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Showing posts from April, 2020


ANZAC DAY – three songs for soldiers

Originally this solemn day was about honouring the soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who fought in the First World War. Go to any small country town and you will see elaborate war memorials which reflect the huge toll this war took on what was then a very small colony. Out of a population of  four million people, 38.7% of young males enlisted of whom almost 65% either died, were wounded or remained missing, the highest casualty rate for any country. Since then the day has come to include all those men and women who have served in all the wars since. Usually this involves street parades and a dawn and evening service with the haunting “ Last Post ” being played at sunset, but this year it is being celebrated with a virtual ceremony instead. Though I’m not in favour of war or excessive nationalism, I think we should think about and mourn the loss of lives, the sacrifices people made, the families left behind and those who were wounded or are still suffering, and

Water and Agriculture - 1 Rethinking what we eat - Meat and Dairy

    Happy Earth Day , Everyone! I truly can't think of a better day to be discussing water and agriculture. According to the World Bank , agriculture uses about 70% of the world's water, while households only average around 17% and industry 13%.  With many people already struggling to get enough to eat, the World Bank estimates that if we continue on our present course, we will need 50% more land and 15% more water by 2050. However, the world is not just becoming more crowded. As people grow more affluent as some one billion people have over the last two decades, they are also demanding a richer diet which includes more meat and dairy, the thirstiest 'crops' of all. Some gains can be achieved by making better use of the water we have. Israel for instance, has long pioneered drip irrigation to minimise water use, and farmers in many countries including China are starting to use remote sensing – that is, using satellite data to monitor fields so t

Greening Wastelands – The Fairy Garden revisited

Not into green roofs, or can't do it at your place? Here's a way in which individuals and small communities can do more to make the most of storm water and waste ground. During my latest officially approved walk I visited what we used to call the “Fairy Garden" until the council gave it a brutal short back and sides about five years ago. Well I'm pleased to report that it’s starting to recover quite nicely. Reeds and native plants have softened its edges. Frogs, birds, butterflies and crickets have begun to return and it is once again a little bit of nature in the city. Humans are not excluded either. There are seats, a nicely weathered picnic table, a discreet rubbish bin and signage. It was such a delight to be there today when we can’t go far afield and I take back whatever nasty things I said about the city council last time. It shows what can be achieved with a little time and effort. However, it's much more than just a pretty face. How it look

Why we need Green Roofs ......

Green roofs improve the urban environment – so why don't all buildings have them? [This article is republished with kind permission from The Conversation – see below*]                           USEPA/Flickr.      Michael Hardman , University of Salford and Nick Davies , University of Salford Rooftops covered with grass, vegetable gardens and lush foliage are now a common sight in many cities around the world. More and more private companies and city authorities are investing in green roofs, drawn to their wide-ranging benefits which include savings on energy costs, mitigating the risk from floods, creating habitats for urban wildlife, tackling air pollution and urban heat and even producing food. A recent report in the UK suggested that the green roof market there is expanding at a rate of 17% each year . The world’s largest rooftop farm will open in Paris in 2020, superseding similar schemes in New York City and Chicago . Stuttgart, in Germany, is thought of as “the gr

More About Water... 2 – Protecting our liquid assets

Yes, you could buy a low flow shower -head and only shower once a week and thus reduce your personal consumption, but while the latter may encourage social distancing, it will barely make a dent in water consumption while populations continue to grow and become increasingly urbanised. This is particularly so if wealth and expectations keep rising and people start wanting swimming pools, green playing fields and golf courses and an ever increasing range of appliances such as washing machines dishwashers and air conditioners, which not only consume vast amounts of water themselves in manufacture and use, but demand electricity consumption as well. Power demand will in turn require water impoundments in the case of hydro -electric schemes or water consumption in the form of cooling towers for nuclear power stations or settling ponds and the like in case of coal fired ones, not to mention water consumed in related mining. Protecting Water Sources and Watercourses To even hope