No Mow May

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

Tackling the cost of living…

Here are two really good web-sites that may or may not be helpful with options and information in the struggle with soaring fuel bills and/ or saving energy for the climate:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/energy_saving_tips – provides many tips and also comparisons of the energy used in the kitchen, for example in cooking different ways (best to worst: microwave, induction hob, electric hob, oven; slow cookers are good energy savers too).

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/heat-the-human-not-the-home-save-energy/ Heating the human not the house can save a lot of money; for next winter, as well as clothing tips, the web-site provides information including both initial and running costs per hour/week of reusable handwarmers, hot water bottles, electric blankets and heat pads, and (more expensive to buy but cheaper to run) electric gilets, which can all help save money and fuel.

Spring is free to enjoy!

We’re lucky to have East Hill (below the bend in Wheathill Lane) with its variety and succession of wild flowers and butterflies through spring and summer on our doorstep. And the fabulous Butterfly Conservation reserve, Alners Gorse, between Kings Stag and Hazelbury Bryan is within a fit cyclist’s reach. The nightingales will still be singing when this magazine reaches you. If you’d like to take part in conservation tasks in Somerset and Dorset, take a look at the eucan.org.uk web-site. They’re a really cheerful bunch and the tasks make a worthwhile day/ half day out.

At the time of writing, there is no sign of Swallows and House Martins having returned to breed. They will have a late start. Every garden that has a wildlife area, however small, perhaps with No Mow May, Let It Bloom June, will have wild flowers that help support those extra insects which may make all the difference to the future of all our much-loved summer visitors.

Have you seen the Climate Game? Get to lead the world! https://ig.ft.com/climate-game/

It’s fun, hopeful and informative.

March 2022 News

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

Working together in the village to help wildlife to flourish.

Who is not looking forward to spring? Warmth and longer days for sure; hopefully plenty of sunshine and flowers, the song of birds, the hum of bees and colourful flights of butterflies and more to delight us?  Sadly, though, we have gradually become one of the most nature-depleted nations and that affects us all.

More than 97% of hay meadows have disappeared; insect numbers are crashing – and we learnt recently from BBC’s Winter Watch that there are now 900 million fewer birds over Europe  than 40 years ago. 900 million. The good news is that there are now many initiatives to start to address these losses. Many of you will know about Plantlife’s successful Let it Grow and Roadside Verge campaign, for example.  

Last summer SSDC trialled a few No Mow areas in Milborne Port, and we will be liaising with them to add to these. The sizeable piece of grassland opposite Crackmore Garage supports a good number of wild flower species and South Somerset Highways who we have been in contact with do not cut more than a metre length along the edge; please respect this area and leave it uncut to let the wild flowers flourish; (we will be sowing some local wildflower seed over the recently patch of churned up ground).

Working together with Adam Gale from West Coker and EUCAN, our group will also be helping with advice for and management of Wheathill Meadow, the churchyard and, of course, East Hill.

It’s also encouraging and helpful that South West in Bloom was actively looking for evidence of such initiatives last year. By cutting a band along the edge of these bits of grassland, they can have a neat, cared for look. Let’s tidy away litter but not cut wildlife!

Please get in touch if there’s an area of grassland near you you’d like advice on to see it managed to encourage wildlife.

More wild flowers and uncut grass; more insects; more hedgehogs; more birds; more joy and inspiration!

When daisies pied and violets blue 
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue 
Do paint the meadows with delight… 
Love’s Labours Lost

Don’t forget the opportunity from 14th-21st March to have thermal imagery of your house / community building. Contact us via the email below.

milborneportclimateaction@gmail.com    https://network23.org/milbornecan/

And find us on Facebook.

February 2022 update

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

Hunting Heat Loss! Thermal Imaging Camera comes to Milborne Port!

SSDC is trialling a thermal imaging camera loan scheme this winter (you may have seen a piece about it on BBC News, see link below) and we have booked it for Milborne Port for the week 14th-21st March. The idea is to undertake prearranged thermal imaging of our communities’ homes and buildings. The thermal imaging camera will identify heat loss areas which may indicate where the installation of insulation could help in reducing fuel bills. Our homes account for 22% of the UK’s carbon emissions, so as SSDC says “there needs to be an urgent application of energy efficiency improvements if we are going to hit the carbon reduction targets necessary” to arrest climate change.

Please register your interest via our email below, putting Thermal Imaging as the subject, and provide your house name / number and street, and we’ll get back to you in March when we have worked out how best to survey the most homes in the limited time available!

Find details of what to do once areas of heat-loss within your home have been identified here: https://www.southsomersetenvironment.co.uk/thermalimagingproject; these include some cheap and simple options too such as heat reflective aluminium foil behind radiators and draught excluders for letter boxes and doors.

For more info please go to the South Somerset Website here.

BBC News – Energy bills: Thermal imaging used to help with cost of heat loss

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-60023918

January 2022 – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We are alive in a pivotal decade in human history so I’m thinking ahead to 2030 – by which time greenhouse gas emissions need to have been halved to keep our planet habitable. We don’t and can’t know whether that will have happened though we can decide what part we will have played.

When I think of my loved ones in 2030 I know how I want their lives and future to be looking. It won’t be the same as now. It could be looking immeasurably better for them if we have achieved the 50% cut or, frankly, terrifying if we haven’t. We are truly in a race against time.

It’s good to imagine how green and bright our lives could be by 2030. Here’s one picture. We are well on the way to a cleaner, safer, greener and fairer world, powered by renewable energy provided freely by nature, maybe from within our own community. Our village is less noisy, smelly and polluted, and we all have more access to natural green areas where everyone can relax and connect with nature. There are more trees growing along our streets to mop up any pollution, soften the storms and capture carbon. The sky is bluer, there’re more birds and bees and butterflies, and the air is filled with birdsong and the humming of bees in the spring. We are healthier because we’re walking and biking around more, making use of accessible active transport routes and enjoying the clean air because a brilliant, fast and cheap public transport network has taken loads of vehicles off the road.

We are suffering less from air pollution not only when we’re out and about but also in our own homes (with heat pumps and induction hobs). We are enjoying taking greater care of our possessions, being able to get them repaired and making sure they were necessary and made to last when we bought them. It is a more delicious world with more varied foods too as we eat more plant-based foods, knowing they are not only healthier for us and the planet but leave much more space for nature. We are glad to live in a fairer world. We have slowed down and spend more time with friends and family and less time rushing around; and find we are less stressed and more contented as a result.

I’m aware that being in the richer half of this country’s population, I am among the wealthiest 10% of the global population and co-responsible for half of all global emissions. I therefore feel my responsibility to act and use any influence I have positively. Our household supports organisations lobbying for change; regularly writes to our MP and PM; makes sure our money is not doing harm, and has already halved our greenhouse gas emissions which are now below the UK average.  Whatever state the world is in by 2030, we will feel glad to be playing our part.

Doing something helps reduce anxiety, and everyone’s voice and decisions are important in advocating for change wherever we live, work, study, shop, bank, save, invest and more. It feels better to be part of the change we wish to see! And it’s reassuring to recall how quickly change happens – it’s usually slow at first. Think of where we were with the internet in 2000. Businesses and entire industries have made many significant transitions in less than 10 years.

Our responsibility now is to ensure that future generations will look back and be proud of the actions we take.

Will you be making any resolutions? Please look for links and more information on Facebook, and let’s share ideas.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/18/ten-ways-confront-climate-crisis-without-losing-hope-rebecca-solnit-reconstruction-after-covid

milborneportclimateaction@gmail.com    https://network23.org/milbornecan/

And find us on Facebook.

PS Dubious about climate change? Read the verifiable, fact-based science below to bust the myths and misconceptions! It’s not a matter of opinion. Sadly.  Yes, the earth has had these concentrations of greenhouse gases before (but not during human history) and virtually the whole suite of life on earth then, because it had slowly evolved to be adapted to the accompanying climate, was different. Most species cannot evolve to adapt at the current rate of change – over decades. Unfortunately, anyone who says differently is not a climate scientist, is misinformed or believes they have a vested interest in continuing business as usual. (Not an option that will last).

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide

skepticalscience.com/argument.php

November 2021 update

COP26  On a misty Saturday morning in October, fuelled by tea and biscuits, a lively group of people of all ages were to be seen marching 1.5 km through the lanes and fields of Milborne Port, led by drums and flanked by the Grim Reaper of Climate Change. People all over the world have committed to walking 1.5 km before the COP26 talks between 1st and 12th November as part of the World Climate March – a coordinated global march for those who cannot go to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, and who want to show their concern about keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees. A photo and video montage of these World Climate Marches will be shown in Glasgow. 

Members of the Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group will also be joining the rally and march through Bristol at noon on Saturday 6th November on the Global Day of Action for Climate Change. We will catch the 9.36 train from Yeovil Penn Mill to Bristol Temple Meads that day to join us. For details please Google Global Day of Action Bristol. Email us if you‘d like to link up.

Hedgehogs By the time you read this, Guy Fawkes night will be upon us. Please think of hedgehogs, beloved by children of all ages and now a species vulnerable to extinction, and reassemble or relocate any pile of wood before you set it alight. Piles of wood are favoured nesting and hibernating places for hedgehogs. If hedgehogs visit your garden (lucky you!) providing food for them (complete kitten food with protein as the prime ingredient) will help young hedgehogs put on enough weight to start hibernating, and all hedgehogs wake up a number of times through the winter and need to feed.

Hedge planting in the village More volunteers needed. Please email if you’d like to help.

World Climate March – Oct 9 2021

World Climate March – Oct 9th

The march is organised by a partnership including Christian Aid, Oxfam International and The Climate Coalition, and is supported by the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and Fridays for Future among others.

People all over the world are committing to walk 1.5 km to show their concern about keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees. What happens is that we take a video of the march and send it to Oxfam who will use it for publicity ahead of the COP 26 talks in November.

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action are taking part in the World Climate March on Saturday October 9th.

We will gather at 10.15 am on the wide grass verge on Wick Road where it is joined by Court Lane, heading off at 10.30 am along the path that runs on the north side of Manor Road and New Town towards (though not necessarily as far as) Vartenham Hill.

Booking if possible to milborneportclimateaction@gmail.com (/ let me know if you would like to join our emailing list).

If you like, do bring placards (bold letters on the back of an empty cereal packet is an easy way to make one that shows up in photos), dress up and / or bring a musical instrument to join in! Or come as you are! Let’s make a song and dance about our climate!

Wellies or walking boots probably needed. Walking is entirely at your own risk.

Please spread the word to your family and friends whether or not you can make it yourself.

Join us afterwards for an informal pub meeting in the Tippling Philosopher at 12 noon.

https://www.worldclimatemarch.org/

Fighting climate change and inequality is for everyone.

The next decade is critical to putting us onto a safer track.

Today’s targets are a long way off what is needed to keep global heating below 1.5°C and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. At COP26 leaders must commit to delivering the 1.5°C goal and their fair share of action. Governments across the world are now making important decisions about how to

By joining the World Climate March you can join other communities and changemakers around the world, and show leaders you want action on the climate crisis and inequality.

Every one of us can help and spark a change for people and our planet.

The World Climate March will mobilize people around the world to march for climate justice.

Just one rule:
Record any part of your march and send us the video.

The World Climate March will mobilize people around the world to march for climate justice. Participate by filming your march, and make it your own by use of costumes, placards, chants, ANYTHING! You can complete the march in any way you like, with your friends, family, by yourself, even during a local or national march!

COP 26 – action required

The eyes of the world will be on the UK at the end of the month when we host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow. COP 26 provides a real window of opportunity for global cooperation in tackling climate change at this critical juncture in the history of our civilization as there is lots of progress still to be made to avoid a catastrophic break down in civilization.

In reality we are not a leader on climate. Because greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere what our tiny nation has emitted over the years is a mountain compared to that of many countries – a whopping 4.7% of the global total. So, it’s great that our emissions are coming down as we have a huge responsibility for those historic emissions. However, because we are decarbonizing from a very high level and are not yet doing it fast enough we are not world leaders, especially as we are not on course to keep within our promised climate targets.

It’s also worth remembering that when countries set targets or measure or compare CO2 emissions, they tend to focus on production-based emissions – CO2 emitted within a country’s own borders. However, this fails to count emissions from international aviation and from traded goods – the CO2 emitted in the production of goods elsewhere, which are later imported. And of course, most of our goods are made abroad.

We still have a lot to do – we are making progress on decarbonizing our power but transport emissions have been rising quite sharply, for example. How much will Net Zero cost? is a question that is both the wrong one and not a real question either! The only relevant question is whether it is worth doing. To which the only answer is that it is literally and starkly vital. And will bring huge health and well-being benefits over and above tackling climate change. The government can channel money from fossil fuels and action the necessary policies and retrain skilled workers. In a non-agricultural nation like ours, as Keynes said, if we are able to do it we can do it.

Unfortunately, any excuses we make for delaying action make no difference whatsoever to the physical consequences of the greenhouse gases we continue to emit and the UK has yet to adopt and implement the ambitious policies necessary to achieve its 2030 target and firmly set itself on a path to net zero whilst the total fair-share contribution of the UK – domestic emissions reductions and emissions reductions achieved abroad – would need to be equivalent to the UK reaching close to zero emissions by 2030.

So, we continue to put written pressure on our MP and our PM and will have supported our young people’s Global Climate Strike on Friday 24th September. We also plan to take part in the Global Day of Action during COP 26 in November. Do join us. More on Facebook or email us.

*Bonfire warning! An early reminder that one or more of our few remaining hedgehogs in the village may be nesting in any piles of wood that have been sitting in your garden. Please dismantle / move them before setting them alight. *

September update – the road less travelled

The road less travelled?

When thinking about the environment/climate change, it’s easy to focus on what we need to give up or cut back on. It’s so important to focus on what we gain as well.

Transport around the UK (and further afield) is a great example of this. Currently in many parts of the country outside of London, public transport is expensive and unreliable. If you’re one of the households with access to a car, you have more mobility but still face traffic jams, and cars unfortunately are a leading cause of air pollution and climate change, with busy roads being noisy, smelly and dangerous.

A recent article on the BBC asked what the future of transport would look like in 2050. This focused heavily on self-driving cars, but many people pointed out that a sustainable future transport system looks a lot like the past (UK in 1900s and 1920s): electric trains, electric buses and trams, walking, biking and few cars. We have had the technology we need for over a century!

As well as lowering our environmental footprint, transport infrastructure which prioritises public (buses, trams, trains) and active (walking and biking) transport would dramatically cut our air pollution. The equivalent of 100 people die every day in the UK from air pollution. Having safe cycle networks that everyone could use would benefit our physical and mental health. The Parisian mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has increased cycle lanes and decreased on-street car parking in Paris with a boom in cycling as a result. Cheap or free public transport makes society fairer and more accessible to everyone, particularly those on low incomes. Free public transport is offered in Luxembourg, Dunkirk (France) and Tallin, Estonia (where it’s halved private car use) giving more freedom and better job opportunities/access for residents. In Scotland, under 19s – as well as over 60s – will be able to travel free on buses.

One can’t have an inadequate and unreliable system and expect lots of people to use it. Public transport has been privatized and run by different operators, so it’s neither integrated nor cheap. Free public transport gives everyone freedom and the opportunity to access and engage in all that is on offer in their regional area with benefits for all!

Please sir! Can we have some more? Ask our representatives for a free, integrated public transport system fit for our future.

August Update

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action 

It is a matter of how bad we’re willing to let it get

We’re already effed (as an eminent climate scientist put it on Twitter) and it’s rapidly getting worse – our changing climate that is – how much worse we let it get depends on how many of us act. It won’t go away if we ignore it and the task is now two-fold as we have delayed for far too long – we need to adapt to the changing climate as well as change our energy supply and shift our diets towards a far more plant-based one. The massive climate catastrophes not only in the Global North (Siberia, northwest America and China to name a few) but also close to home – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Belgium – are shaking people out of their denial, where it was unfortunately easy to feel ‘safe’ when such disaster seemed confined to the Global South or was predicted for even just a few years in the future. But neither awareness, nor hope nor fear alone, will fix anything. Act. Now. Choose to burn less fossil fuel.

What’s going on? One factor is that our formerly strong Jet Stream used to be fuelled by a pressure and temperature difference, keeping cold weather on the north side of it and warmer weather on the south. Now, fossil-fuelled ice-free open water in the Arctic allows it to get much warmer when exposed to the sun and constant higher-than-normal temperatures, and the Jet Stream is weakened, allowing colder weather to push down further south or hotter weather to push up further north. It becomes like a slow meandering stream; and the equivalent of oxbow lakes may break off and get stuck in one place with disastrous consequences. So, when the Jet Stream wobbles, an extreme in one place is accompanied by extremes of different types elsewhere as we have been seeing. We need to save all the ice we can. Governments have made commitments but the gap between the words and the action is widening. As well as reducing our own personal emissions with every choice we make, it’s literally vital that governments (and organizations and businesses) also tackle this crisis with the urgency it needs. What can you do? Protest; provide financial support to organisations such as Greenpeace or Transport Action Network who are mounting legal challenges to the government’s plans to ignore our predicament. It’s especially timely to do so now as we approach the COP26 talks which the UK is heading up; the UK is not showing climate leadership at the moment, as the government’s own Committee on Climate Change makes clear. Raise your voice for those you care about. We’re at a pivotal point for human history and the future of our loved ones.

Blossoming Hedgerows 

Wow! The survey we have been carrying out, thanks to the Hunt family, has taught us so much. I underestimated hedgerows! And, despite having my own hedges, took for granted they’d last for ever regardless of their management or lack of it. But no. Hedges will eventually die if not rejuvenated by laying or coppicing at (long) intervals and also if they are always cut to the same point. The data recorded through hedge surveys generates tailored recommendations for management and there is a splendid diagram of what and how to rejuvenate an overgrown or overcut hedge.

Hedges flower on the previous year’s growth so cutting every autumn or winter means no flowers next year; cutting every other autumn means less shelter and no winter berries and nuts for birds and mammals, and so a 3-year cycle, cutting back slightly less than the previous cut, is best.

 As well as sequestering carbon and being fantastic habitat for wildlife (their leaves, flowers, berries, nuts and seeds providing food, shelter and breeding sites for birds and other wildlife throughout the year, with potential for over 2000 species in one 85m stretch) and vital corridors for species dispersal, hedges provide so many other benefits too:

  • Natural beauty and a sense of history in the landscape
  • Shade and shelter for livestock
  • Shade and shelter for walkers 
  • Pest control for adjoining fields
  • Crop protection
  • Flood control
  • Pollution reduction
  • Soil protection
  • Shelter and food for pollinators

There is lots more information on hedgerows on the People’s Trust for Endangered Species’ web-site, including details of how to carry out either a brief or more detailed survey.

Hedges, field margins and roadside verges alike are vital relics of wildlife habitat so we all need to remember they need to flourish and understand it’s important they aren’t kept cut and neat as gardens – but that equally, management outside the flowering and breeding season time is necessary! We’ve a lot to thank farmers for when it comes to hedges!