Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

Earth Day is an annual event designed to highlight and encourage enviromental protection. It has happened every year on April 22nd since 1970: fifty two years’ worth of coordinated effort by scientists, environmentalists and political activists, yet we are still balanced at the edge of catastrophic ecological collapse.

[1] Organically farmed meadow grass in the reserve, and [2] drought, the result of climate change.

This year’s Earth Day follows on from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s 2021 report that warns us that temperatures will rise beyond 2°C this century if we don’t take action, and the failure of COP26 to reach any meaningful agreement as to how we are going to prevent that rise. Governments, including ours, seem to be unwilling to take any step that might cost them votes, while international corporations continue to put their profits first, and the all-powerful oil industry buys influence among the world’s politicians.

This year’s Earth Day theme is Invest In Our Planet, something we keep asking our governments and industries to do – but it is individuals, citizens, the people, us, who seem to be the only ones investing in change. We are recycling our plastic bags, buying electric cars, turning down thermostats and putting that extra jumper on. Communities devoted to mending, re-using and recycling household goods are springing up everywhere, and fallow land next to roads and in unconsidered corners is being turned into insect-friendly flower meadows or taken over by guerrilla gardeners.

[3] Monoculture provides poor habitat for wildlife, [4] while orchids and froghoppers thrive in the reserve’s grassland.

You might wonder, as you use extra petrol to drive the extra miles to find peat free garden compost, if you are achieving anything. But remember: there are millions and billions of us. Each little effort is multiplied by multiples of 10 and the result is numbers that even governments and global commerce cannot ignore for ever.

Supermarket chains are not being altruistic when they decide to package bread in paper instead of plastic bags; they are frightened you will take your service elsewhere if they don’t. Nor are governments thinking of butterflies and bees when they ban neonicotinoids, they are thinking of the importance of your vote and balancing it against the wealthy and influential farming lobby. Each of us is a tiny but essential fraction of the huge effort it is going to take to save ourselves and our planet.

The message from Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve on Earth Day 2022? Keep on keeping on.

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