GF Blog 23 – Week 4

24th FEBRUARY    

Why did the frogs cross the road? Thoughts on animals and their ability to adapt. Comments from readers, including a link ref Baobab cuisine. Plus potentially good news and certainly some bad, about water.

On Wednesday afternoon we made a start. Young drummers, dancers, makers of displays … this was a promising first rehearsal exploring a giant ‘drum table’ and rhythms, for the Ceremony of Climate Hope on 30th March. I don’t want to use the blog to push this too much, but equally, as it is by invitation only, if you would like to join us in the audience, please send an email or leave a blog Comment.

The drum table is shown here, in use at Bodmin College many years ago.

The sound you get from something this big is wonderful!

We also played gentle ‘thumb pianos’ in a Song for Africa.

In the middle of our ceremony is a section about Animals in Africa and the ways they might adapt to drought. Adaptation is very much a theme in the resource packs too. When I was working on them last year, I found stories of Arctic Owls and Polar Bears, finding new ways to forage, moving to new areas for food, even in the case of the owls, seeming to grow longer wings. This is certainly a time of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ … which brings me to the question

‘Why did the frogs cross the road?’

For the past few weeks, jogging out of a morning, I have been so saddened to see dozens of frogs (please do say if they are toads, ‘cos I do not know the difference) squashed flat on the road. They all have a pale belly, with usually a dull brown back. The one shown in my photos is quite unusual, with those rusty colours.

Now this is no motorway, it is a quiet country lane with no obvious enticement for crossing. Are they able to sniff out the lakes, which are quite a distance away? Or is it a mating routine? It isn’t easy to get into the mentality of frogs! Why don’t they stay on one side and keep themselves safe? I posed the question on Facebook and loved what a neighbour told me. ‘In Richmond a road used to get closed of an evening, so that volunteers could help the toads cross the road! Wouldn’t quite work on our lane.’ Another follower said ‘We used to have a team of people in Lyme that used to stay and see them across the road.’

Sounds as if those very committed people in Richmond and Lyme were out all night. But it isn’t realistic to think this will happen widely. Perhaps a barrier system could be used, though probably it would be costly and of course they might simply hop over!

A long while ago, I worked at a private school which had rare newts in its ponds. I believe they did manage to create some kind of barrier of metal stakes and a kind of mesh, for keeping them off the entrance road. But honestly, there is only one solution, which is if these guys can learn to Adapt.


Clearly adaptation is happening in some species, but not in others. Here is an interesting list of 5 success stories, about gulls, sticklebacks, corals, an unusual plant called Arabidopsis and tawny owls. I bet there will be more stories of adaptation in future; so come on frogs, learn the lesson and stop crossing those roads!

Comments from readers, last time

As each blog comes and goes, the usual ‘Hearts of Green’ readers tend to email me with comments over a weekend. I am always grateful to hear from them … (enjoyed your foray into Geo-thermal activity across U.K, Cornwall and the world. Reads well.)

The response this past week was markedly more than usual. I wonder if the colourful picture and smiling face of the lady with her Baobab fruits attracted greater attention? Anyway there is one communication I am sure you will enjoy. Thank you Lin, for this ..

An Easter treat, Nan Mburu, using Baobab fruit:-

Water quality regulation & enforcement

Only a couple of weeks back, we were thinking about court cases and Exxon. With so many million $s in their pockets, it seems highly unlikely that any one director will ever be made to pay or go to prison. This was the theme of an article in The I-weekend newspaper of 18 and 19 February, in which a double page was devoted to the question, who should pay for polluting UK rivers? It referred to a poll, that shows ‘a majority of voters want water company bosses to be threatened with criminal prosecution’.

Now, we need to have the facts of the matter before us – Southern Water company, the worst culprit of all, has been fined £90m for illegal sewage discharges between 2010 and 2015. The case only arrived in court in 2021, when the judge stated ‘the offences showed a shocking and wholesale disregard for the environment & the precious and delicate ecosystems along the North Kent and Solent coastlines, for the human health and for the fisheries and other legitimate businesses that depend on the vitality of the coastal waters’.

So, who actually pays that money? The company, which presumably means the shareholders? What about the Board of Directors or CEO? In summer of 2022, Southern Water’s CEO, Lawrence Gosden, was handed more than £500k in bonus pay !!! – all while the company was being fined that record £90m amount, for illegally dumping sewage. Far from cleaning up their act, Southern Water had continued on a path of criminal behaviour. The following extract comes from Kent Live:-

The Environment Agency has called for chief executives and board members at Southern Water to face jail. It comes as the regulator said that the directors of the companies responsible for the most serious sewage pollution should be struck off and have their businesses face higher fines.

The revelation came today (July 14) after it was revealed the performance of the companies on sewage pollution fell to the lowest level in a decade. The Environment Agency said there were 62 ‘serious’ incidents of pollution last year, which they believe proves that bosses are “undeterred” by the penalties previously issued by the courts.

Southern Water, which provides services for more than four million customers in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, has been ranked as the poorest performer, compared to other water companies

What has happened since then? A new Australian company has invested and taken control. But it remains to be seen whether this will turn around a frankly terrible track record.

“A fund, managed by Macquarie Asset Management, will invest more than £1bn into Southern Water and its holding companies, and has promised improvements for customers and the environment. Ofwat welcomes the investment and has been clear about the need for improvements in performance.”  What a weak and watery response, OFWAT!

Poor water quality is a concern all around our coastline & very familiar in Cornwall, due to the work of ‘Surfers against Sewage’.

Nick Maxted, Falmouth Gig Club    Event at Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth 0ct 2022

The I-feature, also supported by New Scientist magazine, tells us that a long list of Tory MPs fear losing their seats in 2024, if the water situation is not seen to improve. Hmm. I usually avoid taking sides politically, but surely the Tories have to face up to many other topics that they have not been handling well. Water may not be on top! That said, why not take a look at this link, which has more excellent content, elaborating on the theme, including a survey of deteriorating water in Lake Windermere.  

Potentially good stuff about water?

In East Anglia there is widespread concern about flood risks, because – at times of high tides and surge – there is a possibility that sea defences could be overwhelmed. There is not much standing in the way of surge water, all the way to Cambridge!

Taking a look at this challenge, but also seeing it as an opportunity, a group called Centre Point Holdings have come up with a hugely ambitious scheme to link the south of Lincolnshire with the north Norfolk coast, by building a barrage over The Wash.   

I am sure you will not be surprised to learn that Steve Rowland, of the RSPB, is scathing about this plan. He says it is ‘absolutely bonkers and feels like something that would have come out of an early episode of The Apprentice, it’s been that badly put together’. He explains ‘we are just on the edge of the UK’s most important estuary for wildlife … a phenomenal area, of global importance’.

The BBC’s evening Radio 4 programme (PM), broadcast the first report on Wednesday 22nd between 5 and 6. There was such an immediate outcry, they then gave time for Steve Rowland to put his side of the argument on Thursday 23rd. Clearly there will be many battles ahead, but discovering a group willing to be this ambitious about the potential of tidal energy, is pretty exciting … to my mind!    


There is a colleague I work with, who has some strong opinions about climate change, on the opposite side of the fence from what we now consider ‘received wisdom’ about global warming. I have booked a session to go and hear the full story from him, which I hope will be a good balance to my other report – on Carbon Capture in the ocean – which I will write after the event in Truro on Thursday evening, 2nd March. The venue is

Epiphany House Epiphany House
United Kingdom View on map

The time of the session is 7 to 8.30, so I guess the blog may not be done until Saturday or Sunday, if I am to do justice to both sides of the argument!

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