Category Archives: Biodiversity

Are polythene tunnels a danger to bumble bees?

I have a 50 foot walk-in polythene tunnel with doors at each end. I grow strawberries in this tunnel. Bees of all sorts are to be encouraged and they more than oblige in pollinating the strawberries. But I have noticed a number of dead bumble bees recently. Notwithstanding the news of a sickness that is killing bees I wonder, in this case, is there a contributing reason for bees dying in polythene tunnels, or at least in my tunnel?

I wonder is heat stress a factor?  I note that the bees freely fly in through the open doors and do their good work among the strawberry plants. But when it is time to leave a problem seems to arise. The bees fly towards the roof of the tunnel expecting to make their way out into the light by that means. Endlessly they push against the polythene here looking for a way out. At the height of summer the heat in a tunnel can be surprisingly high which must add to their distress. This constant searching for a way back out of the tunnel in most cases leads the bees to bump along the roof to eventually find themselves trapped against the vertical one to two feet of polythene above either of the doors. If they would only drop down that two feet they would find their way out the door again.

I have found several dead or dying bumble bees in the tunnel and wonder would this be from their exhaustive efforts in trying to escape from the tunnel? (Honey bees don’t seem to have a difficulty and fly out through the doors without problems.) If this is indeed the case tunnel design that allows an open flap above each door that could be buttoned up in winter might be helpful.

Have any others observed this to be a problem? I would welcome your views.

Polythene tunnel designers might wish to consider this.

Patrick

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GREEN PARTIES – and the missing step!

The aspirations of green political parties, of whatever hue, are based on the premise that people, voters, in influential numbers, will right away subscribe to their policies as being wholesome and good and altogether sensible. Economic downturns have lain this in ruins.

Many years ago I recall a headline in a Florida newspaper – to hell with ecology I want my job. And that is where people, in large numbers, now are. Greens may wish to believe otherwise – but check your polls.

Social changes can suddenly be ‘of their time’ and people in great numbers will willingly flow towards these new ideas with little or no persuasion necessary. Green parties have not yet had that good fortune. Their messages are largely stillborn: not yet of their time.They have had to struggle to be heard and have often stood accused as anti-developers and anti-jobs and anti-tradition. None of which is helpful in furthering a green case.

Carts before horses are at issue here. If green party policies are to be enthusiastically embraced by a scale of numbers that would make a difference then a shift towards a clearer appreciation of the natural world must first be in place. Green politicians have commonly set out their stalls in front of largely indifferent customers not yet willing to ascribe to what is being offered. And what is on offer has been bought into by a disappointing few. That is the dilemma of all green parties. The soil has not yet been adequately tilled out of which green party crops of ideas can grow and flourish.

Nature is its own best salesperson. It has wonderful stories to intrigue us yet the storytellers are too few in number. She displays exquisite beauty of such a nature as to compel us to simply stand and stare and wonder at it all and at our own small existence in all of it. She continually reveals to us her ingenious and inventive mechanisms of coping and surviving and thriving in the most challenging of environments. She discloses for us varied and wonderful interlocking processes that her flowers might be brought the pollen they require. The exquisite love-dances of birds leading to extraordinary architectural nests that young might follow them onto the endless timeline is one more manifestation of the magnificence of this planet. The world is indeed a place of irrepressible wonder whether it be demonstrated in the beguiling behaviour of South African cave crickets or the spore-dispersing structures of soft sphagnum moss.

Centuries of poetry, numerous spiritual texts, and the gifts of musicians in creating ethereal music are all attestations to the wonderful forces of nature that lie all about us – if the rest of us could but see.

Widespread appreciation of the silence of falling snow, the sounds of the movements of different leaves under restless winds, the million songs of meadow insects, need first to be in place before green party movements can hope to succeed in any meaningful sense. Only then will an effective green party’s ‘time have come’.

A quotation here might show how far many of us are now uncoupled from associations with any part of nature. It is a quote from the Lakota:

‘In relation to white minds . . . I have often noticed white boys gathering on a city street, jostling and pushing each other in a foolish manner. . . . their natural faculties neither seeing, hearing nor feeling the varied life that surrounds them.There is about them no awareness . . . and it is this dullness that gives ugly mannerisms full play.’ 

With impoverished awareness as this general to a society how can any green party hope to make progress in the face of such strange detachment? Green parties cannot hope to move from their present place of paralysis until this poverty of connectedness is rectified. No headwind is possible without first addressing this deficiency. If we, as a society, are to be persuaded to conduct our lives and our businesses in a manner that does not put nature in harm’s way it will require the majority of us to be much more fully aware of the beauty and mystery of nature upon which we all depend.

Green parties have been tacking, as best they can, in the choppy waters in the wake of others. If they are to become powerful players in political systems they need to focus their considerable passion and energy on leading societies towards affection for nature so that citizens, in the end, will want to instinctively do what is right by nature. Achieve this and green parties will succeed in becoming sustained and powerful political forces. Then their time will indeed have come. But without this change in society green parties will continue to be viewed as unrealistic, unpractical, anti-business and anti-jobs.

Greens might want to consider this and review their thinking.

(As an after-note on this – those interested might want to read the blog entitled – A Call to all Religions to now Embrace Nature Conservation. This, if taken to heart and acted upon by established churches, would go a long way in helping green parties achieve their ambitions.)

Patrick

World Religions to become Leaders of Nature Conservation!

The start of a new year gives all of us a renewed opportunity to consider how things might be instead of how they are at present.

Nature is in deep trouble. My last blog asked that the great religions of the world would consider setting aside one day in the year to be a special day for ‘conservation’. On such a day the various church leaders in their mosques and synagogs and temples and churches would talk to their millions of followers on why and how we might better protect the wonderful other species that share this planet with us. I received many favourable responses to that idea so it might be useful to take the idea further.

World religions are not comfortable with each other. This is largely due to past circumstances and past history. And in part it is due to the certainty that each is the true way towards the Supreme Being and of the need to harvest souls into the respective boats. But are religions forever to remain at a distance one from another? Are not all following the true way but doing so along different paths?

If strangeness between religions is to be eliminated it must start with clerics meeting together in relaxed and non-confrontational circumstances. And where better than in a place of striking natural beauty that is a manifestation of the hand of God?

It would be a wonderful thing to do if the great religions of the world were to agree to create between them a wilderness reserve to be owned and managed by the major religions on the planet. It would be a place where such spiritual people could visit and draw inspiration from what they would find there. And in such a place, on meeting others of different beliefs, discover that they are not strangers but are all simple human creatures trying to find closer contact with the God of All. No beliefs would be compromised. Substantial benefits to the greater world from the increased harmony among religions would result. And clearly there would be advantage too to the wildlife that would live undisturbed in such a protected wildlife area.

Those among us who are religious people might wish to think about this. If religious people were to discuss what is proposed here and agree to come together to create sich a wilderness reserve what a wonderfil thing that would be for wildlife – and for religion too. A little more on this can be found in Planet Dancing. Come on – please think about this – then come together – and go for it.

Patrick

A Call To All Religions to Now Embrace Nature Conservation.

If nature is an expression of the work of a Supreme Being it is a puzzling fact that world religions are largely silent on conservation matters.

This is made more so when we realize that the great religious leaders found it necessary to go into wilderness areas to draw closer to their God. Mohammed left his home in Mecca to go to a mountain cave to meditate. The Buddha went into solitude and sitting beneath that famous tree received the illumination he was seeking. Jesus, Son of God of the Christian Faith, retired to the desert that he too might meditate.

There appears to be a quality of wilderness that allows great spiritual minds to discover what they seek. In such places they find deep concentration possible and discover their God in the quietness of the song of sand or in the fingering of wind among leaves.

If wild places do have such qualities then religious leaders should be anxious that there will always be such places. Surely the quality of these wilderness areas are worth preserving? If so what might the leaders of the great religions do to instill in their congregations a commitment to protect Nature in all its unknowable mystery?

Nature is now in deep trouble and needs the help of world religious leaders.

Such leaders could play a tremendous part in conservation. Hundreds of millions of their followers would listen to what they have to say. Why not on one day of each year religious leaders would speak in their temples or mosques or churches on how each member of the congregation could help in the protection of species and habitats?

One day a year!

A letter of instruction from each of the world religious leaders is all it would take. In this way religions could be enormously influential in instilling an awareness in their people to be part in the protection of nature.

Conservation needs your help. Please seriously consider this proposition. Those who are members of the varied great religions and who read this I would ask you to please reflect on what is stated here and bring this idea to those of influence within your respective churches.

Details on how this idea could be developed further is to be found in Planet Dancing. Don’t just read this and then let it go. Conservation of species and the habitats on which species depends could do with your help in bringing this idea to the leaders of your great religion. If we, together, succeed in this we will have done something of great benefit to nature. And years later you can say ‘I was part of that’.

In conclusion – a Christmas greetings to all of you who, at this time of year, carry the faith of Christianity.

Patrick

Calling all religious people – to a big question!

 

Pots and pans – or something in between?

Things sometimes come into the head and stay there refusing to go away. A question has stayed with me for several weeks and now needs to be put to rest – one way or the other.

Anthropologists struggle to put sense on what or who we really are. The more recent inquiries raise the possibility that we are more broad church than we  might once have thought we were.

As part of this scientific inquiry John Hawks, an anthropologist, holds the view that modern humans, Denisovans and Neandertals might be collectively embraced within the definition of same species. Our genomes show traces of both Neandertals and Denisovans in their make up.

So the question that has held my attention these past few weeks is – if it can definitively be concluded that we three are indeed the same species – does that mean that both Neandertals and Denisovans had souls? And if so might we hope to meet them in the afterlife?

Theologians out there I need your help to put my mind at rest.

A Drumbeat for Curlew People!

 

For most of us, attempting to comprehend global conservation problems is too confusing and leaves us in a state of unease at our inability to do anything that would be useful.

We read that cod and salmon stocks are a tenth what they were 50 years ago. At $73,000 paid at auction for a 200 kilo tuna we are told that tuna are too valuable to live. Whether it is the problem of excessive burning of fossil fuels or the destruction of rain forests or the slippage of giant ice sheets into the sea we are left floundering helplessly that anything we, as individuals, may attempt to do will in the end be of no consequence.

But perhaps there is another way. No one person can hope to influence corporate businesses that damage the environment. But what if each individual dedicated his or her life to the protection of just one plant or animal or insect?

Some might choose an otter or a badger or a curlew or a particular butterfly. If they were to lay to one side their attempts to understand the complexity of any particular habitat and focus only on their chosen species – what benefit might that bring?

Suppose in the UK or Ireland many people took to this idea and decided, for example, to take the curlew to their hearts and to do what they can to protect this particular bird – what benefit would flow from such commitments?

Confining their focus in this manner to this one species would be more beneficial than a scatter-gun approach of attempting to concern oneself with a multiplicity of conservation problems. Those committing themselves to the protection of curlews would quickly come to realize what is needed if these birds are to continue to be with us.  It would be a small step then for the ‘curlew people’ in any particular country to band together into an association that would speak with one voice for curlews wherever their marsh habitats were threatened. Frog People and Heron People and Otter People, through their respective associations, could also add their voices to that of the Curlew People in protecting the same piece of wet land. That way, collectively, they would form a powerful political force in the defense of any particular piece of marshland. Each person would only be voicing his or her concern for the habitat of their chosen species but when these concerns are brought together like this the result would be a powerful voice  that would carry considerable authority. This idea is discussed in more detail in Planet Dancing.

I believe that this simple idea, if adopted by the many people who are looking for a way to do something practical for conservation, would find this to be a powerful means of participating in habitat protection. That way lies people conservation.

Patrick

 

 

A call to all religions – conservation needs your help.

 

It is an astonishing fact that there is a broad road towards nature that has surprisingly few footsteps upon it.  All the great religions affirm the presence of a Deity – or a multiplicity of deities – who reigns over all. The universe and all it contains is one expression of the existence of this Presence.

Surely, therefore,  there is a basis for religious organisations to take  leadership roles in the protection of nature? Nature is in deep trouble and needs their help.

World religious leaders could play a tremendous part in conservation. Hundreds of millions of their followers would listen to what they would say. Surely it would not be too much to ask that the great religions would set aside one day each year as ‘conservation day’ when they would speak in their temples and mosques and cathedral and churches to their people that all of us are involved in the conservation of nature. Just one day a year! In this simple way the religious could collectively become a powerful movement for good in the protection of species and their habitats.

Mohammed and the Buddha and Jesus of the Christian Faiths all sought solace  in caves and in solitary places in which to meditate on the great mysteries of human existence. There seems to be a quality in wilderness that allows great spiritual minds to discover what they seek. More reason that religions would want to protect such places.

In a spirit of co-operation between all, a religious world wilderness reserve might be established by the great religions. This undertaking would be a non-contentious issue that  would allow religions the opportunity to work in harmony from which all would benefit from such close working together. If strangeness between those who worship in different ways is ever to be eliminated it could start with clerics meeting together in relaxed circumstances – and where better than in a place of striking beauty that is a manifestation of the hand of the Deity?

Religious leaders might like to reflect on giving one day a year to the environment.

In addition they might like to consider entering an adventure together to set aside a wilderness area, free from exploitation. In such a place clerics of all religions could meet and be at ease with each other and know that they are all seeking the same enlightenment and merely travelling along different paths. Nature would clearly benefit too.

(A short extract from the book – Planet Dancing.)

Regards to all.

Patrick