Friday, June 04, 2010

Biodiversity is...

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Its International Year of Biodiversity this year so I'm going to do a series of articles on biodiversity in the run up to and a little beyond World Environment Day tomorrow. I've posted on topics relating to biodiversity many times before, notably here summarising the range of reasons why we should protect life in all its diversity and here illustrating the incredible variety of life to be found just within common fruit and vegetables, using the carrot as an example (click on the label biodiversity in the right hand column if you want to browse through my posts on this topic).
Some are unsure what is meant by biodiversity and it is all too often spoken of and explained as if its just about the range of species - its about so much more than that! This first post in the series thus gives my definition. Modern science has been and is learning about joined up - systems - thinking . Biodiversity is thus about the genetic variation within species, the range of all species, the interrelationships between species and between those species and their habitat(s) and the variety of habitats and ecosystems. Lets not forget that human beings are included in this of course and that the living world is tightly coupled to and dependent on the non-living ie water, rocks, air and so on. In short biodiversity is nature as a whole - and its the source of our resources and the basis of our lives - see biodiversity sample in the image above (click to enlarge).
The level of biodiversity is a key measure of how sustainable human society is - and should feature at least as much as the often discussed carbon emissions as an indicator. If biodiversity is high then we are much more likely to have: protected natural assets; kept ecosystems healthy; retained regenerative capacity; maintained the ability to deliver goods and services; kept wastes and pollutants below environmental capacity for safe processing.

Fears over feuding families scupper school merger plan | Bristol news

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Fears over feuding families scupper school merger plan Bristol news

PLANS for a £6 million new primary school in Knowle West have been dropped after concerns a merged school may bring "warring" families together.
An independent report said the proposal to shut Ilminster Avenue and Connaught primaries and merge them in a new building was a bad idea.
The merger plan was announced two years ago in the council's Primary Review. People in the area immediately opposed the scheme, and eventually the council decided to commission consultants
Cambridge Education to help find a way forward.
In their 90-page report, the consultants were critical of the proposal for many reasons.

Hardly a fair and balanced choice of headline by the Evening Post (which is also unfairly subheaded 'Scheme dropped after warning over tensions') but it suits the stereotype of Knowle West they always seem to have in mind. The consultants - very significantly - also said that the scheme would leave the area without enough primary school places and that not enough money had been allocated to building the proposed single, larger school. Also pretty significanly they outlined further community uses for the existing school buildings and proposed that such changes to schooling need local community support - but the Post chose to put the spotlight elsewhere. Its great that the merger idea has been dropped but why did the council have to employ consultants to reach this conclusion - why did they not listen to locals and campaigners instead?

Nuclear station wants an extension to make more cash

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Nuclear station wants an extension to make more cash

Oldbury nuclear power station is set to continue operating into next year despite previous plans to shut it down within months, it has emerged.

Officials are requesting a "fairly short" extension to its lifespan, which would generate cash that could be off-set against a £4 billion hole in the national decommissioning budget revealed yesterday by the Government.

Oldbury was due to be decommissioned in 2008 after operating for 41 years but was then given permission to run until this year.

Oldbury nuclear station has already been allowed to operate for longer than originally envisaged and designed for. This report does not tell us how much longer they are now asking for and the reason - financial - is hardly right-headed. One nuclear station operating for a 'fairly short' time is hardly likely to make much of a dent in the £4 billion black hole in the nuclear decommissiong budget. That there is such a large financial hole for such a vital operation is in itself disturbing - and adds weight to arguments against nuclear power.