Thoughts for Christmas

December 11th, 2020

I’m going to start, today, with good news about the Bristol Airport expansion proposal – well, hopeful anyway….Bristol city councillors, who had supported the airport’s plans, have now agreed it is “incompatible” with carbon reduction targets and “must not go ahead”.

Please add your objection comments too, if you haven’t already, to the North Somerset Council planning page – you have until January 6th and here’s a link:

Now, a local piece of environmental destruction.

A mile-long stretch of the River Lugg outside Kingsland, near Leominster in Herefordshire, has been flattened by a bulldozer. Trees have been felled, the river straightened and the river bed damaged.

Landowner/farmer John Price believes he was doing this with the blessing of the Environment Agency (I’ve written to its CEO) and he has the support of Kingsland villagers, in order to prevent future flooding….

Is this another example of shortsightedness? And also shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted…. We need to protect Nature, biodiversity and ecosystems, surely, to avoid floods and other environmental catastrophes…

Guy Linley-Adams, a lawyer for the charity Salmon and Trout Conservation, witnessed the destruction to the river, which is protected as an SSSI, site of special scientific interest. He said: “This is one of the most egregious acts of ecological vandalism that I have seen in 25 years of working on rivers in the UK”.

The River Lugg is an important habitat for salmon, otters, lamprey, dragonfly and crayfish. Helen Stace, the chief executive of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a crime against the environment, with dire consequences for wildlife and water quality downstream.”

Even more important that ‘ecocide’ should become law….

I just want to add here some personal thoughts, linking with the flooding references. I keep seeing images in my head of Noah’s Ark floating on a tempestuous sea, with a rainbow above. The coronavirus pandemic seems almost Biblical to me – I don’t believe in God, but I do believe Nature is warning us. If we don’t act soon, there will be more pandemics and climate catastrophes.

And more people with influence now seem to realise that – I’m putting my faith and hope in them, not in simply ‘the vaccine’, to steer the world on to the right path/channel….

I was pleased to see the news about the UK’s first all-electric car charging forecourt set to open for business in Braintree, Essex, to charge electric vehicles with 100% renewable energy.

It is the first of more than 100 electric forecourts that Gridserve, a clean energy company, plans to roll out across the country over the next five years as part of a billion-pound ‘sun-to-wheel’ infrastructure. Good! In company with many other people, I expect, we’re currently saving up to afford an electric car.

The only downside, of course, is that electric vehicles need batteries; and mining for lithium (‘white oil’), routinely used in rechargeable electric car batteries, poses problems itself – for the environment and for human rights…. Thank goodness that some scientists are exploring alternative battery cells, using sodium-ion, more powerful, durable, sustainable and cost-effective. 

Maybe we should all just drive less! Less traffic, quieter roads, sounds a perfect solution!

A very sad inquest is currently being held at Southwark coroner’s court – it is considering whether dangerous levels of air pollution around nine year old Ella Kissi-Debrah’s home in the London borough of Lewisham (near where we used to live) contributed to her death. Sir Stephen Holgate, a professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton, heavily criticised the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra )and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for failing to work together on toxic air. Apparently there was a royal commission for environmental pollution, of which Holgate was a member – it was closed in 2011. Why?

That poor child may become the first person in the UK for whom air pollution is listed as the cause of death – an innocent ‘canary’ drawing attention to the dangers of air pollution. (As Holgate said: “Two centuries ago canaries were used in coalmines to detect high levels of pollutant gases…”) 

A glimmer of hope from Australia now – a little pygmy possum has been found on Kangaroo Island for the first time since bushfire destroyed most of their habitat in last summer’s devastating blaze. Fauna ecologist Pat Hodgens said he was optimistic the pygmy possums would now survive on the Australian island but work is now needed to protect what is left of the population.

I’m close to ‘bidding farewell’ for this year, but I can’t finish without mentioning Brexit. ‘No deal’ looks unavoidable (to satisfy the empty notion of ‘saving our sovereignty’) now. Despite senior Conservatives warning Boris Johnson that “the world is watching”, our prime minister is pressing on with the disaster. Hopefully he gets a rude awakening soon, to at least make him take his climate responsibilities more seriously, with the world watching ahead of COP26…..

Now, finally, to explain my illustrations this week – one is a new-style Christmas tree, made by my creative husband. We’ve always chosen a ‘real’ Christmas tree as more ‘green’ than a plastic one, but this year Bill said: “Watching a tree slowly dying isn’t my perfect idea of celebrating birth”…. Mm, I see what he means. Maybe the wooden tree idea will catch on, following this design which is made to easily take apart and store compactly for future years – wood from sustainable sources, of course. The second picture is our sycamore stump decorated outside (it was cut to allow light to reach our solar panels, and we’re protecting our other trees!).

The images come to wish you HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

For presents this year, I’m hoping more family and friends will feel compelled, as I do, to make a green difference in the world – I sometimes feel awkward about talking about my campaigning, but I wish really that more people felt as emotional about it all as I do…..

In 2021, I’ll be reporting on positive projects from green enterprises who are doing just that.

Do tell me about any you know.

My email address is emilyjanethwaite@icloud.com; and please keep supporting the petitions and actions on Bill Sanderson’s Facebook page and at #grandmaglobal

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