We all have questions we need to answer.
Looking at the wheat field in the photo below, like me, you might well think it’s all looking lovely.
But then again …
When I took the photo (just on the outskirts of Caversham), I barely saw a bird. And that has to be, at best, odd. I think the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is one of the best sources of information about birds and what they’re saying is that things aren’t great for them. Their report about the UK situation, and the news coming in from the broader picture in Europe, shows a huge decline in the number of birds.
No, I’m not saying this field is an example of all the things that are wrong. It seems farming methods are one (but only one) of the causes of declining bird numbers, but it’s a complicated issue. We need to also recognize that there are ever more people – in Britain, in the world – that need feeding. The farming methods being adopted are all about increasing crop yield. The better the yield so the more people can be fed. Isn’t that a good thing?
Yes, that’s simplistic, but I don’t think it’s that wide of the mark. But then again …
Trying to think about all this, perhaps the only sensible way to look at things is in terms of foundations. We all know it’s never sensible to try to build on shaky ground. When it comes to growing crops, however good the farming methods are for increasing yield, what’s the longer-term reality going to be for the people being fed, if the methods used in growing their food are having significant negative knock-ons?
Yes, that’s also simplistic. And as mentioned, it’s certainly not just farming that’s in the spotlight. In fact, as soon as you start trying to think about any of this, the more complicated it gets.
If we’re trying focus what’s right for the future – whose future are we talking about? Mine? Yours? Your children’s? What time-scales are we talking about – now, next week, next year? What problems are we focussing on? And where? And so on and so on. There are endless aspects to it all, and it’s all difficult. But ducking it won’t make it go away, nor will shrugging your shoulders.
And you don’t have to shrug your shoulders about wildlife either. The RSPB offers a guide to things you can do – and not just for birds.
Why bother at all though? Why care about birds, or any other animals, or any other forms of life, or the environment, or the future of people the world over, or your own future, or the future of people you know and care about? Take your pick, but all those things are interlinked – they all count.
If you decide not to bother, another question looms: how are you going to justify not bothering – whether to yourself or anyone else?
Yes, those are questions everyone needs to answer for themselves – you and me both. But we can be sure that we need to, and not some time in the future but now.