Tag Archives: climate change

Climate Change and green hearts

leafheart

 

The Climate Coalition’s latest ‘Show The Love’ campaign launched this February. Lots of people will be making, wearing and sharing green hearts today to show their love for nature. It’s not too late to get involved. We need to talk about climate change and the things we love which could be lost.

The UK has seen an incredible resurgence in recent years, with otters back from the brink, crane, boar and beaver making a return. But we’re also dealing with ash die-back, potential hedgehog extinction, and we don’t know what climate change will do to our landscape or the delicate ecosystems within it. Climate change means uncertainty. We’re seeing far more drama in our weather systems, and we don’t know what’s coming.

The UK has lost much of its wetland – but wetlands are a great way of managing excess water and storing carbon. We’re losing our highland habitats to grouse moors, where the heather is burned off so that grouse can eat the new shoots, and then themselves, be shot. This increases flooding risk for others. We’re seeing building on flood plains, still. We’re seeing a lack of political will to keep fossil fuels in the ground despite all of the evidence that we really can’t afford to keep burning them. Destructive and toxic fracking seems preferable to cleaner, greener energy.

If we wait for government and big business to lead the way, we could be waiting a long time – too long for vulnerable species. We have to do this ourselves. We can tackle climate change at a personal level. We can choose more sustainable ways of living, we can source our power from green energy companies, we can support charities who are leading the way. Here’s some suggestions if you’re in the UK:

The Woodland Trust

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust

Local wildlife trusts

Green Electricity Marketplace

Advertisements

Green hearts show the love

“The Climate Coalition, a group of over a hundred organisations working together to call on government to commit to action on climate change. They are dedicated to limiting the impact of climate change on the people, places and life we love at home in the UK and around the world. It’s a positive movement to highlight just how much we all care about the challenges we and future generations face.” (taken from The Woodland Trust Website)

The Woodland Trust is part of the climate change coalition, and as a volunteer for The Woodland Trust, I’m spreading the word.

So, what can we, as ordinary individuals do to help? We can help build awareness, and momentum. The more people are visible in caring about climate change and its impact on both humans and our environment, the more scope there is to get people with power to make real change.

Create a green heart to wear, share or show. Whether its crochet, card or a drawing, share them on social media with #ShowTheLove and #TreeCharter. Get some inspiration and print-outs to use from the For the Love Of website.

Do you have a story or cherished memory of a tree? Could it be threatened by climate change? You can share your own story by writing it on a green heart and hanging it on a tree. Why not go one further? Tell us your story online by the end of February and help build a Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

I’ve taken some Green Hearts from the For The Love Of website to decorate this blog, but I mean to make some of my own as well… watch this space!


Climate Change

The last two nights have brought two thunderstorms on an epic scale. Today the amount of water falling from the sky caused localised flooding. Some paths were impassable. Just a freak weather event. A one off. No big deal. Like all the other freak weather events this year. And last year. And the year before. I’m not taking detailed measurements, but in the last few years I’ve seen my coldest winter ever, several contenders for wettest winter ever, more frequent storms than ever, more high winds, and we’ve had some stinkingly hot days too.

Climate change seems bloody obvious to me. And yet there are people in positions of power who are adamant that this is just normal climate variation and we can all carry on as usual. Business as usual, to be precise, in which we should all carry on increasing the amount we consume so that profits can be made. Never mind that the planet cannot conceivably support our greed. Never mind the flooded path, or the lightning. Buy another thing and forget about all the rest of it.

Why aren’t we angry?

Why aren’t we worried enough about the future to be demanding radical change?

Why aren’t we conscious enough of what’s going on to be trying to make all the differences we can in our own lives? Yes, I know some people are, and that heroic efforts to protest and transition are under way, but for most people, business as usual seems to be where its at.

Why?

Do we imagine our voices wouldn’t count or that our actions don’t contribute? Do we imagine it doesn’t matter? Or are we in fact doing our damndest to avoid imagining anything in favour of that sinister ‘keep calm and carry on’ meme?

All it takes to change the world is everyone individually deciding to do things in a different way. It’s not difficult, really. If we all got up tomorrow and started doing our level best to live more sustainable lifestyles and help other people do the same… we’d have most of this licked by the end of the week and be well on the way to world peace, as well.

All the big issues are made out of small actions, tiny details, single people doing or not doing things, multiplied by millions and by billions. Individual people. So, regardless of whether anyone else is playing, undertake to change the world. Do it. Make a change. Speak up more. Be more sustainable. We have nothing to lose for trying, and everything to lose by not stepping up.


Revolutions in thinking

I’m currently reading about the early fossil hunters – Mary Anning et al, and the huge shift in consciousness they caused. Until the 1800s, the Christian west had understood creation as perfect and unchanging. Awareness of extinct dinosaurs, mammoths and so forth brought into question the whole story. Why would God make things and then not keep them? A perfect God could not make imperfect creatures and have to give up on them! A perfect God would know exactly what he was doing from the start! Why would God make things and allow them to become extinct? It made no sense.

Taking on the implications of the past – that the Earth is older than the Bible suggests, that extinction happens, that things are created imperfectly and can change, that there is evolution, rocked the Victorian world. More than a hundred years on and there are still people who prefer any explanation for fossils but the most logical one. Everything we once thought we knew, was wrong. We went round similar cultural upheaval dealing with the idea that it isn’t a flat Earth, and the sun does not go around the Earth. We killed people as heretics over that, I believe. We struggled with recognising that people are people, no matter their skin colour and that we all evolved from ape-like ancestors.

It is worth looking at how in the past, we resisted new thinking. We fought against feminism and women getting the vote, insisting for decades that women are too silly to handle anything much. As with the folk who haven’t got to grips with evolution, sexism and racism still hold sway in some minds. Often the same minds. Every good idea, every moment of progress has been accompanied by fervent denial, ridicule of the new stuff, through to actually murdering people for daring to disagree. The first guy to translate the Bible into English died for that. We’re so frightened of having our old stories challenges that we kill to protect them rather than accept change, or new insight. That’s not a glowing endorsement of us as a species.

So we’ve spent decades adamant that climate change science isn’t real, and isn’t happening. We’re still having the same maddening debates about equality and tolerance on all fronts and there are still people who think God put the dinosaur bones in the earth to test our faith. Assuming we get our acts together and face up to the challenges of our times – climate change, pollution, poverty, resource allocation, our whole relationship with the natural world… Assuming we get that right and there are future humans who can look back, they will no doubt line us up with all the other idiots of history who refused to read the writing on the wall, and who preferred death to changing the story. The only difference between us and our reactionary ancestors, is that this time if we get it wrong, there may be no one in the future to look back at us in bemusement and wonder how on earth we failed to grasp the blindingly obvious.


Is mould a climate change issue?

This recent article in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/27/damp-social-housing-residents-heating-energy-bills indicates that mould is a growing problem. Cold, damp houses are natural habitats for mould, which do not make for good air quality and add to respiratory diseases. Part of the problem here is unequivocally poverty – people cannot afford to heat their homes. But is that the whole story?

2000 was the wettest winter on record, with 2012 coming in a narrow second. There are no figures for 2013 yet, but it is moist out there. According to the Met office, “Looking at annual rainfall for the UK, we can see the country as a whole getting wetter in recent decades.” More of that here – http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/2012-weather-statistics.

We add moisture to the air in our homes every day. Breathing, washing, and cooking are the main culprits. If there is nowhere for that water to go, no amount of heating your home can keep it dry. If it is wet and humid outside, water will inevitably build up inside and no amount of heating can fight that off forever.

When I was a child, we used to air things. You’d expect to get windows open a few times during the winter, and air out rooms to combat the damp. Washing went outside often enough that you could get away with it. A tumble drier will go a long way to solving that, assuming you can afford to run one. Of course tumble driers use a lot of energy, and if the core problem is climate change, then a tumble drier is like opening the fridge door to tackle global warming.

Cold, damp homes are not healthy. We know that. If winters keep getting wetter, we cannot buy and heat our way out of the problem. We need solutions that do not add to climate change in the first place, as well. We’re brewing a real problem here, alongside all the other many real problems climate change is already causing. Politicians refuse to act, afraid of harming the economy by taking the decisions that would be needed to safeguard our future. They don’t mind ‘tough decisions’ when that means punishing the poor and cutting funds to the most vulnerable, but the economy is sacred and must not be hurt. Except apparently they haven’t figured out that climate change is going to be really bad news for economies, and countries that are not prepared for the flooding, the winds, the wet houses, and all the other technical problems, are not going to have thriving GDPs either. These things are connected.

Being a Druid, the idea that all things are connected comes very naturally to me. We are one big eco-system. What happens in one part affects all the others. It drives me mad that those in power are still clinging on to the magical beliefs of centuries past, that you can do what you like to the planet and it will all be fine. Perhaps they imagine God will put it all right for them? When are we going to let go of the collective fantasy that our actions do not have consequences, and start recognising that the rain, and the mould, and the flooding, and the high winds, the late springs and all the rest of it relate very directly to our activities as a species?

Meanwhile, there is an absolute deluge going on out there.


Swan Mysteries

The Bewicks are here. Every year, they fly in from Russia, coming just before the cold, racing the worst of the weather. The winds that carry them from the distant north east also tend to bring us the snow. They come by night, navigating by the stars, and the young swans travel with their parents to learn the route. It is not a matter of instinct, but of knowing.

As I write, a hundred or so swans are a matter of yards from me, out grazing in fields near the canal. I hear them calling to each other at dawn and dusk. The whiteness of them against the fading light is ghostly and haunting.

One of the older guys in the village told me that when he was a child, the swans came in their thousands, and flew around the church spire sometimes. He spoke with wonder in his voice, and sorrow for a magic now almost departed. The swans come in hundreds now, not thousands. Years of hunting, years of pollution and the legacy of lead fishing weights has taken a toll. Large and slow flying, they can’t easily change course to dodge things like pylons and wind turbines. Making those more visible from a distance is helping, but there’s so much to do, and the swans do not have all the time in the world.

As a child I used to go to the wildfowl trust to see the swans each winter. I have a lot of good memories of doing that, and it’s lovely being able to take my son to see them as well. He’s captivated by their magic, fascinated by the beak patterning that allows you to identify individuals, and far more intrigued by the facts and figures than I ever was. I wonder if one day I will get to be a grandmother. I wonder if there will be swans still coming then, and whether I will get to share them with a future generation. With climate change taking a toll on so many habitats, there’s no knowing.

I watch the swans grazing in the fields, and I hope that there will be more of them next year, and the year after, and that in a hundred years when I am long gone, the swans will still be here.


Breaking your reality

I’ve been through it twice, so far, at intervals of about a decade. On both occasions the breaking of my reality had everything to do with two separate individuals and the complex webs of lies they created. And on both occasions, I fought hard to keep my reality whole, because the alternative always appears so insane, unstable and dangerous. Until you escape. Both times, in the end, I went through the trauma of unpicking all the things I thought I knew, reassessing everything, falling apart, and being able to rebuild. The first time, I rebuilt on a foundation of broken trust, the second time I think I’ve come out with a more nuanced sense of things.

There are few things more frightening than finding that your reality doesn’t work. However, when you think about it, so much of the reality we inhabit depends on trust. It depends on things we have all agreed are true, exist and can be used as points of reference. Language, countries and economies are all part of our belief system. There’s a process at the moment not unlike saying ‘The Emperor has no clothes on’ in which we’re collectively reassessing the value of money markets, wealth made out of fantasy, and considering that the uber-rich might not be all that good for the rest of us. Bloodless revolutions can be dramatic and uncomfortable too.

I wonder what it was like for the devout Christians of the Victorian era, having to deal with Darwin, and the possibility that their book might not represent literal truth. There are still those who just won’t look at the evidence and who hold to the belief, and their relationship with the rest of reality gets ever more strained and problematic. There must have been plenty for whom Darwin brought deep, personal crisis. We’re asked to do a lot of trusting – of governments, scientists, lawyers, big businesses, media and medics these days more often than religious folk, but it is no less a belief position that keeps it all chipping along. We depend on the realities other people help to make, and sometimes those are very faulty indeed.

Most of the UK is in drought, my bit is being battered by torrential rain. We’ve had years of less predictable and more problematic weather already, but we’re still reluctant to think about climate change. For everyone whose notion of reality depends on car, reliable water supplies, all the electricity you can dream of and the freedom to consume more than you can afford, climate change is madness. Going there, recognising it, would require of our culture something not unlike a nervous breakdown. It’s going to hurt like hell.

I have leaned, in my personal life, that no matter how familiar and established a fictional reality is, when you are dealing with lies and illusions, it just doesn’t work. The effort required to bend and re-shape things into other things, so that your dysfunctional reality holds together, is vast. Every piece of evidence that doesn’t fit has to be reinvented. Experiences that contradict, must be forgotten, feelings that go against the reality, must be crushed. It may seem that we can make the reality stick, and that no other reality is possible, but it catches up with us in the end. Either we can’t sustain the work involved in holding a faith position about things that blatantly aren’t true, or we get so far removed from the rest of the world that we can’t function. Collectively, climate change will do one or the other to us, unless we deal with it. I’d like to think it’s possible to change by reasoned, deliberate choice rather than in crisis.

In personal life, the breaking of reality was an awful experience, but the far side of it is a much better place. Things make sense again. Sensory evidence can be trusted, emotions taken into account. A greater sense of inner peace becomes possible.

I’m wondering if ‘Jayne’ will feel tempted to comment on this post. If she does, it could be to ask if I’ve realised that I have been living a lie for the last couple of years. ‘Jayne’ has tried on several occasions to assert this already, but unless I’m very much mistaken, she needs to. ‘Jayne’ slipped up over the Easter weekend and made a comment that took me from suspicion about the familiarity of her phrasing, through to a reasonable degree of confidence that I know who she is.

Assuming I’m right in my guess then ‘Jayne’s ‘ hostility is necessary for her. Based on what I think I know, her situation requires her to hold the belief that I am a cruel, vindictive, heartless sort of person. It has been necessary for some time that she reads the very worst imaginable things into anything I do or say and must, therefore, cherry pick the bits that can be tweaked support her world view. So she comes to the blog of someone she dislikes for something, anything, that reinforces her perspective. I wonder what she has to carefully ignore to make her world work. I wonder what she has to pretend to like or accept, what she has to suppress within herself, in order to get from one day to the next with her reality intact. It’s no way to live. I know, I’ve been there. I try not to be too hard on her. She frustrates me, but I feel very sorry for her, and I also know that merely my saying that will poke the flimsy foundations of her world. If I am nice to her, I will hurt her. You can’t help someone whose reality doesn’t work, without causing them a lot of distress.

Sometimes the best we can hope for anyone, is that the fabulous prison-castle construction made of lies and straw shows its true nature so that it can be kicked to pieces. The walls are mostly just air. You are free to leave. It’s good when that happens.