How to save the world

Horace Camp questions why people are willing to give up their personal freedoms in the fight against Covid – but not to help stop the bigger threat of climate change.

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The weather this week is giving us hope that spring will soon be here.

In another life, the seasons had far more of an impact on me and, of all the four, winter had the least to offer. Yet I loved the crisp mornings, even when my hand would stick to the icy gates and the wind would split what was left of my fingers at the joints. Happy days. But the months confined to the yards and stables were not only depressing for the cows – they weren’t that popular with me either.

You could say winter was like lockdown for the cattle. They were warm and well fed, but they could still glimpse the fields and as the winter progressed and the sun shone more often the restlessness of the herd grew day by day.

In early spring, when it was warm enough and the fields looked green enough, I wonder if they questioned why I was still keeping them in?

Trust me, like the CCA, I had no intention of keeping them in for one minute longer than necessary, but after a wet winter the fields would take some drying if I didn’t want the cows to turn the green sward into a fair recreation of the Somme.

When the great day came and once the cows realised there was a change of routine, a great crush similar to a US Black Friday sale would build up and once that yard gate was open, then just look out if you didn’t want to be crushed under foot as the spring stampede kicked off.

Once seen, never forgotten. John Wayne wouldn’t have lasted a minute trying to keep the cows away from the grass.

It occurs to me that the people of this island are resonating with my long-gone herd of cows and are just waiting for Foxy Ferbrache to throw open those gates to allow us to stampede like mad things who have been locked up for weeks.

I have already noticed the social media posts from many who are feeling the adverse affects of incarceration and who are reliving their past holidays while dreaming of jet-setting again as soon as the world gets back to normal.

I understand the sentiment, though my travelling days are over and Guernsey is more than enough to entertain me these days. But I just wonder what Planet Earth thinks about the respite we have given her (if that’s the correct pronoun these days) over the last 12 months. Are the canals of Venice still clear or are the forests and beaches feeling less walked over by millions of tourists?

Economically, the human race has taken a hit in its pocket and I feel for those hit the most.

Environmentally, surely this has been globally the best 12 months this century?

Our response to Covid has been amazing and far outweighs our response to climate change. We have done an awful lot to save our planet but individually few of us have given up so much personal freedom as we have done to fight the pandemic.

In some ways this is puzzling, because climate change is a far greater threat to far more people than Covid. Which leads me to ask the question, why do we expect the post-Covid world to be a return to normality?

Could we not consider that, as we have begun to change our habits and most of us have survived a year without foreign travel, we could consider a permanent reduction in travel?

I know I have a personal vendetta against noisy aeroplanes shattering my peace and quiet at Old Farm and that I love the clear blue skies without jet trails ruining the picture, but I read somewhere that global travel reduction has cut emissions by 17%. That’s probably a bigger help than banning single use bags and/or selling vegetables singly, but I’m no expert.

It beggars belief that not a single country has taken it upon itself to go for the nuclear option of removing personal freedoms for the good of the planet when it seemed the obvious thing to do for Covid.

Could it be that there isn’t any real support for major climate change action and certainly no appetite to impact economies purely to prevent the Armageddon that is continually predicted by scientists?

There are many people in Guernsey who are slightly uncomfortable about the morality of our finance industry but who will never question the morality of tourism. Perhaps they are as bad as each other? On balance I wonder where we stand on the environmental impact of lockdown? We obviously have had fewer foreign feet trampling on our foliage or eroding our south coast cliff paths. But on the other hand we have had more locals tramping around more frequently than usual. My guess is we are better off, but not majorly.

What do you think? Is VisitGuernsey inherently evil for encouraging people to visit us and tramp through our Bluebell Woods after polluting our skies to get here and go home again? Should Venice encourage tourists to return when they do it just for the money and think nothing of the marine life in the lagoon?

All, of course, is poppycock and it will never happen, just as we will never stop David Attenborough travelling all over the world and tramping through rainforests to make his entertainments.

I’m just enjoying for once being the virtue signaller and turning the tables on the extreme ‘greens’ who are willing to give up almost nothing that impacts them to save the planet if it doesn’t fit in with their dreams.

Covid and lockdown has taught us just what the global community can do when it puts its mind to it. And we have seen no such ‘enthusiasm’ to do the right thing environmentally, even when the science tells us we need to do more.

What’s the solution? Answers on a recycled, biodegradable, sustainably-sourced postcard please.

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