Archive for Europe
www.bbc.co.uk 14th June 2011
A new report titled ‘The State of Europe’s Forests 2011′ has put emphasis on the important role European woodland can play in mitigating the effects of climate change. Announced at the Forest Europe conference in Oslo, the report is expected to help EU ministers create legally binding forestry policy. In statistics, the forests of Europe account for 25% of the world’s total and absorbs about 10% of Europe’s carbon emissions. The area of European forest covers 1 billion hectares, or 45% of Europe’s total area. 80% of this is in the Russian Federation. Forests account for 1% of Europe’s GDP, which equates to 4 million jobs. Surprisingly, the forest area is increasing by about 800,000 hectares a year although there are several potential hurdles in this bit of good news. Forest fires, insect infestations, disease, and nitrogen deposition from pollution all threaten European woodland. The conference’s opening address was made by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway who stated: ”capacity building, good governance and increased international co-operation are necessary in order to secure sustainable forest management. Forests that are sustainably managed are becoming an important part of the solution for global climate change.”
www.bbc.co.uk 6th May 2011
A team of scientists from the US have determined that climate change over the past three decades has led to a 5.5% decline in global wheat yields. The research was carried out by Stanford University and assessed the impact of climate on the four major food crops of the world: wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans. Crop losses were so severe in some regions that they wiped out gains made through such factors as technology. ”There are already clear changes going on in most agricultural regions in terms of weather, and they have effects on food production that are sizeable,” said David Lobell, the head researcher on the report. Strangely enough, North America was the only region studied that did not show any trend of warming over the 30 year period whereas Europe, China, and Brazil all did. When it came to rainfall, just as many regions were experiencing more rainfall as those experiencing less. Professor Lobell insisted that the findings only referred to past relationships and in order for predictions in future crop yield to be worked out, some large assumptions would have to be made. For one, whether the crops of tomorrow will be the same as the ones we use today (genetically for one).
www.telegraph.co.uk 30th March 2011
Quoted from source:
‘There is something reassuring in the thought that while we sleep through the early hours of the day, bread is being made. Cushions of dough slowly rising in their tins, radiating the most heavenly smells as they bake – the charms of this nocturnal craft have always been held very dear. Well wakey, wakey to the reality. That crusty loaf on sale at opening time in your local supermarket may not have been kneaded, shaped and proved by a real baker, but brought in deep-frozen from a plant hundreds of miles away, defrosted and “baked-off” by staff who only need to know how to throw a switch. As well as this, the vast majority of our loaves are made from imported flour – with grains being bought from locations as diverse as Russia, Canada and France. One thing you can be sure of is that very little of the wheat used in supermarket bread will be British.
Modern baking has all the romance of a North Korean multiple wedding. It seems that the stuff of life itself has entered the crazy world of cryonics. Part-baked dough is suspended at -19C for up to a year before being given a blast in an oven to crisp it up. It puts into question the whole commonly made claim of “freshly baked bread”, yet those seemingly informative labels on the wrapper reveal nothing of this time in the deep freeze. Like a desperate, ageing starlet, supermarket bread lies about its real age.
But not for much longer; European law is to change, and retailers will be soon forced to reveal all foods that have been previously frozen.’
Read the rest of the article here.
e360.yale.edu 10th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Grassland butterfly populations across Europe have fallen by 70 percent in the past two decades, according to new report from Butterfly Conservation Europe. Relying on data from 3,000 sites in 15 countries, the study said the main cause of the decline was the switch from sustainable, small-scale agriculture to more intensive, industrial-scale farming, which tends to wipe out the flower-filled meadows and grasslands where butterflies thrive. Europe’s grasslands have been formed, in part, by livestock grazing and hay production since the last Ice Age, and the abandonment of these traditional practices, as well as overgrazing, also is playing a role in the drop in butterfly populations, the study said. The report said that the decline of small-scale agriculture was particularly acute in Eastern Europe and in mountainous regions, such as the Pyrenees. The decline of bumblebees, spiders, birds, and several types of plants and flowers is also believed to be linked to the loss of European grasslands.’
www.nationalgeographic.com 9th Novembr 2010
A new record has been set for the largest testes (in relation to body weight). The Tuberous Bushcricket, a type of katydid, has testicles that account for 14% of the critter’s body mass. Surprisingly though, the tuberous bushcrickets seem to have smaller ejaculations than bushcrickets with smaller testes. The study was headed by the University of Derby, UK, and collected 21 bushcricket species from around Europe. The species are very useful for studying reproductive evolution as male ejaculate is transferred in ‘neat packets’ that are easy to collect by researchers. Also, the female stores these packets in separate pouches enabling scientists to count how many times she has mated in a lifetime. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the species whose females mate the most also has the males with the largest testes. The reduced size in ejaculation size however runs contrary to other species. The research team from Derby explained this by the number of times bushcrickets usually mate in their two month lifespans: on average 23. Therefore a larger reservoir is needed and smaller yet more frequent ejaculations. The previous record holder was the fruit fly Drosophila bifurca with testes 11% of their body weight.
e360.yale.edu 27th September 2010
Quoted from source:
‘A coalition of European nations has established a series of protected areas in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean where fishing would be banned, the first network of protected zones outside of the territorial waters of individual states. At a meeting in Norway, the OSPAR Commission, a coalition of 15 governments in western Europe, targeted six ecologically sensitive areas — including seamounts and sections of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge — covering about 110,000 square miles (285,000 square kilometers). The areas are home to such critical species as whales, sharks, rays, and cold-water corals. Protective measures could include permanent fishing bans, restrictions on offshore drilling and mining, and even curbs on shipping. “This is a historic step,” said Erik Solheim, Norway’s Environment minister. “We will try to inspire other nations to do the same, like in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and other oceans.” The only other marine protected area in the high seas is a 31,000 square-mile reserve off Antarctica, but the zones created by the European states represent the first network of marine protected areas outside of territorial waters’.
www.independent.co.uk 22nd July 2010
Britain’s Dainty Damselfly population was destroyed in 1953 by the great floods of that year and the species has not been seen on the island since. However two members of the British Dragonfly Society (BDS) have photographed four adult Dainty Damselflies in North Kent. Usually the damselfly populates central and southern Europe but a recolonisation of northern Europe seems to be on the cards. They have returned to Belgium after a long absence and the Netherlands also. Last year they were reported to have reached Jersey. The reemergence of the species follows on from the migrations of other its relatives: the Small Red-Eyed (appeared in Britain in 1999) and Emerald Damselfly (2007). The Lesser Emperor Dragonfly has also set up shop here and so have numerous other insects and birds from the continent. Perhaps the most dramatic arrival is Europe’s biggest bee, which is harmless despite its size, the Violet Carpenter Bee. The BDS has claimed the mass migration is caused by climate change causing the UK’s climate to slowly warm up.