Climate change: living with cognitive dissonance

Climate change: living with cognitive dissonance

Spring flowers are blooming as the mercury rises into the high teens: midwinter in the era of global warming. Meanwhile, the delegates to last week’s climate change conference in Paris shuffle off home, congratulating themselves on a job well done.

It’s curious, this air of satisfaction with the conference outcomes.  After the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 failed to agree a legally-binding treaty to slow global warming, it was generally agreed that that is what it was: a dismal failure. This time, however, politicians and the mainstream media have been pushing the narrative of a job well done: an agreement hailed as ‘historic, durable and ambitious’. Continue reading “Climate change: living with cognitive dissonance”

Autumn 2015: mist, colour and unnatural warmth

Autumn 2015: mist, colour and unnatural warmth

Reading Paul Evans’ Country Diary in the Guardian this morning in which he describes autumn leaves ‘fiery as metal blades in a blacksmith’s forge’, I was reminded that in recent posts I haven’t mentioned the extraordinary autumn we’ve been having this year. After an indifferent few months, summer burst upon us late, and from the last week of September through the entire month of October the weather was governed by a large area of high pressure that remained motionless over much of western Europe. Continue reading “Autumn 2015: mist, colour and unnatural warmth”

Tim Dee’s Four Fields: ‘Without fields – no us. Without us – no fields.’

Tim Dee’s <em> Four Fields</em>: ‘Without fields – no us. Without us – no fields.’

Tim Dee is a BBC radio producer and a very fine writer. His first book The Running Sky was a superb meditation not just on bird-watching, but on life.  Last month I read his latest book Four Fields, in which Dee’s subject is, broadly, the way in which humans across the planet have shaped the landscape through cultivation. Succinctly summing up the idea that lends unity to his book, Dee writes:

Without fields – no us. Without us – no fields.

Continue reading “Tim Dee’s Four Fields: ‘Without fields – no us. Without us – no fields.’”

The Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor

The Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor

A quick shout-out for Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor, shown on BBC 4 this week (and available for another 25 days on iPlayer) – a 90-minute documentary detailing a year-long study of a single 400-year-old oak in Oxfordshire. The film was presented by entomologist George McGavin, who promised that ‘You’ll never look at an oak tree the same way again.’ Too true: McGavin took us on an engrossing tour of the oak (literally so, by climbing the tree, and even sleeping in its uppermost branches!), guiding us through its biology and cultural significance. Continue reading “The Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor”

Rising Ground: searching for the spirit of place

Rising Ground: searching for the spirit of place

The genesis of Philip Marsden’s latest book, Rising Ground, was his acquisition of an old, decaying and overgrown Cornish farmhouse. It is subtitled ‘A Search for the Spirit of Place’, and a few pages in, Marsden explains how, after writing a series of books cataloguing journeys he had made to distant lands he came to write one which follows him as he sets out on foot from his new home. Continue reading “Rising Ground: searching for the spirit of place”

This bitter earth: the campaign to stop Shell’s Arctic catastrophe

This bitter earth: the campaign to stop Shell’s Arctic catastrophe

A superb long read in the Guardian today by Rebecca Solnit describing a week-long expedition she took at the end of June through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a timely piece, as Charlotte Church and other Greenpeace protesters have been gathered for days outside Shell’s headquarters in London along with musicians performing a Requiem for Arctic Ice (inspired by the string quartet who continued to play as the Titanic went down) in an effort to persuade the company to abandon plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. Continue reading “This bitter earth: the campaign to stop Shell’s Arctic catastrophe”

Sometimes life IS just a bowl of cherries

Sometimes life IS just a bowl of cherries

Two years ago we planted a cherry tree on our allotment.  This week we have harvested our first crop of delicious, juicy fruits. What more is there to say? Continue reading “Sometimes life IS just a bowl of cherries”