Posts Tagged ‘erosion’

Nature Ramble

Another different ramble today, in fact it’s not a ramble at all, so just sit back and learn something about Africa, us and famine.

A long film, 1½ hours, but sit it out.

This documentary will change many of your preconceptions about man and the world.

I found this documentary while looking for information on Okavango Delta in Botswana one of the few inland river deltas in the world.

“The 1986 African environmental documentary of filmmaker Rick Lomba, who was tragically killed while filming the rescue operation at the Luanda Zoo in 1994. The message is as relevant today as it was at the time.”YouTube blurb

The End of Eden

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Nature Ramble

Let’s go to the beach.

One doesn’t often think of the sand dunes, or that they may well be under threat.

We sometimes hear about them because of erosion, but this is not a natural threat, it is merely how sand dunes work.

The threats that are mentioned are actually the sand dunes threatening our urban planning, or how we perceive that sand dunes should be. Mother Nature has other ideas.

Sea holly: king of the dunes

Drastic action is needed to save the native plants that thrive on our sand dunes, writes Andy Byfield of Plantlife

Sea holly (Eryngium maritimum). Photograph: Clive Hurford

What has happened to Britain’s sand dunes? My childhood recollections are of wild and windy places; of a fine spindrift of sandy particles streaming from the dune ridges; of marram grass etching precise circles in dry sand with the tips of their leaves; of wavering films of sand flowing across rippled sands. Fast forward 50 years, and today’s sand dunes look more like the Teletubbies’ set once the cameras have stopped rolling. The golden sand has been replaced by a thick thatch of matted grass, burgeoning stands of bracken and scrub, and increasing groves of willow and birch. And as bare sand has become something of a rarity, so many beautiful sand dune species have declined to near-oblivion today. Many of our rarer plants and animals have spent millennia evolving to cope with shifting sands. Like carrot seedlings in an allotment, they need bare ground into which to seed, and simply can’t compete with choking blankets of coarse vegetation.

Just such a plant is the sea holly (Eryngium maritimum), an architectural beauty of the sandy beaches and sand dunes around our shores. The plant’s central cone of flowers is reminiscent of members of the daisy family, such as echinacea or rudbeckia, but sea holly is a relative of the carrot. The ruff of petals is actually a ring of spiny bracts that encircle and protect the flowers like the plates of a Stegosaurus or the frills of a Triceratops. The whole plant is a metallic blue-green, seemingly verdigrised like a bronze garden statue in miniature.

Sea holly is supremely adapted to growing in mobile sand. Its deep-seated rootstock penetrates the substrate to a depth of 1m or more, and the plant takes a masochistic delight in being buried by an avalanche of sand. It positively thrives under such treatment, making it a somewhat difficult plant to please in gardens: if you want to recreate the seaside look in your flowerbeds, stick to easier relatives, such as Eryngium bourgatii, E. giganteum, E. x oliverianum and E. x zabelii. These plants are perfectly happy under normal garden conditions – although they perhaps thrive and look at their best in poorer soils – so you don’t have to buy a bit of the beach at Dungeness (like the late Derek Jarman), or indeed need to live near the coast, to create the look. And there are plenty of easy-to-find and easy-to-grow alternatives for sea holly’s supporting cast of duneland associates. To create the wispy look of marram grass, you might try the intensely blue-leaved Magellan wheatgrass (Elymus magellanicus) from the mountains of South America. Instead of our rare and beautiful native stock, the great sea stock (Matthiola sinuata), plump for the perennial white variety, Matthiola incana, with glistening white flowers over cabbage rosettes of grey-green leaves, and boasting one of the most intoxicating scents of any plant I know. Add in any of the horned poppies (Glaucium species), plus the handsome (and edible) sea kale (Crambe maritima) and you will be well on the way to recreating a small corner of Bognor or Braunton in your home patch.

So what has gone wrong with our sand dunes? Nobody really knows the full story, but a number of factors are thought to be to blame. For starters, we don’t use our sand dunes as heavily as we did in the past: today, dunes are rarely grazed, and we don’t tend to “borrow” sand from small pits, nor use their humps and hollows as military bombing ranges. Additionally, the climate might have changed: summers may be getting wetter (particularly if this year is anything to go by), which encourages vigorous growth of coarser plants; and there is increasing evidence that 21st-century rainfall fertilises the ground by bringing airborne industrial and agricultural pollutants back down to earth. Fortunately, as a species of the exposed foredunes (those next to the beach), sea holly is not faring as badly as some: indeed many other dune plants are faring badly. Take the fen orchid, an elusive green orchid of the South Welsh dunes: known to be locally abundant just a few decades ago, the species has declined from hundreds of thousands of plants at 10 sites to just a few hundred plants at one location today.

Read more

Sea holly on a Polish beach

Blowing Hot, Blowing Cold

One of the big issues, environmentally, at this time is the production of ‘green’ energy. We need it if we are to reduce carbon emissions and thereby save the planet if there is truth that man-made carbon emissions are  responsible for climate changes; another hot topic. Irregardless of that as an issue, we do need to reduce carbon emissions for public safety and health reasons.

Wind turbines dot the landscape

Extracting power from the wind. Wind turbines, or colloquially referred to as wind farms, seem to be the answer. The governments have been sold on the idea, corporations who produce the materials for them and the companies that make them have sold the government on the idea. The idea has been peddled through the mainstream media (controlled by the corporations, of course) to the populace.

Wind farms are the answer.

I, however, am not so convinced. I agree that a wind farm doesn’t produce pollution, soil contaminants, etc. But what about the energy in producing the turbines and generators? From the mining of minerals, to the smelting, to the engineering involved. ALL that produces a lot of pollution, which takes decades of wind production to recover, if the wind blows.

Then there are issues like the wind is not a constant, so fossil fuel generators have to be kept idling on-line in the event of a drop in the wind creating a shortfall.

Image from Patriot's Corner

Ecological considerations like bird-kill that is down played by the industry to be negligible, tell that to endangered species, they won’t think it is negligible. But the human need for energy is far more important than the extinction of rare raptor species. This is an ugly secret of the powerful prop-turbine wind industry, a story that you won’t see on the “feel-good” TV commercials or read about in industry-sponsored ads or mainstream media. You can read more here and on Killer Wind.

I read sometime back about the drying of farmland behind wind turbines. The disturbed wind behind turbines raises the temperature by between 2 and 5 degrees, the result is that evaporates up to 7mm (rain equivalent) from the soil during the day. In some areas that could be catastrophic resulting in the creation of arid land; land that was used for pasture and crops and can no longer support such uses.

The argument is that the turbines don’t affect so much area. But a recent photo shows the magnitude of the area involved.

Clouds forming in the wakes of the front row of wind turbines of Horns Rev wind farm, Denmark. Photograph: Aeolus

Photo from The Guardian: Are Wind Turbines Increasing Carbon Emissions?

The area is, in fact, quite considerable. Not only that but the altitude of the disturbed air can reach up to 1,000 metres (3,000ft) altitude; thereby creating climatic changes, affecting rainfall and storm direction. You can read more on Tainted Green.

Erosion is another highly contentious issue, whereas wind erosion has always existed, the erosion caused by the disturbed wind flow exacerbates the rate rate of erosion.

The military have even noted radar blackout areas associated with wind farms.

Wind power is a multi-million dollar industry, the controllers of which receive huge, and I mean colossal, subsidies, but many call the whole idea a scam.

Where there is money involved there are lies, when there is BIG money involved the lies are proportionately BIGGER.

The governments will never question it, because the corporations tell them not to; after all, who owns the governments?

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Even then, there are other issues. Wind turbines break, fall, fail, etc. 1,500 accidents and incidents are recorded over a five year period on Britain alone.

“The noise annoyance caused by wind turbines can lead to sleep deprivation, memory and cognitive issues, vertigo and dizziness, and, finally, heart issues like rapid heart rate.” From: ‘Wrecking our heaven’. Airborne dust pollution hasn’t been mentioned, how much more is there to consider when calculating the costs of wind energy.

I remain, not convinced.

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