Lockdown 3 #7

April 23rd, 2021

Today’s post is going to be one of contrasts.

First, it is in memory of my father, a keen nature-lover – he was born in 1930 when England was home to many more wildflowers and insects than today: there was an estimated overall decline in butterfly populations, for instance, of 84% between 1890 and 2017.

Yesterday was Earth Day; and there are many amazing projects fighting for the Earth’s future.

BUT those in power still don’t seem to realise the urgency of the climate crisis – they are too ‘cosy’ with vested interests and don’t have the political will to turn words into actions.

I was heartened to know that Joe Biden held a virtual White House climate summit yesterday; but enough is definitely not being done.

Boris Johnson has finally realised/admitted that reducing carbon emissions ‘could also be good for the economy’ (the Green Party could have told you that, if you’d only listen…). And he’s ‘urging world leaders… to step up with plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions this decade’ (quoting The Guardian newspaper). BUT, crucially, for all his grand-sounding commitment, the UK’s policies are going in the opposite direction.

Johnson’s government is cutting overseas aid, hurting countries trying to cope with the impacts of climate breakdown (caused by us, the rich countries); giving an initial green light for a new coalmine in Cumbria; appointing Australia’s climate sceptic Mathias Cormann, next head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; giving new oil and gas licences in the North Sea; and scrapping the green homes grants for insulation, just as many people applied for them.

We must not be fooled…!

Please watch Greta Thunberg’s amazing ‘Mind the Gap’ video, in response to all this…It’s on Twitter, but I’m sure you can find it in other places too…

Other recommended (even required…?!) viewing is her television documentary, ‘A Year to Change the World’ (Monday evenings), preceded by Ade Adepitan’s ‘Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline’ (Sunday evenings).

All very sad, but galvanising too – campaigning/activism is essential!

It was also my birthday during this strange week (‘When I’m 64’!) and my son and his girlfriend gave me a brilliant book, ‘Back to Nature – how to love life and save it’.

Basically, it’s celebrating Nature (a consolation for many of us during lockdowns), but also funny, informative, warm and political… I’ll quote Chris Packham, who wrote it with Megan McCubbin, here: ‘even the humblest, everyday, still-common creatures have lifted our spirits in the darkest days of a terrible crisis. When it comes to protecting them, we have plenty of tools in the conservation box; we can rebuild, restore, reinstate or reintroduce. We can march, lobby, sign petitions, we can demonstrate. We can take action. We can make a difference…….. We don’t all have to agree about all the details, but we must stand shoulder to shoulder with all who care enough to take some action.. Our wildlife needs us, and it needs you more than ever.’

Here’s a boost for some wildlife – landowners and farmers in Wensleydale, the Yorkshire Dales, have grown a six-mile continuous stretch of woodland and hedgerows to provide a highway to join up two fledgling populations of native dormice, a very endangered species. They have become extinct in 17 English counties in the last 100 years. Ian White, from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said “If you get it right for dormice, you help a broad range of other species as well.”

My GP friend has passed on this interesting information, connected to the NHS striving to become a zero carbon institution. Apparently 20% of all journeys are health related. These have been reduced dramatically by necessary adaptations to the pandemic – e-consulting, video consulting, phone consulting – and, happily, some of this reduction is set to continue.

Also, 5% of our water pollution (and resultant reduction in biodiversity) is due to people flushing unwanted medications down the loo… what?! Who would think that was fine….? Anyway, let’s encourage people to return unwanted medications to any chemist (for safe disposal).

Finally today, returning to the gap between words and actions (even Jacinda Ardern’s government has shortcomings….), Greenpeace New Zealand has alerted us to the emerging industry of seabed mining. This is an experimental process that involves extracting minerals and metals from the ocean floor, disturbing the precious and fragile animals and ecosystems that live there. The ocean, as we know, already faces a growing number of threats from plastic pollution to oil spills, climate change and overfishing. Greenpeace’s campaign aims to ban seabed mining in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  

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