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CEL home > Resources > May 2007


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Dear Natural World

Audrey Bryant was one of the founder members of Christian Ecology Link and served for many years on Steerring Committee. This article was originally written in February 2007 for the 'green column' of the Lanteglos Parish News (Cornwall)

1.   Dear Natural World

We take the natural world for granted, as a sort of 'given', a beautiful stage setting where our lives are acted out and which will be the setting for our children's lives too. Suddenly the media is coming over very heavy on climate change. Suddenly the government is putting taxes on air travel, making drivers liable for their size of car and rewarding 'good car' owners with no London congestion area charges!

But the message we're getting is not really sudden at all. Rachel Carson was one of the first to throw a spanner in the works. We thought we could make any technological fix or any ingenious invention and get away with it because nature was so vast and invincible, a 'given' in which we could do whatever we liked. Rachel Carson worked for an American pesticide company. Her 1962 book 'Silent Spring' showed that not only the pests were disappearing; the birds that eat the pests were being poisoned too. In the same year, Aldous Huxley, called a conference of egg-heads to talk about the way human populations were getting too big for their habitats and what it would mean for increasing deserts, wars over resources, water shortages and mountains of toxic waste - even then, almost 50 years ago.

I read Alistair Cooke's report of that conference and my world turned upside down. I read it several times and realised that my four babies would not have the 'given' world I had taken for granted and that my grandchildren would inherit a much poorer, dirtier and more violent place if we didn't do something about it. I read about poverty, birth control (a little too late), the peace movement and then I discovered ecology. I learned that the whole thing fitted together - that nothing was separate. My own actions and what was happening to our children's green world were two ends of the same thing.

With a few friends I formed a little group. We lobbied supermarkets about over-packaging and joined the peace group at Molesworth. We did a cost-benefit analysis for our MP on putting birth control on the NHS. It was nowhere near enough. Lobby groups had piecemeal victories and what the world's children needed was wholesale change in attitude and the way we do things. In 1972 'The Blueprint for Survival' came out and caused a brief stir. The Radio Times announced, "Tomorrow has been cancelled for lack of interest". The 'green movement' had started but it was not taken very seriously until acid rain, the ozone hole and oil tanker spills made the news.

In 1989 the 'Greens' won the biggest overall vote ever. The German Greens were elected and put the environment on everyone's agenda. The other parties were shocked and all their manifestos took on a green hue. But it didn't last. The whole world was running after money and what money could buy. The poor saw the comfortable and secure lifestyles of the rich on television and wanted it. Businesses saw more markets, cheaper labour and rich pickings, but many industries have compromised our grandchildren's lives almost beyond repair. Still we saw the whole natural world as a 'given' that would keep functioning as usual no matter what we did to it.

The present floods, storms, overflowing toxic landfill sites, allergies, children's asthma, skin cancer, immigration from poor countries and even the devastation of New Orleans are different ends of the same thing. "Little drops of water, little grains of sand make the mighty ocean and the golden strand" - little actions added together can make our grandchildren's lives more tolerable and the problems of their world easier to solve when they grow up. What about their children? I think it depends on each of us now.

Concern is catching - I hope we all become infectious., Audrey Bryant.

If you would like to use this article in your parish magazine, that is fine but please credit the author

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Copyright ©   2012 Audrey Bryant and Christian Ecology Link
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