Blackwater Estuary and Saltmarsh Degredation

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Coastal squeeze can  be seen at Blackwater Farm where the seawall presses the marshes in, so that the marshes cannot be built up further. This can hinder the development upwards of the marshes too, and make them become the long thin strips seen in the photo above.

A loss of marshland can increase the amplitude of flood events. Marshes absorb salt water as it flows into them, and can thus slow down flooding and reduce the damage it causes.

In turn, more severe flood events can cause greater erosion of the salt marsh, which in turn makes floods more dramatic.

Large quantities of land had to be trapped during the World Wars to allow safe and secure food supplies, especially in WWII, when the German forces started bringing down civilian supply vessels. The walling needed to reclaim that land was what lead to the declining quality of the salt marsh and its declining protections.

In response, holes have been broken through the salt marsh. The remains of the walls should not matter, as water in salt marshes travels in channels like in normal rivers; as long as a route is clear, it should grow fine. The soil was not ideal at best because of the high salt content, so poor quality land is being lost. The land that might develop from the marshes eventually, if they can grow and build up normally will likely be of far higher quality.

(Image Source: http://www.essexbiodiversity.org.uk/coordinators-blog; I don’t know if that’s Blackwater Farm, but it’s definitely a similar area)

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Japan vs UK equality

Of the top 25 richest nations on Earth, Japan is the most equal. The top 5% of earners take 4.5 times the income of the lowest earners in Japan; in contract, the top 10% in the UK earn 20 times the income of the poorest 10%. There are more people earning more than £1,000,000 in the Barclays Tower in Canary Wharf than in the whole of Japan.

Japan achieved their equality after the dropping of the atomic bombs during WWII. After the War, the USofA started rebuilding the state, took all of the land, and divided it equally between the Japanese people.

The average life expectancy is 83 years in Japan.

The United Kingdom is more divided by economics than countries like Israel are by ethnic conflict. London is the most expensive city in the world to live in. There are no significant equality changes under political party changes. Apart from in NYC, no other city pays financiers like in London; and the UK pays bankers, proportionally to the Gross National Product, earn far more. On current projections, the UK is set to become the most unequal society in the world.

In the UK, the average clothing item is worn 5 times before being thrown away; it’s worth noting that this is probably highly skewed by the richest in society who can afford to wear something just once. 2% of the GDP is made up of advertising, while 1% of the rest of Europe’s GDP was.

 

 

Finnish Baby Boxes

Before 1938, Finland had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the Western world, with 65/1,000 children . In 1938 the government decided to respond to this by starting to give out baby boxes to expectant mothers. Only the poorer mothers (about 60%) were allowed the box then. It was intended to give all children an equal start.

In 1938, the box contained bathing supplies, cloth for making clothes ( most women at the time having plenty of experience clothing), toys, reusable nappies and a mattress. The mattress could be used to turn the box into a cot. At the time there were with parents making The baby in the bed as them. Having the box for the to sleep in helped injuries sleeping babies. The mortality dramatically fell even in 1938.

During WWII, finer cloths like plain weave cotton and flannel were needed for the Defence Ministry, so some mothers got paper bed sheets and swaddling cloth. Even though many families were made homeless by bombing they were still able to look after their  infants as the boxes were still provided.

In 1949, all mothers became eligible to the scheme, not just the poorest. This was when the legislation about visiting clinics was introduced. Not only did this ensure mothers had the necessary supplies to look after newborns, but ensured that the mother and child’s health were both being looked after by a doctor.

In the 50s, cloths started to be replaced by ready made baby clothes, which further helped time-pushed mothers. In 1957 they were completely replaced.

In 1968 a sleeping bag was introduced along with disposable nappies.

In 2006, cloth nappies replaced disposable ones again, due to environmental concern. Bottles and dummies have also been removed over time to encourage breast feeding, which is better both for the mother and the baby. The picture book included is to help encourage parents to get their children reading from a young age, as well as to occupy potentially noisy small children.

Mothers have a choice between taking the box or a cash grant. The grant is worth 140 Euros. 95% opt for the box as the contents are considerably more valuable. Some mothers will opt for the box for the first child and reuse its contents for a second child and take the cash grant afterwards. Mothers are only eligible for the box if they head to a clinic within the first 4 months of their pregnancy to check the health of the baby.

Mothers can become very excited to get their box as it’s almost a rite of passage to becoming a mum. It is particularly helpful to new mothers who may not know what they will need and will not know so well how to make the free time (admittedly a small amount of time with a newborn) to buy supplies otherwise. Some families would not be able to afford the baby supplies otherwise. Finnish mothers are the happiest in the world- possibly because they don’t have to panic over getting all the supplies, or because they have significant support with raising their children.

The age of a box can be identified by the clothing it contains. The government selects a new assortment of clothes each year.

Finland now has a very low infant mortality rate of around 2/1000 children.

The box now contains:

  • Mattress
  • Mattress cover
  • Undersheet
  • Duvet cover
  • Blanket
  • Sleeping bag or Quilt
  • Cot (ie the box itself)
  • Clothes for outdoor cold weather
  • Socks, hat and balaclava
  • Various assortments of gender-neutrally coloured baby clothes
  • Bath Towel
  • Nail Scissors
  • Hair Brush
  • Tooth brush
  • Bath Thermometer,
  • Nappy Cream
  • Wash cloth
  • Reusable nappies
  • Muslin cloth squares
  • Picture book
  • Teething toy
  • (For the parents) Bra pads and condoms.

 

 

Cuckmere Haven Management

Cuckmere Haven attracts 350,000 tourists per year. The land is protected only by a wooden groyne and a concrete sea wall. The wall’s maintenance is paid for by a £200,000 crowd-funded web campaign by residents in the 200-year cottages directly behind it (at http://www.cuckmerehavenos.org); dozens of people have already been involved in plugging the holes in the concrete wall.There are no official protections to the cottages.

The cottages were originally coastguard cottages and were built in the 1820s when smugglers used the estuary of cuckmere haven for bringing in barrels of French goods like brandy without having to pay duty. The valley later became an attraction for painters and tourists. During WWII the river was used for navigation for Luftwaffe bombers heading for London. The estuary had pillboxes built into it, as well as tank traps and barbed wire. It was one of the few places not protected by cliffs on the South coast of England.

There is a brass plaque to commemorate the Canadian soldiers who died in 1940 when the Haven was strafed by a Messerschmit. The cottages were requisitioned by the army and, in compensation for the damage to the cottages by the end of the war, a sea wall was built in front in 1947.

The sea was at least 30m further away at the start of the 20th century than in 1947 when the wall was built.