In praise of wild things

March 25th, 2022

I’m not sure that this will be a well-written blog post today, more a series of ‘headlines’…..

Make of it what you can please – bear with me, as they say!

I’ll open with a positive piece of news from Boris Johnson – yes, you read that right! He, together with Michael Gove and Kwasi Kwarteng, is ‘pushing’ for onshore wind expansion. At last…. Of course he has a battle on his hands, from petty ‘stuck in the past’ other cabinet ministers, including, unsurprisingly, terrible Jacob Rees-Mogg who want to bring back fracking. Please do everything you can to oppose this backward move.

And, also supported by Michael Gove (‘small mercies’!) is the revival of the Severn estuary tidal energy plan. Good! 12 years after the government dashed ambitious plans for a 10-mile energy-generating barrage, an independent commission has been launched to explore using the estuary. Better late than never, I suppose….

The UK’s first solar farm owned by a health board and linked directly to a hospital has exceeded expectations by, at times, providing all the electricity needed to run the site, even during the winter months. The farm in south-west Wales provided enough energy over one 50-hour period to meet 100% of Swansea’s Morriston Hospital’s demands.

Have you noticed the spread of avian flu? A clear consequence of battery farming…

I’m hoping that the current lack of free range eggs in supermarkets will encourage more people to stop eating them! But of course it’s more likely that many customers will, even if reluctantly, settle for less ethical eggs. Maybe I should start keeping chickens….?! Or at least try whipping aquafaba (the liquid from bean cans!) instead of egg whites in baking, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages… And one mashed banana or three tablespoons of nut butter can apparently replace one egg in cakes and pancakes.

We are being asked to track flowering fruit trees (to take part, you can record via FruitWatch, a Reading University initiative).

Despite many of us enjoying this current warm weather, it is probably not a good sign….It seems likely that climate change is causing trees to flower earlier than when insect pollinators are most active. Pollinators such as bees, hoverflies, wasps and moths have evolved symbiotically with the plants they pollinate. 

Chris Wyver, leading the Fruitwatch project, said: “Pollinators do an incredible job for the planet, and if insects are unable to pollinate fruit trees then something else will have to – potentially humans.” What?… How?… I so hope we can save insects first. I wonder how you’re doing with not killing wasps….a start!

That links to a great article I saved from the Guardian recently (March 16th), about wild gardening (it’s not just an excuse to be lazy…!). Alys Fowler writes: “I have fundamentally shifted my position on weeds. They are welcome in my garden, because I know they do more good than harm….. “Weed” is a vague term. It comes from the Old English weod and means a plant, a grass, a herb or a tree – anything that grows abundantly around us.

“For millennia, humans gathered, tended and used these so-called weeds so that they became a resource, either as a source of food (for their animals or themselves), a medicine or a material.

Nettles, brambles and fireweeds all have a long history of being used as cordage.”

More on plants – according to research published at the beginning of March, houseplants aren’t just a way to make your home look better, some of the most popular pot plants (for example, peace lilies, corn plants and ‘super tough’ ZZ plants) can also have a positive impact on the quality of the air. Buy from houseplant shops or garden centres, where staff should be able to help you find something that will suit the conditions of your chosen location(s).

Today the Fridays for Future activists (remember Greta Thunberg?..) are holding protests in cities across the world – “We want to show the world that we are still here and that we cannot be ignored or overlooked.”

They/we are needed, now more than ever….

A new protest movement has started too – #SitforClimate. We’re all encouraged to sit (alone or in a group), somewhere, at 11am every Saturday, every week, holding a climate placard…If you see anyone doing this, please encourage and appreciate them – it’s so important to continue ‘the conversation’….

In October 2021 75% of adults in Great Britain said they were either very or somewhat worried about the impact of climate change. Now it doesn’t seem to be talked about so much – it’s getting worse, and so many injustices (including the war in Ukraine) are connected to it…..

There’s another Defra consultation to respond to – the ‘Government response to the Landscapes Review’. I know some of my readers will particularly be interested in this, in relation to green lanes in Little Langdale, Lake District National Park. (And the North York Moors ….!) We have until April 9th to respond – check out the latest Lake District Green Lanes Alliance newsletter, for guidance/details.

And finally this time, some fashion news.

Shockingly, 7,500 litres of water is used to make a single pair of jeans. So don’t buy any new denim!

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is ‘naming and shaming’ high street clothing companies.

Entire lines of clothing are being labelled ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ without the company having proof that the whole process – from manufacture to delivery, packaging and sale – is good for the environment, according to the CMA. It is investigating sector by sector, with the packaged food industry and supermarkets likely to be next.

I had a depressing experience recently, spotting a T-shirt which (with no irony) combined the eye-catching images of both the Coca Cola logo and a polar bear…..

There is news today that the entire Conger ice shelf in Antarctica has collapsed. I know polar bears live in the Arctic, but neither of the poles should be melting…

I won’t be returning to buying new clothes any time soon (an exception will probably be made for the grandchildren…!)

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