Charles Moore Charles Moore

Chris Packham’s suggestions to save the world

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On Monday 2 August, the BBC Today programme offered its ‘Countdown to COP26’. For the rest of the month, Amol Rajan announced, Chris Packham would give us ‘a different suggestion’ about climate change EVERY DAY. I make that 26 Packham slots — Sunday being Today-free — on the main national news magazine programme. Chris’s Day One suggestion to address the ‘colossal, planet-threatening mess that we find ourselves in’ was that everyone should buy an alarm clock (second-hand if possible to save on emissions), set it to wake up 15 minutes earlier and devote that quarter of an hour to doing something helpful, rather as we did, he said, when we abolished slavery. This would amount, if everyone obeyed Chris, to ‘258 million days of people power’ emitted per year. ‘Come on then,’ said Amol to listeners, ‘set that alarm clock.’

Resisting the temptation to obey and gain 15 minutes to start my car and belch extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, I listened to Packham Day Two. Chris had rung his ‘friend and mentor’ Billy Bragg, he informed us, and Billy had told him ‘There’s a power in a union’. We must ‘build communities for change’, said Chris. Rather than just feeding the birds in our gardens, we should look ‘over your fences, in the places you don’t own’ and sort them out too. Last year, Covid had prevented the cutting of verges, and that had been great. But this year, there are terrible ‘images of ravaged verges’ on social media. Concerted social action could prevent this. As it happens, I favour uncut verges (though people do need to be able to walk on them); but since Packham thinks we are in ‘the most dangerous situation humanity has ever faced’, he will have to do a lot better in the 20-plus slots which remain than not cutting verges or (Day Three suggestion) getting up petitions.

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