It amazes me just how complacent some folks are, living as they do in the world of illusion they have made for themselves. Unable to contemplate anything outside of their comfort zone, they simply choose to believe that it doesn't exist.
These thoughts were brought to my mind recently when I wrote a piece about dowsing, water divining - whatever one chooses to call it. It is an art, impossible to prove with regular science and yet true.
So the ones who know it works, naturally enough, believe in it because they use it and see it in action, while the ones who have never experienced it or have closed their minds to it, scoff at the very nature of its existence.
Small minds have never contributed much to our collective experience apart from disdain and contempt. Small minds can only ever accept what they find in their restricted world.
This is why I have no time for those who declare themselves atheists. An atheist is not only one who does not believe in a god but is one who feels it necessary to announce their disbelief to the world with a misplaced and smug confidence and then to give their self satisfaction a label.
Now I don't claim to know the answers to life's big questions (unlike those proselytising religions which inhabit their own version of parochialism) but I can say with certainty that I do believe in a higher authority and in someone or something that has painted the bigger picture in which I find myself. For this is no ordinary picture, this life. From dreams and 'psychic' connections to age old legends of fairies and ghosts, this odd little planet which is apparently hurtling through unending space and time, is surely beyond our comprehension and must be a figment of some incredible imagination. Our very existence is dreamlike in its complexity, it's a bizarre manifestation of a mega intelligence.
Or something like that....
For an atheist to state categorically that there is no higher authority merely shows their lack of both imagination and wonder.
And it is wonder that lights up our lives, the wonder of discovery. The feeling you get at the top of a mountain, that unbridled freedom; or seeing a rainbow just at that moment when you are needing reassurance. Or the silent but intense connection when you find yourself suddenly staring into the eyes of a wild animal or a kindred spirit.
The sheer beauty of a rose. The unimaginable, yet true, miracle of a butterfly. The structure of a feather or the skeleton of a dying leaf.
And all this on just one planet.
The desperate tragedy of the story is that we are bound to destroy this planet. The hope is that there will be other planets without mankind. The fear is that there might not. The sadness is that we had the chance to be part of the beautiful mystery and chose instead to destroy it.
So, for those of us who still seek to discover wonder in a world that is dying through the cynicism of non believers, I can tell you that the wonder is there, in quiet places, in our hearts and minds, in dreams and in silence.
But my worry is that soon it will be gone. And when that time comes, my wish is that I will be gone too. To where? Who knows.
If ever there was an example of patronising scientific smugness then it's the way in which some scientists have chosen to loudly and publicly debunk the practice of dowsing, in the British press recently.
Dowsing is a form of divination by which the dowser seeks to locate an underground water source (sometimes other elements too) normally by holding metal rods which react when the user is in the vicinity of water. It's a practice that goes back hundreds of years.
Dowsing does work, for me it's not even open to debate. The fact that scientists cannot 'explain' how it works is almost irrelevant, givien the limits within which scientists choose to work. If it doesn't fit into their little boxes then it 'can't' be true. And yet it is.
I know this because I can dowse. Fact. Using rods to find water is something that I've been able to do since a young age. And when someone comes along and tells me it's 'bunkum' then all it does is reinforce my view that some sceptical scientists have such closed minds that perhaps they really shouldn't be making any important decisions in their field – or any other field for that matter.
When science claims to know it all we stand little chance of progressing, and those who declare that dowsing is merely 'medieval witchcraft' have the same tiny minded attitude as the dimwits who insisted that passengers' heads would fall off if they travelled at 28 mph on the newfangled trains back in the 1800's. Or those who thought that early electricity was some kind of sinister trickery. Try to prove how gravity actually works and science flounders. In the same way as it struggles to explain the 'magic' of birds migrating and finding their way home across thousands of miles. Dowsing is no different, it exists, is real and science cannot explain it. Scientists really need to get a grip.... maybe a grip on some dowsing rods and try this ancient art for themselves.
Indeed many of the big British water companies employ dowsers to locate underground leaks. This in spite of a lack of 'scientific' evidence. Because it works.
The earth is a living entity. As in the human body, through which blood runs along veins and arteries, so it is that water runs through the earth along life-giving channels. We are probably all capable of finding these natural arteries instinctively but many who have lost their connection to nature will no longer 'feel' the natural forces that govern the living world.
Science is in danger of becoming an elitist and, to some extent, unsound vocation and has lost its way when it comes to exploring subjective ideologies. Some scientists will now entirely disregard theories which they cannot prove beyond their doubt – but this is a backward step. Opening our minds to new and old ideas and exploring both is the only way to progress. Dowsing has proven itself to be real and effective over many centuries. Just because 21st century science cannot explain how it works is no reason to casually dismiss it as bunkum when so many of us know that it isn't. These scientists are mocking dowsing merely because they haven't the capacity to understand it. That doesn't make it bunkum, it merely illustrates a lack of intelligence and perception of something beyond their comprehension.
Those of us who know better should not, however, look down on these people. Perhaps it is more important to lead by example and, as with so many prejudices we come across in life, to open minds where we find them closed.
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.