Eat, sleep, poop, repeat – the life of a new-born baby. Babies bring with them lots of joy and sleepless nights but also what can be a fairly hefty environmental impact. It is estimated that from birth to potty training a child can go through between 4,000 and 6,000 disposable nappies which, along with the packaging they come in, generally end up in landfill or incinerators. A disposable nappy can take up to 500 years to decompose and even with improvements in materials some of the so-called biodegradable nappies can take 50 years to break down in landfill. Aside from the environmental cost, there is the financial impact of buying and disposing of nappies which can run to thousands of euro per child by the time they are toilet trained. So what’s the alternative? Sorcha McPhillips gives us an overview of some other options.
Renewable power, hidden lakes and tropical fruit! Many readers will be familiar with the fantastic playground, wooden giants and scenic walkways to be discovered in Rossmore Park. However, there’s even more to learn about this historic landscape if you have a closer look. Exploring and enjoying our own localities is an important aspect of the journey towards environmental sustainability: once we understand and are aware of what’s around us, we are more inclined to protect and preserve it. As an added bonus, you might be able to motivate the kids to go exploring (beyond the playground) if you promise hot chocolate to whoever can find the most points of interest, of which there are many. Dermot McNally takes us on a tour.
READ THIS EXAMPLE OF “AN EASIER WAY TO DO THINGS”!
On a visit to Clive Bright’s farm in Sligo in 2016, as part of a group learning about organic farming, I recall him declaring with a grin that he “considers himself a lazy farmer”. Clive clarified this viewpoint by adding: “I’m always looking for an easier way to do things”. Clive’s statement belies a true passion for farming smarter, and his approach is reaping rewards. By paying close attention to every detail, and questioning the necessity of each step in the farming process, Clive has carved out a viable market for his 100% grass-fed beef. So how does he do it? Dermot McNally shares some insights.
Could real time analysis of the Nutritional Density of the food we eat become the next great leap for food production? Clive Bright of the Organic Trust and Dermot McNally of Transition Monaghan take a look at this exciting area of science.
BirdWatch Ireland is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland. Established in 1968, this registered charity has in excess of 15,000 members and supporters, as well as a local network of over 30 branches nationwide. If you become a member of BirdWatch Ireland, you’ll receive a glossy quarterly magazine and invites to conservation events all over Ireland. Family membership includes a smaller magazine that’s dedicated to encouraging children to get involved in learning and appreciating nature. Despite the funding challenges posed by Covid, BirdWatch Ireland continues its mission, believing that their work is more vital than ever. This week Dermot McNally takes a look at some of the work going on at BirdWatch Ireland. All images courtesy of BirdWatch Ireland.
Despite internal disagreement, the EU recently announced that it is proposing to classify energy from nuclear power as green. If a majority of member states back it, it will become EU law in 2023. Dermot McNally takes a look at the arguments involved and the effect this might might have on Ireland.
Magnetoreception is a sense which allows organisms to detect magnetic fields and use them to align themselves. This sensory system is used by a range of animals for orientation and navigation. The idea that animals perceive earth’s magnetic field was once dismissed as impossible by physicists and biologists – they argued that it is much too weak for an organism to detect and there are no biological mechanisms capable of converting magnetic-field information into electrical signals used by the nervous system. Over time, however, evidence showed that animals can perceive magnetic fields. It is now clear that many species utilise information in earth’s magnetic field to guide their movements over distances both large and small. What has remained mysterious is exactly how they do this.
South African Quantum Physicists, Betony Adams and Francesco Petruccione, share some current theories, including how birds use magnetoreception to navigate during long-distance migration. This article first appeared in ‘Quest: Science for South Africa’ in January 2022.
CURRENTLY OPEN FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION – HAVE YOUR SAY!
Ireland’s third River Basin Management Plan is currently under development and is open for public consultation. River Basin Management Plans are pivotal tools for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. The Water Framework Directive is European legislation that requires our rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal water to achieve a healthy state, or what’s known as ‘good ecological status’.Ireland’s first RBMP was published in 2009, the second was published in 2018, and the third RBMP due to cover the period 2022-2027 is in the process of being finalised. But what does all of this mean?
THE TREE MAY BE DEAD BUT ITS WOOD STILL SUPPORTS LIFE
“Dead wood provides one of the two or three greatest resources for animal species in a natural forest ecosystem,” says Charles Elton in ‘The Pattern of Animal Communities’. Although it is quite often removed in an effort to keep things tidy and make space for living trees, dead wood is actually a vital element in woodland ecosystems. Wood decomposition is one of a woodland’s essential recycling processes and a natural part of every tree’s lifecycle. Dead and decaying wood also provides a nutrient-rich habitat for fungi, a nursery for beetle larvae and a larder for insectivorous birds and other animals. Incredibly, forests worldwide produce and decompose 150 billion tonnes of wood every year!This article is adapted from an article by the Woodland Trust that can be found on their website (www.woodlandtrust.co.uk).
It’s well understood that the ever increasing demand for goods and services is fueling climate breakdown. Yet despite this advertisers go to extreme expense to convince us to spend more and more. That’s why activists and campaigners of all kinds are heaping pressure on the advertising industry (and the biggest polluters) to clean up their act. Dermot McNally investigates.