific and the public
concern it is today.