I'll get this started with another huge thank-you to Gavin Haig, over at NQS, for the inspiration for my own post. Click here to see what was catalyst for this offering and please read the comments which resulted from this, superb, thought provoking, piece. I'm guilty, as the next man, when it comes to finding fault with the behaviour of others. It doesn't matter if it's the "agricultural methodology" of some pike anglers or the lack of etiquette by morons (I refuse to call them anglers) fishing for spawning carp out on the drains. So I make no claim to being any type of a saint. What I can say is that my opinions are based upon personal experience, not those enforced upon me by a third party. Rapidly approaching sixty-six years on this planet I feel I've earned the right to offer a reasoned opinion upon subjects which have been part and parcel of my journey. Engineering, mountaineering, space exploration and plumbing - all way off of my radar. Birds, fish and associated natural history, are part of my very soul, the reason why I still wake up in the morning.
So where's this going? I live in a democracy where freedom of speech is a given. That I can be in breech of the law should I incite racial, religious or sexual intolerance is understandable but, having an opinion is still legitimate. That my opinion doesn't always concur with that of others is also perfectly acceptable, it's all about choice. You have to believe how lucky I feel to have never embarked upon any Twitter, Facebook, Instagram journeys, I'd have been chewing fence posts and spitting feathers, probably banned, because of my own intolerance of certain subjects which would have me fuming. Fortunately age, as opposed to wisdom, steered me clear of these situations and my only forays within social media are via "Blogger" and an email account.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with questioning how we, as individuals, negatively impact the environment in which we live. The concept of offering sound, science based, evidence to support any opinions is always preferable to that of "I think". "Low Carbon Birding" has created a massive ripple amongst the birdwatching community with certain individuals taking it upon themselves to pass judgement upon those who fail to comply with their personal viewpoint. It is one thing to change your own habits/behaviour in order to conform to a set of standards which you feel to be the right way to progress. Setting yourself up as high priest is way off the mark if you really want to change the behaviour of others. I have written, previously, about how the most influential people I've ever crossed paths have an ability to inspire. Sue Llewelyn, my English teacher at Halsey School, Hemel Hempstead didn't harp on about spelling and grammatical correctness but, instead concentrated on the joy of the written word and the ability to express yourself via the medium of pen on paper. I'm sure that those basic skills of spelling and grammar were covered, but they were integrated into the whole concept of the much bigger picture. Going into that classroom wasn't a chore, it was fun, an absolute privilege to be part of. In the late 1990's (I'm sure?) I attended a Herts Bird Club event at which Roy Dennis took centre stage. Although I don't agree with some of the projects that his foundation have instigated, being in his presence as he reels off his patter is very special. His enthusiasm for the subject is infectious, I left with a wonderful sense of positivity about the future of the natural world because of this one guys visionary outlook.
Contrast those experiences with the whinging that Gavin highlighted in his post. If humanity are to save the planet, as we know it, then surely first and foremost, we need to enthuse the next generations to get involved with our natural world, not castigate them for embarking upon a journey which might not be "needed". As an individual I was less than impressed by the antics of one spoilt brat, swanning around on a "solar powered" super yacht, telling the world leaders what they were doing wrong. The carbon footprint of the evolving technologies required to eventually develop the manufacturing capability to produce such a vessel would far outweigh that of the global birding community - period. That, at the age of seventeen, Greta doesn't have the experience to know shit from dirty pudding is my slant on this PR stunt. If, however, she has inspired others of her age to take a serious look at how their behaviour is impacting upon the climate and environment then it's mission accomplished. It really doesn't matter a jot what I think.
I've enjoyed a lifetime of involvement with the outdoors and the creatures which share my space. Garden birds and fishing in The River Gade were my entry points, but what an adventure they started. My move to Kent was pivotal in many other aspects of wildlife watching coming onto my radar. I'm particularly indebted to the guys at Sandwich Bay Obs who introduced me to the joy of moth trapping. I now look at anything which crosses my path with a more appreciative mind-set. I well remember my reaction when Mark Telfer introduce the Pan Listing League to the blogging community. I was horrified that our natural world had become little more than a spread sheet exercise. I'd completely missed the point and now see it as a tool for any individual to push the boundaries of their own knowledge. Over the years I've looked at many creatures which, before PSL, I would have simply ignored.
So if behavioural change is required, in order to achieve this, education must take president over, narrow minded, moaning by folk who've had their slice of the cake but now wish to deny others their chance to share the experience. Endless ranting on Twitter, etc, won't inspire anyone to change, wouldn't work for me, of that I'm certain. In fact know that I, for one, would have the perfect response if it came my way - F*CK OFF you sad little, attention seeking, no-one! Haven't spent forty odd years working in factories to now be worried by the opinions of self-righteous bullies. Reasoned debate is one thing, do as you're told just doesn't cut the mustard!