November 5th, 2020
Mm, what a day….
Anticipating writing today, I imagined being able to share relief and positivity that ‘Trumpism’ was unequivocally shown to the world as harmful and only worthy of being consigned to the past….There is no such clear path ahead – at least we can still hang on, until tomorrow maybe, to the possibility he might not be President any longer!
And today there’s England’s second lockdown.
I was also fondly imagining this could be the start of less polluting traffic on the road and other positive signs of lower human impact – but it doesn’t seem likely.
Eight months after our first lockdown, it feels as if the emphasis is on political squabbling and personal frustration – the glimpse of what future life could be like and the determination to ‘build back better’, avoiding future pandemics, seems to be receding.
Not with some admirable groups of people, however. And I’ll concentrate on those here today!
The Green Party (please consider becoming a Friend – checkout the Green Living Room..) asks us to dare to be different and think about a whole new way of living.
“Economics is broken. It has failed to predict, let alone prevent, financial crises that have shaken the foundations of our societies. Its outdated theories have permitted a world in which extreme poverty persists while the wealth of the super-rich grows year on year. And its blind spots have led to policies that are degrading the living world on a scale that threatens all our futures.” Those words are from ‘Doughnut Economics’ by Oxford academic Kate Raworth. She sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity into a ‘sweet spot’ that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet.
UK Student Climate Network is crowdfunding for their own version of COP26 (the climate conference postponed from last November). ‘Mock COP26’ plans to culminate in a powerful message from the youth of the world to political leaders stating what they need to do right now (not wait until the ‘real’ conference…). They have secured youth representatives from 144 countries, arranged keynote speakers, confirmed 22 fringe events and also have the interest of Newsround and Channel 4 News. You can tune in to livestreams on the Mock COP26 YouTube channel – the opening ceremony is at 12 noon UK time on November 19th.
Two organisations based in the USA will continue to fight to protect the natural world, whoever is in power – Rainforest Action Network and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Flight Free UK has launched its 2021 pledge. There are three levels of pledge – to be flight free in 2021, to refrain from holiday flights in 2021, or to stay grounded for life!
As they say, this year turned out to be a lot more flight free than we could ever have imagined – but for the wrong reason. The pandemic has been difficult for many people, and a temporary decrease in flying will not solve the climate crisis. But Covid-19 has shown us that rapid change is possible. Air traffic has decreased dramatically because we have had no choice, but we now need to apply this thinking to our response to the climate crisis.
Goodwings Travel, based in Denmark, is a travel company that aims towards a future where everyone travels sustainably and 100% carbon neutral. They are asking for climate reviews on wedonthavetime.org
Some good news that I posted recently has been undermined by new information, sadly – Britain’s bid to build enough offshore wind farms to power every home in the country by 2030 risks being derailed by outdated regulation. Germany’s RWE, one of the industry’s ‘key players’, has warned that work to connect the growing number of wind farms off the UK coast to the onshore electricity grid will not keep pace with the government’s goals unless decades-old regulation allows for faster investments. So, another example of Boris Johnson’s government ‘fobbing us off’ with positive-sounding intentions, without supporting these words with practical, radical action….
At least companies might now be held accountable – those that market their products or services as eco-friendly are to be scrutinised by the UK competition watchdog to make sure they live up to the claim and do not mislead consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was concerned that a rise in demand for green goods could encourage some businesses to make misleading claims about the environmental impact of what they are selling. Mm, yes, greenwashing – please beware!
One piece of good news from our beleaguered, floundering government (I think…) is that they have seen sense, or given in to pressure anyway, about farming and food standards. The UK government has finally vowed not to allow chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef on British supermarket shelves, defying demands from the US that animal welfare standards be lowered as part of a future trade deal. And the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, and the environment minister, George Eustice, have also revealed the recently established trade and agriculture commission will be put on a statutory footing with a new amendment to the agriculture bill. The statutory body will give independent advice on trade deals as they go through parliament.
And finally, a few pieces of wildlife news.
A huge spider assumed extinct in Britain has been discovered on a Ministry of Defence training ground in Surrey, having not been seen in the country for 27 years. The great fox-spider is a night-time hunter, known for its speed and agility, as well as its eight black eyes which give it wraparound vision. Mike Waite of Surrey Wildlife Trust said: “It’s a gorgeous spider, if you’re into that kind of thing”! As a child I was encouraged, by my father, to admire insects and pick spiders up without fear. But unfortunately as an older adult, I’ve developed an irrational fear of large spiders, alongside so many other people it seems (after getting a surprise nip from one that obviously felt trapped when I picked it up…). I certainly don’t want to do them any harm, admiring them from afar now…
I’ve signed a petition to save lapwings at Beddington Farmlands (look it up on change.org). The Beddington incinerator in South London has been built on a 400 acre nature reserve, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and supposedly protected as Metropolitan Open Land. It is now a site of local species extinction. The Beddington Farmlands Bird Group has worked on a comprehensive list of proposed solutions – these need to be implemented with urgency by Sutton Council, Viridor and Thames Water.
I’m thinking about hedgehogs again (Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night today) – if you’ve made a bonfire, check a hedgehog hasn’t crawled in to make it home. And piles of leaves left to rot in gardens could provide insulation for a hibernation nest for hedgehogs, and as the leaves rot they also provide a home for insects/hedgehog food.
North Atlantic right whales are seriously endangered, National Geographic has announced – only 409 remain….They inhabit the busy waters off the Atlantic coast, where they must navigate crowded shipping channels and water columns clogged with fishing gear. There is better news about blue whales – scientists say they have seen a remarkable collection of blue whales in the coastal water around the UK sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. 55 blue whales in one year doesn’t sound that many to me, but apparently there was ‘basically nothing’ in the last 40 or 50 years – so, thankful for small mercies…?
‘Save the Whale’ was a slogan accompanied the environmental movement when I was a student – we were perceived in those days as impossibly idealistic and unrealistic. Surely, it’s time to change, before it’s too late, and see that all of us need to protect wildlife & Nature.
A lighthearted way of making the point could be ‘Save the Whale because one day it might save you’- this refers to the incredible story this week of a Dutch metro train crashing through a barrier and then being suspended in mid-air thanks to a whale sculpture. No-one was hurt. I would have used a ‘wow’ picture to hopefully make you smile, but the photos are copyrighted….