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Crisis, What Crisis?

We've been away for a couple of weeks, driving through France and Switzerland to Italy. I'm always childishly excited by the volume and diversity of the insects I find in Europe. This year's highlights were the aptly named Mammoth wasp and a wonderful display of fireflies in the Tuscan mountains. 

When I got back I found my social media feeds full of woe about insect numbers here. Where have all the bees gone? There are no butterflies in my garden! etc etc. Richard Comont at the BBCT has written a good explainer about what's going on with bumblebees at the moment, but in broader terms, against the familiar picture of general decline, the wet winter and cold spring will have impacted on a range of species. 

It's not possible to put this down to normal weather patterns, of course. Like the horrendous floods we dodged in the Alps on the way home last weekend, it's a symptom of climate change.

I wonder if the General Election had been held in a heatwave whether the result would have been significantly different. I doubt it. As it is, the Green Party have the same number of seats (a massive 4) and fewer than half the votes of Reform, a party vehemently opposed to net zero and bizarrely promoting climate change denial. Populist parties across Europe are explicitly rejecting what David Cameron called "green crap". 

The grown ups in the room just aren't getting their point across. Pounds spent on green policies now aren't just excellent value for money, they're essential. Even with the sewage hoo-ha and the Restore Nature march, the environment generally just didn't register in the campaign. When it did - like the ULEZ issue - it just became another front in the culture wars. 

We don't even have a department for Energy and Climate Change any more. Credible voices like Chris Skidmore were sidelined.  As for DEFRA, it seems to have been completely rudderless since Michael Gove left in 2019. I was grateful to the good burghers of Suffolk for the spectacular kicking they gave Therese Coffey (sorry - Dame Therese Coffey), whose performance at DEFRA was typically abject. And, of course, a predecessor was Liz "pork markets" Truss - need I say more?     

Let's hope Labour take the environment far more seriously than their predecessors. Our leaders need to lead on this. Now.