Category Archives: Speakers – Other

Reports about speakers from events outside the local U3A

March Monthly Meeting: Welsh Air Ambulance

Today we were all impressed by the address by Mrs Katie Macro, who is the Community Co-ordinator for our Air Ambulance Service Charity and works from the head office in Llanelli.

Our Air Ambulance Service covers the whole of Wales from 8am-8pm every day. Last year they covered 3,600 missions.   Since 2001 they have operated 34,211 missions and 20% were in S & W Wales. (Sounds like the missions that Spitfires & Mosquitoes completed in WW2).  They work closely with the other emergency services and it costs about £6.5 million a year to keep one fully equipped and operational.  The aim is to have a 24 hour service, and this would be possible but would need an additional injection of about £6m.

There are 5 Helicopters in all – the H145 Airbus which can travel at 150 mph and which is fully equipped for emergency transfer to the nearest appropriate hospital and which can include a NHS doctor and also H135 which is especially equipped for children and young people, pregnant mums with problems etc.  There have been occasions where the patient has been in Theatre before the family could arrive.

What is most impressive is that the helicopters can reach everyone in Wales, after take off time, in 20 minutes.  All they need is a site about the size of a tennis court to land – which we know all about at Withybush Hospital.

Katie illustrated the help they were able to give for a 4yr old boy who had two hours to be taken to London for an emergency  liver transplant, and who received the surgery far quicker from any one here could get to London, and also for someone who had driven off a cliff at St Davids.  (I am still puzzling about this one!)

Katie is charged with Community Fund Raising and welcomes volunteers and fund raising events to help with the running of the Wales Air Ambulance Service.  She can be contacted on e-mail: or 07817 961 207.

The Chairman thanked Katie for joining us and presented her with a voluntary collection of £120.15p from our members towards her fundraising

Barbara Morgan.

U3A Geological Field Excursion to Saundersfoot and Wiseman’s Bridge

Saturday 12th April. Leader John Downesjd

John Downes, a new member of Pembrokeshire U3A and a former Earth Science Tutor at the Open University, led a Geological field trip around Wiseman’s Bridge and Saundersfoot. Some U3A members may have read his book entitled ‘Folds, Faults and Fossils: exploring the Geology of Pembrokeshire’.

We set out from the car park at Coppet Hall on the east side of Saundersfoot at about 10.30am ,walking to Wiseman’s Bridge along the old railway line (now a footpath) viewing the coal measure structures exposed on the beach, and  where we had the opportunity to examine the variety of sediments, structures and fossils exposed in the Coal Measures of the Upper Carboniferous Period of some 300 million years ago when South Pembrokeshire was a tropical swampland.  John pointed out many features and examples and answered our numerous questions.  At Wiseman’s Bridge we walked a short distance along the storm beach to look at the cross cut channels in the Lower Coal Measures and examine a coal seam and fossil plant remains.

We then lunched at Wiseman’s Bridge Inn where Graham Goodeve joined us for an hour.

In the afternoon we returned to Saundersfoot and hurried to visit the much photographed “Ladies’ Cave” Anticline to the west of the harbour before the tide came in.  Here ar ar few photos taken during a fascinating day.

jd2 jd3
jd4 JD5



Prof Richard Davies, BSc, PhD, FGS
Dean of Knowledge Exchange and Impact in the Department of Earth Sciences
Durham University

Lecture presented by Professor Davies to an audience of around 150 U3A members and Sixth Formers in the Torch Theatre. The event organised by the Pembrokeshire Earth Science Schools Trust (PESST) on Thursday 13th March..

Fracking is a topic which may fill many with fear and loathing of yet another attempt by man to destroy the environment and all that is pleasant on our planet. On the other hand many consider that it will enable us to provide ourselves with our own viable energy supply for industry and our homes and tax revenues to pay for our ever growing needs and services in the 21st Century.

Professor Davies emphasised that his Department were unbiased in their assessment of Fracking, its development and impact and to provide advice to the Government and other agencies as well as to inform the public. Research papers are in continuous production and some can be accessed on line.

The potential resources of oil and gas that could be obtained from oil shales in northern England from the 1000 ft thick Bowland Shales and from Jurassic shales in south east England are enormous. They are estimated to be far greater than those obtained from the North Sea basin although possibly about 10% of this can be easily recovered. Being beneath the land they are more easily assessable by means of vertical drilling and then horizontal bores so that fracking, the use of high pressure water injection at a depth of around 3 km. can fracture the impermeable shales to release the oil and gas. These have been formed from algae and other organic remains which by deep burial, pressure and heat over millions of years have been converted to hydrocarbons. The injection of water, sand and chemicals in each bore would only be for about 2 hours to fracture the shale at depth. The fractures are confined to around the bores at a depth of over 3 km.

Drilling of 1000s of bore holes would be necessary but would occupy limited spaces and when completed the features left would not be unsightly towers or ‘nodding donkeys’ but only a 6ft high valve system connected to underground pipes. Each would be operative for up to 10 years and would then be sealed off and buried with concrete. Fracking on a limited scale has been used in the UK since before WW2.

Does Fracking cause Earthquakes? Earthquakes naturally occur with great frequency in the UK but the vast majority are very small and are only detectable by sensitive seismographs. Fracking would cause some of these very minor quakes. One quake of 2-3 on the Richter Scale was the cause of a recent minor quake in Lancashire which Geologists diagnosed as high pressure fracking water lubricating an ancient fault. Fracking should therefore avoid faulted strata.

Possible pollution of ground water held in aquifers can be avoided by only Fracking below 3km. since aquifers are only tapped at shallow depths of less than 1km. so they are isolated from Fracking. Water used in Fracking is ejected from boreholes by the escaping gas. This is treated to remove chemicals including any radioactive material and may be reused in Fracking.

To ensure Fracking operations are safe and within the limitations indicated thorough and carefully monitored systems must be imposed on the industry. These are being designed to safeguard all aspects of the operations. One essential aspect of this control system must address the long term monitoring of possible leakages from sealed boreholes.

The Government policy for Energy favours the development of Fracking to fill our future Energy Gap but it is up to us as voters to appreciate the potential benefits and environmental impacts of Fracking and respond accordingly.

The Science and Technology Groups of the U3As who attended this lecture very much appreciated the clarity and excellence of Professor Davies’s presentation and have expressed their appreciation of being invited by Chris Evans and the Pembrokeshire Earth Science Study Trust to this event.

Graham Goodeve 14th March 2014.


50 U3A members attended this excellent lecture at the Torch Theatre as guests of the Pembrokeshire Earth Science Schools Trust (PESST) on Monday 18th Nov. The speaker was Dr Carrie Lear, Reader in Geology at U.C.Cardiff. Her presentation on a perspective of Climate Change had a profound message for all of us.

50 million years ago in the Eocene Times the World was a much warmer place than today. Fossil evidence shows us that the ancestors of animals we now associate with the tropics roamed in the tropical forests covering southern Britain. Forests grew in northern Siberia and Antarctica where now it is covered by Tundra and Ice Sheets. Techniques involving the examination of the detailed chemistry of microscopic single cell organisms called Foraminifera, now entombed in ocean bottom deposits, have revealed to Geologists a full record of carbon dioxide levels and temperatures over the last 50 million years. This shows that the level of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide has declined causing the average World temperatures to decline by about 10C.

This decline reveals three distinct chilling periods. The first was 34 million years ago when mountain glaciation occurred in Antartica. The second some 20 million years ago when an ice cap formed over the whole of Antarctica. The third when the Pleistocene Ice Age began 2 million years ago. We (homo sapiens) are just living in one of the warmer interglacial periods of this Ice Age.

The causes of these changes in carbon dioxide and World temperature are complex, but a major factor is the effect of Plate Tectonic Movements that have left Antarctica isolated over the South Pole, while the southern continents of South America and Australia moved north, leaving an open Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. This isolation enabled Antarctica to develop extreme cold conditions which have impacted on the climate of the rest of the World.

However, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago the level of carbon dioxide in the Atmosphere has increased and now stands at approximately 400 parts per million. The highest it has ever been before in the last 800.000 years is 300ppm. Monitoring of this level of carbon dioxide in the Atmosphere reveals that the rate of increase is accelerating which in turn is increasing Global Warming. Warmer conditions, apart from changing our weather and climate conditions, mean that glaciers and ice sheets will melt.

The Greenland and West Antarctica Ice Sheets are now unstable and melting. The quantity of water locked in these ice sheets will mean significant rises of sea level. The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will produce a sea level rise of 6 metres and that of West Antarctica a further 8 metres. If the East Antarctica Ice Sheet melts a further 60 metre rise of sea level will occur. This would drown those parts of Pembrokeshire below 240 feet above sea level. As for the rest of the World, coastal lowlands, major river lowlands and their cities would all be flooded completely.

The major questions for all of us are how long will it take for this to occur and have we the power and will to reverse the process?

Graham Goodeve – 19th Nov 2013