Climate Ambassadors’ Book Reviews

Climate Ambassadors Pippa Stilwell and Mary Lindsey would like to share with you reviews of two books which they enjoyed, relating to our environment and climate. Many of you may already have read the first title but, for those who haven’t, this book comes highly recommended as a well-written account of a successful re-wilding project in West Sussex.

Wilding: The Return of Nature to an English Farm by Isabella Tree. Picador 2018, ISBN978-1-5098-0510-5. Price varies.

In the year 2000, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell gave up the struggle to make a living from their intensive farm on the Knepp Estate in Sussex, and instead sold their dairy herds and farm machinery, put their arable land out to contract, and sought funding from the Countryside Stewardship to restore the Knepp Repton park. The story of their resulting journey, as natural processes were allowed to reassert themselves throughout the estate during the next two decades, is the subject of this beautiful and inspiring book by Isabella Tree. The gradual re-introduction of large mammals to the landscape triggered an astonishing wildlife recovery, including breeding skylarks, woodlarks, jack snipe, 13 of the UK’s 17 bat species, and 60 invertebrate species of conservation importance including the rare purple emperor butterfly and, by 2012, 34 nightingale territories. This is a must read for those of you interested in the restoration of our natural environment.

The Carbon Buddy Manual – Your Practical Guide to Cooling Our Planet by ColinHastings. Published by the Carbon Buddy Project
PO Box 789, Truro TR1 9LQ ISBN 978-1-916282-78-0 Price £12.99

The second book is somewhat different; it is a step-by-step guide to reducing our own carbon footprint and nudging others to do the same. The author, Colin Hastings, is an organisational psychologist who describes the book as a practical ‘how to’ guide for practical ‘how to’ people. He recognises that climate change is a huge topic. and in this manual has broken it down into bite-size chunks. There are 19 steps that you can take at your own pace but with a friend so that you can work together and support each other on this journey. These are all very positive steps that should help you to counteract any anxiety that you may feel about the climate emergency. Step 1 is finding your carbon buddy and this is followed by exploring the issues and then measuring your carbon footprint; crunching the numbers and picturing your personal pollution. The manual then goes on to help you prioritise the actions the author characterises as ‘cool’ – cool consumerism, cool investment, and cool compensation – that is, how might we compensate for our historical and residual pollution, and use our spending power to build a cooler world?

Don’t be put off by the term ‘buddy’! This is far from being an American book: it was published in Truro and Colin Hastings lives locally. He is very clear about the scale of the challenge we face, but he is also upbeat about the potential for the Carbon Buddy Project to, as he puts it, “…unleash an avalanche of billions of small actions, each fuelled by emotion, positive thinking, creative problem solving, and collaborative working”. Just what WI members are good at! Interestingly, many of the things he suggests we do WI members have been doing already – flying less, insulating our homes, campaigning, or just talking about climate change. However, the manual is detailed and comprehensive, using methods learnt during a long career helping individuals and organisations to change. For some people, working through it step by step with a partner or close friend may seem a bit much: in that case, treat it as a book to dip into, an inspirational (and influential) source of ‘nudges’ to enable us to change our behaviour, which we will suddenly find ourselves discussing in spite of ourselves.

The book is nicely laid out and very accessible – essential given the huge amount of information and advice it contains. It is only available from the Carbon Buddy Project. It is an excellent guide and handbook for the climate change journey we are all now bound to take.

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