Category Archives: Book reviews

RBG / World’s Plants review

RBG book

RBG Kew. 2016. The State of the World’s Plants. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 80pp (also on-line).

It was a surprise that the world’s plants had not had been put under the microscope before, but this timely report sets the record straight, and will be an annual event. This is a major work brought together and verified by scores of eminent botanists worldwide. The brutal message is that the quantum of plants is declining.  There are three sections to the book, first, how many plants are there (391,000 vascular plants) second, threats, including climate change, and third, policies and international trade. The stark facts are highlighted throughout the book in large print: 21% of global plant species currently threatened with extinction, one in five of plants threatened with extinction. This is not compensated by the 2,034 new plant species logged up to March 2016. Genome sequencing is running apace, with 136 species whose whole-genome sequences are known. There are an amazing 31,128 species of ‘useful plants’ and 1,771 ‘important plant areas’ but, worryingly very few of these areas are protected. There are 4,979 species now documented as invasive; they say it is inevitable that with globalisation the incidence of invasives will rise. On climate change they agree that ‘>10% of the earth’s vegetated surface demonstrates high sensitivity to climate change.’ This year the review focussed on Brazil where there 32,109 native Brazilian seed plants known to science and where more seed plants are known than any other country in the world. There are 219 scientific references in the book, just in case anyone wants to dispute the facts. It will be interesting to compare parameters next year on the world’s inventory of plants. Clearly, then, there are plenty of reasons to be worried about plants.

Latest book by John Feltwell

bw-cover-26-oct

  • ·         The first book ever on black and white in animals
  • ·         Black and White as a colour
  • ·         Which came first black or white swans?
  • ·         Life in bright deserts is best served in white
  • ·         If you are not a Darwinist, this book is not for you
  • ·         Global warming effects on colour
  • ·         Radioactivity effects on colour
  • ·         Piedness in birds

‘Energy Revolution’ review

Howard Johns review

Howard Johns 2015. Energy Revolution – Your Guide to Repowering the Energy System.  East Meon, Permanent Publications. 2015. ISBN 978 1 85623 197 8  288pp.

Some books take decades to evolve, but this one has been borne out of one man’s enthusiasm for the subject that goes back 15 years. The author is from East Sussex whose passion for renewables has seen Southern Solar, Transition Lewes and Ovesco establish themselves in the marketplace. There is an energy spirit coursing through Johns’ veins, a passion to see renewable energy succeed, even though politics repeatedly gets in the way. Given that sunlight, wind and water are free resources it is a great pity that they have not been exploited further. In 2014 20% of the energy used in the UK was from renewables, about half of that from wind. There are people who sit back, flick the light switch, watch TV and have no idea where the energy comes from, or are that bothered. The book is not just about energy in the UK, how it is produced, especially at community level, but there are chapters on the state of repowering in fifteen countries. We learn that energy from renewables in Germany peaked in May 2014 at 73% of total energy production. The chapter on ‘100% renewable’ details the advances that companies such as Ikea, Apple, Google and J. Sainsbury’s have made, and how Iceland (the country) first produced all its electricity from renewables in 2013. Overall this is an up to date and exciting book charting the rise of renewables – a good textbook on the subject; with glossary, index and list of resources.