If karma exists - and it surely does, being the only explanation for injustice in the world - then members of the UK government will have reason to be quaking in their boots when karma comes around to visit them - and it will be in the spectre of 45,000 murdered badgers.
The current British government is responsible for sanctioning a badger cull which has, during the past five years alone, seen the slaughter of tens of thousands of badgers across the British countryside in a highly controversial attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle. The badgers are believed to carry the disease and unwittingly spread it to cattle through their dung. Bovine TB is clearly a significant problem for farmers not least because they are forced to slaughter their cattle if they are shown to be affected - even though there is no ethical reason to do so.
But badgers are being randomly killed in huge numbers without any good reason or scientific fact to back up the weak hypothesis that they are the guilty party. According to Wildlife Trusts who are vehemently opposed to the cull, “This is a cattle problem, not a badger problem.... the primary route of infection is via cow-to-cow contact”.
I'm told that the vast majority of the culled badgers have not even been tested for TB so it remains unclear just how many are actually infected anyway, indeed tests carried out between 2002 and 2005 found that 83% of badgers culled in trials were free from TB. This means that the cull is a hugely random act of mass extermination without any genuine justification. Many times it is reported that the badgers suffer lingering, agonising deaths after being shot during the course of the cull.
Opinions are so polarised on this contentious issue that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Some claim that culling the badgers has actually increased the incidence of TB due to the destruction of the badgers' social groups, leading surviving members of one group to encroach on the territory of another, spreading the disease to a previously unaffected population.
Whatever the real facts turn out to be, one statistic that cannot be disputed is that since the cull began, a whopping 45,000 badgers have been killed, significantly reducing the overall population and with no proof that the cull is being effective in any way. The fact that mass extermination of a protected species can be allowed, let alone positively approved, is deplorable.
A simple understanding of basic morality suggests that this slaughter is wrong on so many levels.
The pro-cull lobby has also tried a rather distasteful tactic of pitching one treasured creature against another, suggesting that the badgers are also responsible for the dramatic decline of the hedgehog, going so far as to say that the British hedgehog population may recover if badgers are culled. While there may be a tiny modicum of carefully manipulated 'truth' hidden somewhere in this claim (namely that badgers do occasionally eat hedgehogs), the blame for the demise of the British hedgehog lies squarely with the human population who have embarked on a wholesale destruction of its habitat. To blame badgers for the harm perpetrated by humans is a very cynical attempt at diverting responsibility and doesn't wash at all. Hedgehogs have disappeared in areas of the country entirely devoid of badgers so it doesn't take a genius to work out that we humans are the cause of their decline.
The badger cull is far from over, many thousands more badgers may still be shot in this horrible killing spree which is yet to show significant results in eradicating bovine TB but has already resulted in a widespread decimation of one of Britain's rarest, most loved - and supposedly protected - species.
Quite how the government considers it acceptable to cull a species that is protected by law is open to conjecture but the whole escapade is evidently very confused and chaotic.
Flying in the face of the government's 'green' promises to improve animal welfare and protect the environment, the truth appears to be somewhat contradictory. The government have, albeit belatedly, announced a ban on bee-killing pesticides and have vowed to tackle puppy smuggling - good news indeed - while at the same time they are stubbornly ploughing on, quite literally, with the HS2 railway project which is decimating the countryside and killing all animals in its path.
The same government's wishy washy position on the grotesque practice of fox hunting shows little understanding of what constitutes 'animal welfare', the dictionary definition of which is as follows: "the protection of the health and well-being of animals". Quite how badger culling and fox hunting fit into that definition is difficult to fathom and the government's promises to uphold animal welfare appears to be a nonsense when seen in that context.
Not that the governing Conservatives are alone in their muddled thinking. It was only two years ago that the Labour party were busy extolling the virtues of bird-killing wind farms after accepting a hefty donation from a wind energy mogul, leading some to suggest that money can be painted 'green' and used to fund cloak-and-dagger environmental destruction on a grand scale.
With politicians of all colours making dodgy decisions with regard to our wildlife and environment, is there any hope for the natural world they so glibly and superficially claim to care about?
Rule number one remains 'don't trust the politicians'. While one party condones the mass slaughter of a protected species, their opposition will spout loud words of condemnation, all the while doing their own shifty deals with little or no regard for the preservation of that which belongs to us all – our precious wildlife and countryside.
45,000 dead badgers should be all the proof we need.
One shocking story follows another this week. First we had the reports from the UK highlighting the idiots who have been attaching bird deterrent spikes along tree branches to protect their precious cars below from bird droppings - and now comes this news from Spain of a distinctly hideous event that has gone largely unreported.
The city authorities in Barcelona took the startling decision to gas nearly a thousand wild pigeons, spinelessly employing a 'specialised control company' to carry out the massacre under the supervision of the ASPB (Barcelona Public Health Authority). But a bird-loving blogger watched the despicable act and broke the shocking news to his horrified audience.
The ASPB gave the order to kill 950 birds, which must surely represent a significant percentage of Barcelona's pigeon population, as part of its plans to stage a Municipal Christmas Fair in the Plaza Catalunya, a city square ironically famous for its pigeons.
Defending its decision, the Health Authority claimed that the birds posed an 'exceptional health risk', something which has been strongly challenged by ornithological experts. In Barcelona alone, a staggering 60,000 wild pigeons are exterminated every single year.
To callously dispatch so many wild birds in this way is clearly outrageous and illustrates the contempt some people have for the wildlife around them. Murdering the birds to make way for a Christmas Fair is particularly vulgar and offensive.
When a thousand wild birds are casually gassed because they are 'in the way' of a temporary street market - and the atrocity goes unreported in the world's press - then I fear for the future of our wildlife.
Such cold-blooded cruelty is both sickening and disturbing and, alas, appears to be a growing trend.
Ignorance seems to know no bounds these days and the growing disregard for nature from some of my fellow human beings fills me with utter despair. Never more so than today when I read the incredible story about some residents of Bristol in the UK who have lined tree branches with bird deterrent spikes to prevent droppings on their precious cars parked on the street below. As unbelievable as this sounds, it is not fake news, it is really happening and what is more disconcerting is that the people who are preventing the birds from living in their natural environment maintain that, by placing the spikes in the trees, they are 'doing nothing wrong'.
There has, thank goodness, been a wave of outrage from other Bristol residents who have been left aghast at the selfish actions of the few who want to eradicate the birds, but the local council say there is nothing they can do to stop private residents from attaching bird spikes to their trees.
Amazingly, this is not the first time such deranged behaviour has reared its very ugly head. And sometimes it is the councillors themselves who display rampant lunacy. Back in September, a particularly witless local council in Stevenage, UK, in their misplaced 'wisdom', and with a distinct flair to exhibit profound stupidity, decided to attach bird deterrent spikes on trees around their town “to protect from bird mess and the risk of spreading infection” which illustrates just how brainless some elected councillors actually are. It's frightening just how moronic some people can be and scary to think that people with such low levels of moral intelligence represent us on a local and national level.
Birds live in trees! That is what birds do! Really, people, get used to it!
I just find it surprising, with the mindlessness of these idiots, that they haven't cut down the actual trees which is what dull-wits generally do in the pursuit of their selfish little lives.
It worries me, the bigger picture shows how widespread this attitude is. A quick internet search reveals a wide array of bird spikes and bird deterrent gels - and plenty of comments from people who advocate using them when birds 'cause a nuisance' in garden trees. 'Our patio is under a tree and the birds in the branches above are especially troublesome'.
Unbelievable. But true.
With news like this, clearly there is something very very wrong with the world – although we know this has been the case for some time – there are many who spout green words about saving the planet but who resolutely refuse to give up their cars or cut back on their own consumption of precious resources. Empty words and actions will never bring about change.
But the news of people wanting to rid trees of birds is a new low point because when protecting a parked car or a garden patio from bird droppings becomes more important than protecting the birds themselves, we have a major problem.
It is small wonder that bird populations are falling rapidly in the UK when trees are being felled at an alarming rate and when imbeciles attach bird deterrents to those that remain.
Unless attitudes change, we will rid our towns, cities – and countryside – of nature. This seems to be what many desire. With environmental destruction gathering pace in the UK and elsewhere, it seems that there might be no stopping the greedy and selfish, such as those in Bristol, Stevenage and elsewhere who sum up the widespread disregard for nature by seeking to prevent birds from living in trees.
Look around, people, you are killing wildlife in every direction! Wind turbines slicing birds and bats in half, industrial development in rural areas eradicating habitats for all species, pollution at sea killing marine wildlife – and now city dwellers removing birds from trees.
If there is any hope of halting the wanton destruction of our world, then with attitudes like this, it seems to be fading fast.
Since I've been writing about the wind farm fiasco, it's inevitable that I've come across other forms of industrial development in our precious countryside and the battles being fought around the world by those individuals and communities who feel bulldozed (quite literally) by big businesses masquerading as ethical companies when in fact they leave in their wake catastrophic environmental destruction and broken communities.
From the high speed HS2 rail project in the UK (which is causing a huge impact on both local communities and the countryside) through to the proliferation of vast offshore wind farms around the British coast and intrusive onshore wind developments particularly across the Scottish landscape and especially on Shetland where locals are desperately fighting to save their wonderful open spaces from the onslaught of monster turbines. And all in the name of 'green' energy.
However, it seems that wind farms are not alone in causing direct harm to the natural environment under a phony green umbrella.
Massive solar power 'parks', also being marketed as 'farms', are planned in many countries including the UK and the USA. In the Mojave Desert in the South Western USA, ancient Joshua trees, some centuries old, are under threat as a developer pushes ahead with a huge solar energy park. The Joshua trees are protected by US government law but it looks ever more likely that they will be felled in the name of 'green' energy.
Here in the UK, another expansive solar energy 'farm' comprising no less than 200,000 solar panels is to be built on 220 acres of agricultural land on the isle of Anglesey and is just one of many that are likely to be covering the fast disappearing British countryside in the coming years. This will result in the loss of both precious wildlife habitat and agricultural land to be replaced by large ugly fields of glass panels which will bring profits for renewable energy companies and a limited amount of intermittent power production at the expense of countryside and wildlife.
But there are even bigger plans afoot... in Kent a proposal for a whopping 890 acre solar 'farm' is being put forward. The name Cleve Hill Solar Park Farm interestingly makes use of both the terms 'park' and 'farm' which might give it the impression of being something rather pleasant but conservation organisations are extremely worried, pointing out that the land mooted for this development is home to many rare species including Skylarks and the elusive Water Vole.
As with wind farms, these fields of panels are being marketed as green when in fact the opposite might be true. This is, after all, nothing less than industrial development in the countryside and the companies behind the schemes should be honest about that.
Solar farms in desert areas of the world have been known to literally fry birds flying overhead as the solar mirrors reflect superheated radiation which can kill them instantly as they pass over the fields of panels. Granted, this is unlikely to happen in the UK given our sunshine record but this supposedly 'green' technology does appear to cause potentially more harm to wildlife and the environment than many other forms of energy production apart from wind farms of course which are well known themselves as 'bird blenders'.
We all acknowledge that there is a need to find new and renewable forms of energy but if this happens at the expense of our natural environment and wildlife then we need to think again – and urgently – before we lose it all.
If the cost of 'green' energy is cutting down ancient trees and smothering countryside and wildlife habitats with glass panels then I feel it is too high a price to pay.
Placing such technology in urban areas would of course be a partial solution, there is enough roof space in towns and cities to cover with solar panels before we allow them to overwhelm our countryside.
'Green' energy does not fit with environmental conservation and it is high time the energy companies stopped pretending that wind farms and solar parks can sit comfortably in the midst of our open countryside. They can't - and we shouldn't entertain any attempts to take our open spaces away from us in this way. If we don't oppose these projects when they threaten our countryside then we will have to explain to future generations how we sold off their rural inheritance to industrial development disguised as a 'green' and 'ethical' fantasy.
As the world waits with bated breath for news about the mysterious asteroid named Oumuamua which has entered our solar system and is 'acting in a mysterious way', it strikes me as sad that much of the human race seems desperate to find signs of intelligent life in outer space.
The thought of Oumuamua being an alien spacecraft, as the tabloids would have you entertain, is fanciful to say the very least. It's probably an odd shaped rock rather than a ship full of green aliens.
Why are so many people consumed with a need to find alien life? With so much life to wonder at on our own planet, they still need proof that it also exists somewhere else. Is it a desperate reaction to being trapped on a tiny planet spinning through space, with no destination and apparently no purpose, that creates a panic response in those who need to find a reason for their own existence? In order to justify the belief that everything must have a reason that fits with our desire to know answers, they feel an urge to find 'proof' of other life out there in the infinite emptiness of space.
Sending out radio signals to the rock, as scientists are doing, and listening for a response seems to me a rather naïve experiment. We know next to nothing about the universe and yet we casually expect alien life to use the same technology as we do in a rather smug assumption that we are somehow intelligent life ourselves. The truth is that we have about a hundred years of what we might refer to as modern technology and we can't even find a way to protect and nurture life on our own planet, let alone be relied upon to communicate successfully with life from other worlds.
And imagine if we received a reply to our simple radio broadcast - what would we do with the information? Judging by our performance so far on earth, we would infect our new alien friends with a lust for environmental destruction and war.
And I use the term 'infect' consciously...
I remember gazing out of a plane window once on an overnight flight across Europe. As I looked down over towns and cities, specks of light all merging together into small clusters and interconnected with glimmering strings of roads, like fibres binding them all together, it struck me just how much it looked like a giant petri dish containing a culture of bacteria that was growing and spreading across the surface of the life-giving, nurturing medium to which it clung. It seemed to me that if human beings were like a virus infecting the earth and spreading across the surface, then this is what it would look like from a great distance. It was not dissimilar to looking at a sample of food bugs growing on a nutritious jelly in a lab.
I recall as a child observing a colony of busy ants, each doing their allocated job - rushing about, building, working, eating - and wondering if they were in any way aware of me watching them. I came to the conclusion that they were entirely oblivious, living in a world of their making, thinking (if indeed ants 'think' which I suspect they do on some level) that they were in control of their own lives.
So sometimes I'm prone to speculate whether human beings are no more than the ants I watched as a child, or indeed the bacteria growing in a petri dish. For each form of life struggles to survive and is at the mercy of the one watching its progress.
If we are no more than a comparatively primitive organism in the big scheme of things then what benefit would it be to encounter an alien species when we can't even co-exist in harmony with other creatures on the same planet? My hunch is that there is nothing else out there anyway, that we are a universal accident, a miracle perhaps. Alone in the great unknown would be a terrifying thought for some no doubt and yet isn't that the very nature of our lives individually?
I feel no need at all to hope for other signs of life out there in the vast unknown. I feel even less need to go and look for it. I think there is enough to deal with here. I am however, oddly aware of being 'watched'. Observed by some higher authority. Whatever one believes that higher authority to be is another matter entirely. But it makes perfect sense to me that there is Something with a capital S, a force that can control our destiny, as we presume to control the destinies of those forms of life that are around us, the same ones that remain unaware of our existence.
The hope, to which many people clutch, of discovering alien life, seems to me a futile attempt to find rationality in a universe where struggle appears to transcend reason. Unless of course the reason turns out to be God.
That would make sense.
When I was much younger, perhaps in my early twenties, I recall waking up one morning, very early, and being aware of a low frequency humming 'noise', more of a feeling than a sound. I could sense it resonating through my body. Suddenly, very suddenly, it stopped and I felt an immediate sense of release and relief, as though all of my anxieties and troubles had lifted and I felt somehow free. Within a second or two the hum had returned – and it has, as far as I am aware, never left me since then. I say 'as far as I am aware' because it is something I seem to have been living with my whole life, apart from that memorable moment when the hum stopped and I felt liberated.
I've thought about this experience often since that moment and wondered whether the cause was internal like some form of tinnitus (although it didn't feel like it came from within me) or something external. I wondered whether this was something others had experienced, whether it was a natural sound or something man-made.
In the days before the internet, there was precious little information to go on; occasionally a Sunday newspaper would have a trivial account of people hearing a mysterious 'humming' but such reports were generally slightly patronising in tone and followed the trend of the day for wacky accounts of alien encounters in the woods, UFOs and other very typically 1970's popular pseudo-scientific myths.
When the internet came along, gradually stories emerged from people seeking answers to the phenomenon, thousands around the world were searching for others who had experienced the odd and disturbing hum. And it turns out that the hum is really a 'thing', people from every corner of the planet sharing their own experience of this odd sensation - with a peculiar concentration of reports coming from the UK.
It was good to know that I wasn't alone but still I had no credible information as to what the hum was – or why it momentarily stopped that morning when I felt a sudden, short-lived release.
During the past couple of decades, as more and more reports of the mysterious hum have come to light, science has been trying to explain what it is and where it comes from.
There is little dispute that it exists but the source is still unknown. Suggestions have ranged from it being the vibrations of the jet stream or seismic activity deep within the earth, to the sounds of amorous fish getting busy in the depths of the sea.
One very sinister theory suggests that it is indeed a man-made vibration which is being used to target individuals in a form of governmental mind control. But it might not be helpful to contemplate such conspiratorial theories when there is apparently no plausible basis for them. I can, however, understand the latter theory in essence and why it has been put forward because, as with any low frequency sound, if it goes on for long enough then it becomes at first irritating, then infuriating and then defeating. Imagine a car engine running outside your bedroom window in the early hours. It drones on and on and eventually you just accept it. Then when it stops you feel great relief. So it is with the hum.
Not everybody can hear it, surveys have generally found that it is only palpable to a small percentage of the population. Quite why that might be is open to conjecture and only adds to the mystery and confusion.
This week, some scientists announced that they had recorded the hum at the bottom of the ocean. But they can't tell us what it is, they are still unsure. So all the theories remain in circulation. Is it the sound of mating fish? The sinister governmental mind control experiments? Or, as some scientists declare, the very voice of the planet itself – “permanent free oscillations of the Earth” in scientific speak.
Who knows. Will we ever know. Most people will never care because they can't 'hear' it anyway. Perhaps I should feel lucky to be able to sense the hum but to be honest I'd rather I hadn't ever become aware of it. It can be all consuming – and knowing that I experienced it being 'turned off' for a few seconds, makes it all the more frustrating when I am consciously aware of it being there.
If you do want to find out more about the hum, well, then good luck. There is a lot of stuff out there, some of it, as I've discovered, wacky and weird. A good place to start however is the website of Glen MacPherson, a Canadian mathematics teacher and ethnographic researcher, who has been researching the hum for the past few years, setting up a map database of international hum reports in 2012.
Browsing his website and the map of the hum, I was rather pleased to see that a number of reports came from the area in which I first experienced the hum in North West England; it reinforced for me my belief that this thing is real, in spite of the fact that I am one of only a handful I know who can sense it.
I've yet to hear from people who experienced the hum being 'turned off' momentarily as I did all those years ago. As I said, the relief was akin to a blissful breath of fresh air suddenly out of the blue... before it resumed again much to my disappointment. I have even wondered whether the hum is connected in some way to the fact that I experience aura migraines, those strange episodes, so difficult to explain to someone who has never had one, where flashing, vibrant electrical rainbows fill one's visual spectrum, often followed by a deep, throbbing pressure headache which is not dissimilar in nature to the feeling when hearing the hum.
Well, whatever it is, we don't seem to be any closer to finding out the source. Perhaps it is one of those great universal mysteries. Maybe, as I might sometimes speculate, it actually comes from the deepest distant parts of the universe, a vibration of something very ancient at the root of all nature, the sound of the universe itself in all its trembling glory. Or perhaps it is, as others have suggested, a big conglomeration of all the man made mechanical sounds of the planet coming together in a symphony of deep and disturbing humming, like a nightmarish composition of all that is wrong with the world, which can be 'picked up' by those sensitive enough to hear it.
Or maybe it is the pulsating rhythm of our celestial body itself, a song of the living earth. That would be exciting, though one would hope that the earth's song might be easier on the soul and not as distressing as the hum is for most of us.
Perhaps we'll never know, and for the majority it really won't matter because they can't hear it anyway. Meanwhile I'll try to ignore it - it works most of the time - at least until it slowly but surely drives me completely mad or, one can only hope, turns me into a genius...
"Living here on Earth, we breathe the rhythms of a universe that extends infinitely above us. When resonant harmonies arise between this vast outer cosmos and the inner human cosmos, poetry is born."
It was heartening to hear that people-power and common sense defeated a wind farm in Kirkby Moor, Cumbria this week, a welcome piece of good news that should offer encouragement to those communities around the UK and overseas who are fighting their own battles against wind farm development.
The tide of public opinion seems to be turning as people learn the truth about just how damaging the turbines are to the environment. When I mentioned the Cumbrian success on social media this week, the pro-wind lobbyists sprung into action and I received plenty of name calling and criticism of my views. But one becomes used to their attempts to belittle and denigrate while their pro-wind rhetoric contains nothing new and their arguments are weak and tired.
So public opposition to wind farms is definitely growing but there's much still to do.
I wrote earlier in the week about the struggle to preserve the countryside on Yell in Shetland and theirs is a battle which is being reflected across the UK and globally. It seems that wind companies are particularly adept at targeting pristine natural countryside. The determination and stamina of the people in south Cumbria proves that the battle can be won. There have been similar successes in other areas too - in Turkey and Ireland, for example, where turbine installations have been either prevented or removed through unwavering community action but the problem is huge - and the turbines are getting bigger.
Offshore wind farms are, in their own way, just as harmful as those on land. Some may be out of sight, many are a major blot on the seascape, but all are potentially lethal to wildlife. In addition to their very questionable efficiency, the vast banks of turbines are responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds, many of them endangered and protected species. There is some evidence to suggest that the recent increase in numbers of beached whales is due to the effects of low frequency vibrations caused by the turbines which interferes with the whales' sensitive sonar.
While there are such concerns over the threat to these protected species, is it not terribly irresponsible to plough on with plans to install more and more huge offshore wind farms? As I write, communities in Suffolk are fighting to protect their coast and countryside amid proposals for hundreds of new offshore turbines. According to the Suffolk Preservation Society, the huge turbines will be illuminated and could be as high as 300m with a rotor diameter of 250m. They point out that, aside from their visual impact on this heritage coastline, the proposal includes onshore development that will be required to service the offshore farm, including plans for an enormous substation. Locals have voiced their concerns about how the development will affect coastal wildlife which includes seals, sand martins and skylarks, together with many species of wild flowers.
Whatever one thinks about wind power (and readers know my views), one of the main objections continues to be the glib and convincing way in which these developments are marketed as 'green'. This, to my mind, is intended to mislead and deceive the general public into believing that, by supporting such projects, they are helping conserve the environment. This is clearly not the case. Wind farms harm the environment and wildlife and appear to be a money making venture for investors and big companies.
Publicity for wind energy should be presented honestly and factually – and should not try to mislead and confuse.
But of course then the general public wouldn't want it at all....
I read with despair that another beautiful, remote and environmentally precious part of the world has been targeted by the big wind companies in their continuing assault on our countryside.
In their usual 'green' and 'environmentally friendly' disguise, the energy companies are earmarking the island of Yell in Shetland for a large, destructive wind farm.
This largely untouched island landscape will, if they have their way, be ploughed up and desecrated in yet another devastatingly destructive installation of more than 60 turbines, together with all the damaging infrastructure that will be required to service these most inefficient of energy producing machines.
Let me tell you a little about the island of Yell.
It lies in the archipelago of Shetland, more than fifty miles off the coast of Northern Scotland. Remote, beautiful and unique, the island supports a population of less than a thousand people although it has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The diverse wildlife includes rare otters and seals. Yell has its own unique species of field mouse and many scarce bird species, including Skuas.
The area in which the wind farm developer wants to erect its huge turbines is largely composed of blanket bog which is an important habitat for many threatened species such as the insectivorous Sundew plant.
As we already know, turbines also pose a direct and serious threat to bird life and it is highly likely that the Yell wind farm would have a drastic effect on the bird population in the area, with both resident and migratory species likely to suffer.
The timeless landscape of this peaceful island and potentially some of its unique and rare wildlife would forever be lost - and all for the dubious 'benefits' of a largely unproven energy source.
Sustainable Shetland, an organisation that supports social, environmental and economic sustainability in Shetland, says of the proposed project: "We believe that we are sustained, both physically and mentally, first and foremost by our environment.......future generations will have to pay for our misdeeds....If we destroy or desecrate [the environment] in the name of sustainability, there is something far wrong."
I couldn't agree with them more.
These beautiful, rare landscapes are totally irreplaceable. As well as being essential to the survival of an abundance of species, they nurture the soul and spirit and are life enhancing spaces. We are the generation who have the choice to destroy or preserve our rural wilderness for future generations. That is a great responsibility and we must not let big business, masquerading as green enterprise, plough up our countryside in what amounts to a catastrophic free-for-all, money making, rampage through our most sacred and precious landscapes.
For when they are lost, they are lost forever.
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