2019 is showing us the signs of Climate Change

I find it hard to believe that there are still climate change deniers throughout our global society whenever so many people across the world are constantly advocating these issues.

Climate change: Noun

A change in global or regional climate patterns.

We are only at the end of February, but 2019 has provided us with some pretty substantial evidence of our changing climate. In the first two months of the year we have experienced a Polar Vortex in North America at the same time as record high temperatures in Australia. Since the Polar Vortex, temperatures in North America have remained low and here in Calgary, Canada we are experiencing the coldest February in over 40 years. Photos and news spread across the world when a state of emergency was declared on the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya when a town was invaded by 50 Polar Bears. This invasion happened because of the lack of sea ice and food resources for the Polar Bears, so sadly they are hunting for new resources and this has brought them towards human settlements. This highlights how the endangered species is struggling with the warming oceans but continues to fight for survival.

On the Calgary regional news this evening, there was a story about a local park which had over 50 dead birds. This was a sad scene and many locals believed that there was a high possibility of poison or toxic chemicals involved but government officials are blaming the recent cold weather. They believe that the extreme and prolonged cold weather in the area has reduced the amount of water and food resources for the birds. With a few days of continuous freezing and thawing, it is also possible that some of the birds froze in the water. Whilst I am watching this news story, I am seeing a flash of social media posts from back home filled with sunshine and un-seasonally warm temperatures. Ireland and the UK are experiencing a “February Heatwave” with temperatures reaching 20C, sounds crazy, right? People are out celebrating the warm weather but I cannot help but think how strange it is or understand how they can’t see how big of an issue this is.

These events are not just unseasonal, they are a sign that something is wrong. Our weather is crying out for help, and we must stop ignoring these signs and take more proactive actions.

Polar Vortex-ing

So, I have finally been introduced to the brutal Canadian Winter over the last few days. Most of North America has been suffering through some extremely cold weather over the last week, the weather system was named the Polar Vortex. Although Calgary was quite lucky and didn’t get the lowest temperatures across North America, it was still very cold!!

Let’s be honest, some of the photos that have been circling social media about the Polar Vortex have been both shocking and entertaining!!

With temperatures plummeting, most people were staying indoors, but some people braved the cold to take some incredible photos and videos. We were introduced to the “Frozen Pants Challenge”, some crazy frozen hair-do’s and a lot of people creating their own snow. I tried out the latter and headed out into -36°C with a flask of boiling water ready to recreate the many photos I seen online. It was a lot of fun, throwing a cup of boiling water into the air and watching it instantly freeze and turn into snow. I captured some cool photos and videos, but I started to get cold very quickly.

A few things that I have never experienced before 2019’s Polar Vortex;

  • Freezing nostrils (not pleasant at all)
  • Freezing eyelashes
  • My I-phone turned off at 60%
  • My camera started malfunctioning

Looking at photos of Lake Michigan and Niagara Falls during the big freeze were mesmorizing and beautiful but looking at them, I just see the impact of Climate Change. While North America was experiencing some of its coldest temperatures, Australia was in experiencing it’s hottest month on record. Tasmania is being ravished by wildfires and the smoke is spreading to New Zealand. To me, it is alarming how different the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are acting at one time. These extreme weather events are a clear indicator for a changing climate, and it is something that we all need to focus on and stop ignoring.

We can make a change and we must make a change.

Bees’ Needs Week 9-15 July

This week we are celebrating the third annual Bees’ Needs Week hosted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), so for the rest of this week try to keep a thought for the bees and their needs. These insects are essential for pollination which keeps are agricultural industry thriving and there is no alternative after them. So, we MUST keep them healthy and turn around their populations to ensure our own future on planet Earth.

“Bees and other pollinators are vital contributors to the beauty of our landscapes, our economy and our £100 billion food industry”

(Environment Secretary Michael Gove)

 

I am very glad to see that the UK government is highlighting and campaigning for such a delicate matter. All the numerous bee species in our ecosystem are under threat and it is down to us to take actions against their population decline.

I am lucky enough to live in the beautiful Northern Irish countryside and my back yard is buzzing with bees, especially during this great weather we’ve experienced lately. I have watched many Bumble Bees and Carder Bees had at work amongst the wildflowers in my garden like Foxgloves and Wild Roses. They are literally everywhere I look, and I am constantly trying to capture a photo of them. Even as I am writing this post, I can see lots of bees poking around the Wild Rose bush outside my window and it genuinely makes me happy to see this. Whilst I am surrounded by bees here, it is a completely different story around urban areas where populations are dwindling. This is where the real action needs to be taken.

Many activists have a lot to say about the matter and David Attenborough is included. He recently spoke out on simple actions that could be made by the public to help the bees. His idea was simple and effective, to leave a spoonful of sugar mixed in water outside for the bees to drink. This sugary substance is like nectar that they acquire from flowers. I ask you to listen to this wise man as everyone has a spare spoon and leave it out in our garden or on a windowsill and I am sure at least one little bee will be happy to see it. David Attenborough stated that bees become exhausted and dehydrated as they travel around so this sugary solution will help to revive them and let them get back on their way.

IMG_2341

They have simple needs;

·         Water

·         Nectar (sugar)

·         A place to rest

Defra have a great video about Bees and their needs;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uVeyH7XQXg

 

The 5 simple actions you are encouraged to do;

1.       Plant more flowers, trees and shrubs

2.       Let your garden grow on the wild side

3.       Cut your grass less often

4.       Don’t disturb insects or their nests

5.       Be more careful with pesticide use

And of course, you don’t even have to have a garden to help the bees out, why don’t you get a flowerbox for your windowsill as even the smallest of places can provide the bees with their needs.

 

For more info on bees and Bees’ Needs Week just follow the links below;

https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/Bees-Needs-Making-your-garden-bee-friendly-factshe.pdf

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bees-needs/

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bees-needs/media/ 

Heatwaves and Gorse fires; Why is Northern Ireland so unprepared?

I am sure that it is now international knowledge that Ireland and the UK have been experiencing a heatwave for the past week or so. Two nations full of complainers and over-exaggerators when it comes to anything involving the weather. A few months ago, we were frozen over, and we had to close schools and businesses and I even had to wear my hiking boots to make it over my road a few times. But now that temperatures have been flying steady above 20 degrees the whole island of Ireland has been put on a hosepipe ban. Oh yes, you heard that right, an island that experiences rain for at least 10 months of the year is worried about water shortages and pollution.

Sadly with this heatwave comes the threat of gorse wildfires across Northern Ireland, in which approximately 600 were reported in the last week. This issue is not only tragic to the environment but deeply threatens livestock, farmland, homeowners and the economy. The thought of any of these fires being purposely set is appalling as brave members of our Fire and Rescue Service continue to put their lives in danger to combat the flames. I was driving along the Mourne Coastal Route during a beautiful sunny evening and suddenly the road in front of me was engulfed in thick smoke as a gorse fire raged along the cliffs. The firefighters were on the scene already trying to stomp out the flames, but it was obviously difficult when they were surrounded by dry grass and gorse which caught fire so quickly. A few days later, I heard that the area around Bloody Bridge in County Down was also experiencing gorse fires, this is only a few miles down the road from Ballymartin where I had seen the last gorse fire. Bloody Bridge is a popular spot for watersports, picnics and sunbathing so the area has been buzzing with people throughout this good weather. On the news, I have seen reports of large gorse fires across the nation, which worries me of how our landscapes are so fragile against the slightest of environmental changes.

Although this heatwave is a weather phenomenon, it is the sort of event that may become more frequent as our climate becomes more unpredictable in the future. Hopefully our governments, in both Ireland and the UK will work harder to implement solutions to the problems climate change and global warming will continue to throw our way.

But for now, there are things you can do to help reduce the risk of gorse fires;

·         Report any fires immediately by calling 999

·         Extinguish all barbeque equipment and cigarettes properly

·         Refrain from setting camp fires

·         Refrain from leaving rubbish in areas that are vulnerable to wildfires, as rubbish like plastic and glass bottles can act as a lens to superheat the ground beneath them resulting in a spark.

For more information on what to do to help prevent wildfires and what to do if you see a wildfire follow the link;

https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/news/daera-urges-public-help-prevent-wildfires