July 28th, 2020
Hello! I’ll add a few more personal thoughts this week…
I’ve made a first visit to my hairdresser and friend (a post-lockdown treat and relief for many of us, I’m sure). We discussed the state of the world of course. Focus, naturally, was on the immediate needs of working people. (I never forget how lucky I am, retired and from the catering sector which is struggling in particular now…) I left the salon saying ‘it’s out of our hands’ now, meaning the government and other ‘powers that be’ have to be pressured into treating the climate crisis as urgently as the pandemic crisis – coronavirus is a warning…..
It’s odd how I still act apologetic when talking about ‘green’ political issues – I actually believe I have nothing to feel awkward/apologetic about at all, but my politeness/kindness ‘lets people off’.
And, I suppose, it’s ultimately about individuals must NOT be scapegoats – governments and corporations should be protecting us.
But I do believe we individuals still have responsibilities – car-free days, giving up meat and planes, avoiding single-use plastics and switching to green energy providers and green investments – if only to show we are serious and that returning to ‘business as usual’ is no longer acceptable.
Our main hope, however, is lobbying, petitioning and demonstrating – laws have to change.
OK, so now to the hard facts…
Hurricane Hanna has been wreaking havoc in Texas, USA. No mention of climate change in the weather reports; and the windy weather here (still no reference on everyday BBC) may not actually be the tail-end of it.
But these should all be reminders that something catastrophic is going on.
Siberia has been hot, even on fire, and now a heat wave has spread across most of the highest reaches of the globe – Eureka, Canada, one of the northernmost settlements on Earth, located on Ellesmere Island, and Longyearbyen, on the northern Norwegian island of Svalbard, have recorded more than 21 degrees Celsius. Eureka is considered the coldest place in Canada, with average July high temperatures of 9.3 degrees Celsius. Longyearben, where everything on the island from seeds to code archives are normally entombed in vaults tucked into the frozen soil, has never experienced anywhere near these high temperatures.
And polar bears will be wiped out by the end of the century unless more is done to tackle climate change, a study predicts. Scientists say some populations have already reached their survival limits as the Arctic sea ice shrinks. As the ice breaks up, the animals are forced to roam for long distances or on to shore, where they struggle to find food and feed their cubs.
Dr Steven Amstrup, chief scientist of Polar Bears International, who was involved in the study, said: “The trajectory we’re on now is not a good one, but if society gets its act together, we have time to save polar bears. And if we do, we will benefit the rest of life on Earth, including ourselves.”
I’ve only just caught up with Boris Johnson’s comment about “the newt-counting delays in our system”… so protecting the environment is not about protecting us, according to our prime minister… he can’t be that short-sighted or stupid, surely? He’s depressingly being a politician, trying to appeal to short-sighted people who get frustrated with bat & newt planning laws while at the same time appeasing developers (many being greedy of course, but I’ll be kind and call them short-sighted…).
At least Tony Juniper of Natural England is trying his best, to convince the government that environmental health is inextricably linked with the country’s wealth (obvious, surely…?…!).
Contributing to the debate about the horrible-sounding Project Speed (‘scything through red tape’, along with people’s housing standards as well as sustainability needs, it seems…), he said: “If we are going to look to change the way we do development, hopefully this is the moment when we choose to do things differently.”
Now, a glimmer of hope that the government might be held to account. MPs plan to scrutinise the government’s green economic plans and industrial strategy to test whether they are still fit for purpose in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Two separate enquiries into its plans, by the Treasury and Business department parliamentary select committees, will question whether its existing policies will help or hinder sustainable post-pandemic economic growth.
Darren Jones, chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee said: “We are keen to hear the views of businesses about their thoughts on the barriers to growth … providing the right environment to deliver sustainable investment, a skilled workforce and high-quality jobs.”
I’ve written to local developers, and our solar ‘provider’, suggesting they contribute to the enquiry.
You could too… ? Maybe we could get to a point where ‘eco-campaigners’ aren’t the enemy of developers – developers might just want help with developing sustainably….?! We can hope; and try to think positively at least…
Did you know that crisp packets can be recycled/upcycled? I’ve mentioned Terracycle before. Charities, internationally, raise funds through this ‘eliminating waste’ social enterprise.
I’ve just taken a lot of crisp packets (collected during lockdown) to a collection point near here. Some places, like schools and our local arboretum, are not collecting because of possible virus contamination; but there might be a collection point near you (check the Terracycle website).
Of course this is a tiny ‘drop in the ocean’ of plastic pollution (intentionally ironic/dark pun…); but I desperately want to believe that nobody is too small to make a difference. I’m small!
Now, good news and bad news (connected to cycling and oceans…), the bad more fundamental than the good, I’m afraid….
The first active leak of methane from the sea floor in Antarctica has been revealed by scientists. Microbes that normally consume the potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere had only arrived in small numbers after five years. Andrew Thurber, from Oregon State University, who led the research said: “The methane cycle is absolutely something that we as a society need to be concerned about. I find it incredibly concerning.”
Yesterday’s headline in The Guardian may give us a little comfort, although I must admit that the cynic in me is asking ‘what about the bigger picture’? (that road-building scheme… I’ve written to Highways England)
Residents will get powers to banish through-traffic from local streets in a new cycling and walking initiative – Active Travel England will be a watchdog to ensure new cycle and walking routes are up to standard. Matt Mallinder, from Cycling UK, said: “The funding already announced will not be enough. However, with a forthcoming spending review, now’s the time for the chancellor to invest in the future and make the prime minister’s vision of a golden age of cycling come true.”
Mm, I think we might be waiting a while for Mr Johnson to ‘put his money where his mouth is’…
In the meantime, cycle safely…