DIARY21

An account of climate in 2021 – in the context of broader change, cataclysms and other happenings in land, natural resources, living things, economy, trade, pollution, agriculture, food, art and craft.

This is a forwards and backwards diary, beginning 1 June 2021. Contact: geoff.squire@hutton.ac.uk or geoff.squire@outlook.com.

Earlier: April – June 2021. January – March 2021.

December

22 Plastic pollution in soil. Update of April 2018 UNEP article: Plastic planet: how tiny plastic particles are polluting our soil. Perhaps a third of plastic waste ends up on land and freshwater. Sewage sludge returns microfibres from clothing and microbeads from cosmetics. The long term effects of plastic waste in the human food chain are unknown. For more on the global plastic cycle:  article at Undark 9 Dec The ocean is returning our plastic waste. Previous: FAO|UNEP report of 4 June. [Ed: we are eating the plastics we are wasting.]

21 Food security to famine. The World Food programme summarises definitions of the Five steps from food security to famine: Food security, Food insecurity, Acute food insecurity, Humanitarian emergency and Famine. 45 million people are on the brink of famine due to conflict, economic failure and climate. Currently 9 countries or regions are in the state of emergency, of which one of the most severe is Yemen (which moved through the 5 stages due primarily to recent conflict). 

20 Permafrost thawing to destroy Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Land under permafrost contains soil and organic matter attached to the bedrock by frozen water: as the land warms, the ice melts and the whole mass begins to slide under gravity. Explanation with diagrams at Inside Climate News today. See also Enviscid of 6 Oct and NBCNews of 11 July [Ed: slipping effect not dissimilar to that due to vehicles transporting a massive weight of turbines or timber on minor roads in Scotland – the underlying soil and peat detach from the bedrock under the weight and slide, taking with it the layer of tarmac .]

17 Profits from Slavery. Publication of The National Trust for Scotland’s Facing our Past report on properties in their care linked to the slave trade. At abolition, owners were compensated, not the slaves. For further background and maps at University College London: Centre for the Studies of the Legacy of British Slavery. [Ed: previously on the Living Field Empire at Wall projects II Montrose]

16 Super-typhoon Rai (Odette) increased in severity over a few hours from Tropical Storm to Super-typhoon before reaching the Philippines on 16 December, then a total of 9 landfalls in different islands and provinces. ReliefWeb indicates 2.4M people need assistance, 130000 houses damaged, 71000 destroyed. Satellite images: NASA Earth Observatory and Zoom Earth. Summary of relief efforts at ReliefWeb and World Food Programme

15 Seagrass meadow restoration Seagrass, a flowering marine plant, forms extensive meadows in shallow, coastal seas, a unique ecosystem, now mostly destroyed in the UK. Project to collect and germinate seeds then reestablish seagrass meadows underway at Seagrass Ocean Rescue. See latest Seagrass Nursery News. More background at Synchronicity Earth 29 October An overlooked ecosystem: seagrass meadows. [Ed: great collaborations between university sector, charities and the public in restoring lost seagrass.]

14 Bird flu in the UK: following incidence of highly pathogenic strain and control measures in November, birds raised for food have been killed at several sites and further restrictions imposed. See Gov UK Guidance on Avian Influenza (bird flu) which also gives weekly records of bird flu in wild populations, online or download; and Guidance and biosecurity information for Scotland.

14 WMO confirms 38C record Arctic temperature in 2020, see UN News today.  Maps and graphs at NOAA, updated 12 Oct 21: 2020 Arctic air temperature continue a long-term warming streak.

From the NOAA web site – link at entry for 14 December.

9 Wetlands decline global: dragonflies threatened as wetlands around the world disappear. First global assessment of this group of species by IUCN. Several causes including pollution from agriculture and its unsustainable expansion. For background and data on status and decline of wetlands generally: Global Wetland Outlook Special Edition 2021 (update of 2018 report) published by the Ramsar Convention.

9 GrazeLIFE project on rewilding and large grazing animals ends after 3 years. Watch Grazing for Life online symposium. For background, the GrazeLIFE projects web site, the Rewilding Europe web site and ARK Nature’s blog. [Ed: much positive and forward thinking commentary on a range of topics including ecosystem regulation and wildfire control.]

4 Semeru eruption, Indonesia: volcanic eruption unexpectedly severe due to erosion of dome by heavy rain: ash plumes, pyroclastic flows, mudflows and metres-deep ash deposits burying villages. For timeline, see Wikipedia at 2021 Semeru eruption and the Global Volcanism Programme (check weekly reports for December). Further explanation and commentary at The Conversation 7 Dec Mt Semeru’s deadly eruption was triggered by rain and storms …. and 13 December Why did the early warning system fail …. 

November

[November being updated,]

30 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Summary report at NOAA: the sixth consecutive above-normal season, heightened activity, including Hurricane Ida,  attributed to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation related to weather variability and aerosol concentration over the North Atlantic. The years’s severity was predicted.   

25 Great British Beach Clean 2021 results out – “some good news but lots more work to be done”. Fewer single use plastics and cotton bud sticks but things like wet wipes and PPE (e.g. face masks) remain a problem. See Report at the Marine Conservation Society{Ed: great work by the MCS and their many volunteers!]

25 Sewage discharge to UK rivers. Surfers Against Sewage: Stench of the sewage scandal grows stronger. The SAS 2020 water quality report documents the gross extent of discharge to rivers by water companies and the corresponding low ecological status of UK waterways.

22 Updates on World Air Pollution (see 16 Mar 2021): useful ‘infographic’ with diagrams and commentary at Aljazeera The 100 most polluted cities and and 7 Sep launch of UNEP/IQAir Real time air pollution calculator.

From IQAir web site via link at 22 November.

10  The Scottish Ecological Design Association and the John Muir Trust hold an online Land Conversation – Do we need a carbon tax for land? Info at SEDA Land. [Ed: valuable and measured discussion of a complex issue – how to incentivise good and penalise bad ecosystem management. The debate will continue and has lessons for wider restoration.]

7 Rainforest blessing. Indigenous people from the Amazon (attending the COP) perform a ritual blessing at Cormonachan Community Woodlands, Argyll. For background, partners and progress in restoring Scotland’s western wet forest, see Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest.

6 Presenting the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration at COP26. For more on the Declaration – downloads, videos, interviews, see Nourish Scotland and Glasgow Declaration. Earlier: Launch December 2020 (bottom of page).

3 Drought in Malawi: cash payments for crop loss due to drought and pests 2020-2021 to 65,000 farming households, operated through a World Food Programme insurance scheme. It’s a lifeline. Read about it at this WFP press release.

Maize is the staple carbohydrate food in Malawi. Here it is as a young, well-growing crop in the annual warm-wet season. There is no crop without rain. Photographed in the south of the country, 1974 (curvedflatlands).

1 Mary’s MealsDouble the Love launches today! Donations to 31 January will be doubled by generous supporters. ‘Funds raised will allow us to reach hungry children around the world, including those affected by natural disasters, conflict and the ongoing Covid pandemic.’

November The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN published this year a major report on the effect of disasters on food security. Disasters seem to be increasing in frequency, including “megafires, extreme weather events, desert locust swarms of magnitudes previously unseen, and the COVID-19 pandemic”. They reduce or stop agricultural production in many areas, leading to food insecurity, sometimes famine, and knock-on effects to biodiversity and ecosystem function. There’s never been such a need for ecosystem restoration. The knowledge is there – it’s possible to repair and build in resilience. Summary and links at: The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security: 2021.

October

27 Small change for the good: news story about recovery of one family in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Cash grants power dreams of peace for survivors of conflict. Story by the World Food Programme. 

26 World Met Organisation release State of the Climate in Asia 2020. Rising temperature, melting glaciers and sea-ice, sea level rise, retreat of coastal mangrove …. Summary, video and links at WMO press release. Earlier: report on Africa 19 October.

25 Atmospheric greenhouse gases reach new record The World Met Organisation report today on the continued rise of GHG – Another year another record. The trend in annual increase continues despite some year to year variation. The capacity of land and oceans to take up about half the emitted CO2 may be decreasing due to a range of factors including deforestation and wildfires.  Details up to end 2020 in GHG Bulletin No 17.

21 Mediterranean wildfire season 2021 – summary and update of the exceptionally severe 2021 wildfire season, published by the EU’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) – illustrating the role of Copernicus in mapping and activating responses across Europe: Unprecedented mobilisation of Copernicus EMS during the 2021 Mediterranean Wildfire crisis

19 Climate change in Africa: WMO releases report State of the Climate in Africa 2020. Continued trends in rising mean temperature and retreat of glaciers among many climatic influences that compound the effects of conflict on food insecurity. WMO web site gives video of launch and access to report. See also Copernicus satellite image of 20 October.

13 Severe long term pollution of the River Wye from phosphate, pesticides, soil, bacteria and other materials from agricultural land and sewage discharge. Reports that a major source is chicken manure spread on soil – poultry producer admits cause. Disastrous long-term failure of some sectors of agriculture and sewage management. River Action 4 Oct – A first ray of hope for the Wye?, the documentary film Rivercide, the web site Swim Wild Wye and earlier Gloucestershire Live 23 July.

12 Ban water companies discharging raw sewage into water courses. Parliamentary petition receives over 110,000 signatures. See Surfers Against Sewage 13 Oct #EndSewagePollution.

12 The Global Climate Dashboard at climate.gov is a prime source of publicly available information on climate, weather-events and related phenomena. The USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces today: NOAA upgrades climate website amid growing demand for climate information.  Example of recent analysis: appraisal of drought in the SW of the USA.  [Ed: highly valuable web source, available to all.]

10 Indian farmers’ protest shows no signs of diminishing after more than a year. Still highly relevant, article by Aniket Aga at Scientific American 24 January 2021: Farm protests in India are writing the green revolution’s obituary. Regular updates at News Now and various articles at Aljazeera, e.g. 20 Sep 2021. [Ed: dispute with a highly complex background, but there’s a sound argument that that large-scale corporatisation of agriculture led and still leads to dispossession and other inequalities.]

8 On World Octopus Day – Compassion in World Farming release a report arguing against the factory farming of octopus as proposed by part of the aquaculture industry. Read the summary in English at Octopus factory farming: a recipe for disaster.

7 Scottish Government introduces Good Food Nation Bill. While pleased that the Bill is finally here, the Scottish Food Coalition note some current weaknesses that need attention, e.g. no targets, no meaningful participation. See their analysis at The Good Food Nation Bill is here …  

7 Global Witness reveals the ills of Oil palm expansion in Papua New Guinea: deforestation, biodiversity-loss, rights abuses, illegal incursion, and, typically, companies responsible are backed by global business capital and the products are used by many of us. Read: Capital is tearing down one of the last great rainforests and the report The True Price of palm oil 

6 Pig industry supply chain troubles, UK. Restricted supply chain due variously to declining sale prices (cheap EU imports), reduced processing and transport capacity, leading to backup of livestock on-farm and some culling. News and background at AHDB Pork, National Pig Association, News Now. For stats: AHDB GB pig slaughterings (near 9M pigs slaughtered for food 2020, typically 170,000-200,000 per week).

4 Deep sea mining. New Zealand Supreme Court ruled against mining in the biodiversity-rich South Taranaki Bight (30 Sep), stating previous permission to mine given by the Environmental Protection Agency was flawed.  Background/ comment: Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, The Guardian. [Ed: important precedent, countering the country’s EPA because of inadequate baseline data in impact assessment.]

2 Brunt Ice shelf, Antarctica, looks to be in process of calving to release a giant iceberg similar in size to 2x New York City. In January 2021, 5 km of ice held the future berg to the main shelf, today only 1.6 km. Details at Copernicus Image of the day 2 October.

1 Food Train gets permanent home. The Food Train is a charity in Scotland that delivers food to older people who can’t get out and about. It was a lifeline in the pandemic. Operating from rented properties since 1995, they have now secured a permanent HQ in Dumfries. News/comment at TFN.

September

30 Acute Food Insecurity continues at Crisis and Emergency levels in several countries, in some places reaching or approaching the highest level Catastrophe/famine. Highest IPC concern for Afghanistan, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sudan, Yemen. Main causes are conflict, economic disarray and climate, four examples shown here. Data adapted from from Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Infographics page. The 5 Phases explained at Famine Fact Sheet.

Examples from four countries or regions taken from data on the IPC Infographics pages, the colours in each annulus representing the five phases to famine, numbers inside showing the population size in millions analysed and below that the % of the population at Crisis level or above. Click the graph for a larger image in a new tab.

29 FareShare – fighting hunger, tackling food wastecampaigning light show (2,000,000,000 kg unsold food wasted, etc.) projected on UK Houses of Parliament, on this (the 2nd) International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. [Ed: waste generates more waste – food crops contain plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen, which if left unharvested are lost as pollution to water and air.]

28 Food shortage in UK??!! See CNN Business 28 Sept … Brexit choices making Britain’s fuel and food shortages worse. Earlier: Speciality Food 13 Sept : Why UK food shortages could be here to stay – covid and driver shortage are the underlying issues. Aljazeera 3 Sept reports on problems customers face getting their usual from 3 big eating outlets: Why are there food shortages in the UK? [Ed: many UK news outlets claim there’s a crisis, but as a country the UK is hardly off zero on the IPC scale – yet there is a food crisis in the UK that is not caused by current supply chain problems – see entry at beginning May.]

26 Many Pacific islands suffer rising sea level and increasing storm damage. Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change have been campaigning since 2019 for the International Court of Justice to issue an Advisory Opinion on climate change and human rights – the AO to serve ‘as a legal catalyst for action’. Explanation and videos at their web site #EndorseTheAO.  Latest from PISFCC – the government of Vanuatu has said it will formally request the AO: Vanuatu launches ICJAO campaign. Later: history and background at Inside Climate News 4 October.

23 (-24) UN Food Systems Summit. Updates, comment and links at UNFSS News page, including 23 Sep World Leaders commit to tackling global hunger ….  [Ed: links to many articles on the background and current status and pledged commitments … ]

21 Wildfires bring devastation and record emissions in the northern hemisphere 2021. Summary with data and maps for Siberia, North America and Mediterranean from the EU’s Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service.

19 Rights of nature legal movement. Article at Inside Climate News summarising history of the topic and recent developments: Does nature have rights? A burgeoning legal movement says rivers, forests and wildlife have standing, too

19 (-21) Canary Islands, La Palma volcanic eruption. News / Comment: El Pais. Also Euractiv. Timely warning from scientific authorities allowed evacuation before eruption – destructive lava flows. Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanism report: 5 new eruptions in week to 14 Sept, including La Palma.

17 Harvest ruined by drought, frost and hail but indigenous women in Bolivia continue to produce quinoa bars as nutritious snacks: World Food Programme: Unstoppable. [Ed: quinoa is a relative of wild plant fat hen Chenopodium album, historically harvested as a food in Britain.]

16 Toxic sulphurous gases released from landfill waste: regulator, the Environment Agency (EA) fails.  BBC News: Mother wins court case over Staffordshire Landfill site emissions. Judge ‘not satisfied the EA had complied with its legal duties’.  Info / comment: Environment Agency, update 16 Sept: Walleys Quarry Landfill Site. Silverdale Parish Council. Stop the Stink campaign. ENDS Report: EA loses landmark human rights case.

15 Fertiliser supply chain UK. CF Industries Holdings, Inc. announces halt of operations at UK facilities. (due to increased gas price). Comment: New York Times, 16-17 Sept. [Ed: shows UK’s ag-and-food supply chain vulnerability to external factors – this story will run.] 

13 Global Witness reports worst annual total on record for murder of of land and environmental defenders, many of them indigenous; worst countries Columbia (by far), Mexico, Philippines, Brazil; mining and agribusiness the major sectors.  See earlier GW Press Release of 29 July. Comment: Aljazeera 13 Sept. 

8 UN Environment Programme publishes 10 Guiding Principles in campaign to revive the earth in support of UN decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 [Earlier item 7 June 2021].  The ’10 Principles’ page links to information on the background to the decade, the the principles in more detail, and a rallying cry for #GenerationRestoration (Ecosystem Restoration for people nature and climate). [Ed: it’s down to each of us – the UN asks ‘what will you restore?]

8 UK government to publish Soil Health Action Plan (for England and Wales) to reverse serious declines and ‘perilous state’ of soil condition.  Unclear from House of Lords debate as to how strong and binding the plan will be. Notes / comment: Defra in the media 9 Sept. ENDS report 10 Sept . [Ed: well overdue, and some of Scotland’s arable soil is no better, see research at Agronomy].

Excessive cultivation weakens the internal structure of soil and compacts the surface. In this example from arable-east Scotland, after heavy rain, water floods off a field, carrying soil particles and organic matter to a road, and from there to a stream, then down a river, to the sea.

6 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille 3-11 September. Today indigenous people are pressing for Amazonia 80%x2025Permanent protection of 80% of the Amazon by 2025. See also at Global Environment Facility (GEF). IUCN = International Union for Conservation of Nature.

6 Conflict: Penang South Islands.  Architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and others BiodiverCity Penang. Issues: new clean urban space,  recycled materials – destruction of marine environment and local fisheries. Comment:.  Aljazeera 6 Sep 21 Malaysian fisherman in last ditch bid … NikkaiAsia 7 July 21 One island is enough … Reuters 23 Feb 2021 Boon or bane? Dezeen (showing images of the proposal) 21 Aug 2020 Masterplan for urban lilypads. [Ed: 3 islands total area eq. 260 average arable-grass fields in Scotland]

3 Climate  and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE) Update from Zero Hour Parliament returns and we look ahead to COP26. CEE Bill reintroduced 23 June and due for being moved forward next week. Support from many MPs and organisations but Zero Hour reckons it will stall again. Further comment at John Muir Trust.

1 Potentially devastating Oil Spill moving across Mediterranean towards Cyprus from Syrian coast. Updates at CyprusMail, TRT World. Satellite images on 27 August and 1 September from EU Copernicus.

Wind turbines in Caithness in 2009. Many more turbine installations are now planned in rural Scotland, causing conflict between the desire for wind-derived energy and despoilation of a unique wild landscape.

September. Several themes will run through September 2021. Wildfires continue to burn, killing and displacing billions of living things. Defenders of land, culture, health and environment continue to inspire – the small against the big, against excessive wealth, against politics. It’s not only in far-flung places that individuals make a stand (see 16 September). But where lawlessness is condoned or not countered, defenders – often from indigenous peoples – are murdered, and it’s getting worse (13 September). Water and its absence, drought, will be continually in the news. The entry for 31 August points to conflict locally, in the Spey catchment. But a little to the south and east of Europe, in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries, water shortage may lead to serious conflict and war. Water is weaponised. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile has been a source of conflict for years and its heightening, see: Council on Strategic Risks, 30 April 2021, Ethiopian Insight 11 September 2018 and Water and Conflict Web.

August

Food crisis and hunger in Madagascar Reports throughout August, July, June and earlier. UNICEF: Malnutrition among children expected to quadruple as drought worsens. Relief Web: Drought and Locusts Causing Mass Hunger and Misery for Children in Madagascar. Background at the World Food Programme Madagascar and Wikipedia 2021 Madagascar food crisis.

31 Conflict: Spey River water levels. Spey Fisheries Board calls for reduction in water diverted from the Spey Catchment following new report: Press release. Update of 2008 assessment in report by EnviroCenter River Spey Abstractions 2021. Flows lowered by abstraction (taking water from the river), particularly to Hydro-schemes outside the catchment. Comment: ENDS Report Sobering reading … [Ed: very good detailed report: Table 3.1, p.5 gives a summary of abstraction sources; abstraction to outside the catchment is by far the largest; agriculture uses v little.]

30 Massive melting of ice cap in Iceland. Three images below show transition from ‘ .. partial snow cover on the top of the ice sheet (on 16 August) to complete exposure of the older ice layers (on 28 August)’.

From the Image of the Day series at the EU Copernicus web site: sequential images of decreasing snow melt revealing older ice, published 30 August 2021.

29 Hurricane Ida causes devastation in Louisiana USA but flood defences prevented worse. See Ida’s path at the NOAA graphics archive.  More at BBC News. The Atlantic Hurricane season often peaks in late August – further information at Florida Climate Centre.

26 Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience opens at MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta) 26 Aug 21: ‘circular, portable, visionary, resilient’. See also Art Works for Change ‘ … contemporary art works around the world addressing critical social and environmental issues. [Ed: Can’t make the exhibition? Then see the MODA web site and the stunning visuals at AWforC … ]

23 Massive melting of the Greenland Ice Cap. Changing structure of the ice leads to less retention and more loss of melt water: Copernicus image of the day 23 August. For explanation and background:  National Snow and Ice Data Centre (USA)  Greenland Ice Sheet Today.  Previous: Liege University press release 19 September 2019.

19 Wildfire burnt area in south Europe and MENA countries many times above average: European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) summary 19 Aug. EFFIS stats show huge rise in weeks to 5, 12 and 19 August varying with country: most affected and largest areas (number showing increase in burnt area compared to 2008-2020 average) – Algeria (2.4), Greece (10.9), Italy (4.8), Turkey (7.6); North Macedonia and Montenegro above 4. Smaller area in Cyprus (5.5) burnt earlier in year. UK area less than average at 0.86. Note EFFIS records fire above 30 ha (about 80% of total). Web trail: EFFIS then click Current Situation Viewer then on the left-hand panel click Analysis Tools to go to per-country data for EU, Europe non-EU and MENA.

EFFIS web site showing section of map – left-hand panel changes base layer, areas burnt, etc., right-hand vertical strip gives map controls. Base layer shown is for ‘fuels’ or burnable vegetation. Image taken 24 August 2021. With acknowledgement of EFFIS – Copernicus..

17 Smithsonian Institute Weekly Volcanic Activity Report gives map and updates on recent activity, usually submitted by national met offices: see for example the towering ash plumes from  Chirinkotan (Russia) and Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan), and the lava flows from Krysuvik-Trolladyngja (Iceland). Fantastic names! Web site has image gallery and database. 

13 US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reports Global July 2021 warmest on record (last 142 years) 0.93C above 20th C average – see map of climate anomalies (difference from long-term average). Meanwhile the WMO is working to clarify whether the 48.8C recorded in Sicily on 11 Aug is a record for continental Europe – Mediterranean gripped by extreme heat

12 National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (USA) issues 2021 report on Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated (IUU) fishing and Bycatch (of protected species) – finds 7 countries, including some major economies, engaged in IUU between 2018 and 2020 and many more without strong regulations to limit bycatch. Comment and implications at Earthjustice.

10 Reintroduced Scottish Beavers double to around 1000 in last three years: Nature Scot News. Comment from Scottish Wildlife Trust. Report of the study: Survey of the Tayside Area Beaver Population 2020-2021. But see Response to beaver reports by Trees for Life. [Ed: an iconic animal, lived here for a very long time, then killed off, now back from extinction, but still culled.]

9 At the International Criminal Court in the Hague:  Indigenous peoples from Brazil denounce the Brazilian Government for Indigenous Genocide – see News at The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. Also Inside Climate News of 11 August. 

9 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) Climate Change 2021: the physical science basis – leads to an introduction from which there are links to summaries, the full report and an interactive atlas. [Ed: Living Field regulars might begin with the Summary for Policymakers, understand the meaning of ‘confidence’ and ‘likelihood’, move to the Technical Summary (scroll down through the list of corrections) and on to the interactive world atlas, to choose region, variable, etc.]

9 Global wildfire monitoring. For daily news and summaries: interactive map at the EU Global Wildfire Information System’s Current information viewer (display includes options for active fires, burnt areas and fire emissions); and the Global Fire Monitoring Centre (UNDRR-Freiburg University) gives frequent updates – usually several each day – with brief explanations at Global Landscape Fire News.

5 UK Timber shortage. 80% of timber used here is imported; reduced supplies (various causes) can’t meet increased global/local demand. For the industry view, see Architects Journal and earlier (25 May) Scottish Construction Now.

3 Sewage discharge into rivers. The findings of the Surfers Against Sewage “Water companies dirty secrets exposed” 2020 Water Quality Report showed the massive scale of the problem in the UK, but this analysis by BBC News gets into the dirty local detail: Scotland’s growing sewage spill problem. Use the interactive tool to see what’s coming out near you! Previous: 13 May, 5 May.

From the Image of the Day series at the EU Copernicus web site: 3 August 2021. Temperatures similar to those in eastern Canada earlier in the year (see 29 June)

August The string of unusual events this summer in the northern hemisphere will likely continue through August and September. Copernicus – the EU’s Earth observation programme – offers an Image of the Day from its monitoring satellites. Examples from late July show smoke clouds over the Med from wildfires in Turkey; low lake water levels due to drought in southern Italy; a heatwave in Greenland causing melting glaciers and discharge from land to the Arctic Ocean; record number of pink flamingo in the Ebro Delta, Catalunya, Spain, possible related to reduced human presence due to the pandemic; and smoke clouds reaching northern Europe from North American wildfires. You can sign up to receive the daily images.

July

Cumulative rainfall from April in the Met Office region East Scotland for several dry years (coloured lines) and this year (symbols for each day) – despite June rainfall being 38% of average, the total for 2021 is above that of the dry years 1976, 1984 and 2018 because of higher rainfall in May. Low rainfall continued until late July when some moderate falls raised the total. 2021 will not therefore be among the driest summers in E Scotland. Data from Alexander & Jones (2001), for analysis, see the curvedflatlands web at The 2018 summer drought.

28 Mangrove rehab – UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: 2021 Risk Award recognises Vietnamese women fighting climate change. Background: the weAdapt page Enhancing flood resilience ….

27 Made in Dundee and now operating in the sea around Orkney: Orbital Marine O2 wave turbine. Short video at O2 Installation. Report at BBC News. Previous: 23 April.

26 Locavore – Scotland’s first social enterprise food producer and retailer (veg boxes, etc.) has gained funding for expansion from Social Investment Scotland (SIS). Background: Bring on the food revolution. SIS news:  Locavore secures £850,000 from SIS to meet surge in demand for ethical food. [Ed: congratulations from the Living Field to all at Locavore.]

26 Greenwashing under scrutiny – the tendency for businesses to overstate their green credentials so as to attract money is coming under pressure from international regulators.  Reuters: Regulators to unlock ‘black box’ for ESG corporate ratings. International Organisation of Securities Commissions: IOSCO consults ESG ratings and data providers. Previous ClientEarth 19 April [Ed: big questions over who makes a ‘green’ rating and the criteria and indicators used.]

23 Great Barrier Reef – widespread damage over the years due to warming sea and poor water quality (e.g. N, pesticides from agriculture) – UNESCO defers decision on In Danger status. For background, see Great Barrier Reef Foundation News and related Blog of today, and Reef Restoration and Adaptation Programme for what might be done to save it.

Looking out from Fitzroy Island off the coast of Queensland Australia, October 2017

21 Food Standards Agency UK (FSA) publishes report on Consumer perceptions of genome edited food. Background and link to full report at FSA news. [Ed: variable understanding of GE among the public and uncertainty between GM and GE.]

19 UK Met Office issues first ever Amber Extreme Heat Warning for the south and west of the UK over the coming week, daytime temperatures in high 20s and low 30s, might reach 33C; warm at night. [Ed. Many people in the tropics and sub-tropics routinely live and work in such temperatures; but imagine being in the upper 40s, as recently in north America, see 9 July and 29 June.] 

19 Extreme flooding in western Europe. Update 19 July at Floodlist – Austria and Germany – more deadly flash floods after heavy rain (maps and river-level charts). Previous: BBC News 17 July Where are the worst-hit areas? and BBC Weather 16 July Severe flooding in western Europe.  See also WMO link at 16 July below.

16 From World Meteorological Organisation news: Summer of extremes – floods, heat and fire. Neat summary of the recent floods in western Europe and high temperatures in western North America and northern Europe, with maps and links. 

15 Earthsight press releaseIllegal logging in Siberia (ends up in children’s furniture). Also, Mongabay, 16 July Laundering Machine. The international, non-profit Forest Stewardship Council seems to have not appreciated what was going on. Not for the first time, 3 years back see YaleEnvironment360 of 20 Feb 2018 on Greenwashed Timber: how forest certification has failed.

15 US-Germany tensions ease over gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from Russia. See Euronews: Chancellor’s farewell visit to US. For background: Clean Energy Wire (Journalism for the Energy Transition) 14 June – Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe

15 National Food Strategy – an independent review for government. NFS web site. Part 2 published today. [Ed: much media comment but where is Part 2? More to follow.]

9 Hottest June on record in the USA Report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Climate summary for June 2021 gives maps and charts. For fire risk, drought and temperature, for June to October 2021 see Predictive Services at the National Interagency Fire Centre.

7 Food supply in the pandemic post-Brexit. The Road Hauliers Association report on the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK limiting the delivery of food (example being a sweetie distributor’s difficulties); the RHA have written to the UK’s prime minister requesting action.

3 Cyprus Forest fire – said to be the most devastating in the country. See Cyprus Mail of 3 July, 4 July, and a forest expert’s warning a week earlier Nine out of 10 forest fires caused by people. EU Copernicus EMSR515 [Ed: seems hard to access and download Copernicus data?]

1 Have you got the bottle! One year countdown to July 2022, the start of Scotland’s deposit return scheme for cans and bottles, etc. – aims to reduce waste and litter. For background and history: Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, Marine Conservation Society and Have you got the bottle. Dumping event at Scottish Parliament covered in several local and national newspapers.

1 2021 Fire season in the northern hemisphere. Update from NASA Earth Observatory 1 July for BC, Canada (see the formation of towering pyrocumulonibus above forest fires); previous reports include abnormally large number of fires in SW Siberia.

July The problems of drought are in the news, day after day, whether in Iran, Siberia, western USA and Canada or even locally, through SEPA’s water scarcity alerts.  The causes are natural and human. The severity and consequences – and they are immense – can lead to mass hunger, insurrection and water-weaponisation. The web page of the Global Assessment Report (GAR) Special Report on Drought 2021 by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)  gives summaries, diagrams, links to the report and a video of the launch event on 21 June. See also the article on UNDRR’s Prevention Web showing the links between water shortage and conflict (30 April below).

Snow cover deficit in the Andes, 29 July 2021 (right) and a year earlier – related to drought, 60% less snow in winter 2021 than average: from EU’s Copernicus Earth Monitoring System

DIARY21: April to June 2021

DIARY21: January to March

And back to late 2020

Warm decade The UK Met Office web site summarises recent UK and global trends and concludes 2020 ends earth’s warmest 10 years on record (strong increasing trends shown graphically).

Ecocide – the 5th Crime. Expert panel to draft legal definition: Global Diligence 10 December.

Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration launched 14 December by IPES Food and Nourish Scotland less than 1 year before COP26.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide continues rising: the World Met Organisation Carbon dioxide at record levels and from NASA Graphic: the relentless rise of carbon dioxide and from the United Nations UN scientists see largest CO2 increase in 30 years

sustainable croplands