Lockdown 3 #10

June 19th (Juneteenth), 2021

‘The Human Swan’, Sacha Dench, is starting a 3,000 mile journey, around mainland Britain, on Monday (June 21st), to raise awareness about climate change.

She is flying in a paraglider powered with an electric engine, from a location near Glasgow and returning to land in the area approximately six weeks later.

The Australian biologist, conservationist and adventurer lost her family home to bushfires last year.

She said: “I’m doing it to try and demonstrate just how far we can go in terms of decarbonising our transport and our lifestyles in general.

“The real thing we’re hoping to do though is make use of the journey, and the fact that I have to stop frequently to change batteries, to stop and land and speak to people who have solutions for climate change…brilliant projects… whilst Britain drove the industrial revolution, we can drive the green revolution too.”

So, some positive actions looking ahead to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow – putting the disappointments/shortcomings of the G7 meeting in Cornwall behind us!

Children and young people are leading some of the ‘brilliant projects’ – Asha and Jia, aged 13 and 11, following on from pressuring Kelloggs, have now started a campaign to urge Colgate-Palmolive to ditch palm oil from their products.

They write: “We are sisters and we care about the environment and the world we live in.

“Do you know that most products in your house contribute towards deforestation, from toothpaste to bread?

Before August 2018, we’d never heard of palm oil either. However, after watching a documentary about the impact of deforestation, we were extremely upset to discover that most products in our house contributed towards mass deforestation.

So, what is Palm Oil? It is an oil that derives from Palm Fruit and it could be completely sustainable. But to farm this mass-produced oil, rainforests are destroyed and rows of palm trees are eventually planted instead. This is extremely problematic for every species in rainforests but it’s especially harmful for orangutans, which are already an endangered species – 25 orang-utans are killed every day due to palm oil and we must take action now.”

You can sign the girls’ petition(s) here – www.petitiongirls.com – and, better still, stop buying Colgate-Palmolive products!

As well as destroying wildlife (and even people), deforestation is, of course, contributing to devastating global heating by destroying huge areas of carbon-capturing rainforests.

The sisters have won awards and their campaigning is recognised in an inspiring book, Stone Soup for a Sustainable World.

Another positive book (that my grandson was recently given by relatives) focuses on another selection of young people around the world (including China..) who are making changes in their communities and raising awareness. Of course part of me finds it very sad that we are sharing such difficult images/stories with our precious children, but the wonderful hope of the active, caring children is inspiring.

And some of these children/young people even take their countries to court over climate inaction. I’ve mentioned the brilliant Portuguese group before, whose case has been granted priority status. Others are highlighted in this Guardian article:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/07/the-young-people-taking-their-countries-to-court-over-climate-inaction?CMP=Share_ iOSApp_Other

One statistic that seems to be moving in the right direction – the International Energy Agency (IEA) has raised its forecast for the global growth of wind and solar energy by another 25% compared to figures it published just six months ago. This ‘exceptional’ level of annual additions will become the ‘new normal’ in 2021 and 2022, the IEA says, with the potential for further acceleration in the years that follow.

Now a bit of information, about a flower that looks pretty but is causing a lot of problems.

Himalayan Balsam (an invasive species, originally ‘escaped’ from Kew Gardens I think…) is choking our waterways, causing riverbank erosion and smothering our wild flowers at a terrifying rate.

Determined to stop the plant colonising even more of Britain’s lowlands, Cumbria is the latest county to raise an SOS about Himalayan Balsam – the West Cumbria Rivers Trust is asking for volunteers in Mosser, Cockermouth and Loweswater to help vanquish them before they come into flower in mid-July.

Few plants can spread their seeds like this – when ripe, its pods explode open, shooting seeds up to seven metres away, each plant able to produce about 800 seeds, so easily dominating an area after just one season.

The good news is that, unlike other invasive species like Japanese knotweed, Himalayan Balsam is very easy to pull up. Its stout, reddish-translucent hollow stems rarely have roots more than a few centimetres deep. 

According to the article I read, they can be pulled up ‘with a pleasing tug’ – maybe that’s how you’d like to spend some summer days…?!

I’m going to draw to a close today with the lovely news that more than half the trees in two new woodlands in lowland England (in fields next to Monks Wood, a nature reserve in Cambridgeshire) have been planted not by landowners, charities or machines but by jays! During ‘passive rewilding’, thrushes spread seeds of bramble, blackthorn and hawthorn, and this scrub then provided natural thorny tree ‘guards’ for oaks that grew from acorns buried in the ground by jays. Apparently many people don’t like jays, traditionally seen as pests. I love them, those bright blue ‘side feathers’!

Finally, ‘The People vs Climate Change’ should be compulsory viewing!

It’s a documentary covering how everyday people (108 ‘ordinary Brits’) feel about the climate crisis, recording the Citizens Assembly meetings, before the pandemic…. 

I wonder how they’re all feeling now….whether the connection between the two crises is being made….

So many interesting, thoughtful people. And some shocks too – ‘ignorance is bliss’, one girl says, almost proudly. But there are no judgements – it speaks for itself… Check it out on the BBC’s Iplayer – please!

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