Earth Day seems to be an auspicious day on which to being a new blog series. ‘The Hive’ is going to be a collection of positive news stories about the environment, with a solarpunk vibe – demonstrating that those of us who care about the environment are not alone, and that in fact there are legions of people around the world who are actively making a difference, and who share a positive vision of how the future could look, rather than the gloom and doom of a dystopia forced on us by a broken climate.
It has been a big week for the environment, with Extinction Rebellion disrupting ‘business as usual’ in London in a peaceful (yet effective) way to bring home the importance of the climate chaos message. For several days, Westminster Bridge was turned into a pedestrian garden, although is has now been returned to its normal, traffic-filled state. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager behind the surge of youth protests, has arrived in London (by train!) to lend her voice to the protests. And the BBC has finally aired a climate change documentary that didn’t shy away from the facts.
The hope is that we have reached a tipping point, and world leaders will have to acknowledge that we face a climate emergency, and take that into account when they make their decisions. We will have to wait and see.
Our first story of hope comes from strip-mined Appalachia – coal country. An army of elk have been released to begin the restoration of a million acres of damaged land – a pioneering scheme for land rehabilitation. There were one elk in these mountains, but they were driven to extinction by habitat loss and overhunting. It’s the kind of environment they love: open country, with grasses and flowering plants, low shrubs, and pockets of wooded areas. As the elk return to their natural environmental role, they allow the return of other wildlife, too.
Then there’s community fridges. They’re springing up all over the place, with the aim of uniting food that would otherwise be wasted with people who would otherwise struggle to feed themselves. Whether it’s supermarkets, airlines or farmers, if there’s food that needs to be eaten, there are people determined to ensure it’s not wasted, and that it reaches those that need it the most.
Migrateful is one of a number of charities offering international cooking classes in London, which raise money for migrant charities, raise awareness and reduce isolation by giving people a chance to meet and talk and learn a new skill.
And it looks as though we’re starting to gain some traction on plastic in the environment. The Guardian has an article that says 8 out of 10 consumers are trying to reduce their plastic waste and half would be willing to pay higher prices for eco-friendly packaging. And there are businesses springing up to tap into the plastic-free market, so it’s getting easier for consumers to make those choices. Let’s hope the ‘Attenborough Effect’ can do the same for climate change!
A bombed-out site in London has been turned into a community medicine garden, and the honey bees which were living on the roof of Notre Dame cathedral have survived the fire. Who knew roof top bee keeping was a thing in Paris?