Posts Tagged ‘nature’

ENVIRONMENT: Redouble efforts to care for nature

MANY factors cause floods, and throwing rubbish indiscriminately could be one of them.

We have to care more for our rivers and lakes.

We did not do so and we are paying the price with the recurrence of floods.

During my recent visit to the United States, I found the people there care very much for their rivers.

They love their rivers.

There is no rubbish in their rivers and you can almost drink the crystal clear water.

We must care more for Mother Earth.

We are facing a situation where climatic uncertainties are causing much difficulty to the people and their livelihood: losing homes and valuables, severe damage to business premises and food inventories, and making public roads filthy.

With the monsoons, floods and rising river levels are something we need to keep track of.

Of course, climate change and global warming are phenomena we need to face.

We cannot deny that we, too, have contributed to global warming in many ways.

Increasing deforestation with fewer tree-planting activities, aggressive development with little care for landslides and polluted air entering the atmosphere untreated have contributed to the situation.

We continue to exploit the environment and nature with hardly any thought for climate care and the well-being of future generations.

Planet Earth is our only home and it makes sense that we respect, care, nourish and cherish it as we redouble efforts to keep our drains and other waterways cleaner.

A man wading through ankle-deep water after a downpour caused flash floods in a housing estate in Kuching, Sarawak.

Flash floods in front of the Serdang KTM Komuter station in Selangor brought traffic to a standstill on Monday.

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For Earth Day, how about a new Congress?

2. Tell your electric utility: No new nuclear power plants. And no relicensing of existing ones either. Chernobyl and Fukushima have demonstrated that although nuclear accidents are rare, when they do occur, the cost and devastation is biblical (according to the U.N., $235 billion for the former and as much as twice that for the latter). Moreover, we’ll live with the toxic waste, even from the power plants that function normally, for generations with no viable way to neutralize or safely store it, meaning we’re risking the lives of our kids and grandkids for “cheap” power today.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds a doctorate in physical chemistry and therefore knows a thing or two about these matters, has persuaded her country to end its use of nuclear power completely. Instead, the German government has adopted an 80 percent renewable-energy target for 2050 (renewables already account for 25 percent of the national electricity mix), proving you can have a robust industrial and manufacturing economy based on clean energy sources.

Read MoreBP crisis manager traded on oil spill info: SEC

3. Switch to organic food. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, runoff from agriculture “was the leading source of water quality impacts on surveyed rivers and lakes, the second largest source of impairments to wetlands, and a major contributor to contamination of surveyed estuaries and ground water.” And recent research shows a decrease in intelligence for kids exposed to pesticides while still in the womb. That’s right, before they take their first breath, babies from mothers living near fields where pesticides are sprayed are poisoned unnecessarily. Until now, healthier organic choices were hard to find and more costly, but a recent announcement by Walmart to revive the Wild Oats brand in its grocery stores is sure to change that.

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Four out of five UK children 'not connected to nature'

Two young boys are putting the finishing touches to their twig-lined den, next to a welly-clad girl who has discovered a toad hiding by a tree. Several children are busy fishing for worms, while others are scooping up bird feathers as part of their treasure hunt.

Yet these children, playing at a “forest school” in a south-east London park, are an endangered species, according to the first ever national measurement of the extent to which children are in touch with the natural world. The three-year research project by the RSPB, published on Wednesday, shows that according to the conservation group’s scoring system, four out of five children in the UK are not adequately “connected to nature”.

The study, which saw 1,200 children aged 8-12 years questioned on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with 16 statements such as “I enjoy touching animals and plants”, “being outdoors makes me happy” and “humans are part of the natural world”, suggests that girls have a better connection with nature than boys. It also found children in London had a stronger connection than those in Wales.

Child playing in a stream in a forest in autumn. Photograph: Zak Waters /Alamy

The study follows a major stock-take of the state of Britain’s nature, published in May, which found that the majority of UK species are declining, and one in three have halved in number in the past five decades. Conservationists linked the decline in wildlife to the disconnect between children and the natural world. “Nature is in trouble, and children’s connection to nature is closely linked to this,” said Dr Mike Clarke, the RSPB’s chief executive.

He added: “This report is groundbreaking stuff. Millions of people are increasingly worried that today’s children have less contact with nature than ever before, but until now there has been no robust scientific attempt to measure and track connection to nature among children in the UK, which means the problem hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.”

Hugh Dames, who runs the forest school in Mayow park in Lewisham, was not too surprised by the findings. “I’ve had children who hated to get their hands dirty, who are frightened by wood lice. But by the end of just one session, they’re happily playing in the mud, looking for worms and creepy crawlies.”

A girl’s hands holding conkers. Photograph: Elly Godfroy/Alamy

Dames said he had been inspired by his previous work with schools and thinking about what he wanted to teach his daughter upon becoming a father 18 months ago. “If they [children] understand nature, they will value it and will take more care of it when they get older. If you’re not engaged with it, you’re not going to feel any need to safeguard it. I think outdoor learning is the only way to do that,” he said.

The RSPB team worked with researchers at the University of Essex to devise a meaningful way of defining a connection to nature, concluding in the report that it was “enjoyment of nature; having empathy for creatures; having a sense of oneness with nature; and having a sense of responsibility for the environment.”

Based on the polling, they then ranked a child’s connection to nature on a scale of the lowest, -2, to the highest, +2, and considered 1.5 a “realistic and achievable” target based on children who visit RSPB nature reserves. The percentage of UK children over the 1.5 score was 21%, while girls were at 27% compared to boys at 16%. Scotland had the highest percentage over 1.5, at 27%, falling to 25% in Northern Ireland, 24% in London, 21% in England and 13% in Wales.

Suzanne Welch, education manager at the RSPB, said she could only speculate on the reasons behind the surprising finding that Welsh children were less connected than those in London. “Might it be that there are lot of accessible green spaces in London? Children in the countryside can be quite isolated with small local roads and no pavements. Access might be quite difficult in rural areas.” She said that more work was needed to find out why, but she said it showed “just being in the countryside doesn’t make you connected to nature.”

Project Wild Thing

The issue will be back in the spotlight next week, with the premiere of Project Wild Thing, a film exploring why children spend less time playing outdoors and interacting with nature. David Bond, the film’s director, and a father of a six-year-old girl and four-year-old boy, said the RSPB report’s findings sounded “absolutely spot on” from his work making the film, which included a visit to Eltham school, in London, where most of the children he spoke to had “other priorities” than the outdoors.

“What’s important about that study to me is not the percentage but that finally it’s being measured, and according to this measurement system we have a problem,” he told the Guardian. “And I’ve got a bad feeling in a year’s time it will get worse.” He cited what he called well-founded fears from parents over traffic and misplaced fears over “stranger danger” as two of the culprits. Children were spending too much time on screens, such as TVs and iPads, he said, but cautioned “technology is not really a problem in itself. It’s a much more fundamental commercialisation of childhood.”

The RSPB said its polling created a baseline which it hopes to use to measure how children’s connection to nature changes in the future. The polling was done face-to-face by TNS for 1,088 British children aged 8-12 years old, and by Ipsos Mori for 112 children of the same age in Northern Ireland.

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Goldsmith backs campaign to protect ‘national jewel’ Kew Gardens

Mr Goldsmith, a former editor of The Ecologist magazine, urged the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a number of letters not to damage the research carried out at Kew or harm its international reputation.

Ministers have been accused of breaking the law by cutting Kew’s funding, resulting in the loss of 120 jobs.

As revealed in The Independent on Sunday, the GMB union has said ministers are failing in their legal obligations under the 1983 National Heritage Act, which commits the Government to ensure Kew is adequately resourced.

Mr Goldsmith told The Independent: “Kew Gardens is a national jewel, and it would be a tragedy if its work and reputation were to suffer as a result of excessive cuts. I have made the point in letters to Defra ministers and am waiting to hear back from them.”

A petition on calling on Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, to reverse the cuts had nearly 65,000 signatures yesterday evening, up by about 15,000 since the day before.

A spokesman for Kew has said the cuts will mean the “range of scientific activities will be reduced”. Many of those at risk are scientists and botanists.

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New nature center springing to life

The main floor of the two-story house is being converted into the nature center. One of the two primary rooms will become a lecture hall, and the other will be dedicated to Whiteside County area nature displays, including that of a male cougar that was shot in November on a farm near Morrison.

Kopf, a former Motorola engineer and manager in Florida, has experience as a volunteer with a nature center in Maryland. As the center’s caretaker, he will live upstairs rent-free in lieu of a salary.

Local artisans and the Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District are lending mounts and exhibits, and the Fulton High School Science Club, with the help of a grant from the conservation district’s foundation, is creating displays.

Although the center still is under renovation, lectures geared toward schoolchildren (and interesting to adults) are set to begin there this summer, Kopf said.

No admission will be charged, but donations will be “graciously and aggressively accepted, hopefully in that order,” Kopf said.

A grand opening is planned, once the cougar is mounted and ready to display. Hours have yet to be set, although plans call for the center to be open at least Friday evenings and weekends year-round, and for special events as needed.

“We have big plans for a little facility!” he wrote.

That, no doubt, would please Miss Andresen tremendously.

You can volunteer

The Andresen Nature Center is guided by a volunteer committee, and a few more members are being sought.

The panel is looking for members “who would more fully represent the younger children of the area,” caretaker and Executive Director Kyle Kopf said in an email. “The parent of a home-schooled child would be greatly welcome, as well as a parent who is involved in one of the local scouting organizations.”

Volunteers also are needed to staff the center.

The center also has an evolving wish list. To make tax-deductible donations of money or items, get updates, and follow the center’s progress, go to or contact Kopf at or 815-499-5869.

Lectures planned

Three lectures have been scheduled at the new Andresen Nature Center. All will begin at 1 p.m., and will be presented by Dave Harrison, resource conservationist for the Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District.

On June 11, the topic is birds; on June 21, predators; and on July 30, general habitat.

June 21 also is the date of the second annual Bluegrass Festival at Heritage Canyon.

Lectures geared toward adults will be scheduled in the fall.

The Andresen Nature Center is guided by a volunteer committee, and a few more members are being sought.

The panel is looking for members “who would more fully represent the younger children of the area,” caretaker and Executive Director Kyle Kopf said in an email. “The parent of a home-schooled child would be greatly welcome, as well as a parent who is involved in one of the local scouting organizations.”

Volunteers also are needed to staff the center.

The center also has an evolving wish list. To make tax-deductible donations of money or items, get updates, and follow the center’s progress, go to or contact Kopf at or 815-499-5869.

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It could be a messy weekend

PORTLAND CREEK  Port Saunders RCMP said Thursday afternoon that Rte 430-28 is now open to one lane of traffic between Port Saunders and Port Aux Choix after it was temporarily closed due to a washout earlier in the day. 

Police are asking drivers to proceed with extreme caution and reduced speeds if travelling in the area.

Provincial work crews have been busy today after a section of Route 430 near Portland Creek washed away.

Scott Barefoot, Transportation and Works communications director, said in a statement that warm weather and rapid waters damaged the road. Although the water has receded significantly, crews are still backfilling at the site in an attempt to stem the damage.

The incident is one of several around the province as the spring thaw has created havoc after a snowy winter.

Similar incidents could be on the way, as Environment Canada has issued a statement in anticipation of spring snowfall expected to impact much of the island Saturday.

Motorists are urged to drive with caution as crews work to repair Route 430.


(Earlier story)


It looks like Mother Nature will be messing with the weather this weekend, so if you were planning on having an outdoor Easter egg hunt, you better move it inside.

A washout has already been reported south of Portland Creek on the Viking Trail. Crews are currently working on the strech of highway.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement that’s covering most of the island for Saturday.

The weather agency is calling for a “significant spring snowfall” on Saturday.

Areas affected include Deer Lake, Port aux Basques and Burgeo.

Environment Canada says a low pressure system will bring a spring snowfall to most of the island on Saturday. Over southeastern Newfoundland, the snow may mix with ice pellets or change to rain Saturday afternoon before changing back to snow Saturday night.

With some uncertainty in the track and intensity of the low, Environment Canada says it’s too soon to determine exactly where the highest snowfall accumulations will occur. But current indications show that between 15 to 30 centimeters of snow may fall over parts of eastern Newfoundland.

While Corner Brook is not included in the special weather statement it will still see some snow on Saturday.

But for now, it’s some sun and cloud for today and Friday with a high of 1 C today and 4 C on Friday.

The snow on Saturday will be followed by sun and cloud on Sunday with a high of -3 C.

Deer Lake will see much the same conditions for today and Friday.

Port aux Basques will also see some sun and cloud today and Friday. Temperature highs out there will range from 1 to 2 C.

And according to The Weather Network Stephenville will experience some sun and cloud today. Temperature is currently at -3 C.

Friday will look much the same and there’s some snow in the forecast for Saturday.

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