Tag Archives: “natural world”

You Can’t Tax Your Way Out of Environmental Destruction

One month ago the United Nations published an official paper detailing the sheer level of destruction the natural world is suffering at human hands.

The same size as a honey bee, and very similar, but this is a Chocolate Mining Bee, which is probably the most common of all bees at this time of year. Instead of pollen sacs on its legs this female has special hairs which pollen sticks too, and which you can see here very clearly.

The U.N. divided the problem into three separate principal causes, starting with the direct destruction of nature, usually for financial gain. The second cause was indirect destruction by pollution, or other side effects of industry or human activity, which could be dumping of plastics in the sea or the clearing of land to build houses on, or any other number of side-effects. The third on the list was Climate Change.
However, by the end of the week most of the media had changed the story, suggesting that environmental destruction was a mere side-effect of Climate Change, and ‘pundits’ were clamouring for carbon taxes. This is very dangerous reasoning because carbon taxes are nothing much more than a licence to politicians to do absolutely NOTHING about environmental destruction, while making the lives of ordinary people more difficult.

Governments love taxes and will always be more than happy to impose them. The problem with carbon taxes is that they are supposed to be a deterrent, but big business and heavy industry, who should be taxed, will instead, with the complicity of politicians, externalise these taxes so that they are passed on to the public while they continue to pay as little tax as possible into economies of the countries hosting them. It doesn’t matter what the excuse, politicians will happily go along with any idea which allows them to tax the public – the public NOT Big Business.

It is very important to remember that most big newspapers and media corporations are owned by the same people who do most of the environmental destruction. They buy into media in order to push their own agendas. And state broadcasters are largely controlled by governments and therefore they too are controlled and must toe-the-line, and push the messages their political masters want pushed on the public.

A beautiful Gold Spot moth, which is on the wing right now. Keep an eye for them – they come to lights and night time windows.

The problem with carbon taxes is they amount to the turning of a practical problem into a mathematical equation, allowing governments to claim they are doing something, when they’re not, while allowing those who destroy the environment to continue to do so unopposed. Occasionally fines are imposed on the nation-states that pollute too much, or produce too much carbon, but they can then BUY carbon ‘credits’ from poorer nations which are not polluting. It’s all a completely ridiculous situation , and surely encourages environmental destruction?

A certain amount of pragmatism is always necessary – to live is to use resources. There’s no escaping that. But we should be aiming to stop destructive  practices, not creating carefully orchestrated systems which allow and encourage them to continue while forcing ordinary people to hand over their hard-earned money while giving them nothing in return. Because NOTHING is what carbon taxes amount to. Carbon taxes are the same as the selling of Indulgences, when the Church literally sold people places in heaven – they have no use here on earth. They are impractical and entirely corruptible.

If you really want to understand the problems the environment faces then the very best documentary on the subject is this 21 minute-long gem, the Story of Stuff, which is so good it will change your life:

 

Fungi, before the storm

Unfortunately the arrival of Hurricane Ophelia right on top of the island of Ireland is going to pretty much spell the end of most of the beautiful mushrooms and toadstools around at the moment, but I thought I should at least show some of them. So here are just a few, starting with the Common Puffball (Lycoperdum perlatum):

This handsome fungus grows in abundance at the moment, and stands a good chance of surviving torrential rain due to its shape and toughness. When they get older puffballs become soft and are designed to release spores in a cloud when trod upon. When they are young, as they are now, they are very handsome. Here’s one on its own:

An equally common, but far more delicate mushroom is the Parasol (Macrolepiota procera), which is famous for its extremely narrow stipe, which is the part of the mushroom which looks like a stem:

And then there are the more notorious ones, such as this, the infamous Deathcap (Amanita phalloides), one of the deadliest toadstools in Europe, but fortunately quite distinctive. The most common variety has a platinum-coloured cap, but this white variety, alba, is almost as common:

Whereas Deathcap looks pretty unremarkable, some fungi could best be described as curiousities. Here is a common species which appears to be emitting motor oil, the Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis atramentaria), and eventually dissolves into a black blob of oily substance containing spores:

   Some fungi are both beautiful and remarkable-looking. Here is one of my favourites, the Upright Coral (Ramaria stricta), which gets its name due to its resemblance to coral from an undersea reef. It is one of many species of coral fungus, and, despite how exotic it looks, it’s actually quite common:

All it remains for me to say now is stay safe. Hopefully all will be well and the hurricane/cyclone will pass off and dissipate with a minimum of fuss and harm to Ireland, or anywhere else.

Field Meeting of the National Biodiversity Data Centre

National Biodiversity Week ended on bank holiday Monday, but it really only heralds the start of summer. We have had a very mixed spring, with a colder May than anyone would have expected, but the wildlife is certainly out there. During Biodiversity Week the National Biodiversity Data Centre held its field meeting for volunteer recorders of butterflies and bees here in Wicklow, starting in Glendalough.

Above the Upper Lake in Glendalough Dr. Úna Fitzpatrick gets the recorders to pose. I'm not in the photo, for obvious reasons.
Above the Upper Lake in Glendalough Dr. Úna Fitzpatrick gets the recorders to pose. I’m not in the photo, for obvious reasons. In this particular area we were looking for Graylings, a species of butterfly quite rare in Ireland.
Dr. Tomás Murray and Dr. Úna Fitzpatrick who administer the butterfly and bee recording projects. You will probably know them from the radio, and they are always looking for new recorders. Here pictured at Buckroney Nature Reserve to the south of Brittas Bay.
Dr. Tomás Murray and Dr. Úna Fitzpatrick who administer the butterfly and bee recording projects. You will probably know them from the radio, and they are always looking for new recorders. Here pictured at Buckroney Nature Reserve to the south of Brittas Bay.

Most of the wildlife seen was actually at Buckroney Nature Reserve on the second day of the meeting, and not in the very crowded valley of Glendalough. However, there were lots of these insects which you will see around over the summer, Common Dor Beetles (Geotrupes stercorarius) one of the most common species of dung beetles. They are related to the famous Egyptian scarab beetles and have massive digging claws as they do.

One of many Common Dor Beetles in Glendalough. These ones were very recently hatched out as they had no mites on them.
One of many Common Dor Beetles in Glendalough. These ones were very recently hatched out as they had no mites on them. Usually these stocky beetles have loads of mites hitching rides on them from dung heap to dung heap.

Down at Buckroney Nature Reserve we had more luck. This area is part of the Brittas Bay dune system and very hot in bright sunlight due to all the sand. And it’s packed with wildlife.  Such as…

A freshly emerged poisonous day-flying Cinnabar Moth, one of the most beautiful moth species and remarkably common along the dunes. It's poisonous to eat of course, so you're safe unless you have a taste for moths. It actually looks far more like a butterfly when flying.
A freshly emerged poisonous day-flying Cinnabar Moth, one of the most beautiful moth species and remarkably common along the dunes. It’s poisonous to eat of course, so you’re safe unless you have a taste for moths. It actually looks far more like a butterfly when flying.

And here are what naturalists look like in the field when they’ve caught something interesting…

Dr. Murray examines a specimen brought to his attention. Don't worry folks, they were all released unharmed.
Dr. Murray examines a specimen brought to his attention. Don’t worry folks, they were all released unharmed.

There were quite a few interesting creatures at Buckroney, so I’ll post some photos of them in the next instalment.