It’s just possible that you’ve heard the UK is unusually cold right now. We’re recording near-record low temperatures night after night, everyone’s stopped working/going to school, and of course we’ve run out of salt and grit for the roads.
And of course people have started to question how we can possibly have such cold weather when the planet is supposed to be getting hotter. One commentator even went so far as to suggest that blind faith in global warming led to councils not having enough grit stockpiled to keep the roads clear.
It doesn’t take much to understand the concept that there is a difference between the climate, which is the underlying trend, and the weather, which is the chaotic seasonal fluctuations around that trend, but for some it’s asking too much. Read the rest of this entry »
To understand how individuals interact biologists use a branch of mathematics known as game theory, the central assumption of which is that entities (usually individuals) behave rationally; that is, they act in their own best interests in light of the available information about what others are doing. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s about maximizing one’s own success relative to that of others.
A famous example of the application of game theory to behaviour is the so-called Prisoner’s Dilemma. Imagine two suspects, held in separate cells. If they both stick with their story (loosely, “I dahn’t nah nuffin’ mate”) the authorities will have no evidence on which to convict and both will go free. Read the rest of this entry »
The pantomime season is approaching fast, and seemingly kicked off with this piece on the BBC’s Countryfile programme last Sunday, in which Tom Heap explored the intriguing question of “why burning trees is better for the environment than many think”.
Subsequent media coverage has quoted the support of a number of conservation bodies, including ourselves, for the Forestry Commission’s desire to harvest two million tonnes of woodfuel a year from the UK’s “undermanaged” woods. Our supporters would rightly question why a woodland conservation charity like the Woodland Trust would wish to see trees felled and burned to produce heat. Read the rest of this entry »
There was a fascinating meeting at the International Institute for Environment and Development last night. Professor Virgílio Viana, visiting fellow and director general of the Amazon Sustainability Foundation talked about the project he oversees in the Amazonas, the largest Brazilian Amazon state. A short summary of what he covered is in this video:
Viana’s presentation outlined the successes of the project, which has seen a switch in governmental policy from handing out free chainsaws towards a cultural value of seeing standing trees as being worth more than felled ones. Read the rest of this entry »