So it’s official. Deep in Carboniferous and Jurassic rocks beneath parts of the north of England are locked an estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. That is an awful lot, far more than was ever produced from North Sea fields. Is this a natural windfall of great economic importance, an opportunity for the UK to demonstrate cutting-edge technological capabilities and a source of long-term energy security?
In finding solutions to our growing energy challenges it is important to step back from our obsessive debates about different technologies and to take a wider view of the reality we inhabit. A good starting point is to remember how our planet is largely solar powered, and has been for a very long time. When it comes to the natural world the most visible manifestation of this fact is photosynthesis.
Following the launch of the State of Nature report, I am keen to stimulate a debate about what else we need to do to live in harmony with nature. Over the next few weeks, people from differing perspectives will propose their One Big Thing for Nature. Today, I am delighted to welcome Tony Juniper, former Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, writer and top campaigner.
An absence of positive political debate about the natural world is even more troubling than the decline in the UK wildlife revealed by State of Nature report.
More than half the wildlife species found in our islands are declining, under an assault of development, air pollution and chemical attack. Bumblebees, wildflowers, songbirds and butterflies are among the more obvious casualties.
I have joined with David Attenborough and many others in writing a letter urging Michael Gove to abandon his mad plans to downgrade teaching on the natural environment and climate change in the national curriculum. It is published in The Sunday Times, and reproduced here. Thanks to Elisabeth Whitbread and Matt Williams for organising this.
I signed this letter published in the Daily Telegraph calling for an end to advertising targeted at children. Other countries have done it, and so could we. Thanks to Jonathan Kent and Rupert Read for organising this.
I helped to write the technical report that was used by the Ecosystems Markets Task Force in making their proposals to Ministers on how to combine the sustainable use of ecosystems with commercial aims. There is a some good material in here that should be of interest to quite a few people active in working out how business can contribute to environmentally sustainable outcomes.