I’ve listened to Shared Planet a couple more times and it irritates me each time I hear it – but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad programme or that I wish it hadn’t been aired. I think it’s a jolly good idea to read or listen to opinions with which we disagree every day. And I make that easier for some people by writing this blog…
Why does it irritate me?
I think for these reasons:
- I wanted to interrupt and say ‘No – that’s not right’ or ‘But what about this’ all the time. That’s just the same feeling that many people get when listening to Any Questions or Question Time. It’s just one of those things. I hope that I have caused the same level of irritation amongst others, often (and I know I have).
- There was an anti-science element running through the programme which Prof Bill Sutherland did something to redress. The juxtaposition of ‘science’ and ‘local ecological knowledge’ is a new one on me. It sounds a bit like ‘rational thinking’ versus ‘self-interested prejudice’ but it certainly wasn’t explained. Mary Colwell did well to jump on (in the nicest possible way) Simon Lester when he said that he didn’t really believe the science being done on his own patch but this wasn’t followed up at all in the programme. And it was difficult to fathom whether Juliette Young believed on basing resolution on the evidence or whether it was just a question of finding a solution that suited everyone a bit better.
- The interview with Simon Lester was very revealing but what it revealed wasn’t made explicit. The Langholm project has been dragging on for years now and is a project aimed specifically to help resolve the Hen Harrier/grouse shooting conflict. For the Head Gamekeeper at Langholm to be so dismissive of the science being carried out by a range of organisations on his own patch was quite shocking. For him to be allowed to wander off into lethal control of Buzzards (for which, in my understanding there is no scientific support from the research which is being carried out on ‘his’ land) is also both shocking and revealing.
- There was a lot said about the need for trust – but nothing said about where trust comes from. The dismissal of science and the plugging of lethal Buzzard control and a brood management system by the Langholm Head ‘keeper, where diversionary feeding has been shown to work at Langholm, will do little to build trust. Nor has the continued reduction by criminal action of the Hen Harrier population by grouse shooting interests – which was touched on by the programme. I don’t trust the grouse shooting industry any more. I don’t completely trust the organisations involved such as the GWCT, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation or BASC as far as their motives are concerned. But I certainly don’t trust them to be able to speak on behalf of the criminal elements who are killing Hen Harriers (etc etc etc). Who claims to speak for the criminals? And why should we trust them? Give us 40 pairs of Hen Harriers in England with no conditions attached and you can win back our trust (or mine at least).
- There is a bit of an industry growing up around academics and conflict resolution too.