Wild Life Powerless in the face of raging Bush Fires.
Climate change is characterised by unprecedented extreme weather events: tsunamis, floods, drought … and bush fires.
In 2019 in New South Wales, Australia, the bush fires raged far and wide, recombusted after being doused, destroyed many houses, and killed wildlife.
Koalas live there and only eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees. They tried to escape up the trees, but the tree canopies were on fire. Koalas were dehydrated, starving, severely burnt, and large numbers died. It is estimated that it will take 30 to 50 years for the habitat and koala numbers to recover.
When we see the suffering to people and animals that such climate events cause, it seems even more important to keep carbon footprints low by not flying, sharing transport (buses and trains), walking and cycling whenever possible, and buying locally.
Orangutans in Borneo
Orangutans in Borneo are losing their lush forest habitat because of deforestation for palm oil.
We saw a documentary about an orangutan rescue project where volunteers rescue orangutans from the destroyed forest. In one memorable sequence a solitary orangutan clung to the last tree in the forest, the rest of the trees had been reduced to stumps in the mud. It was a poignant symbol of the environmental catastrophe created by man.
My daughter and I made this using fabrics found in a dressing up box when she was home because of lock down. It’s our first attempt at a sewing project.
After watching the documentary we set up a standing order to the Orangutan Foundation, a charity that saves orangutans by protecting their tropical forest habitat, working with local communities and promoting research and education.
Palm oil is said to be found in half of all supermarket products – bread, biscuits, chocolate, shampoos, cosmetics and house hold cleaning products. We try to avoid these, scouring labels for products made without palm oil or made with palm oil from a sustainable source that has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).Orangutans in Borneo are losing their lush forest habitat because of deforestation for palm oil.
Transformation from dirty energy to sun, wind and water power
As a teenager in the 1970’s I dreamed of going self-sufficient and reducing the damage I did to the world, after reading books by John Seymour and ‘Small is Beautiful’ by E.F Schumacher. Living mostly in a city, apart from 15 years in Cornwall, I only managed to reduce my energy use in small ways and have been working on the process ever since – installing a solar panel, eating less meat, growing some of my own food, using less, having a hybrid car, upcycling clothes, buying second hand and fair trade. All this alongside my ‘consumption’. I still have a long way to go and I continue to dream of a world where all the energy we use is produced by water, sun and wind.
Are There More Birds?
Are there more birds, or do we just notice them more?
This is a question I have been posing myself and others during the lockdown.
I certainly am seeing more birds, especially the small ones …
They come and perch on the birdfeeder, or land in small flocks on the grass,
And I hear them singing in the trees, at all times of the day.
Maybe there are more birds,
Or maybe I am just more attuned to notice them,
The increased silence in the lockdown, with transport noises at a minimum,
Means their chirpy songs are more noticeable.
Whether there are more birds, or the environment is more conducive to notice them,
I am more committed to not passing by in my busy day without taking time to listen and observe these delightful small creatures
And becoming more mindful of their flight, their song, their love for life.
NO MORE WASTE
It represents our society’s wastefulness and the urgent need to put a stop to this. Our earth’s resources are being overexploited, misused and discarded with a resulting mountain of waste; food, clothing, appliances, cars, metals, plastics, chemicals, and the list goes on. My counter action is to buy very few new things, reuse and recycle materials and objects, choose second hand options, swap items, be careful with use of household energy and water, to buy food as and when needed in order to avoid food going off and thrown away. Where possible I try to find a home for items I no longer need. Where food is concerned, I volunteer at a community cafe where many menu items are made from surplus food donated by supermarkets and individuals. I also try to choose products with no or minimal packaging.
(On the process of making this panel, Mona writes: It was, overall, a rather messy and impulsive process (but that’s not a problem for me. I quite enjoyed that freedom especially under lockdown). There was no plan – the piece evolved as I went along. I found the concept easily enough. I looked up some examples of NO MOre waste banners online, for inspiration. I then rummaged through my boxes of materials for the base and chose the most likely piece that would not be used for anything else other than patching up. I first thought I would just draw on the material with special felt pens as I was not sure how to represent the rubbish mountains; I did draw outlines and then I decided to sew on used scraps of paper, small pieces of plastic, loose beads, and things I might throw away like ends of thread and wool and felt. As I went along it felt right that it was messy because waste causes a mess. I would have loved to convey decay but didn’t know how and the smell? I suppose I could have dipped it in liquids but decided against that as the panel might end up being hazardous itself. Rest assured, it is clean. I found the making very relaxing even though what I was representing frustrates and worries me. I worked on the panel in the evenings; somehow it did not feel like a daytime activity. I wish I had been able to add some metal, and maybe I could have added more stuff to avoid any spaces but I had to decide to stop at some point, and so I did.)
I Love Trees
Trees are very important to me.
They are also important to wildlife, offering protection from the elements, food for insects and birds as well as places to hide and to rear young.
They provide shelter for us too as well as seasonal produce, leaves and blossom. They are the largest living plants we have.
The loss of rainforest has a huge impact on climate change so we must protect them to protect the climate.
I am supporting the planting of tree saplings and tree protection in my local area as well as having five trees in my small three by five meter garden.
Choosing the future
Normal Countryside with rabbits, frogs, birds and Jonathan Seagull?
Neglect and destruction of buildings, plants and trees. Squatters with candles in ruined buildings ?
All our actions influence how the world will be in future. There’s a little owl of hope at the top.
I will campaign to protect the countryside from being built on, find ways to help rewilding, and look after plants, trees and animals around my home…
Trade and shipping
Over 90 percent of world trade is carried across the world’s oceans. There are now around over 100,000 transport ships at sea, of which about 6,000 are large container ships. Engins on the world’s biggest ships can be as tall as a four-storey house, and as wide as three London buses. So a lot of fuel is required, which in turn creates a large amount of CO2. International shipping creates as much greenhouse gas as Germany. But they also pollute badly in other ways
The fuel oil used by large ships is also very dirty and sulphurous, poisoning the air and water and adding to acidification of the seas. Many ships also dispose of their waste at sea and don’t clean their bilge water. Many parts of the seas are now designated as ‘dead zones’ and these are growing rapidly.
While trade has many benefits, this is killing the oceans which has many damaging knock-on effects. Instead of encouraging international trade we should aim to become more self-sufficient, eating local food where possible, manufacturing and recycling locally rather than importing goods and exporting waste.
Regulating and policing international ship pollution is difficult, but needs to be further developed. Meanwhile I’m going to try and avoid buying things made a long way away, in favour of items made or grown nearer to home, and will encourage others to do the same.
We only have one world
We only have one world. We need to protect it together, whoever we are and wherever we are.
It’s the only one we’ve got.
Social justice and trade justice are essential for a sustainable world.
I support ethical companies and vote for social justice and fairness both for now and for future generations.
For Peat’s Sake
Peatlands are thought to be the most efficient carbon sinks on Earth. According to Scottish Natural Heritage, the carbon locked up in Scottish peatland soils is equivalent to 140 years’ worth of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. Conversely, when peat is extracted it releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Peat accumulates very slowly indeed, at a rate of around 1mm per year or I metre per 1000 years, so it’s vital that we protect peatlands. Unfortunately, we don’t. Instead, we continue to use large amounts of peat in our gardens unnecessarily.
Until I started doing some research into climate change for this project, I had no idea how important peatbogs are for our future. I now buy peat-free compost and am starting to make my own compost. I’m also supporting a local campaign to use only peat-free products in our Beautiful Scotland flower beds.
In this panel, I wove with wool and fine, virtually invisible, slithers of soft plastic to represent the sea, which looks clear but is actually polluted with tiny pieces of plastic.
I love the sea and have many happy memories of swimming and surfing at beaches in Devon and Cornwall. When we moved to Scotland, I fell in love with the wilder, chillier seashore of the Outer Hebrides. It was there that I first became aware of microplastics, which pollute the sea around these beautiful islands and, indeed, oceans all over the world.
Some microplastics are manufactured intentionally and needlessly for use in cosmetics and cleaning products. Some are created by washing synthetic fabrics; an average wash-load of 6kgs, can release over 700,000 fibres. Large plastic debris eventually breaks down into tiny fragments, which end up in rivers and oceans. The full extent of damage to human and environmental health is not yet known.
What can we do? For a start, use less plastic, avoid products that contain microplastics, pick up litter so that it doesn’t get into the waterways, re-use single-use plastic items as much as possible and put pressure on supermarkets to use less packaging.
Chimpanzees in the Rainforest
The tropical rain forests are vibrant and beautiful. They are not only home to many creatures but essential as the earth’s lung, carbon sinks which are reduced by deforestation. When cleared by fire they are also a source of additional CO2 contributing directly to global warming. My understanding of our cousins, the chimps, owes much to a wonderful book by Frans de Waal, called Mama’s Last Hug.
Chimpanzees, like all creatures that dwell in the tropical rain forest, are threatened by deforestation. It takes place extensively in the Amazon and in the jungles of South East Asia for the purpose of intensive agriculture (such cash crops as soya and palm oil) and cattle ranching. This creates a loss of habitat as well as immediate danger from clearance through burning. Forest animals are also preyed upon by humans for bushmeat and sport.
We need to address the problem of species extinction and loss of biodiversity caused by habitat loss and destruction in the tropical rain forest. We can do it by refusing to buy palm oil products and eating less red meat and by political actions such as voting out of office those governments which, as in the case of Brazil, seem intent on hastening the destruction of the rainforest.
I love old hedgerows with their mix of plants, providing shelter and food for many different creatures and helping to hold the earth in place through wind and rain. I have been very sad to see so many of them being torn up over the years, the erosion of soil in fields and the decline in wildlife.
I look after the hedges I have and will try and encourage people to care for theirs and/or to plant new ones.
No Time To Lose
Scientists have long been predicting the destructive changes to the environment that we are now seeing. Despite this, carbon emissions in 2019 were still the highest ever, ice is melting rapidly both at the poles and in the mountains and we see catastrophic droughts and wildfires, floods, winds and other extreme weather events more and more often. These have caused huge loss of life to many species, and often brought disease and famine in their wake. The risk of nuclear catastrophe, whether by accident or through war, is ever-present.
We have no chance of halting the spiral of destruction without radical changes very urgently – as individuals, communities, businesses and nations. Those of us in the developed world (especially the wealthier among us) consume the most; so we need to lead the way by our actions.
What kind of ancestors do we want to be seen as … if indeed there are any humans left to tell the tale?
I have been cutting back my carbon footprint gradually, and try to buying and travel less, seldom by plane or car. But unless Governments invest in radically greener tax and physical infrastructure there is little hope. So let’s persuade them to act now, before it’s too late.
I made a pig playing in the mud because I think that humans are killing too many animals for their own needs. Soon there will be no animals left.
I will try to raise awareness of this, and I don’t eat pork.
I love the sea, the colours and the underwater life.
I find it incredibly relaxing to swim underwater.
The delicate balance is being distubed by human pollution and by global warming.
I’ll try and be more aware of my impact and to be more proactive in this, for example I’ll monitor my carbon footprint, probably using carbonindependent.org
I have chosen to depict a cow as I have decided to give up red meat.
I understand that forest land is being destroyed in order to graze cattle for beef .
It’s a small step but at least I can do my bit.
The ‘beach’ square was inspired by seeing a sad gull dying as it was tangled up in the plastic rings used to package six packs of drink cans. I wanted to show a beach as it should be seen, pristine and clear of litter with the Gull soaring above.
I have been looking into the packaging of these cans throughout the world. Soon after the rings were introduced in the 1960s it became clear that they were a danger to wildlife wherever they were discarded, particularly on beaches as they could get into the sea. In 1994 the US made it mandatory that these rings were biodegradable, however they still take time to degrade, meanwhile they will have snared millions of birds, fish and animals. The response is slow. I hope that plastic rings and shrink wrapping will be phases out. (More details on my research is on the Loving Earth Project Facebook page.)
Save the fridge
Our Crafternoon at Yealand enjoyed interpreting this World Wildlife Fund advert which one of our group found. The cold places of the world are beautiful but also so important for storing water and keeping things cool supporting the earth ecosystem – like our fridge which
keeps our food and drinks cool and lets us eat more variety and more safely. We all contribute to losing the fridge – by travel , by our use of gas and electricity, by what we do and what we eat.What can we do to reduce this? We decided we could all eat less meat and dairy and are hoping to plan a vegan meal for our village. Our textile piece is made from recycled fabrics and scraps left over from previous projects
Important as pollinators .
Endangered by loss of habitats and insecticides, also water and places to make a nest or hibernate .
I can make a nest or bee hotel , provide food plants and water , and stop using insecticides.
Moors and highlands
The moorlands are really important for wildlife and carbon capture and I love their spaciousness and the hidden live there. But they are increasingy unnder threat from wildfires, drainage, fracking, damaging agriculture practices and extreme weather events .
I will try to reduce my carbon footprint and car use, and support campaigns to preserve these precious places as wilderness.
I Love London. But people here are getting sick and dying because of air pollution and there’s an increasingly high chance of major flooding before long, as climate breakdown creates storms, tidal surges and rising sea levels.
Sea levels are expected to rise by over 40cm unless global warming is limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the more ambitious target set by the Paris climate agreement.
I am trying reduce my carbon footprint: although I travel quite a lot, I haven’t flown for nearly 20 years and avoid cars where possible. We have also insulated our home and have some solar hot water. Also I don’t eat meat and will try and eat less dairy in future. This is now an emergency and I will press for urgent and radical measures to be taken by the Government.
No more plastic pens
I love coloured pens, but I also love people, fish, birds, turtles and other living creatures.
Plastic harms and often kills them – whether by affecting hormones, when creatures eat the plastic waste or in other ways.
So I will stop buying plastic pens and use other drawing and writing materals. I am already recycling what I can and I will avoid buying plastic as much as possible in future, especially single use plastics.
The coasts are such wonderful places where possibilities seem endless and eternity seems near. They also teem with a huge variety of life. But they are being eroded by more extreme weather. Rising sea levels and ocean acidification will damage them further, and destroy homes and habitats too
So it’s urgent to halt and reverse global warming. I am campaigning for this, and will try to reduce my own carbon footprint too.
Wonder and compassion
I believe that with deep personal
awareness, the Earth can be seen as a metaphor for ourselves , bringing mind, body soul and emotions together and validating Wholism, which will in turn heighten environmental awareness.
If we lose the polar ice caps….
- The sun’s rays will not be reflected away from the Earth: faster global warming
- Polar animals will suffer : loss of biodiversity
- Water will not be bound up in ice : sea levels rising
- Coastal regions will flood: land, towns, cities lost
- Mass migtration of the displaced and dispossessed: social disruption
- Social pressure and antagonism : more conflict and war
So, I do not travel by air; I use public transport; as much as possible I buy food not transported by air; I grow vegetables and fruit; I am vegetarian.
Therefore life on this Earth can be seen as a pilgrimage into personal empowerment and direct compassionate action, with our inter knowing, creativity and imagination prompting us to bring about positive change and compassionate action for the environment and all living beings.
Need nectar-rich plants , especially late-flowering ones .
They like large clumps of flowers to see from a distance . Also large areas of long grass and nettles to provide food for caterpillars . Not suitable for my garden but we have plenty at the Quaker Meeting House.
I will refrain from cutting everything down in the autumn.
Wild flowers and meadows
Wild and not so wild meadows are precious because they are the free, uncultivated yet beautiful spaces where the earth can ‘sing’ and nature can thrive.
Meadows are threatened by overcultivation and intensive farming, over clearing of green spaces, road building and tarmacking, use of insecticides and fertilizers, and so on. I play my part in adding to this threat for e.g. I drive and use roads, I eat the food that is produced by intensive agriculture, and I have until recently assumed meadows were mostly part of the rural landscape.
I have never used pesticides or fertilisers in my garden and always left part of the garden as wildlife friendly as I know how. This year I have left all lawn areas of our garden to grow into a meadow. It is more messy but rather beautiful.
I am most concerned about our oceans filling with plastic bottles and other dubbish which the fish cannot eat, and whose whose home is being wrecked.
I was brought up in St Helens and many of our holidays were spent on the Wirral, in Meols and Hoylake. My sister and I loved playing with the lovely soft sand, handling baby crabs in rock pools, building castles etc.
Then came the Torrey Canyon disaster. Oil everywhere, causing the sand to turn a murky grey and the water just as bad. Sixty years on and I’ve not been back. I can still remember my horror and upset at my ruined holiday place .
Perhaps we could start by persuading everyone to STOP USING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES. It’s not very difficult!
The Earth grounds us and gives us home. As the cycles of nature are disrupted, species extinction is accelerating. Human communities around the world are also being devastated by floods, droughts, heatwaves and famines; this feeds further conflict and mass migrations.
We need to draw on our deepest values and spiritual resources to help us change our behaviour, as individuals, communities and as a species if we are to break the cycle. We need to stop wanting to have and do more stuff, and rather to live more simply, truthfully and lovingly.
I will uphold the Earth and its creatures in prayer,alone and with others. I will also learn more about what is happening to our ecosystem and what I could do about it, seeking and trying to follow guidance of the Spirit.
When a pupil of ours some forty years ago would draw exquisite pictures of plants and trees, he always drew all the roots and worms and insects under the ground, as just as important as the parts we could see. Now that research has shown us how amazingly complex trees are, for example communicating with each other through the root system and nourishing trees that are sick, as well as their absorbing CO2 , it is urgent that we reverse the destruction of so many millions before it is too late. They are the lungs of our planet and host to hundreds of life forms.
Wherever we have lived we have planted trees. For years we bought toilet paper made by a firm that claimed to plant three trees for every one they cut down. Sadly they stopped when they reached a million. So we switched to another firm that uses no trees. Instead it recycles used office paper. Incidentally it also gives a magnificent fifty percent of its profits to building toilets in Africa. Having lived through the war we have never been able to throw away food and have “made do and mended” all our lives. It’s not enough; but is an ingrained habit that we attend to more than ever.
“The Universe is always Singing”
– Martha Maker, Quaker botanist
Growing wildflowers and suitablegarden flowers to ensure a future for our butterflies, bees and other insects
These panels were made by three friends, from Quaker Tapestry fabric off-cuts and ends of yarn.
Clean water is central to the life and health of many creatures including humans. Extreme weather patterns are causing more and worse floods and droughts in many parts of the world; this results in immediate loss of property and human life, and of crops livestock and wildlife, with disease and famine and lack of infrastructure thereafter. Polluting waterways with chemicals and fertilisers adds to the risk for creatures that live there or come into contact with them – and fuel ‘dead zones’ in the oceans.
Here in Britain, we often take clean water for granted, though droughts and floods are becoming more frequent here too. We can help prevent these by mass re-wilding our landscapes and coastlines and planting (and caring for) trees, including in our cities. Taking major steps on carbon reduction is also necessary to help prevent these extreme events from accelerating further. So I will campaign for such measures to be taken.
I am grateful to live in a place where I have clean water on tap and I try to be careful about how much water I use, and what I dispose into the water supply. We have installed a ‘grey water’ tank so that water from the washing machine and bath can be re-used in the garden but I still use the hosepipe too.
The inspiration of nature
Being in nature nurtures our spirit and is healing. Arts and crafts in many traditions draw inspiration from the bounty of nature and the regular changes each season brings. Climate breakdown is making the seasons less predictable and loss of connection with nature, especially for city dwellers, can add to mental and physical ill-health and means that many people have no idea how dependent we are on nature or how to care for our environment.
I’ll continue to try and look after nature in my garden and neighbourhood, will try and learn more about it, and will encourage others (including the council) to do likewise.
Trees feel pain, send out warning signals to each other, search for kin and
thrive in groups. Sick and struggling trees are supported; nutrients for repair and growth are loaned when deficits occur and are transferred to neighbours before a tree dies.
An underground constellation of fungi (the mycelial web) links the whole forest, sustaining it for potentially thousands of year and supporting communities of plants, birtds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles , invertebrates and insecets.
Woodlands are threatened by humans through clearance, weak protection for precious woodlands, dwindling grant funding and lack of understanding as to how forests work. It breaks my heart to learn how the controversial HS2 rail route is set to destroy swathes of ancient woodland through our countryside.
We can help by managing forests sustainably, in ways which meet the needs of a diverse range of trees, plants and wildlife while supporting livelihoods . This also helps the ecosystem in other ways , such as carbon storage and mitigating flood risks.
I am a lifelong animal advocate and we need more trees, so I have planted wildlife friendly trees and a small patch of wildlife meadow in our new garden (no use of pesticides, of course). We are also encouraging wildflower planting along public grass verges and have helped fund the new Ross on Wye linear arboretum which is making its way along the water meadows.
More information is at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk and in ” The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben.
the last days
if these days are the last days
I will prepare my hours
a will and testimony
each breath a gift
each smile a legacy
to pass on to the soil
for the next great ascendency ….
… if these days are the last days
each word that I speak
will be my last stanza
that points at the moon
with a finger of wonder
that denounces injustice
with the claws of a lion
roaring out its reminder
that with each breath we are dying
that it takes work to be kinder
and that love is all
that we can ever leave behind us.
(Sam Donaldson’s poem and Lily Williams’ painting inspired this panel. )
I love to see cows in green meadows, ruminating peacefully beneath a summer sky. I also love cheese!
However, cows create a great deal of methane which is a very damaging greenhouse gas (80 times more damanging than CO2 over 20 years). There are about 1.4 billion cattle in the world and the number has been increasing due to demand for beef and dairy products.
A lot of these cattle are reared intensively, with forests being destroyed and large monocultures are farming plants such as soya for cattlefeed. Further environmental damage is caused by transporting cattle and their food around the world. As well as contributing to global warming, intensive beef production is an inefficient way of feeding people, results in loss of biodiversity, and does not give the cattle a good quality of life.
I stopped eating meat some time ago, and I am now cutting down on dairy products, especially those from cowsmilk. However we urgently neet to introduce agriculture and trade policies that discourage the importing of beef or cattlefeed. Instead our policies should encourage mixed farming, and especially plant food for human consumption, rather than livestock or dairy farming. I will encourage and campaign for this where I can.
Be the hope
Just having hope is too abstract these days, as we face potential catastrophe. Instead we must ourselves act so as to bring about the kind of world we hope for. There is nothing more joyful than living in this way, especially in the company of others.
“ … Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”
George Fox, 1656
Our Eco System
Our Planet Earth is a beautigul living Eco system of which we are a part.
For me, the essence of my Deep Ecology philosophy means an expression of my connection with the living world, both spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. I believe that the damage we do to our Earth we do to ourselves, and when we damage ourselves and each other we also damage our Earth.
When I walk in the Natural World, with deep awareness and respond to gifts I receive, my own healing and conscious response to the ills of the world will, I belive, ripple into collective consciousness and contribute to better things.
Fear for the countryside
In areas of our countryside environmental changes are happening for different reasons. Several of these being brought about by changes in our weather patterns but also both human and business demands.
The excess rain and river water is affecting the pasture and arable land, which could endanger the continuance of sheep and cattle farming. Both these animals offer so much more than simply their meat to the population.
The pollution of rivers and streams from manufacturing waste, insecticides and throw-away plastic.
Using unsuitable land for the development of housing and accompanying infrastructure needs.
My efforts to support these concerns include
- using and reusing waxed paper for wrapping food in the fridge and freezer, and
- using shampoo which is paraben-free.
Air pollution is harmful to everyone’s health and there is now strong evidence that this is linked to the development of asthma. As one of my grandsons suffers from asthma and lives on a main London street this makes the problem very personable to me. It is believed that exposure to air pollution in early life contributes to the development of asthma throughout childhood and adolescence, particularly after age 4 years. Traffic-related air pollution in particular is associated with the development of asthma in school children and can increase the chances of developing asthma in adults as well.
The UK is currently failing to meet its current targets on limiting air pollution. This means that many pollutants that can affect asthma, such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates – from traffic fumes, factories and industrial sites – continue to put people with asthma at risk.
Air pollution can harm anyone. No matter where you live in the UK, pollutants in the air can harm your health. Immediate action is required at a local, national and international level to improve air quality.
Use Your Feet
Fossil fuels burned in cars are a major contributor to CO2 and other greenhouse gases, leading to climate change and local air pollution. Those in cars suffer the most from damaging exhaust gases too.
By leaving our cars at home (even electric cars create some damage to the environment) we are creating a healthier environment for ourselves and for the planet as a whole.
I feel physically healthier and fitter by leaving my car at home.
I am an organic allotment holder and gardener. There are wildflower areas, insect homes and flowers in both the allotment and gardens to attract pollinating insects.
My lament is that I don’t hear enough of hedghogs snuffling along, the lazy murmer of bees buzzing – especially in the herb areas – or being able to watch colourful butterflies or moths fluttering around, ladybirds flying and landing on flowers and vegetables/ fruit, or birds exploring the newly-dug over soil.
As more people become aware of the situation, green verges and roundabout greens are being planted up with bulbs and seeded for perennial flowers. Neighbours are getting together to create hedgehog walkways by making small holes at ground level in fences or gates. All these small actions make a big difference to the wildlife and bring smiles to people’s faces .
Autumn, the forgotten season.
Autumn signals both the end of the growing season and the breeding season. The increasing unpredictability of the climate means that we are increasingly experiencing both droughts and excessive rain. Trees are both losing their leaves earlier and changing colour later, and I am in danger of losing my favourite season.
Autumn is important for leaf senescence (the final stage of leaf development when nutrients move from leaves to seeds), fruit ripening (important component of birds diets) and the migration of insects and birds. Droughts are responsible for leaves falling early while excess rain causes delayed leaf colouring which influences how trees prepare for the coming season. There is a fine balance between carbon sequestered through photosynthesis and carbon lost through respiration. Warmer autumns extend photosynthesis and increases ecosystem respiration. Such changes in carbon dynamics can favour invasive species and pathogens.
The migration patterns of birds and insects is also changing; birds who migrate short distances leave later and birds who migrate further distances leave earlier. These changes affect reproduction patterns, which can lead to an increase in the transmission of diseases within the bird population. The reshuffling of natural enemies can also alter the ecological dynamics among interactive species. Vulnerable families of birds are at greater risk and there is an increase in the more predatory birds.
Ecosystems are interconnected. More precipitation lowers temperatures and increased temperatures result in less precipitation. It was recently reported already that deforested areas in the Amazon are emitting more CO2 than they absorb. Food for thought!
Counting the cost of an early Spring.
Warm spring days, trees blossoming early, migrating birds arriving earlier, frogs, other small animals and insects breeding earlier seem a relief after a gloomy winter. However it comes at a cost to nature. Spring brings with it an increase in air temperature and longer days which are responsible for how organisms calibrate their internal calendars.
The weather we are experiencing means species disagree as to when Spring has arrived; it upsets their breeding patterns and subsequently food sources for organisms higher up in the food chain. For example:
- For hedgehogs coming out of hibernation early, their food source (snails and other insects) are not available and hedgehogs die.
- The time when caterpillars are at their most abundant has fallen out of sync with breeding birds who rely on them as their food source. This will see an increase in the caterpillar population and a decrease in the number of birds, like the great tit, who feed on them.
- Fruit trees blossoming earlier lose their blossom to strong winds and late frosts. This means no pollen for pollinating insects, and a decrease in pollination which affects the breeding of insect populations and on birds and other species who will lack fruit and seeds later in the year.
Being part of this project has increased the anxiety I have for the future for my children and grandchildren. It is important that I lead by example.
Adeiladwch yn Gail!
This panel was inspired by the situation in Fairbourne, Gwynedd, where the sea is threatening properties. Our local MP Liz Saville Roberts has been active on raising matters of coastal flood risk, flood management and home insurance for flood risk. I support her in this.
Chocolate and chimpanzees
This image of chimpanzees shows a female comforting a male who has just lost a fight with another male. It might also symbolise other losses, such as the profound one of habitat loss caused by deforestation. In countries such as Ghana and Ivory Coast in west africa this has had a devastating effect on wildlife.
According to a 2018 report from Mighty Earth, vast swathes of tropical rainforest , equivalent to 15,000 football fields, were cut down in the cocoa-growing region of Ivory Coast alone in less than a year. The destruction of rainforest for the purpose of growing cocoa feeds the chocolate habits of millions of people around the world.
Most of us don’t know where the cocoa in our chocolate comes from and a complicated system of certification makes it difficult to track. Although Leading chocolate manufacturers have pledged to halt the destruction but few have made good on their promises. An exception is a new young company called Love Cocoa, owned and run by James Cadbury. It is pledging to plant 500,000 trees as part of the Trees for the Future campaign. For every chocolate bought, a tree will be planted for cocoa farmers in northern Cameroon. In addition, Love Cocoa gives 10% of its profits to the Rainforest Foundation. James Cadbury is pressing for more transparency in the supply chains from cocoa bean to confectionary.
We can all make sure that our chocolate is ethically sourced and produced by looking for the fair trade label and avoiding the products of the large confectionary companies.
Camels were imported into Australia by British settlers in the early 19th Century to help build railways across the desert . Since then feral camels have multiplied so that by 2008 there were over 1 million feral camels in Australia, with numbers continuing to rise.
Droughts in the last few years brought large groups of camels into towns and villages in search of water, where they damaged buildings and were seen as threatening humans as well as competing with humans and livestock for water. Thousands of camels were culled in January 2020.
Average temperatures in Australia have risen markedly in recent years, as have extremes of weather and by the time the drought broke in February, bringing floods to many areas, the over a billion animals were thought to have perished, probably including a many insect species that may have become extinct.
It’s too late to stop this, but we can still avoid the worst if we take fast and radical measures to stop burning carbon and extracting coal and oil and change our agriculture and lifestyles and the economic systems that underpin them. I will press politicians and companies to do this.
The message I wanted to convey is that intensive farming is driving nature out of the countryside.
We have become a member of a local wildlife trust. We take advice given in the bird magazine and preserve natural spaces in our garden and our locality.
Time slows in the ancient woodlands, nestled amongst the rocks in the valley between the fields. I rest and notice the sunlight painting hypnotic patterns of light and dark on the moss-scented earth. In this hushed place, words drift like dandelion seeds in the air between the gnarled trees, ready to be caught by those who listen: “Will you hear the whispered wisdom of the wild? It is time to come home”
Woods in the Lake District
I had just started to think about this project when I read paragraph 20.22 of Quaker Faith and Practice .
Luke Cocks was a butcher and an early Quaker. He describes how he was led, bit by bit, to follow the Quaker way, to speak Truth, to to speak plain language, to bear a testimony against tithes, and to testify to “the Hand that had done all this for me.”
I love trees, and I know that I have played my part in using and abusing them, especially in being profligate with my use of paper.
Partly through this project I have taken small steps towards a more sustainable life style. I have greatly reduced my use of kitchen paper by using rags from old clothes, as my mother did. I re-use scrap paper, not least to make templates and patterns for embroidery projects, and instead of buying a note pad to put by the phone. Compared with Luke Cock’s journey these are very small steps and cost me nothing, but they are steps, nonetheless.
Waste Not, Want Not
The start of the Covid-19 lockdown made me even more aware of our dependence on local resources. For some time my household has tried to avoid buying food flown in from distant parts of the world, to reduce our carbon footprint, and I have been concerned at our dependance on transport and the fragile just-in-time economy. We need to build local resilience – socially and ecologically, and the pandemic reinforced this.
This panel was made out of things we had lying around the house many of which were no longer useful for their original purpose. Pockets cut out of worn-out garments, electric wires and odd buttons and various other odds and ends which might otherwise have been thrown away. The magpie who loves shiny things, and the people’s faces emerged by themselves as I played with them; and there is still a rich stock of items that will be useful later on.
For a more sustainable future we are going to have to make do with what there is to hand much more. It will be important that everyone’s basic needs are met, but many of us we can happily do without a lot of the stuff we expected to have, and not going shopping gives time for other things .
Reducing my waste and not buying what I don’t need are habits I hope to keep.