Tuesday, February 15, 2005

the rights of spring

"It is now mid-February, and already I have sown 11 species of vegetable. I know, though the seed packets tell me otherwise, that they will flourish. Everything in this country - daffodils, primroses, almond trees, bumblebees, nesting birds - is a month ahead of schedule. And it feels wonderful. Winter is no longer the great grey longing of my childhood"

It's still bloody cold in Brighton, mind.

I envy George Monbiot, and not just for his wisdom. If I had a garden (and I don't), I couldn't swear that I would not let it go to pot. Certainly I've never tended a garden before. But I find myself whimsically attracted to the idea, these days. I think it's because we nearly moved into a flat with a lovely little garden last year and the idea kind of took hold, me out there as the brilliant sun dipped behind the horizon with a drink in one hand and a fistful of runner beans in another - an idle fantasy, and maybe part of getting older, too - borne out of the same instinct that makes me want to know, suddenly, the names of flowers and birds. Of course, I do nothing about it.

But when the whether improves I'll be tempted all the more, and - as George points out in his excellent article in the Guardian today, from which the above quote was lifted - that's happening all the time. Because the one guilty thought we all hide when we get terribly upset about America refusing to ratify the Kyoto treaty is this: if the UK gets a bit hotter in our lifetimes - all the better!

That's one of the explanations that Monbiot offers for our continuing apathy towards climate change. Yet he offers a better reason why we get excited about, say, terror, but not the environment. He writes:

"When terrorists threaten us, it shows that we must count for something, that we are important enough to kill. They confirm the grand narrative of our lives, in which we strive through thickets of good and evil towards an ultimate purpose. But there is no glory in the threat of climate change. The story it tells us is of yeast in a barrel, feeding and farting until it is poisoned by its own waste. It is too squalid an ending for our anthropocentric conceit to accept."

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