Extinction Rebellion: Climate Action Day

It’s World Climate Action Day and, as millions gather across the planet to protest their respective governments’ inadequate response to the challenges ahead, what better day to reflect upon my own contribution. Specifically in respect of my travel and its growing carbon footprint.

For the past ten years I’ve been pirouetting around the globe in search of the most ethnically diverse people, the most fascinating archaeology and most remote landscapes and not always doing justice to the experiences with either my writing or my photography. There are some serious choices to be made now as well as a huge quantity of notes and pictures to be sorted, all of which can just as well be done from the comfort of an armchair at home. It’s not just my little dog, Molly, who is growing old and needs me to spend more time by her side.

I’ve always justified my frequent air travel by the argument that it was more than offset by economies made in other aspects of my life but how do you quantify a lifetime of such disinterest in apparel that nearly all my clothes are second hand and I haven’t bothered with cosmetics for decades? You can’t. And anyway that’s not the point: the garment and beautification industries may score highly for unsustainability but they also represent choices freely made and there is no hierarchy of virtue in what we each choose to give up. The same inferno beckons us all.

Even if it turned out that there was some decent science behind my calculations and I came up with all sorts of additional arguments for continuing a pattern of behaviour that many would consider profligate in the extreme, I simply don’t want to become that kind of apologist. We only have to listen to some of the blustering, banal and ultimately self-defeating cyclical arguments being proffered by our ever-increasingly polarised politicians to know how silly we can look on the back foot. I will have to explain myself to five clever and increasingly curious grandchildren. Enough said.

Here I must admit that the lovely photograph of the protesters in Worcester city centre was taken for me by Grahame who popped in on his motorbike to observe what was going on. Now, it’s always difficult to negotiate the centre of Worcester and someone was heard to comment that the demonstrators had caused no more obstruction than the constant roadworks but that did not deter some extremely vitriolic comments on the local news websites. Apparently, the “yoghurt knitters” should all have their social security benefits taken away and be banished to a remote island in the North Atlantic. Considering the preponderance of children and their grandparents on the streets I couldn’t but wonder where this peculiar narrative had sprung from.

A lot of hot air has also been expended about the participation of schoolchildren in the Day of Action, the most frequently cited argument being that they should not have been allowed out of school. For shame. Does anyone really believe it was alright for them to have a day off for the Royal Wedding but not so they can claim a stake in the future of their planet? So sickening was what passes for debate in the anonymous comments sections of the news platforms that by the time I emerged I almost felt in need of a wash.

And yes, I did come across people willing to conflate their support for Brexit with their denial of the need for climate regulation. What can our increasingly beleaguered Prime Minister really make of that? His girlfriend, the woman that he has moved into Number Ten in place of the not-yet-divorced mother of his four children, is a staunch climate activists. Let’s hope he goes home one night and finds she’s changed the locks. {What happened to the tradition of the estranged wife smiling through gritted teeth and standing beside her man on the world stage while the mistress was tucked away in a little flat in Knightsbridge? If this man simply cannot negotiate between the women in his life he’s hardly going to be able to make much headway with a decent withdrawal agreement in Brussels}.

So what did I do instead of joining the demonstration? I spent the day sorting through some new volunteering options at home now that Molly is too old for “Pets as Therapy”. I’ve begun work on a daunting “to do” list for updating the website so as to make better use of the photographs and notes (I don’t even know how many countries I’ve visited) and, now that I’ve at last progressed from apprentice to assistant falconer, I’ve made a commitment to spend more time trekking after wayward birds of prey across the muddy fields of home.

Categories: Britain, West of England

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