Tuesday 30 April 2019

Worlds End - a comic about climate change and capitalism


'Doom, despair, denial, depression, IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!

These are common reactions when people learn about the reality of climate change.

Similarly, sometimes when people think about capitalism it can seem as though nothing can be done to change it, that it’s too big, too strong, that maybe that’s just the way the world is.

But things change, worlds end. New ones begin…'

This is a comic about climate change, capitalism and change. Designed to change people's minds and build our power to defeat capitalism and stop climate change in its tracks. The narrative draws out the links between capitalism and climate change and explores how we can only hope to stop climate change if we dismantle capitalism. It's beautifully drawn (the highlight for me being a fox chasing a hare through the whole publication from beginning to end) and uncompromisingly written. My only negative response is that it isn't specific enough. We don't just need to know that if we rise up and organise that people power can topple capitalism, we need some concrete, specific ideas of how exactly to do this.We also need some ideas on what economic system could replace capitalism, because communism hasn't exactly worked too well for the environment.

Worlds End is however a starting point, a rallying call and a very timely publication in the current awareness of climate change in the light of the actions of the school strikes and Extinction Rebellion.

World's End is available from Corporate Watch as a free download or to order as a paper magazine. Find out more here.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this publication.

Monday 29 April 2019

Blossom everywhere

It's not just the cherry trees, though these look lovely still, despite the recent rain - these are along the wetland wildlfower meadow planted by Water of Leith Conservation Trust near the site of Bog's Mill

and the cowslips are among the first of the flowers to appear in the meadow

Some cherry trees are only just starting to flower, like this bird cherry in the Hidden Meadow

which true to its name is full of birds (always!). The lichen covered apple trees in the Hidden Meadow are also in bloom

as is the wild currant

The bluebells are coming out too, these are in the Hidden Meadow

while large parts of the Dells are full of bluebells.

There are Spanish and hybrid bluebells here as well as native British bluebells. Those above are possibly native or more likely hybrid.

The larch flowers are steadily developing into cones, this is what they look like this week

I posted about the whole development from new flower to mature cone here.

And the wild garlic (ramsons) is in bloom in much of the Dells

Oh and let's not forget the first violets of the year

And the air is full of birdsong, it really is Spring!

for Nature Notes 

Saturday 27 April 2019

Spring insects

It seems to be a great year for ladybirds, they are everywhere, and I couldn't resist taking this photo of this 7-spot ladybird on forget-me-not on Corstorphine Hill yesterday lunchtime

Another interesting insect that is around in good numbers near the hill at the moment is this species of solitary bee, Andrena scotica, also known as the chocolate mining bee

We also saw some the other day in another part of Corstorphine

Solitary bees are so called because they nest in individual tunnels rather than in colonial hives. They actually gather together in groups quite frequently, there are plenty of them around at the moment!

Text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more 

Friday 26 April 2019

Cherry Blossoms in the Meadows

The Meadows in Edinburgh are famous for their cherry trees and rightly so. They are so beautiful when they're fully in bloom as they are now. Photos from yesterday's lunchtime walk.

but they don't last long and the first blossoms are already falling

So if you're in Edinburgh this weekend is an ideal time to visit The Meadows!

And while you're there admiring the cherry blossoms, don't forget to look out for the more subtle beauty of the maple flowers (this is a Norway maple, slightly past its best)

and the Wych elms

Thursday 25 April 2019

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

 The Secret Life of Cows

Rosamund Young owns and works Kites Nest Farm in Worcestershire, the organic cattle farm which she grew up on, where the cattle are allowed to wander and are treated as individuals.

This delightful book is full of stories of the way that cows make friends and help each other and of their very different personalities. Some cows are very independent of humans but will attract attention when they need help (some cows will hang around the farmhouse when they are about to give birth so that the humans will help them, others disappear off to have their calves alone or with the help of an older cow.) One cow liked to steal a hat, not hats plural, but the one hat worn by one farm worker and she stole it from him repeatedly. One cow enjoyed being groomed so much that she fell asleep during grooming. One cow has learned to open gates.

This is a beef farm so the cattle are being raised for food, but if animals are to be raised to be eaten this is how they should be raised - understood as individuals and enabled to live as natural a life as possible.

The cows aren't milked on a commercial level, but they are milked to produce milk for the household or if they produce too much milk for their calves. Each cow produces milk that is so different in taste that in the farmhouse they have jugs labelled with the name of the cow who produced the milk so that everyone can choose their favourite milk.

The book also includes the hens and sheep from the farm and a small section on the different feeding behaviours of the garden birds. It's a delightful, easy read that makes a strong case against factory farming.

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young published (2017) by Faber and Faber

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Stop Food Waste Day

Food waste is a huge issue.

Thirty three percent of all food produced across the world is wasted - there is waste at every stage - waste in production processes, waste in retail (many retailers still refuse to take 'misshapen' vegetables for example), waste in terms of food that is bought but then never eaten and waste in terms of food that is served and not eaten. Some cities (including Edinburgh) offer services to recycle food waste but not everyone uses them and better to avoid the waste earlier on than rely on recycling.

If 23% of the food wasted every year were saved it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people.

Food waste is an environmental issue on several levels - wasted food means more land under food production and less land left wild and the disposal of food waste can also have environmental implications. 

Stop Food Waste Day aims to strive to educate people about the global food waste epidemic and create and share creative and impactful solutions. Educated consumers can have tremendous influence on how we farm, produce, buy, store and use our food.

If you would like to reduce your food waste, you can find some tips on the Stop Food Waste Day website here

If you have tips to reduce food waste, please feel free to share them in the comments!

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Bees and Blossoms at Lauriston Castle Gardens

We had an extra day off today to add to the Easter break and inspired by this Twitter thread by @SunshineOnLeaf we visited Lauriston Castle Gardens. This is a beautiful little placein north Edinburgh which we've visited many times but oddly today was our first Spring visit there - and really this is one of the best times of year to visit as the cherry trees are in full bloom in the Kyoto Frienship Garden

The bluebells were also in full bloom in other parts of the gardens

and there's a lot of yellow and blue floral combinations

and lots of fallen cones made for lovely photo opportunities

We were very pleased to see this little solitary bee hole in one of the lawns

though the honey bees were not visibly busy at work despite the signage

Lauriston Castle holds events across the year and you can find out more on their Facebook page.

Monday 22 April 2019

Protect Our Species - Earth Day 22 April 2019

red squirrel, the native UK squirrel, under threat from competition from introduced grey squirrels
The first Earth Day on 22 April, 1970, activated 20 million people from across the USA and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Twenty years later, Earth Day became a global event, inspiring 200 million people to take part in over 190 countries.

Protect Our Species

As you may have read elsewhere, the world currently faces the greatest rate of extinction since dinosaurs died out over 60 million years ago. But unlike the end of the dinosaurs, today's rapid extinction rate is directly linked to human causes including climate change, deforestation and habitat loss, poaching and trafficking, unsustainable agriculture and pollution.

Each species of animal and plant is unique and plays a specific vital role. Different species depend on each other and if one goes extinct there can be detrimental effects throughout the ecosystem. For example in Asian countries where veterinary drugs have cause the population of several species of vultures to plummet, then animal carcasses are becoming health hazards.

There is still time to slow down the rate of extinctions. Many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover if we work together. As part of this, the Earth Day Network wants people to join their Protect our Species campaign. The goals are to:

* Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

* Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.

* Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.

* Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant based diet and ending pesticide and herbicide use.

You can find the Protect our Species resources here.

Earth Day is a broad campaign and behind every year's theme there is a drive to enable people to become more environmentally friendly and ecologically aware. You can find the Earth Day Top Tips here.

Saturday 20 April 2019

A Sunny Walk on Easter Saturday

The weather is sunny and very warm here today. Lovely for a walk round Blackford Pond and Midmar Paddock.

The mute swans are nesting on the island in the middle of Blackford Pond again,

the nest is quite well hidden but you can just about see the swan on the nest, specially if you zoom in

This moorhen was zooming across the pond at top speed

There are lesser celandines everywhere at the moment, these were alongside the path behind the pond

This path leads to the wet woodland area, which is pretty dry at the moment but still worth walking through

Going back to the main path then takes you past Midmar Paddock

a lovely area that is currently for sale and may well end up covered in housing. I took lots of photos around here to share on the Save Midmar Paddock Twitter feed, some of which are also in this blog post.

 There are lovely views of Blackford Hill from the Paddock

It's a great place to see nature, the walls are full of plants including wild strawberries

green alkanet

and ferms including this common polypoidy

There are flowers in the field too including primroses

and I was delighted that this peacock butterfly, after fluttering all around the place, finally decided to land and bathe in the sun so I could get a photo

Lots of birds were singing but only this carrion crow came close enough for a photo

I also walked around the side of Blackford Hill to enjoy the gorse

 the violets clinging on in the spaces between the rocks

and the view towards Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags

then back to Blackford Pond

You can find out more about the campaign to save Midmar Paddock from development on the Friends of Midmar Paddock Facebook page or on their Twitter feed.

You can find out more about the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Pond Nature Reserve here.