Tendentious? Moi?

I was recently described as tendentious by one of my favourite commenters here, and after checking that I really did know what that meant, I agree!

I certainly tend to tend towards tendentious, and I don’t intend to pretend that is likely to change.

I think the name of the blog – Standing up for Nature – is a bit of a clue really.  In this blog I am partisan and expressing my point of view.  There will be gems of explanation (I hope) and nuggets of information (I hope) but you are getting my views on what nature needs from us if you keep coming back to read this blog.  No apologies for that – after 35 years of studying nature and working for its conservation, it would be a bit odd if I didn’t have a view about it.

Here are some of the views that inform this blog:

  1. birds of prey are lovely birds, though no lovelier than many others, and shouldn’t be illegally shot, trapped or poisoned by commercial interests
  2. bovine TB is a terrible disease and something should be done about it – that might have to include killing badgers but I’m not convinced by that at the moment and if only politicians and the NFU had pulled out their fingers years ago then we probably would already have a vaccine
  3. hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money should go to the farming community but we should expect them to be a bit grateful, but more importantly, to deliver lots of public goods in return for the payments (and that’s what Defra is for)
  4. wildlife NGOs need to speak out and use their memberships to engineer political change because most of wildlife’s problems derive from over-consumption by people
  5. the current Conservative Government (I’m sure there was another party involved but I’ve forgotten who they are) is disappointingly hopeless on wildlife issues but there is little sign that a Labour government would be much better
  6. lead isn’t good for you, or for wildlife, and should be replaced by non-toxic shot
  7. there are too many wildlife NGOs and that dilutes nature’s voice
  8. if enough of us raise our voices then we can make a difference – I am an optimist
  9. we need more marine protected areas around the UK coast and in the UK Overseas territories and in the world
  10. the right regulation is a ‘good thing’ and we need more of it as markets and exhortation don’t work very well
  11. biofuels that take up lots of land are an abomination
  12. renewable energy is needed, but even more we need ways equitably to reduce consumption rather than meet demand
  13. linnets are my least favourite bird but I love them all really
  14. nature does have an economic value but its spiritual value is so much higher
  15. the natural world is fascinating – much more interesting than anything else
  16. the UK should remain a part of the EU even though the EU is a bit rubbish at lots of things – getting out would be worse
  17. reintroductions are, generally speaking, a really good way quickly to enhance our conservation impacts – but only if we choose the right ones
  18. one day I will learn to recognise plants – but I’m not sure I will be much happier for all that
  19. you will all buy ‘A Message from Martha‘ when it is published next ‘summer’
  20. we will win in the end



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55 Replies to “Tendentious? Moi?”

      1. Or at the very least, you're doubly tendentious.

        Re number 5, perhaps we need a wildlife NGO version of Beppe Grillo for our next General Election? He/she would certainly receive my vote, as I no longer feel that any of the current bunch speak on my behalf.

  1. Hard to disagree with any of that. With respect to number 7, I do see a value in having a diversity of different NGOs but it would certainly be helpful if they could all coordinate and pull together better than at present (the State of Nature report was a good indication of how they can work together, for all its limitations).
    I fear that in some parts of it at least the present government is worse than hopeless on wildlife; some members of it seem to be actively hostile.
    I hope that number 20 is correct. It is often hard to be optimistic in the face of all of the different pressures on wildlife and all the dreary trends in populations and distributions but it is certainly worth trying: wildlife enriches us in so many ways.

    1. At the risk of creating another monster with factions and in-fighting, what about an elected parliment for NGOs where the overall policy of all the groups could be organised into a coherent plan that could be used to beat the government of the day over the head with. It would separate nicely the roles of lobbying from the daily boots-on-the-ground work and extend the influence of a lot of smaller groups. That would also leave some fluidity for groups to change their positions and avoid creating a small set of super NGOs which might fossilise under the weight of the accompanying bureaucracy.

        1. That's a very good point. An umbrella body representing all the conservation NGOs would have enormous clout, even if the membership was de-duplicated there would be several million members. Such a body would be better placed to challenge Defra and the NFU. Simon King made the point at Birdfair that people at Westminster are interested when he says that as President of the Wildlife Trusts he speaks for 800,000 people and how much more they would listen if he was representing 8 million!

  2. I was just thinking last week how I wish certain people would nail their colours to the mast and give their real positions on the conservation/animal interaction issues of the day. Your opinions are always fairly clear from your writings however your wildlife creed is interesting to see.

    Maybe you should poll your readers on their opinions?

    I am so looking forward to 'A message from Martha'!

    1. Mark - thank you for your idea of a poll - I may well do that later in the autumn.

      And I am very keen that you do read 'A Message from Martha'. Already this morning (I have been awake several hours) I have written some passages which I'd like the world to read! Just in case my publisher for 'Martha' (Bloomsbury) is reading this, I'll tell you that the words are mostly written (96,000 of them anyway - must back them up again soon!) and I am in the stage of 'fiddling about' with them. 'Fiddling about' can sometimes mean completely re-writing chapters but I have until the end of September until I hand in the manuscript so that's 'loads' of time!

          1. Multiple, I hope, on external drives. Don't use the Cloud. Leave a copy with your offspring via Dropbox, in case you are raided by the Tendentiousness Police, as was Tallbloke. Paranoid - Moi? No - belt 'n' braces.

  3. Mark - I like the cut of your jib.
    Far be it from me and all that, but another 'theme' I've detected in your blog over the year or so I've been reading it is about being wary of shifting baselines - we musn't be content to suffer crap numbers of lovely things just because we've had to get used to it.
    Also the last chapter of that book wot you wrote, (what's it called again?) had a list which began and ended with an exortation to take time out to enjoy nature in between being tendentious in defending it. Which seems like a great way to keep us all sane.
    If I had a blog of my own (thank goodness I don't) instead of commenting on this one then some of the views that inform it would be:
    1.Crows are lovely birds, though no lovelier than many others, and shouldn’t be legally shot, trapped or poisoned by commercial interests (or, with certain very specific exceptions, anyone else)
    2.Globalised tree diseases are terrible and something should be done about them
    3.Capital punishment should be reintroduced, but only for anyone convicted of illegally killing a hen harrier
    4.If even the starling and house sparrow are in trouble we really are in the sh*t
    5.I've never hugged a bunny, though I did hit one at 50mph once, which was very upsetting (more so for the bunny it has to be said). I'd be more than happy to hug an ash tree if anyone thinks that would help.
    6.It almost always comes back to trees for me, which are one of the most wonderful gifts nature has given us (the right trees in the right place obviously). Having said that they're no lovelier than birds or any other part of nature - and I am massively in awe of everyone who knows much more than I do (ie almost everyone) about the various parts of it.
    7.My daughter (18mths) can now say "bees", "flow-aahs" and "twees" - isn't she clever?
    8.Er... that's it

  4. Hang on a minute: linnets are your least favourite bird? Linnets? What on earth have those pretty little things, of all bird species in the world , done to incur your least-favouritism?

    1. Brian - welcome! exactly - they do nothing for me! See https://markavery.info/2012/07/19/favourite-bird/

          1. It's a cheap shot, I know - akin to shooting fish in barrel? - but: garden warbler. Nice song, admittedly, but lacks the daintiness or delicacy of my preferred warblers, is wilfully non-descript in a way I find very unsatisfactory and can barely even bring itself to form groups, let alone flocks, as that would be too interesting.

            With the caveat, of course, that as we know all birds are excellent.

          2. Brian - poor choice if I may say so. Although it is clearly 'borin' this Sylvia is at least a migrant and therefore does something interesting twice a year. When it arrives there is the interest of being absolutely sure that your first one is this species rather than that black capped version - that can be 'fun'. And whereas the linnet is clearly trying to be interesting with all that ridiculous patterning and colour, the garden warbler is cool - grey and cool. Not shaken and not stirred - just cool. Try again!

          3. I fear you're now compounding tendentiousness with plain old wrongness.

            I'm quite happy to concede that migrating is an inherently interesting thing to do, but the gw is evidently so alarmed, perhaps embarrassed, at the notion of having done something that might appear interesting that it flies thousands of miles and then proceeds to hide in the bushes for a few months, hoping no one will notice.

            This dowdy diffidence isn't cool, as you claim, it's a profound (and imho highly effective) commitment to minimizing any potential appearance of 'interest'. The whole nice song thing is clearly some kind of evolutionary mis-step. I'm sure it'll be selected out in a few hundred more generations, and all garden warblers will only ever go 'cheep'.

  5. I'm not too sure about number 3.
    There is a lot wrong with agriculture and it really does need a big shake up. If farmers need help, the laws relating to land need to be turned on their head.
    Remember we borrow from our grandchildren - we do not own what we are, at present, making such a muck up of!
    On a lighter note (I think) no mention of tree rats......& I hate 'em!

  6. On this day, Mark has a dream...

    That one day, the children of birdwatchers and the children of gamekeepers will watch hen harriers in harmony.
    That one day, birders will be judged, not by the length of their life lists but by the breadth of their birdtrack entries
    That one day, Owen Paterson, his hands dripping with the blood of a thousand badgers, will come to see the value of evidence -based policy making.

    He has a dream today...

    And on that day...
    Let birds sing from the mountains of mighty Cairngorm.
    Let birds sing, from the curvaceous hills of the Cotswolds.
    Let birds sing, from every molehill in Norfolk.

    And on that day, when the skies are filled with skylarks, and the fields are full of flowers, the RSPB and the NFU will sit down together and join in the old hymn

    'Bees at last, bees at last, thank God Almighty, we have bees at last'.

  7. "Tendentious - having or showing an intentional tendency or bias, esp a controversial one."

    More, much more please - the other side of these debates are wiping the floor with us at the mo!

    Back on the Tangled Bank, my brilliantly cunning plan for highlighting the attempt by John Armitage to save Hen Harriers is met with deafening silence! In the intellectual stakes I'm right up there with Baldrick but even he'd get a response even if only to be told his brain would barely cover a small water biscuit.

    My ignorance appals me. I don't really understand the arguments made by the clever people surrounding vicarious liability, vicarious civil liability, licensing gamekeepers and shooting estates etc. I'm not even much of a birder but I contributed acres of my time to county Bird Atlas productions (2 of 'em in the form of maps and in one case field work) as much as I could (and still do as the last touches are applied) willingly, skillfully, whole- heartedly and freely because I naively believed to do so was to be getting involved in standing up for nature as I'm so often urged to do (by the clever people).

    What I am on about is the shocking, scandalous, horrifying, disgusting, dismaying, upsetting, sickening, outrageousness (I swallowed a Thesaurus) of nature lovers failing to get behind and show support for an issue of massive symbolic significance in standing up for nature and I now know its not necessarily their fault - they are in the dark and those who could shine a light won't.

    The ultimate root cause of the all our probs is unfettered capitalism - focused on money, at the expense of all other form of capital, and even there we get it wrong. Globalisation - maximising competitive advantage (Adam Smith) by increasing market size and promoting free not fair trade. Jonathon Porritt, Caroline Lucas and Michael Woodin (very clever people all) convinced me of that.


    • One million young people in this country out of work cos we're financially almost bust (see my analysis!), and inline with George McGavin's insights into swarm behaviour the other night, it doesn't take much of a sense of injustice to fire them up (ref two summers back)!

    • That despite the financial constraints that sees A&E departments struggling we are about, it seems, to intervene militarily in Syria, another country arguably broken by the constant stream of injustice that pits ordinary people against each other. Elsewhere loss of life in sweat shops that collapse around them.

    • The injustice of New York under water last year, New Orleans trashed before it, central Europe this year, Aussie two years before and the UK suffering a constant stream of severe flooding incidents. Water cycles drying up in India and China resulting in desertification of the bread baskets of countries hosting 2.5 billion people.

    • Oceans emptying of fish and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall having to move heaven and earth to get us to address the obsenity of the discards policy. HFW now there is a fighter if ever I saw one and a jolly decent bloke too looking out for young people as my son found out when invited to work at River Cottage HQ on a couple of occasions.

    And then there is “Bowland Betty”. RIP. Apparently shot by a rogue gamekeeper on a grouse moor, screwing it up for all the thoroughly decent gamekeepers who do a really fantastic job doing their bit for our marvellous countryside. Injustice on a lesser scale? I think not! The response - pathetic!! One million completely silent voices for nature.

    What chance of reversing the bigger issues if we can't even summon up a collective squeak for Bowland Betty?

    I've never seen a Hen Harrier, I'll get on just fine even if I never do. I'm not an obsessive "collector" but I do want to know I could see one if I wanted to. Same goes for all the other critically endangered species throughout the globe, the loss of the sum total of which will threaten my wellbeing and that of the following generations. Lord Lawson's suggestion that we simply adapt to the environmental chaos we're unleashing holds no appeal for me. Does it you?

    I've had to resort to blackmail to get responses from my local circle. No Christmas cards for me this year! I can and will pull my intellectual property out of an about to published Atlas unless I get some co-operation (I've been assured I will get it from a guy I have otherwise the most enormous respect). Pity about that but some things are just more important than even friendships. It’s only saving the planet (our home) after all!! We'd be taking an interest if an asteroid the size of Torquay was reported to be heading towards us with the prospect of a similar level of mass extinction!

    Apart from that, life’s great isn’t it? Just about to book Kate Humble at the Cheltenham Literary Festival 9th October. I’ll see if I can talk to her about Betty!!

      1. Chees M8 - I know your reading and hopefully some of my drivel makes sense enough to be expanded upon.

  8. "renewable energy is needed, but even more we need ways equitably to reduce consumption rather than meet demand"

    It would help if people who wish to see a sustainable planet led by example. Reducing consumption is best achieved by, er, reducing consumption. That means a greener lifestyle. Less air travel, grow your own food if possible, less packaging, fewer things you don't really need, smaller cars, go by bike. And unfortunately it means not haring around the country to see birds. Sadly, too many people want to carry on as normal while complaining about a few hen harriers as if it's the end of the world.

    Look at the Birdfair. Should be about conservation etc but it actually just a massive corporate money spinner for people making money out of birding. And blogging itself seems to be becoming yet another way of making profit out of birding.

    1. Steve - good points thank you.

      I'm not sure whether your menu is specifically directed at me, I can see why it might be, but here is my personal response.

      I drive far fewer miles than I used to in a fairly fuel-efficient car (chosen deliberately), take far fewer flights than I could or used to (one return flight every two years over the last 8 years - yep, still too many), have spent a fortune on insulating my home and installing solar panels (years ago and they packed up!), have gone vegetarian four days a week (you missed that off your list and its really quite important), get my gas and electricity from Ecotricity (which costs me more) and do not claim to be a saint.

      How about you Steve?

      I think that you are unfair to the Bird Fair. Expensive holidays aren't the only things on offer and it isn't compulsory to buy them. It costs money to set up an event like that and it has to pay its way somehow. What would you suggest?

      And if you could tell me how to make a profit, or even any money at all (or even to reduce the costs), out of blogging I'd like to know, please. Actually, you having your say here costs me money but is free to you - donations gratefully received!

          1. Bishop Hill has apologised this week for allowing adverts on his blog. Plenty commenters have Firefox with Adblock Plus, so we couldnae see what he was talking about ... only his Kindling books, as usual

    2. Steve - I agree on many of your points, but we should not be reducing consumption of commodities which are subject to high rates of Sin Tax. In fact it is our patriotic duty to drink, smoke and travel more in order that the Sin Tax take is maximised and employment is maintained in the insobriety, inhalation and internal combustion sectors of the economy. In order to prevent Sin Tax avoidance, I would like to see the self-righteous taxed heavily, preferably by a rate of Smug Tax 5% higher than the highest rate of Sin Tax, to reinvigorate the economy and make the freeloading parasites pay their way.

  9. Marvellous job, Mark; entertaining & informative, as ever.

    Had it been my tendentious list I think that the top item would have been human population growth. That's the big baddy for the next generation because it encourages the likelihood of war, famine and pestilence (the actual - not the biblical) and the reduction of wild places.
    Humans are biologically programmed to reproduce, that cannot be denied. Just because we can, however, it doesn't follow that we should!

    1. John, Mark did say I could keep contributing (I'll buy him a pint or six in Frampton one of these days!).

      Anyway, you might be interested in the views of Prof. Hans Rosling here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTznEIZRkLg

      Not sure if he's an optimist of the Bjorn Lomborg school, haven't had time to find out yet 'cos I'm too busy blogging about Hen Harriers as if its the end of the world (its the SYMBOLISM Steve!!).

  10. Some interesting points Mark but I'll like to expand on some of them
    Number 3-Farmers, I'm sure Dennis at some point will chip in, but I think you're in danger of tar-ing(!?) all with the same brush, there are plenty out there who do fantastic work both in terms of farming and wildlife and don't seek awards, the farmers who's land I roam all over ARE grateful for the payments the recieve and acknowledge the would be up a body of water without means of propulsion ie bust/bankrupt. As for more public goods? What do you say to a farmer who's created wildflower meadows, skylark patches etc but 4-5years on since doing so not much has improved on his land, especially when he wonders if it's worth it.
    I know of a site where the farmer has created a massive reedbed, a lake cleaned up and he wonders why next to no-one comes and has a look...I do.
    4-NGO's/Over consumption-why is it so many rely on the members to travel to visit their uber-reserves, think about Mark how far would you have to travel to get to your nearest RSPB reserve? Could you get there by public transport? And when you arrive how many have books/bird food/bird feeders/bird baths etc, fluffy toys(!!), stickers etc etc, so if you wish NGO's to encourage less consumption, start with the NGO's in question first.
    11-Bio-fuels, I'm spitting feathers in fact I would insert expletives here at this point. I have to confess I've got petrol in the blood (thank god it's unleaded), I remember when biofuels were in their infancy, i remember covering one motorshow as a freelancer taking photo's, outside there was a particular organisation urging people as they came in to ask the car manufacturers to make more Bio-fuelled cars, invest more in bio-fuels, many coming in were sceptical, to prove a point on that, search out TOP GEARS attempt to make bio-feul, sadly their message about how much it took make a small amount bio-fuels got lost, now the same organsations are saying to the industry "Bio-Fuels are bad"....and you wonder why the corporate world ignores YOU LOT.
    13 Linnets-you bugger now I remember, I saw a Linnet the other day and thought "chinless wonder" and I kept thinking where on earth did that thought come from...YOU 🙂
    7- well J.Wallace makes the point better then I ever could and totally agree with his point.

    1. Douglas - thanks as ever.

      3. I don't think there was any tarring going on here. To start by agreeing that we should pour hundreds of millions of our money into farming is hardly unfriendly, is it? And to say that because we already do that, we should expect good returns on our investment is not very tar-heavy either.

      4. I don't think many NGOs do rely on members to travel far to their reserves. Most members never visit a reserve at all. Those who do should be made welcome. Most of my birding is done within a very few miles of my home these days and as soon as I get my binoculars back then I'll do some more!!!

      11. Some NGOs have been entirely consistent on this point (others haven't).

  11. Mark,

    Yes, I walk the walk these days.

    No good driving all over America and then complaining about climate change. That's just hollow words. And comes across as faintly ridiculous. And in the array of serious problems facing us, Hen Harriers raise totally disproportionate ire, but do provide a common enemy for people to band against. Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic etc

    Birdfair. Look on, say, Bird Forum and see why people go.. it's to buy new "stuff". Never a mention of conservation or inspiration to change lifestyles. I don't even recall hearing what it was about this year?

    Real change comes from people. People will have to do things differently. And that means us. Governments and NGOs don't make a ripple. They almost provide a reason for individuals to do nothing. If we aren't making an effort ourselves, the rest is futile. I do what I can and don't preach to people as it makes no difference. When people see the need to change or want to change, they will. Until then, they'll just argue minor tangential points on the internet. So i really should disappear and go and pick some beans.

    1. Steve, "Real change comes from people. People will have to do things differently. And that means us."

      You've digested something from the preaching then?

      Were you impressed by Prof. Hans Rosling? Did you notice the two big "Ifs" in his appraisal of human population growth.

      The biggest Ifs since Rudyard Kipling hit the top of the charts?

  12. Mark,

    I agree with all the points you raise, apart from the Linnet one which is completely unjustified. Now, feral pigeons are a different matter....

    In relation to agriculture, its tragic that the really good work done by a lot of farmers, just like the good work done by gamekeepers, is undermined by the actions of their less- enlightened colleagues. I don't think there's enough done to really sing the praises of the good guys- and thats where the media machines of the big NGOs need to be utilised.

    I've no doubt that 'good' gamekeepers get a lot of hassle, and wildlife- friendly farmers have to justify themselves to those who don't see the benefit of working in harmony with nature, and if more was done to highlight the good 'uns, it'd perhaps give more the courage to take a stand. Let them know they're not lone voices.

  13. Woah! I can't sit by and accept this linnet-bashing when there are Meadow Pipits duly (or is that dull-ly) waiting in line, making monotonous single cheeps and doing not much for the eye either!

    On a serious note though great points Mark and keep fighting the fight.

  14. Go along with everything except the Linnet,surely it never did you much harm,it would be hard to find a more innocent bird of any crimes.
    Just know all your answers about farming and farmers and how you phrase it means it is silly to argue against it.As long as everyone recognises that farmers are at the very least less guilty than anyone who inhabits those places devoid of even more wildlife than farms,they are called towns.Farmers have basically just like everyone else modernised or whatever anyone wants to call it and have pretty successfully fed the nation.We were brought up by predecessors and politicians that production was god and it will take a bit of time for this generation to adjust so show a little patience.
    Badger problem really really bothers me as I cannot see anything solving what is now a massive problem that does somehow need solving.Here are my thoughts anyway and think any facts are reasonably accurate to make no difference.
    Think a lot of so called experts would think differently if they had a herd of cattle either with the disease or likely to get it.
    A lot of them use false facts and language that is intended to inflame the situation,they may well tone it down if their dogs became infected from Badgers and indeed one of them has called for a Deer cull so what is the difference after all the Badgers probably somehow need help to get a clean Badger population.
    Those people who put pressure on the Labour Government to stop the culling of Badgers in 1997 and that Government must take most of the blame for what is now almost a epidemic.
    The fact I find hard to come to terms with and shows the scale of the problem is that in that year and several around that time I understand approx 3,500 cattle slaughtered with BTB whereas now we are slaughtering about 35,000 I think the figure is.In those days as I understand it if a farm herd had BTB in it then the Badgers on that were culled on the basis they were likely infected,there were very very few Badgers culled obviously and what a pity we did not stick with that and cleared the disease up
    It is too easy to dismiss it as all down to animal movements as basically before anything can be sold it has to be tested unless for slaughter and indeed herds that have never had animals brought onto farm for years go down with the disease.
    Personally think this talk about bio-security is rubbish as the fact is it is impossible for all practical purposes to keep Badgers out of fields where cattle are and that is likely to be the place where infection could take place.
    Myself I think it is important for the wildlife to get free of the disease as cattle.

    1. Dennis - the linnet is a gobbler up of oil seed rape seeds. It is so voracious that it eats seeds all year round rather than giving the poor farmer a few weeks off as do most other seed-eating birds by feeding their young on insects. How mean is that? I'm surprised that it isn't on Peter Kendall's hit-list - maybe it would be except he probably can't stand agreeing with me about anything.

  15. Mark,by the way did you see think it may have been the Scottish Herald that people were tweeting about a article blaming new breed of bird brought in the Sea Eagle killing lots of lambs and adult sheep.Think someone who has commented favourably on your blog commented unfavourably about them think it was Daye Tucker,the face in the small square by comment seemed the same.
    Really nice of you to consider the farmer ref Linnets,push that side of it a bit and probably Peter will give you a award.

    1. Hang on Dennis what you talking about in reference to towns/wildlife. I see loads urban foxes, badgers, bats, and have recorded over 100 species of birds on my local park (including breeding sparrowhawk) and from what I saw with Bill Turnbull more bees in some urban areas then in rural areas, towns aren't devoid of wildlife, ever seen a Peregrine in London (that's a big town) or Norwich/Derby? I have.

  16. Mark, your blog is absolutely spot on. Wildlife is now in such dire straits that the points you and your contributors make need to be aired. Whether the powers that be act upon them remains to be seen.

    The State of Nature report shows 60% declines for most species in the UK over the last 30 years or so. I am old enough to remember when tree sparrows used to nest in the hedge outside my parents home (seems like a different planet now!!) and other farmland birds were much more common than they are today. I feel it is incumbent upon this generation to raise these issues as the next may have run out of time to affect the changes required. This can hopefully be achieved by blogs such as yours, writing to MPs etc, and by persistent moaning and whinging!!

  17. Mark, I think your blogs are such an amazing barometer of people's opinions. You have really struck more chords with this than you would have thought.

    Btw I have such high hopes for Martha I am hoping that it will do for presents for most....the missus excepted!

  18. Well I logged on just now in high hopes that Steve would have responded to the the Hans Rosling vid but predictably no! It's an all too familiar tactic.

    Attack Mark and more likely myself (partially anonymously) for trying desperately to overcome apathy even amongst fellow nature lovers and then retreat to his beans when challenged to come up with something with a bit more gumption than simply allowing evolution take its NATURAL course.

    Steve that is a recipe for disaster for us humans!!!!!

    I could not help becoming a consumer, I was after all bombarded with marketing messages from a very early age millions of 'em by the time I hit 20. CEO Prism Communications – Quote “They aren’t children so much as what I call evolving consumers”. You'll find that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOKl04TWVsU

    But even Baldrick became consious of injustice in the end (Blackadder IV)! Its as if you believe a person's lifestyle precludes campaigning for something even better. Does your rule apply to Attenborough?

    btw I can guess, from the references to lifestyle, who you are Steve and if your up for a chat in the best boozer in your home town (5 miles from me??) - you know the one in the market square with Lloyds Bank on the corner? We can discuss further?

  19. Who said petitions don't work.


    Maybe its just that "saving the planet" has (counter-intuitively) limited appeal and audience or is somehow just too big a problem for Steve and his mates (who, if Steve is who I think he is, will be reading this) to get their heads around.

    Mark, your blog and views are fantastic (except the bit about the rspb rebranding !) but the Hen Harrier ePetition stats shows you (and even Chris Packham via Twitter) just don't have the audience to really get this thing off the ground in a timely enough fashion. It really irks me to say it but Steve may have a point there.

    But hell we’re not going to be beaten by Steve style negativity are we!!

    Thinking about it just now, whilst gnawing through a new (Steve induced) batch of rugs, another Baldrick moment popped up, a cunning plan not of the two pencils up the nose variety but a possible Eureka moment - how about making a film to be aired on BBC One or Two no less to air your views and those of many other ordinary folk?

    If we are fed up of Green Parties and environmental, economic, societal and sustainability NGOs not broadcasting their compelling stories hard enough, of the fragmentation of outlets for views and ideas and of the "crushing weight of established orthodoxies" (government, business and journalistic spin) frustrating justice for human, societal and natural capital, why not spell out these stories for them?

    A hard hitting “peoples” documentary that looks at the solutions to the problems so brilliantly defined in “Consumed. Inside the Belly of the Beast” followed up by an equally hard hitting but controlled studio debate amongst the clever people something that always appears to me to be missing from the professional nature block busters (probably due to aforementioned established orthodoxies?

    Kind of in the spirit of the clever people at "Doing It Ourselves" http://www.doingitourselves.org/

    Madness I hear you cry, but is it? I assume you have a wealth of contacts including established film makers. I am in contact the maker or the Consumed film, I also count a couple of talented young film makers as friends of my son and myself who have been through the process of directing and producing cinema releases working with the likes of Ewan McGregor, Timothy Spall, Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant and who are the sons of a superb set designer counting Inspector Morse, Kavanagh QC, Holby City, Jackboots on Whitehall and McCallum amongst his credits. These guys know the business.

    I have also recently made the acquaintance of a talented young man who produced the most unforgettable film of Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean for Spring-Watch and who I can tell you is the most marvellously gifted practitioner of field craft in producing such stunning photography. The spring-watch team will vouch for that after he uncovered a sleeping Nightjar on the set of the past series!!

    Finally there is my son, who departs for Beijing next week to work on a Hollywood film set and who will pick up new contacts for expertise as required.

    If your interested please email me and I’ll be happy to try and bring all of you guys together. If you think this is lunacy please don’t completely disregard it but try to develop it with your own resources.

    Apologies for another windy blast but I am trying – very trying!!

  20. Phil,

    all I'm saying is that the changes that will most help, are difficult ones for people to take because they may result in people doing less of what they want to do. And that of course is why people don't like to hear it and get shirty with the messenger. Climate change is the biggest immediate threat we face. Making a massive fuss about the small stuff, while effectively doing nothing concrete over climate change, is essentially pointless although it assuages our consciences us a little, and lets us convince ourselves that it's everyone else's fault.

    It seems it was done here 18 months ago. See, nothing much really changes


    Beer is good. A local brew though...

    1. Steve, how about a "twitch" sometime on our home patch?

      I now know for sure who you are because your renowned for your expertise and limiting of yourself to a number of ajoining tetrads and hence your sympathies with the highlighted article author.

      As it happens I'm not a twitcher travelling vast distances (in my big bomber that provides comfort as well as a respectable 50-60 mpg despite appearances), I get as much pleasure from watching common species closely in my garden as from glimpsing the Dark Eyed Junco that sent many into orgasmic spasms when it turned up locally not so long ago. I'd suggest some of these people are "collectors" not nature lovers. It's the tick that counts. It could just as easily be stamps, dinky cars or trains. Nothing wrong in that but John Fowles was less than complementary in his book "The Collector" that may have shaped my view of them many years ago!

      What I'm fighting is the apathy shown by the rest, including members of the Ornithological Society we shared up until I left in disgust, that absolutely know there is a problem but absolutely won't work together to promote the solutions. It's a generation thing possibly?

      As treasurer, I was working on them to attract younger members into the society, adopt bird track, open up the Peregrine web-cam to the membership, extend the constitution to include a campaigning wing as an additional interest rather than simply record what they'd seen.

      The logical extension of not campaigning, given current rates of decline, is there will soon be no birds to watch! Yet the two dominant members of the committee resisted every idea I came up with, one of them quite aggressively and sarcastically. How dare an upstart newcomer trespass on our territory!! They didn't reckon with a determined bar steward like me however and it got silly with me pulling a stunt that I'm not particularly proud of but such was my level of frustration and determination.

      There has to be ways of raising awareness in the wider audience you rightly point will make the critical difference. In Marks Tangled Bank I suggested a brain storm in cyberspace, sadly I've been a one man brain stormer due to the same level of apathy or shear contempt for anybody who tries something different to the usual chit chat amongst friends.

      My latest suggestion, a film to pursue the solutions to problems so brilliantly articulated by so many clever people is real. I don't have the answers but I've found in business life that a number of clever people gathered around can produce the most amazing results. We all know something positive has to happen and soon.



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