Beavers’ dam good show and other unusual stories

 In Education, News

As we are already more than halfway through 2022, now is a good time to look back at this year’s strange but true green stories.

Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park, picks his five favourite environmental tales.

1 Beavers introduced at a Cornish valley near Truro five years ago have dramatically reduced the flood risk there. They have brought 13 species back to the area, created new habitats for dwindling native species, helped to limit drought and flash flooding, reduced erosion and improved water quality.

Before the arrival of the beavers, water took 15 minutes to flow through the site near Ladock, a village affected by flooding.  Now thanks to the animals’ natural flood management it takes more than an hour. 

2 Nepal is considering moving the Mount Everest base camp at 17,598ft above sea level, because the nearby glacier has been thinning rapidly due to climate change. Researchers from Leeds University said it was decreasing in depth by one metre a year, losing 9.5 million cubic metres of water annually.

The country’s tourism department is thinking of relocating the camp, which is the springboards for mountaineers scaling the world’s highest peak at 29,028ft, about 300 metres lower down the mountain where there is no year-round ice.

3 The UK Government is seriously looking at a £16billion proposal to build a massive solar power station in space. The Space Energy Initiative scheme would involve a three-mile-long satellite weighing several thousand tonnes being assembled by robots in orbit. 

Large reflectors would direct sunlight on to solar panels and the power they produced would be converted into high frequency radio waves and beamed back to a receiving station on earth. It is reckoned that 15 solar satellites could supply 30 per cent of the UK’s anticipated electricity needs by the mid-2040s. 

4 Farmers in New Zealand may become the first in the world to have to pay for the greenhouse gases emitted by their animals from 2025. 

The country’s ten million cows and 26 million sheep are estimated to create nearly half of its greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by their burping. This methane gas is about 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, so pushing up global temperatures. 

The average dairy cow emits more than 200lbs of methane a year and sheep 28lbs. The plan includes incentives for farmers who reduce emissions through feed additives.

5 Researchers in Australia have found that a “super worm” can eat one of the most problematic types of plastic. They have discovered that the larvae of the Zophobas morio beetle, known because of their large size and used to feed reptiles, can digest polystyrene with the bacteria in their gut. 

Scientists at the University of Queensland believe that enzymes produced by these microbes could convert polystyrene into useful raw material on an industrial scale.

For more information on green energy and how to cut your carbon footprint, call Ron on 0845 4746641. 

Caption: On top of the world – but Nepal is considering moving the base camp at 17,598ft above sea level on Mount Everest, because the nearby glacier has been thinning rapidly due to climate change.

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