Environmental news isn't encouraging at the moment, in fact it is profoundly alarming. Recent research tells us that a 'Study says humans are just 0.01% of all life on Earth but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals'. Meanwhile, insect numbers are in precipitous decline, which will impact on the species that rely on them for food, such as birds, bats and amphibians. It's horrifying to watch, like a slow-motion train crash, and can lead to feelings of hopelessness. As the natural world is increasingly degraded and 250 new humans are added to the global population every minute of every day, environmental despair and ecoanxiety have officially become a 'thing'. I feel it acutely and it hurts like hell.
I am reminded of a line from Tolkien's work on the history of Middle Earth. Thráin II, King of Durin's Folk flees with his people from the dragon Smaug and later learns that his son has been killed and mutilated by an Orc chieftain. After contemplating this evil for seven days, without eating or sleeping, he stands up and declares, 'This cannot be borne!' and the fight-back against evil and tyranny ensues. Thráin did not win his battle, but others continued the fight. After many years of long and strenuous effort, peace was won and the balance regained. It feels to me like a parable of our time, dragons and Orcs are burning, plundering and laying waste the richness of this beautiful blue-green planet while those who care feel they can only stand and watch, powerless to stop the destruction.
These feelings of impotence are painful, but we cannot give up. The motto of the school I went to is encouraging - 'Aut inveniam viam aut faciam', Latin for 'I shall either find a way or make one' and, being of a somewhat mulish nature, I have never forgotten the words and turn to them now. I will not use poisons in the garden and will encourage others to avoid them. When my neighbour removes ivy, drains their pond and cuts down the trees, I shall let ivy grow, add extra water and plant more trees. Where others tidy and primp and insist of lawns of nothing but grass, my lawn is speckled with primroses, clover, daisies and more, while elsewhere there are dead wood piles to support beetles and provide shelter for amphibians. Bug Life has many ideas to guide us in making gardens better living spaces for wildlife, who are, after all, our neighbours. Let us be guided and act accordingly.
Going beyond the little patches of the Earth that I work, I shall support Plantlife's campaign to protect and improve roadside verges and will start writing to my MP about supporting Ben Bradley's Protection of Pollinators bill.
It is tiring, but there is work to be done and we can do it. I will 'rage, rage against the dying of the light' and I will not 'go gentle into that good night. 'Aut inveniam viam aut faciam' indeed. Now get planting.