Challenging Habitat Blog

As the second covid-19 lockdown in the UK draws to a close, I won’t be alone in, once more, evaluating the important things in life.

For me it’s having positive, loving and healthy relationships.

With nature: being outdoors, experiencing it with all senses, exploring and observing, learning and understanding, connecting deeply and striving towards sustainability.

With people: family, friends, communities, humanity in all its diversity and self.

Clarity. Stripped down to the foundations of happiness, wellbeing and resilience.

Who needs (blood) diamonds when nature sparkles in so many ways?

Without environmental devastation

…without exploitation

…and for free!

Autumn brings into sharper focus that nature wastes nothing and the laws of thermodynamics.

A fallen tree:

Surface for epiphytes
Substrate for fungi
Food for bacteria
Habitat for invertebrates

Matter and energy.

Life cycles. Upcycling. Recycling. Reuse. Circular economy.

Nothing new to nature, just to our society of STUFF.

Careless domestic waste management.

The Cornish hedges NW of Kit Hill are not trimmed yet and bare branches catch the rays of the sun, already low in the sky at 3 pm.

Almost like hoarfrost.

New life!

We’ll before oaks shed their last leaves, acorns are preparing the next generation.

A lesson in sustainability to all of us from the scale of families and education, organisations and businesses to political parties and government.

A new dawn (perhaps in more than just the literal sense).

I begin the second nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown with an early morning paddle on the Tamar estuary.

It’s beautiful.

Thick mist is drifting down the valley, I hear a barn owl and watch the aerobatics of a murmuration of starlings over the reeds.

Two egrets alight.

The sun, still hidden behind the hills and fog, illuminates the moon high in the sky.

And eventually the blue of the day wins over the dark.

I’d like to take this as a sign of hope in the US presidential election…but on the morning of the 5 Nov 2020, that jury is still out.

I’m just returning from the dentist minding my own business and am stopped by a column of 16 SUVs (you know the type: Range Rovers and Japanese models with names, such as animal, terminator, dominator or whatever…) pouring out of the country lane I need to turn into.

A sure sign that the pheasant shooting season on the grand estate nearby has opened.

Quite apart from the issues I raised recently relating to the negative impacts of releasing millions of pheasants into British ecosystems, the paraphinalia that go with the shooting sport have, in my view, a serious issue with sustainability.

SUVs are largely a status symbol for city dwellers and the vehicles of the ‘sportsmen’ I encountered today were specklessly clean and pristine, indicating that they weren’t exactly utilised for off-roading on a regular basis.

They were large models.

According to recent research, the increase in SUVs on our roads were the second largest contributors of the rise in global CO2 emissions since 2010, behind power production.

If that wasn’t enough, they are largely diesel engines, which are responsible for the pollution of our air with small particular matter that gets into our lungs and blood stream, with the potential to cause many diseases, including cancer, and premature death.

I’m not a fan of SUVs, especially when they are used for journeys that a normal car can do, or for the ‘sport’ of shooting.

Like you, I am European and I live in the UK. By accident of birth and shifting borders, I carry a German passport.

I reflect on history, the bad bits (lots of human suffering at the level of individual and collectively) and the good bits (when society thrived through cooperation and solidarity).

I conclude that being part of a bigger whole is infinitely more desirable than striving to be great and powerful alone, to be the biggest of all.

In the belief that history is a great teacher and the foundation upon which we develop foresight and wisdom,


* Johnson, plus D Cummings, J Rees-Mogg, D David, N Farage et al.

Charles Darwin’s great great granddaughter Sarah Darwin has broadcast live from the Darwin200 ship Pelican of London. Watch it here:

Featured Image: “Beagle: Sarah Darwin” by is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Young sailors and scientists aboard the Pelican of London explore sutainable energy with a competition to design and build a wind turbine. Watch the video here:

The Darwin200 film team explores the beauty and history of Lewis. Watch their video here:

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