Blue skies are offering us a timely environmental comfort zone

SOMETHING we might wish to take a crumb of comfort from is the determined appearance of a blue and uncluttered sky.

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Unhindered by the global ravages of heavy industry and excess traffic pollution, such deep-set clarity offers a tantalising glimpse of a world free of environmental turmoil.

Despite the general lack of a spiritual antidote we’re all in desperate need of, there is little doubt that such meteorological respite is the ‘best of top quality tonics’ our environment could wish for.

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AN extra ‘shout-aloud blue-sky add-on’ is that the clarity of the upper atmosphere has led to an impressive increase in solar power generation.

Accordingly, the previous record for the UK’s solar output was literally blown skywards on 20 April when generation peaked at 9.68 gigawatts, a figure that represented some 30% of the UK’s electricity demand.

Records were similarly broken in Germany and Spain proving that April took top weather-related honours as a ‘lockdown sunny-side-up’ month.

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BUT then again…

Not surprisingly, a pinch of reality tells us that as heavy industry around the world champs at the bit to return to financial stability, air pollution likewise regains its foothold as a premier global villain.

While financial recovery is both necessary and expected, it is nevertheless unfortunate that air quality in China is already registering higher levels of toxic pollutants than a year ago

This latest increase suggests that any welcome environmental gains seized upon during the pandemic are evaporating more quickly than they arrived.

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‘ON your bike’ seems to be something of a ‘pandemic buzz phrase’ and an expression that is being greeted with a huge round of genuine applause.

The word is that certain major cities, including Paris and Milan, are constructing a fair few extra kilometres of what are enthusiastically being termed as ‘pop-up corona bike lanes’.

So popular are the recently created temporary cycle tracks in New York State that moves are afoot to have them expanded and given permanent status.

This is just one of those unexpected environmental positives emanating from the pandemic and certainly one that, with sense and foresight, will be seized upon on at a globally significant level.

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ANOTHER rather unexpected eco-beneficiary of the Covid lockdown is a boom in honey production in France.

According to the National Union of French Apiculture, beekeepers are reporting an astonishing increase in the welfare of their precious pollinating honey gatherers.

Thanks to a benevolent springtime, a much quieter countryside and a marked decrease in the use of farming pesticides, honey bees and their erstwhile keepers are on target for the sweetest of seasons.

Last year was one of the worst years on record for honey production but these latest reports show that, for the 3,000 or so registered French beekeepers, 2020 could prove to be an especially fondly remembered year, thankfully, for all the right reasons.

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DESPITE mixed opinions on the pros and cons of electric cars, a report from Honda has something of a ‘spark’ about it.

In close collaboration with a major European energy infrastructure company, plans are in place to deviously reuse and recycle end-of-life batteries from electric and hybrid vehicles.

With clever degrees of technological wizardry, these retired car batteries can be morphed into home-energy storage units.

Such conversions are then linked to rooftop solar panels thereby keeping the lights ‘bright and cheerfully shining’ throughout each night.

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THE recent reports on the unacceptable demise of the culinary sought-after Pangolin have been updated, albeit in a somewhat hesitant manner.

Due to the efforts of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, several suspect countries, including Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines, are now developing national conservation strategies and implementing stringent wildlife law enforcement.

Still a long way to go but at least the issue of pangolins in particular, and animal welfare in general, appears to have arrived on the global radar.

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AND finally…

Could there be a more bizarre university-led scientific study than the one undertaken at the famous beer-downing Oktoberfest in Munich?

Each year this world-renowned festival produces unacceptably high levels of methane gas and, in an exercise to gather reliable statistics about why, a team of scientists from the Technical University of Munich were invited to ‘join the party’ – someone had to do it, obviously.

The surprising result was that although high recordings of methane levels were expected to come from the 300,000-plus festival-goers, the majority of emissions came from leaks in faulty cooking and heating equipment.

As accurately reported at the time, Munich’s Oktoberfest can still be scientifically regarded as ‘a real gas’.

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