Lockdown 3 #8

May 7th, 2021

Following on from my enthusiasm about Ade Adepitan’s television series (On the Front Line of Climate Change), I’d like to draw attention to The Bahamas.

More than 80% of The Bahamas’ land surface is only a metre or less above sea level, making it particularly vulnerable to climate-related hazards. Nearly two years after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, for example, sensitive ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs are still being damaged by the weight of marine debris and exposure to toxic contamination.

A major injustice of this situation is that The Bahamas remains one of the world’s lowest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions while suffering the collective consequences.

Now, the optimistic part – the work of Bahamian climate justice advocates, marine scientists and community members to foster ocean resilience within their country and around the world is important and inspiring. Check out (and donate to?!) The Tide, a global community who care deeply about the ocean. I got my information from ‘Only One’, a ‘nonprofit’ based in New York.

Some good packaging news now – I got ridiculously excited when our Sainsbury’s delivery of recycled toilet paper this week arrived in paper wrapping, not plastic….it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by knowing about the stifling amount of plastic rubbish in the world.

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz determinedly and inspiringly looks ‘on the bright side’…. Based in Perth, Australia and author of ‘Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters’, she started Plastic Free July in 2011 with 40 people committing to going plastic-free one month a year. Now 326 million people pledge to adopt the practice today. And people/consumer power drives companies to replace single-use plastic.

So, keep complaining about too much plastic packaging, people, and even congratulate when you see companies bowing to our pressure?!

Well, this morning in the UK we’re waiting for some good news from local council elections. It’s not looking brilliant…

But many councils at least have declared climate emergencies (action being slower to follow: pension funds need to divest from fossil fuel companies urgently..).

And now ‘climate emergency centres’ (CECs) are opening up across England and Wales. Owners of vacant retail premises in high streets have the option to reduce their business rates payments by up to 100% through leasing the property for community benefit to a not-for-profit or charitable organisation, such as a CEC. The sustainable centres are run by the communities themselves and offer a range of activities that focus on both addressing the climate emergency and bringing people together – from hedgehog protectors to church groups, including art exhibitions, exercise classes, sustainable living workshops, bike repair facilities and vegetarian & vegan cafes.

Pete Phoenix, one of the organisers of the centres, said: “As well as trying to protect the planet, people are desperate for community and connection after the year we’ve had. These centres bring together the energy of younger people and the wisdom of the elders.” A former William Hill betting shop in Staines, Surrey has been renamed Talking Tree; and a former River Island in Swindon, Wiltshire is also being transformed into a climate emergency centre.

In April last year, Cardiff Council in Wales introduced ‘Bee Bus Stops’, inspired by a scheme in Utrecht, Holland. Installing green roof tops onto bus stops has created a bee friendly space for the endangered species. The wildflower roof tops will also help absorb rainwater, capture dust/pollution from the air and regulate temperatures. Adding urban plants also has the benefits of increasing biodiversity, reducing stress and noise pollution and beautifying cities.

Yasmin Zoe Muir has created a petition on change.org with the ambition of making all bus stop shelters wildflower gardens, starting with her home town, Brighton. Please search out and sign!

I’ve been reading about an amazing all-women project in China, run by WWF, protecting tigers which are seriously in danger of extinction. Thank goodness for them; but also for the knowledge that as well as the red list of threatened species, there is actually a ‘green list’ – this is also compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN has high standards for protected and conserved areas; and recently, 10 more sites – in Switzerland, France and Italy – achieved green list status, bringing the total to 59 sites in 16 countries. Contamines-Montjoie national nature reserve near Mont Blanc was among seven added in France, increasing the country’s sites to 22, the highest number in the world. About 500 sites in 50 countries are working the meet the 17 requirements on good governance, planning, management and preservation of nature to achieve the green list status.

I’ll end with another appeal for people to keep up the climate activism.

Six Extinction Rebellion activists have been found ‘not guilty’ at Southwark Crown Court – they had caused criminal damage to Shell headquarters and the judge said they had no defence in law BUT a jury took the amazing, extraordinary decision to clear them on moral grounds. 

One of the defendants, Simon Bramwell, said: “It is a significant victory for the truth of these times, when despite the letter of the law, jurors can clearly see that a broken window is a just response to a breaking world.”

I just hope more of the ‘general public’ will also come to their senses soon (before it is too late…. that is a real possibility, so sadly…). Apparently, television coverage of recent XR ‘Rebel of One’ protests predictably only highlighted the ‘inconvenience’ caused to people instead of focusing on the indisputable facts of the climate crisis and the genuine passionate concern expressed by despairing people…. Inconvenient Truth…!!! 

One man passionate about climate protest is Roc Sandford, trying to change things from a shed on a tiny Scottish island in the Hebrides… Hopefully, his actions will be noticed, for the right reasons, by more people through a television programme, ‘Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over’ – to be shown at 10pm on W channel (I’ve never heard of that, but I’m sure we’ll all find it!) on May 17th.

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