Category Archives: Climate change

The amazing potential of phone photography

A few weeks ago, in August, I was in Toronto and on a glorious sunny day I took a boat trip out to Centre Island, which, in the unlikely event you ever find yourself in Toronto wondering what to do, I can heartily recommend. There were many huge and colourful butterflies including monarchs and swallowtails fluttering around the island, and some others I didn’t recognise. It was a work trip so I hadn’t taken my DSLR with me and the only way to get a photograph was with my phone camera. And then I discovered that monarchs are skittish and it’s not easy to get close to them, which I needed to do as I only had a phone to take pictures with, but after chasing several and failing to get within range I managed to sneak up on this one:

monarch-toronto-aug-2016-ppMonarch butterfly – Danaus plexippus

I stooped down on the opposite side of the plant to the butterfly and reached around to point my phone and take this picture. I must confess, I was a little gobsmacked at how well it worked. The light conditions were challenging as it was late morning and the sunlight was intense, so there was lots of contrast between the shade and the light. But after minimal post processing to darken the sunny bits I think is a pretty good image! I changed my phone earlier this year for an iPhone 6S plus and I was impressed with the quality of the camera from the start, but after this shot I’m really impressed with it.

I hope it’s not a global phenomenon, but this year, due to climatic aberrations, many butterfly species have been hit really hard and their numbers have plummeted. The results of the ‘Big Butterfly Count‘, an annual survey of our Lepidoptera here in the UK, was reported today, and the news was bleak. Many erstwhile common species have really suffered and this is a phenomenon which I’ve noticed and commented on several times since the Spring this year. And now it’s official. Sir David Attenborough (the worlds greatest living human being), and president of the charity Butterfly Conservation, said that butterflies are a good barometer of the state of nature in general. I’m inclined to agree with him and I think it’s a very bad sign that the plight of our butterflies in the UK is so dire. It doesn’t augur well.

small-copper-wandlebury-roman-road-sep2016-ppSmall copper – Lycaena phlaeas

But one of my absolute favourite butterflies, and one that I only see very infrequently, even in a good year, is the small copper. I think they’re gorgeous. I haven’t seen one for about three years and then, randomly, a friend of mine showed me this picture a couple of weeks ago which he took with his phone, also an iPhone 6S, on the Roman road between Cambridge and Linton.

So there are still some lovely butterflies out there, but please think of them and, if you can spare it, leave a little bit of your garden to grow wild with no chemicals to help them recover. And if you don’t have a camera handy to take a portrait give it a go with your phone instead, you might be surprised!

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COP21 – is 2015 the start of something big?

This is the first time I’ve posted about a news story, but I’m really happy about this one:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35084374

The agreement which has just been reached at the COP21 climate conference in  Paris, to curb carbon emissions and head off the more dangerous ramifications of climate change, is the most important one so far this century. It’s not comprehensive, it’s not perfect. But it puts us in a good place to push on and make it work.

It’s the start of a very long and difficult process but the consequences of failure are unthinkable. But now 195 countries have agreed a framework to try to achieve some level of climate stability as a result of human activities, so the initial steps have been made.  Hats off to the French for driving it and all the other negotiators for working to reach such a vital agreement.

Comma

I hope 2015 is the start of something big and that the Paris Agreement will ultimately help to ensure the survival of lots of species like this one!

A glimmer of hope

Yesterday on the BBC News website there was an article entitled:

‘Rockefellers to switch investments to ‘clean energy”

I think this one of the best pieces of news I’ve heard for a very long time and that it may signify that people who’s opinions and actions can influence government policy are finally taking steps to curb what has the potential to be the greatest global disaster in modern times.

The Rockefeller family, who made their vast fortune from trading in fossil fuels, have announced, on the eve of the next climate summit, that they are to divest themselves of all their investments in fossil fuels and reinvest them renewable energy!

If this is as true as it appears then huge respect to them and I hope that many other businesses, banks, investment houses etc. follow suit and send a very powerful message to the UK, US and all other governments who are in thrall to the fossil fuel industry that there are other ways to fuel the world that don’t need to involve wrecking it.

I don’t really have any appropriate images to illustrate this post so I thought a singing whitethroat was as good as anything.