It’s surprising where life can lead you when you’re not looking. Taking a Canadian houseguest on her first walk through suburban London, I sought out local experiences that would give her a feel of the real life of London far away from the ubiquitous Tower and the Changing of the Guard.
So it was that I took my visitor for a wander to my local allotments summer open day. Amongst the vegetables, cake sales and barbecue we discovered Mike and Sue, local gardening and bee-keeping professionals. While Sue was busy painting children’s faces with butterflies and bees, Mike was selling jars of their own honey and handing out leaflets about their new bee-keeping course.
When every other headline tells us the economy and planet are crumbling, when all concerns pale next to the demise of Mammon, how do we keep biodiversity, if not at the forefront of, at least somewhere in people’s minds?
Biodiversity is the poor relation of environmental concerns – a fringe concern isolated at the edge of the anthropocentric interests of the majority; the biodiversity sector a small band of altruists, whose passion marks us out as oddities amongst a nation of consumers.
“Why does biodiversity matter?”
“It just does!”
We sustain this fantasy at the cost of our cause. Altruism is dead. It’s time to admit our preference for one species above another, to recount with joy those minor and mind-altering stories of personal encounters with wildlife, to acknowledge the economic value of the natural world and join the rest of the world in unashamedly embracing our selfish gene.
So, the government has committed the UK to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by the middle of the century. And we thought we were having a tough time reaching 60%. I’ll try to withhold judgment until I see how they propose to achieve this laudable target, but it does appear contradictory to the plans announced last week for expansion at Stanstead Airport.
I fear they may be putting all their eggs in a nuclear-powered egg basket. My childhood years spent marching through the street of London with CND and trudging the perimeter fence of Greenham Common with a “Hamsters Against the Bomb” banner have ingrained a mistrust of nuclear power deep in my psyche. I cannot countenance the idea of an ever-more nuclear Britain.