It seems incongruous thinking about climate change and the Climate Emergency on a day like today when there are clear skies and degrees of frost outside and I’ve just returned from a lengthy walk down icy lanes. However, the recent fires in Australia – many close to areas that we visited during our two relatively recent trips there – and the floods that followed Storm Brendan here in the UK, have underlined that all is not well with the climate. It is increasingly imperative that we act to, hopefully, avert permanent and very significant upheaval to global life as we know it.
As readers of this blog will know, for several months, I have been a member of a local group agitating for our Parish to declare a Climate Emergency, to set a target of carbon neutrality by 2030 and to help the establishment of plans to achieve that target. The Parish Council have agreed to take climate change seriously and have committed to a number of measures including mass tree planting. However, beyond this, in practice, we are making only slow progress; we are simply a too small and a too intermittently dedicated group.
I am now planning to align myself more with a much larger group of climate change responders in our nearby town, Nailsworth. This group (Nailsworth Climate Action Network) seems to have more momentum as well as size. I’m excited by some of their plans.
One of these plans is to hold an ‘envisioning session’ along the lines advocated by Rob Hopkins at which we will think about what we want Nailsworth to be like in a couple of decade’s time. Rob Hopkins established the Transition Network movement many years ago. Since then, he has developed his thinking to promote the harnessing of our imagination to envision a near future that has responded to the pressure of the Climate Emergency and to measures of well-being and societal health rather than Gross National Product.
Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I saw Rob speak in Nailsworth in October last year and he was very inspiring. LSW has read his latest book – ‘From What Is To What If’ – which encourages the reader to use hope and imagination to break out of the current systems and structures we find ourselves in to envision a different way of living. He also provides examples of how others have done this in various parts of the world, and how these can inspire similar action in our own lives and towns. I too must read this fully before our town ‘envisioning event’ planned for June.
Walking Near Our House Between Showers
Of course, all climate change activists encourage us to reduce our reliance on planes for travel. Air travel is apparently the most carbon emitting of transport methods. I have calculated my personal carbon footprint using a calculator provided by the World Wildlife Fund and, while I am just below the average for a UK citizen without flights, with the two flights I took last year, I am almost 50% higher. As I reported in this blog a few posts ago, I did carbon offset one of these flights and plan repeat that process in future. But the impact of flying on the climate is disproportionately high and LSW and I plan to cut down our few flights even more.
That means ‘staycations’ in the UK and train based holidays. We plan to walk some of the north Somerset/Devon/Cornwall coast in June and try a train trip somewhere in Europe later in the year. Holidays in India and Thailand, which we have also talked about, may be now on hold.
Perhaps we will adjust to one long haul flight a year and offset it through Solar Aid again. Certainly we have a strong desire to revisit India and try South East Asia for the first time. And not only do I want to visit these places; I also miss the opportunity to see the world from the window of a plane flying thousands of feet above the ground. What better, often stunning way is there of appreciating both the planet as it is and that we have to act to prevent a climate disaster ruining it?
Back on earth, the first signs of weather change and the onset of Spring are emerging amid the sodden ground and current frost. I’ve seen my first lambs, bees, snowdrops and primroses of the year. The dippers and kingfishers are active near the streams again. Excitingly, a kestrel has been hovering over our garden and field looking for strays from a colony of voles or mice that have taken up residence there.
Early Snowdrops and Bee Activity
There is another uplifting development in the valley I walk through to Nailsworth every day. A swan arrived on the lake there over three years ago. She has occasionally disappeared for weeks but always returned alone and apparently lonely. Last year she produced some eggs and they now lie abandoned on her nest. This week, suddenly, a partner has arrived and so the chances are that they will mate and that new eggs will be fertilised this year. I am so hoping for a clutch of cygnets; fingers crossed!