Thursday, 3 May 2012

Polling Day blues

Polling Day. The chance to have my say about how my council is run. Except that no-one seems to be speaking my language. Despite the polar ice caps melting. Despite now universal agreement that climate change is a scientifically proven fact, and the most clear and present danger to the future of the planet. And despite ever increasing rates of extinction, biodiversity and habitat loss, most of my local prospective councillors chose to use their pre-election communications to talk about the need to fill more potholes.

Presumably this is so that people can get around faster and make more money. Because, of course, they talked about other things too - helping local businesses, economic growth, supporting education, health, economic growth, housing, economic growth, blah, blah, blah. Only one of them even mentioned environmental issues, let alone put it at the centre of their manifesto. Even the Green candidate had shied away from the C words. No-one seems prepared to acknowledge, as they must surely realise at some deeper level, that without a healthy environment, without tackling climate change, everything else is just pie in the sky.. It's not 'either we tackle the economic crisis or we look after the natural world'. We can't have one without the other. Tony Juniper, erstwhile leader of Friends of the Earth and inveterate environmental campaigner, explained it perfectly at a recent lecture entitled 'What Has Nature Even Done For Us' that I watched on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhPX7p9Iypw , when he said:

'The economy is not something that owns ecology...we must see the economy as it truly is, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ecology and the natural environment'.

So it was with a heavy heart that I walked across the fields to the polling station to make my vote, knowing no candidate truly spoke for me, or the natural world. Luckily it was a glorious, almost-summer day. Skylarks singing, small white butterflies emerging like tiny brides among the lady's smock, and bluebells just beginning to prick the woods with hints of hazy colour. But it made me even more angry that nobody standing for the local council really seemed interested in protecting it.

I know I'm privileged to be one of a tiny minority that can say 'I walked across the fields to make my vote'. That's part of the problem. If everyone had daily contact with the real world I don't think we'd be in this mess - either economically or ecologically. What will it take to get decision-makers, at all levels, to see that, and be brave enough to admit it?

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