At the end of last year I read The State of Nature Report, and was incensed by a need to do something. It urged a Call to Action, to prevent a further decline of UK species, which have fallen by 60% on average over the last 50 years.
Often after reading up on an issue that particularly grabs me, the most I might do is subscribe to a few relevant organisations newsletters to keep me up to date with the issue, sign a petition, blog about it or at best hand write a letter to someone in a position of influence.
N.B. In the end I decided to write to the Queen. The idea was to suggest she should mention this matter in her Christmas speech, but of course that had probably been written months before. It ended up being more of a Christmas card suggesting she might be interested in reading the report if she hadn’t already and perhaps mentioning it at some point. (Her lady in waiting did reply that the queen was very interested to hear my views on the environment!) The plan now is to send her a drawing or painting of one of the species on the Watchlist Indicator throughout the year – but we shall see – I’m not that confident with my drawing skills.
But still none of this ever feels satisfactory. Even if she was to mention the benefits of becoming active in conservation efforts to protect biodiversity in our wildlife and the sense of well being that reconnecting with the natural world can bring an individual, it’s an entirely different thing to take the time to act on it.
And here we have a common problem faced by most current issues of the day – how can the individual be mobilised to act on information in impactful ways? From personal experience, at best I might join a community group to become more active in this area, but as a volunteer this usually falls by the wayside as simply another fad I was involved in for a while.
Should this green finger knowledge have been passed down from parents? Should school lessons have been more orientated around the land that sustains us? At the moment, aged 28, learning about the natural world and all the species that populate UK soil feels like learning to ski or play an instrument too late on in life – it is a self-conscious attempt to do something I feel I should or will better me in some way rather than being naturally enthralled. Of course this is not true for everyone. I’ve met inspiring people who have read an article on a particular issue and set up a community enterprise in response.
It seems that to make the changes that are necessary for a healthier planet, people who consider themselves communicators or voices for change, need to be aware that it may not be enough to tell people about things anymore. Perhaps it is a matter of showing not telling and being the change you want to see in the world on a much more fundamental level – internalising those values you stand for – which in a perfect world would be intuitive to us from a young age if parents and educators were enabled to bring up children more holistically.