2021 – Climate change and Welsh independence.

Cefn Onn

2021 has been an odd year.

Despite the supermarkets staying open during the lockdown, we’ve been getting far more food delivered; not just supermarket food but heat-at-home restaurant meals and fruit and veg from Wellocks, suppliers to Michelin-starred restaurants.

That said, two things have been standout in the last 12 months: climate change and Welsh independence.

Climate change podcasts

I don’t know whether it’s that I’ve been listening to many more podcasts and been adding scientists to my Twitter feed (thanks @robinince), such as Helen Czerski, Brian Cox, Alice Roberts, Katie Mack, Mya Rose Craig, Hugh Warwick and podcasts from the likes of 5×15, The Science and Media Museum and many more. It seems to me that scientists and amateurs are getting much noisier about climate change. Of course, it’s turned out that Greta Thunberg was right all along. Also maybe it’s just awareness but there seems to be so MANY more podcasts too.

Living in a country that contributed hugely to the increase of CO2 into the atmosphere helps concentrate the mind. Because of the lockdown, we’ve been taking that car out only once or twice a week and I see an electric car in our future. As it is, we live in a wood-clad “green” flat and are surrounded by trees in a borderline countryside area. Wales is 3rd in the world for recycling. I’m not sure what more we could do for the environment.

Welsh Independence

On the subject of Wales, in the last year, the subject of Welsh independence has started to gain traction. The non-political group yes.cymru have gone from nothing to nearly 20,000 paying members and 50,000 Twitter followers. Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru supporters are behind the idea too. The electorate polls at 25%-40% in favour.

As I’ve said before, Wales has a GDP per head which puts it on a par with Spain. We’re shy between £5-£10 billion pounds a year but hey, with European support we can claw our way back as Ireland did. I’ve blogged about Wales’ potential before. Also, accounting properly for water, electricity and HS2 would help by a few billion in our favour. Oh, and we pay a disproportionate amount for defence, another £1.9 billion. It doesn’t help their case that we appear to have a bunch of incompetents in Westminster.

So there you have it. These are two things that are now occupying much more news space, internet space and headspace.

Green Wales

Being green is all the natural resource we’ve got left in Wales pretty much.

Insole Court

Being green is all the natural resource we’ve got left in Wales pretty much since the rich folks and the English took our coal, tin, copper and so on.

This blog is also going to come from an Indy viewpoint. Welsh independence has gone from nothing to 40% in the last few years. Independence is worth bearing in mind whichever side you fall on. I’ve fallen foul of people who think the world revolves around Westminster on Reddit. We got annexed in 1284 and made a union in 1536, not on the same basis as Scotland.

Independence polling

40%. It’s only time.

A poll suggesting that backing for independence among Welsh citizens is at a record high should serve as a warning for the UK government and prompt it to work harder at its relationship with the devolved nations, supporters of the union have said.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/04/westminster-warned-as-poll-shows-record-backing-for-welsh-independence

GDP

We have a higher GDP per capita (£23,866 in 2018) than Spain (£22,000) and Solvenia (£20,000) and many other European countries.

GDP per head in Wales in 2018 was £23,866, an increase of 2.9% on 2017. This compares to Italy’s GDP/capita of £25,000, Spain £22,000, Slovenia £20,000 and New Zealand £30,000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Wales

In the 1950s Wales’ GDP was twice as big as Ireland’s; by the 2020s the economy of the Irish Republic was four times the size of Wales’. Thanks EU.

Energy

Wind turbines

We export water and electricity to England. We are not short of water here. I even have a twitter feed of our local river to tell me how deep it is. Yes, it floods.

By one calculation Wales’ present export of water to England, from the Elan Valley to Birmingham and from Lake Vyrnwy and Tryweryn to Liverpool, could be worth as much as £4.5 billion a year.

https://www.iwa.wales/agenda/2012/04/when-white-water-could-become-white-gold/

Wales is a net exporter of the electricity it generates.

Wales energy

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-29799716

We could do better at both of these.

Put energy creating lagoons around the harbours. This has come and gone but apparently is back again.

“Providing low-carbon, predictable renewable energy, tidal lagoons will deliver reliable and flexible electricity whatever the wind conditions or time of day – ensuring grid security and stability. Moreover, tidal lagoons have an exceptional operating life, at over 120 years, over three times a wind farm and twice a nuclear plant, and significant co-benefits that other schemes do not bring, such as protecting communities and businesses from rising sea levels.

https://www.offshore-energy.biz/industry-welcomes-welsh-governments-tidal-lagoon-challenge/

We could do more wind and solar energy too.

Forestry

North/South forest? Go for it. The “national forest”. We have expanses of temperate rainforest.

https://gov.wales/national-forest-wales-woodland-sites

Rewilding

Reintroduce lynx and bears into that forest? Yep. We recently got beavers back:.

Naturalist and television presenter Iolo Williams welcomed the pair to the reserve near Machynlleth and said it was a “big day”.

“They [beavers] used to be here, they should be here and I would like to see them back on Welsh rivers,” he added.

“They can help tackle important issues like flooding, creation of new habitats – they’re an important part of that as environmental engineers.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-56565050

Eurasian lynx

Five landowners in Wales have shown interest in hosting the reintroduction of lynx, a conservation group has said.

In 2015, the Lynx UK Trust put out a plea for anyone who would be willing to allow their land to be used.

Its chief scientific advisor, Dr Paul O’Donoghue, said five sites in mid Wales came forward and it would consider their merits in future.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-41024161

Wolves would be nice. Bears are sadly an April fool:

https://nation.cymru/news/bears-return-to-deserted-welsh-village-during-lockdown

Getting eels back would be good. We’re 70% down.

But the rapid disappearance of eels from the nation’s waterways – dropping by an alarming 70% in a generation – is now a major cause for concern among naturalists.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wales-declining-eel-population-1884407

Replace pines with deciduous trees? Yes.

https://naturalresources.wales/media/681031/gpg7_forest-resilience-2_species-diversity.pdf

Bogs

Restore the bogs? This is happening.

Healthy peatland and raised bogs in good condition absorb carbon from the atmosphere which means they are important in the fight against climate change. If raised bogs are not in good condition they release harmful carbon into the atmosphere.

https://naturalresources.wales/about-us/our-projects/nature-projects/new-life-for-welsh-raised-bogs/

Public transport

Treble public transport in Cardiff? No brainier. Fuck all has happened with this in the seven years I’ve been in Cardiff. Allegedly some things are happening. In all that time there’s been a “Metro Plan”. Maybe we’ll move on from horse-drawn open-topped trains.

The South Wales Metro is an integrated public transport network that will make it easier for people to travel across the Cardiff Capital Region, transforming rail and bus services as well as cycling and walking. 

https://tfwrail.wales/metro/south-wales/

Energy efficient houses

Build energy efficient houses. I’m lucky enough to live in a B rated place. All places should be this efficient.

Seafood

Our seafood is amazing. Shame Westminster fucked that up.

Seafood

Sheep

There’s 3x as many as there are people. We should probably have more, within their environmental impact.

Sheep

Dead zone

Restore the Cambrian mountains. There’s a 300km2 dead zone.

In the southern Cambrian Mountains, in central Wales, there’s a Terrestrial Dead Zone of around 300 km². It’s composed of degraded blanket mires, entirely dominated by a coarse grass called Molinia, in which other lifeforms, such as birds and insects, are scarcely to be found.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1365217257111

Cardiff

Cardiff is nice and green, there’s plenty of woods, open fields and so on to just go hang in. Sadly a few green spaces are under threat. That’s not surprising in a growing city. The rivers could do with cleaning up. We used to have eels and way more fish. I’ll blog about this at another time. I’ve exported all my saved pins from Google maps.

Summary

There’s so much potential but nothing will happen while we’re under Westminster’s thumb. In EU terms, we are by no means the smallest country in Europe and our GDP is OK. I’d like to see more action. In the last year of lockdown green issues have come more to the forefront. I want a green future for Wales.