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Richard Black, Environment correspondent

Richard Black Former environment correspondent

Richard is no longer with the BBC but we've left his page for reference

Farewell and thanks for reading

31 August 2012

This is my last entry for this page - I'm leaving the BBC to work, initially, on ocean conservation issues.

While this page will no longer be updated, it will stay here for reference.

I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog down the years - I've enjoyed writing it, and have appreciated your comments.

To keep up to date with news and views about the environment, I hope you'll keep reading the science and environment pages of the BBC News website, the thoughts of my successor Matt McGrath, and my science correspondent colleagues Jonathan Amos and David Shukman.

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Whaling moves beyond the harpoon

The baiji or Yangtze River dolphin
The baiji, or Yangtse River dolphin, is thought by experts to have died out

The most common question I get asked after International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings is simple: "What did it do for whales?"

Often, the answer has been: "very little". But at this year's meeting in Panama City, things were a little different.

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Whales snared in ocean debris

A whale entangled in a shark net off Australia's Gold Coast

How many whales are snared and killed by fishing gear and ocean debris each year? No-one knows for sure - but the number entangled is probably huge, and the number dying significant.

Over the past few years, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has been starting to address this issue more seriously than before.

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South Korea's whaling: Faux and cons

Activists protest at the IWC in Panama City
Activists protest at the IWC in Panama City

This is the eighth meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that I've covered; so I'm always a bit chary of the possibility that over time I've become a more grumpy, wizened, curmudgeonly old cynic than the organisation's politics might merit.

So it's been refreshing to chat with a few first-timers this year - and confirmatory that some of them, after just three days of what's been a functional meeting by recent standards, already find the waters of hypocrisy and selective memory running deep and strong.

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Whales, gas and climate: A gray tale

A pair of gray whales

Gray whales are confusing animals.

Go back just three years, and the accepted wisdom was that there were two populations in existence.

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Whaling: From 'bloody' to 'boring'?

People gather to form a giant human whale with the message Santuario (Sanctuary) in Panama City

If you have a thought to spare this week, spare it for Tony Burke.

The Australian minister for sustainability, environment, water, population and communities is due in Panama City for a couple of days to bang the drum for what has been his country's favourite environmental cause - whaling.

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Rio: Worth the effort?

Mural of Rio made from recycled rubbish

All the environment groups here have been going around saying that from a green perspective, Rio has been a failure. I'm not sure why, seeing as governments have promised to stop carbon dioxide emissions immediately.

You didn't know? I'm not sure government negotiators know either. Certainly US chief negotiator Todd Stern, who usually purveys a smooth brand of spin, waffled more than I've ever heard him when I raised the issue at a news conference.

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Rio summit: Little progress, 20 years on

Brazilian natives at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development
Twenty years after the first Rio summit, campaigners say this global gathering has failed to achieve similar results

On the final day of the UN sustainable development summit in Rio, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged governments to eliminate hunger from the world.

The secretary-general said in a world of plenty, no-one should go hungry.

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Poems and politics at the heart of Rio

Nelio Fernando

It's not every day you get to buy a poem for the price of a cup of coffee. If you like the idea, Nelio Fernando is your man.

Choosing a word that I hope will work in Portuguese, I ask him for something "ambientale" - environmental - and he begins to declaim.

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Rio: Rating the environmental stars

Rio de Janeiro

Should nations receive ratings on their environmental performance?

In some ways, they already do; carbon emissions are assessed on in toto and per capita bases, deforestation rates are calculated.

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More Correspondents

  • Matt McGrath Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

    Updates on emerging environmental news


  • David Shukman David Shukman Science editor

    My perspective on the science issues of the day


  • Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent Jonathan Amos Science correspondent

    UK and European space and the latest major science stories


About Richard

Richard produced and presented science and environment programmes for BBC World Service prior to becoming a news correspondent.

He regularly covered major environment conferences such as the UN climate summits in Copenhagen and Cancun and the UN biodiversity summit in Nagoya in 2010, and recently made radio documentary series on forests, whaling and fisheries.

The environment correspondent is now Matt McGarth.

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