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Climate change and the effect of aircraft emissions

Letter about climate change and the effect of aircraft emissions.

I am an angry person.

I have been observing climate change for 30 years. I have got newspaper cuttings about climate change and mentioned the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 in an influential book I wrote for schools.

“Local Agenda 21 was defined as ’sustainable development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs . . . . and keep within the carrying capacity of supporting natural systems’ ”

Those “ natural systems” have now irretrievably broken down: fire; drought; floods; devastation of nature.

Sir David Attenborough keeps entreating us to act. 5 Nov. 2006 Independent on Sunday : “Planet in Peril “ without the political will action on the scale required won’t be possible”.

Independent 8 Oct. 2018: “Government urged to take ‘drastic action to combat climate change” this is where you all come in to the equation. IPPC: “6000 research papers” how many more of these ineffective papers do we need?

I know that you are an adviser to g’vt so I presume you still all have the ear of those in charge. Do we need ALL of you to take over the job of government before things change for the future of the world?

I will not quote you from the Nat. Geographical issue on “Water”, April 2010 but may I entreat you to read it again.

The reason I am writing in particular, is that since moving to this high altitude I have been able to observe the sky in detail. Clear blue skies are a thing of the past. Two years ago I would sit having breakfast and see about eight contrails across the northern sky and two hours later the contrails having travelled across the sky to the south would have spread out, cutting out the sun. Now it is so bad up there that the fresh contrails are difficult to discern from the previous ones because they are so dense.

I spoke to an scientist at the NERC exhibition under the wings of Concord, at an exhibition there in Manchester and all he said was: “We are worried”.

This upper atmosphere pollution is going up there and not coming down again. I met a man near Hawarden ( where they build aircraft ), and I showed him a cutting from this cutting from the Guardian.

His face fell. He said after a moments hesitation, “ I deliver thousands of gallons of fuel to Manchester airport”. I felt for him. But I cannot feel anything but anger about people who fly needlessly on a continuous basis.

Finally to the Guardian again for the latest news. This time it is poised carefully on the inside page of the Travel Section. It is headed as “ Ethical Travel” and asks “Is there such a thing as a right to fly?” Flying is killing the earth rapidly.

Again in the Guardian 8 Jan 2019: Dahr Jamail: “We hang over the abyss. We refused to hear the warnings Earth sent and there is NO rescue team”. “We are already facing mass extinction. There is no way of revving the heat we have introduced nor the the 40bn tons of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere every single year.

I have written on the front of my 2018 Diary “ECOLOGICAL DISASTER” because the changes I have observed in nature are beyond anything I have ever witnessed before and there is nothing I can do about it other that encourage people like yourselves to do something positive on behalf of the world that I love.

My desk is now piled high with paper cuttings so I will end there. . . . .


11 Feb. 2019

Nectar of the Gods

Briony Davies for: Council for Learning Outside the Classroom 21 Nov. 2017

Are we just beginning to realise the importance of Nature as a teacher? How far have we progressed? So can we use nature as a learning tool to improving health and wellbeing without resorting to drugs?

In 2011 academics were claiming that the “erosion of childhood . . . . has continued apace since 2006” and that Britain has the lowest levels of children’s wellbeing in the developed world”.*

Its 2017 and newspaper reports about children’s mental health are increasing; could more be done to help teachers gain confidence in teaching in the natural world that has proved time and again to be beneficial to all who take advantage of this free asset. Time is running out.

Can we use the instructive study of the lifestyle of bees who,
like us are reliant on plants for survival: for foraging; house building; nest building and everything they do is for the ‘wellbeing’ of the entire hive, they are masters of their universe.

Although they have a comparatively short lifespan they are totally engrossed in communal living in a confined space. They instinctively understand the necessity for managing the temperature in the hive and also the need for additional micro nutrients (which reminds me of the elephants who led their herd to find special herbs in remote, rocky places) from vegetative moisture spots.

Beyond the hive they search far and wide for the ‘nectar of the gods’ and pollen to feed to their young. They are totally vegetarian and the females are the workers looking after the young, while males are completely sex obsessed and entirely reliant on the wider world to supply their needs. Who controls that world? Us – we are the most destructive creatures on earth.

Could helping bees become an integrated way of helping ourselves? We have the same needs and suffer from the same privations; anything that affects them probably affects us too.

Primary schools can keep bees. The children also learn business acumen by selling the honey; bees can inspire gardening and botany, subjects which generally come bottom of the curriculum scale. In war time Britain they were high on the list of activities because we were under threat – not from aliens but from ourselves, human beings no less.

These important lessons can be learned up to the age of nine or ten; after that they will act as a foundation educational tool for teenage studies of many kinds. It does not stop there, it will be knowledge gained for a lifetime – to be an inspiration for ever.
* Daily Telegraph: Graeme Paton, Education Editor, 24 Sept. 2011

Tread Lightly

Tread lightly on your planet: but how?
Met Office :“ . . . global sea level has risen by about 20 cm, primarily as a result of ocean warming and melting of land based ice”.

There is nothing romantic about the vital soil under our feet but we need to look after it as best we can. The above extract about the climate hides the fact that more heat means more rain and more rain means the nutrients in the soil will be leached out; it means that plants will try to adapt but the question is: can they adapt at an unprecedented speed?

Do we begin to teach this generation about the struggle and the effort needed to help the natural world adapt to our mistakes? Rain has dramatic effects on soil; bare soil, between crops, the nutrients are washed into the streams and then to the sea; the bright green seaweed around our coasts are evidence of this.

The run- off can be slowed down by use of hedges and more buffer zones of trees or even beavers; though their welcome is questionable. Increasingly technology is being applied in farming meaning not only more efficient use of additives but importantly less heavy machinery. Children need to understand these facts.

Natural systems need to be nurtured by this generation. We are at the top of the food chain and the health of the wild elements is an indicator of our health. If the insects go, so do we.

All primary children should be enabled to experience “soil”. Learning what worms and moles and fungi do and what different plants extract or improve it for the benefit of cereals and root vegetables is basic science.

An example of an improvement on traditional methods was in the news this week, the farmer covered his cattle manure, which produces gasses as it is broken down by microbes, with a sheet and then turned it over to increase the oxygen to then complete the process under cover again. The result was a 50% increase in the quality of the composted manure.

Keeping chickens is the easiest way to teach children about natural processes like this. The straw needs to be chemical free; the mix of straw and droppings needs to be stacked for six months before use because it becomes a very powerful fertiliser. Outdoor lessons can be conducted, learning by experimenting rather than entirely theoretically and they may even stumble across new facts.


Today 20 September 2017 the first Fieldfare has been seen in North Wales.

Migrating thrushes need food as they travel South across Britain for the winter.

The plants they rely on are berries, hips and haws. The most useful are Rowan; Hawthorn that has not been hacked off by the contractors; Holly which needs male and female plants to produce flowers and then berries; Berberis if it has been allowed to grow and Roses especially: Dog rose in hedges; Rugosa especially ‘Hansa’ and Moyesii which is a very easy shrub about 5′ h.

Go outside!

Seeds of Green is a basic guide for teachers and others to enable lessons based on ecosystems to be enlivened.

The school grounds should be seen as a huge asset worth of serious investment for future generations.

“What you do [as landscapers] is not about strategies or master plans – it is about paradise lost and won and its about mystery. If you can’t dream in it … or make love in it, you might as well Tarmac it.”

Tim Smit, Eden Project – Horticulture Week 25 Nov 2011