Back in the 1950’s very few people could afford a car and the fuel used to heat homes was coke or coal. Indeed I remember counting the sacks of coke into the coal cellar for my dad. Paraffin heaters were used to heat rooms with no fireplace and with no double glazing, windows were often frozen inside.
The population in the 1950’s was around 50 million people who travelled to work by bicycle, train or bus. Life was simple and hard; mum and dad were factory workers working for a pittance. Dad was a Ford worker helping to produce affordable cars for the UK. We lived in a new town called Basildon. People from London needed houses and jobs so Basildon was developed on greenbelt land after the war to house them. It was under developed in my childhood ; it was very much the countryside. Indeed I remember my mother describing it as ‘paradise’ for the Eastenders who were relocated there.
Pictures from the 1950’s and 1960’s show my own working class family enjoying holidays by the sea.
In memory of Mum and Dad.
As the world developed , people wanted cars so inevitably, Basildon expanded. Car production opened up the UK and people became more mobile. Family holidays to the coast gave us experiences we would treasure for all our days: crabbing, sea fishing and rock pooling, giving us a coastal knowledge. Combined with a countryside experience, it gave me a love of the natural world for life. Our early days in the country was spent climbing trees ,bird nesting ,hunting for adders, slowworms and lizards. I often brought home frogs, tadpoles and newts. As Basildon grew in size, ponds disappeared for good, replaced by play areas for a rising population. As I got older my interests changed to sport so I was probably not as concerned about environmental change as I would be now.
I have moved on from Basildon but I have strong links to the town. I know the town and the people. It was an idyllic childhood but would I want a life short of housing, heating ,cars ,world travel and a decline in our living standards? The answer is a big NO! I fear that governments around the world are trying to take us in a time machine back to the 1950’s. In the UK we are obsessed with “net zero”. No one voted for it and to me it is not possible in such a short space of time. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that, though I am passionate about sustaining wildlife and protecting the planet, it cannot be at the cost of progress for humankind. I would argue that with careful management of the environment and natural fuel resources , it is possible to ensure that the UK is self -reliant in terms of fuel and protect wildlife and the natural environment at the same time.
This country has plenty of natural resources : gas, which could be fracked, coal to generate electricity ,(when the wind doesn’t blow) and nuclear . Other greener sources of energy are just not ready. Environmentally it will come at a small cost in terms of infrastructure and damage to the environment which you can repair overtime. The British people are very resourceful, an example of this are gravel pits which ,when emptied have been developed into nature reserves. It does not make any sense being reliant on other countries for our fuel needs- at inflated prices. With careful long term management we can go from being energy poor to being self reliant. As a result we can maintain our standard of living.
Cheap fuel opens up the world to everyone; without it only rich people will be able to fly. Clearly this is unacceptable as travel broadens the mind. I am sure many people are of the opinion that travel should be rationed; I am not one of those. Travel gives people first hand experiences of environmental problems that other countries have. Once they have had these experiences then people can make up their own mind about loss of habitats, endangered species, global warming, which countries need tourists ,which countries need financial support in order to stop deforestation .Every country has different needs. Unless people travel then they have to rely on second hand opinions some which can be inaccurate.
I am not a well travelled person; the price of fuel at the moment has clipped my wings .I remember as a teenager taking my first package holiday to Spain ,my interests have changed completely since those days. Today I want to see wildlife in special places not just in the local bars of Arenal Majorca. I care about all wildlife and I like to think that I care about their fragile habitats. I don’t see how restricting people travelling can help protect wildlife particularly in those countries heavily reliant on the tourist industry.
Before the pandemic I was lucky enough to visit Costa Rica .The wildlife and country was amazing and our guides were very proud of their country .There was some poverty but I got the impression it was country on the up .They were proud of their health and education systems. At the same time illegal immigration was also a concern. San Jose was busy but not overcrowded ,unlike London. However travelling around the country you could see they had problems with keeping their forests free from development and their rivers free from pollution. Huge swathes of forest have been changed from a rich biodiverse habitat to a palm oil factory.
Without travel opportunities I probably would not have known about Costa Rica .An interesting fact is that 98% of energy consumed in Costa Rica is renewable. However the population is just over 5 million. What they have done is used the resources they have Hydro electric and volcanic energy. As a country the UK must therefore use our natural resources at the same time develop the effectiveness of renewables ,not tie our hands with unrealistic targets especially with a population of nearly 80 million
The Arenal volcano.
.The Tarcoles river although heavily polluted is a haven for wildlife and essential for tourism and hydro power.
As our population rises out of control creating unsustainable demands for energy.in the UK ,travel will become out of reach for the majority of the country, particularly if we continue down the road of “net zero” by 2030 .As energy prices continue to rise travel will be restricted with the government already talking about carbon passports. The green lobby is powerful and are creating havoc with the rise of protest groups like “just stop oil”. The all electric car ,is a pipe dream and is possible only, by plundering less well off countries of lithium ,cobalt ,nickel and manganese. It’s only well off countries that care about the environment .”what a disaster”
I want to protect the environment ,I want to stop immigration to our country to reduce the amount of energy we use. (the figures for immigration into this country are set to reach 1million for the year, in figures due to be released on the 25th of May 2023),reduce population growth by freezing immigration for 10 years. stop house building on green belt. I want to use our resources effectively so that our standard of living can be protected. I want our rivers and streams to stay pollution free. I want our seas to be protected from over fishing and human waste disposal. It seems I’m not just environmentally homeless but politically homeless.