Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

All things bees and eco-teams… May 31, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,News — Kellie Maddox @ 11:36 am
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Let’s not dwell on my absence the last few weeks (all in the name of work I assure you). A few interesting things to report from the last few weeks – some enviro, some not. But for these purposes, let’s talk ‘green’…..

Last week I took a trip to Birmingham Chamber of Commerce  – the intention wasn’t wholly to discuss new ‘green’ developments but something quite exciting did crop up. I won’t reveal too much as a Birmingham Recycled article will be posted soon to tell you more, however the general gist of the Chamber’s latest venture involves a newly-devised environmental team/project which is aimed at encouraging Midlands’ businesses to operate in more enviro-friendly ways e.g. energy saving, reducing waste and improving efficiency.

So you’ll be hearing more about the project in the coming months from the Chamber, but also from moi, as I’m going to be working as an intern on the project to get the site going ( along with the team and Jon Hickman) and filling it will lots of informative (and hopefully exciting) content.

Next……following lots of media interest the last couple of weeks about the plight of our beloved bee population, I thought it was something worth looking into. The Guardian reported that honeybee numbers were still in decline after the harsh winter this year. Referring to the results of a survey published by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), the figures show a wide regional variation, with northern parts of the UK suffering greater losses than the south.

I decided to try to find out the picture in the Midlands so contacted several groups to find out how the bee population has fared in the local area. Although not so great for me, many groups weren’t able to accommodate me because they were so busy with huge numbers of people learning the ropes of beekeeping – a great sign that more people are interested in the conservation of these insects.

South Staffordshire Beekeepers’ Association were kind enough to invite me along to one of their meetings, held at their apiary at Shugborough Hall. I was pleasantly surprised to find a gathering of 20-25 ‘beginner beekeepers’ along with several experienced committee members who look after the apiary and run the course.  

After the informative session, which was all about ‘swarms’, I managed to grab a few minutes with apiary manager Neil Leadbetter and the knowledgable membership secretary Phil Healy. I filmed my brief interview with them, asking about the local picture in terms of bee numbers, why there is a decline, what can be done and how many people are taking up the hobby. I’m hoping – if me and Sian manage to hone our video editing skills – to have the video up on Birmingham Recycled tomorrow so you’ll have to have a look.

Finally, my most time-consuming and least-progressed project is the mapping I’ve been attempting, but let’s not talk about that. It may or may not materialise depending on my inclination to process another hundred or so calculations before the week is out. A miracle needed please…..

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Mapping: giving it another go…. May 6, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,Online journalism — Kellie Maddox @ 2:13 pm
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You may re-call my rather delayed attempts at mapping the emissions saved by flights being grounded at Birmingham Airport during the recent ‘ash cloud’. In my earlier post, I said:

As for UK figures, specifically Birmingham Airport – I’ve contacted the airport who said roughly 1600 flights were grounded over the 6 day period. I asked how this impacted aviation emissions figures but was told it’s something they’d have to look into with their environment department…….so its looking like Monday at the earliest!

The lady at Birmingham Airport did get back to me but only to say that they don’t keep such information because they’re not required to track emissions by law; although its something they will be introducing in the next 12 months. She said it would be quite difficult to work out because of variants like plane model type, length of flight, weight carried etc. So I pretty much laid the idea to rest….

Until yesterday’s session on data journalism with James Ball that is. I told James about the idea and he seemed to think it was worth pursuing. He said I would be able to work out a rough average based on the number of flights that would normally have flown out, the number of those that would have been short/long-haul and the approximate emissions of a ‘standard aircraft’.

So, I’ve gone back to Birmingham Airport and asked for exactly those figures….fingers crossed they a) get back to me and b) get back to me with some lovely numbers to crunch. I also asked about the number of flights affected by this week’s restrictions in Scotland and Ireland – so another mapping opportunity could be on the horizon there….

On a side note, I managed to find an Environmental Change Institute document which discusses the different methods used to calculate the carbon emissions of flights and compares them….so I guess this may come in handy when/if I do get some data to work with.

 

You know that volcano….you know the one…… April 23, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 11:19 am
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Yep, that’s right – the one in Iceland that’s brought misery to thousands of stranded air passengers across Europe and caused UK airspace to close for 6 whole days. Well, the team at BRInvestigates have seen through the misery and thought GREAT! (well we didn’t exactly say that) What are we interested in? The environment. And what does the airspace closure mean for the environment? Less aviation emissions.

So what? Well as the winding path of Online Journalism continues to weave its complex web – we suddenly come face-to-face with another daunting and mind-boggling concept…….INTERACTIVITY….which I will tackle in another post.

So, in our quest to make our online journalism more interactive, we thought about creating some elements which represented data about the emissions saved during the airspace ban in other ways to writing an article. Mapping the flights that would normally have left the UK to Europe and showing the CO2 emissions that have been saved as a result of the ban would be one way of doing that.

Cue the pitiful efforts so far…..