Article taken from Feedback 62 (Autumn 2019) – the Barn Owl Trust magazine for supporters.
As I took a break from working in my garden and sat watching the bumblebees buzzing and the dragonflies hovering, I could hear the wood pigeons cooing and the sparrows chattering and I felt a range of emotions. Amazement at the incredible diversity of the natural world, gratitude that I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by such beauty, and great sorrow that the World is changing very fast.
Here in our valley we have Ash dieback, a fungal disease that was first described in Poland in 1992 and has since swept westwards throughout Europe. It was first identified in Britain in 2012 in nursery stock then in the wider environment in 2013, although it could have been in the country much longer. A 2014 report by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee gave a worst case scenario of more than 95% of Ash eventually dying. This will have a huge effect on how our countryside looks, on wildlife and on water and air purification and carbon sequestration.
This Summer Bank Holiday Weekend the streets of Madrid were turned into rivers as flash flooding and hail inundated Spain’s capital. In one of the worst affected neighbourhoods cars were washed away in the torrents of water while huge piles of hail built up along some streets. Several metro stations and highways closed due to the destructive impact of the weather. But Madrid wasn’t the only city to be affected by the intense weather – about 500km south of Madrid an ominous tornado hovered over the town of Campillos.
The record number of fires burning in Brazil have made the international news, they rose by 84% from the same period in 2018, with more than 70,000 fires detected in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest so far this year.
They can be seen from space and politicians at the recent G7 conference described them as an “international crisis”. However on the 23rd August ‘Weather Source’ recorded 6,902 fires in Angola (Africa) in 48 hours as farmers employed slash and burn agriculture to clear land for crops. There were 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil. This year there have also been huge areas of burning forests in Siberia which have filled the air with smoke over much of the Pacific side of the Arctic Ocean. These fires are a result of the very warm and dry spring and summer conditions over the eastern Siberian Arctic.
Climate change is happening now. If they survive, my grandchildren and yours are going to have to deal with a very different world.
Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body, said we needed to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 in order to stand any chance of keeping global warming below 2°. As if that wasn’t bad enough, earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reported “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods,
food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”
It is a very dismal picture, and recycling and reducing our use of plastic is not enough to change the outlook. I’ve been environmentally aware for 40 years and trying personally to reduce my environmental impact but, it just
doesn’t do it. We need to work together as communities and persuade our politicians that economic growth is less important than sustainability.
Over the last six months the Trust has been working with the local community to raise awareness of the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Our local, district and county councils have all declared emergencies but we now need to see action at local and particularly national and international levels.
We are not alone; people all over the world are becoming aware of the situation and demanding action. One of the most heart-warming examples recently was a ‘School Strike for Climate‘ in Afghanistan.
Life is going to change, we all need to work together to ensure those changes are the best we can do for our children, our wildlife and everyone that shares our planet – Together we can make a World of difference.
by Frances Ramsden – Barn Owl Trust trustee.
Find out more:
How the Climate and Ecological Crisis affects Barn Owls
So what can we do? – some ideas for positive action.
Book a BOT talk in the Southwest: Climate and Ecological Crisis? – What’s all the fuss about?