Where are the young naturalists these days? Their scarcity has become increasingly apparent in recent years, and so worrying that the National Trust published a paper focused entirely on the issue, and was discussed in grave concern by both Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham.
Earlier this month the New York Times published an op-ed by Australian ecologist Roger Bradbury entitled “A World Without Coral Reefs.” Bradbury’s article makes a frightening claim: the planet’s reefs are doomed, sentenced to death by overfishing, pollution, and acidification caused by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide.
For more than four decades the front lines of environmental campaigning have been located in the worlds of politics and technology.
For those of you who have watched James Cameron’s Avatar, if you cast your mind back you might remember that in this film a well-informed fantastical ecology was created, with many of its constituent animals and plants showing utterly alien traits, such as six-legged elephant-horses, and bizarre iridescent blue plants.
The Spanish city of Valencia sits under a blanket of ash, as two converging fires continue to devour the eastern coast of the country. Since the blaze ignited last week, more than 45,000 hectares of land have been destroyed, forcing upwards of 2,000 people to flee their homes.
London residents alone throw away 20 million tonnes of waste each year according to the London Community Resource Network, which estimates that recycling or reusing these resources could stop 150 million tonnes of annual carbon emissions.
The modern age of environmentalism is about half a century old. During that time awareness has grown, our knowledge of the challenges has increased while important practical progress has been made, for example in reducing some kinds of pollution and in the establishment of protected areas. We are, however, still very far from reconciling the demands of people with what our planet can sustainably provide.
Silent Spring remains a landmark for environmentalists. It is rooted in sound science but also has vital moral and emotional dimensions. It exposes the dangers of pesticides and sets out the consequences for nature and people in clear and persuasive terms. And though dangerous chemicals are still in use and still causing harm, its publication helped avert a worse catastrophe.
The full horror of hitting 50 hit me personally this year as I ‘celebrated’ my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I realised that half my life has been spent in the Green Movement.
Fifty years ago, few people cared about pollution, deforestation, whaling or the Ozone later. But even with an increasing awareness of issues concerning the environment, there is still a long way to go.
This week The Independent is looking at the successes and failures of the Green Movement at 50, with a series of blogs and features centred around the question: “Has the environment movement been a success?”
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