The presentation on Environmental Studies on Tuesday 25th May by Bernard Salt proved to be an excellent talk, marred only by low attendance.
Bernard is an ex-farmer, a retired school teacher (teaching at King Edward's for 26 years), an author and an enthusiastic environmentalist. He commenced his talk with an account of his experience of farming in Wales and his decision to leave because of the bureaucratic interference in traditional farming. On joining the teaching staff at King Edward's it appears he became one of those fortunate people whose work is also their hobby and the opportunity to educate the young in the responsibilities of environmental protection have been a source of pleasure.
After highlighting the five basic sections of environmental studies; Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atomosphere, Biosphere and Energy, Bernard concentrated on the effects of nuclear tests and accidents, industrial processing and car exhausts on the atmosphere - with a particular emphasis on the 'food-chain' and the resultant ingress of harmful products into humans.
Bernard then progressed into the necessity for farmers and horticulturalists to produce sufficient food without relying on harmful pesticides which do not eliminate the pest completely, owing to genetic immunity, but can have a disastrous effect on the pest's natural predators. He advocated the control of pests by keeping them below the level of 'economic damage' with the introduction of the pest's natural predators and using the sciences of natural selection and genetics.
Bernard, who manages a fairly large holding, went on to describe his personal commitment to this method of control by the selective planting of several varieties of flowers, vegetables or fruits and his reliance on the pest's natural predators. He had brought along several examples of flowers and vegetables which had been grown using this technique and passed them around for inspection and comment. The meeting was enriched by a lively discussion on many aspects of the local environment although this inevitably centred on members' personal problems.