Country Life Today: The wettest June on record, what ‘net zero’ actually means and the human-powered aeroplane

Why almost 100mm of rain has the Met Office issuing yellow warnings; what the government's promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions entails; why areas of Devon have banned fireworks to protect their starling population.

What the government’s 2050 emission target actually means

Almost every government in the world says that it wants to tackle climate change, but what are they actually doing to achieve that goal? We in Britain need no longer ask that question, as the government will commit to a legally-binding target of cutting our greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050 in Parliament today.

So, what does this actually mean? Well, ‘net zero’, in a nutshell, means that all emissions from homes, transport, industry and even farming will have to be offset by planting trees, or other methods of taking the added CO2 out of the atmosphere.

In a BBC report, the advisory Committee on Climate Change predicted that ‘if other countries followed the UK, there was a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100’, a rise which would push the world over the threshold of dangerous climate change.

‘This is a historic commitment that will reverberate right around the world,’ Laurence Tubiana, an architect of the Paris climate agreement, told the BBC.

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Tom Fyans, Deputy Chief Executive at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, also commented on the announcement. ‘Many solutions to this crisis lie in restoring our natural world. While the countryside may be on the front line against climate change, it can also provide the solutions that we so desperately need.’

The Prime Minister also predicted that low emissions would improve the nation’s health and go some way to cutting costs for the NHS.

Full story (BBC News)

40 years ago today…

The pre-cursor to the pedal-powered Gossamer Albatross, the Gossamer Condor. Both craft were designed and built by a team led by Paul B. MacCready. Credit: Bettmann Archive / Getty

Cyclist Bryan Allen set a world record — as a pilot. Allen flew the Gossamer Albatross across the English Channel on June 12, 1979, the first-ever human-powered flight between England and France.

Full story (AeroVironment)

We’re already set to have the wettest June on record — here’s how it has affected England

Train tracks lie submerged by flood water after more than a month’s worth of rain (about 60mm) fell in some parts of the country this past Monday. Unfortunately, an improvement doesn’t seem to be on the cards for later in the week, with some parts of the country predicted to be struck by 60 – 80mm of rainfall, possibly even reaching up to 100mm in the worst areas affected. Bookies already make it odds-on to be Britain’s wettest June on record, causing misery for millions and untold joy for Daily Express headline writers.

The Met Office has issued several National Severe Weather warnings, especially to the midlands and North-eastern parts of the country, and trains have been cancelled in and out of London. A total of 31 flood alerts are in place across the country; severity of the warnings will be amended as ‘certainty about impacts increase’.

Full story (The Telegraph)

Quote of the day

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’

– Anne Frank, ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’

On this day in 1942, Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday. For the next two years she would document the occupation of the Netherlands by the Germans in World War II.  Her diary went on to become one of the most famous books of all time.

Fireworks banned to protect roosting starlings on Bideford bridge

Long Bridge in Bideford, Devon, a nesting ground for Starlings.

Long Bridge in Bideford, Devon, a nesting ground for Starlings.

Pretty though they may be, it has long been accepted fact that fireworks have a detrimental affect on the local animal population, from roaming wildlife right up to the sleepiest sausage dog.

Torridge District Council is doing their part to protect their local wildlife from the noisy displays by prohibiting them from the area around Long Bridge, following requests that the birds who nest there be better safe-guarded. The BBC reports that startled starlings were trampled in the area surrounding the bridge last New Year’s Eve, while environmentalists claim that the shock made the birds fly into the River Torridge and drown or injure themselves by flying into nearby buildings.

Bideford Town Council now plans to replace the annual display with a silent laser show.

Full Story (BBC News)

Stat of the day


The number of plants which can be grown in one of the new type of indoor farms which will start popping up in Britain’s urban areas as of September. They’re the brainchild of a Germany firm called Infarm, designed to grow vegetables inside supermarkets, schools and offices.

Full story (The Telegraph – subscription required)

Wildflowers killed over weeding mistake in Dorset car parks

No good deed went unpunished for resident Bertie Daler who, after voluntarily tending to flowers growing in a Dorset car park, returned to find them dying following an accidental spraying with weed killer. Taking to Facebook to express his disappointment, Mr Daler said that the ‘bees and butterflies are going to be very disappointed’.

Poppies and hollyhocks growing against a wall in Sherborne carparks near Cold Harbour and Newland North were ‘well and truly eradicated’ after maintenance teams attempted to clean up areas which had been neglected in the past.

Ken Buchan, coast and countryside service manager at Dorset Council, apologised ‘wholeheartedly’ for the mistake.

This unfortunate incident, relatively small though it may be, comes at a bad time for the bumblebee population, which is still reeling following the turbulent weather of 2018.

Full story (BBC News)

And finally… looks like we’ll be needing this list soon