Guest blog – #Think500YearsAhead by Findlay Wilde


“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein

The EU referendum is set to take place on 23rd June.  It is a chance to have a say in whether we stay in Europe or not.  This decision will have an impact on my generation for years and years to come and yet I can’t have a say in it. I will not even pretend to understand all the politics involved with this, but what I do know is that nature has no borders or boundaries (apart from man-made ones). We are not either in or out of nature. We are part of it, we need it, and it has never been more urgent that nature is put at the heart of decision making.

I gave a talk at Westminster last year asking our MPs to put the natural world at the heart of their decision making and not to leave it last in the queue. Sadly though, with everything else going on in the country, the natural world yet again seems to be the easiest subject to push to one side.  I made a short video to show some of the worrying trends we are seeing in our native species.

But you can’t just give up can you. So instead of just talking, I have decided to try shouting and this is where I need your help.  I know my generation live in a very technology driven world, so I am taking advantage of some of this technology to reach as many people as I can.

I have organised an on-line campaign that will go live on 19th April.  The theme of the campaign is “Think 500 Years Ahead”. The message is that we want to see people with the power to make a difference thinking 500 years ahead and not just 5 years ahead. They must start thinking further ahead than just one political term.

This on line protest is being done by creating a Twitter storm using Thunderclap.  Basically, you can sign up to the Thunderclap which you will find by clicking here.  Then on the 19th April at 9:30am, twitter will hopefully be flooded with the following message:

“I want MPs to put the natural world at the heart of decision making and #Think500YearsAhead not just 5 years ahead.”

At the moment over 500 people have signed up to the Thunderclap, but most of these people already accept that we are eroding the natural world to a critical level.  But all these people have a mix of followers, so when the Thunderclap goes out, it will hopefully reach a broader mix of people and get them thinking about the message they see.

Furthermore, it we can get the Twitter message to “trend “ on the day, then even more people will see the “Think500HundredYearsAhead” hashtag on the trending column on their twitter page and click on it to see what it is all about.

The hope is that people will then write their own tweets that include the hashtag and increase the social reach of the message even more. Will it work? Well, we’ll have to see on the 19th, but I am not going to sit back and watch my generation’s natural inheritance slip further and further away. I have to believe that things can change.

So here comes the request for help part. If you have a Twitter account, it is very easy to join up and be part of this on-line campaign, so please sign up. If you don’t have a Twitter account, then maybe put this blog post in front of someone who does and get them to sign up. The more people that sign up, the greater the chance of #Think500YearsAhead trending on 19th April.  You could even tweet your MP and see if they are willing to sign up!

Furthermore, on the 19th April, if you are on Twitter at around 9:30am, please compose your own tweet that includes the hashtag #Think500yearsAhead, as again, this will help us trend and be heard. What would you say in just 140 characters?

So are you in or out for nature!


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20 Replies to “Guest blog – #Think500YearsAhead by Findlay Wilde”

  1. It's a great idea and I wish you all the best with it. I did wonder if 50 rather than 500 might make the impact more powerfull? People can just about think that far ahead and imagine the direct impacts on their children.

  2. Thanks, Findlay for your campaign. Here’s a wish list from the top of my head (the thatch has long gone, so these thoughts are a bit fusty and in serious need of raking over)
    1. Start planning for smart eco-cities and towns that have as much vegetation as concrete: living roof tops and walls etc. Hanging gardens, community allotments farms and orchards etc.
    2. Divide the continental shelf into a series of marine reserves that are fished on a 50 year rotation. 500 years ago the North Sea ‘boiled’ with fish like mackerel, cod and herring. Make that a target for the next half millennium.
    3. Let go (rewild) 500 large areas of moorland across the UK that let them naturally succeed to indigenous woodland. Let’s have 50 of these starting from today. Aid and abet this process with re-introduced wild cattle and boar, lynx, pine marten and George Monbiot ‘look and think’ alikes.
    4. Rewild rivers wherever possible.
    5. Re-introduce beavers to help with this.
    6. Start growing 500 new peat bogs across the land. Restore fen mires and raised bogs.

    7. But crucially, over above all this – (for nothing will happen without a change in the tax system and land reform) – introduce LVT, Land Value Tax. This will immediately bring down the iniquitous price of land and allow your generation to find a home to live in for the next 100 years (your minimum life expectancy). Oh, and by the way this tax will do wonders for wildlife and for the vital creation of that stuff we all spring from (and annoyingly slide back into): the soil. Yes, there must be ultra-long term targets to reverse arable field erosion and restart the very slow process of rebuilding the nation’s soils.
    The soil belongs to all of us. 12,000 years ago, as the ice retreated, there was virtually none. Then the trees advanced and bequeathed us the ‘forest brown earths’…… We squander that legacy at our peril.
    Good luck Findlay. Many thanks for all your hard work and for not giving up. I’m sorry that my generation, (the most privileged in the history of the world) has screwed things up so badly for you. There are stormy times ahead but I think there is one storm that will help to bring salvation: - your social media one. Power to the young in spirit.

    1. "nothing will happen without a change in the tax system"

      Correct. Everything else is just dusting the skirting board without Dysoning the filth under the shag-pile

    2. Of course such ‘rich man’s thinking’ coming from the sixth wealthiest nation is absurd without first considering the plight of the poor man’s majority world, especially in the context of the next 500 years.
      We need to concentrate far more foreign aid and development on women’s education. Herein lies the key to family planning, child health, prevention of poverty and disease, progress to democracy and sustainable growth. Moreover, this is about the only peaceful way to halt the Great Anthropocene Extinction which has already started.
      And another long view task for government is to attack international corruption. The UK is pivotal – it’s the biggest owner of all the world’s ‘walk in offshore money laundries’. We must take all our tax havens back under direct rule with new legislation to open up every single account for scrutiny. First to be exposed, and the biggest of them all - The British Virgin Islands.
      Once that’s done, it will be another step towards world peace and stability.
      ‘Unveil the Virgin Islands. Reflower the World…’ (OK, that doesn’t work but there has to be message something like that …)


        Sorry, this link is much better. It's by Paul Mason in the Guardian and it chimes retrospectively with your 500 year time frame .....

    3. Murray, your mention of cities with as much vegetation as concrete reminded me of what the Epic of Gilgamesh said 5000 years ago:

      "Gilgamesh spoke to him, to Urshanabi the ferryman, 'Urshanabi, climb up on to the wall of Uruk, inspect its foundation terrace. and examine well the brickwork; see if it is not of burnt bricks; and did not the seven wise men lay these foundations? One third of the whole is city, one third is garden and one third is field, with the precinct of the goddess Ishtar. These parts and the precinct are all Uruk.'

      We haven't come very far, have we?

          But there are good signs of what can be done at little cost and effort once the idea of planning for/with nature takes hold. There is another project like this in Sheffield.

  3. In addition to MMs .... LVT & planning reform crucial but ....

    If we reduced the Westminster village by 500 in each, then there's some serious revenue for you to start 'greening' the next 500 years?

  4. I would also add some sort of tax incentives towards population reduction. There are simply too many of us wanting too much.

  5. I just wanted to thank everyone who has signed up to the Thunderclap and shared their thoughts. Social media is a force and it can have an impact (hopefully a big one on 19th April when the Thunderclap goes live). Apologies for the late reply, but I had no signal today. I spent day at South Stack on Anglesey enjoying the wildlife spectacle; Choughs, Puffins, Wheatear, Stonechat, and hundreds of Razorbills and Guillemots. Thank you again to everyone who has joined the Thunderclap, we are nearly up to 600 people now.

    1. Thanks, Findlay, for all you're doing for wildlife and conservation. I agree with comments made - it's heartening we have young enthusiasts like you.

      I think this photo shows you at Parkgate? Like you, I was one of the high tide watchers last Saturday.

  6. "The young shall inherit the earth" they quite rightly say. But sadly, my generation are in danger of slipping away intestate where the natural world is concerned. The sixth great extinction is underway and this time the sole catalyst is the wanton greed of a single species. Homo Sapiens, which ironically is Latin for 'wise man'. Of course there are those of us who give a damn, including most readers of this blog but for far too many, there are far more pressing concerns than the future of the planet. Seems bizarre to me but there it is.

    Without wishing to sound melodramatic, time really is of the essence and there's a great burden of responsibility on Findlay's generation to affect change if current disastrous trends are to be halted and somewhere down the line reversed.

    The problem here is that young people who care about nature are deemed to be 'uncool' or 'nerdy' by there peers. I've had the pleasure of meeting Findlay and spending some time talking to him and I can testify that he is a determined, single minded and driven young man with the intelligence and maturity to be undeterred by any of this stuff. But many teenagers are less self assured and easily impressionable. I sincerely hope that stoic young conservationists like Findlay, and I know there are others, can buck the trend and make it cool to care about the world we live in. And why not? Attitudes can be changed. It wasn't so long ago that young people felt peer pressured to be homophobic and/or racist but rationality has largely prevailed there.

    I wish you every success with your campaign Findlay and keep shouting from the rooftops. If young people like you can help to steer a generation the knock on effects could change the world for the better.

    1. “…the sole cause is the wanton greed of a single species”.
      I am not sure how helpful such language is. Whilst it is easy to point to a few tax dodging corporations or fat cat financiers and lay the blame on them for the state of the world, the sad truth is that habitat loss, resource depletion, pollution and so on are the consequence of billions of us all just seeking to get by. When a trawler man sets out to sea he is not intent on trashing the environment for greed but simply trying to put bread on his table and the same is true for a Brazilian slash-and-burn farmer or a car assembly plant worker (or manager) in Detroit (or wherever they make them nowadays). Of course, the life style of most of us in ‘the west’ is much too resource demanding but where and how do we set the level of acceptable comfort and luxury? Who are we to tell every Chinese or African or Indian family that they must not aspire to own a car or a fridge?
      You make the point that most readers of this blog ‘give a damn’ and I am sure you are right and most of us probably make some efforts to reduce our environmental footprint but clearly we all use computers and smart-phones (the same ones that will propagate Findlay’s thunderclap) made from rare earth metals mined with God-knows-what-impact on the environment in faraway places and powered by electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. Recent threads on the blog indicate that most of us also own a television and I’d guess that a majority of us also drive a car and probably many of us take a flight from time to time or at least make a journey that is not strictly necessary for the sake of survival. We can probably all justify having these things in terms of needing them for work, etc but this illustrates how hard it is to pare down all the trappings of modern life whose production is at the root of so many of our problems.
      Findlay is right, of course, that we need to think long term and take decisions that seek to ensure that the Earth remains healthy and capable of supporting us and the species we share it with. We need to persuade our politicians to do this but we have to remember that their short-termism is based on the certain knowledge that they will be kicked out at the next election if their decisions are perceived as harming the interests of the present electorate. A tax on fuel, for example, may yield long term environmental benefits but may also result in people losing their jobs and those people will understandably protest. We have to persuade society as a whole to take a longer term view of things but we should not pretend that it is easy or that any resistance to such decisions is necessarily based on evil or wantonly greedy attitudes.

      1. Jonathon,one of the best comments on this blog ever.Well thought out,most of population especially all politicians have a job to think past 5 years let alone 500.

      2. You make valid points Jonathon. We are all culpable to one extent or another and I'm sure we could all do more if we took a good long look at ourselves. In the developed world we're all guilty of taking things for granted because we've always had them and our parents had them and so on. This doesn't in any way contradict my statement that humans are soley responsible for the current state of the planet.

        I have no issue with individuals doing what they have to do to ensure the survival of themselves and their families. I have no issue with anyone killing an animal to eat. I even have some sympathy for ivory poachers, or the pawns in the Chinese medicine trade, or those who are paid a pittance to deforest our jungles. The "wanton greed" I'm referring to is that of the mercenaries that pay that pittance to line their deep bulging pockets without giving a flying fig about the consequences to the natural world. And that "wanton greed" isn't exclusive to far away tropics. Right here in good old Blighty we have grouse moors and I don't think I need to explain that one on here.

        You're quite right; there aren't any quick fixes to global problems like climate change. We are all guilty and we all need to take a longer term view, but much of the worldwide biodiversity crash we are witnessing is a result of "wanton human greed" (I stopped short of the word "evil" incidentally) and I stand by my opinion that mankind is entirely responsible for the sorry state of planet earth as it stands.

  7. Encouragement is the best way forward and like my 3 lads you can only try and if you get 1 out of 3 working in the countryside -
    then still feel that is worth the effort with one of the others working with children and I am still trying to get him to point out wildlife to them even though a recent stoat in ermine was told to the children to be a white ferret as he had them for rabbiting when he was younger!

  8. The rate of population growth has been falling for well over 50 years, so things are moving in the right direction population rise. Total population will continue to rise for a good while yet though.

    This slowdown in the rate of growth has been achieved through development and education. As Africa catches up with the rest of the world, it too will see similar changes.

    In the meantime, "we" can live less impactful and much greener lives. Unfortunately, this means changing, not something "we" are good at despite seeing problems everywhere else...

    Buy less, spend less, consume less, use less energy, less air travel, less car travel, more bikes, more walking, grow food, think more about where we spend, watch birds locally, all the stuff you perhaps don't want to do

    If we carry on, even though population might even start to come down in the not too distant future, overexploitation of resources will make the world a sorry place.

    I think we like to point fingers, but don't like to change.


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