Imagine a world where animals are considered nothing more than mechanical machines without feelings or even consciousness, a world where no living creature is treated with the respect and kindness deserving of a sentient being. Imagine that cruel world. A science fiction nightmare you might think?
No, unfortunately not.... welcome to the United Kingdom in 2017.
Anyone who knows me will know that I don't generally discuss politics because everyone has their own opinion and inevitably a political discussion tends to result in conflict – and conflict, as we all should know, bears little fruit.
But occasionally a political development will prompt me to speak out and one such example of this has been the news that, in the midst of the Brexit shambles, a piece of legislation was voted on last week, the result of which will have dire consequences for both our wild and domestic animals.
The news has slipped through the media rather quietly but the fallout could be huge.
While the UK, post Brexit, is likely to adopt many of the laws that are already enshrined in EU legislation, MPs have already, even at this early stage, voted not to adopt the EU's legally binding protocol to “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals” and to acknowledge animals as “sentient beings”. In other words, the UK has basically voted to categorize animals as nothing more than vegetables, without consciousness or an awareness of pain or contentment.
This is clearly ridiculous and would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that the vote gives a green light to those who would mistreat animals.
The definition of 'sentient' is “to be able to perceive or feel things” so clearly it applies to all animals without question. And the EU years ago made it a basic requirement to acknowledge animals as sentient beings in order to protect them across the whole of Europe, by law, from maltreatment and to ensure high standards in farming, animal care and animal welfare.
I doubt that anybody with an ounce of compassion would argue against this humane legislation. And yet unbelievably, MPs in the UK have and it will no longer be part of British law following our withdrawal from Europe unless the vote is overturned by the House of Lords.
Such abominable practices as fox hunting, badger culling, torture of wild animals and the abuse of domestic and farm animals might all be considered 'acceptable' by some when British law no longer recognises animals as having consciousness, feelings or emotions.
The Brexit referendum carried with it a huge responsibility for those who voted and I wonder whether the people who campaigned to leave the EU really considered the knock-on effects of having to re-legislate on some very important matters. I hope that those who voted to leave the EU can live comfortably with the knowledge that they may have unwittingly contributed to what will amount to a serious threat to the well-being and safety of animals in this country.....
But politics to one side, the news that UK animals will no longer be classified as sentient beings is shocking and depressing, and also another sign of the dwindling respect many have for animal life, nature and the environment in this country. If we only recognise human beings as sentient then really there is little hope for the future of any other species. Even those people with a basic level of compassion and intelligence surely must agree that this change in the law represents a step back to the dark ages, the days of ignorant and careless treatment of animals, and that such regressive thinking has no place in the modern world.
When the day dawns that the human race decides not to acknowledge animals as sentient beings, then it might as well spell the beginning of the end. Without compassion for other creatures, reclassifying them as nothing more than machines, mankind loses all capacity to feel the pain of their suffering and in doing so not only seals the fate of animals and wildlife but also ultimately his own.
Mankind will have judged all life to be worthless.
Well done to the UK for bringing that day a little closer....
So, 15,000 eminent scientists have issued a collective warning about the fate of humanity if we do not face up to global warming and other issues, concerns that we should have been tackling since their first alert twenty five years ago.
Whatever one's views on climate change, it seems to me that (even for the sceptics out there) one thing is for sure, the message the scientists are sending out is an important one. That is to cut pollution and waste, find more efficient energy production and do everything that we can to protect the environment.
Nobody in their right mind would object to those goals. And yet the scientists are not telling us anything new. Their message is old news because, at least in the Western world, we have known our responsibilities for decades.
The problem is that the general population have no intention at all of changing their way of life. I don't see vast numbers of people giving up their cars, I don't see concern for the environment or the welfare of animals amongst the majority of people – and for all their sanctimonious words, I don't even see science and industry making much progress in saving the planet. Behind all the 'green' innovation there still lies a primary focus on making money. Electric cars, as an example, are no more green than petrol cars when one takes into account their manufacture and the infrastructure involved in maintaining them, despite all the glitzy advertising suggesting that they are more ethical in some way. It's little more than a marketing ploy.
People continue to cut down trees in increasing numbers, whether it's vast ancient forests such as those in the path of the HS2 rail fiasco in the UK or the South American rainforests or individual trees in suburbia. And this in spite of everything we know and have known for years – we need trees.
So even with scientists issuing joint statements warning us of impending doom, the biggest problem of all is getting anybody to actually give a damn. Sad to say, people just don't want to change. We all know the consequences but disaster is just far away enough into the future that we can all be detached, safe in the knowledge that we will be long gone when the real problems begin.
Humankind is inherently selfish. We know that animals suffer so that we can eat our burgers and chicken nuggets, we know that our plastic ends up in the oceans and we know that our planet is dying – but unfortunately no-one really cares enough to make the shift in lifestyle necessary to turn things around. That's the truth of it. And it's not just the people, it's the governments....and probably most of those 15,000 scientists too.
And nobody will hold themselves accountable. “It's terrible but what can I do?” we all cry. Pass the responsibility on to someone else – desperately shifting the blame – some even going so far as to suggest that global warming is down to flatulence from cows. If it wasn't so very sad then it would be funny.
Human beings are the problem.
Leave the world to the animals and plants and it would, without doubt, be a naturally balanced paradise.
So, unless a vast wave of sudden compassion washes over the population of the world, the warning from 15,000 scientists might as well just be more hot air contributing to global warming.
Earlier in the year I wrote a poem for Earth Day, that one day a year when we are all supposed to take time out and think about our home, the earth. I'm republishing it here today, sadly it seems fitting.
Blackbird song was plaintive, crying
"Hurry now the earth is dying"
Swallow, Swift no longer bring
their magic flight to welcome Spring.
Summer sun is hazy, fleeting
Glimpses of the past repeating
Echoes of a life now gone
With little chance to carry on.
Mankind killed us all, abandon
all the life he killed at random
Pumping gases, poison raining
on the earth, no life remaining.
All the beauty now has perished
All the wondrous life once cherished
Leaving but a barren waste
Where once the whole of life embraced
The miracle created here.
Man made the magic disappear.
© Jason Endfield 2017. All rights reserved.
Regular readers will know of my loathing for wind farms and some have questioned why I am so preoccupied with them when there are countless other issues to tackle in the world. My answer is that, for me, they are symbolic of many of the troubles we face these days. They represent an incomplete and inefficient attempt to remedy a problem and yet, in spite of the fact that they are clearly not a sensible solution to the energy crisis we face, they are still spreading like a virus across the land and coast of our country – and around the world.
Throwing time and money away on these things will ultimately get us nowhere except right back to square one, while we should have been investing in other areas. And even now, such is the might of the pro wind lobby, that many good people are being hoodwinked into thinking that these wind farms are environmentally friendly and 'green'. It is quite unforgivable that the 'big wind' and energy companies are marketing their destructive turbines in this way and entirely understandable that environmentally conscious citizens think they are doing the responsible thing by supporting them.
But it's a big deception.
I've spoken out many times about the damage they do to the environment and our wildlife, and also the issue I (and many others) have with them aesthetically, but what of the negative impact that wind farms have in other areas of our lives, particularly their effect on our health?
So called 'Wind Farm Syndrome' has been documented many times. Turbines emit low frequency vibrations that might be adversely affecting human health.
Some studies have already concluded that living close to turbines can lead to panic attacks, sleep disturbance, migraines and even heart disease. Although opinion is divided on the subject, the first hand experience of many individuals living near to wind farms leaves little doubt in my own mind as to the detrimental effect these things can have on the health of those unfortunate enough to have to live with them.
One high profile case to emerge recently has been the sad tale of a Scottish hill farmer who, in desperation, has been forced out of her home every night just to get away from the noise and vibrations that have plagued her ever since her farm was surrounded by more than 180 turbines. Unable to sleep in her own home due to incessant noise from the wind farms, Pat Spence, who is 74 years old, has been driving miles just to get away from the noise and to find somewhere she can sleep. She says that her health has deteriorated since the wind farms have been in operation, adding that her head feels as if it is being 'repeatedly struck with a hammer'.
She is not alone. Across the world, many people living near turbines have spoken of similar health problems. Sleeplessness, nausea and dizziness are commonly reported and the problem is not only confined to the human population because there is growing evidence that the turbines are affecting animals too, with reports of miscarriages and deformities in livestock living near wind installations.
Offshore wind farms, now dominating the coasts of the UK, may also be interfering with the sonar of whales causing them to become disorientated. Many believe that it was low emission sounds from wind farms that caused the deaths of a number of whales, washed up on beaches in England this year. If the turbines cause such catastrophic effects in animals, then what might they be doing to humans?
Confusion abounds, as wind companies themselves put out a huge amount of 'information' intended to dismiss any opinions that are opposed to wind farms. Anti wind lobbyists in turn spread their version of the truth. Little wonder then that the picture is less than clear. I am someone who still believes in instinct - and I smell a rat when I hear the big wind companies telling us that everything is just perfect, in spite of hundreds of people around the world who report ill effects from the turbines and besides the obvious damage they cause ecologically.
The wind industry has the money both to promote their business and to discredit their critics. Read their literature and their world sounds a little too rosy..... lots of good words to pacify the reader, lots of nice soundbites that are intended to dispel any worries.
We already know that wind turbines are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds and bats each year and now with the reported impact on the human population around the world, it is easy to see that there may be a serious and growing problem with the turbine installations which really should be investigated fully and independently before any more are allowed past the planning stage. No other industry would be allowed to get away with what the wind energy companies are getting away with.
It doesn't even stop with the turbines themselves because they are not stand alone eyesores, they need to be serviced by transmission lines and rows of huge pylons, all of which cause further damage to both the environment and, as with the turbines, perhaps also to our health and well being.
Some believe that the electro magnetic fields (EMF) emanating from the transmission lines that feed the turbines may also cause health issues for those who live nearby.
So let's again summarise the problem.
i) Turbines, both land based and offshore, kill hundreds of thousands of bats and birds, directly, each and every year (take a look at the video following this post for a graphic illustration of this).
ii) Offshore wind farms may be causing the deaths of whales and other marine creatures.
iii) Turbines (and possibly the pylons and transmission lines that serve them) emit low frequency vibrations and electro magnetic fields that might be adversely affecting human health and even causing deformities in animals, a serious consideration suggesting that more research needs to be carried out before any more investment in this highly dubious form of energy production.
iv) Turbines decimate our countryside and also cause environmental devastation in the countries where they are manufactured.
So, what are wind farms actually good for? This is a more difficult question to answer!
i) The only people to benefit from them appear to be the landowners who gain financially from having them on their property and the turbine companies and their investors who rake in the profits from this unreliable source of energy.
Green they are not.
Environmentally harmful they are.
And now we must face the fact that they may even be damaging to our health.
Green Dream Or Sinister Nightmare?
While we are all in favour of finding renewable and efficient energy for everybody, blindly following a rose-tinted, wind powered dream is at best silly, at worst something more sinister. Whatever lies behind the big wind power delusion, we must not be lured in by false promises disguised as green ethics. Because by the time people wake up from their green dream, they will find themselves in a less than green, wind farm nightmare.
I've written several times about my concern at the plight of trees in this country and the apparent ignorance much of the public seem to have for the vital contribution trees make to our health and well-being, not to mention their beauty and ecological importance in both our countryside and towns.
But I continue to receive news of brutal severing, felling and destruction of trees in both urban and rural areas, illustrating that the problem is only getting worse.
In my own city, I watched in despair last Spring as thirty six wonderful Plane trees were hacked to pieces and removed from their long time home on a main city thoroughfare only to be replaced with a monstrosity of a multi storey car park.
A single small May tree was spared and it blossomed amongst the scaffolding through the summer, a tiny emblem of survival in a sea of steel and concrete. Last week, this delicate little tree was also removed, its branches still laden with Autumn berries. That was the last remaining tree on the whole street. Our city centre is now practically bereft of green.
Well done to all those responsible, replacing trees with car parking in the centre of a city that flaunts its 'green' philosophy is something of which the councillors will no doubt be proud.
During the same week, I noticed that a neighbour of ours had butchered the top branches of a once graceful Silver Birch, leaving a sad, shapeless shadow of a formerly elegant tree.
“A tree which has lost its head will never recover it again, and will survive only as a monument of the ignorance and folly of its Tormentor.”
George William Curtis
Seems that the magic of Autumn with its glorious colours and falling, swirling leaves, is no longer cherished in this country.
I recall as a child the sound of rustling leaves beneath my feet, the smell of the damp autumn earth and the first signs of mushrooms and toadstools emerging from the ground in the local woods. Autumn was wonderful, the colours, the smells, and the grandeur of even the town trees clothed, as they were in garments of red, gold and burnt sienna. Now it seems trees are regarded as a nuisance.
Heartbreaking as these personal losses are, the picture is of course much much bigger.
Public apathy regarding the loss of trees is of particular concern.
In our towns and cities, local councils are hacking down trees in every direction apparently to save costs on maintenance. Short sighted doesn't even begin to describe this irresponsible attitude.
It brings to mind a neighbour I once had who harboured an irrational hostility towards two large willow trees in my garden. This was my first home, a tiny prefab bungalow providing shelter from the elements but little comfort. Its one saving grace was its large, wild garden bursting with nature. The two willows were tall and graceful, home to a family of squirrels and a host of birds. Throughout my stay in this humble abode, my neighbour asked incessantly if he could 'help' me take down the trees. I resisted of course, much to the annoyance of the silly man. These willows were under my care and they were not going anywhere. I couldn't believe the uncompromising compulsion he had to remove my trees. Mind you, this is the same man who accused me of 'sending' my snails over the garden fence to eat his flowers. If I had that kind of power over snails I might have made a fortune.....
Such foolish people abound and their intolerance of trees (and snails apparently) is widespread and irrational. It's almost like an illness, an obsession to destroy any tree that is (in their misguided opinion) 'in the way'. Whether it be a single tree in a suburban garden that becomes the target for small minds or a swathe of forest lying in the path of a proposed bypass or motorway, it would appear that our historic love and respect for trees and nature has vanished quite suddenly from the the public consciousness.
Around the world, the spread of this anti-tree attitude, from rainforest decimation to the clearance of ancient woodlands, indicates that this is a global phenomenon.
Desperately sad, yes, but also extremely worrying. Because without trees the human race, and most other life on this amazing planet, could simply not exist. All the roads, car parks and high speed railway lines they are building, at the expense of our forests and woodlands, will be rendered useless carbuncles when there is nobody left to use them.
Destroying the planet has never reached such a frenzied pace as we are seeing today. It may well be too late to reverse the trend and to limit the damage - but as individuals we must try.
My faith in most of the 'green' lobby is long gone. The majority of 'green' political parties and organisations send out mixed and muddled messages. Many appear to oppose one form of environmental destruction while fully supporting others. I've spoken before about the promotion by so called 'green' groups, of wind farms, one of the most environmentally destructive forms of energy. It appears that many of these environmental campaign groups and political parties come with strings - and agendas - attached.
So, saving our trees comes down largely to the vigilance and determination of individuals, protests by small groups of good people who are focused and genuine in their conservation efforts. But fighting these battles alone can be demoralising when those around us in wider society are so apathetic and unconcerned.
It's not all gloomy though! There do exist a few umbrella organisations that seem to bring sincere individuals together.
Here in the UK, one organisation that is fighting furiously to protect our trees is The Woodland Trust. Indeed they are working tirelessly to save more than 700 ancient woodlands that are currently under threat in the UK alone. A staggering figure. It is shocking and seriously disturbing that in a civilised country where we really should know better, we are systematically dismantling our green spaces and forests at an alarming rate.
And unfortunately, as already mentioned, this problem is not confined to the UK.
Vast areas of forest are disappearing all over the world and along with the trees, we stand to lose thousands of species of birds, mammals, insects and plants that depend on the delicate balance that exists between every life form on earth, including humankind, tying us all together.
We are all interdependent.
Whether it is one tree in a neighbour's back yard, those in parks and town centres or whole forests, it is imperative to protect all that we can.
The Woodland Trust have a form you can fill in (anonymously if you choose) to report any threat to an established tree or woodland in the UK.
You can find the form here:-
For readers in North America and the rest of the world, a good place to start might be Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Campaign:-
Also check out http://www.onetreeplanted.org
Apathy and indifference leads to sorrow, we each have a duty to speak out.
A treeless land, we'd reached the end of all that we could be,
The last tree felled, the last bird sang its soft lament for me....
And as I gazed upon the scene and stood under the sun,
I saw the forest in a dream and realised what we'd done....
© Jason Endfield
The 'Common' Pigeon, Dodo for the 21st Century.....
Writing recently about the humble pigeon proved to be a real eye opener for me.
On one hand I discovered a well organised network of very kind and dedicated people who rescue these gentle doves, but on the other hand I was dismayed to discover that the population of feral pigeons, considered by many people to be a 'pest', has dropped significantly in recent times so that now it is estimated that there are only 100,000 pairs of the birds left in the UK. This is astonishing given their popular status as a nuisance. A population this small in other species might land them on the endangered list.
The problem for UK pigeons is that they are covered by what is known as a 'general licence', which entitles anybody to “...kill or capture certain wild birds (including removing or destroying their eggs and nests)”... in order to (amongst other reasons) “prevent the spread of disease or preserve public health and safety” both of which criteria, I would suggest, are open to wide interpretation.
I imagine that there are many individuals and companies who will use this licence to destroy pigeons whether or not their reasons for doing so fall into these rather vague categories.
And I suspect that this is the reason pigeon numbers are falling.
A few years ago one only had to wander through any town centre to see plenty of these characterful birds cleaning up the streets after dirty humans who would drop their litter without a second thought. Now our city thoroughfares seem bereft of pigeons and it is clear that the single minded (not to say small minded) people who wanted to see them exterminated have largely had their way. Scattered individuals are all that can be spotted of the once healthy populations of this much maligned bird. A combination of killing them and deterring them from their nesting and roosting sites using spikes and other anti-environmental methods of control has all but defeated the birds. Once again, the human population has succeeded in effectively destroying another species.
The sad fate of our feral pigeon's close relative and symbol of extinction, the Dodo, proves that mankind will glibly pursue any species into annihilation.
59 species of pigeon and dove are today threatened with extinction. 18 are already extinct.
The Socorro Dove from Mexico has not been seen in the wild since 1972 and the Negros Fruit Dove hasn't been spotted since 1953. Both might be considered lost to the world through the ignorance of mankind and human indifference to their vulnerability.
We know these days about the delicate balance between mankind and nature and yet still we are driving more and more species into oblivion.
And complacency abounds. Once one of the most common birds, the North American Passenger Pigeon, which numbered up to 5 billion individuals, was hounded into total extinction by humans, the last known example died in 1914.
From 5 billion to zero in a hundred years shows just what kind of extermination mankind is capable of.
I fully expect the feral pigeon to become largely extinct from our towns and cities within a decade – and our urban conurbations will be sadder and more sterile places without them. Not content with cutting down trees and building on green spaces, councils across the UK are now trying to obliterate any kind of wildlife that still manages to exist alongside the human population. What they don't seem to realise is that if we choose not to co-exist with other species then we are putting ourselves at risk. We are, after all, inter-dependent creatures whether we choose to acknowledge this fact or not.
It's time to treasure the pigeon.
Before it's too late.
I've been incensed by the news that seagulls are being culled in various towns and cities across the UK for being a 'nuisance'. This just illustrates the idiocy of people I'm afraid. Rather than rejoice in the fact that we can experience these majestic wild birds up close, some ridiculous people label them a menace. If you are going to have an ice cream on the promenade (which is within the gull's natural territory after all), then you should expect to provoke the interest of the birds. For goodness sake, it's not rocket science – you wouldn't go into the Serengeti with a joint of beef and complain that you were being attacked by lions.
The various species of gull, whether it's Herring Gulls or the Lesser Black Backed variety, are coming to live in closer proximity to us only because there is an opportunity provided by us for them to thrive. This move to our towns and cities is also thought to be a result of overfishing, by man, in the gulls' traditional feeding grounds out at sea.
So a gull, being a resourceful bird, may show an interest in your food at the seaside.
What do you expect? To see them queueing up at Greggs for a pastie? And while a gull may well have its eye on your fish and chips as you sit looking out to sea, bear in mind that both the Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls are protected species, not only that but both are in serious decline, the former having fallen to 50% of its pre-1970 population.
How can anyone in their right mind think about culling them? It's just another sign of the stupidity and feeble-mindedness of the human race. And it makes me sad and angry.
The same prejudice happened long ago with pigeons, another bird of which I am very fond.
For those who don't know, a quick history of the town pigeon:
They are all descendants of the Rock Dove (Columba livia); originally inhabiting coastal cliffs, they were domesticated by man thousands of years ago primarily as a food source. Apart from the fact that they are eaten the world over, pigeons played a huge part in both World Wars, carrier pigeons saving hundreds of human lives. Many were awarded honours for their service to mankind. Impressive isn't it?
Feral pigeons, the ones we see in our towns and cities, are descendants of these very same birds.
I have huge admiration for pigeons and it breaks my heart when I see the way ignorant people treat them. These wonderful creatures have adapted to life in and around human habitation with a steely instinct for survival against the odds. When I witness people treating them with cruelty, chasing them, kicking them, screaming like fools when a pigeon flies by them, it makes my blood boil. In spite of the effort some councils invest in trying to eradicate them, pigeons continue to survive in our midst, against the odds. But in fact feral Pigeons are not all that common, there are only 100,000 breeding pairs in the UK compared to 4,000,000 pairs of blackbirds (source: pigeonrescue.co.uk).
The reason they live alongside mankind is primarily due to the waste that people leave for them to feed on. If not for the grubby individuals leaving litter on our streets then the pigeons would have no reason to be there. Half eaten pasties and discarded burger wrappers are the reason that pigeons proliferate in towns. Don't blame the pigeons, blame the low life humans that litter our streets. Indeed looking around the town centre in my neighbourhood, I can truthfully say that I would prefer the pigeons to some of the people....
I was hugely honoured recently when two pigeons decided to roost under the eaves just outside my office. I would see them return each night and settle down together, watching me through the window as I sat writing at my desk. Alas, they didn't stay long, moving on to pastures new. I miss them. Still now I look for them as the sun goes down in case they have returned but their little space under the eaves remains empty.
'the two of them hold tight, together,
huddled, still and watching me,
sheltered from the raging weather,
praying that I will let them be.'
As an independent environmentalist, there is one important lesson I've learnt from recent experience - it is not to align myself with any political party.
Politics and conservation do not make good bedfellows.
The problem I've found since exploring and writing about my feelings on the environment is that without exception an element of politics creeps in, usually covertly, and hijacks the good work that people do.
There ends up being so much conflict within environmentalism that all the good work begins to unravel through division. One conservation group begins to oppose another, each competing for the greenest label.
There is only one form of true conservation – that is simply to conserve the environment.
My vocal opposition to wind farms might appear to fly in the face of 'green' thinking, given that wind projects are backed by many 'green' groups, Greenpeace, the Green Party, Friends Of The Earth to name but three. And yet their support for such an obvious racket can only mean one of two things: they must either be part of the moneymaking con themselves or they have been hoodwinked by the wind companies and their deceitful propaganda.
And if the latter then can we really trust their judgement anyway?
Sometimes a mainstream political party or two may back an environmental protest but please make no mistake, they are still part of the problem.
Conservation of the environment is a simple philosophy, it doesn't require the involvement of political parties.
By all means use the politicians to further your cause in high places – but don't let them use you!
The HS2 protests which I back wholeheartedly, HS2 being the biggest folly of our times, has been hijacked by politics too. On to the bandwagon have jumped the Green Party – but where are they when it comes to opposing wind farms? They criticise one form of environmental destruction while actively promoting another. When politics begins to control genuine citizen protest then we have a problem. Some good folks opposing one form of countryside desecration may, because of the propaganda being put out by the organisation or party that 'sponsors' their particular protest, feel obliged to follow the party line and ignore another real threat to the environment somewhere else.
There is no choice between good or bad when it comes to environmental destruction, it's all bad. Any scheme that harms the countryside or our wildlife should be resisted. Many will go ahead, some can be halted. But don't let's all go off in different directions turning a blind eye to one scheme just because our organisation says it's okay or a necessary evil.
It's a mess. That's why I resolutely refuse to be swayed by political involvement in conservation. It is never a good thing, there are always strings attached. People, ordinary people like you and I, are more than capable of speaking out and protesting without being beholden to one or more 'green' organisation run by people who seem to think they know better than the rest of us.
I urge people to go with their instincts and intuition. We all know when our countryside is threatened and by what. Almost without exception, development in our rural landscape comes down to money. Whether it's plans for high speed rail links gouging through our forests to save half an hour on a train journey or wind farms destroying our countryside and coast under the 'green' banner while raking in big money for big wind companies. The end result is the same, our beautiful and essential rural environment gone, forever.
So my plea today to all the amazing people out there speaking out and protesting against the many threats to our environment – listen to your hearts and minds and not the politicians and organizations that are trying to divide you into scattered groups.
One environment. One aim.
We're in this one together.
I think that the reason I've been speaking out against HS2, wind farms and similarly calamitous projects is because I don't want to look back in years to come having sat there, said nothing and thereby given my consent to the wholesale destruction of our countryside. Regret is a bitter pill and as Albert Einstein said “If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity.”
The brave people who have been camping out in the path of the HS2 developers are an example to us all of positive environmental action and we owe them a debt of gratitude whether or not they succeed in delaying or halting work on the route.
My own contribution is not hands on but, through writing about the current disregard for our ever shrinking countryside, I hope to at least reach a few people who may not have hitherto realised the extent of the destruction these schemes are threatening to wreak in our landscape.
I'm in my fifties now and even in my lifetime I have seen a dramatic decline in the nature around me that has been very noticeable and shocking.
In my youth I remember vast flocks of lapwings, starlings and greenfinches. Even just outside suburban Liverpool where we then lived, I recall encounters with partridge and rabbits on a daily basis and there were trees, fully grown majestic old trees, before the days when councils began to cut them back within an inch of their lives, and importantly a reverence for such trees and nature at large, something that no longer seems to exist in the wider population.
I think that's the problem. A majority of people appear to have lost a connection with nature and no longer appreciate that our own existence depends on maintaining a delicate balance between us and the rest of the world around us.
For me anyway, the culling of badgers, the hunting of foxes and the careless wrecking of habitat for creatures such as the hedgehog are all signs that we as a society no longer appreciate the wonders of nature and this apathy leads to developers having free rein over what happens to our countryside, with few willing to challenge them.
When society loses respect for, and becomes detached from, the natural world then disaster lurks around the corner.
HS2 and other projects are bumbling ahead without any regard for the environment and the wildlife that will be decimated in the process. The ancient and delicate balance between mankind and nature is being ignored and in its place there's a callous disregard for the importance of protecting and conserving our native wildlife.
With nearly a hundred ancient woodlands under threat from HS2 alone and countless more imperilled by other plans such as road building and thoughtlessly placed power stations, pylons and the ubiquitous wind turbines, we stand to lose what little remains of the natural environment in this country. There are alternatives which may cost more financially but would pay us back handsomely in preserving and nurturing a healthy and diverse flora and fauna.
Perhaps though, as I mentioned, the most disheartening thing of all is that apparently people don't care. I was lucky to grow up with huge regard for nature. To me the natural world, the flowers, trees, the wildlife - it was magical and something awe inspiring. Still now to see a hedgehog out on a warm autumn evening is a beautiful thing, albeit, alas, a rare privilege. It still thrills me to stand in the midst of a flock of seagulls, feeding them as they whirl above and around me. I've heard that some councils are considering culling seagulls because tourists have complained that they are a 'nuisance'! What is going on?! Will majestic seagulls face the same disdain that some ignorant people have for pigeons, one of the few species that have been able to adapt quickly enough to survive against mans' best efforts to eradicate them?
Now it seems that roads, cars and crazy plans for high speed railways have dulled the senses of much of the population. The wonder and inspiration that the natural world has given us for millennia is all but forgotten.
I have to consider the possibility that here in the UK it may be too late to turn back the clock. The news from Germany that there has been a 75% decline in insect populations over the past fifty years will surely also be reflected here in the UK.
It seems that we may end up living in a sterile world where grey replaces green and where nobody really cares.
A world littered with redundant wind turbines that didn't succeed at anything apart from exterminating birds and bats and where offshore wind banks lured whales to their deaths on litter-strewn shores.
A world where high speed trains run half empty along tracks that take people from one urban conurbation to another unnecessarily quickly across desolate landscapes and where roads cut swathes through lifeless land where ancient forests and meadows used to support diverse species.
When man has finally extinguished the magic, then what?
There will be no wonder, no simple pleasures and no magical discoveries.
For there will be nothing but mankind left.
And then there will be nothing.
Welcome to my blog.