Mother Earth Giveaway

I was delighted with the response to my Goodreads promotion in November, when five lucky readers won free signed copies of the paperback version of Mother Earth. Thanks to all of you who entered, and especially to those who also downloaded the e-book version. Here are a few extracts from what some Amazon readers have kindly said:

A good read… worth downloading…

Definitely worth a read… instantly absorbing…

A very well researched first novel… certainly worth the read – you may well be surprised!

Do try this book. I am enjoying it, and want to pick it up to see what happens next.

Contrary to what most people think, there’s very little money in novel writing these days – unless you’re a J.K.Rowling! – so the main reward for the majority of us is from such readers who are interested in and enjoy our work. Thank you all!

And since the first promotion generated such a lot of interest, I’ve decided to run it again. To reiterate what I said last time, “The novel deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time. 

If you’re interested if nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win one of five free copies of Mother Earth I’m offering as a Goodreads Giveaway promotion at the moment.” 

Entries cost nothing and run until midnight on January 31st 2016. You can apply now by clicking here:  Mother Earth Goodreads January Promotion.

If you’ve never entered one of these promotions before, it’s dead simple. All you do is apply to “win” one of the five free copies, which are then selected at random by Goodreads.

Good luck! This is to win one of five paperback versions. If you’d like to download the e-book, it’s available by clicking on this Amazon link.

Is Climate Change Happening?

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Severe weather in the UK, the USA and other places recently has brought two key questions around climate change to the forefront again: Is it happening? And if it is, are we responsible?

The daffodil above, flowering today in my garden in the south of England, is clearly out of sync with its usual cycle, which normally sees the first blooms appearing in mid February. Not only has December been unusually warm, the arrival of the remnants of tropical storms ‘Desmond’, ‘Eva’ and ‘Frank’ has brought very high winds and, in Wales and Scotland, rainfall at levels not seen since the 1920’s. See this link for more: Record Rainfall In Dec.

So what is going on? There’s little doubt in my mind that, as the scientific consensus tells us, the climate is changing. But are we really responsible? I don’t know the answer to that, but suspect that we are, at the least, accentuating a natural trend.

It’s as well to remember that the climate has always changed. As recently as 10,000 years ago we were just emerging from the last ice age. The ice was tens of feet thick over most of the UK, as far south as Oxford. The land is still rising as a result of the removal of all that weight, but I’ve yet to see a clear explanation of exactly why the ice melted, nor any claims that the activities of our ancestors were responsible.

Since we now live in a highly industrialised world, over seven billion of us compared to a few million then, it would not seem unreasonable to expect that our actions – especially the burning of fossil fuels – could make a difference. If the earth is visualised as the size of a football, the atmosphere becomes less than a millimetre thick. It’s little more than a thin, precious skin, without which life on the planet would be impossible. Clearly we need to take very good care of it.

El Nino, the periodic warming of the Pacific, has a major impact on the weather – see this link for more detail: BBC El Nino Article 30.12.15 .

Then there is the activity of the sun, which is also said to have a major impact, dependent on whether we’re in a time of high or low sunspot activity. That’s a topic I’ll return to soon, because it seems under-reported compared to all the usual stuff about carbon emissions and so forth.

Could it even be the most important factor of all?

Mother Earth Goodreads Giveaway

My recently published novel Mother Earth deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time.

If you’re interested if nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win one of five free copies of Mother Earth I’m offering as a Goodreads Giveaway promotion at the moment. The process for those not familiar with Goodreads is that you apply to win one of the free copies, which are then selected at random.

It costs nothing to enter and runs until midnight on the 30th November. You can apply now by clicking here:

Book giveaway for Mother Earth by A.P. Jessett Nov 01-Nov …

Good luck! If you don’t win a copy it’s available on Amazon in e-book and paperbook versions.

 

Humpback Whales – Conservation Success

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I took this picture of a breaching humpback whale last week, from the cliff top at Cape Naturaliste, West Australia. We were fortunate during our time there to sight regular small groups of these huge and mysterious creatures, passing by on their annual migration. We’d had the same experience from Sydney’s North Head two weeks earlier, and what struck me most on both occasions was that it was not so much us as the whales themselves who were truly blessed.

Their good fortune was that enough people around the world cared sufficiently to prevent them joining the dodo, the passenger pigeon and too many other creatures on the list of animals no longer here due directly to our actions. The humpback may truly be said to be back from the brink.

During the last century humpbacks were hunted to the very edge of extinction. A global population estimated at well over a hundred thousand was reduced by over 90%, as the result of inadequately controlled commercial cropping of what turned out to be a very finite natural resource. It was, if not unthinking, supremely misguided, and in the North Atlantic just a few hundred individuals remained by the time a hunting moratorium was introduced by the International Whaling Commission, in 1966.

The good news is that stocks have recovered significantly in the decades since, to the point that numbers have returned to, by some estimates, 75% of their former levels. There are still dangers of course, from collisions with ships, entanglement in netting, pollution of the seas, and perhaps also changes in the availability of food species such as krill, due to over-harvesting and a possible rise in sea temperatures.

Nevertheless, I’d say it’s a conservation success story to know that the enigmatic song of the male humpback may still be heard in the oceans of the world. It could so easily have turned out otherwise, and our planet would have been a quieter and sadder place.

Picture copyright A.P.Jessett

 

Plastic waste is a killer – why’s it in the gyres?

Plastic waste in the oceans – our waste – may kill this beautiful bird.

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Pollution by non-biodegradable plastic waste is a major problem for the oceans, wildlife, and us. One place it collects is in gyres, huge systems of rotating sea currents. The major ones are two in the Atlantic, two more in the Pacific, and another in the Indian Ocean.

Floating plastic waste naturally collects in them, and one estimate is that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans. As Laura Parker’s article for National Geographic makes clear: ‘the numbers add up to trouble for the oceans, wildlife, and us.’ 

The waste involved includes the obvious larger items, such as discarded lines, nets and plastic bags, that kill by entanglement, all the way down to smaller pieces that kill by ingestion; the latter include microplastics, small fragments broken down from larger items, and polyethylene microbeads, even tinier particles about one third of a mm in diameter that are used in some toothpaste and facial scrub products.

Chris Jordan, an American environmental artist, photographer and film maker, has been working for years on a project about Midway Atoll, a Pacific island over two thousand miles from the nearest continent. The effect  can be seen there of plastic waste ingestion on albatrosses, one of the world’s most beautiful and iconic birds, and it’s truly devastating.

Plastic bags are given out in vast numbers by supermarkets (8.5 billion p.a. in the UK alone); they’re used for just minutes before ending up in landfill for thousands of years, or in inland waterways and the sea. A bag levy coming soon in England, as already in place in Scotland and Wales, will result in less plastic bags used. It will help a little, but there’s still a massive problem.

What can you do to help?

One answer is to re-use plastic bags, and dispose of them and other plastic rubbish safely. We can encourage people not to drop plastic litter, and avoid using products containing microbeads (look for polyethylene on the ingredients list). Simple measures that, if we all do them, will make a difference.

Another is to support the campaign at the brilliant www.5gyres.org, and write to your political representative. We need our politicians on board.

 

Photograph copyright A.P.Jessett