World Day to combat Desertification

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought takes place each June 17 Its purpose is to highlight ways to prevent desertification and recover from drought. Each annual celebration has a different theme. Desertification is a type of land degradation in which relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as through climate change and through the overexploitation of soil through human activities. When deserts appear automatically over the natural course of a planet’s life cycle, then it can be called a natural phenomenon; however, when deserts emerge due to the rampant and unchecked depletion of nutrients in soil that are essential for it to remain arable, then a virtual “soil death” can be spoken of, which traces its cause back to human overexploitation. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem. Desertification is defined as “the process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought or improper/ inappropriate agriculture”. Desertification Is defined by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

The world’s most noted deserts were formed by natural processes interacting over long intervals of time. During most of these times, deserts have grown and shrunk independent of human activities. Paleodeserts are large sand seas now inactive because they are stabilized by vegetation, some extending beyond the present margins of core deserts, such as the Sahara, the largest hot desert. The immediate cause of desertification is the loss of most vegetation. This is driven by a number of factors, such as drought, climatic shifts, tillage for agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation for fuel or construction materials. Vegetation plays a major role in determining the biological composition of the soil. Studies have shown that, in many environments, the rate of erosion and runoff decreases exponentially with increased vegetation cover. Unprotected, dry soil surfaces blow away with the wind or are washed away by flash floods, leaving infertile lower soil layers that bake in the sun and become an unproductive hard the controlled movement of herds of livestock, mimicking herds of grazing wildlife, may help to reverse desertification.

Desertification has played a significant role in human history, contributing to the collapse of several large empires, such as Carthage, Greece, and the Roman Empire, as well as causing displacement of local populations. Historical evidence shows that the serious and extensive land deterioration occurring several centuries ago in arid regions had three epicenters: the Mediterranean, the Mesopotamian Valley, and the Loess Plateau of China, where population was dense. At least 90% of the inhabitants of drylands live in developing nations, where they also suffer from poor economic and social conditions. This situation is exacerbated by land degradation because of the reduction in productivity, the precariousness of living conditions and the difficulty of access to resources and opportunities. A downward spiral is created in many underdeveloped countries by overgrazing, land exhaustion and overdrafting of groundwater in many of the marginally productive world regions due to overpopulation pressures to exploit marginal drylands for farming. Decision-makers are understandably averse to invest in arid zones with low potential. This absence of investment contributes to the marginalisation of these zones. When unfavourable agro-climatic conditions are combined with an absence of infrastructure and access to markets, as well as poorly adapted production techniques and an underfed and undereducated population, most such zones are excluded from development. Desertification often causes rural lands to become unable to support the same sized populations that previously lived there. This results in mass migrations out of rural areas and into urban areas, particularly in Africa. These migrations into the cities often cause large numbers of unemployed people, who end up living in slums.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, SDG Goal 15: Life on Land states the resolve of the United Nations and the SDG signatory nations to halt and reverse land degradationTechniques and countermeasures exist for mitigating or reversing the effects of desertification. One controversial solution is to manager population growth. Another way of mitigating Desertification is to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. However the costs of adopting these sometimes exceed the financial benefits for individual farmers, even while they are socially and environmentally beneficial. Another issue is a lack of political will, and lack of funding to support land reclamation and anti-desertification programs.

Desertification is recognized as a major threat to biodiversity. Some countries have developed Biodiversity Action Plans to counter its effects, particularly in relation to the protection of endangered flora and fauna. Reforestation can help stop one root cause of desertification and is not just treat of the symptoms. In many places deforestation and desertification are contributing to extreme poverty and many organisations focus on educating the local population about the dangers of deforestation and sometimes employ them to grow seedlings, which they transfer to severely deforested areas during the rainy season. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched the FAO Drylands Restoration Initiative in 2012 to draw together knowledge and experience on dryland restoratio In 2015, FAO published global guidelines for the restoration of degraded forests and landscapes in drylands, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Age.

Currently, one of the major methods that has been finding success in this battle with desertification is China’s “Great Green Wall.” This plan was proposed in the late 70’s, and has become a major ecological engineering project involving the planting of nearly 66,000,000,000 tress planted in China’s great green wall. It’s success depends upon providing enough water, Fixating and hyper-fertilizing soil. Fixating the soil is often done through the use of shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks. Windbreaks are made from trees and bushes and are used to reduce soil erosion and evapotranspirati. Due to lack of water some soils can become consolidated rather than porous (as in the case of sandy soils. techniques such as zaï or tillage are then used to still allow the planting of crop

Another technique that is useful is contour trenching. This involves the digging of 150m long, 1m deep trenches in the soil. The trenches are made parallel to the height lines of the landscape, preventing the water from flowing within the trenches and causing erosion. Stone walls are placed around the trenches to prevent the trenches from closing up again. The method was invented by Peter Westerveld. Enriching of the soil and restoration of its fertility is often done by plants. Of these, leguminous plants which extract nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, and food crops/trees as grains, barley, beans and dates are the most important. Sand fences can also be used to control drifting of soil and sand erosion. Some research centra (such as Bel-Air Research Center IRD/ISRA/UCAD) are also experimenting with the inoculation of tree species with mycorrhiza in arid zones. The mycorrhiza are basically fungi attaching themselves to the roots of the plants. They create a symbiotic relation with the trees, increasing the surface area of the tree’s roots greatly (allowing the tree to gather much more nutrients from the soil.

As there are many different types of deserts, there are also different methods to stop desertification. For instance the salt-flats in the Rub’ al Khali desert in Saudi-Arabia are one of the most promising desert areas for seawater agriculture and could be revitalized without the use of freshwater or much energy. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is another technique that has produced successful results for desert reclamation. Since 1980, this method to reforest degraded landscape has been applied with some success in Niger. This simple and low-cost method has enabled farmers to regenerate some 30,000 square kilometers in Niger. The process involves enabling native sprouting tree growth through selective pruning of shrub shoots. The residue from pruned trees can be used to provide mulching for fields thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation. Additionally, properly spaced and pruned trees can increase crop yields. The Humbo Assisted Regeneration Project which uses FMNR techniques in Ethiopia has received money from The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, which supports projects that sequester or conserve carbon in forests or agricultural ecosystems.

Festival of Black Country Vehicles

The 15th Annual Festival of Black Country Vehicles takes place at the Black Country Living Museum on 18 June. The festival celebrates the Black Country’s historical reputation as a major centre for vehicle manufacturing and will feature a gathering of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles all built in the Black Country from 1913 up until the present day, such as Austin, Bean, Clyno, Jensen, Lomax, Quantum, Rickman, Star, Sunbeam, Swallow, Turner and Westfield.

The museum also has many other road transport exhibits which were used and made in the Black Country including the Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company tram No. 34, Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company tram No. 5, a Guy single-decker Bus, a 1920 Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company No. 5 Tividale single-decker tram, the Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company No. 19 works car, TheWolverhampton Tramways Company Horse Tram No. 23 open-topper built in 1892, the Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company No. 34 Tividale single-decker built in 1919. The Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways open topper No. 49 built in 1909, The Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company No. 75 Tividale single-decker which was built in 1919, The Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways No. 102 Tividale single-decker built in 1920, the Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd cable car No. 104 open-topper built in 1886 and the Lisbon No. 361 single-decker built in 1907. Buses at the museum include the West Bromwich Corporation Daimler CVG6 GEA 174 built in 1948, the Midland Red BMMO D9 6342 HA built in 1963, the Guy Motors KTT 689 built in 1948, the West Bromwich Corporation Dennis E-Type EA 4181 built in 1929 and the Reo Speedwagon with C14D bodywork MR 3879 built in 1924.

Operational Trolleybuses at the museum include the Walsall Corporation trolleybus 862, The Wolverhampton Corporation Guy Transport 78, the Wolverhampton Corporation Sunbeam Transport 433, the Bradford Corporation Transport 735 – A Karrier W built in 1946 and the Walsall Corporation Transport 862, a Sunbeam F4A with a Willowbrook Body. Wolverhampton was home to some early manufacturers of motor cars, such as Sunbeam, Clyno, AJS and Star and The Museum collection includes a 1903 Sunbeam, a 1912 Star and a 1931 AJS as well as examples of later vehicles such as the Kieft, Frisky and Westfield Topaz. There are also approximately 40 motor cycles in the Museum’s collection, including Sunbeams, AJS, Wearwell and Rocksons. Unusual vehicles in the fleet include a 1924 Guy-Morris fire engine, a Model T Ford van used by Willenhall firm Brevitt’s and a Bean of Tipton flat bed truck.

Edward Davy

English physician, scientist, and inventor Edward Davy was born 16 june 1806, he played a prominent role in the development of telegraphy, and invented an electric relay. Davy was born in Ottery St Mary, Devonshire, England and was educated at a school run by his maternal uncle in Tower Street, London. He was then apprenticed to Dr Wheeler, house surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Davy won the prize for botany in 1825, was licensed by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1828 and the Royal College of Surgeons in 1829. Soon after graduating, Davy began trading as an operative chemist under the name of Davy & Co. In 1836 he published a small book Experimental Guide to Chemistry, at the end of which was a catalogue of goods supplied by his firm.

Davy published Outline of a New Plan of Telegraphic Communication in 1836 and carried out telegraphic experiments the following year. He demonstrated the operation of the telegraph over a mile of wire in Regent’s Park.In 1837 he demonstrated a working model of the telegraph in Exeter Hall. He was granted a patent for his telegraph in 1838. However, he was soon obliged to drop his investigations of telegraphy for personal reasons. His patent was purchased by the Electric Telegraph Company in 1847 for £600. Davey also invented an electric relay. He used a magnetic needle which dipped into a mercury contact when an electric current passed through the surrounding coil.

In recognition of his work he was elected in 1885 as an honorary member of the Society of Telegraph Engineers and was informed of this by telegraph shortly before his death. In 1838 Davy migrated to South Australia without his first wife and son. He became editor of the Adelaide Examiner from June to July 1842 and was elected president of the Port Adelaide Mechanics’ Institute at its inaugural meeting in 1851. Davy was also a director and manager of the Adelaide Smelting Company and became chief assayer of the Government Assay Office in Adelaide in February 1852. Davy was also appointed assay master in Melbourne in July 1853 until the office was abolished in October 1854. For a short while, he took up farming near Malmsbury, Victoria then moved into Malmsbury where he practised as a physician for the rest of his life. He was three times mayor of Malmbury. Davy sadly passed away 26 January 1885

Bloomsday

Bloomsday takes place annually on 16 June to commemorate and celebrate of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, The date was chosen as it is the date during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce also chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses The English compound word Bloomsday is usually used in Irish as well, though some publications call it Lá Bloom.

On the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Brian O’Nolan organised a pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (a lecturer in French at Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse-drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, in which in Ulysses Mr. Bloom and his friends drive to Paddy Dignam’s funeral. The party were assigned roles from the novel. Cronin stood in for Stephen Dedalus, O’Nolan for his father Simon Dedalus, John Ryan for the journalist Martin Cunningham, and A.J. Leventhal, being Jewish, was recruited to fill (unknown to himself according to John Ryan) the role of Leopold Bloom. They planned to travel round the city through the day, starting at the Martello tower at Sandycove (where the novel begins), visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown. The pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the weary pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancour at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned, and at which in 1967 he installed the door to No. 7 Eccles Street (Leopold Bloom’s front door), having rescued it from demolition. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.

James Joyce was born in Dublin and here The day involves a range of cultural activities, including Ulysses readings and dramatisations, pub crawls and other events, some of it hosted by the James Joyce Centre in North Great George’s Street. Enthusiasts often dress in Edwardian costume to celebrate Bloomsday, and retrace Bloom’s route around Dublin via landmarks such as Davy Byrne’s pub. Hard-core devotees have even been known to hold marathon readings of the entire novel, some lasting up to 36 hours. The James Joyce Tower and Museum at Sandycove, site of the opening chapter of Ulysses, hosts many free activities around Bloomsday including theatrical performances, musical events, tours of the iconic tower and readings from Joyce’s masterpiece. Every year hundreds of Dubliners often dress as characters from the book. On Bloomsday 1982, the centenary year of Joyce’s birth, Irish state broadcaster RTÉ transmitted a continuous 30-hour dramatic performance of the entire text of Ulysses on radio. A five-month-long festival, ReJoyce Dublin 2004, took place in Dublin in 2004. On the Sunday before the 100th “anniversary” of the fictional events described in the book, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free, open-air, full Irish breakfast on O’Connell Street consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and black and white puddings. The 2006 Bloomsday festivities were cancelled, the day coinciding with the funeral of Charles Haughey.

There are also many people of Irish descent in the United States and Bloomsbury is celebrated in many places including Washington, D.C. Where a marathon dramatic reading of Ulysses was held at The Georgetown Neighborhood Library, located at 3260 R Street, NW, in Washington, D.C.In which Twenty-five writers, actors, and scholars read Ulysses aloud in its entirety, a project which took more than 33 hours. The reading concluded with opera singer Laura Baxter performing Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in its entirety. In Philadelphia The Rosenbach Museum & Library, which is home to Joyce’s handwritten manuscript of Ulysses, celebrated Bloomsday in 1992, with readings by actors and scholars at the Border’s Bookstore in Center City. Philadelphia also closed the 2000-block of Delancey Street for a Bloomsday street festival. In addition to dozens of readers, often including Philadelphia’s mayor, singers from the Academy of Vocal Arts perform songs that are integral to the novel’s plot, Traditional Irish cuisine is also provided by local Irish-themed pubs. The Rosenbach’s Bloomsday festival featured two hours of readings at the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, an hour of readings at Rittenhouse Square, and concluded with five hours of readings on the steps of the museum, at 2008–10 Delancey Street.

New York City has several events on Bloomsday including formal readings at Symphony Space and informal readings and music at the downtown Ulysses’ Folk House pub The Irish American Bar Association of New York celebrates Joyce’s contribution to the First Amendment, with an annual keynote speech named after John Quinn, the Irish-American lawyer who defended Joyce’s New York publishers in their obscenity trial in 1922. In 2014, New York celebrated Bloomsday with “Bloomsday on Broadway,” which includes famous actors reading excerpts of the books, and commentators explaining the work between segments. The 2016 celebration includes a competition for the Best Dressed Molly and Leopold Bloom. In Kansas City, Missouri – the Irish Center of Kansas City currently hosts the Bloomsday celebration, started at Bloomsday Books, KCMO in 1995 and hosts readers of Ulysses, screens a documentary, alongside Irish dancers and a performance by Dublin balladeer Eddie Delahunt. In Syracuse, New York – The Syracuse James Joyce Club holds an annual Bloomsday celebration at Johnston’s BallyBay Pub, at which large portions of the book are either read aloud, or presented as dramatisations by costumed performers. The club awards scholarships and other prizes to students who have written essays on Joyce or fiction pertaining to his work. The city is home to Syracuse University, whose press has published or reprinted several volumes of Joyce studies.

In Detroit, Michigan There was a marathon reading of Joyce’s Ulysses atCasey’s Pub. In Los Angeles The Hammer Museum hosts an annual Bloomsday celebration including: live Irish music, a Guinness happy hour, a public reading of the “Lestrygonians” episode, and a dramatic reading of “Sirens”. While in Cleveland, OhioThe Nighttown Restaurant/Jazz Club holds an annual read of the novel on Bloomsday which is performed by local enthusiasts. In Wichita, Kansas Bloomsday is honoured by a presentation on James Joyce (often by Dr. Marguerite Regan) as well as readings from Ulysses and Irish folk music. In Norfolk, Virginia The Irish American Society of Tidewater, Virginia, held a Bloomsday Happy Hour at Smartmouth Brewery Featuring Live Irish music provided by the band Glasgow Kiss, and IAS members attended dressed as James Joyce with fedoras, round glasses, eye patches, etc.). In Portland, Maine Readings from Ulysses take place at the Irish Heritage Center. While in Worcester, Massachusetts – long running annual celebration with readings from Ulysses at 7 sites around the city. Organized annually by the Worcester County Poetry Association.

Stan Laurel

English comic actor, writer and film director Stan Laurel was born 16 June 1890 he is most famous for his role in the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. With his comedy partner Oliver Hardy he appeared in 107 short films, feature films and cameo roles. Laurel began his career in the British music hall, from where he took a number of his standard comic devices: the bowler hat, the deep comic gravity, and the nonsensical understatement. His performances polished his skills at pantomime and music hall sketches. Laurel was a member of “Fred Karno’s Army,” where he was Charlie Chaplin’s understudy.The two arrived in the US on the same ship from Britain with the Karno troupe. Laurel went into films in the US, with his acting career stretching between 1917 and 1951, and from “silents” to “talkies.” It included a starring role in the film The Music Box (1932).

Laurel signed with the Hal Roach studio, where he began directing films, including a 1926 production called Yes, Yes, Nanette. He intended to work primarily as a writer and director, but fate stepped in. In 1927, Oliver Hardy, another member of the Hal Roach Studios Comedy All Star players, was injured in a kitchen mishap, and Laurel was asked to return to acting. Laurel and Hardy began sharing the screen in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup (1927) and With Love and Hisses. The two became friends and their comic chemistry soon became obvious. Roach Studios’ supervising director Leo McCarey noticed the audience reaction to them and began teaming them, leading to the creation of the Laurel and Hardy series later that year.

Together, the two men began producing a huge body of short films, including The Battle of the Century, Should Married Men Go Home?, Two Tars, Be Big!, Big Business, and many others. Laurel and Hardy successfully made the transition to talking films with the short Unaccustomed As We Are in 1929. They also appeared in their first feature in one of the revue sequences of The Hollywood Revue of 1929, and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-colour (in Technicolor) musical feature, The Rogue Song. In 1931, their first starring feature, Pardon Us was released. They continued to make both features and shorts until 1935, including their 1932 three-reeler The Music Box, which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.

In 1941, Laurel and Hardy signed a contract at 20th Century Fox to make ten films over five months. During the war years, their work became more standardised and less successful, though The Bullfighters, and Jitterbugs did receive some praise. Laurel discovered he had diabetes, so he encouraged Hardy to make two films without him. In 1946, he divorced Virginia Ruth Rogers and married Ida Kitaeva Raphael. In 1947, Laurel returned to England when he and Hardy went on a six-week tour of the United Kingdom, and the duo were mobbed wherever they went. Laurel’s homecoming to Ulverston took place in May, and the duo were greeted by thousands of fans outside the Coronation Hall.

The tour included a Royal Command Performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London and they spent the next seven years touring the UK and Europe. In 1950, Laurel and Hardy were invited to France to make a feature film. The film, a Franco-Italian co-production titled Atoll K, was a disaster. (The film was titled Utopia in the US and Robinson Crusoeland in the UK.) Both stars were noticeably ill during the filming. Upon returning to the US they spent most of their time recovering. In 1952, Laurel and Hardy toured Europe successfully, and they returned in 1953 for another tour of the continent. During this tour, Laurel fell ill and was unable to perform for several weeks. In May 1954, Hardy had a heart attack and cancelled the tour. In 1955, they were planning to do a television series, Laurel and Hardy’s Fabulous Fables, based on children’s stories. The plans were delayed after Laurel suffered a stroke on 25 April, from which he recovered. But as he was planning to get back to work, his partner Hardy had a massive stroke on 14 September 1956, which resulted in his being unable to return to acting.

In 1961, Stan Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He had achieved his lifelong dream as a comedian and had been involved in nearly 190 films. He lived his final years in a small flat in the Oceana Apartments in Santa Monica, California. Jerry Lewis was among the numerous comedians to visit Laurel, who offered suggestions for Lewis’s production of The Bellboy (1960). Lewis paid tribute to Laurel by naming his main character Stanley in the film, and having Bill Richmond play a version of Laurel as well.Dick Van Dyke told a similar story. When he was just starting his career, he looked up Laurel’s phone number, called him, and then visited him at his home. Van Dyke played Laurel on “The Sam Pomerantz Scandals” episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960. In January 1965, he underwent a series of x-rays for an infection on the roof of his mouth.He died on 23 February 1965, aged 74, four days after suffering a heart attack on 19 February Just minutes away from death, Laurel told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. “I’m not,” said Laurel, “I’d rather be doing that than this!” A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that he had died quietly in his armchair. Silent screen comedian Buster Keaton also died of lung cancer one year later in February 1966. Dick Van Dyke, friend, protege and occasional impressionist of Laurel during his later years, gave the eulogy, reading A Prayer for Clowns. Laurel was cremated, and his ashes were interred in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.