It’s a bad time for environmentalists in the UK at present. The new government chucked out just about everything we’ve been working on for the last fifteen years, and even when they do say policy is one thing e.g. protect the bees, the next week they pass exceptions to polluting chemicals laws to enable big business to bring in nicotinoids to spray rape seed crops to reduce the attack by flea beetle. Nicotinoids being the number one killer of bees, of course.
If that wasn’t depressing enough, the big producers of these pesticides are suing the European Union for preventing them from selling them. The contra from anyone with a brain is to (a) petition everyone in sight, reminding them of the cost of killing the number one pollinator of every vegetable fruit we eat (and most of the flowers we like); (b) start a class action to sue those same companies for killing our bees. OK, wind does the grains, so we won’t starve, but vitamin C will be a rare commodity. Oh, hang on, they can manufacture that, can’t they – and charge us for it.
Why am I having a rant? Probably because I’ve reached the tipping point.
As well as that I am faced with the ultimate environmentalist’s dilemma – how to comment on a planning application to build 1000 houses on the golf course where I’m a member. The course is under threat from county road schemes; we have the opportunity to sell to builders and move to another course, whose owner wants to sell, and develop that course into something really special. Trouble is, not only do I love the open space, but it is absolutely stuffed with birds and other creatures. Nothing rare, but the quantity is astounding – of what you might call ‘not common garden’ birds. The consultation exhibition was last week (and comments close 12th August here, if you’re really interested) and I came away depressed. The plans are quite good, if you have to build 1000 homes there. Norfolk probably needs 1000 homes somewhere. It probably needs much more than that over the next twenty years. I just don’t want them there, I don’t want the land where woodpeckers and nuthatches call, breed and live to be decimated, I don’t want the sparrowhawk to leave, and as someone said, if the foxes don’t leave, the new residents will be complaining about them raiding their dustbins.
If the homes were built to zero carbon standards I could probably accept it. But last month our (delete swearwords) new government cancelled the programme to move to all zero carbon homes by 2016. I still commented on the consultation that the company should use their investment in zero carbon know-how and implement it on this development anyway. I am not holding my breath.
Does it matter? Well, as a scifi writer, I can point out the folly of imagining we have a planet we can degrade as much as this government thinks is good for the economy. After all, people survive the apocalypse in most stories. In my scifi, after it got too bad there was the Exodus, where people left in space ships to populate the galaxy. Trouble is, that is science fiction. Just because some people have signed up for a one way trip to Mars in the 2020s doesn’t mean we will ever get as far as surviving in space. For one thing, we probably won’t be allowed to afford the development costs for much longer.
All of this rant is a key to why I couldn’t read Jennifer Ellis’ new book Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist. I thought the premise was good and it is of course, excellently written. I just found the protagonist, berating herself for failing to really make a difference while her ex-husband engaged her in a game of ‘who can gain the most brownie points this month’ – “oh me, because I took the train to my office all week before flying off on holiday” just too close to home for enjoyment. Don’t let that stop you reading it, though (and check out the Goodreads Giveaway).
I am finding Jennifer’s post-tipping point scifi In The Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation much more enjoyable. Even if the self-righteous husband who used to be mayor of Vancouver does seem to be as bad as the ex-husband in the other book! At least the apocalypse has already happened. I’ll be reviewing that at the end of the month.
There’s still time to save the world. Do something before that time runs out.
Start by saving seeds and growing your own veg, and campaigning for the right to do so. For good reasons why, check out Sandy Smith’s Seed Savers series for middle grade – and upwards!
PPS and this same week that dentist killed Cecil. No wonder I’m depressed.