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June 2019

Trinity is the green season now for church hangings, which seems very appropriate when we see the abundant leaves and grass growing all around us. As I write, the lanes are still full of bluebells and cow parsley, which will give way to pink campion and honeysuckle and other summer flowers. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful area where people want to come on holiday.

But the joy of summer returning and the apparent tranquillity of the English countryside can possibly lull us into paying less attention to the serious environmental challenges facing us with increasing urgency, not only in the near future, but actually now.

Several high profile events in the media came together over Easter to draw attention to the seriousness of the situation of global climate change. One was the broadcasting by the BBC of David Attenborough’s hard hitting documentary spelling out climate change facts. No-one who saw it could remain unmoved by the sight of thousands of bats which had dropped dead to the ground from sheer heat exhaustion due to extreme temperatures in Australia.

It’s a step forward that the BBC have accepted that climate change is a scientific fact, and not a political position that needs to be balanced by giving airtime to fossil fuel industry deniers. Not only the BBC but the Governor of the Bank of England is warning of this growing crisis.

Of course climate change also means more storms and flooding, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, which are already having a catastrophic effect in some areas. This is the effect of greenhouse gases raising global temperatures by 1oC already, and we need to avert much greater rises.

We have also seen unprecedented mass nonviolent action from the group Extinction Rebellion who mobilised many thousands of protesters demanding change and action from our politicians. Over a thousand were arrested, and whatever we think of mass civil disobedience as a tactic, it succeeded in raising the profile.

At the same time we saw the school children’s climate strikes around the world started by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who gave a hard-hitting speech to our parliament. According to the Environment Secretary she is the “voice of our conscience”. She used a striking image to describe how we must respond now – “Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while not knowing exactly how to build the ceiling.”

We can each start doing something to reduce our carbon footprint – waste less food, buy from local producers, insulate our homes, walk or use public transport. Let’s wake up to the need, and remember that the earth is the Lord’s. We are merely caretakers, handing on to generations to come.

Emma Laughton.

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