Monday, 3 June 2013

The elephant in the room

Well, hi everyone. Hope this finds you all happy and well and I also hope that last weeks blog got you out and about doing something for nature, or got you thinking about doing something at the very least.
As we saw last week, the State of Nature report painted a very dire picture of our declining wildlife. There were many reasons stated for this decline: Bad habitat management, Fisheries management; wetland creation; Urbanisation; Water qualities; Agricultural intensification; Afforestation; Illegal persecution; Upland management; Climate change; Loss of semi-natural habitats and Invasive non-native species. Yet all this can be blamed on the rather large elephant sitting in the middle of the very small room, the one that everyone refuses to address and for very good reasons. It has huge moral issues and dilemmas that no-one wants to address, yet, where it’s heading doesn’t look good. The problem is Human population!
Yes, as I see it, we are the problem. We are the reason why nature is changing in a negative way. All the reasons listed above can be laid squarely on the doorstep of humankind.
It doesn’t take a genius to work it out (that’s most probably why I worked it out). Have you ever noticed the amount of fly splats on the front of your car during the summer months? How many cars in the UK, or the world even? That’s a lot of biomass that we’re removing from the environment just in our day-to-day lives. Hedgehogs whose population 40 years ago stood at 35 million, now stands at just 1 million! Yet, the amount of cars on our roads continues to increase as our population just keeps getting bigger and bigger and all we do is complain about the amount of slugs in our gardens (Hmm, strange that).
Our lust for consumerism also plays a major part. As the world gets smaller and smaller through technological advances in transport, goods are shipped around the world to satisfy our need for the latest TV’s/computers/game machines/phones made in a far away country, shipped in huge ships whose ballast tanks, filled in foreign seas are emptied into our waters introducing new invasive species to our waters. Or vegetables and fruits grown in European fields are transported by road to our markets releasing hitchhiking larvae of foreign insects or fungal spores of foreign diseases into our countryside. All this increase in transport throws even more greenhouse gases up into the air changing our planet’s climate.
Our own government is also backing the culling of 120 badgers per night over a 6 week period to apparently help farmers fight bTB (a complete whitewash), and the destruction of Buzzard nests and eggs to protect the release of 35 million non-native pheasants in the name of game hunting! All of this and much, much more has to have an effect on nature, you don’t need a degree in Environmental science to see it either.

So what do we do?

In my lifetime, the world population has more than doubled, a growth rate that cannot be sustained. I like to think that, unless something untoward is planned for me, I’m about halfway through my life. So I ask myself, how much more is the population going to increase in the next 40+ years? A frightening thought. But what do we do? This is the reason why the issue has become the elephant in the room. Who’s going to be the person who turns off the life support of a loved one because we need to cut down our expanding population? Who’s going to deprive people of much needed medications or treatment with the words “We’ve all got to go sometime!”? Who tells the starving in third world countries, sorry we can't help? These moral issues are just scraping the top of the iceberg and for these reasons alone, you can see why no one wants to talk about it. I for one couldn’t do the above things, nor would I want to see those things done either. Maybe we should take a leaf out of China’s book and restrict families to having only 1 child. Stop religions from banning contraception or we could stop giving people child benefit and maybe reward couples who DON’T have children! Of course, as I see it, there are two other options we could take 1) Start to love our nature more and do much more to try and preserve it, or 2) Destroy everything, and ultimately, ourselves in the process.
Unfortunately, I’m no time traveller (which really sucks), so I can’t say what the outcome for us will be. So should we sit at home worrying about it all, or should we get out there and start enjoying what we have and start to do what little we can to save it? By acting locally, we can begin to affect globally. No one person can save the world, but together we can go a long way to help it by enjoying and loving what we have on our doorsteps each and everyday. Who knows, we might even find a proper solution whilst we're trying.

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