Today is Earth Day when the environmentally conscious amongst us pledge acts of conservation, by way of safe-guarding and appreciating our planet’s bounty.
I am however torn between celebration and commiseration especially given the contradictory commitments of the UK’s shambolic environmental policies. Yes, we’ve signed up to all the questionable tick-box green solutions of winds farms, solar panels, new nuclear plants and low energy light bulbs alongside the go-ahead for a desecrating HS2 rail network, with plans afoot to permit the wholesale development of rural land.
The new National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) shortly to be rolled out in law, will effectively give planning applications a rubber stamping, with little recourse to refuse or protest against, whether it be supermarket, windfarm or housing estate. ‘Sustainable development’ is the trigger-word oxymoron bandied about as password to admit such undesirables as private developers and land bankers. And everything is justified on the basis of an ever- growing population with increasing demands for goods and services. Surelyt here has to be a better way than opening road and rail ways through the woods and eco-towning overflow populations in rural spaces.
“Rapid and widespread changes in the world’s human population, coupled with unprecendented levels of consumption, present profound challenges to human health and wellbeing, and to the natural environment” The Royal Society (2012)
Still I shall put aside further polemic for now and in the following images celebrate this small and beautiful piece of the world before the UK becomes less united and more urban kingdom.
These Surrey scenes (click to enlarge) are from a recent 7 mile sojourn in and around the North Down woodlands and dales, with quotes from a favourite and eminently noteworthy book for Earth Day: The Wind in the Willows.
“Well, very long ago, on the spot where the Wild Wood waves now, before ever it had planted itself and grown up to what it now is, there was a city – a city of people, you know…They were a powerful people, and rich, and great builders. They built to last, for they thought their city would last for ever.”
“But what has become of them all?” asked the Mole.
“Who can tell?” said the Badger. “People come – they stay for a while, they flourish, they build – and they go. It is their way. But we remain. There were badgers here, I’ve been told, long before that same city ever came to be. And now there are badgers here again. We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.”
It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment.”
When tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
“First, we feel it stirring within us, a sweet unrest; then back come the recollections one by one, like homing pigeons. They flutter through our dreams at night, they fly with us in our wheelings and circlings by day. We hunger to inquire of each other, to compare notes and assure ourselves that it was all really true, as one by one the scents and sounds and names of long-forgotten places come gradually back and beckon to us.”
Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.
“And beyond the Wild Wood again?’ he asked. ‘Where it’s all blue and dim and one sees what may be hills or perhaps they mayn’t and something like the smoke of towns or is it only cloud drift.’
‘Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wild World,’ said the Rat. ‘And that’s something that doesn’t matter either to you or me.” .
On this day, I could hug a tree, make a compost heap, ride a bike and save brown paper but instead I’m off to swap a plant at a French honey product outlet in Central London, in order to raise money for beehive keepers in Peru. What else should we do on Earth Day but join the dots and realise our planetary partnerships.
Other Environmental Earth Friendly posts:
Link up with the Sage Butterfly’s: Earth Day Readings and Giveaway
Donna at Garden’s Eye View reviews the appropriate ‘Climate Conscious Gardener’
And for a fascinating conservation project, follow Diana on the Cape Leopard Trust