The Decline of the Public Services under the Tories.

Tory policy is simple – they attempt to keep wages and public costs down to a minimum and give tax breaks to the rich. It has been that way ever since the party was created by the rich and wealthy. They are called Conservatives because they wish to maintain the status quo where the poor are kept poor and the rich maximise their profits.

That is why they were called the Nasty Party. They rob from the poor to give to the rich.

They have used the financial crisis as an excuse to follow a hardline policy of austerity. Under the guise of ‘We’re all in this together’ they froze public servants pay, cut services causing widespread job losses, set up a minimum wage ‘gig’ economy, slashed benefits for the disabled and poor and reduced corporation tax and income tax for the rich. While those at the bottom struggle to survive those at the top have doubled their already substantial incomes.

Fairness? No callous lying stupidity. We are still, in the face of all evidence, being told that they represent the working people. Liars.

Having now had seven years of this terrible policy, with no end in sight for the deficit, we are now in a situation where our public services are crumbling:

Crime is rising steeply, with violent crime steepest of all.

Prisons are rioting.

The NHS is missing every target going and struggling to cope.

Welfare is in crisis with huge increases in rough sleepers and food banks, suicides and despair.

Schools are in crisis with teachers leaving in droves, a curriculum that is stifling, and an endless stream of gimmicks designed to hide the reality.

How much more of this senseless, uncaring callousness can we take?

Let’s get Corbyn in and sort the mess out!

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Free Speech – One each!!!

Aaaahhhh – the famous Roy Harper line!

Free speech – a much valued commodity and one that I value greatly. With a few provisos.

One man’s freedom is another man’s prison. If we have complete freedom of speech does that mean the bullies can drive the weaker ones to suicide? Does that mean that an individual can drum up race hatred or violence?

I think not.

Free speech should have a few well thought through limits. IMO inciting hatred or violence should be a crime.

But what about giving people platforms to speak?

I’m all for that. I think universities in particular should give a platform to the fascists, racists, fundamentalists, creationists, misogynists and even Tories.

And they shouldn’t be shouted down.

We should be able to go along and hear what the obnoxious people have to say, argue with them, expose their flawed arguments with sound reason and logic, and see them for the pathetic cretins they are.

75% decline in insects in just 27 years.

Latest research indicates that over three quarters of our insect populations have died out over just twenty seven years.

This is horrendous.

Insects form the basis of most food webs. Without them amphibia, reptiles and many mammals and birds will die out. Without the smaller creatures the bigger creatures are at risk.

What would a summer be without swallows, swifts and housemartins soaring and diving through the air, without hedgehogs snuffling in the garden, without frogspawn in the ponds and streams?

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

What is the Truth about Syria?

Well news comes at you from all sides – all reeking with bias. I doubt that even the people in the midst of it know what is going on or who is behind what.

Syria as a country

a. Has it been stirring up terrorism or sectarianism in the region?

b. Has it been benign?

Assad

a. Is Assad a tyrannical despot who needs replacing?

b. Is Assad trying to hold the country together against insurgents, terrorists and the West?

The Syrian Regime

a. Is it repressing its own people?

b. Is it representing a section of its people and repressing another?

c. Does it reflect a sectarian divide?

d. Does it repress democracy?

e. Or is it fighting to hold the country together against all the odds?

Chemical weapons or Barrel Bombs

a. Has it been using chemical weapons and barrel bombs against its own people?

b. Is this a fabricated story to manipulate us and prepare us for war?

The Rebels

a. Are the rebels making just demands after decades of repression?

b. Are the rebels a bunch of disparate terrorists and warlords seeking power for their own ends?

c. Have the rebels been armed and instigated by the West to subvert Syria?

d. Do the rebels deserve Western backing?

The West

a. Has the West deliberately caused ferment to further its own ends in the region?

b. Is the ‘news’ about Syria manufactured in order to manipulate public opinion?

c. Does the West want Syria too occupied to contribute to regional sectarian violence?

d. Does the West have economic interest in the region (oil, arms and reconstruction) giving it a reason to promote conflict?

e. Is the West siding with the rebels in order to topple a repressive, tyrannical regime which has been heinously bombing and torturing its own people?

f. Does the West want stability in the region or is it promoting instability?

Russia

a. Is Russia involved because it wants power and is making profit?

b. Is Russia propping up Assad because the rebels are a bunch of terrorist fundamentalists and Assad is a stable ally?

c. Is Russia seeking to extend its power base?

d. Is this just part of the new Cold War?

 

These, and other question, form the basis of attitudes towards what is going on out there in Syria. Where do we get our information? Who do we believe?

The answer to those questions seems to me to be politically charged. I would suggest we have already made our mind up and then select the ‘news’ we choose to believe to fit the story we have bought into.

Does anybody really know?

I would suggest not. Even the participants at the top are limited in their true understanding and rely on reports from dubious sources. Only they know their real motives for what has been happening. Power corrupts. The seeking of power is a game.

Syria is the end result.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

This is a frightening situation as the insects provide food for birds and animals and pollinate our plants.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

25 July 2014

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. 

Tiger Swallowtail

This decline matters because of the enormous benefits invertebrates such as insects, spiders, crustaceans, slugs and worms bring to our day-to-day lives, including pollination and pest control for crops, decomposition for nutrient cycling, water filtration and human health.

The study, published in Science and led by UCL, Stanford and UCSB, focused on the demise of invertebrates in particular, as large vertebrates have been extensively studied. They found similar widespread changes in both, with an on-going decline in invertebrates surprising scientists, as they had previously been viewed as nature’s survivors.

The decrease in invertebrate numbers is due to two main factors – habitat loss and climate disruption on a global scale. In the UK alone, scientists noted the areas inhabited by common insects such as beetles, butterflies, bees and wasps saw a 30-60% decline over the last 40 years.

The diminishing status of invertebrate populations greatly compromise nature’s ability to provide us with what we need. In economic terms, they provide us with important services, often worth billions of GBP£:

  • Pollination – insect pollination is required for 75% of all the world’s food crops and is estimated to be worth ~10% of the economic value of the world’s entire food supply. Globally, pollinators appear to be strongly declining in both abundance and diversity.

While we don’t fully understand what the long-term impact of these declining numbers will be, currently we are in the potentially dangerous position of losing integral parts of ecosystems without knowing what roles they play within it

Dr Ben Collen

  • Pest control – in the US alone, the value of pest control by native predators is estimated at $4.5 billion annually, these costs could escalate with the decline in predator number.
  • Nutrient cycling and decomposition – insects and vertebrates (birds, for example) are important for cycling nutrients and moving them over long distances, without which the integrity of other ecosystem functions such as plant productivity could be compromised.
  • Water quality – declines in amphibian populations has led to increased algae and the biomass of waste matter, which in turn reduces nitrogen uptake.
  • Human health – decreasing invertebrate numbers are known to compromise food production due to reduced pollination, seed dispersal and insect predation but the impact the continuing loss of animals, including invertebrates, has on the spread of human disease needs to be better understood as a priority.

Scientists believe there is a growing understanding of how ecosystems are changing but to tackle these issues, better predictions of the impact of changes are needed together with effective policies to reverse the losses currently seen. Using this approach, conservation of species can be prioritised with the benefit of protecting processes that serve human needs, and successful campaigns scaled-up to effect a positive change globally.

Dr Ben Collen (UCL Biosciences), last author of the study, said: “We were shocked to find similar losses in invertebrates as with larger animals, as we previously thought invertebrates to be more resilient. While we don’t fully understand what the long-term impact of these declining numbers will be, currently we are in the potentially dangerous position of losing integral parts of ecosystems without knowing what roles they play within it.

“Prevention of further declines will require us to better understand what species are winning and losing in the fight for survival and from studying the winners, apply what we learn to improve conservation projects. We also need to develop predictive tools for modelling the impact of changes to the ecosystem so we can prioritise conservation efforts, working with governments globally to create supportive policy to reverse the worrying trends we are seeing.”

Professor Rodolfo Dirzo (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment), lead author of the study, said: “Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission. Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences, but it can be a vicious circle.

“We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well. Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is noncryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human well-being.”

Links

Image

  • Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (credit: John Flannery source: Flickr)

Vertebrate Wildlife Species Have Declined By Half Over Last 40 Years

Sorry – I missed out the title

Opher's World

Vertebrate Wildlife Species Have Declined By Half Over Last 40 Years

Plants and Animals

Vertebrate Wildlife Species Have Declined By Half Over Last 40 Years
Wayne Dilger CC BY ND 2.0

The 2014 Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund has described the loss of wildlife as much worse than predicted two years ago. In 2012, they predicted that wildlife had declined by about 30 percent between 1970 and 2010, though new numbers suggest that wildlife populations have actually been cut by about 52 percent. The difference in reported loss is due to a new method for collecting the numbers.
The recent report analyzed 10,000 representative populations of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, discovering how they’ve been faring over the last 40 years. Sadly, they do not appear to be doing very well. The report attributes human activity, including poaching, over-hunting, and habitat destruction as the largest burden upon wildlife.
Humans, like all animals, utilize food and water from the environment in order to survive. The…

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Vertebrate Wildlife Species Have Declined By Half Over Last 40 Years

I find this incredibly distressing.

Vertebrate Wildlife Species Have Declined By Half Over Last 40 Years

Plants and Animals

Vertebrate Wildlife Species Have Declined By Half Over Last 40 Years
Wayne Dilger CC BY ND 2.0

The 2014 Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund has described the loss of wildlife as much worse than predicted two years ago. In 2012, they predicted that wildlife had declined by about 30 percent between 1970 and 2010, though new numbers suggest that wildlife populations have actually been cut by about 52 percent. The difference in reported loss is due to a new method for collecting the numbers.
The recent report analyzed 10,000 representative populations of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, discovering how they’ve been faring over the last 40 years. Sadly, they do not appear to be doing very well. The report attributes human activity, including poaching, over-hunting, and habitat destruction as the largest burden upon wildlife.
Humans, like all animals, utilize food and water from the environment in order to survive. The problem is in how these resources are acquired, as they are being exhausted much faster than they can bounce back. Deforestation is occurring more quickly than trees can return to full growth. Not only does this contribute to a warming climate by reducing the planet’s capability to fix atmospheric carbon, but it also destroys the habitats of many species.
The decline is not affecting all species equally. According to the report, tropical regions have been hit the hardest. Species that live in freshwater have been reduced by an astonishing 76 percent, while about 94 percent of the historic range of elephants has been eliminated. Tigers that were once 100,000 strong at the turn of the 20th century, have been reduced to only 3,000 worldwide; most of which are in captivity. Species have been declining even within protected areas due to poaching and illegal deforestation.
The report claims that humans would need 1.5 Earths in order to keep up with the amount of resources being utilized. Though astronomers have been making some great progress with studying exoplanets, they haven’t found any replacements for us. Even if they had, there would be no way to access those resources. There is no backup plan for wasting resources in the manner we are. We humans need to change our rate of consumption, as our current actions are simply not sustainable.
In addition to over-hunting and habitat destruction, climate change is particularly threatening. Changing temperatures alter migration times, routes, and destinations. When animals have to migrate to a new location, they have to compete with existing species for resources. Ocean acidification and increasing temperatures threaten fish populations that can only tolerate a specific spectrum of temperatures and water chemistry.
Though the numbers and outlook within the report are fairly dismal, it does not have to be that way. There is still enough time to change consumption habits and develop a more concerted effort in protecting existing wildlife. Not only would this preserve a desirable level of biodiversity on Earth, but it would also guarantee that the natural resources on which humanity depends will be there in the future.