The first buds of spring are bursting open and it was a pleasure to be down at Cae Bodfach this morning to see the first signs of a new season all around. Jack and I had gone into Llanfyllin to visit the high school to interview the school’s ‘eco-group’ members. Conscious kids who are leading on recycling and waste reduction initiatives around the school; we wanted to ask them what they thought of climate change and Greta Thunberg’s school strike.

Jack Hunter interviews the eco-club for the podcast

You will have to listen to the podcast to catch the conversation but the upshot is this; had we listened to the Rio Earth summit conclusions of 1992 and acted on them, by now we would already have made the Paris Agreement style transition to the post carbon world.

The fact that we are now staring Armageddon in the face is down to the fact that the World did not wake up and did not act. So the buck has been passed to the next generation. It is them who will have to grow-up in a climate changed world not knowing whether it is left too late respond at all. Kids are grappling with this, and these are still early days of the full realization of the challenge we face.

It is revealing to go back and hear some of those voices that have been sounding the alarm call down the years. We need to listen to current voices much more carefully.

Severn Suzuki’s passionate plea for environment and

All this is happening before our eyes, yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all of the solutions. We don’t.

Severn Suzuki in 1992

If we had listened to the Rio Earth summit conclusions of 1992 then by now we would already have made the Paris Agreement style transition to the post carbon world

One school One Planet 2019

I am only a child yet I know that we are all part of a family of 5 billion strong , in fact 30 million species strong, borders and governments can’t change that. I am only a child yet I know we are all in this together and we should work as one single world, towards one single goal

Severn Suzuki in 1992
In this passionate call to action, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg explains why, in August 2018, she walked out of school and organized a strike to raise awareness of global warming, protesting outside the Swedish parliament and grabbing the world’s attention.

“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

Greta Thunberg
Cae Ysbyty, a herb garden within an orchard, in Llanfyllin. Climate resilience looks a little bit like millions of things like this

Turning problems into solutions.

Scaring the living daylights out of people telling them the world is going to end is irresponsible. But this is an emergency and we must treat it as such. In permaculture design we are interested in small and slow solutions. Things that use natural materials and energy, can grow of their own accord and are easily replicated. A good idea can travel far and fast.

The central idea to building resilience to external shocks and changes is to build lots of connections, to make things stronger. Community, the more we know each other and build community links through working towards longer term goals then the stronger the community. Southern Africa has just been hit by the strongest southern hemisphere storm ever. It is your neighbor who will rescue you when disaster strikes.

None of us are immune, this is climate change, it is going to get bumpy. We will need each other to ride out the waves that are coming our way.

Climate change is obviously driven by fossil fuel consumption, but the resilience of nature to withstand this rapid change is vested in its biodiversity. Forest and soils and essential and act as a store for much of the carbon, however our industrial scale mono culture farming methods have eroded heavily into them with a devastating effect.

Wales for example has lost 90% of its herb rich meadows in the last few decades. Hear local lad and famous naturalist Iolo Williams speaking at the Senedd on the state of nature in 2013, his ire is palpable. This is already 6 years ago.

Iolo Williams State of Nature report 2013

Climate change to-do list

  • Mentally prepare for what is coming, a more local and less resource based lifestyle.
  • Build much stronger, more interconnected local communities
  • Protect and enhance local biodiversity, as a priority not an afterthought
  • Grow, compost and consume much more of your food locally
  • Develop a local carbon based economy, centered on food
  • Develop land armies of people who can lead on habitat repair and restoration
  • Support these efforts with the outputs of the local food economy
  • Create local specialism to facilitate these activities.
Ten square metres of Salix Viminalis, we planted last week

Willow is the fastest growing tree in the UK. In the right conditions a young plant can grow 5 m in a year. That means it draws down co2 and locks it up as carbon in the tree and as carbon in the soil. These trees produce a lot of pollen which feeds insects, which feeds birds and birds cycle phosphates in the landscape, maintaining fertility and regulating insect populations, controlling potential pests at the same time.

The willow itself is a yield and it will be proceed and sold for money back to the specialist grower who supplied it to us. Any money generated will be invested back into the garden so we can develop it further.

Planting and managing it is done by the school children as part of GCSE land based studies, and useful skills are learned along the way. This is an ideal metaphor for permaculture design, thinking of the big picture, climate change, initiating something local from local resource’s, something that generates a yield that can be re-invested back into itself.

We seek multiple yields, as we are supporting nature and diversity, whilst stabilizing the river bank, adding to the amenity value of the field whilst also growing a high value crop in an unobtrusive and otherwise not value corner of a field. Its educational, its environmental and its making money. This is the kind of thinking we need to develop rapidly to raise to the crises we face.

Plum blossom at Cae Bodfach, 22/03/19

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