A Revised Green Dictionary

There was an old man who said, “Green is the way to be favourably seen. Use all the right words for the nimbys and nerds but change what they actually mean.” Language has moved on since the American writer Ambrose Bierce published his Devil’s Dictionary over a hundred years ago. With his alternative definitions he shed new light on widely […]

Decongesting roads

What can be done about the ever-increasing amounts of traffic on our roads? In desperation, successive governments have built new roads and widened others. For example, the justification for the proposed A40 “improvements” in Oxfordshire has been (a) to put in bus lanes to encourage people to leave their cars at home (sensible) and (b) to increase the road’s capacity […]

Language, products and services

In his book The Cabaret of Plants, Richard Mabey describes how the natural creation of a saltmarsh in East Anglia has proved more effective at absorbing the sea’s “furious energy” than man-made sea walls. He concludes that, “inviting vegetation to suggest its own solution to environmental challenges is different from treating it as a submissive service provider . . . […]

Counterpart-calibre strategies

In the run-up to the 1989 privatisation of the water industry in England and Wales, the magazine where I then worked sent a colleague to cover an obscure industry conference on the subject. One of the speakers was the head honcho at one of the soon-to-be-privatised water authorities. And, mindful of his forthcoming status as head-honcho of a multi-billion pound […]

Slipping Further Behind the Curve

Confirmation can come from unexpected places. In February 2021, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and PRAXIS at the University of Leeds hosted a convention on “Biocultural Heritage and Landscapes: Linking Nature and Culture”. Participants came from over 30 countries. Don’t be put off by the title and the global context. The Brief Report that emerged from this convention has […]

Was this the day that planning was kippered?

It’s now 17 years since chancellor Gordon Brown and deputy prime minister John Prescott were spotted by the press walking and talking in the car park at Loch Fyne restaurant car park in Argyll, after being told the restaurant was full. But it feels politically like a different age. The two ministers were returning from a memorial service on Iona […]

Dark days ahead

One of the most tiresome and inaccurate things to be told during a crisis is that: “It’s always darkest before the dawn”. As we slowly, and hopefully, emerge from the pandemic, Sir David Attenborough recently reminded us that, horrific as Sars-Cov-2 has been, the coming climate and biodiversity crises will be worse still unless we take very swift action. So […]