Monday, May 27, 2013

The State of Nature and human well-being

Almost two thirds of British species have declined in the past 50 years and one in 10 faces the risk of extinction from our shores, according to an extensive new report into the state of Britain's nature.
That was the Independent reporting the publication of the State of Nature report last week - you can download the whole thing from the RSPB website.

Though there are some bright points, such as the return of otters to many of our rivers, the trend is clear and depressing. Because I am convinced that enjoyment of nature is central to human well-being - see an article I wrote for Mind's magazine some years ago.

Love of the countryside used to be one of the tenets of British Conservatism (read a little Stanley Baldwin if you doubt me), but that was long ago abandoned in favour of the idea that the chief end of life is making money.

But there are two trends on the other side of politics that have been bad news for the countryside too.

One, which I have written before, is the way the green movement has chosen to argue from the threat of environmental catastrophe rather than deploy the more nebulous arguments about nature and well-being.

As I once wrote in Liberal Democrat News:
Years ago environmentalists decided their only hope was to scare us half to death. Peak oil and global warming are just the latest in a list of dooms. The result has been to make many people terrified of the natural world. The environment is all around us (you cannot argue with that) and it is out to get us.
The second piece of bad news is that way that anyone opposed to austerity demands that the government builds its way out of the recession, whether with HS2 or new housing.

It isn't just that this call ignores the natural world: it's that anyone who makes that argument is held in contempt. 'Nimby' is the very worst insult such people can throw at their critics.

There may be some good news in the shape of two books that have been published recently. These are Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding by George Monbiot and Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape by Jay Griffiths.

Judging by the reviews, I would find their arguments congenial. I may even have to read them.


Simon Titley said...

This article reinforces your point:

Simon said...

You could probably now combine those two points you know - what is left of our green movement tries to scare us into building our way out of recession - the Lord alone knows why. The last time I heard a Green party spokesperson on the radio they mentioned the environment once - by calling for the generation of more renewable energy.

Anyway isn't this post just another call for Hobbit socialism?