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Category Archives: NatureImage
I went to Barcelona this weekend for the first time. I saw Gaudi and Picasso and was completely and utterly blown away. Brain fuzz.
Each artist’s strength lay in the radically new perspective they brought to their work. Although they saw the same things as everyone else, they explored their focus from previously untold angles. La Sagrada Familia embodies this radical approach – de-constructing and rebuilding the idea of a catholic cathedral so profoundly different to that found across the rest of Europe.
And so my thoughts (as always) returned to sustainability.
The story of kindness, of compassion, is one which – although I’m sure is familiar to many others – for me, has only recently connected to sustainability. I want to use this story to give a new perspective on working towards a greener, fairer world, and indeed, how we communicate about that ambition.
I think we care about creating a sustainable world because we care about one another.
Of course, “sustainability” embodies a whole host of concepts, from carbon permits to biodiversity offsetting to closed loop recycling. Money, reputation and politics make an inevitable appearance also.
But at the heart of the matter lies kindness; caring for one another – for our families, our children, our society. For our grandchildren and great-grandchildren as yet unborn, and for everyone who we share this moment of existence with.
So compassion can be seen as the driver.
Moreover, it’s also the facilitator. No one can create sustainable change alone – we need to collaborate. And this process requires us working to understand and be understanding with a whole host of people, many coming from perspectives and vested interests we may find challenging.
Only compassion can make this happen.
I don’t think these are just airy fairy words. Check out the great work from Common Cause on intrinsic values, the Dalai Lama’s words on environmentalism, Tom Shadyac’s documentary “I am”, or the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities.
Sustainability both demonstrates and requires compassion. What’s more, perhaps compassion provides a greater setting for the tale of environmentalism than offsets and permits?
Gaudi orchestrated such beauty through connecting the ideas of creativity, nature and morality. We need to explore every avenue we can in creating a world that works for us all. Why not start with kindness?
As part of the Conservation/Sustainability movement, I’m a bit tired of the way in which “we explain” to people why they should care about their environment.
I would like to start asking people why they value their environment. And I may be wrong, but I don’t think the answer will be ecosystem goods and services.
I think many people may have much more of an emotional connection than we currently give credence. Nature gives us a sense of perspective, inspires awe, wonder and delights us aesthetically. Perhaps this is the most powerful way we can connect with one another about nature?
After all, we’re happy to join together in serving gods who give us emotional solace, yet we currently seem only able to talk about how nature can serve us.
Us humans have a tendency to undervalue the future compared with our immediate needs. That’s why banks pay us interest on money we don’t spend.
Despite this, and because security is important to us all , many of us have the foresight to save, provisioning for our future old and infirm selves.
At first, we may rally and moan against the short-term sacrifice of saving for pensions, but we soon settle down. We’d rather make a sacrifice in the short-term to ensure our security in the long-term.
Yet governments around the world are unwilling to make the same sort of decision – failing to recognise the value of security in our future.
Ecuador’s announcement of their plans to auction off more than 3 million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies (as reported by Jonathan Kaiman) is understandable. As described by Ecuador’s Ambassador when addressing the Chinese delegation at talks, this would establish “a win-win relationship” between the two countries. Meeting both Ecuador’s development needs and China’s energy requirements – the arrangement is one which the West could not denigrate without being hypocritical.
Yet this decision prioritises immediate reward over the natural capital offered by forests, important for both national and international security in just decades. Our collective environment is akin to our common pension.
Governments are charged with responsibility, to lead their nation for today and tomorrow, and within that to look after the commons. So we need to let them know, we want to save some for humanity’s future.
There are over 7 billion of us in this crowded world of ours, speaking almost 7000 languages in approximately 200 countries.
Yet one thing we all hold in common is the value we place on our children.
Most people would agree that their family trumps all other concerns in our multi-cultural, complex and changing world.
Protecting our family is one of life’s missions.
And perhaps protecting our environment is similarly important.
After all, if we don’t protect our environment – where will our children grow up?
Hugh’s Fish Fight has come in for a bit of a roasting today. As plastered over the Twittersphere, Dr Ruth Brown, a scientist interviewed in the TV show’s 2nd episode – has accused the producers of “glaring inaccuracies” regarding their portrayal of bias science and the effects of krill fishing in the Southern Oceans. Worse, her comments seem to have been deleted from the Fish Fight website, appearing to many as an attempted “cover-up”.
Thankfully, this mess-up has now been addressed – with Hugh commenting directly on her accusations, as reported by Fish2Fork here.
But the error has fuelled the fire of criticism. So I want to explain why despite this, and despite many of the shortcomings of the movement frequently cited by both individual fishermen and their representative organisations – I think Hugh’s Fish Fight has tremendous value.
Fish Fight’s crowning achievement is that it reminds everyone in the UK, that UK oceans are collectively, ours.
I know that MPAs are not a black and white issue, I know that fishermen need continued livelihoods – I know that many fishermen work hard to protect the seas that they live in.
But I also think that the seas are the “commons”. Sure – they are a source of income for fishermen – but they also provide a whole wealth of ecosystem goods and services and INHERENT values for the rest of us.
Urbanised humans are increasingly disconnected from nature. This, combined with growing political apathy and impenetrable bureaucracy, means that it’s becoming difficult for citizens to think about and investigate, let alone care for, much beyond their house and home. The great outdoors is too great for our attention.
The result is that members of the public interviewed on the beach in Lyme Regis believed that as much as 50% of our oceans were protected for conservation reasons, while the sad truth is we protect less than 1%. As consumers, we don’t know about fish – and so 80% of our purchases consist of only five species – meaning fishermen have to throw the rest of delicious, but unknown species back into the sea. The wonderment of the oceans is buried beneath the waves; out of sight, out of mind.
Because we don’t know it’s there – we don’t know its ours. And because we don’t know its ours, we don’t value it.
So yes, Fish Fight has some problems, some simplification and doesn’t always give progressive fishermen a fair hearing.
BUT – Hugh is leading people, other than fishermen, to value our seas. He’s leading us, from students in Cardiff, to families in Hampshire, from a super-yacht operator from the Western Highlands (just a selection of the people I met on yesterday’s #127march) to give a damn.
And that, is priceless.