December Blog 2020

The global pandemic is the major theme of 2020. And my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. The economic effects of the pandemic cannot outweigh but will very likely outlast the health crisis.  A crisis, any crisis, pushes us to look at the familiar with fresh eyes. It highlights what was previously unnecessary but just not recognisably so. I am proud that our volunteers have independently continued their activities without the need for assembled gatherings and they should be congratulated for their stoic response.

Similarly, newly found ways to avoid the daily commute must percolate into a review of the HS2 business case. The demand for transport infrastructure at any cost, surely can’t be justified in a post-pandemic – Zoom means not moving – world.

2020 is quite an extraordinary year. May 2020 was the sunniest calendar month on record. Saturday 3 October was the wettest day for UK-wide rainfall since records began in 1891. Whilst this seems like a good, long period over which to do the comparison it is, of course, nothing when considered from ecological timeframes; 315,000 years since modern humans evolved and 11,700 years since the last ice age. Whether the global weirding of the weather is a direct result of human activity is irrelevant. As custodians of this planet, our role is to safeguard this blue marble for the benefit of mankind; present and future. This can only be achieved with due regard for our own interdependence with the natural world.
Amazing Nature. Earlier in the year, a magpie made our home the epicentre of its domain. Protecting its nest, its decidedly un-soporific song of the morning and evening is deliberately timed for when the air is cooler so that the sounds travel further. My economist ex-colleagues would be impressed by such an understanding of effort-to-gain ratios. Nature has, over the millennia honed its survival strategies to accommodate such marginal gains instinctively providing wildlife an advantage – without reaching for the spreadsheet.
Springwatch. What a program! I’m a big fan of both Springwatch and Autumnwatch. Chris Packham’s love of wildlife is not a presentational veneer.  He’s a seasoned campaigner for nature outside of his life on the box. I was amazed to hear on one episode that each and every teaspoon of honey, that for years I have indulgently ladled into my morning coffee; each and every… single… teaspoon, is much more than the total amount a bee will produce in its entire lifetime. I’ve always waxed lyrical about the health benefits of this fantastic food. I now have an even greater respect for the makers.
Television is at its most useful when its mirror is turned unto ourselves. The legacy of Attenborough is to have moved our attention from the many microcosms of individual species and their survival strategies to look at the interdependency of life from a worldwide; planetary perspective. And it is both revealing and saddening to see how the human animal has disrupted the global ecological equilibrium.
Back to our Corner of the Planet

Our group continue to battle the invasive species of our nature reserve, fighting the Japanese Knotweed and the Himalayan Balsam. Such species exploit their habitat. These weeds form dense thickets, shading the nearby plants and fauna, as well as releasing a chemical substance that inhibits their growth. The coronavirus that has swept across the world infecting every aspect of our lives is similarly unmindful of the need to live in harmony. It is so voracious in its appetite, so cunningly clever in its design, surely it limits its own success by the extent of the damage it does to its hosts. Is that a lesson for us all as we humans exploit the earth’s limited resources?

                                    Childwall Woods – a carpet of beechnuts (Credit BC)
I look forward to sharing with you, the plans for our site shortly. And I wish you well for the forthcoming festive season.
John McCombs

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