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.


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.


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.


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


29 North-west Canada heat wave. From Environment Canada, Weather Warnings: a dangerous long-duration heat wave will continue …  exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure over BC … duration concerning since little relief at night … further records likely. From the BBC, 28 June – Canada weather: heat hits record … 45C to almost 50C across BC.

24 UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) 2021 report out today: download at CCC web site 2021 Progress Report to Parliament. Concludes UK failed (as in previous years) to implement promised action: “For every month of inaction, it is harder for the UK to get back on track.” Emissions from agriculture and general land use little change over past two decades.

24 Farming and Food Production – Future Policy Group report available on Scottish Government web site as result of a Freedom of Information request. Labelled as ‘draft’. Downloadable at FOI/EIR. [Ed: related news reports imply not all contributors agree with the recommendations; more to follow.]

22 Payment to African country for rainforest protection: Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) – Gabon receives first payment for reducing CO2 emissions under historic CAFI agreement. BBC News: Gabon is first African country paid to protect its rainforest. For standards, see ART. [Ed: Is this a results-based lesson for land use and restoration in the UK?]

22 Painted lady migration to NW Europe depends on climate and (hence) food sources in sub- Saharan Africa: results of major international study. University of Reading news 22 June. Butterflies regularly cross the Sahara in longest known insect migration. Article in PNAS.

The migration of painted lady butterflies in 2019 reached the Living Field garden for the first time since it opened in 2004. They stayed for a few weeks in August, here feeding on field scabious and knapweed. Photographs by www.livingfield.co.uk.

22 Legal experts define New Global Crime: Ecocide. News release from the Stop Ecocide Foundation. Further comment today from Inside Climate News and Climate Counsel. [Earlier: 7 April and December 2020]

15 High temperature records broken in USA heatwave. Near- and above-record temperatures experienced in south west USA during the first half of June compounded by drought and wildfires. Measured high of 46C for several days (that’s hot). For maps, data and links to wildfire monitoring: NASA Earth Observatory Records fall in early summer heatwave. Comments from US scientists at guardian.com.

15 Australia-UK trade deal will affect land use and farming. Australian Government web site: Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade agreement UK Government web site: UK agrees historic trade deal with Australia. BBC News comment 17 June: What are the arguments for and against? [Ed: complex and possibly far-reaching implications for a range of issues in UK food, environment, farming and the export-import food gap.]

14 The 2021 Sustainable Development Report released showing first reversal since the Goals were implemented in 2015, due in part to the pandemic’s effect on poverty, unemployment, and negative spillover from wealthy countries. Back a decade for some of the Goals. Sustainable Development Report available for download from SDSN. Comment and further links at the SDG Knowledge Hub.

11 Antarctic (Pine Island) glacier ripping apart at ice front. The ice shelf, extending over the sea and hold back the glacier, is thinning and breaking because of warmer ocean currents.  Summary and photographs at the British Antarctic Survey.  Research paper by Joughin et al. 2021 Ice-shelf retreat drives recent Pine Island Glacier speedup. Science Advances

7 On World Environment Day 2021 – the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. See also: Becoming #GenerationRestoration. [Later: 8 September 2021

4 Sri Lanka Shipwreck. The X-Press Pearl, on fire since 20 May, has sunk. The ship has  continued to spill masses of waste to the seabed and shore and may now lose its store of oil. The devastation will continue. Updates at: 1) Disasters Charter, 4 June, Oil spill in Sri Lanka. 2) NASA Earth Observatory, 1 June. Satellite observes ship fire off Sri Lanka

1 Rock On! Prehistoric rock art: announcement of first animal carvings in Scotland discovered at Kilmartin Glen, thought to be 4000 to 5000 years old (Neolithic or early Bronze). Report at the BBC web site Extremely rare prehistoric animal carvings …. Click for more on Scotland’s Rock Art Project.

June this year is the 238th anniversary of the 1783 Laki volcanic eruption (8 June onwards) which caused such severe distress to Iceland, but also covered parts of north west Europe, including Scotland, with toxic fall-out, and affected regions much farther away. Wide range of references at the Wikipedia page. For summary and analysis of contemporary records and weather reports in Scotland: paper from Dundee University in The Holocene journal January 2021 (downloadable PDF).

Rivers in Sarawak: arteries for local trade and fishing and more recently channels for rainforest extraction.


31 Sarawak logging encroachment: indigenous peoples dispute – Malaysia Timber Certification Council has opened a ‘dispute resolution process’, following complaints from indigenous groups such as Penan Advocacy Group – Keruan, and their supporters about not having consented, not been adequately consulted and not been allowed to see company impact assessments. See The Borneo Project 10 June, Mongabay 17 June, and Aljazeera online 6 July. See earlier: 7 March.

28 Erosion releases waste from old landfill site: 50-year-old waste exposed on banks of the River Ericht, west of Blairgowrie. Report and video at The Courier and Advertiser (cookies galore!). [Ed: old waste never dies, where ‘never’ is a very long time.]

26 First Golden Eagles breeding in Orkney for 40 years: news from the RSPB after nesting confirmed in Hoy; one of the 508 breeding pairs in Scotland. More from the Hoy Heritage Centre at the Changing Fortunes of Eagles in Hoy

24 Florida manatee starving due to algal blooms (chain of causation: pollution, algal bloom, seagrass reduced, herbivore starving). Check the Calusa Waterkeeper Facebook pages and search for several articles in UK newpapers. More on agrochemicals in the manatee at the Centre for Biological Diversity’s March 2021 article Glyphosate found in more than half of all sampled Florida Manatees.

21 Dundee Eden Project to be centred at Old Gasworks, East Dock St. Announcement covered by today’s edition of The Courier. Great News!

21 Mouse plague in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Reasons for the plague (climate, food) and control measures in this CSIRO Commentary out today. [Ed: a Living Field correspondent in the region reports they have made water bucket traps to control mouse numbers in their house.]

21 Extinction reversed – Judean date palm resurrected from seed. Story at BBC Reel (video 8+ min). Ed: sent by our Vic-Aus correspondent.

21 From Amazon ConservationAmazon Fire Tracker 2021: Brazilian Amazon Fire Season begins (combined use of aerial and ground data). For the results from last year see MAAP #129.

20 Sri Lanka: ship on fire \ pollution. The Marine Environment Protection Authority of Sri Lanka was informed of a fire on the container ship X-PressPearl. Since then, chemicals, plastic and other waste has polluted the seabed and sea shore. From the MEPA web site: Media update on the MV X-Press Pearl. See also 4 June.

17 UK’s waste exports trashed. Reports from Greenpeace UK: Trashed – how the UK is still dumping plastic waste on the rest of the world and Investigation finds plastic from the UK and Germany illegally dumped in Turkey; followed by news and comment, e.g. MRW 18 May, The Big Issue 21 May; Reuters 21 May.

13 Sludge on your wetsuit? Stench up the nose? Sick after a swim?  Sewage pollution is still rife in the UK. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have released their updated app – Rivers to be included in Safer Seas Service. Check their website for #EndSewagePollution and other campaigns.

13 They’re biting! Scotland Midge Forecast 2021 with maps at Smidge.

Trees planted early 1980s, Highland Region, clear-felled in 2020, mostly sitka spruce. The degree of net carbon gain is uncertain, depending on disturbance to soil at planting and harvest, then on carbon uptake by photosynthesis, on the need for road upgrade prior to extraction and finally the fate of the timber.

5 Toxic PFAS chemicals discharged into Scottish Rivers. Three locations named in the ENDS Report of 5 May 2021: Locations of high PFAS concentrations in wastewater and rivers revealed. Sampling by Scottish Water as part of Chemicals Investigation Programme CIP2. See ALS Environmental.

5 Global Report on Food Crises 2021. Causes: first Conflict, then Economic Shocks, and third Extreme Weather create a worsening situation. Reports by the Global Network Against Food Crises available ‘In brief’ and in full at World Food Programme

3 Bioengineering mosquito control in Florida USA. The species Aedes aegypti transmits a range of diseases including dengue. Females (but not males) bite and transmit disease. Modified males, made by UK firm Oxitec, are being released which at mating pass on a gene that kills female progeny, leaving male progeny as carriers of the gene. The first emerging early May. Report in the journal Nature, 3 May: First genetically modified mosquitos released in United States. Nature 593, 175-176. For background, see Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

1 Saiga Day – held in late April and early May across Khazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Mongolia to celebrate and help restore the Saiga antelope, reduced to near extinction by fragmentation, mass-hunting, disease and severe weather. More at Saiga Conservation Alliance and Saiga Resource Centre. Status at Flora and Fauna International.

May The report from the Global Network Against Food Crises on the increasing severity of hunger in many parts of the world should dominate the news this month. 155 million people in 55 countries or territories were in Crisis (Stage 3) or worse and of these 2 million people in each of four countries were in Emergency (Stage 4, very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality) – Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Yemen. The report states that the UN SDG aim of Zero Hunger by 2030 looks increasingly out of reach. [Links to the report at entry for 5 May.]


30 Drought worsened by mis-management and conflict: timely article today on Prevention Web: Drought is leading to instability and water weaponisation in the Middle East and North Africa.

28 The exhibition Ghost Calls by Emma Talbot starts at Dundee Contemporary Arts and continues until 8 August 2021: “Do you hear Ghost Calls? A teary lament for human existence, A Shout Out to the living to take more care of themselves, of the World, of each other”  “This is not the end … let’s use the time we have together, embracing a forward movement without fear”. More on the exhibition and booking arrangements at the DCA web site.

26 Griffon vulture carrion cafes in Sardinia. Farmers put dead livestock in fenced eateries. Times article via UNISS (Sassari). Background on griffon conservation: Life Under Griffon Wings.

23 Tay launch for most powerful sea turbine – destined for Orkney (The Courier and Advertiser 23/4/2021, page 10). First vessel launched from Port of Dundee for over 40 years. See Orbital Marine, Texo Fabrications, Osprey Heavy Lift and Grey Fabrication.

20 UK enshrines new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035. Government Press release. [Ed: hardly a slash, more a slow and halting grind in the general direction.]

19 ClientEarth release the Greenwashing Files detailing misleading claims and adverts on emissions reduction by global oil companies. The group in effect caused one company to withdraw its greenwashing ads last year. 

17 Agreement by two largest coal-oil-gas emitting countries China and USA to limit emissions: US-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis. For comparison see Our World in Data: total consumption China 1st, USA 2nd; per person, USA 1st, China 6th.

8 Surfers Against Sewage new campaign: The Million Mile Beach Clean. Launch at 100, 000 volunteers x 10 miles = 1 million miles. Progress at Beachcleans.

7 Ecocide – the 5th Crime. The movement to make ecocide an international crime against the environment. See Inside Climate News Ecocide: should destruction of the planet be a crime? and As the climate crisis grows: a movement gathers …. [Earlier: 10 December]

3 Florida – Tampa Bay catastrophic wastewater releaseCentre for Biological Diversity, 3 April: Imminent failure of phosphogypsum stack in Tampa Bay exposes phosphate industry risks. Comment: National Geographic. [Ed: phosphate pollution occurs extensively after application to cropland, but can be extremely servere where rock containing phosphorus is mined and processed. Ponds in a former phosphate manufacturing plant containing P and N began leaking wastewater, so they were pumped into the sea nearby.]

2 Land grabbing and illegal mining bring wildfires and deforestation to Indigenous Lands in the Amazon. From IPAM News (Amazon Environmental Research Unit). Recent spike in rate of fires in indigenous lands traced to illegal occupation and activity. Downloadable Technical report of March 2021: Amazon on Fire 6.

April – European State of the Climate 2020: fourth in a series of annual reports published by the EU. See ESOTC2020 on the Copernicus Climate Change Service. The report gives a mass of data and range of climate summaries – Global, Europe, Arctic etc – notably that 2020 was by some way the hottest year on record. [Ed: suggestion to begin – scroll down to ‘Europe in 2020 | Single Variable | Temperature’ to see the ‘anomalies’ chart showing temperature difference from a baseline.]

[April still in progress]

March (beginning)

24 Reports on action for emissions reduction and biodiversity restoration by five Sector-led climate groups (arable, dairy, etc.) – summary and links to reports at the Scottish Government web site. [Ed: the Living Field will be summarising the recommendations of the reports later in the year.]

7 Sarawak logging – strong community action : government alerted over encroachment by logging company into conservation area. See Save Rivers 9 March and Baram Peace Park 7 March. Later: 31 May.

February (beginning)

8 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): Brazilian scientist, Ricardo Galvão given AAAS 2021 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for defence of Amazon deforestation data (lost his job).

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.

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