September 26th, 2021
The UK’s only water songbird, a dipper
I wonder how many people were surprised, like I was, to turn on their televisions last night and see high-profile performers playing music in concerts broadcast from New York, Paris and London – Global Citizen 2021.
I’d never heard of Global Citizen, even though it was founded in 2008.….
Its headquarters are in New York, with offices in Canada, South Africa, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom – ‘Together we are working towards a world free of extreme poverty by 2030.’
This year’s concerts were organised particularly to raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis.
The organisation does seem to have successfully put pressure on governments and corporations to pledge financial aid.
But as Welsh actor and activist Michael Sheen said, when interviewed about the event, it must also fundamentally be about justice.
We all need to care more about everyone, put very simply, and artists need to use their platform to urge action.
‘Leave no-one behind’, as my writer son says in the environmental fable, The Flock.
Tearfund Action is highlighting the experience of Norman Molina who lives in Honduras. When he was 15 years old in 1998, he first experienced the devastating force of a hurricane which killed more than 10,000 deaths and left more than a million people homeless.
Last year, Honduras suffered two hurricanes within two weeks, affecting more than 4 million people. ‘Rain has become a threat. Whenever I hear rain, I fear what’s going to happen. It makes me sad that rain, which used to be seen as a sign of blessing, is now a cause of fear.’
Central America is one of the regions that are most vulnerable to the climate crisis – yet its communities have contributed very little to causing the problem. Thousands of people have been forced from their homes by sea-level rises, droughts, hurricanes and storms that have made their already difficult living conditions even worse. Entire communities have disappeared.
And all countries around the world need to offer refuge to climate refugees….
This week Greenpeace and fishing communities joined forces to make history, sailing up the Thames to Westminster to deliver an urgent message to government.
It’s unbelievable that industrial fishing is still legal in Marine Protected Areas.
As one local fisherman, whose community is in crisis, said: “Fishermen care deeply about nature, good fishermen do anyway”.
Why didn’t this action get more publicity?
As a friend of mine commented, mourning that fact: “One can see why people do more and more extreme things to try and raise attention to their issues.”
The nature crisis is an issue for all of us, of course. And yes, it’s so depressing that there is so much negative publicity about the Insulate Britain and HS2 activists – a judge has just sentenced an Extinction Rebellion activist (a Paralympian medallist no less…) to a year’s imprisonment.
Where is the justice in that? Taking personal risks out of a sense of despair that the Earth is heading towards manmade disaster….
Now, quiet revolution…!
The Royal Horticultural Society has set up the first Community Awards as community gardens become more common across the UK. Kay Clark, who heads the RHS community gardening programme, said: “Where groups like this existed, communities seemed to be more resilient when it came to a crisis (like Covid) because they had a pre-established network of volunteers and people already knew each other so they could easily offer support.
With wellbeing and nature connection becoming top priority during lockdown, we had this massive surge of interest in gardening and community groups were there to help people….”
One of these gardens is Golden Hill in Horfield, Bristol – Lucy Mitchell, the only paid member of staff there, said: “Community gardens are something that nobody is priced out of – anyone can come to this organic garden, pick up a watering can and get involved. You don’t need to buy a bamboo toothbrush or an electric car… revolutionary in a quiet, non-commercial and fairly radical way.”
Restoring Nature on a larger scale is planned in Scotland – a large swathe of the Scottish Highlands stretching between the west coast and Loch Ness is to be rewilded as part of a 30-year project. Plans include planting trees, enhancing river corridors, restoring peat bogs and creating nature-friendly farming practices.
Similar to the WildEast project in East Anglia, it is a community-led effort to restore nature over a large area, the Affric Highlands, which organisers hope will be a catalyst for social and economic regeneration.
Alan McDonnell, a conservation manager at Trees for Life and the project leader, said: “Rewilding is a word that people define differently. For some people, it’s wolves and bears. For Trees for Life, it’s about the land, and what it can support.
We’re primarily motivated by the nature that will come with that…. but there are a lot of ways we can use land better and increase what it can offer.”
Native wildlife set to benefit includes a range of river species such as salmon, trout, ospreys and otters, as well as mountain species such as golden eagles, red grouse, short-eared owls and mountain hares.
Finally, check out Megan Swann, the first female Magic Circle president who hopes to perform her environmental magic show at the COP26 climate summit….?!
As she says, we need to all believe that it is possible to save our planet, and help through our united actions – magic, seemingly impossible, is achievable…..