It was Thomas Hardy that advised ‘If a way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.’
With the old year and all its imperfections sliding into eternity we all wonder what the new will bring. Looking at the worst has begun to sharpen our minds. ‘Must try harder’ many of our school reports used to say.
Now that advice is on all of our life reports regarding the ways in which we do our bit for planet Earth. Yet as usual many ignore it and go blithely on, throwing their drink cans and plastic bags into the sea and along the roadsides, among many worse crimes against the planet. Will it ever be possible to take all the plastic beads out of the oceans? So far only 9.5 per cent of plastic is being recycled. Somebody from San Fransisco is having a go with their tug boat and a giant net down in that vast whirl pool in the southern ocean.
So are the Friends of Chichester Harbour. I attended a meeting of these worthies just before Christmas when their leader showed us pictures of elderly folk picking up drink cans and plastic off the tide-lines. Bravo to them, they are the heroes of the age. You could join them too: just contact the Harbour Conservancy.
Meanwhile, air pollution will accelerate as we increase air travel without finding saner fuels. Just recently we heard that China is to vastly increase the number of internal airports it has that already number 220. Many countries still want their black gold as fuel from underground whether it be coal or oil.
We must try harder to harness the sun, the wind, the tide, and our efforts at recycling. Talking of which; watching people at the local tip throwing unwanted oak furniture into landfill, for instance, is horrifying. Yet old oak trees are still being cut down in Sussex to satisfy a big demand from countries abroad which see it as a desirable wood for new furniture. Crazy.
Some say that our grandchildren will mine our landfills in decades to come as sources of dwindling metal and plastic raw material for their very existence.
So when the planet has been fully exploited as we need our changes of clothes every six months to keep up with fashion; and when we have finally cut down the rain forests to grow our soya cooking oil, and when we have filled all our rivers and therefore the oceans with all our bottled goodies to keep our bodies and bathrooms spotless with over-use of disinfectants and detergents; and when we have mined all the precious metals out of the African soils to keep our mobiles going; then, we can start to think, as some already have, to look for another habitable planet to go and occupy. I heard a pundit on TV talking about that possibility that might get us out of trouble. To get to it, you would apparently have to travel at about 33,000 mph for 1.3 million years to reach it. But would its inhabitants want us? That would also be a bit of a problem. But let me end on a bright note. We are becoming more conscious of environmental problems as the years roll by.
Here is a local example in our own area. Can you believe that 50 years ago this beautiful wetland on Thorney Island as shown in my picture was being assessed as a landfill site? It is the Great Deep, home to several thousand water birds.