Worst ever summer sea ice melt

It’s quite a tongue twister but the news that this summer is starting to look like the worse ever summer sea ice melt in the Arctic is worrying scientists and environmentalists. The extent (size) of the ice in the Arctic is a big indicator for scientists of global warming, so the fact the amount of ice this May was less than in May 2012, when it record lows, is concerning them.



Sadiq Khan says he’ll extend the ultra low emission zone

The new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has promised to expand the ultra low emission zone to help tackle London’s air pollution problem. It is something he describes as London’s biggest environmental challenge. When he visited a primary school in Aldgate this week he said, “For me it can’t be right that this school on three occasions last year has to make the call whether to allow children to play in the playground breathing in this dangerous stuff or play indoors.”

Air pollution hangs in the air lowering


You can also follow London’s air pollution on a nowcast page, seeing whether pollution has reached high levels or not, which for people with asthma can affect whether they spend a lot of time outside or not.


India’s Dying River

It can be difficult when you learn a lot of subject specific keywords at school, perhaps you do a homework using them, even a lesson or two more when you need to know them, and last of all an assessment to check you’ve remembered them, and then two months later you have completely forgotten what they were and what they meant.

Well if you’ve just been learning about river basins, the source of the river, tributaries, meanders, oxbow lakes, delta, estuaries and the mouth of a river – here’s a handy and colourful BBC guide to the pollution which is slowing killing the River Ganges  in India. You’ll read it and suddenly realise that all that language which you learnt in Geography has helped you understand the article. Go Geography!


It isn’t just Geography though where knowing about the River Ganges is useful; it is also a holy river in Hinduism.


Hindu devotees pray as they bathe.

Horrifying Natural Disaster in Canada as Wildfires keep on Burning

The numbers say it all: 88,000 people from Fort McMurray have all been evacuated as the largest of currently 40 wildfires keeps on getting worse. The Guardian newspaper has some interesting video clips to give you an idea of the disaster.


The weather isn’t helping the efforts to get the wildfire under control, with temperatures on Saturday expected to rise as high as 28C (82.4F). Not only have entire neighbourhoods been destroyed by the flames but there are economic consequences too with about half of Canada’s oil sands production capacity being taken offline.

Geographers will also find interesting that the wildfires also create their own weather system and the high winds in Fort McMurray haven’t helped the firefighters trying to get the flames under control.


UKIP Candidate struggles to understand renewable energy

  • Stop building massive wind farms
  • Let’s invest in renewable energy

This is the oxymoron you can find in a UKIP candidate’s campaign leaflet being handed out around Worthing.

Numerous people spotted the obvious error.

Renewable Energy Illustration2

Renewable energy sources quickly replenish themselves and can be used again and again. For this reason they are sometimes called infinite energy resources. Geographers will know heaps about renewable energy I’m sure.


80th Anniversary of Triangulation Pillars

Perhaps only if you can remember learning about Ordinance Survey maps at school, are a keen walker or teach Geography  can you truly get excited about the 80th anniversary of Trig Points. You may have discovered Trig Points when trying to learn all the symbols on Ordnance Survey maps.

Trig Point

There were once about 6,500 trig pillars around Britain to help the early Ordnance Survey teams accurately plot their maps. A lot of them are on the top of peaks so it must have been pretty tiring carrying all your surveying equipment right to the top of a hill or mountain to get to the trig pillar and map the area. Nowadays there might only be 6,000 but they are still supposed to be looked after by the OS and walkers have been sending their photographs into newspaper to celebrate this 80th anniversary. Below is a Trig Pillar in Surrey at Box Hill.

trig point Box Hill

People are often so elated they’ve got to the top of the peak that sometimes jump up on trig pillars for a memorable photo. I’m not sure that helps the OS in keeping them intact and conserving them!

silly trig

Big Surprise at Amazon River Mouth

Scientists and oil companies were completely surprised to find a huge coral reef which is 3, 500 square miles below the muddy waters at the mouth of the River Amazon. Corals usually thrive in clear, sunlit, water so it was a huge surprise to find one in the heavy sediment of Amazon river mouth.

The reports co-author said: “I was flabbergasted, as were the rest of the 30 oceanographers. Traditionally, our understanding of reefs has focused on tropical shallow coral reefs which harbour biodiversity that rivals tropical rainforests.”

But as quickly as it was found it might disappear rather too soon as the Brazilian government has sold 80 blocks for oil exploration and drilling at the mouth of the Amazon and 20 of these are already producing oil – some, it is thought, right on top of the reef.

Amazon delta. True colour satellite image of the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. Composite image compiled from LANDSAT data taken between 1986 and 2001.


How 0.5 degrees centigrade makes a huge difference

A study has revealed that if the world heats up 2 degrees rather than 1.5 degrees centigrade there will be longer heatwaves, greater droughts, crops dying and all coral reefs being at risk. The report claims that “In a [2C] scenario, virtually all tropical coral reefs are projected to be at risk of severe degradation due to temperature-induced bleaching from 2050 onwards.” Scary stuff.


In the global climate change deal in Paris in 2015 it was agreed to aim to keep the increase below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees centigrade. Well that 0.5% difference ends being huge for the world.


Natural Disasters in Ecuador and Japan

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador in South America over the weekend, killing at least 235 people. Ecuador’s President said, “Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that’s what hurts the most.”

Meanwhile two earthquakes hit Japan, from a 6.4 earthquake on Thursday to a 7.3 magnitude quake on Saturday. At least 41 people have been killed and numerous building have become so unsafe that people are spending another night in emergency shelters. There are 62,000 homes without electricity and 300, 000 homes have no water.


Both these natural disasters would be seen as natural evil: suffering that’s caused by nature and mankind had no part in it.

Environmental Ethics Revision

You can use some of your Unit 1 Section 1 knowledge about creation and the environment when dealing with Unit 8 Section 2’s topic of Environmental Ethics.

Big Bang – Scientific theory of how the world began
Evolution – Scientific theory of how humans have evolved from other less complex organisms Genesis – Book in the Bible containing creation stories
Myth – story with a deeper meaning
Creationists – literally believe the world was created in 7 days as in Genesis
Natural Selection – Darwin’s idea of survival of the fittest
Omnipotent – God is all-powerful
Stewardship – looking after the world and creation. Some Christians believe God gave humanity the responsibility of looking after the earth.
Dominion – having control/power over creation. In the Bible God gave humans dominion (power) to subdue and use the earth.

From that strong basis you’ll need to add a few more Unit 8 specific words:

Environment: the surroundings in which plants and animals live and on which they depend for survival.
Natural resources: naturally occurring materials. such as oil and fertile land, which can be used by humans.
Global warming: the theory that the earths atmosphere is warming because of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels.
Pollution: releasing harmful substances into the air, sea or earth.
Conservation: protecting and preserving natural resources, animal life and the environment.
Watching some simple youtube videos to understand Global Warming and Climate Changeis sensible as it’s been included as an exam question a few times in recent years. There’s even one by David Attenborough on how Climate Change might affect Britain.
global warming
This youtube video has a horrendous variety of computer generated voices but does keep it short and sweet about the different types of pollution!
Plasticised tells the story of a section of the Pacific Ocean which has a huge floating plastic island of plastic trash. A similar focus is a documentary called The Plastic Age featuring Pharrell Williams.
marine litter
There are some incredible clips about pollution in China and stories about how some Chinese are actually buying clean air from Canada.