On 7th August, I went to the first day of the Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park.
If you haven’t been, you should: it was a fantastic day out “celebrating its 10th anniversary in Edinburgh with a three-day showcase of Scotland’s finest culinary talents and regional produce”. (To be clear upfront, my free ticket was provided by Lanyard Media, but I got no instructions from them what to say or what to blog about.)
Edinburgh is full of festivals, but I unashamedly love this one: so much good food and drink to celebrate and share.
One of the free lectures for Friday was on urban beekeeping, by Brian Pool, a third-generation professional beekeeper, who teaches beekeeping at the Secret Herb Garden and is Beekeeper in Residence at Edinburgh Zoo (where they’re having a Bee Festival on 29th August, free to anyone who visits the Zoo that day).
I learned that the British black honey-bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is more aggressive and more inclined to sting if provoked than the mellower Italian honey-bee (Apis mellifera ligustica) which Brian Pool attributes to the Italian bee expecting to find honey all year round, breeding to huge numbers within the hive and therefore needing to be fed by the beekeeper: whereas British bees (“hardier and have smaller populations going into winter, so they need less food to survive, and they also have fewer mouths to feed during a cold spring snap” says Terry Clare, president of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association) are better at saving honey for a rainy day.
Snow in Cairo. Snow in Jerusalem. Snow in Syria. Snow in Turkey. Informed local opinion says there’s been no snowfall in Egypt for 112 years. As the tweet above notes: no one alive had ever seen snow on the Sphinx before.
Things that will happen in 2013:
While Nick Clegg prepares to run a snow job on the people who voted LibDem last time (let me know how that works for you, folks) the rain keeps falling.
This year may be the wettest since records began in 1910.
In London, the Thames Barrier was raised on Thursday morning for the first time since March 2010, to reduce the risk of flooding as water from days of downpours causes high levels further upstream. It will be raised again on Friday morning.
A storm brewing in the Atlantic could bring up to two inches (50mm) of rain and 80mph winds in some areas this weekend.
Provisional figures show that 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed between 27 and 31 December for 2012 to be the wettest year on record for the UK.
I stopped updating my first post about the Maldives two months after I first posted it. I kept fearing I would hear, next, that the President who stepped down rather than make use of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) violently against civilians, had himself been killed.
Mohamed Nasheed, who was his country’s first democratically elected leader, has become a tireless advocate for both environmental action and free elections — two political efforts he ties together.
On 10th December, The Hindu published an interview by telephone with ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, then speaking from Kulhudhuffushi, part of Thiladhunmathi Atoll, in the northern part of Maldives – that is, as The Hindu observes “not far from Indian territorial waters”.
“Nothing short of early elections is acceptable to the MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] … We are very confident that if there is a free and fair election and if I can contest, we will win it handsomely,”
In a telephonic interview, Mr. Nasheed said he was running for presidency again. “The MDP has decided that I should run and the primary has given me an overwhelming support. But there have been so many politically motivated attempts to bar me from contesting because the opposition is fair clear that they will not be able to win against me. We have a lot of support in the country. The violent repression against people has made people look towards us. And I think that the three-and-a-half years of our government we have been able to bring about a lot of transformation of the country and we feel that people like it,” he said. Getting the financial system back on track, reducing reliance on indirect taxes and levy of direct taxes, and putting in place an enormous social protection programme were among his main achievements as President.
How far is the government entitled to go in enforcing the build of a new airport?
This isn’t (yet) a question about Heathrow.
Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE), or Aéroport Nantes Atlantique, is the largest airport in the west of France. It was originally a military airfield before WWII, and was called Aéroport Château Bougon – the nearest city is Nantes, five miles away, and the airport itself is in Bouguenais. The airport’s official capacity is three million passengers a year and in 2011 saw 3,246,226 passengers.
Cheap air travel and millions of air passengers per year cannot continue for much longer. Oil is a finite resource, and it takes a lot of crude oil to produce jet fuel for moden planes. Building big new airports on the presumption that the numbers for travel by air will go on and on increasing is a short-sighted folly.
925 million people are hungry.
Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.
That’s one child every five seconds.
There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005.
The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.
This year has been one of the wettest on record. In Edinburgh, we had the wettest April, May, June, and July since records began at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the 19th century. Across the UK:
Potato harvests are down by half in some areas. The NFU’s Scottish cereal survey indicated wheat yield was down by 18% from 2011, winter barley yield down 7%, spring barley yield down 18% and winter oilseed rape yield down 26%.
I’ve discussed this before (Scotland’s Food Programme) and also, for World Porridge Day, how stock brokers gambling on food prices rising is itself creating a bubble of high food prices to profit investors and make people hungry.