Cor! Climate change is even hitting apple trees

 In Climate Change, Education, News

With the Easter holidays just a few days away now is a good time to look back at three of this year’s amazing but true green stories.

Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park, picks his favourite environmental tales.


1.  Climate change is even hitting the UK’s apple trees with British farmers planting a million fewer of the trees this year. One of the reasons they say is the weird weather which is giving prolonged periods of unsuitable growing conditions.

According to the trade body, British Apple and Pears, growers normally plant between one and one and a half million trees every year. But this year they ordered just 500,000 saplings – and then cancelled a third of those. Some farmers have even ripped up some of their orchards. They say there are four reasons for this change – inflation, labour shortages, low supermarket prices and climate change.

The National Farmers’ Union found that inflation for growers was about 23 per cent, but they only received a 0.8 per cent in their returns from selling to supermarkets. According to union research they said only three per cent of growers felt they had a true partnership with supermarkets. One fruit grower said they could cope with the occasional spring frosts which kill off the blossom but now the weather was much more unpredictable.

“This is a very sad situation,” said Ron, “as British varieties and biodiversity will be lost and the biggest losers will be the public.”


2.  Against the grain? Japan is building the world’s first wooden satellite in a move to try and reduce the pollution of space with metal junk. The LignoSat, which will be made of magnolia wood and is the size of a kitchen mug, is expected to be launched on a US rocket in the early summer.

Wood does not burn in space because of the lack of oxygen and the lack of micro-organisms means it does not rot either. A team from Kyoto University and a commercial company, Sumitomo Forestry, successfully tested their project when samples of wood were exposed to the rigours of space for nine months on the International Space Station.

There are up to 10,600 satellites orbiting the earth, 3,000 of them defunct, a total mass of more than 11,000 tonnes. And about 2,500 new satellites are expected to join them every year for the next seven years.

“It is a brilliant idea,” said Ron, “because when it falls to earth at the end of its life it will burn up in a quick bonfire and will not add to the huge collection of the space debris that is becoming a serious threat to future satellite launches and manned flights.”


3.  Paris parking soars: The French have come up with a novel solution to tackling air pollution. Parisians have voted in favour of tripling the parking costs for sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

Residents were asked to decide whether there should be a specific parking rate for ‘heavy and polluting’ vehicles, with the measure supported by 54.55 percent of voters. The cost of on-street parking for an SUV or 4×4 car will rise to €18 Euros an hour in the centre of Paris and 12 Euros an hour in the rest of the city, with September 2024 suggested as a possible start date.

There are exemptions for taxi drivers, tradespeople, health workers and people with disabilities.

The prices will apply to combustion engine or hybrid vehicles weighing more than 1.6 tonnes, allowing more leeway for electric vehicles (EVs). Approximately 1.3 million residents of central Paris were eligible to vote but participation was low with just 5.7 per cent of eligible people voting.

“It will be interesting to see if other cities adopt this idea,” said Ron


“If you want any energy advice, contact me 01782 756995 or go to – but in the meantime have a green and happy Easter,” he added.


Caption: Pick of the crop – a young Andrew Butterworth enjoys climbing the step ladders to get some apples.

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