The coffee's good, but what about the ground?

 About an hour ago I was walking up the main street in the winter sunshine. The odd car horn tooted over the general morning bustle as I stepped into the lotto shop. There was a couple in front of me at the counter and the lady turned to me and said: “Since it’s very likely that we are going to win, you may have to wait a while”. Quick as a flash I replied

“I shall be happy to wait - for a small commission”. That’s the kind of thing I normally wish I’d thought of in time to say it. Feeling pleased with myself I went into a small cafe across the road for a long black and was enveloped by the aroma of hot coffee and pain au chocolat. Looking back through the steam rising from the coffee machine, through the open window across the street, with sunlight through the trees, I had a feeling that all is well with the world.

Except that it’s not. Somewhere in the background, beneath the idyllic scene of small-town New Zealand, something clunked and I remembered that the planet is grappling with climate change and environmental collapse.

When I first approached the newspaper about this column there was a meeting with the editor during which I asked whether a certain amount of controversy was going to be acceptable. The answer was “We like letters to the editor, but we do not like losing readers”. Fair enough.

The reason for my question, you see, is that this column is going to address climate change and environmental issues and what we, as the human race, and more particularly, as a small community in New Zealand are doing about it. And whether we are prepared, or willing to look closely at the issues and face up to our responsibilities.

This is undoubtedly an uncomfortable subject, but also one which is relatively easy to ignore in the short term. We surely can’t leave the future of our descendants in the hands of Putin, Trump, Bolsonaro, Jinping, Johnson et al. I have always chosen to believe that most politicians are basically OK, but as I grow older and more sceptical I suspect that many of those who rise to leadership are in it for financial gain and power, and to hell with the rest of us. My wife, who is politically wiser than I am, says that Trump is a puppet for the republican party who obliges by causing outrage and smokescreens while they get busy with their agenda – which is not a planet-friendly agenda. I believe the answer lies closer to home than many might think. We the people must act.

Now, sitting in my office I can see the street outside, and it’s raining.

So what can we do? I’m no expert, and I and my family are certainly not carbon-neutral but we do care, and I think there are things we can all do, at many levels. I shall be looking at these, amongst other things in this column.

But RIGHT NOW – put this in your diary:

Global Climate Strike 12:00PM Cambridge Town Hall Friday 20th September 2019.

Paint a placard and come along – to show that you care about our planet.


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