Nefarious and Secretive Goings On

Not for the first time, I found some weird old shit going on in the darker depths of my reserve this week. At least this time I didn’t have to step in and remind people that there were kids about.

I was minding my own business (OK, I was minding some else’s business, but that’s alright, they asked me to) when I practically fell in the below hole:

Hole

It’s about 5 foot cubed and yes, that is a rugby tacklebag in the bottom. At the bottom, there was a platform constructed out of wooden boards nailed together which had been broken through and someone had dug down about another foot beneath. It was all a bit Oak Island.

So what was it? My educated guess is that this is exactly as dodgy as it looks and someone has recently recovered buried treasure (yeah, actual buried treasure!) using the tacklebag as a kneeler. I like to imagine it’s where they stashed the Brink’s-Mat loot because…well, why not?

Just goes to show, it’s a sinister world full of criminal types all out to get you or take you for a ride some how – hang on, no, sorry. I’ve just been reading the Tory Manifesto. Sometimes I get confused.

But how many times do you hear about some particularly nasty goings on and the words ‘a secluded patch of woodland’ come up? Yeah, well, have a little sympathy for us guys who manage those secluded patches of woodland! It’s not all sunshine and bluebells, y’know!

 

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Occupational Hazards – A Morbid Look at Reserve Management

As we slide into the post-referendum, post-EU, post-species protection, agri-centric subsidy future, here’s something to cheer you up: today, the police asked me to search one of my sites for someone at high risk of suicide. Fantastic. But not unexpected. There’s things they don’t tell you about when you settle on (or have settled upon you) a career in conservation. It’s not all larking about counting newts and frolicking in meadows, y’know. There is always the possibility that you might find something deeply unpleasant lurking in the nether regions of your woodlands.

Suicides in woodland, reserves or parks are relatively common. Somewhere I previously worked warned me that if I stayed longer than three years, the odds on me finding a dead body became favourable (I left at two years three months and the only thing I saw die in that time was enthusiasm for community outreach).

I have zero insight into the mind of the suicidal, but I suspect the search for some solace and some calm is what leads people to these places, and as much as it is unpleasant for those of us who do the discovering, it’s hard for me to begrudge them that.

Hemingway

‘Oh Ernest, look at the ruddy mess you’ve made of the walls’ (yes I was struggling to find something suitable in my image library)

It’s not just suicides though. I’ve had colleagues who have told me stories…things I can’t in all good conscience repeat here. Gory things, horrid things. Accidents and incidents with the public. Everyday activities that have gone south at the drop of a hat. And then there’s the other things you might come across – a multitude of dead dogs, cats, badgers and foxes; more couples having sex than you can shake a stick at (and shaking a stick at them is usually a good way to scare them off, for future reference); weapons stashes (I once found a handgun while working with a group of young offenders. That was an interesting day. I do not miss Dagenham); angry dogs; angry dog walkers; people angry with angry dogs and angry dog walkers. The list goes on.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I suppose this post is aimed at two very small subsets of my already small readership. For those thinking of moving into the environmental sector to become a warden, ranger or site manager, this is a forewarning. Because it’s something people rarely tell you about. Predominantly suicides take place at home, but many that take place outdoors are often in quite, secluded, beautiful spots (and no, I am not just trying to scare off future competition). And for any of you out there who were thinking of doing yourselves in at a particularly scenic location, don’t. For one, the admin is a right sod.

Nature’s Got It In For You: What you should be scared of this month

I’ve taken the unwise step of reading the tabloids over the past few weeks and now I’m scared. Everything out there is out to get you in one way or another, didn’t you know? I didn’t know. I’ve managed to stay alive for 30-ermm-something years now and I’m not entirely sure how. It would appear it was more by luck than judgement, especially as I spend so much of my time out and about in the wild. Well, the wilder parts of South London, at least. There’s just so much out there that wants me dead! So here’s a round up of everything I’ve read throughout July that falls into that old staple, the Summer Scare Story:

The two biggest species that have been threatening life and limb around the country this month have definitely been the broad definition ‘gulls’ and of course Giant Hogweed (that’s what kicked this all off, really):

  • Hogweed! There were a full full ten (TEN! Count them, Ten!) articles on Giant Hogweed in the Mail alone since the start of July. It’s nasty stuff, undoubtedly, but people seem to be jumping up and down like this is a new phenomenon.
  • Gulls! Virtually over the last two weeks, gulls seem to have become public enemy number one. I’ll leave it for you to decide just how much danger you are in should you venture down to the seaside, but as always I’d advise reading a little further than the screeching, alarmist headlines to see what the various ‘experts’ actually said:

Seagulls could kill babies!

Yorkshire Terrier killed by Herring Gulls- ‘it could have been a child!’

Aggressive gulls must be culled!

There’s lots more out there, but here’s something a little more sensible on the subject. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I need to go and scrub myself with borax.

More Pointless Fox Hyperbole

Foxes = hyperbole. If I’ve learned anything from my ‘career’ in the sector, it is that there is very little as divisive. So when a story appears in the papers about a marauding fox’ penning some ‘terrified’ punters in a pub, I pretty much know what reactions to expect. Calls for culling, the counter ‘ode to the joys of the urban fox’; it’s all a little predictable.

chumsWhat I think has always baffled me though is the sheer number of people who just point blank seemed to have refused that this has happened. Why the self-deception? Why can they not countenance the idea that a fox, a wild predator, could possibly act aggressively towards humans? There is any number of reasons why it might – cubs, food, perceived threat or familiarity – but there is a steadfast refusal to accept. And so stories like this are treated with incredulity and ridicule. I have even heard people claiming today that all previous incidences of fox attacks on humans have later been proven to be dogs. I have also seen that damn statistic about dog attacks vs fox attacks trotted out everywhere despite its total irrelevance. One thing I do know from experience is that when it comes to foxes, you have to pick a side.

I can understand it to an extent – people see foxes as the victim, as persecuted, and are therefore more prone to emphasise their innocence and fluffiness. But why do they think it is necessary to overplay it? The peculiar thing is that today in the Guardian a piece also appeared by lovable hunk Steve Backshall (even I swoon) about the nefarious media practice of creating seasonal bio-panic, be it jellyfish, spiders, hornets or, yes, foxes. And I completely agree with every single word of it. So what am I even trying to say?

I think we need to admit to ourselves that there’s the odd thing out there that might, just occasionally, cause you a scratch, a

They'll be the death of me

They’ll be the death of me

sting, and abrasion, heavens even a cut. I think we have to embrace that. Grasp on to the last tiny semblance of danger in our rather mild-mannered ecosystems (this is all very well me saying this until I am mauled to death by badgers, of course). The truth is that kids, for one, are much more fascinated by teeth and stings and danger than they are by soft fur and a placid demeanour.

So the next time there is a story about a fox biting a bin man, an exotic spider secreted in a bunch of bananas causing mild swelling or reports of a super-deadly Asian Hornet (clue – it’s probably just a regular hornet! Seriously, those things are terrifyingly large) I hope our reaction is neither to run for the hills and stock up on canned goods or to put on our green armour and say ‘oh don’t be silly, it could never happen’. I hope our reaction is to shrug our shoulders and say ‘so what?’ Or even better, ‘cool’. Animals do what animals do and they’re pretty cool as they are, why feel the need to exaggerate or deny?

The (Anti) Raptor Alliance

It’s happening again. After the nonsense of ‘You Forgot the Birds’ last year, there’s a new joker on the scene – The Raptor Alliance. Don’t let the name fool you – this is neither a collaboration of sparrowhawks angry at social injustice, a scene from Jurassic World or even a group attempting to save the decimated Hen Harrier. Quite the opposite, this is an alliance of pigeon fanciers intent on clearing the skies of any potential threat to the enjoyment of their little hobby.raptor alliance

I’m not going to make any snarky remarks about how anyone could possibly enjoy pigeon racing, but surely the removal of raptors only sanitizes it. Like modern F11 (again, baffled), where’s the excitement in knowing that they’re all going to make it back safely? Surely the addition of a potential sparrowhawk-wildcard adds to the thrill and anticipation. Surely a little thinning by raptors leads to the evolution of quicker, smarter pigeons2.

The recent petition put forward to members of Pigeon Racing unions (who knew, right?) is asking racing pigeons to be designated as livestock. With this designation it will then be legal (the Royal Pigeon Racing Association states) for pigeon racers to shoot birds of prey ‘around their loft’. Now, I’m not entirely comfortable about the idea of any group blasting away into the sky, presumably in a residential area, particularly when I think about the rather woolly concept of ‘around their loft’. How many pigeon lofts are not in the vicinity of another property? Are they sure they can discharge a weapon without firing beyond their premises (as per Firearms Act)? So straight off the bat, I am not convinced by the legality of this unless said loft is in the middle of a field (yes, some of them will be). Might there be the potential for a little stretching of that ‘around the loft’ phrase?

But that’s mere nuts and bolts, protocol, procedure. From the ‘You Forgot the Birds’ debacle, we all know the real fun starts when you dive into the PR and reasoning behind it all. So lets head straight into the world of twitter, where we can rest assured that these types of movement will invariably make a boob and receive the mauling they deserve:

Another brilliant business enterprise scuppered by my time-travelling nemesis

Another brilliant business enterprise scuppered by my time-travelling nemesis

Ah, here we go. Protection of ‘assets’. A Racing Pigeon owned by someone inherently has more value than a wild falcon. Because someone has paid good, hard cash for it. I’d rather not stroll too far down this path of monetising wildlife, and I’d also rather not turn this into some form of Bird Top Trumps (now there’s an idea), but if we must….

‘60,000 pigeon fanciers in the UK have no legal protection against increasing attacks from soaring sparrowhawk and peregrine falcon populations’

Just picking the RSPB as they’re the most relevant environmental charity here: 1 million+ members, a great deal of them probably spending a large amount of money to view and protect birds. Some of the most popular birds to spot are likely to be raptors (and probably not pigeons, if we’re honest)…if we’re going to play ‘my bird’s worth more than your bird’, I know whom my, a-hem, money is on.

Such nice chaps, and therefore we should totally support them. People who give money to charity should always get their way.

I already said I wasn’t going to play ‘which bird is better’, but…oh go on then, if we must judge wildlife by their interaction with man: Falconry wins by a good 1780 years.

I’m never entirely convinced about bravery awards for animals, but this doesn’t make pigeons particularly special: Falcons were also used to bring down these messages.

I know, I know, all rather childish of me to pick out these random tweets, but there is an inherent undercurrent in everything the Raptor Alliance says that racing pigeons in so many ways have more ‘worth’ than raptors. This is even more dispiriting when in previous releases RPRA gave relatively reasonable advice on how to discourage birds of prey around ones pigeon loft.

This leap towards blasting them out of the sky all harks back to the rather perfidious notion I encountered growing up in the countryside that raptors need to be ‘controlled’. This was sold to me as essential for protecting songbird populations, but even then I could not understand the logic. Apex predator control doesn’t work ‘backwards’ like this. The only natural control on their numbers was prey numbers, and I couldn’t see the need for the introduction of a third agency. With this petition, attempting to directly pit raptors against ‘livestock’, it shows exactly where the real conflict lies.

1I am not disparaging recent changes to F1 or the lack of high-speed, potentially fatal crashes. I am completely ambivalent towards F1. Although the crashes were the best part.

2Smart, self-aware pigeons is one of my nightmare scenarios. That and squirrels intent on world domination.

What if…Big Cats really do roam the Cotswolds?

After writing about Anomalous Big Cats the other month I had a thought- what if they really were really, really real. What if the Cotswolds really was riddled with them? What would that mean for them, and nature conservation, in the UK?

Now, as a subject, I’ll be upfront – I love Anomalous Big Cats. I love the very idea of them, I love the scant and fleeting little YouTube clips, I love the anecdotes of dubious provenance, I love the theories, the speculation and the occasionally bat-shit mental suppositions and conspiracies. It entertains me enormously. Maybe I’m the kind of person who can get overly caught up in the enigmatic. My wife (yes, I really have managed to get married) lives in constant fear that I will run away to search for a remnant population of the Thylacine or some such. OK, ‘fear’ might be the wrong word. Hope. Yes, hope, that’s what I meant.

So I pondered, well, just what would the ramifications be if somehow a feral population of melanistic panther/puma/whatever were discovered to exist somewhere other than the odd dog-walker’s subconscious? I’ve never bought in entirely to Monbiot’s theory that it is some kind of subliminal, hindbrain response to a world denuded of all that is wild. And I’ve never entirely discounted the notion that there might just be one or two anomalies scurrying around out there. But if a full, breeding population was proven? Then what? Do we protect them? Do we eradicate them? Do we work to encourage breeding?

I suspect there’d be a call to properly study the population scientifically, and that is certainly what Natural England would agree to. Almost immediately, the study would have its funding quietly trimmed and a suggestion would arise that a more focused study on the economic impact to farming concerns would be more beneficial. Despite concerns being voiced from the scientific community, all livestock lost to predators become listed as ‘potential Big Cat kills’, while the transmission of a disease from Big Cats to sheep is described as ‘not yet proven.’

nessie

Nessie: Sure to benefit from HLF funding, but who is looking out for Mothman?

Finally, the report would be published, and would clearly state that the Big Cat population presents no significant danger to humans or native wildlife and that livestock loss will be minimal. It even suggests the population might be beneficial for controlling the ballooning deer population. Having read this, Liz Truss will nod her head sagely and order a widescale, expensive culling program to eradicate the Big Cat menace. A year later and with no confirmed kills, the reinstated Environmental Secretary and UKIP MP Owen Paterson will announce that the Big Cat population never even existed in the first place and this is why you should never trust scientists. In the same speech he will state that Climate Change is an entirely natural process that the UKIP/Conservative coalition will be doing it’s very best to enhance while announcing the lucrative new opening of Farageton, a new port town on the Somerset Levels.

I have already extrapolated mentally to a whole host of other cryptids and maybe one day when I’m really short of ideas I’ll write about that (put briefly, it’s good news for Nessie (Heritage Lottery Funding) but bad news for Yetis (Chinese herbal medicine market)). For now, I’m off to pack my bags and look up flights to Tasmania.

Here Kitty, Kitty – Big Cats or Just Slightly-Bigger-Than-Average Cats?

It’s silly season again, with another report of a massive mystery moggy making the news the other week in France (yes, I’m a little late to the party). This story seems to have gone a little quiet now, so one can only assume that it was an oversized tabby rather than a misplaced Tiger after all. Was it another instance of a Dougal-esque mistaken sense of perspective?

There seems to be another sighting of a Big Cat around the British Isles every few months. Just what is going on? Monbiot, in Feral and recently on his blog, has put this down to some sort of collective yearning for a connection with something wilder, something atavistic to bring some excitement to mundane lives bereft of any really cool wildlife of the ‘can disembowel you’ variety. Maybe he has a point. Maybe there is some sort of subconscious wish fulfillment going on here. Or maybe this is a case of people falling victim to some kind of primal pre-programming to seek out the sinister and deadly amongst the commonplace and routine, analogue hard-wiring of the brain in a digital age. Maybe our remaining fauna have become so readily visible, such as with our expanding urban fox population, that we have had to invent our own, more interesting charismatic carnivores.

And my, it does generate a lot of media interest. Just take the Epping Forest puma; after numerous attempts at generating publicity about fly-tipping, a cuddly toy stuck up a tree generated more press interest than any amount of builders rubble ever could:

kitty2

Monstrous and horrifying beast captured on a trail cam round my way

We do seem to love the novel, the out of place the aberrant, the anomalous in our wildlife. I should know. By far the most interesting thing I’ve ever done is counting Wallabies on the Isle of Man (I’m pretty dull). It’s all anyone I talk to ever wants to hear about, I take measures to ensure I can bring it up in any conversation. I’m a riot at dinner parties.

Big Cats seem to spring up from nowhere from time to time, arriving fully formed and with little prior incidence or evidence that might have tipped off even your most unobservant of ecologist (I think even I’d notice 5 foot high scratching posts and an abundance of half-eaten deer about the place). Take the debacle in St Osyth a couple of years ago which saw the tabloid favourite mythical Big Cat get a fresh chance to stretch its legs. This time it was supposedly a Lion (are we upgrading? Are pumas and panthers no longer exciting enough that we have begun to see Lions and Tigers lurking in the undergrowth?). This was a modern play on an old theme, with Twitter aliases, bad photo-shopping and rolling 24-hour news coverage of intrepid reporters standing in fields completely bereft of anything even vaguely feline. Much as the Paris Tiger has, the Essex Lion also seemed to vanish without a trace.

Mysterious Black Cats - They could be hiding anywhere

Mysterious Big Cats – They could be hiding anywhere

But what I have found peculiar about both instances is the reaction of the local police forces, and the similar reactions from police forces around the country after other sightings. I think this might be something worth considering all in itself. Yes, they have a duty to ensure public safety, but where the rest of us see a grainy image and think ‘someone really needs to cut back on their kitty treats’, the local rozzers decide to scramble their ‘copters and mobilize SWAT with more alacrity than even their Ferguson counterparts might. Do they take the whole thing more seriously than the rest of us? Do they know something we don’t? Or are they just waiting for any excuse to break out their shiny toys? Either way, they are clearly taking the whole issue much more seriously than most of us. Why might this be?

Well, one possible reason might be that there really is actual concrete proof of at least one Big Cat turning up in the UK. In 1991 a Big Cat was shot in Norfolk, prompting the excellent answer of ‘Oh, only some pigeons and a Lynx’ to the question ‘what’s in the freezer?’ As usual, I will give a warning that this lynx link is to the Daily Mail. But just as one swallow does not a summer make, one Lynx does not a…erm…bugger…anyone know the collective noun for Big Cats? Beyond this incident there are slim pickings for solid evidence of Big Cats, but as I’ve said before, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, which does rather neatly make it pretty difficult to definitively disprove the whole thing.

There are many angles and interpretations of the Big Cat phenomena, and a lot of interesting articles, websites and blogs on the subject that can run the whole gamut from logical to lunatic. The Paris Tiger will not be the last time that the (possibly) mythical Anomalous Big Cat makes a (grainy and obscured) appearance. And once again it will force us to ask the question, ‘are there Big Cats abroad?’ On consideration, it’s probably the best place for them.

Fox Week – Part 1: How to Create a Story Out of Nothing

It seems this week is going to be fox-heavy week. I had a post all set up and ready to go today (and it will appear here later) about the ‘scourge’ of urban foxes, the whys and wherefores. It is such an emotive subject and (for frankly irrelevant reasons) foxes cannot now be discussed without being laced with political context (in other words – if you want to control fox populations in any way, if you say anything negative about foxes at all, you’re a Tory). For an ecologist, this is a little annoying as it can be a legitimate area of concern.

This isn’t really a fox article. Urban foxes are (sorry to burst your bubble) dull, abundant, mid-level generalists that have limited value from a biodiversity perspective (barring that, of course, all nature has its own inherent value, etc and so forth). But at the weekend, a story I was keeping tabs on in a local paper has gone national in the Telegraph. It concerns a larger issue of scientific illiteracy in our media that Monbiot has previously addressed, but also a willingness to misrepresent a subject which incites high passions to push copy.

The story first appeared last week in the Wandsworth Guardian, which picked up on a seemingly innocuous press release on Urban Foxes by Wandsworth Borough Council. The press release, quite sensibly, advises securing your food waste to deter Urban Foxes. From this, Wandsworth Guardian have produced the heading ‘Starving urban foxes would drive numbers down in London’ says Wandsworth Council. Now I challenge you to search that press release and find where any such thing has been said. The truth is it doesn’t. The not unreasonable précis of the advice is that if there is less food available for foxes, then they will go elsewhere. Yet the title is phrased in such a way that it appears as though it is a direct quote. The piece also makes reference to baiting, trapping and shooting (not raised in the press release but discussed in a 2007 committee paper) and phrases it in such a way that it appears as though it is an actual possibility. This is the main entry on the subject:

 16. There are a number of methods of fox control that may be legally used. These include baited cage trapping, shooting and snaring, however fox control is not generally recommended in urban areas. Killing or relocating foxes usually provides only transient relief from the problems they cause, as vacant territories are rapidly reoccupied once the control measures cease.foxes 1

A hoo-ha is being generated here where none exists. Various control measures are discussed, as is only correct in a discussion about issues with urban foxes. The Council is merely undertaking the minimal due diligence on the issue. If it were discussing any other contentious issue (drugs, knife crime etc.) you would expect, demand even, that the council take the time to discuss any potential measures, the most severe and the most sensitive. If it were a rat problem, would we expect the council to fail to discuss such measures? (But then rats don’t appear on Springwatch every bloody year)

The story has now appeared in the Telegraph with a similarly misleading title, and not too subtle mention that the Wandsoworth Council is Conservative. The sub-header runs ‘Wandsworth Council tells residents if a ‘vixen is shot during breeding season, the den has to be traced and the whole family of cubs humanely killed’. This refers to a throwaway line in the original press release (that has since, sensibly, been removed) that attempts only to highlight the many reasons why any such undertaking would not be practical or desirable, and yet the phrasing has again been used to infer otherwise.

This, of course, all links in to previous concerns I have raised about ecological and scientific issues being discussed in political and social context. The main point I have is that this kind of misrepresentation genuinely can have negative repercussions for environmental professionals, for whom culling is often a legitimate and necessary tool. A lot of our work can seem destructive to the layman, and when a council press release stating that shooting urban foxes is absolutely not a practical measure gets twisted to suggest otherwise, it risks creating public aversion to potential measures ecologists may discuss to legitimate environmental problems. This is just one example amongst many, and if you want another, more nefarious, example of this, then check out the ‘You Forgot the Birds’ fiasco, where the RSPB’s refusal to back an unworkable government Hen Harrier action plan now, by some twisted logic, means that the RSPB hate Hen Harriers.

And I know, I’m using an emotive subject to get more people to view my blog. My rank hypocrisy knows no bounds. I’ve already made a point about the idiocy of having a cake and not eating it.

Attack of the Green Blob – How Greens are Being Pitted Against the Left

Environmentalism has grown in public consciousness exponentially in the last two decades. We are not a fringe group any longer, and we can’t be dismissed as hirsute tree-huggers with poor hygiene. So those whose interests run counter to ours need a new tactic. If you’ve been reading or keeping an eye on key battlegrounds over the last few years, you might have noticed a subtle and insidious shift in the language used to describe us, from the dismissive to the cautionary. We’re now, in no uncertain terms, the enemy. We’re a roadblock to progress, we’re a danger and, to quote an imbecile, we’re the ‘Green Blob’.

So far so predictable. But such language is hardly likely to be very persuasive when the progress we are so recklessly opposing are the interests of big business and ‘money’. That’s hardly going to sway Occupy and Russell Brand and the generation (in the eyes of some at least) that they represent. The nuance that has recently emerged has sought to pit environmentalists against the very people it would normally draw support from. It relies on the (not entirely misplaced) supposition that environmentalists are all lefty, liberal peaceniks and then systematically attempts to pit environmental interests against other issues that might tug at bleeding-heart-strings.

Environmentalists versus The Poor

Everyone cares about the poor, of course. Everyone except Environmentalists, that is. As you may or may not be aware, environmentalists hate the poor. You just have to look at all the things we keep trying to do to realise how much we truly despise them. Opposing fracking? It’s the poor who will suffer. We don’t want houses built all over an important wildlife site? Then we’re pretty much putting people out on the street. All that climate change nonsense? Well, implementing any of the measures to reduce it will affect the poor most of all. Basically if we want to cut carbon emissions, it means we’re happy to see old people freeze to death in the winter as it will jeopardise our energy supply.

“We have to remember too that the people who suffer most from a lack of decent energy are the poor,” – Owen Paterson in a speech on climate change mitigation (apparently channelling the spirit of Gladstone).

And this is one of the reasons why climate change deniers keep getting airspace. They repeat arguments about how meeting climate change targets etc will have the biggest detrimental effect on the poor (while ignoring that it is those in the poorest countries, who coincidentally are not registered to vote in the UK, who will suffer the most from our inaction).

Our general distaste for the poor can, of course, by extension, mean that we hate that most mythical of figures ‘the common man’ too (see most recently the ‘You Forgot the Birds’ campaign that talked about hard working farmers before losing the run of itself and reverting to referring to landowners instead). We’re forever preventing him from ‘getting on’ in life with our half-baked theories and crack-pot ideas. We have basically been cast as the bourgeois middle-class, and we’re out to inflict our value system on you, whether you like it or not.

Environmentalists versus Immigrants

As I’ve already written about, whenever the issue of invasive species (the second biggest cause of species loss, lets not forget) is raised there is a worrying conflation with the social issue and bete noir (I don’t know how to do those little hat things above the ‘e’ on this keyboard) of the day, immigration. Is this just another subtle means of turning our traditional ‘fan-base’ against us? Summing up (In a tired and can’t really be bothered way), the argument now seems to run that by being against invasive species, you are saying you hate immigrants. Us conservationists are pretty much just UKIP in disguise.

Environmentalists versus our brave boys

This, perhaps, is where it all started. ‘Eco-terrorism’ has for sometime been used as a brush to tar us all with. And, yes, maybe it was once, and potentially still is, a legitimate concern. But if you can somehow inveigle the notion that a few represent the whole into the minds of voters then where’s the distinction between hard-line environmentalists and ISIS? Ok, that’s certainly a stretch; no one is attempting to make that connection (no one sane at least) and the range of eco-terrorism over the last decade has been pretty negligible. But you only have to look at how the police reacted to the Ratcliffe-on-Soar protest for one to see that the measures being used to address environmental protests are being talked of in similar terms to those used for dealing with terrorists.

Finally, if you want to give yourself a little chuckle (seriously, it should make me angry, but it doesn’t) then watch this marvellous video that opens with images of Stalin and Hitler before going on to talk about us pesky environmentalists:

The Conspiracy of the Green Blob

One of the general gist’s of anti-environmental propaganda is that our very core beliefs are anti-people. Anti-society, in fact, and therefore anti-socialist. If some are to be believed, Malthus is our founding father. It’s a lazy attack though and the basic motive relies on the notion that the Environmental movement and all those it contains can be summed up and pigeonholed as having similar political thought. Next time you hear an imbecile like Owen Patterson* talking about the ‘Green Blob’ or how we are blocking progress or stamping on the poor, just consider the motives at play.

*(seriously, when can we have a government where positions like the Secretary for the Environment is filled by someone with a background (or at least an understanding of) environmental science? Likewise education, health etc. Why the constant stream of Oxbridge PPE-ers? Still, that’s another article for someone with a bigger brain than me.)