Monday, April 27, 2015

Breathing in bluebells

I wonder if you heard the 'Today' programme on Radio 4 last week when, on the subject of climate change, a scientist made a telling comment?

"It's as though we're on the 'Titanic'", he said, "we're surrounded by broken ice floes, yet we spend our time arguing over the cost of drinks in the bar."

I thought of this remark on Wednesday when Earth Day came, and went . . . largely unnoticed.

True, the planet marked the day in ways we would not have chosen.  On Earth Day itself the World Trade Center in New York was hit by lightning . . . there has since been a massive volcanic eruption in Chile and devastating earthquakes in Nepal.
But if the Earth marked Earth Day in such an unnerving fashion, we did little to acknowledge the wonders of our planet.

Wouldn't you agree that, by and large, we look upon the Earth as little more than our inexhaustible pantry and playground?
We respond to natural disasters with initial shock, sympathy and the sending of aid.  But we soon turn away and go back to arguing over the cost of those drinks.

It's all too easy, it seems, to forget that we're an integral component of the natural world.

In a recent talk, David Abram made the interesting point that man is part of the lungs of the planet.  As we breathe in the oxygen produced by trees and vegetation, so that same vegetation absorbs the carbon-dioxide produced by birds, mammals and us.  We breathe in as the natural world breathes out.  It's a lovely, rhythmic co-ordinating activity.

But what if we ignore the importance of this natural rhythm?  What of we remove the vegetation and chop down the forests . . . where will we find the oxygen that's essential for our existence?

I thought of that image this week when I took Chloe to our local bluebell wood.  There we were, Chloe and I, breathing in bluebells.  And there were the bluebells, getting an extra shot of carbon dioxide all thanks to our visit.

As we sat there on a tree-trunk, I noticed something else.  From under the stems of the bluebells crawled out a bee.  It made its way past my feet then, to my surprise, plunged headfirst into a small hole in the earth.  I sat and waited . . . expecting it to re-emerge.  Despite  waiting for several minutes there was no re-appearance of the bee.  All of which made me wonder.

The bee had entered the earth below my feet for a purpose, down there between the roots there must have been an inter-connecting web of tunnels,  tunnels along which bees and other insects could travel.  The Earth was every bit as alive below our feet as it was at ground level and overhead.

As we stood there in the wood, it seemed that Chloe and I were doing more than keeping our balance on a lump of dead rock careering through space.

We were an integral part of a living organism . . . mixing and mingling in the medley of rhythmic existence which stretched from deep within the soil to the upper limits of the atmosphere.

But I've kept the most compelling argument to the end.
Let me share a moving video.

Click here and breathe in all that Julia Roberts has to tell us about our incredible world.

And what if we don't acknowledge our role and responsibilities in relation to our planet?  What if we go on arguing over the cost of drinks at the bar?

Well, the Earth could all too easily shrug us off  . . . but that's another story.