Thursday 21 May 2020

Join the "Chop 'em and Whopp 'em" Army

The Commons Environmental Audit Committee has proposed sensible plans to bring work to some of the new unemployed. Under their proposal, 1.3 million volunteers would receive training "to learn how to identify, report and remove invasive species" from the UK environment, and then set about getting the mammoth task done. Thus forming a new Biosecurity Defence Force for the UK. The Government is said to be examining the proposal.

The UK may be looking at around 2 million extra unemployed. So a paid force of some 600,000 fit young people, supported by another 600,000 unpaid older volunteers + managers, would help to give long-term work to many. We had something similar in the 1980s, evolving out of the old YOP schemes for the unemployed, Groundwork — although by the 90s they'd become rather insular and managerial. I'd hope that a Biosecurity Defence Force, or a Biosecurity Improvement Frontline Force (BIFF) or some-such name, would be a little more approachable and responsive. One thing I'd suggest that the Force could do would be to ensure they leave a newly-made wildlife pond behind, at or near each project site. We really could do with another 50,000 ponds across the UK.

Friday 1 May 2020

The Office for National Statistics's new death map

There's now a precise new death map for the UK from the Office for National Statistics, showing deaths involving the virus from 20th March to 17th April. The usual caveats apply about the precision of the recording, especially in care-homes. Of course, it isn't up-to-date to 1st May and the virus is far from fading away just yet. Each dot on the map represents much suffering among families who have lost loved ones. It also silently indicates a greater number who suffered, perhaps quite badly so, and survived. There will be more deaths and suffering to come, but for now here's the sad pattern:

Birmingham and the Black Country, Wolverhampton, all heavily hit and in a fairly uniform way. Shrewsbury and Leek seem to have almost escaped, at least by 17th April.

Zooming in locally: Bradwell and the adjacent Chesterton have both been badly hit, with the spot being much bigger if they had been combined. In Stoke, Burslem/Longport/Middleport and Hanley/Etruria slightly less so.