Skip to main content

Posts

Interrogating land and water use change in the Colombian Andes

Socio-ecological tensions, farming and habitat conservation in Guantiva-La RusiaHighlighting the Cabot Institute´s commitment to growing the evidence base for water-based decision making, Dr Maria Paula Escobar-Tello (Co-Investigator) and Dr Susan Conlon (Post Doctoral Research Assistant) introduce the social science component of an exciting three-year project called PARAGUAS, an interdisciplinary collaboration between UK and Colombian researchers to investigate how plants and people influence the water storage capacity of the Colombian Páramos…

In June 2018, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) jointly awarded funding to five UK projects under the Newton-Caldas funded Colombia-Bio programme. The Colombian Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias) subsequently awarded funding to 24 smaller Colombian projects under the same programme. PARAGUAS – How do the Páramos store water? The role of plants and pe…
Recent posts

World Water Day: How can research and technology reduce water use in agriculture?

World Water Day draws attention to the global water crisis and addresses why so many people are being left behind when it comes to having access to safe water. The UN estimates that globally 80% of people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas. This can leave households, schools, workplaces and farms struggling to survive. On farms water is vital for the production of food and is used in a huge range of processes, including irrigation and watering livestock. In this blogpost I will lightly review the current issues around water in agriculture and highlight some exciting research projects that may offer potential solutions.
What is the water crisis? The UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to ensure that all people have access to sustainable, safe water by 2030. Unfortunately, we’re a long way off achieving this goal as a recent report from UNICEF/WHO estimates that there are currently 2.1 billion people living without access to safe water in their ho…

On the lively materiality of soil: A Somali Drylands artistic collaboration

The WIDER-SOMA project was a cross-disciplinary and multi-institution research collaborative project headed by Dr Katerina Michaelides at the University of Bristol, investigating the effect of warfare on dryland environments in Somalia. I was excited to be invited to join the project in its later stages as artist in residence, supported by a small grant from the Cabot Innovation Fund. As an artist-geographer, my work explores the potential of drawing as a research methodology. I am interested in the unexpected things that happen in cross-disciplinary encounters, and the hazy zones where categories and definitions begin to break down.

The brief was to produce an artwork responding to the range of research specialisms involved in the project, to celebrate the ‘liveliness’ both of the collaborative research processes, and of the Somali Drylands themselves. We wanted to push back against the idea of drylands as ‘dead spaces’, drawing on the knowledge of people who engage closely with the…

Collecting silences

‘Noise’ is the Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which have resulted from fossil-fuel-powered economic growth which is measured as GDP for particular territories. In Figure 1, ‘noise’ is the area below the green line to the left of the vertical dotted line (historical) and below the blue line to the right of the vertical dotted line (projected). ‘Silence’ is the reduction of fossil-fuel use and the mitigation of carbon emissions. In Figure 1, ‘silence’ is the green shaded area above the blue line and below the dotted blue line to the right of the vertical dotted line.
 To ensure that we maintain atmospheric GHG emission concentrations conducive to human habitation and the ecosystems that support us, we need to assign less value to ‘noise’ (burning fossil fuels) and more value to ‘silence’ (GHG emission mitigations). Creating a system which assigns value to ‘silences’ by turning them into investable resources requires an effort sharing mechanism to establish demand and organizational capa…

Downhill all the way: Monitoring landslides using geophysics

Developments in geophysical methods used to monitor surface and subsurface changes prior to landslides can lead to improved prediction and early warning.
Drone photo from the Hollin Hill Landslide Observatory in North Yorkshire, UK, taken in August 2018. This landslide exhibits progressive “slip-stick” failure, which is linked to increases in subsurface moisture-content caused by prolonged and extreme precipitation. This backscarp feature, located in Lias Group mudrocks (Whitby Mudstone Formation), has developed slowly since first appearing in April 2016. Prior to this, there were few clues at the ground surface indicating the impending failure. Credit: British Geological Survey
Every year, landslides cause fatalities and destruction in locations worldwide. Nevertheless, what triggers them and when they occur can often be difficult to predict. A recent article in Reviews of Geophysics examined developments in landslide monitoring using insights and methods from geophysics. Here, one of …

Mothering Earth: Raising kids in uncertain times

Did you know women are more likely than men to be affected by climate change? UN figures indicate that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. And in light of the recent strikes by children across the world, it is clear that it is the most pressing issue for a lot of children around the world. So then, what role do mothers play in guiding and supporting our children in a changing climate? And what is it like to know the dangers of climate change and bring up a child in an uncertain world?
The guilt You only have to visit forums like Mumsnet to see that climate change is being discussed quite frequently and with anxiety (for those who care) around how it will affect their children’s futures. As highlighted on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, young women across the world are contemplating whether to have kids at all for fear of how climate change will degrade their children’s lives. In fact a new group called BirthStrike has risen up in the belief that it would be unjust…

Social and environmental justice

This is Bristol: Numerous green businesses and voluntary organisations, a multitude of cyclists, recyclers and circular economists; ethical banking and a local currency; a Council-owned windfarm, Energy Company and low-carbon investment strategy; local food production, community energy, sustainable housing developments.  The 2015 EU Green Capital and the owner of the most rapid and extensive decarbonisation ambition of any city or nation in the world.

This is also Bristol: Congestion, polluted air and a polluted harbour, heat-inefficient Victorian homes, fuel poverty and food deserts. Economic inequality magnified by environmental inequality.

Bristol has been a leader in the environmental movement for decades, and it has been a leader in tackling climate change. I’ve been studying climate change for 30 years but am still in awe of the Bristol spirit.  And since arriving in Bristol, I’ve tried to help my small bit: I was with George Ferguson in Paris when he pledged carbon neutrality …