Jim Densham, Senior Land Use Policy Officer (Climate) for RSPB Scotland, reflects on the 20 years since 1992's Earth Summit.
Scotland joins the carnival at Rio+20
A couple of weeks before I was born the UN held a Conference on the Human Environment - the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues. That was 40 years ago in 1972 (yes I am nearing the same milestone). Twenty years ago, the world’s eyes were on Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit. I was 20, at University doing studenty things and wondering what to do with my life. We are now on the eve of another UN conference, again in Rio, dubbed Rio+20. The ‘+20’ gives the emphasis on looking back and seeing what difference the 1992 conference has made to our planet. Thankfully, the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has produced a short video with cool graphics which highlights some of the positives.
One thing that the 1992 Earth Summit did lead to was the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and in 2009 the Climate Change Scotland Act with the world’s most ambitious targets. In some ways this activity is all overdue as already we see examples of Scotland’s changing climate having an impact on our wildlife. We know that warmer seas are affecting the marine food chain leading to loss of seabirds, such as kittiwake; climate affects the emergence of insects in springtime and the ability of birds to feed their chicks; and there are changes to the migration patterns of geese.
Twenty years on from the Earth Summit, we also have me, working with colleagues from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), persuading the Scottish Government and MSPs of the need to work harder than ever to keep to the promises made in the Climate Change Act. At Rio+20, we need our Climate Change Minister to persuade his counterparts that they must follow Scotland’s world-leading example. But, we also need him to lead by example, by making a renewed commitment to meeting the GHG targets back home and secure a future for our wildlife now, before it is too late.
Please ask your MSP to the support Stop Climate Chaos declaration & make sustainable development a political priority!
This week's blog from RSPB Conservation Manager, Stuart Benn. Moths, music and more!
Mothers of Invention
Here in the north, it hasn’t been much of a spring for moth trapping – usually too cool, windy or drizzly so the light trap has spent more time in the shed than working out in the garden. In truth, Saturday night was borderline but who knew when we might get the next opportunity so out it went. As expected, the catch was modest when we looked through it on Sunday morning but it all adds to our knowledge of a largely under-recorded group of insects.
We did get a single Scalloped Hazel but, sadly, no Flame or Gold Spot to coincide with the Olympic torch’s passage through Inverness at the weekend. Yes, moth names are brilliant! Whilst those who named British birds usually stuck to plain descriptions of their appearance or habitat (eg Blue Tit, Reed Bunting), or commemorated somewhere or someone (eg Sandwich tern, Bewick’s swan), the moth namers were beautifully inventive and poetic - consider Peach Blossom, Festoon, Rivulet, Seraphim, Cinnabar, Argent & Sable, True Lover’s Knot, Silurian, Gothic, Mother Shipton, and the incomparable Merveille du Jour.
Photo of Merveille du Jour
Oddly, though whilst a case might be made for Katrina and the Waves from the days when the UK could still hold its head high in the Eurovision Song Contest, such lovely names don’t seem to have rubbed off into the world of music (though you’d think that in these days of downloads and MP3s, Pod Lover would be popular). The opposite is the case with animals and birds whose names litter the history of rock – Owl City, Counting Crows, John Cougar Mellencamp, Arctic Monkeys, Fleet Foxes to name just a few.
Indeed, the trend applies if we look at the line-up at the other main event near Inverness at the weekend, Rockness. The nearest we got to anything mothical was the mythical Bigfoot’s Tea Party but, away from insects, there was a real menagerie: Parrot, Pigeon Detectives, Tiger & Woods, Red Kites, Wildkats and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs though, given the rain that fell there on Friday and Saturday, perhaps only the namesakes of Noah and the Whale, and the Guillemots would have been happy.
It's National Volunteers Week! Erin Fulton, RSPB Scotland Publications & Media Intern, tells us what it's like to volunteer in our Edinburgh office.
An ideal bridge
I started at RSPB Scotland as their publications and media intern in April 2012. I was finishing my degree in Environmental Science and Film and Media when I came across the internship opportunity on environmentjob.co.uk and saw it as the ideal bridge between leaving university and entering the world of work.
I also saw that giving my time to the RSPB would be a brilliant way to support the important work that the organisation does to protect the environment. From dolphin watching in the Moray Firth to seeing badgers frolicking in Muiravonside, I have grown up enjoying natural environments and want others to be able to share these experiences. Being publications and media intern would mean that I could share this enthusiasm and concern for nature and wildlife.
And here I am now. I am in the office two days a week and work with communication channels between the three departments of Youth and Education, Volunteering and Media and Communications. I have worked on a variety of different projects some more familiar to me than others. I have helped Elana from Youth and Education, to develop the RSPB pages for the Scottish schools Intranet, Glow. It has been difficult at times, as Glow is a format I was not previously familiar with so progress has been slow. However, it has meant that I have learned new skills on the job and very soon, Youth and Education should have a Glow account through which teachers and pupils can learn more about the RSPB’s work and how they can get involved.
I have also helped Jen from Volunteering put together the latest edition of the Scottish volunteering newsletter – Involve. I enjoyed the process of tracking down articles and gradually developing the format of the newsletter so, eventually, it looked like a proper publication.
In addition to learning new skills with the above and other ongoing tasks, it has been insightful to see how a large organisation such as the RSPB works in order to effectively achieve their aims.
One of the most positive aspects of volunteering for RSPB Scotland in this capacity is that it has been a two-way relationship. While I feel that I have developed many useful skills, I also feel like I have been helpful to the departments I have been working with. It is these aspects that have made volunteering with the RSPB a very fulfilling work experience.
Once I have finished the internship, I hope to be looking for jobs in public relations or similar as I have enjoyed the work that I have done for the RSPB and think that I have learned skills that I could apply in this area of work.
Meanwhile, I would recommend these internship opportunities with the RSPB to anyone who wants to develop potential workplace skills or even just feels like they have something useful to offer the organisation.