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I heard a couple of women, they might have been XR – not sure, talking about meetings they had been holding recently, trying to educate the public on just how bad how rapidly things were becoming. One said she was interrupted by a gentleman in the audience who said, “What you’re saying simply cannot be true. People would be rioting in the street if it was true!”
We’re talking about the 1.5 degrees that we feel comfortable about staying within, as if that were the entire rise caused by human activity. That 1.5C is only since the 1950-1980 average. Even talking about “pre-industrial” is highly misleading, as 1750 might have been the start of heavy industry, but was by no means the start of our impact on the planet.
We have been cutting and burning huge tracts of forest for thousands of years. Britain and Ireland, not to mention the US, were entirely covered in forest, just for examples close to home. We now have patches of forest here and there, the effect of deforestation is simply massive. All this is supposedly granted for free, because we’re only counting our impact since 1750 at best, and much of the talk is of increases since the 1950-1980 average.
The drop in the number of birds and insects is staggering. At my parents’ place 20 years ago, huge columns of crows used to fly at dusk, it was a daily marvel. There must have been many thousands of them, literally. I saw a handful of stragglers the other day. My motorcycle gear used to get covered in insect strikes – this summer, sometimes none at all, despite riding through countryside.
I noticed some early paintings in museums – take a look next chance – in rural and farm settings. Birds are simply everywhere. The writings of Thomas Hardy and so on are full of descriptions of birds, how skilfully they dart beneath horses’ hooves and so on. Was this all just artistic licence? There are none today, or near it!
I’m not ancient, and the change since I was young is drastic. Younger people now probably don’t notice, because the base-line has shifted so far. My old mother tells me one dared not open a window in summer if you had the lights on, the place would be swarming with moths. Today you’re lucky to see one.
It’s really hard to find much optimism here.