From top: The curlew population in Ireland has been diminished by 96%; Dan Boyle
It’s getting more and more difficult to find a decent environmental scare story. It’s hard to overcome that great wall of indifference, (largely made up, sadly, of decision makers) who instinctively feel that things are not so bad and if they become worse that will be then.
The increasing number of extreme weather events is shaking some out of their torpor. The intensity of the Californian wildfires may be leading some officials to declare that ‘abnormal is the new normal’, others choose to see it as a failure of forest management.
Actual evidence of damage being caused by climate change continues to be ignored because it largely lacks a visual manifestation.
An example of this would be the publication of a recent report showing a decrease of 60% in animal populations in an under fifty year period since 1970.
The indifferent may continue to sway away from statistics like this, thinking we’ve survived the passing of the Dodo and its ilk, what’s another few species?
Slowly the realisation may dawn that we are an animal species. There for the grace of whatever divine presence, that may or may not exist, go us.
Even the most selfish of us should recognise the extinction of any species as a series of canary in the coal mine moments for the human race on this planet. And yes the coal mine reference is deliberate.
We all are component parts of a wider ecosystem. The disappearing parts of that means the rest of us have to work that bit harder. It could be that an extinct species is responsible for something that can’t exist after them. Once gone it may never return.
Yaboo sucks deniers may chorus, in ways that makes me feel that the wrong parts of particular animal populations are being sustained.
Like Climate Change itself, the scale of what’s happening discourages many to do anything. As with general environmental action, it’s the local where effect starts to take place.
Ireland’s record on species protection is nothing to write home about. The Curlew population has been diminished by 96%. The government’s response to this has been to pass a Heritage Bill that allows hedge cutting during breeding periods, a new form of contraceptive for our breeding birds.
The current mania for dredging our rivers in the middle of spawning season is another form of genius.
This weekend a number of events (see below) are happening hoping to improve awareness of species extinction. The main event will be held in Dublin at 2pm outside the Dead Zoo (the Natural History Museum). Other events will be held in Cork (outside of its GPO) and Galway (alongside Salthill promenade).
Awareness is only part of the story. It’s anger that needs to be harnessed. In a focussed and direct way. The lack of appropriate political action is creating growing reserves of anger among environmentalists.
We will, I feel, see growing civil disobedience among environmentalists, weary at the lack of any substantial change on these issues. It’s a change of approach that should be welcomed.
Much better than playing at being dead.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle
Pic: BBC Wildlife