Offence is not a defence. I should have had the maxim in my head when I complained about the dumbed down language in the ‘Bob for Nature’ letter I received a few years back.
I rang the head office. Could someone please explain the sentence to me “despite our efforts…..ancient woodlands destroyed, hedgerows flailed and uprooted, fields forsaken – and a staggering 60% of our species in decline”? They were most apologetic. It was not intended for me as an existing member, but was targeting those who had never even heard of the word ‘nature’, dare say those in socio-economic classes ‘lower’ than your own?
A letter based on what some might call ‘post-truths‘ (Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year) to engage those who had no idea what ‘nature’ meant. To unpack that sentence. Ancient woodlands are ‘destroyed’ – sometimes after high winds, via chalara, and by development – the latter doesn’t tend to get away from it scot-free without some form of biodiversity offsetting.
I don’t hold out much chance for rewilding if we fear ‘forsaken fields’ and please, the 60% decline from the first State of Nature forgot the small print about it being based on the mere 5% of species on which we have stringent data. We don’t learn. It was repeated in 2016’s State of Nature report speculatively ‘framed’ here and then aired on a popular BBC program three days in advance of the launch – much to the chagrin of some of the scientists involved.
The Communicate audience shifted uneasily in their seats at my talk on how we can be braver, more honest in talking openly about conservation to a largely disinterested highly urbanised society. ‘We risk losing members if we tell the truth‘ was a chillingly common refrain from the floor. It did beg the question as to which departments actually ‘run’ some of the organisations.
I believe we, as society, are more savvy in being able to handle more honesty around complex conservation, have conflated matters explained (wildlife conservation and animal welfare are separate matters) and work together in defending what we hold dear without getting too defensive or offended by tough questions.
So, rather than just hoping for the best, why not give up hope and take action in going to see a farmer to ask them your own tough questions in what they are doing to both feed us and look after nature for all of us.