Better Ways

Better Ways

Mosquitoes: Friends and Foes?

Published in Better Ways

Setting the record straight with a balanced view about mosquitoes and their place in the natural chain!

Ants and humane deterrents

Published in Better Ways

About ants, their varieties, some of their habits and uses, and how to remove them, if you need to, from one’s personal space without cruelty

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  • Exclusive: UAE using site to ‘control narrative’ amid criticism of oil boss leading climate summit, say critics

    The Cop28 president, Sultan Al Jaber, has been accused of attempting to “greenwash” his image after it emerged that members of his team had edited Wikipedia pages that highlighted his role as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

    Work by Al Jaber’s team on his and the climate summit’s Wikipedia entries include adding a quote from an editorial that said Al Jaber – the United Arab Emirates minister for industry and advanced technology – was “precisely the kind of ally the climate movement needs”. They also suggested that editors remove reference to a multibillion-dollar oil pipeline deal he signed in 2019, the Centre for Climate Reporting and the Guardian can reveal.

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  • Powder produced by ice sheets could be used to help tackle climate crisis when spread on farm fields

    Rock “flour” produced by the grinding under Greenland’s glaciers can trap climate-heating carbon dioxide when spread on farm fields, research has shown for the first time.

    Natural chemical reactions break down the rock powder and lead to CO2 from the air being fixed in new carbonate minerals. Scientists believe measures to speed up the process, called enhanced rock weathering (ERW), have global potential and could remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to prevent extreme global heating.

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  • Rich nations should pay for biodiversity loss, which disproportionately affects poor countries, say scientists

    Wealthy countries should pay for the loss and damage they cause to nature in poorer countries in the same way as for climate impacts, researchers have argued.

    At the Cop27 climate talks in November, world leaders agreed to a dedicated “loss and damage” fund providing financial assistance to poor nations stricken by climate disaster. More developed countries, which are largely responsible for driving climate breakdown, are to pay compensation to poorer nations, which are typically more vulnerable to its impacts.

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  • Exclusive: England, Scotland and Wales survey reports similar response to people with gas boilers

    More than 80% of households that have replaced their gas boilers with an electric heat pump are satisfied with their new heating system, according to the first major survey of heat pump users.

    Those who use heat pumps to warm their homes reported broadly similar levels of satisfaction to those with gas boilers, the survey commissioned by the innovation charity Nesta found.

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  • Sorrento, Italy: A hornet scoots through thistley plumes and wall-lizards defy gravity. Behind it all, Vesuvius looks ready to blow

    Watching Vesuvius, waiting for a sign. Seen from the rooftops and cliffs of the Amalfi coast, the most active volcano on the European mainland is suspiciously silent in silver light behind clouds. We’re in Sorrento for our granddaughter’s wedding, a momentous event for us. But every now and then, a space opens into the place itself, into its poppy-punctuated story of olive groves and the psychedelic zest of Sfusato d’Amalfi lemon orchards between sheer cliffs and the sea.

    Watching a storm – during the wettest, weirdest May here for over 20 years – haul over the mountains as if in pursuit of some adversary, the focus switches to nearby lives and a random question: could some tiny ripple in the ecology of moments spark Vesuvius’ cataclysmic potential? For here are a few such unstill lives: a hornet, Vespa crabro, the predatory motor scooter of wasps, hunts through thistley plumes over a wall where gravity-defying Italian wall-lizards, Podarcis siculus,flick in and out of question marks.

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  • Low demand combined with sunny conditions and meltwater lifts hydro and solar production

    Over the last week, several European countries had power prices in the wholesale energy market dip into negative values during daylight hours. The decline in prices was mostly driven by the abundance of available energy generated by renewable sources, combined with the relatively low demand for energy for heating or cooling, caused by normal springtime temperatures.

    Negative prices often occur when there is an excess supply of electricity in the market. This can happen when renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, or hydro produce a large quantity of electricity that exceeds demand and cannot be stored for later use. In such cases, producers may offer negative prices to incentivise wholesale consumers to take the surplus electricity off the grid and avoid overloading the system. This situation occurred due to an area of high pressure dominating across much of central and north-west Europe, providing lots of solar power generation across the area. Meanwhile, Finland experienced an oversupply of hydroelectric power resulting from excessive springtime meltwater, which in turn led to negative prices here as well.

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  • A study is under way in the water-scarce region to see if commodity farmers can use the regenerative technique of cover cropping as a way to adapt to rapidly changing weather conditions

    In one of the toughest growing regions in the US, commercial farmers like Frank Machac are experimenting with a style of ancient agriculture more known for soil health than profit.

    They are perhaps unlikely budding agroecologists. “My number one concern is yield, I’m not worrying about climate change,” said Machac, 60, a ruddy-faced straight talker with 30 years’ farming experience in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV).

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  • No one has yet been able to sail an autonomous boat across the Atlantic, but a young couple in Wales hope their craft will revolutionise ocean monitoring of temperatures, wildlife and more

    When Anahita Laverack and Ciaran Dowds tested their robot boat for the first time off the coast of Wales, it was not smooth sailing. The 23-year-olds, both engineering graduates from Imperial College London, launched their autonomous craft – a 4ft, unmanned vessel – from a sailboat off the coast of Aberystwyth last July.

    Although the seas were rough, the robot boat “performed beautifully”, says Dowds – but he did not.

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  • Around the world, different species are shifting their habitats upwards, with potentially catastrophic results for our ecosystems

    In the Alps and Apennines of southern Europe, nearly all the longhorn beetles are moving uphill, and way up at the peaks, the isolation of a brown butterfly with orange-tipped wings is pushing it towards extinction. This is a snapshot of a global trend. With temperatures rising and pressure on biodiversity growing, insects vital to our ecosystems are not only moving north and south, but up.

    Research shows many animals are making similar moves, but insects’ high levels of mobility and short generation times allow them to respond quickly to change, meaning the uphill momentum can be rapid. Bumblebees in the Pyrenees have moved upwards on average by more than a metre a year, with some species making significantly greater journeys. Moths on Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu have followed suit.

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  • Crumlin Glen, County Antrim: Along this deeply wooded riverside path, I follow an impish male – or is it two?

    The steep sides of the ravine amplify the dawn chorus above the rush of the Crumlin River, which tumbles over black basalt from its source on Divis Mountain to its mouth at Lough Neagh. I look up at the first hesitant trills of a blackcap. His stutter climbs to a few clear notes, then babbles to a halt, as if the bird were suddenly shy of the liquid beauty of his own song.

    I stop to listen for more. At first there’s only silence – then another outburst. It could be the same bird, gaining confidence; or it might be his neighbour, anxious to remind him of their territorial boundary. Either way, the voice is directly along this riverside path. I go on.

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