A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Watch out! There's a sunflower about.....

One despairs at the utter rubbish that is reported in the name of 'global warming'. Today, we have Britain threatened by sunflowers and our doom will be compounded by the decline of the beech tree (which, by the way, was one of the later, and more localised, arrivals in our post-Ice Age Holocene forests). I tremble at the thought. Sunflowers? How can we survive? Ears cut off all over.

So, here is the bar(l)my BBC online report: 'Climate change threat to gardens' (BBC Online News England, June 14). And here is my re-writing of this dire report in a somewhat more optimistic fashion [remember, to maintain the hegemony of an 'idea' - i.e., 'environmentalism' - language is everything. Challenge the language, and the myth will fall apart]:

'Climate change great opportunity for gardeners'

The English garden in the South East is due for a new blaze of colour because of global warming, experts say.

By Persephone Polyanna

The English country gardener in the South East will be presented with many new opportunities for planting in the next 100 years, scientists say.

Climate change might, though we don't know, reduce our need to maintain large lawns and help us to diversify the shrub borders of Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, and Sussex. We may even be able to develop fair olive groves and extend grape vines.

The benefits of possible 'global warming' are being discussed today at a The Royal Society for Happy Gardeners (RSHG) conference at the University of Wisley.

Following certain selected climate scenarios (which, however, are only computer-based) experts say summer temperatures in the South East may hopefully rise by up to 1.5C by 2050, although the effect on rainfall is not certain.

With a bit of luck - although again we have no idea - it might even be a little warmer still by the 2080s, the scientists say.

"This is going to provide truly exciting opportunities for the gardener", said Penelope Poppy from the RSHG.

"It's already happening - you can see fields of smiling sunflowers everywhere", grins Professor Bob Bloomer, holding up some striking lavender cultivars.

"For the average gardener there will be lots of terrific new colourful plants to choose from, while the National Trust will find it easier to maintain some of the more expensive exotic gardens and orangeries from the Victorian and Edwardian Ages. Less fuel will be needed to service greenhouses and glasshouses, and this can only be good for the environment."

"And don't we just love the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh!" Penelope Poppy purrs. "We may well be able to have parts of England recalling the gorgeous Mediterranean scenes painted by Vincent and by Bonnard, with fields of sunflowers becoming common features along with palms, shrubs, and gorgeous-smelling eucalyptus! I can't wait! Sounds like natural aromatherapy everywhere."

One possible pity is that levels of sunlight tend to be lower in England than in the Med, but many plant and tree species found in southern France are still expected to become more common further north, again providing an increase in biodiversity and gardening choice.

These will include the walnut, poplar, sweet chestnut, plums, kiwi fruits, pistachio trees, and vines, the scientists say.

Our native woodlands of oak, beech, ash and Scots pine will survive, just increasing the new overall biodiversity, though we might lose a few beeches in Kent and Surrey.

Overall this is a wonderful opportunity. "If, of course, it happens", cautions Prof. Bloomer. "We may start to cool, and that could be quite challenging for gardeners."

Philip, always looking on the bright side of life. Pistachio nuts all round. "Where shall I put the garden rubbish, dear?" Coffee.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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