Archive for September, 2010

Earlier this month I was away from the pasture traipsing around the Western Eastern Europe (think Poland down to Slovenia) for a couple of weeks. Most of my journeys between places of interest were taken during the night to give me more daytime to enjoy said places, however one rare daytime trip made me and my companion realise the mistake we’d made in sacrificing good sleep and beautiful countryside for a few hours saved here and there.

This revelation came on the 13:00 from Zagreb to Ljubljana where, soon after dozing off I was shaken awake by my travelling companion who wanted me to see the countryside we were passing through. And what countryside! This was not the countryside of Western Europe where one travels through endless fields – cows, horses, sheep, sunflowers, wheat… My travelling companion and I tried desperately and unsuccessfully to capture the beauty of the forests, the swirling mists on the hilltops and the charming villages along the river; something difficult enough to do when you’re standing still and practically impossible when you’re on a train!

I feel like the shots I have of this landscape is something like what we do in environmental economics – attempt to capture the intangible value of the environment to try and show the world (and policy makers) that it exists.  We produce something that is far less than what we’d like and what is there, but it is a minimum that should hopefully give you some idea!

So with all that said all I can leave you with are these poor excuses for photos and a reminder of why we who work in the environmental industry do what we do…

Bridge over the Mirna river in SloveniaMist swirling around the hilltops
Village by the Mirna

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Another round of fisheries negotiations in Europe, and another round of controversy. Iceland and the Faroe Islands have more mackerel in their waters, so want to catch more of them. (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/22/britain-iceland-faroe-islands-mackerel-war ).

The mackerel are moving north, seemingly following cooler waters – mirroring the northward shift of other fish species around Britain. This shift is believed to be the cause of range changes to seabirds breeding in Britain (for example, the charismatic Puffin has nearly disappeared from breeding sites on the South coast of England). In this case the Puffin is the ‘canary in the mine’ for more complex resource problems. The link between warming waters and declines in seabirds has been known about for a while. Society hasn’t given it much thought, but now we are seeing impacts on human livelihoods – like the mackerel dispute.

We don’t know for sure that climate change is moving mackerel stocks north, but it is a good example of what was predicted – and allows us to understand the problems involved without needing our imaginations. Is it climate change? Given that climate is the long-term trend in the weather, and the pollution causing it persists for decades in the atmosphere, by the time we know for sure, it will be too late to do anything about it.

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