Friday, September 28, 2007

Conserving energy when not on trail

Just in from the Royal Society - Science in the news - a handy round-up of what's going on around science in the press:

Royal SocietyHilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, has said that high-energy light bulbs will begin to be phased out from next year, as part of the Government's practical commitment to reducing carbon emissions:
  • The Times, p29, 1 col
  • The Independent, p9, 1 1/2 cols
  • The Daily Telegraph, p5, 1/2 col
  • The Guardian, p6, 1/2 col
  • Daily Mail, p38, 2/3 col

Now, there's no need to wait for the change to happen. You can with good conscience swap out your lightbulbs today. Leaving no trace is a no-brainer on trail, but once back home it can be a bit more tricky to figure out how to lessen one's impact - here's a nice video, albeit American, explaining exactly why new energy saving bulbs are better:

If you like the way the above video explains things in plain English, do check out all the other great movies from - and if you're not already subscribing to our feed in an RSS reader, then specifically have a look at this one:

We specifically recommend Google Reader - and our feed can be found here.

A couple of somewhat related articles from the archive that may also be of interest:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review round-up: The Wild Places

The Wild PlacesThe two most recent reviews:

New Statesman: Every city-dweller knows the sensation of feeling imprisoned within an urban world of brick and glass. Sometimes it's triggered by a jam-packed thoroughfare in a shopping precinct. Often it is heralded by a crowded train carriage deep underground.
But the next time you find yourself mired in dark thoughts about the soul-blanching impositions of city life, walk straight into the nearest bookshop and buy a copy of Robert Macfarlane's The Wild Places, his erudite and exquisitely written follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Mountains of the Mind. The book is balm for the most acute metropolitan malaise. Read the full review in The New Statesman

The Economist: LIKE a medieval holy man, or modern hippie, Robert Macfarlane sets out for the remote parts of the northern and western British isles, sea-sprayed islands, craggy mountains and great bog plains. He wants to experience wildness. There is not an icy pool he will not plunge into or tree he would not climb. He picks up shards of roughened granite and smooth flints and turns them in his hand. He says: “We have in many ways forgotten what the world feels like.” - Full review in the Economist
Also, reviewed earlier in:

Our earlier coverage:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Climate Change Reading

Further to our Global Warming equation post recently we thought we'd point out that the forthcoming issue of New York Review of Books has a review by Bill McKibben of a slew of new Climate Change books, specifically:


"Bill McKibben will be answering questions from readers about his article "Can Anyone Stop It?" and the possibilities for action to stop global warming. Send your question by September 28, 2007" -- Learn how on the NYRB site

You may also be interested to read these recent articles by Bill McKibben, from the Review's archives:

Our role here at the Wilderness Foundation is to awaken the environmental leaders of the future - we do that primarily in the context of helping people experience Wilderness. We do believe a solid reading list (with a critical mind) goes with any leadership path - hence our gateway to the above.

Also, related items from our archives - Recent literature on Global Warming - New York Review of Books and An exchange on Global Warming.

Monday, September 24, 2007

WFUK Blog on your Mobile

If you have an internet ready mobile then you can keep up with our feeds using Google Reader Mobile - This is in fact faster than going to the full URL when on the go, because Google Reader only loads the headlines and strips the sidebars in the first instance. You then pick which story to read and thus avoid downloading material you won't use.

If you're already using Google Reader, simply go here from your mobile.

If not, why not set up a few favourite feeds now? - Then you have something to look forward to reading next time you're waiting for the train...

Also, if you're reading on normal computer, don't forget that Google Reader has lots of useful keyboard shortcuts? Here are some of them:

  • j/k: next/previous item

  • n/p: scan down/up (list only)

  • o/enter: expand/collapse (list only)

  • s: star item

  • + s: share item (please do)

  • v: view original

  • m: mark item as read/unread

  • r: refresh

  • + a: mark all as read (key if you feel your feeds are giving you information overload)

Click here to see the full list or press "?" to display it any time (in Google Reader).

If you're a member of our growing Facebook group, then you can also access this on your mobile via

Reading Round-up: Cameron McNeish

So many great books and authors were mentioned in the recent Campfire Questions with Cameron McNeish that we thought you might want to flick through the covers for inspiration:

...even more reading can be found in our Amazon-run bookstore.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

There is a call for entries for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival - which runs in the US - but accepts submissions from anywhere. We know our alumni includes a fair few budding film makers and we hope they'll pick up this opportunity and run with it:

"We invite you to submit your films: animation, shorts, narratives, kids’ films, documentaries, and features. Foremost, we are looking for films that demonstrate a passion for the art form as well as a clear, potent, and above all, inspirational message. We feature environmental films that cover all issues, as well as adventure films from around the world. If your film is chosen for the 2008 Official Selection, you will be invited as our guest for the festival, January 11-13, 2008. You’ll have the opportunity to introduce your film, speak at filmmaker forums, attend parties, and enjoy a variety of VIP benefits." - Full call for submissions.

More at

The New Math Of Global Warming

A descriptive slideshow by Craig Damrauer showing the equations for the new math of global warming from the July/August 2007 Issue of Mother Jones:

More Craig Damrauer in 'New Math: Equations for Living'.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Campfire Questions with Cameron McNeish

We wired Cameron McNeish, Wilderness speaker, editor of TGO Magazine and WFUK Trustee, to hear a bit more about what's going on in his end of the UK.

Here's the Q&A:

• You recently wrote on the TGO blog about 'The Wild Places', the new book by Robert Macfarlane – Could you tell us a little bit more about why our readers should check it out. Also, could you maybe give us an insight into what you discussed with Robert in your forthcoming podcast interview with him?

Cameron McNeishMany folk will be familiar with Robert Macfarlane's book 'Mountains of the Mind'. It was published to wide critical acclaim a few years ago.

His new book, The Wild Places, was published earlier this month. Rather than focus on the kind of person who climbs mountains Rob has placed the spotlight on the landscape itself. In that sense it's the kind of book that Americans tend to write much better than we do, people like Barry Lopez, Edward Hoagland, Ed Abbey and Annie Dillard, not to forget, of course, the earlier writers like Muir, Emerson and Thoreau. In the UK we have a good legacy in mountaineering literature - We also have a reasonable legacy in "nature" or "wildlife" writing - I can think of people like Gavin Maxwell and Frank Fraser Darling, although today's wildlife writers are but a pale copy of these people.

Very few people, with possibly the exception of WH Murray and Jim Perrin, and perhaps one or two others, have ever written evocatively about our relationship with wild places, and why such landscapes are important to us, spiritually and emotionally, not to forget any bio-vidersity role they have.

I discussed these issues with Rob and also a little about his background - his grandfather, who lives in the Scottish highlands, was a very enthusiastic mountaineer and is a superb botanist. Rob was brought up in these traditions. We also discussed the need for writers like Rob to remind readers that wild places are a dwindling commodity, and that it is incumbent on all of us to protect them.

• What are the main lessons you’ve taken away from both book and interview?

Robert very gently reminded me of my own role as a conservationist.

In particular he shared a thought that very much resonated with me. He told me he'd had some criticism from natural history scientists and academics who claimed that he focused too much on the emotional/spiritual side of the great outdoors, rather than work to a stricter scientific analysis.

That thought reminded me of a conversation I once had with the late WH Murray, whose first book, 'Mountaineering in Scotland', had been returned to him by a prospective publisher because it was “too spiritual.”

I’m very aware of such criticism, much of which comes from academia and science-based naturalists. It’s as though the emotional, spiritual or experiential side of the outdoors is almost worthless and yet such emotions, I would suggest, are inherent in all of us.

They are, as the wilderness poet Gary Snyder once said: "perenially within us, dormant as a hard-shelled seed, awaiting the fire or flood that awakens it again." Perhaps we can be the fire or flood that has that affect on people?

• Is it right that you’re thinking of doing more video – and if so, where will our readers be able to find it?

I've made a couple of DVDs - The Wasdale Round and The Howgills, for a company called Striding Edge, run by my old friend Eric Robson. I'm also making a series of Wild Walks for a BBC Scotland monthly programme called the Adventure Show. That series will eventually appear on a DVD.

I've also been pretty involved in making audio podcasts for my own website at and for my magazine's website at so it seems logical to move on from those audio podcasts to video podcasts. I've just bought a pro video camera and have been working hard trying to master the video editing software so hopefully, within the next 2 or 3 weeks, we'll have videos running on both websites.

• Now you’re a wild places not to mention wilderness speaker in your own right – where would we be able to hear you this autumn?

Yes, the lecture season is just about to start and I'm off to the Isle of Arran for the Arran Walking Festival at the end of this month. That'll be followed with a talk in New Galloway, the Inverness Book Festival, two lectures for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in Dunfermline and Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival. On top of that lot I'm giving the annual Snowdonia Society lecture in Bangor and I've been honoured to be asked to give the annual Wainwright Lecture on this the centenary of Wainwright's birth. All the dates and venues are on my website.
• Give us a couple of top autumn reads that’ll broaden our mind.

Well, you must read Robert Macfarlane's book, The Wild Places and I would urge anyone to look out the books of an American/Welsh writer called Colin Fletcher.

Colin died earlier this year but his book, The Man Who Walked Through Time, is the finest outdoor book I've ever read. It's about the first on-foot traverse of the Grand Canyon before it was flooded.

Read it and it will open your mind to the amazing geological timespan that formed one of the world's natural wonders, the Grand Canyon.

Thanks Cameron - and best of luck with that hectic schedule!

A couple of quick extra links not covered above:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Red List longer than ever

IUCN - The World Conservation Union, which we normally talk about in conjunction with the Wilderness Task Force, has recently released the 2007 Red List:

IUCN Red List"There are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List and 16,306 of them are threatened with extinction, up from 16,118 last year. The total number of extinct species has reached 785 and a further 65 are only found in captivity or in cultivation."
Now The Economist pointed to 'species inflation' in an article back in May saying:"As new areas are explored, the number of species naturally increases (see article).
For example, the number of species of monkey, ape and lemur gradually increased until the mid-1960s, when it levelled off. In the mid-1980s, however, it started rising again. Today there are twice as many primate species as there were then.
That is not because a new wave of primatologists has emerged, pith-helmeted, from the jungle with hitherto unknown specimens. It is because a lot of established subspecies have been reclassified as species." - Full article

OK, so the total list of species is longer than ever ... But expressed differently:

"One in four mammals, one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70% of the world’s assessed plants on the 2007 IUCN Red List are in jeopardy."
That should make anybody sit up. But what to do about it?

- In addition to strongly supporting the IUCN, we develop tomorrow's environmentally aware leaders through our school, cadet and social programmes. If you'd like to help more young people go through our training, get in touch or consider making a donation or raise some funds today.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Campfire Questions with Graham Game

We grabbed Graham Game, friend of the foundation and a professional environmentalist, for a quickfire round of questions further to Wednesday night’s ‘Climate Change and Essex - Winner or Loser?’ debate:

• What are the most urgent issues facing Essex?

Essex is on the front line as far as the effects of climate change are concerned, and with our long and incredibly fragile coastline, it's sea level rise and then flooding that I'm probably most concerned about, but the face of agriculture is changing too.

We are facing a 2 - 6 degree celsius rise in temperatures, and an increase of up to 20% in winter rainfall. It's also predicted that water levels in the Thames Estuary could rise as much as 86 cm by the 2080's, while there could be a fall of up to 60% in soil moisture levels during summer.

Our rich biodiversity here in Essex is really taking a hammering as our seasons change their patterns due to climate change.

So what are we doing? Building thousands of new homes on flood plains in the Thames Estuary, turning thousands of acres of arable land over to growing non-food crops & looking to almost double our airport capacity.

• What can our local readers do to make a difference?

Here's where I take many people out of their comfort zones: I passionately believe that far too much emphasis is being placed on mitigation & nowhere near enough action is being taken to prepare & adapt for the inevitable effects of climate change here in Essex & the UK.

There simply isn't the time to play around with greenwash. With 1.32 billion Chinese, 1.12 billion Indians & 300 million Americans all hell-bent at achieving economic growth through polluting technologies, even if every one of us 60 million Brits reduced our carbon footprints it would be merely a drop in the ocean.

Set an example? To who? Yes, let's continue to push for sustainable lifestyles, but the real work to be done is adapt to survive. No more building new homes on flood plains. More coastal realignment schemes, more renewable power schemes, but most importantly we need some strong direction & leadership at the top. Finally, don't get sucked in by the Carbon Offset mindset - if you want to salve your conscience when you take your next cheap flight, give £20.00 to The Wilderness Foundation instead.

• Give us a couple of top autumn reads that’ll broaden our mind

Jay Griffith's WildJay Griffiths' book 'Wild' will transport you up the Amazon for some amazing encounters with indigenous shamen, while my friend Jon Symes' superb little book 'Your Planet Needs You' is just inspirational - even for a seasoned old cynic like me!

Thanks Graham! - Graham's website can be found here:

Last but not least, here are a few further resources:

Environmental literacy

Across the pond, in the US, Utne has an interesting feature on "Leaving No Child, or Adult, Inside" - about the importance of getting not just children but also adults outdoors:

Utne: Leaving No Child, or Adult, Inside"Though children's education may help environmental literacy in the future, current trends indicate that adult education programs are desperately needed, too. A 2005 report by the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) (PDF) found that, "45 million Americans think the ocean is a source of fresh water." Many Americans realize that environmental issues are important, but the NEETF found that only 12 percent could "pass a basic quiz on awareness of energy topics." So while educating children on environmental issues is important, neglecting adults might minimize the initiatvies' effects. According to the NEETF, "Effective environmental education is not a panacea for all of society's problems, but it is a responsibility that we owe both ourselves and future generations." - Full article and useful links.
We agree - that's why we bring young people and adults alike out into nature - and specifically the most potent form of it: Wilderness.

If you're a teacher or run a cadet group, learn more about our trails - or maybe you're an individual adult looking for Wilderness Training - In either case, head to to learn more about our work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A few external events

Here's a round-up of a few external events we thought our readers might be interested in:

Gaia Foundation
  • 15th Sept - The life and vision of Thomas Berry
  • 15th-16th Sept - Thames Festival 2007
  • 19th Sept - Gaia Evening with Andrew Kimbrell

More detail at


Four events on Climate Change:

  1. 19 September - The Economics of Climate Change: What is the best economy when the climate is changing?
  2. 7 November - The Politics of Climate Change: developing an all party approach to mitigate global warming
  3. 16 January 2008 - Food and Climate Change: How food production and consumption needs to change
  4. 2 April 2008 - Businesses and Climate Change: how corporations and businesses should adapt to the need for climate stability.

More info at:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reading Material for the next World Wilderness Congress

‘A Contribution to Understanding the Regional Impacts of Global Change in South America’The next World Wilderness Congress is slated to be held in South America in 2009 - Whilst there is still plenty of time to go we will start rounding up relevant reading material already now.

First up is the recently released book titled 'A Contribution to Understanding the Regional Impacts of Global Change in South America'. You can also click on the book cover to the right to download the full PDF (7.2mb).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Forthcoming Events Autumn 2007

Our newsletter with forthcoming events has hit in-boxes around the world - to make sure you don't miss out on our mailings, do sign up. To book any of the events - Get in touch.

Climate Change and Essex - Winner or Loser?
Wednesday 12th September - Little Baddow Memorial Hall - Doors open 7.30pm

Two charities, Wilderness Foundation UK and Little Baddow Conservation Society invite you to join us for an evening with Graham Game - "One of Britain's most experienced Environmentalists" to discover the implications for climate change here in Essex. Graham - a professional environmentalist for 30 years has worked on a wide range of campaigns for organizations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth - promises to give a forthright and controversial analysis of the problems and solutions.
Wilderness Foundation Members £2 Non members £5 include wine

Fundraising Quiz Night Friday 12th October
Widford Lodge School Chelmsford - 7.30pm

Join us for a fun evening of supper and a quiz in aid of Mabandla Village School, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. This school, in dire need of reconstruction, is part of the Zulu community visited by many of our UK trail participants who spend up to a week as part of a cultural and environmental experience. Future groups (students and adults) will be involved in the rebuilding programme as part of their volunteer commitments.
£10 including supper

Trekking to the South Pole of Inaccessibility
Wednesday 7th November - Troubadour Club London - 7pm

An evening with explorer Henry Cookson, a member of the first British/Canadian expedition to reach the rarely conquered Pole of Inaccessibility, the furthest point from the southern oceans in Antarctica. They are the first team to achieve this without mechanical aid. Learn about their experience man hauling and kite skiing their essential equipment across 1,7000km of wilderness at altitudes of up to 3500m, coping with temperatures of up to -50 centigrade. £40 including supper. The Troubadour Club has an excellent culinary reputation. Places are very limited so book early!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ride Earth update - and request for feedback

Ride Earth

There's a new podcast available and also new post on the Ride Earth blog:

You can find instructions on how to set up your subscription to the podcast...

Now, we've really enjoyed the two first podcasts and we hope you have too - the good people behind them would like some feedback though:

Hello from String Films, the team behind the podcast series.

Great news, Episode Two of the Ride Earth video podcast is now available to download.

You can subscribe for free on iTunes or watch on the podcast page at

The guys are currently in Hungary and have been filming every new adventure along the way.

We’re doing our utmost to make sure you can share their up and downhill adventure, but we need your feedback. So if you have ideas drop us a line.

Now download, sit back and enjoy your journey with the guys.

The String Films team

Also, check out 'ecoescapes' from String Films.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Campfire Questions with Osbert Lancaster

Osbert Lancaster, friend of the Foundation and Executive Director of the Centre for Human Ecology, recently stopped by our virtual campfire for a catch-up and a bit of Q&A around human ecology, the new consulting firm he has recently co-founded, blogging and last but not least, what he is reading at the moment:

• So, what exactly is Human Ecology and how does it differ from ‘plain’ ecology?

Osbert LancasterYou could say 'plain' ecologists study the 'natural' world - 'out there' - as objective scientists, while the human ecologist sees him or herself - and all humans - as an integral part of the world. So understanding the world means understanding ourselves as well. Human ecologists recognise the importance of objectivity in the right context, but believe other ways of knowing are also important. We often talk about the importance of head, heart and hand - rational, critical, analysis; emotional engagement and compassion; and the skills for practical change.
• Why did you start checonsulting, what’s the mission and how do you measure success?

checonsultingcheconsulting grew out of the Centre for Human Ecology which is best known for its MSc in Human Ecology. We see a real appetite among all sorts of organisations to be more sustainable, but a year long postgraduate course is not a practical proposition for many professionals and leaders. checonsulting applies human ecology to help people improve the environmental, social and economic performance of their organisations - it delivers solutions in a particular situation, whereas the Centre for Human Ecology offers a wider and deeper range of understanding, insight and skills. One of the services we offer is 'Walk the Talk', taking people from an organisation out into the wilds of Scotland to discuss sustainability in real place, outside the training room.

Our ideal client is the leader of an organisation who is personally motivated to address sustainability and climate change, and wants their organisation to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Our initial measures of success will be clients who love the results of our work and recommend us to more ideal clients! Longer term I see us as being part of a wider movement reshaping the way the economy and business operates.

• How about the new blog you’ve launched – what’s focus, who are you trying to reach and what can our readers do to help spread the word?

My blog focuses on what I call 'ethical enterprise' - businesses where the owners and leaders have explicit objectives to deliver nvironmental and social good while being profitable. For me this includes fair trade, organics, social enterprise, but also 'conventional' businesses with similar values. The aim of the blog is to share my insights on these issues and explore with others who are working in the same areas. The big question is how can ethical enterprises help catalyse wider change in national and international trade - can we create a sustainable, equitable economy in a world of over 6 billion people?

My blog's fairly new, so I need to get word out that it exists much more widely!Wilderness Foundation readers can help by passing on links to colleagues and friends who might be interested, commenting on the articles, and linking from their websites.

• Give us a couple of top autumn reads that’ll broaden our mind

Ideas: a history from fire to Freud by Peter Watson was my summer reading. Watson gives a fascinating overview of how powerful ideas have shaped society over time - up to the early 20th century. There's a strong tendency in the environmental movement to hark back to a time when humans - supposedly - lived in tune with nature. But there is no going back - we have to move forward from where we are. Watson helps us see how we got to where we are, and to understand the complex of ideas and beliefs that shape our world views. We need to understand the past to shape the future.

I read that a Native American leader once said something like 'you stole our land, killed our people - and now you are stealing our traditions too'. Environmentalists and others concerned with creating a better world, often draw on religious traditions from around the world, especially Buddhism, Native American and other indigenous traditions. While I've often been inspired by such writing, I'm sometimes left uncomfortable with plucking wisdom from others like this. I'm therefore enjoying Michael Northcott's A Moral Climate: the ethics of global warming, where he considers the morality of climate change from a Christian view point. Northcott is an internationally renowned environmental ethicist (and a former board member of the Centre for Human Ecology). It's refreshing to learn what Christian traditions, which ave played central roles in shaping Western civilisation, have to say about getting out the mess we have created.
Thanks Osbert! - Now, if you'd like to check out Osbert’s ethical enterprise blog then it can be found @ - and just like the Wilderness Foundation blog you're reading just now, you can subscribe in a reader or by e-mail.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

11th Hour Trailer

Here's a preview of what is in the upcoming documentary 11th hour - which will eventually make it to UK screens:

Whilst it is primarily US focused it is, like Gore's effort before it, a welcome addition to the debate around man's impact on the environment.

Passion for Conservation

Dave Pollard, an Englishman in Canada who blogs on a range of environmental issues amongst other things, recently asserted the following:

"It seems to me that our only hope to inspire future generations to want to preserve and recreate natural spaces is to show them so they can experience it first-hand. We cannot expect people to care about things they only see on National Geographic."
We couldn't agree more - which is of course why we work so hard to bring people into contact with Wilderness. Now, do check out Dave Pollard's full article along with some of the useful resources he links to relating to Preserving and Recreating Natural Places.

Add our headlines to your e-mail signature