This piece by Simon Mair of the University of Surrey, linked below, was published in The Conversation at the end of March 2020, about 2 weeks after the first full stay at home restrictions started in the UK.
The image is one I have chosen which is by Edward Hicks (American, 1780–1849), entitled Peaceable Kingdom. (1834. Oil on canvas, 29.6 × 35.5 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.).
The painting is based on the biblical prophecy or vision, described in Isaiah Chapter 11, of a society in which people live in harmony with each other and creation, with an ethic of protection of life and avoiding harm.
The piece is even more useful now I believe as it is clear that the coronavirus pandemic is not a short-term phenomenon from which we will be able to get back to normal after a few months of disruption. It has exposed huge weaknesses and deficiencies in our previous social, political, and economic lives which must change. The impact on health, well-being and the economy mean new imaginations of the future social contract and economic system are called for. Coupled with the urgent issues of climate change and the need to address inequalities of respect and opportunities highlighted by Black Lives Matter in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, as well as growing awareness of the inadequacy of our social security provisions in the UK, there is a growing urgent need for change.
As much as I love trees and forests and the idea of planting trees to control global warming, I can see in this article that massive tree-planting is not the simple solution. You can’t plant trees whilst continuing to burn oil and gas. Climate change can only be slowed by reducing carbon emissions.
I have finally got around to reading Six Degrees: our future on a hotter planet-by Mark Lynas It was published last year but it’s been sitting around at home unread. Each chapter describes the scenario likely for each successive degree of global warming above current levels. It’s based on scientific papers he’s read; though written in a very racy style which tends to undermine credibility I think. His conclusions are very apocalyptic in tone. He paints a very scary picture of the future. This is not to say I don’t believe him. But psychologically. putting this kind of fear into people is not the way to promote action. This is one of the big problems with the whole issue of the gap between accepting it’s happening and doing something about it, both in society and personally. Its like trying to persuade teenagers not to smoke cigarettes by telling than it will give them shorter life-spans: it doesn’t work because they’re not bothered about what might happen 60 years in the future-its about what’s good now.
The same kind of problem exists with getting people motivated on climate change. George Marshall has some thoughts on this.