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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Those disappearing purple hills

As I drove around Swansea yesterday, I looked up at Kilvey Hill and noted the large patch of flowering purple heather that had appeared on part of it. Normally, much more of the hillside is covered in this way, but being in a hurry, I thought nothing more about it.

In today's Independent however, we learn that this absence of heather is more common than I thought. The paper quotes the view of the National Trust that the beloved sight of bright purple heather on English moorland is at risk due to climate change:

The violaceous vistas of late summer have failed to materialise on the Long Mynd in Shropshire and Holnicote on Exmoor, where the landscape is instead a muddy brown.

National Trust officials said it was due to a combination of last year’s drought and an increase in damage caused by the heather beetle pest, which has been encouraged by mild winters.

Up to three-quarters of the heather on the sites, which should bloom through August and early September, is in poor health this year.

Peter Carty, the National Trust’s parkland manager in Shropshire, said: “Last year’s high temperatures, and subsequent lack of rain, damaged a large area of heather and it is clear from the orangey-brown colouration this year that the plants are seriously stressed and unlikely to flower.”

He added: “The milder winter also led to an increase in the heather beetle numbers, which are a natural element of the heather ecosystem, as it wasn’t cold enough to kill off their larvae.

“In places where heather was sheltered from the extreme or where damp conditions were present, the heather has survived. However, there will be no mass flowering this year.”

Though a boon to the beetle, the warming climate could cause problems for other species like the red grouse and the emperor moth, whose caterpillars feed on the plants.

These are real and observable impacts of climate change, with Met Office experts saying that last year’s prolonged hot summer was made 30 times more likely because of it. The Independent has also reported this year on how drought in 2018 killed nearly 90,000 trees that were planted to mitigate the environmental impact of HS2. Project chiefs said it was cheaper to replace them than to water them.

It may already be too late to act, but if we don't at least redouble our efforts and more at an international level then we really will deserve all that we get.
Planet Earth and nature have been in balance for. Millenia. ALong comes the human race and starts to unbalance it. It is like the butterfly effect . Humans interfere and a species begins to decline and it continues.
Equally in Fermi' and Drake equations. Past scientists who have debated other worlds intelligence and the development of civilisations discuss that they may not survive into advanced technologies cos they do something that destroys them. Are we at the start of this pattern ?
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