Posts Tagged ‘environment’


September 30, 2021

I don’t think we need to worry about Global Warming because, by then, Nature will be over anyway. We could do something about it but we probably won’t. If you don’t believe me you should read Dave Goulson’s quite wonderful book “SILENT EARTH, avoiding the Insect Apocalypse” (Jonathon Cape, 2021); it’s the best £20 you’ll ever spend. Then buy a copy for your children and grandchildren, and for as many of your friends as you can afford. You’ve got to be old like me( 84 next week) to remember what the world was like when we were young: wild flowers everywhere, butterflies bees and grasshoppers, the summer skies full of swifts and skylarks, cuckoos calling through the summer woods, ponds full of cockchafers, sticklebacks and newts……. Forty years ago I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks in the Serengeti, and I wondered why such a magic spot of wildness was still left. The answer turned out to be a couple of insects, the tsetse fly and the mosquito. They kept the herdsmen and the farmers out. One good spraying, and it will all be over. In Britain our farmers spray their fields about fifteen times every year with insecticides, herbicides and fungicides thousands of times more lethal than the DDT we were wise enough to ban after Rachel Carson warned us just in time. Yes fifteen times! I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read Goulson . We’ve all got to read it before it’s too late. But it may be already. As Jane Goodall has said : “We inherited the Earth from our Parents, but we’ve stolen it from our children”.


October 20, 2020

My arresting fascination with bird flight started in 1968 while crossing the Atlantic by the cheapest possible means — an old rust-bucket called The Aurelia. To discourage the passengers from eating, the captain would steer the vessel from one weather system to the next. During one such diversion I was amazed to see a tiny warbler, with its characteristic swooping flight, appearing and disappearing amongst the gigantic waves. Eventually he landed on the ships rail and we got him as far as Long Island in a shoe-box. Alas he never made the final lap, falling dead as he flew up and off towards the shore we could already scent.

As a scientist I felt I had to understand Christopher’s ( we called him after Columbus) amazing feat, Even if he didn’t succeed some of his kind do. How could such a tiny ounce of pluck and feathers make it three thousand miles across the vasty deep? I taught myself aerodynamics, took up gliding and exploited my occupation as an astronomer to watch birds performing aerial miracles in all corners of the globe: Condors in the Andes, Albatrosses off New Zealand, Siberian Storks in Africa, Frigate Birds in the Caribbean, Terns on the Barrier Reef, Sandhill Cranes in New Mexico, Vultures in the Caucusus, Ravens above the Black Mountains, Shearwaters from Skomer, gulls theramalling in front of my glider half way across Britain in search of………

Eventually (it took ten years) the penny dropped as I was washing up after Christmas dinner: The Christopher Equation. How shocking it was, how beautiful…. how totally unexpected! There is a taster on simple aerodynamics, including a derivation of the Christopher Equation at

Wandering Albatross flying over rough sea, Southern Atlantic Ocean (Diomedea exulans).

Above is a Great Wandering Albatross circling a ship far down in the Southern Ocean. With its 12 foot wingspan it can fly tirelessly at 60 mph without beating a wing .Surely it is one of the true wonders of the world. It is being wiped out by Long-line fishermen who couldn’t care a f**k. After all there’s no money in Albatrosses. Copyright Mike Hill/getty images.


When one sets off on a quest in Science one can have no idea where it might eventually lead. One day I dropped in to the magnificent Natural History Museum in New York. There, hanging from the ceiling, was the fossil skeleton of a pterosaur twenty feet across, with bones like an ox. By then I knew enough avian aerodynamics to know that it couldn’t have possibly flown. Never, never never! Physics and physiology were all against it. Why then did it have colossal wings and vestigial hooks for legs? Here was another mystery profound which was to lead eventually to the idea of Recyclable Oil; an idea which could eventually save this Earth.

I couldn’t get anyone to listen. The idea of Recyclable Oil was just too outlandish, especially when it was linked to the even madder idea of Pterodactyl’s Blood. And yet every year since, palaeontologists have been digging up ever larger pterosaurs in Texas, some ten metres in wingspan. There has to be a scientific explanation. I sometimes think Christopher was trying to whisper a secret in my ear, a secret that might save the natural world, and all those wonderful species, from the Orang Utang to the Great Wandering Albatross, that Man is harrying to extinction.

If you are interested in bird flight, and its wondrous implications, you might try my novel Pterodactyl’s Blood (Amazon paperback, 2020 £!2.99). It’s described elsewhere on this site.

My son son Mathias and I have tried to present our ideas, in the form of scientific papers and seminars to the scientific establishment — but they won’t listen. The problem is really one of academic burrowing. No academic presently has the disparate mix of skills, ranging from aerodynamics to palaentology, to even referee our papers. But that’s no new thing. Creeping in between existing specialisms has often been the only way for science to advance. But while we’re struggling with that you can look at one of our papers at:

while if you look here`


there is a link to our Power Point presentation with lots of sexy slides.


October 16, 2020

is a literally vital subject which seems to have been completely missed by science up until now (That makes me a little nervous, could I really be the pioneer when….. ?) Humans have a mad strategy, they are born warm blooded but naked! They should have gone extinct; instead they have become the dominant species on Earth. Could their weird strategy actually be the secret of their success? Here I argue that it could, and that Thermodynamics dominates every aspect of our lives, our history and our evolution. In the tropics an individual has a thermodynamic efficiency of about 1 percent and must somehow survive with an average useful power of only one Watt, less than a very dim torch ! That same individual in Northern Europe would have 3 Watts and in Greenland 11. If that is true then Human Thermodynamics must dominate every aspect of our lives.

If you find that idea intriguing, or would like to argue with it, you might like to look at a shortish essay on the whole fascinating subject, including its implications for history, for us as a species, and as individuals. If so click on:


October 16, 2020

An immigration rate of about half a per cent a year as we presently have in Britain, sounds innocuous. I certainly thought so. Thus people who object to it are sometimes branded as ‘racists’ or worse by ‘liberals’. But liberals generally don’t understand that half a per cent a year is the equivalent of 3 British mothers out of 4 raising an extra child. So it is dramatic. Even as a very experienced user and teacher of maths myself, I was very surprised indeed when I worked this out last year (2019). Indeed I was so shocked I refused to believe it for weeks until I had re-done the calculation in several independent ways. But it seems there can be no doubt about it.

How could a small percentage lead to apocalyptic growth? Mainly because immigrants arrive every year whilst births and deaths are lifetime events, and Life-expectancy in Europe today is about 80 years. So you have to multiply yearly immigration rates by 80 to appreciate the real scale of it. Then again, only the female half of the existing population breeds, while immigrants come in in both sexes. So that’s another multiplying factor of 2. Now we can begin to see why the current figure of roughly 300,000 immigrants/year is equivalent to 160 times that amount in a lifetime, or 48 Million. It is indeed equivalent to 3 British mothers out of 4 having an extra child. [Alternatively note that the immigration rate is about half the annual birth rate; that should make one think — indeed that’s what started me calculating.]

I don’t think any of us can have a fruitful. discussion of immigration (or population control in general, which was my initial interest) unless we understand the scale of it. There is no avoiding the conclusion that at anything like its present level immigration will swamp Britain. That’s not racism, that is simple algebra. Alas very few of our governing or media elite are numerate enough to comprehend the scale of the problem while residents in certain areas know only too well they are being swamped, or have been already.

I discuss Population and Immigration as impersonally as I can in my recent book History of the Brits (from a scientists point of view), Amazon 2020. It is described elsewhere on this site under ‘My Books’ Category Here is the summary at the end of Chapter 16, which deals only with the numbers:

“Any discussion of population and immigration which doesn’t take numbers into account is worthless. Who sensible would argue that all or any immigration is either wholly good or wholly bad – surely it is a question of how much; and that takes some calculating:

We have found that:

  1. Indigenous Brits have largely descended from a few hundred hunter-gatherers who were stranded here when Doggerland was inundated around 6500 BC. There is thus no way Brits can argue that they are especially talented people who got here because of, for instance, their seafaring enterprise. The silly buggers were simply cut off. Lucky devils!
  2. Subsequent invasions must have been more of ideas than people. Ideas can obviously fly.
  3. The indigenous British population is approximately 400 generations old.
  4. So as to make up for occasional setbacks such as plagues and droughts all animal populations must be able to grow exponentially. Such is the nature of exponential growth however that minute rates of growth or decline can lead eventually to apocalyptic changes in population. We all need an intuitive grasp of this vital process. [See Box]
  5. Many debates about immigration policy are confused, and have led to shouting matches, because educated but innumerate people have confounded immigration rates with population numbers and so have dramatically underestimated the long term effects of immigration. To compare a rate with a number one must first multiply the rate by twice the life expectancy of the existing population – 160 years in Britain. Thus the current rate of roughly 300,000 immigrants a year corresponds to a total number of 48 million migrants! This dramatic multiplier, which was by no means obvious, needs most careful thought – and acknowledgement.

NB The vital Intergenerational Population Multiplier is:

X= (b+B)/2 where b is the average number of children per mother (close to 2.0) while B=2IT/P where I is the net annual immigration rate (about 300,000 at present), T the average life expectancy (about 80 years), and P the existing population (about 67 Million in 2020). If you work it out B comes to about 0.75 extra babies per mother — as claimed above.

(The 2 in B arises because only the female half of the indigenous population breeds so the fair ratio of immigration to breeding has to be I/(P/2) = 2I/P while the T converts a rate into a number.)


Britons are comparatively wealthy; immigrants are comparatively poor – which is mostly why they come. Thus, immigration must necessarily drain the per capita accumulated wealth of a host country. People don’t talk about this. Thus the present immigration rate is halving the UK’s annual accumulation of wealth – which is a very slow process.[Note 3]. Thus each immigrant costs the UK roughly a million pounds, but for some reason people never talk about that This is already showing up in the present housing crisis – the canary in the mine.

The great news is that we can, if we want to, reduce our present population to a sustainable level (less than 20 million?) in only two generations without any need for draconian restrictions such as a One Child policy, provided we now halt immigration almost entirely. Because of the aforesaid 160, small numbers of immigrants arriving per year are , in this context, equivalent to large numbers of extra babies. Every citizen should understand that. It is not obvious, but it is absolutely spinal!

But the point of this post is simply to help anyone interested in these subjects to understand the Maths, and if possible to check it. To that end I have written a short algebraic essay which you can click on at:


September 29, 2020

How we could save the world with recyclable oil

This is the story of Griff Boatwright, a ‘mad’ scientist who discovered how to make ‘Recyclable Oil’, but was apparently killed in a plane-crash shortly before his magic discovery could be exploited to save the Earth from global warming. His friend Mike determines to find out what happened in the hope that others can re-discover the transformative substance before it is too late. He unearths the unlikely journey of Griff’s path towards his discovery, which takes in the mystery of tiny warblers that can fly the Atlantic, of marine iguanas, sun-loving creatures that thrive in frozen seas, and of giant pterosaurs that were, according to the laws of aerodynamics, far too massive to fly and yet, so evidently, did. This is a story of love too, of two close friends who fell for one remarkable woman , who loved both of them back, and of one man who fell in love with both a mother and her daughter, and made a fatal choice. What happened to Griff and why did did he depart this Earth before he could rescue it? Naomi believes God was somehow involved. Salome is sure he is still alive; somewhere. Mike follows the scent from a mid-Atlantic storm, to the Arabian mountains, from British Columbia to Queensland, from Tasmania’s Bay of Fires to the coast of Pembrokeshire and finally to Skomer Island. If Mike can resurrect Griff’s lost discovery humans could generate all the energy they will ever need , without harming a single ecosystem on the planet. But it all depends on Pterodactyls’ blood! The author is a Space scientist with a life-long fascination for bird-flight. The revelation of a tiny warbler landing on his ship in mid-ocean set him off wondering just how birds accomplish such apparently miraculous feats. That led him to become a soaring pilot himself and to the long-standing puzzle of how giant pterosaurs, weighing 20 times as much as any bird capable of flight today, could dominate the Earth a hundred Million years ago, before they were wiped out by a meteorite. He believes that if we can rediscover their secret , we too could make Recyclable Oil.

Wandering Albatross flying over rough sea, Southern Atlantic Ocean . I have watched such marvellous creatures with their 12 foot wingspan circling our ship for hours without a single wingbeat. Griff and Naomi spent their honeymoon studying them. We know they sometimes fly 5,000 kilometres in between feeding their chicks. They are being wiped out by long line fishermen. Mike Hill/ getty.images.

The paperback was published on Amazon in 2020 at £12.99 qnd the e-book version in August 20 21 at £3.99.

There are several posts on bird-flight, aerodynamics and pterosaurs on this site under the Category ‘Flight’. Do you know there are birds which can fly from Alaska to New Zealand, 11,000 miles, in a single hop? And we think we’re Lords of the Earth.