Saturday Cartoon by Ralph Underhill


And this is a passage from Chapter 7 of ‘A Message from Martha‘:

‘If we continue laying waste to the diversity of life and the natural beauty of the planet then we are like vandals going through an art gallery with spray paint and Stanley knives. When we come out the other side, or when we grow up, we look back and wonder why we didn’t behave with more restraint, and we realise that the excitement and enjoyment that we had was rather twisted and in no way was worth the damage we did. Nobody gains from our vandalism and we are ourselves diminished.’

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9 Replies to “Saturday Cartoon by Ralph Underhill”

  1. Hello Mark, they say ignorance is bliss. There are a lot of happy politicians, planners and “developers” out there.

  2. I guess that relatively little of the habitat trashing is purely wanton in the sense of destruction for its own sake or for idle amusement. We somehow persuade ourselves that we are getting the better of the deal: that the lost wildlife is worth less than what we replace it with. We need to encourage a wider awareness of the value of nature and ensure that it is weighted much more heavily in development decision making.
    It is not easy, however. If we are to feed, clothe and house 7 billion people (or just 60 million if we consider only the UK) then we are obliged to accept that this necessarily involves treading on other species (even the most benignly organic food production displaces some species of ‘weed’ and you can’t build a house without taking up a certain amount of land). It is therefore not enough to simply say ‘hands off nature’: we need to find ways of providing for our own needs whilst leaving space for nature.
    Part of the answer lies in recognising that our needs are not limited to physical needs but also include psychological needs and that interaction with wildlife is important for our mental health. Over and above that, though, we also need to find socially acceptable ways of reducing the impact of providing for our physical ‘needs’ (which may include, of course, reappraisal of what are genuine ‘needs’). We cannot simply decree that everyone must put up with less or dictate population reduction but have to find ways of nudging ourselves into moving towards a world where fewer of us demand fewer natural resources.
    I do not profess to have the answers to how we achieve this – I wish I did! – but I am sure that ensuring a future for wildlife cannot be achieved without ensuring at the same time that the human population achieves what it considers to be a satisfactory quality of life.

    1. Hello Jonathon, most of what you say I agree with, however I think the population figure of 60 million for the UK seems a bit out of date. It is probably nearer 70 million by now. I was asked at a planning meeting if I wanted jobs OR the environment. My answer was BOTH. It is up to Government how this is achieved, that,s what they are paid for? The land being built on means a reduction of arable land for food. New building should be in already destroyed areas, i.e. towns, and not in areas likely to flood, but what do I know?

  3. At an equivalent value to the few sq centimetres of the Mona Lisa the older and harder to replicate Ancient Woodland ‘should’ be valued at over £18 billion a hectare – shame we value a few daubs of paint over something beyond price

  4. “We are like small children scribbling over the Mona Lisa – so distracted by the bright colours of our crayons that we are unaware of the damage we are doing to something beautiful, unique and irreplaceable”

    I’m not sure the analogy with the Mona Lisa stands up to close inspection, as powerful as it may seem. ‘Irreplaceable’ ? It is possible that the Mona Lisa painting we all know is not the real Mona Lisa, after all the painting was famously stolen from the Louvre in 1911 so there is always the possibility that the one we think is real is actually a forgery. The point being that there are artists alive today that could produce a copy of the Mona Lisa that would fool all but a small handful of experts.

    Try creating an ancient woodland and see how many people you fool ! You may get close after 500 years.

    1. I think there is more art in reproducing an exact copy than painting the original.

    2. During a plague of cluster flies I contemplated getting a hanging screen for the front door. The catalogue shop had a bamboo one printed with an image of the Mona Lisa – but Mrs Cobb vetoed this in case the flies followed her round the room.

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