This morning I awoke just after six o’clock. In the silence, a blackbird was singing in a tree near the back garden, clear and beautiful. Just one bird song. Forty years ago, the dawn chorus here was so intense that one could hardly distinguish one bird song from another, and there was a diversity of birds singing. Now, no longer. The only other sound was the traffic on the motorway some distance away. At about 6:30 am, I heard a plane take off. At 7:10, I heard a wood dove coo away, and then the blackbird sang again for a few minutes. After that, no more natural sounds.
Many cities are expanding enormously. In Cambridge, the city will expand all the way to the motorway surrounding it and will have up to 1 million inhabitants. I live close to the open fields in north Cambridge, but now in these fields, a new development is taking place, which will be called ‘Darwin Green’. It has nothing to do with either ‘Darwin’ or ‘Green’, as it will have huge apartment buildings up to five stories high, a supermarket, primary school, and a cinema. On the outskirts of the city, the agricultural fields stretch for miles, full of the poisons of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Most woods have been cut down.
I am told that the National Parks are mainly for human pleasure. Thus, they are not really for the wild animals and plants, insects, mushrooms… Might that be true? Well, better than nothing, I suppose.
Friends with small children, who take them for walks in the countryside, have said that mostly the children are not interested in their surroundings. They pull their mobile phones out of their pockets and walk along looking at them.
No nature – no humans.
I grew up in Kashmir and the Alps, surrounded by beautiful, healthy nature. Does it still exist there?
30 March 2023, Cambridge