Challenging Habitat Blog

Working from home during lockdown saves me and my carbon footprint a daily 1.5 h commute and I have more flexibility with when and how I start my day.

Some mornings just beckon a walk along the river! And today, I was rewarded with the magic sparkle of a light frost on bluebells and mist over the water.

I’m mitigating my carbon footprint with monthly donations to Tree Sisters, a charity that works for environmental sustainability through reforestation in projects that also address social and economic sustainability as they foster equality, communities, mental and physical wellbeing.

Tree Sisters have extended Earth Day into Earth Week and you can double your donation with match funding HERE.

Thank you, Adam Benjamin, for introducing me to Tree Sisters and to your Dancer’s Forest project!

A large seagrass restoration project is underway in Plymouth Sound.

That’s great news for the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, conservation and drawing down carbon.

Learn more about seagrass meadows and their many benefits at the Ocean Conservation Trust.

The importance of seagrass to the marine ecosystem has been highlighted for a while, and a great insight has been provided by Dr Rohan Holt in the context of a research project in Wales.

Featured Image: “seagrass Halodule uninervis” by Paul and Jill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Today, 22 April 2021, is Earth Day.

Everybody (well, almost, or not even that) is in on it:

The Independent reports on Greta Thunberg’s criticism of US fossil fuel subsidies, The Telegraph sports the ’10 best sustainable beauty brands*‘ and The Guardian promotes policy goals and a new sense of working for the common good to solve the climate crisis. Even Apple celebrates Earth Day with a its ‘Environmental Justice Challenge for Change’.

I hope that there will be a lasting legacy, that we don’t treat yet another Earth Day as we’re largely treating ‘Mothering Sunday’ – make a fuss, then put it on the shelf for another year.

The thing is: the climate crisis is not someone else’s problem and the causes of it are not someone else’s responsibility. Both are mine. Both are yours, too.

The easy thing I’ve done is to donate monthly to a charity that plants trees. I want to compensate my carbon footprint, not just this year, but all my years…planting trees on my own land, I’ve racked up 22 years…only xx to go (but that would be telling) with getting other people to plant trees for me.

It’s a start, but there is so much more to do, not least of all to reduce my footprint, rather than just lazily compensate for it with money. So, to learn what else I need to consider and can do, I’m going to help an organisation to audit their footprint. My focus will be on a somewhat off-the-beaten-track activity, which will be rather illuminating: it’s the team of Antarctic Quest 21 – an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula in the name of climate and pollution science. Read more about this here: antarcticquest21.com.

*Who says we need to improve our beauty? – but that’s another story (or rather, rant) about the ‘industry of influencers’ that make us believe that we are in some way deficient…and need to buy their stuff to correct that!

At the University of Plymouth, we will celebrate World Ocean Day with a conference for schools that showcases our expertise in marine research and technology in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Our exciting programme of talks covers all scales: local to global, pole to pole, plankton to top predators and eons of time in evolution. It also celebrates human ingenuity for investigating and solving the plant’s most pressing challenges.

Learn more and join us at the event via this LINK.

It’s a great headline: “Plastic Is Falling From The Sky- But Where’s It Coming From?”

The answer is not so great, because most of us are contributing: rubber rubbed off our car tyres.

Read the story here:

Featured Image: “Rainbow and the rain” by Ryan Ojibway is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

As we are preparing for the 2021 Darwin200 voyage with a whole new set of Citizen Science Projects for young people to engage with, the videos of our science projects piloted during the voyage in summer 2020 are being published.

Watch Joe Ellison summarising our large fish and cetacean project, which contributes to the database of the Sea Watch Foundation:

Explore the underwater world of Britain’s coasts with Dr Rohan Holt and Kerry MacKay:

Consider what you can do to reduce microplastic pollution after Shaolin Casey provides you with food for thought:

Discover how Charles Darwin undertook sea surface temperature measurements on his voyage around the world and how modern techniques compare, explained by Molly Brennan:

How much litter is found on remote beaches on our coasts? Find out from Aoibhinn Lynch and Kerry MacKay:

…and watch out for another five videos to be released soon…

Featured Image: Dr Rohan Holt

Today Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England eased a little, with ‘non-essential’ shops opening, along with outdoor catering, hair salons and zoos….

I didn’t go shopping.

In fact, not being able to go shopping for so many months showed me how little stuff I actually need.

This is liberating, and even if it means that I don’t contribute to the recovery of the economy just yet.

At least not with ‘stuff’.

I did invest in solar PV for our house last year, so I did my bit for the green economy.

And when I’ll physically go into work again, I’ll simply shuffle the comfy leisure wear in my wardrobe to one side and rediscover the nice things hidden in there that I have not worn for a year.

This will be even better than shopping: it’s like going into a shop, in which I like all things on the rails and they all fit me 😂.

Perfect!

The next Austral summer (2021/22) will see a rare man-hauled expedition across the Antarctic Peninsula. The expedition team will be ‘dropped off’ at Portal Point, haul equipment up steep slopes and cross the Forbidden Plateau (my question is: what’s in a name?) and reach the shores of the Weddell Sea at Foyn Point.

There is something for everybody in this:

  • pollution and climate change research
  • education and outreach for schools and young people
  • celebration of the spirit of the early explorers

With plans for six important scientific projects from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia firming up and the potential to develop great outreach and educational materials, I am happy and excited to support this expedition as scientific advisor.

To learn more about the aims, to discuss adding your own science project, or to take the opportunity to sponsor something really worthwhile, go to the Antarctic Quest 21 website.

Expedition area on the Antarctic Peninsula. BSAE 2012

Image Credits:

Featured Image: British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012 (BSAE2012)
Map: Kate Retallick (data: SCAR Antarctic Digital Database; Landsat 8 data courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

Ever since I became aware of the incredible intelligence and social behaviour of octopus, I just can’t bring myself to eating cephalopods anymore.

I mean, nine brains!

This new study just highlights an incredible similarly between the way mammals and cephalopods sleep and dream…

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/03/octopuses-humans-sleep-two-stages?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=1bc0fb97f8-briefing-dy-20210326&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-1bc0fb97f8-45313974

Featured image: “Key West Octopus” by Joe Parks is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

One year of lockdown in England.

I feel grateful for my health and that of my family, however far away.

I feel grateful for the beauty of nature around me.

I feel grateful for all the amazing things people do to support each other.

I’m lucky. still. today.

The light is beautiful.

I seize the moment and extend my morning outing with my dog to a walk along the river.

I am rewarded by the touch of morning sun on my face and two owls calling in the ancient woodland on the Devon bank.

A snipe flits off, startled.

Happiness comes from feeling gratitude for the moments of connecting with nature.

I smile.

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