DIARY21: April – June

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.

This pages covers the period 1 April to 30 June 2021. Back to current DIARY21.


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

4 Global Assessment of Soil Pollution. Soil is being degraded and eroded but also polluted from multiple sources, with consequences down the line for food security and health. Substantial report and summary published by FAO and UNEP. [Ed: unseen, moved around the world, in the air, through food and waste, applied as fertiliser and pesticide.]

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. World Food programme press release: Acute food insecurity soars to five year high ….. Reports by the Global Network Against Food Crises available ‘In brief’ and in full at World Food Programme

WFP/Marco Frattini, Child eating PlumpySup to treat moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).

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.] This month also, the Trussell Trust – a UK foodbank charity – released a report from a project by Heriot Watt University on the State of Hunger: Building the evidence on poverty, destitution and food insecurity in the UK. While the UK as country has access to more than enough food, many of its people are suffering hunger and malnutrition through inequality of wealth and support. 


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.]

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