Country Life Today: We have 18 months to save the planet, says Prince Charles, and it’s time to lead by example

The Price of Wales issues a warning about our future; an Oxford don suggests that farming holds the key; and how Henry VIII's final wife is unfairly written off as little more than a nursemaid.

‘The next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels’

HRH The Prince of Wales gave a speech at Clarence House to Commonwealth foreign ministers on Thursday in which he warned that the next year and a half will be crucial in deciding the future of the planet:

‘Ladies and gentlemen, I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival…

‘Next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, therefore, could not be more important and I can only say how much I look forward, I hope, to seeing you and your leaders in Kigali so that we will succeed in raising our level of ambition, while matching it with the practical action that is required.

‘I truly believe that the Commonwealth is uniquely positioned to join forces and lead the world by example.’ 

Read full speech (Daily Telegraph)

The only thing better than grabbing a picture of a kingfisher…

…is grabbing one of two kingfishers at once.

Full story (Daily Mail)

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Just a 20% drop in methane ‘would reverse global warming and cause cooling’ says Oxford scientist

Could the answer to climate change really be as simple as reducing the farming industry’s methane output? It’s certainly an attractive idea and seems to make sense, given that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. An Oxford don named Myles Allen believes this could be just what we need, and said as much at a conference last week:

‘Allen, a professor from the University of Oxford, who has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claimed this kind of gentle reduction in methane emissions would be enough to fully compensate for the warming impact of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from agriculture…

‘”Say we reduce UK agricultural methane emissions by 20 per cent, instead of 100 per cent, between now and 2050, what does that do to global temperatures?” [asked Prof Allen].

‘”That gentle decline in methane would be enough to fully compensate for the ongoing warming impact of CO2 and nitrous oxide emissions from UK agriculture over the next 30 years.'”

Full story (Farmers Guardian)

Stat of the Day

2,239 square miles

The size of A68, the world’s biggest iceberg, which is on the move after two years being stuck in currents.

The ice sheet is 100 miles long, but just 600ft thick – a similar length-to-thickness ratio of a credit card.

Read more (BBC)

Fracking to start up again in Lancashire

A 'No Fracking' sign put up by villagers in Lancashire

A ‘No Fracking’ sign put up by villagers in Lancashire

Fracking – drilling for gas in shale deposits – has been largely put on hold across Britain in the face of widespread opposition. But one of the major companies looking into tapping this energy resource, Cuadrilla, is resuming operations in Lancashire, according to The Guardian: ‘Francis Egan, the company’s chief executive, plans to use the data to convince the government and regulators to loosen the safety rules that have slowed the progress of the UK shale industry.’

Read more (Guardian)

On This Day in 1543: Henry VIII marries for the sixth time

Henry VIII and Catherine Parr

Henry VIII and Catherine Parr as depicted in an 18th century image.

The definition of insanity, so the saying goes, is repeating the same action but expecting a different result. Yet for Henry VIII, a different result was indeed what he got at the sixth time of asking.

Catherine Parr is often described more as a nursemaid than wife, as the woodcut above shows, but that’s a little unfair. She survived plots against her, skilfully managed the relationships between the king and his daughters (Mary in particular was close to Catherine) and earned a position of respect which saw her awarded a pension on Henry’s death.

Read more (Britannica)

And finally: Something to cheer about for cricket fans… and sports fans in general

England have lost semi-finals of both the men’s and women’s football World Cups in the last year, but on Thursday the cricket team made it through with a thumping display against four-times champions Australia. The final is on Sunday.