Environmental Mindset Madness
(This article first appeared in the June 2019 edition of ‘Birdwatching’ magazine)
In the late 1950s, disillusioned with the classic bicycle design, Alex Moulton set about creating a new one from first principles. In the 1990’s James Dyson took the same approach to the vacuum cleaner and other household appliances. It’s taken a number of decades for their ideas to become mainstream, albeit mostly only in part. Established manufacturers don’t want to completely re-tool so change comes about slowly no matter how obvious the improvements are.
Governments, at least in the ‘west’, are no different. No matter how necessary a change is, it is brought about piecemeal if at all generally through voluntary agreements and ‘education’ rather than legislation. Some governments take decades to heed the warnings about certain insecticides while many others fail to stand up to commercial lobbying.
Currently, in the USA a certain ‘bright young thing’, more famed for her attractiveness and dance moves than her policies and politics is trying to introduce a bill that will tackle climate change and poverty at the same time. In the face of this her opponents, even some among her own party, say that it’s all very well and good but who will pay for the changes.
Meanwhile on this side of the pond, us Brits are massively divided about whether or not we need to re-arrange the deckchairs on the Titanic. Brexit pales into insignificance compared to the environmental disaster we are almost over the brink of. Not seeing the wood for the trees seems to be an international pastime as even the greenest among us worry about burning off heather on moorland or stopping a raven cull. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important it’s just that I fear they are irrelevant compared to the death of bees.
To paraphrase the father telling his children that there is no need to worry about the bogeyman under the bed, it’s the zombies they should really be scared of! There is no one thing for us to fear but a great mess of appalling possibilities!
Debilitating loss of soil biodiversity, retreating coral reefs, overfishing, forest destruction, air pollution, monoculture, pesticide ubiquity, rising sea levels, climate change, water wars, plastic engulfed seas and all the rest are not dystopian fantasies, they are happening right now, across the world on a gigantic scale.
Just like commerce ignoring innovation until it costs less to change than stand still, governments and us the people, are fiddling at the edges, not addressing fundamentals. We are doomed unless we adopt a new mindset where the cost in human lives (not to mention our beloved birds and the rest of the living planet) of doing nothing is what is important, not the financial cost of making changes.
The scramble over the cliff edge is not slowing down! Most of the damage has been done to the world SINCE WE KNEW WE WERE CREATING THE DAMAGE! Air is more polluted, greenhouse gasses are still rising, more insects are becoming extinct and plastic production is set to treble and soon there will be more plastic in the sea than fish!
Our kids and grandkids are shouting in our ears pleading with us to WAKE UP! We concern ourselves with the price of bread and more of us getting access into the circus while the planet is dying under our weight. If humans were rats or locust we would see what a plague we have become and look to reduce our numbers and make sure that we do everything possible to minimise our impact on the increasingly fragile environment.
Unless we wake up there will be no birds.