“If membership of wildlife and countryside organisations is anything to go by our environment is in good hands. The collective membership of organisations like the RSPB, National Trust and Wildlife Trusts dwarfs that of political parties. The RSPB alone has a membership of over 1.2million compared to 895,000 total membership of all the main political parties (Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and SNP). Viewing figures for programmes such as Blue Planet II (14million for the first episode) similarly indicate an enthusiasm for the natural environment. But is this translating into action?
This week’s news about a pilot whale dying after ingesting 80 plastic bags suggests not and recent reports paint a grim story on the state of the environment. The IPEBS report on Biodiversity and ecosystem services published in March this year outlined the dramatic fall in biodiversity globally. Key trends in Europe and central Asia include:
Loss of wild areas to agriculture is a leading cause of the global mass extinction of wildlife we are experiencing. Research reported last week showed that 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. The authors argued that if we stopped consuming meat and dairy we could reduce global farmland by more than 75% (an area equivalent to the EU, US, China and Australia combined). And we could still feed the world!
Of course, it is unlikely that all of us will suddenly adopt a vegan lifestyle, and the fact is that action is required on many fronts, at all levels of society. Governments are key to this; for example, by signing the Paris Agreement and taking action to regulate the use of resources such as plastics. Businesses, often blamed for causing degradation, are beginning to understand their dependent relationship with the environment and through technological developments and policy changes, may even supersede governments in terms of environmental management. And then there is us. We must take responsibility too.
So today, on World Environment Day by all means, watch a wildlife documentary or visit that bird reserve, but it’s going to take more than that! Think about signing up to Meatless Mondays, get your community engaged in the plastic-free movement, and if you do continue to drink milk, get it in a bottle! We are what we eat… And we get the environment we deserve. Let us all try and translate our interests and concerns into action. We and the planet will feel better for it.”
A video for World Environment Day 2018