April 9th, 2021
This post is going to focus on being ‘thankful for small mercies’.
Important in my personal life at the moment too…
I’ll open with dandelions!
This year I’m looking at these common, humble flowers with fresh eyes – they are a welcome source of pollen to many insects; and considered by botanists to be herbs.
A German company even makes bicycle tyres from dandelion rubber (Taraxagum)!
I was taught to pull dandelions up because many gardeners consider them to be weeds, but now my instinct is to leave them to grow.
So many of our human behaviours are habits. Let’s question more often what we are doing and how we are living….
One of our key habits is what we eat, of course.
I’m going to touch on a very serious subject here – the recent release of a documentary, Seaspiracy. There has been a lot of controversy about it, and it has put many people off eating fish, but the bottom line is surely that all industrial and commercial ‘farming’ is unsustainable – we can’t go on as we are, exploiting the natural world.
And the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a large collection of floating debris in the Pacific Ocean, containing a lot of fishing nets) is such a terrible disgrace – why is the world, collectively, not ashamed of it and doing something about it?….
Sorry, I didn’t mean to be depressing – I’ll get back to the small mercies/blessings…..!
The first one that I’ve noticed approaches the problem of fishing from a different angle – the world isn’t going to stop fishing, so here’s a small practical solution (a ‘drop in the ocean’, perhaps, but better than nothing…). Every year, longliners fishing for the likes of tuna and swordfish set about 3bn hooks, killing an estimated 300,000 seabirds, many of which are albatrosses. Fifteen out of 22 species of albatross, and six out of seven marine turtle species are threatened with extinction. A new invention, Hookpod, could help secure future populations of these marine animals – it encloses the barb of the hook until it sinks into the water, out of reach of foraging seabirds.
Some Hookpods have already been deployed on Brazilian fishing boats, and in January 2020 they were rolled out across New Zealand. Marine biologist Becky Ingham, CEO of Hookpod Ltd, who hopes to work with the fishing industry in China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, said: “Skippers have been reporting zero bycatch, so it’s more effective than we even hoped for commercial use.”
As I’m typing this, I can’t help thinking about the cruelty of hooking fish and the negatives of commercial fishing – in an ideal world these would not exist, but we are far from an ideal world…
We need to work with what we’ve got….
As biologist Rafael Mares says: “We need to focus people’s attention on the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation.” He is using the data collected by other wildlife researchers to create digital experiences that he hopes will inspire a wider audience to engage with conservation.
‘Unseen Empire’ is a video game created by Internet of Elephants, a team of conservationists and game designers in Kenya and the US.
These environmental tech innovations, to help wildlife and nature, have been showcased at Earth Optimism 2021, a global summit hosted online by Cambridge Conservation Initiative.
My final reference to the sea today is to point you to pieces of writing by two young people, Ellie Sillar from Scotland (who also takes brilliant photographs) and Ana-Maria Munteanu from Romania. They wrote so passionately and informatively about ’10 years in the ocean’. I hope you can find them in the Guardian’s article, Dare to believe, part of Seascape: the state of our oceans.
These two girls are likely to become passionate, informative young women.
I’d like to also point you to some writing by older women! For Mother’s Day, my daughter gave me a very inspiring book: ‘Why Women will Save the Planet’. It focuses on big cities, believing they can be turned around to be powerhouses of well-being and environmental sustainability. It is a collaboration between Friends of the Earth and C40. I’d never heard of C40 before, but it’s great to know about it now – it connects more than ninety of the world’s greatest cities, representing more than 650+ million people and one-quarter of the global economy. C40 is focused on tackling climate change, while increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunities of urban citizens. Wow, brilliant!
And my mother pointed me to a piece of good news, on a more lowly local level…. the University of East Anglia, in the UK, has joined the Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign. In the 1950s it was estimated there were 36.5 million hedgehogs in the UK. In 1995, their numbers had declined to 1.55 million. Since 2000, hedgehogs have declined by at least 30%. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) compares the decline of UK hedgehogs to that of the loss of the world’s tigers.
Universities are in a unique position to help conserve our hedgehogs, many of which have campuses that are home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. For more details, the campaign can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
Last Saturday’s Country Diary in the Guardian focused on bees – now that spring is creeping along, there are “about 270 species gearing up to demonstrate just how many ways there are of being a bee”. Lovely!
More good news – Great Britain’s electricity system recorded its greenest ever day over the Easter bank holiday, as sunshine and windy weather led to a surge in renewable energy.
If you’re considering ordering/buying books soon, consider using bookshop.org which supports independent bookshops – to mark Earth Day on April 22nd, they will be offsetting all home deliveries of books across the entire UK book retail industry…
And finally, this week, please vote for the Green Party in the May 6th local elections. You can stay safe by getting a postal vote, and Green is the way ahead, surely….?!