Appealing to the heart

My latest online article – – explores the themes of capitalist language and the effect this is having on the environmental movement. As a practitioner, I continue to engage with the need for the correct valuation of ecosystem services. As an artist and activist, it doesn’t, and has never, sat comfortably with me. Beauty and wonder, particularly those received from our living world, cannot fully be assessed monetarily. As with art and culture, the effects of landscape on the human psyche is entirely subjective, inextricably linked to the cultural value-set bestowed upon an individual throughout their lives.

In the environmental field, we are attempting to value and assess the multiple benefits provided by nature and natural habitats. Globally, our reckless use of resources is coming to a head. The environmental sector is countering these losses by appealing to investors through new economic models which value the very systems our lives depend on. Locally, there are some excellent examples of habitat valuation and the creation of investment platforms to deliver habitat improvements. Globally, these programmes are also being negotiated. Yet, the playing field is not fair or just. Huge industries continue to shirk their responsibility for climate change, often with Government inaction or worse, policy mechanisms, that back polluting and destructive industries.

A plastic forum, led by the very companies who are creating the untold amounts of plastic, surely cannot be expected to deliver practice that leads to a reduction in the amount of plastic produced? It goes against their business models, with any actions likely to be offset by the promise of continued growth and expansion. The lip-service played by oil and gas companies to the delivery of ‘green’ energy solutions, will never be rapid or disruptive whilst the majority of profit is generated through business-as-usual extraction. It is a dangerous game we are playing by allowing those who pollute to lead the solutions. Our UK Government continues to provide tax-breaks (subsidies) to the worst offenders of polluting activities, whilst putting the brakes on green growth.

We need to move well beyond the language of capitalism. It will only be, through the reconnection of ourselves with our living world, where we can build the necessary care and wonder needed to protect nature. This is why, I continue to support the multitude of ‘Friends’ groups and community volunteers, all of whom work tirelessly to improve their local green spaces. Growing this movement, one in which people regularly can plant and tend to natural habitats, will be essential in stemming the tide of loss. Getting our hands dirty in glorious mud is transformative.