Recharged and ready for action?

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

What a shambolic summer time it has been for many! Quarantine rules changing at short notice, cancelled flights, many local destinations booked for months in advance… I hope you have managed to enjoy the summer in the midst of this all, and recharge your batteries before the autumn.

I didn’t go beyond Norfolk this time, but I have had a surprisingly relaxing summer. I’ve been spending more time in the local green areas than ever, sometimes even three times a day. Before I used to go there when I wanted to go for a run, and the point was to get some exercise. Now I go to relax. I’ve particularly enjoyed following how the offspring of the river birds are getting on, and it’s been exciting to occasionally spot new species. I still haven’t spotted a kingfisher, but maybe one day…

River Cam on a July morning

Finding respite in nature

Clearly, I am not the only one who has found respite in nature.  The People and Nature Survey reports that in June 52% adults in England spent time outside in green and natural spaces, and most often they visited their local green spaces.A Finnish survey found that 25% of the population feels more connected to nature than before the pandemic, and especially those under 25 are visiting nature more than in 2018.

​​​​​​​I was happy to read about these results. It’s great that nature remains important in this era when people spend more and more time on TikTok, WeChat and Instagram. Maybe it means that there will be more support to take action going forwards. Whilst our attention may have been distracted because of Covid-19, the climate and biodiversity crises haven’t gone anywhere. The coronavirus is estimated to have a negligible improvement on the climate crisis, and the scientists are saying it is a “make or break” moment (The Guardian, Aug 2020).

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to really change the direction of society. 

Prof Piers Forster at the University of Leeds

Are we already doing everything we can?

What is worrying is that while most of us now believe that climate crisis is a global emergency, many think that we are already doing everything we can. Unfortunately, sometimes the steps we have made have a fairly low impact and there are much bigger opportunities for making a difference. For example, according to a survey done in the UK, majority of people are recycling and trying to reduce amount of single use plastic – which is important – but less than 2% have switched their heating system to low carbon and less than 20% would even consider it. E.g. in the UK household emissions need to reduce by 87% (compared to 2017 baseline) for the UK to achieve its 2050 emission targets. ​​​

Human brains are wired to respond to short-term problems

Probably the biggest problem though is that it is hard to grasp the urgency when the scientists and politicians are talking about years such as 2030, 2050 and 2100. It’s a known fact that human brains are wired to respond to short-term problems, and we really struggle to think and act for long-term benefits.

A Letter to the Future

When Iceland lost its first glacier in 2019, they installed a memorial plaque for future generations that finished with words:​​​​​​​

This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.

Only you know if we did it.

Arresting​​​​​​​ words.

We know what is happening and what needs to be done.

Do you think we will do it?

6 thoughts on “Recharged and ready for action?”

  1. Thanks Nana – really enjoyed reading this 🙂

    For me, getting out in nature regularly is an absolute must, and never fails to bring a sense of peace and calm.

  2. It is incumbent on all of us to keep fighting to save our planet and to do what we can as individuals, what we can persuade our businesses to change and to campaign and become involved in politics as much as we can.
    Thank you for continuing to bring this to the attention of people.
    Hope you are well and get to see the Kingfishers soon – they are quite breathtaking when you see them.

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