Helix aspersa ~ click the photo for more information…
Choices, choices, climate change.
A few thoughts on people/nature conflict resolution, exposed to the elements, hounded by storms and, perhaps, to be scoured by a flood of anthropocentrism.
“Nature OR Agriculture” “Birds OR People” “Rural OR Urban”
I’m certainly hearing these demands more frequently over the airwaves. Career politicians, wrapped in the perpetual maelstrom of an adversarial system, appear hellbent on continuing to present financial and moral arguments based on A versus B. Of course, they never clearly define A or B, but intentionally reenforce prejudice and encourage division amongst the populous for their own gain, even if simply for a first-past-the-post vote.
Emissions, biodiversity loss and lack of natural resilience, all contributing to the problem and action is overdue, but it is now crucial that knee-jerk decisions should not be made in exchange for short-termism. Climate, flood, food, parliamentary reform, legislature. Everything is connected. We need to be mindful.
Flooding, concrete solutions?
Pro ‘business as usual’, energy hungry growth mongers, will of course want to pour their concrete, hold back the seas and the rivers, command us dominant over nature. I can hear the rally cry now: Fight the good fight, especially if it’s job creating! And, by the way, a smaller government will ‘liberate’ the farmer to dredge himself, ‘incentivise’ the corporates to construct those high riparian walls, leave those cash strapped LAs no choice but to clean up the mess and push up taxes. And we’ve always the military industrial complex to fall back on, send in the soldiers.
But aren’t these offerings from the very stony cold hands that dealt us the problem of climate change and biodiversity loss in the first place? Pure Capitalists, Neoliberals and their lobbyists? And we can’t forget the advertising and packaging industry!
Human/nature conflict here in the UK is reaching a threshold, methinks. And with the utmost sympathy for those directly impacted by the floods, I hope it is for the better. Have we arrived at the tipping point? Too long we’ve been in a bubble, protected from the impacts of a changing climate, storm surges, glacier-melts and bone-whitening drought, unlike other areas on the planet, mostly undeveloped but highly populated. What if there had been no Thames Barrier? Westminster under water some ten years ago may have catalysed political action some way before now. Money no object? So much for austerity! All the while, wetlands have been drained, ditches culverted, cheaper low lying land developed, no consumer change encouraged and causation avoided… we even have HS2 on track to weigh the south east down even deeper into the sea. Mainstream broadcasting would never have us believe those ‘positive’ Christmas retail statistics are in any way connected to the Thames communities knee deep in silty, bacteria and litter laden floodwaters. We can always buy our way out of trouble, no? We continue importing, burning oil, fracking, consuming.
Soft options: flood preventions integral with nature
The idea that ‘soft’ could introduce so much positivity and thriftiness to the equation would surely rock a neoliberal establishment. Soft? Even the word doesn’t fit where Conservative politicians are concerned. I doubt very much if Owen Paterson would ever describe himself as ‘soft’.
One could always use the word ‘restore,’ perhaps there is strength in this simple word. To restore sounds a little conservative, if only with a small ‘c’. Restore begins with the letter ‘r’. ‘R’ is for radical, however.
Nature WITH agriculture, birds WITH people, rural WITH urban.
It really is time for us nature-centrics to shout louder, on the science AND the moral choices we should be making in our ‘resilient’ plans for the future. If we accept we are part of nature as opposed to separate, we are half way to discovering our full potential on Earth, in our own life support and the support of all other life. But if we are to find our Nirvana, salvation or simply our sustainable place upon Earth, the choices do not have to be A OR B, red corner verses blue. Moreover, A can be integrated with B, solutions borne out of valuing nature for its own sake. Complementary nature-based solutions, co-existence, integration, flow, soft. Radical.
For more information on ‘soft’ solutions to increased flooding due to climate change, please explore here. The European Centre for River Restoration
Small things that are everything
A few words about words. Philosophical thinking is enhanced by a fine use of words. Clarity is an honourable goal. Yet there are still some things in nature, and the spaces in between, which are yet to be granted an English name.
The Welsh use a wonderful word, hiraeth, which has no direct English translation. Its meaning is quite profound: Homesickness and grief for a lost time, a whistful yearning, nostalgia for a homeland which is no longer the same. Hiraeth says it all.
No English word exists for the particular shine between wet pebbles. There’s no word for our mental well-being gained from connection to nature. Look for a single word to describe small leaf bundles snagged around riparian twigs at high flood, and you will not find one.
Language of any kind has great value to those that use it. When I’m out along the river and I see a small leaf bundle snagged around a twig, I understand what it is and I imagine how it was formed. A long tailed-tit alights upon it, a bird so delicate in its search between the leaves for insects to eat. The small leaf bundle is of great value to the bird, and to the insects that are hiding, should they succeed in avoiding the bird! When eventually the leaves degrade and fall down into the water, float on the surface for a while before sinking, they become part of the organic material which gives life to the river. The small things are everything.
So I’m naming this small bundle of leaves, which snags on riparian twigs during floods, a tweavelet. I hope the long-tailed tit and the insects will not mind, nor the tweavelet, for they are my kin. It’s for all of us to look for the small things that have no name. And the spaces in between. Perhaps we should give them names, for often they are everything.
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