It has been found that the abundant and resilient seagrass which populates sea beds across the oceans are now at risk of depleting due to global warming. Studies and news articles have now made it abundantly clear that a foundation of many marine ecosystems is now at risk of disappearing due to the increasing temperature of the Earth and its atmosphere.
As Spring is nearing it’s the perfect time to start growing vegetables. Whether you need a little project to keep you sane during lockdown or want to help reduce your plastic use and grow fresh vegetables, below I will provide a list of low maintenance vegetables to get you started.
Onions take 15 – 20 days to germinate. Sow 1cm into the soil with 5cm spacing. They should be harvested once the leaves are dead.
Germination takes between 8 – 14 days. Plant 1cm into the soil with 60cm spacing. Best suited for cultivation outdoors, preferably in a greenhouse.
Cucumbers take 6 – 25 days to germinate. Plant 0.5cm into the soil with 30cm spacing. The habitat should be warm and sheltered from the wind. Also, supporting the stem upwards can help the plant grow upward rather than growing sideways onto the ground.
Germination usually appears between 7 – 21 days. Ideal temperature stands between 15 – 20 Celsius. Sow indoors between February and April, plant outdoors from May or June. Typically, plants should be separate 40cm apart.
If you have old potatoes with eyes starting to grow then these are perfect for planting. If you half the old potatoes and plant into a deep container to ensure enough room for the potatoes to grow. As the flowers on the leaves begin to die, this is the perfect time to harvest.
Sow outdoors from February to September roughly 25cm apart. Usually good to harvest every 2 – 3 weeks. For continuous yield keep planting after every harvest as the soil is already ideal.
Sow outdoors between March to August with 25 cm spacing. Early sowing will benefit from cloche protection in cold weather.
With 10cm spacing, sow outdoors between March and July. Sow to crop typically takes 12 weeks before harvesting.
Germination takes between 18 – 24 days. Make sure to not plant into soil with fresh farmyard manure as this attracts carrot flies. Plant 6cm apart and harvest 2 months later.
Sow from April to June and the corn should be ready to harvest from July to October. You can sow indoors from April to May in soil 2.5cm deep. Best grown in warm, sheltered and sunny positions protected from strong winds.
A recent study consisting of data from 62 sites globally has found that the conservation and restoration of land outweighs the benefits of using land for agriculture or logging. Although, they have stated that this did not provide greater net value across the board, conservation does benefit human prosperity overall.
Making your home more sustainable can be achieved in various ways and can introduce some interesting and exciting new ideas. Below are some practical ideas as well as some experimental prototypes.
Sustainable heating systems: Switching from a gas boiler can improve the sustainability of your home and in some cases save you money. If you would like more detailed information then check the hyperlink above. Three alternative heating systems I found from the website were the electrical resistance heating, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps.
Sustainable water systems: Again, for more in-depth information follow the hyperlink in the title. One important point I found from the website was that two central branches for sustainable water involve introducing water-efficient devices and/or using alternative water sources to supply the household.
Tesla solar panelroofing: This involves replacing typical roof tiles with roof tiles that are also solar panels. Efficient as they maximise the space a roof can capture solar energy whilst demonstrating a modern style.
Solar panel windows: A new innovative design that replaces normal windows with clear solar panel windows. This idea is still in its infancy and being tested but could prove to be a valuable investment. Given time for transition, with enough buildings installing solar windows this could alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels for energy usage.
Growing your ownfood: This is a fun and relatively easy way to reduce your dependence on supermarkets, all it takes is a little patience and saves a little money. Plastic used by supermarkets creates a lot of waste and vegetables tend to always be packaged in plastic wrapping. If you’re growing food indoors, growing near a window seal is beneficial or using artificial lights. Regardless of where you decide to grow your plants, there are sustainable techniques to growing food that are universal. Different techniques involve composting green waste, saving seeds from vegetables and mulching. Growing your own food whether in little pots by your window or in big planters in the garden is a simple solution toward being more sustainable.
Hopefully this post offers some insight on how to make your home more sustainable, given you an activity to do during lockdown or at the very least been an interesting read.
‘as a compilation of the impacts of ACC, we find that in the UK since 2000, at least 1500 excess deaths are directly attributable to human-induced climate change, while in Puerto Rico the increased intensity of Hurricane Maria alone led to the deaths of up to 3670 people’ – Clarke, B. Otto, F. Jones, R. (2021)
This is alarming but not surprising given the increased amount of floods occurring in the UK. Furthermore, this demonstrates the direct and severe impact climate change can have on human life as well as the importance we must pay toward the environmental health of the planet.
This study should at least act as a wake up call for those still in denial and encourage those to think differently about the destructive lifestyles we have all taken for granted.
Whilst forests play an important part in maintaining habitats and provide carbon traps, bees help pollinate the food we eat as well as the trees and plants that make up forests. We rely on them to maintain a biodiverse landscape as well as pollinate 90% of food worldwide.
We are experiencing a global decline in bee diversity and population which is a serious issue as they pollinate a large percentage of our food supply. The reasons for this loss can vary depending of geographical location. Generally, bee population decline is due to the use of pesticides, such as the ones recently allowed in the UK. Climate change also disrupts bee populations from unstable plant diversity and unpredictable weather patterns. Finally, monoculture such as palm oil plantations presents a lack of biodiversity and commercial development both impact bee populations and their chances of survival.
There are many different ways the bee population can be restored. For example, the National Wildlife Federation has comprised a list of six different solutions:
Plant natives – These are accustom to your local ecosystem, provide bees with sustainable food and do not require fertilizer.
New garden areas – Add new garden beds and encourage others to plant more flowers.
Organic – Refrain from using insecticides and chemicals in your garden.
Water – Place shallow pools of water in your garden for bees and other pollinators to thrive.
Nesting places – Create nesting places in your garden to increase the likelihood of the bee population increasing.
Responsibility – Raise awareness of the issue and inspire others to follow the same list of resolutions.
Others suggest planting bee friendly plants to adhere more to their needs or even going further and advocating for bee protection at different levels of government.
‘Slowing down and even reversing habitat destruction and land-conversion to intensive uses, implementation of environmentally friendly schemes in agricultural and urban settings, and programs to flower our world are urgently required. Bees cannot wait’ – Zattara, E. Aizen, M. (2021)
No matter what we decide to do in resolving this growing issue, it is undoubtedly vital that bees and other pollinators populations increase otherwise our food security and biodiversity of the planet will severely suffer.
A recent study found that urban areas can offer hotspots of urban floral diversity. Stating further how the individual gardener has an important role to play in maintaining the population size of many different pollinators.
‘Urban nectar is supplied by a diverse community of flowering plants, heavily comprised of non‐native species. Residential gardens are the key land use underpinning nectar sugar production within urban landscapes, providing both an abundance and diversity of floral resources’ – Quantifying nectar production by flowering plants in urban and rural landscapes
‘In 2015, an estimated 50 percent of the planet’s wild forests had gone. And the destruction of forests has continued since. If the trend is not stopped, we will only have 10 percent of the world’s original forests left by 2030’ – www.theworldcounts.com
A private corporation or government may want to deforest an area for agriculture, grazing or urban development. It is mostly a concern with countries in tropical regions like Brazil or Indonesia where rainforests rich in biodiversity are being lost at a rapid rate. Before looking at the causes of deforestation, it is important to distinguish between the agents and the causes:
‘The agents of deforestation are those slash and burn farmers, commercial farmers, ranchers, loggers, firewood collectors, infra-structure developers and others who are cutting down the forests. Causes of deforestation are the forces that motivate the agents to clear the forests’ – Deforestation: Causes, Effects and Control Strategies
To go in to detail about each cause would make this post several pages long, therefore I will provide a list of direct causes which can be looked at by following the link provided.
Some of the direct causes of deforestation (as referenced on page 7 in the article) are:
Expansion of farm land
In relation to the direct causes, this demonstrates that deforestation can be caused for various reasons in many different ways. However, the impacts this can have on local communities and internationally is mostly concerning.
The impact of deforestation increases global warming which has a collateral impact on the Earth and all its inhabitants.
‘Forests have a big influence on rainfall patterns, water and soil quality and flood prevention too. Millions of people rely directly on forests as their home or for making a living. But the risks from deforestation go even wider. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming’ – WWF
Not to mention the vast amount of habitat and species loss to many plant and animals which are exclusive to certain rainforests and ecosystems which are then destroyed.
Therefore, when looking into solutions to deforestation there are many different approaches corporations or nations can adopt. Greenpeace offer an array of different solutions such as:
⦁ Corporations operating with ‘zero deforestation’ policies
⦁ Supporting Indigenous communities
⦁ Promoting sustainable lifestyle
⦁ Changing the politics
In summary, we must remember that when thinking about ways to solve deforestation it will often entail a multilateral solution. As it has already been established that:
‘Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation. Most often, multiple processes work simultaneously or sequentially to cause deforestation’ – www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov
Therefore, it is evident that there needs to be more cooperation with nations like Indonesia or Brazil, as they have some of the largest rainforests, to prevent the increase rate of illegal deforestation and rapid decline in forest and species loss.
Scientists Warning Europe (SWE) have written a letter to UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to cut the carbon neutral target by 20 years to 2030. The letter was backed by 20 renowned scientists, involving people affiliated with UNFCC and the IPCC. Demonstrating that more is needed in these desperate times in order to prevent the worse case scenarios from happening in the coming years.
Sustainable forest management can be defined as ‘outcomes that are socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable – the three pillars of sustainability‘. Each pillar is needed in order for a forests to thrive, if one of these pillars is missing a forest cannot be protected.
Depending on the type of forest that is being managed, such as a rainforest or a boreal forest, the management of that forest will vary. Management needs to be specific to the type of ecosystem that the forest resides, tailor to the legal framework and socio-cultural aspects depending on what nation the forest is found in. Although, there are objective requirements that all forests should include.
Climate change can present many uncertainties when managing forests, therefore a forest should be adapting to promote resilience against the threat of droughts, damage from pests, diseases and wild fire. One way this can be achieved is by practicing silviculture, which consists of controlling the structure and dynamics of a forest. In managing a forest one needs to take an adaptive approach as the climate is constantly changing. Additionally, aside from climate change other influences may include timber prices, land use change and recreational use. There are often extreme conditions one may have to plan for as well, such as extreme drought or rainfall, these are conditions that may need individual and adaptive plans for these issues.
‘Adaptive management is an iterative process in which it is important to test new systems and ideas and judge how these perform under extreme climatic conditions’ – Climate change: impacts and adaptation in England’s woodlands
It is important to focus on why and how a forest needs to be managed but also on the adaptive measures that need to be facilitated in order to prevent these issues from destroying forests.
Current research suggest that the adaptation of forests must be tailored to local communities. This is important as adaptations strategies vary among geographical location and the type of forest present.
Some strategies involve planting drought-resistant trees to provide food security and reduce erosion. Other strategies invest in forest genetic research and breeding programmes. This improves forestry growth rates and resilience to disease. Alternatively, focusing on restoring biodiversity can increase the resilience of an ecosystem and restore habitat loss.
Local adaptation methods may involve maintaining the quality of water surrounding a forest. In dry regions, sourcing scarce water sources can help maintain a forest by providing healthy sustenance. Another local strategy may be encouraging the increase of rare species of a certain tree to make the population more abundant. This can help particularly if that certain species is a valuable asset to the local community. However, local strategies has its limitations as local information is rarely documented and often preserved for a few members of the community. Also, a globalised market can impact the infrastructure of a local self-sufficient rural community.
In summary, adapting forests for climate change cannot be solved with one over-arching solution. Each forest, depending on region, will need to have specific adaptation strategies specific to that region. As climate change is a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes, adapting for a worst case scenario may be as complex as the issue itself. Therefore, in order to enable sustainable strategies which maintain the health of a forest, it is important to plan and put systems in place to better enable these adaptive strategies.