Summer holidays

July 16th, 2019

This is going to be a bit of a ‘random’ blog, I’m afraid…

I have lots of seemingly unrelated things to say, but ultimately they are all connected, of course.

By the common thread of summer holidays too, perhaps. 

Three good pieces of news:

Many of us will be visiting National Trust houses and gardens during these sunny summer days.

So, first, the National Trust is dropping all fossil fuel investments, not immediately but over the next three years – certainly a good start.

The director general of the Trust, Hilary McGrady, said: “The impacts of climate change pose the biggest long-term threat to the land and properties we care for and tackling this is a huge challenge for the whole nation.

“We know our members and supporters are eager to see us do everything we can to protect and nurture the natural environment for future generations.”

Second, storks have returned to breed in Britain. Isabella Tree (perfect name for a naturalist) has written enthusiastically about these amazing leggy birds and their shaggy nests!

“As tens of thousands march about the climate crisis and eco-anxiety besets us, these glimpses of restoration are important”, she says.

We’re familiar with the images of storks carrying babies in slings in their beaks – this is because they arrive in the early spring, nesting on rooftops and happily associating with humans, so they are symbols of hope and new life.

Interestingly, from a historical point of view, they also became a symbol of insurgency. Shortly after the return of King Charles 11 in 1660, with storks rare in this country but clinging on, parliament debated expunging them from the east of England for fear they might foment republicanism…

Anyway, it looks as if they are set to thrive again here.

Ms Tree suggests they could be the perfect emblem for Extinction Rebellion.

XR are celebrating – this is the third piece of good news I’m sharing today.

A group of wealthy US philanthropists and investors have donated almost half a million pounds to support them and school strike groups, with the promise of tens of millions more in the months ahead.

More hope coming from ‘the young’ – Rory Kennedy (daughter of Robert Kennedy) and, even more inspiringly, Aileen Getty (of the oil family) have teamed up with investor and philanthropist Trevor Neilson to launch the Climate Emergency Fund.

The money will initially be used to support school-strike and XR groups in the US, and to help ‘seed’ similar groups around the world.

Neilson said although he had been a longtime backer of environmental projects, it was only when he was forced to flee his house in California last year during a wildfire that he realised radical action was needed. “Something about throwing my two-year-old and wife in the car… brought the issue into a new type of focus.”

There’s something quite depressing about this last quote, sadly.

If it took an environment enthusiast a life-threatening situation for him to act, what will it take most ‘ordinary’ people?….

Greta Thunberg is so beautifully optimistic and convinced of the fundamental good of human nature. 

In her meeting with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (so deserving of our support/sympathy at the moment, hated by Trump) that I referred to last week, 

the young Swedish activist said “People aren’t continuing like this and not doing anything because they are evil, or because they don’t want to. We aren’t destroying the biosphere because we are selfish. We are doing it simply because we are unaware. I think that is very hopeful, because once we know, once we realise, then we change, then we act.”

Education is the key!

Finally, back to the theme of summer holidays, I’ve written to the CEO of KLM airlines, Pieter Elbers, today.

He has put his name to an advert/appeal to Fly Responsibly.

Of course this could be cynically dismissed by people thinking he is only keen to raise the profile of the Royal Dutch Airlines.

But I’d like to believe he’s genuinely concerned about the future of the planet (even though his line of work is helping to destroy it, of course….?! we environmental purists probably have to accept we’re never going to eliminate aeroplane flying completely…!).

If you’re interested, please visit klm.com/flyresponsibly,

or you might have seen the advert already…. full-page pale blue panel over images of rocks & sea….

See you next week!

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